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April 15 & 18: from Harare - Italy - Jerusalem - NYC - Lukasa

Zimbabwe and the man with diamonds in his mouth: a rare glimpse of sketchy change in a beleaguered country.

Jews who fight Jews. The growing confrontation in the streets of Jerusalem between secular and Orthodox.

Lessons learned from chicken guts, from an author who found out by doing the jobs most Americans won't.

And we'll go to Africa Town, not in Africa but Italy, where illegal immigrants live in limbo, the state is absent, and the Mafia runs the show.

All that plus your letters, and finally; someone explains why truth is so hard to come by in politics.

 Small steps forward for Zimbabwe

As Zimbabwe approaches the 30th anniverary of its independence this month, we wonder, what's to celebrate?

The country's has been under international sanctions for a decade, led by Robert Mugabe, who's stolen elections and property, persecuted his opponents, and plunged the economy into freefall. But that would overlook the changes Zimbabwe appears to be making.

For some examples, Rick spoke with Canadian journalist Laura Lynch who's back in the Zimbabwean capital city of Harare after a two-year absence.

Rick's interview with Laura.

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Immigrants and Italy's absent state

Three months ago illegal immigrants were returning from a day of low-wage fruitpicking. They were peppered by young Italians with pellet guns, which provoked a riot. But at its seething core, this is a confounding story of crime and unexpected punishment.

You see, in Italy illegal immigrants don't always leave the country when they're apprehended by the authorities.

The government expects them to pay their own way home. And since most can't afford it, they wind up marooned in its underground economy, easy prey for organized crime.

But Italy's response to it all has emboldened some to the point that they're demanding rights from the country they illegally entered.

More from our correspondent Emma Wallis...

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Unrest on Israel day of rest

In the days of the Intifadah, we'd drive past Palestinian settlements near Jerusalem, with an Arab headscarf hanging out the window, hoping they wouldn't mistake us for Jewish settlers and stone the car.

But if we found ourselves accidentally driving through a neighbourhood of the ultra-Orthodox in Jerusalem during Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, they might stone you too. No driving cars on the Sabbath.

But Jerusalem's ultra-religious are facing some pushback. And it's not coming from Arabs, but from other Jews, as we hear from CBC Correspondent Margaret Evans.

Margaret's dispatch...

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Doing jobs nobody would want

Vegetables. Chicken. Flowers. Everything we consume, somebody had to process by hand. And for the most part, it's done by "a hidden workforce", in the words of author Gabriel Thompson.

But he wanted to throw a little light on that mostly immigrant workforce, as it turns out. People doing the jobs most Americans won't.

So he went and picked lettuce in Arizona. Sorted chicken parts in Alabama. Delivered takeout on a bike in New York City. For a year, he did the kind of work where painkillers are a prerequisite, and it's hard to say which was worse; the pay, the working conditions, or just the flat-out disrespect.

Then Gabriel Thompson put it all into a book called Working In The Shadows.

The full version of Gabriel Thompson's interview from New York City....

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And listen to a reading from Working the Shadows, published by Nation Books.

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Truth in politics 101

Rick found it's there. But, the version depends on the circumstances...

Rick's essay...

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Next week: China in Africa

China in Africa
The Chinese-owned Chambishi copper smelter in Zambia. (Anthony Germain/CBC)

The People's Republic of China is an economy with an insatiable appetite for raw materials, and Zambia's "Copper Belt" is one of the largest in the world.

The CBC's China Correspondent Anthony Germain went to hear how China is changing Zambia.

And in this excerpt, you'll hear it too...


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The Dispatches mailbag

Diane Kehoe of Delta, B. C. heard our recent piece about student journalists embedded with Canadian troops in the Mojave Desert as they train for Afghanistan.

Having the embedded reporter make the comparison between what she had experienced, and what an unescorted reporter had been able to get, kept the story interesting" she writes.

I felt that hearing the immediate reaction of the embedded reporter gave the story a 'reality check'.

(That) and the (other story) about 'news from Libya' tore down the wall between reporters and their listeners.

Perhaps this will help the public understand that reporters share their concerns about the validity of the news stories that are broadcast from the world's 'hot spots'. Good work.

Our recent story about melting glaciers posing a flood risk in Bhutan, prompted this note from Ian McQueen in Glenwood, New Brunswick.

The story does not recognize that the global temperature stopped rising more than 10 years ago. Just look at the vast areas subject to frigid winter conditions this year and last, and the hundreds of thousands of livestock in Mongolia that were killed by the cold.

Global warming just isn't happening. As for "climate change", the words mean nothing because the world has ALWAYS been warming and cooling.

Your program should have touched (strongly) on the question of whether these lakes have always been forming at the foot of glaciers, or if this is only a recent phenomenon.

...the (recent) story on Ethiopia blamed the drought (there) on "climate change", without recognizing that droughts are periodic and cyclic.


That from Ian McQueen, who says he's with the "Climate Truth Initiative" in Glenwood, New Brunswick.

Sharon Rempel in Nanaimo, B.C. also heard our story from Ethiopia, where farmers are passing on new strains of wheat and going back to ancient ones that can withstand drought.

She writes;

I've run Canada's heritage wheat project for decades, and started Canada's 'Seedy Saturday' 20 years ago. I'm the godmother of Red Fife, a landrace wheat that fed Canada from 1860 to 1900.

In coming weeks, I'll be bringing community groups together in Canada to develop Heritage wheat collections, store the seed in community seed banks, and ensure that global bio-diversity is available to Ethiopians -- in Canada -- as well as globally.

We need to keep landraces in OUR fields in CANADA for food security.
For more at the Landrace Wheat Letter go to: grassrootsolutions.com

Some weeks ago on the program, international development consultant Don Bowser described the government in Tajikistan as the Sopranos led by Fred Flintstone. A country plagued by corruption.

Peter Sugden of Vancouver says he's been working in Tajikistan on a lending project with five banks, and he writes;

...despite those shortcomings, I see construction and infrastructure maintenance activity going on, and a dauntless spirit in the common people of the country.

They appear stoic to the end, their faith in their President Rakhmon absolutely unshaken by the fact he is surrounded by government officials on the take.

After all, Rakhmon was the man who returned peace and civil society to Tajikistan in 1997, rescuing the country from what could have been a Sri Lanka-esque nightmare.

To show his sense of fair play, he incarcerated ringleaders from both the belligerent factions, including his own. And so, the population kisses the ground he walks on.

Despite your grim premonitions, Don, I believe this country will get their dam built. After that, let's see where the chips fly. Inevitably, Tajiks and Uzbeks will have to come to terms on the six-year Uzbek drought which will ensue. Hopefully, it will not have to come to war.


That from Peter Sugden, of Vancouver, B.C., when he's not in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Margaret Bott of Ottawa heard our encore presentation about hand-powered tricycles for the handicapped in Africa and writes to say;

I was delighted to listen because it was describing the type of special tricycles that a group of us in Ottawa have just purchased for some disabled people in Uganda.

A friend of ours is currently working in Uganda with disabled people and describes fully and with photos in his blog how these "wheelchairs" have changed the lives of the people who have received them.

And Margaret Bott of Ottawa includes this blogsite link:

Your letters. Our thanks. Keep them coming!

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally. With technical producers Slava Zelenin and Victor Johnston, Senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae. 

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