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June 3 & 6: from Reykjavik - Nairobi - East Jerusalem - Miami - Philadelphia

(Photo/Nathan L. Collett)

They call themselves the "bestest of the best" and they just got themselves elected in Iceland. Why did a party promoting polar bears get so many votes?

Tribal violence is not entirely over in Kenya, and already they've made a movie about it, featuring the survivors as the actors.

Then, how music is breaching the political divide between the United States and Cuba, and causing a new divide within the Cuban community.

Plus: Nineteen years ago, a secret airlift evacuated Ethiopian Jews to Israel, but there are reasons some still don't feel at home.

And, Mohamed's Ghost. A new book that says Muslims and their mosques are fading from the American landscape.

Iceland politics chill out

Voters in the capital city of Iceland put some new faces in city hall a few days ago, persuaded in part by the catchy campaign song of the new political movement calling itself The Best Party, in Rekyavik.

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"We are the best, the bestest of parties," they're singing, despite having their tongues firmly in their cheeks.

The song promises free towels at the pools. A polar bear for the zoo. A Disneyworld at the airport. A drug-free Parliament by 2020.

But there's a constituency for the absurd in Reykjavik's jaded body politic these days.

The party formed just last year in response to endless scandals at city hall, and the recent collapse of the country's banking system.

And it's won six of the 15 seats on Reykjavik city council.

The Best Party is led by popular Icelandic comedian Jon Gnarr. But can a funny party play serious politics?

Jon Gnarr, in Reykjavik...

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Oh and, he actually pronounces his name G'NARRRRR, see, but Icelandic pronunciations are hard.

Remember this one? 

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Kenya's flicker of hope

In Nairobi's notorious Kibera slum, art imitates life.
(Photo/Nathan L. Collett)


Three years ago, life there exploded into tribal violence after a disputed national election.

Now, those days have been re-enacted in Kibera for a motion picture, featuring actors and extras who live there, and survived the mob attacks.

You want to believe they bring some personal baggage to the proceedings.

(Photo/Nathan L. Collett)
And it's not like the danger's even completely passed.

Kenya remains troubled as the clock ticks towards the next election. That made it a little hard to write the film's ending, as David McDougall discovered when he got off the bus to Kibera.

David's documentary...
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See the trailer for "Togetherness Supreme" on its website.

 

Israel's black Jews

In the '80s, Israel began the first of a series of covert flights bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

It culminated in 1991, in a race against time called "Operation Solomon."

With civil war and famine overrunning Ethiopia's capital, Israel airlifted 14,000 in just 36 hours.

Today they number 100,000. But their integration? Still a work in progress, Ugandan journalist Kennedy Jawoko tells us.

Kennedy's essay...

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Jawoko Kennedy is a Ugandan journalist now living in Toronto.

Cuban music: hoy no como ayer

Well, time is slowly eroding the animosity Cuban exiles brought with them when they fled Castro's rule for sanctuary in the U.S., back in the '60s.

In Miami, where many of the old-timers still live, their American-born children don't harbour the same resentment that drove their folks and grandfolks out.

The transition is most evident on the Cuban music scene, which has done much to soften historic grudges, as we hear from "Dispatches" contribuor Maria Bakkalapulo.

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In another sign of the times, the U.S. has just issued a work visa to Cuban musician Silvio Rodiguez, a prominent Castro supporter and longtime critic of The White House.

He plans a tour that will include Carnegie Hall and possibly even Miami.

If you want to know more, here's the link.

Mohamed's Ghosts

On a spring day six years ago, Mohamed Ghorab was the Islamic leader of a small mosque, in a hardscrabble neighbourhood of Philadelphia.

Next thing he knew, he was deported.

His congregants were arrested without charge. His mosque collapsed.

And there are thousands like him across the United States, whose mistake seems to be that they're Muslim.

In covering the story, it seemed to Stephan Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer, that since 9/11, the American justice and immigration system has been perverted.

He's written a book called Mohamed's Ghosts: An American Story Of Love And Fear In The Homeland.

Stephan, from Philadelphia...

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Mohamed's Ghosts is published by Nation Books.

Coming up

Prime Minister Stephen Harper intends to make maternal health care a centrepiece of the G8 Summit in Canada later this month.

Journalist Bonnie Allen tells us why it's a matter of life and death in a country like Liberia, where more and more men are applying to become midwives.

From Midwives Save Lives, next week on Dispatches...

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

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