The Green Blues Show – Edition 11

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The Green Blues Show

In this edition of the Green Blues Show: Nothing is as constant as change. A historian speaks about where it comes from and how it happens. Ninety years after the execution of Italian-American anarchists Sacco & Vanzetti, one of America’s most notorious jury trials is commemorated. And neutron stars … When these hardest of celestial objects collide, watch out! That’s precisely what astronomers were doing, this past Fall, when a pair of colliding stars made major waves.

 

There’s this guy who sleeps in the bus shelter at night, beside the bus stop where I head off to work each morning. Occasionally there are two, dozing feet-to-feet, covered in blankets that wouldn’t provide much protection from the cold on a frigid Winnipeg night.

The first time I spotted the one man, I thought about leaving him a $5 bill. But he was fast asleep – or so it seemed – and I didn’t want to just put the money there, or startle him out of his slumber.

Homelessness is rampant here in Canada. As many as 300,000 Canadians experience homelessness, the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association reports. According to a 2016 study by Stats Canada, almost ten percent of Canadians have been homeless at some point – forced to sleep with family or friends, or in their car. Disabled people, victims of abuse and other violent crimes are the most likely to be homeless. Aboriginal people are more likely to be homeless than immigrants or other visible minorities. The single most common denominator: lack of social contacts.

But there are solutions. The most obvious – provide housing. In response to the freezing death of a handful of homeless people a few years ago, the City of Toronto rented out ninety hotel rooms around the city. Others are coming up with more permanent solutions, summed up by the phrase ‘Housing First’.

And, it saves money! According to the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, emergency shelters, social services and law enforcement cost seven billion dollars annually. An affordable housing strategy would reduce these costs by half. If there’s anything more crucial than healthy housing, it’s a healthy dose of compassion – for that man or woman sleeping in the bus shelter.

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Paul Hirt

For anyone not living in a cabin in the woods, human life on Earth moves at breakneck speed: social mores, mass culture, technology. Paul Hirt is a professor of history and senior sustainability scholar at Arizona State University, in Tempe, Arizona. The history of the American West and the global environmental movement are his key interests.

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This past August marked the 90th anniversary of one of modern history’s most notorious acts of justice — or injustice, depending on your point of view: the execution of Italian-American anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti.

The two tradesmen were convicted in July 1921 for payroll robbery and murder. Their hasty trial and conviction – and six-year appeal – stoked huge controversy. Their execution in the electric chair on August 23, 1927 triggered riots in major cities around the world. Here’s a story featuring paeans to Sacco and Vanzetti by Woody Guthrie, commissioned and recorded by Folkways Records.

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Last October, astrophysicists around the world observed the rarest and most astonishing of events: the collision of two ultra-dense neutron stars.

The cataclysmic smash-up, 130 million light years from Earth (i.e. 130 million years ago), generated a blaze of light brighter than a billion suns, along with a pulse of electromagnetic radiation that generated a ripple in space-time – upholding a century-old theory of Albert Einstein’s.

Samar Safi-Harb is Canada Research Chair in supernova astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg. She has also just been included in a list of Canada’s top hundred powerful women.

In this edition of the Green Blues Show: Bob Dylan and the Band, Big Maceo, and Mississippi Fred McDowell

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