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April 29 & May 2: from Peterborough, England - Lyon - Geneva - Aroura - Port-au-Prince

Is Britain letting in every Tom, Dick and Harry? Immigration grates on the British voting public this election season.

France takes the cake. An insight into why the French view pastry as culture, and how its chefs become Kings.

A Palestinian preparing for peace. We profile the prime minister and his lonely promise of a Third Way.

So why is the new American hardline on Israel a challenge to Canada too? And, a correspondent yearns for a new Haiti, and hopes the earthquake has buried the old one.

Voting for a new Britain

    Britain votes next week, with no clear leader in sight. The prospect is a minority government instead of another majority for Gordon Brown's Labour Party.

uk vote
(Reuters/Ken McKay/ITV)
One issue informing the contest is immigration. And its impact on jobs and public services.

Labour's 13 years in power have seen the largest wave of new arrivals in British history, making the UK one of the most multicultural societies in all of Europe.

By and large, people get along fine. But as they prepare to pick a new government, there are signs of strain in communities feeling overwhelmed by the intake from eastern Europe.

CBC Correspondent Tom Parry, from one of them... 

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Pressure Drop

    "Pressure Drop" is a reggae classic...

It's also the title of a new play about Britain's multicultural tensions. Activist musician Billy Bragg sings the soundtrack he wrote for the play.

It's the story of two brothers dealing very differently with the changing face of England.One's been making his fortune in America, and welcomes the new influences. But the other is unemployed. Angry. And running as a candidate for an anti-immigration party.

Check out the Pressure Drop Trailer

The art of the craft

    After listening to our next two guests, you may never eat french pastry quite the same way again.

In France, as with most foods, creating great pastry is an art. And the creation of massive centrepieces of delicate spun sugar and other delights is part of a nerve-shredding competition among French craftspeople.

Every four years in France, after months of practice, finalists spend three shattering days getting eyeballed by judges and vying for the prestigious title of MOF -- Meilleurs Ouvriers de France -- Best Craftsman in France.

The prize is just a bit of red, white, and blue worn round the neck. But the sense of accomplishment? Priceless.

And the idea that someone in Europe puts manual labour on par with intellectual achievement intrigued producer Flora Lazar and director Chris Hegedus.

So they made a film documentary. Kings Of Pastry is showing at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto this month.

Chris and Flora, from our CBC studio in New York...

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Watch the preview of Kings Of Pastry.

From My Lai to Afghanistan

    For the generation that grew up with the Vietnam War, My Lai is code for a military massacre and a cover-up.

Seymour Hersh
Seymour Hersh won the Pulitzer Prize in 1970 for his reporting on Vietnam. (John Weidlich/CBC)
The story is that in 1968, American troops murdered 347 Vietnamese civillians. Journalist Seymour Hersh won a Pulitzer for breaking it. He says he's hearing echoes of My Lai in Afghanistan and Iraq today.

And he rocked the Global Investigative Journalism Conference in Geneva a few days ago when he talked about it.

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The White Intifada

    In the Middle East, there is this story.

Maybe true. Maybe not.

It says the distinctive pear shape of the instrument known as an oud -- an ancient form of the lute  --  was inspired by the bleached skeleton of the great grand-son of Adam and Eve.

The past of the Middle East is often like that. Gothic and forlorn, with echoes in the present Arab-Israeli conflict.
 
But there are also times of daring and imagination, and we may be seeing the start of one now among Palestinians on the West Bank.

So far, it's just a man and an idea that invokes the non-violence ethos of other movements.  He calls it, The Third Way. CBC correspondent Margaret Evans went to where he's out pitching it. 

Margaret's documentary...

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Canada out of step on Israel

    And while the Palestinian Prime Minister anticipates peace in the Middle East, the U.S. is accusing Israel of impeding it. And that shift leaves Canada out of step with the White House.

Barack Obama says ending the Arab-Israeli conflict and curbing Israeli settlements is a "vital national security interest of the United States."

The implication is that it's fueling anti-American sentiment among US enemies, and weakening its influence with other Arab states on the bigger problems of Iraq and Iran.

The point was sharpened recently by Martin Indyk, a former American ambassador to Israel. He said that country either takes on its political right wing, or it'll have to take on the President of the United States.

Canada, for its part, hews to a pro-Israel line that's at odds with the shifting American policy. Very critical of settlements, but very pro-Israel.

For a sense of where Canada and the U.S. differ, Rick spoke with James Fitz-Morris, foreign policy reporter in the CBC's Parliamentary Bureau.

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Your letters

We've had some mail from you lately on matters Middle East, among other places.

After last week's piece on the fledgling Palestinian film industry, we got a rocket from Monica Schubert in Regina.

In your report, it seems to me that you ignored the most amazing fact of all:  that the cameras were donated by Israelis.  Does this not show good will by the Israelis in wishing to be at peace with their neighbours?  Just imagine Palestinians giving video cameras to Israelis to record mayhem by Palestinian suicide (bombers.)...To leave this aspect aside as you did, shows the bias in your reporting.

Begging to differ, Marie-Reine Lawrence in Ottawa.

Thank-you for your report about the peaceful way Palestinians with cameras resist against the Israeli occupation by documenting the injustices done against them. What was heart warming is the fact that Israelis gave these cameras to the young Palestinians. There is hope for peace in the Middle East.

 

Last week's piece about runaway inflation in Zimbabwe prompted Onne de Boer of Cardigan, New Brunswick to get in touch after she heard it in our podcast while power-walking on vacation in the Carribean. She wanted to pass on this story from a relative in Zimbabwe.

His family would have a wheelbarrow full of...Zim dollars. They would be...nervous going into...town to purchase goods with this wheelbarrow full of cash, because thugs would come by and rob them.  The thugs would dump the cash and take the wheelbarrow, because it had more value.

And Will Everett's dispatch about becoming an unexpected guest at somebody else's dinner in India last week caught the attention of Peter Ottis in Ottawa.

It reminded (me) so much of my own experiences in Africa and the Middle East. Linguistic and cultural barriers all too often led to experiences like his... I often found myself in the middle of seemingly-endless meetings, or blindly following a city guide, completely confused at just what exactly I had gotten into. Thankfully, these experiences often lead to great stories that one can laugh about years later. Thanks for a great show.

Your letters. Our thanks. And do keep them coming to dispatches@cbc.ca

Haiti then and now

Hotel Montana

A front-end loader parked at what's left of the Montana Hotel. (Paul Hunter/CBC)

    If you ever get to Haiti, you'll never be quite the same. 

Especially now, amid the wreckage of an earthquake.

It's stirring up memories for former CBC journalist Stephen Phizicky, who spent a lot of time there once, covering its shambolic politics and the people trading in them, from the now-ruined Montana Hotel.

This week's guest memoir....

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This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemannn Steve McNally and intern Eve Caron. With technical producer Victor Johnston, Senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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