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July 8 & 11: from Washington - Sierras de Rocha, Uruguay - Yankassa, Sierra Leone - Montreal - Kabul

Photo courtesy ">PLAN Ceibal

The country where every schoolkid gets a laptop. You knew it would happen someday. You may be surprised as to where. 

Then, do Sunni Muslims have a future in Iraq?  A new book says they've been eclipsed and the country will be worse off without them. 

A look at the land-grab business. Agribusiness is in the global market for arable land, but is the developing world selling off its future food security?

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An encore edition of Dispatches in the summer.

Laptops on horseback

Which country in the world is likely to be the first to issue a laptop to every child in school?Did you automatically think, Uruguay?

It may be a small country of just 3.5 million people.  But it has big ambitions for its elementary school students. 

Now more than 400-thousand of them are online, from the biggest schools to the tiniest schoolhouses, which is where the CBC's Trevor Dunn is headed. 

Trevor's dispatch...

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An update on Trevor's story: the elementary school phase of that project is complete....and they're now planning to distribute more advanced versions of the laptops to Uruguay's high school students. Those should begin arriving in September.

 

Operation Iraqi Instability

A pistol-pushing Prime Minister. A faith at war with itself.  A woman reduced to selling herself to survive in a foreign capital.  The dynamics of Iraq are no end of troubling.   

And with the spring parliamentary elections long over, the manoeuvering to form a coalition government still goes on. 

Watching from beyond the border for any signs of encouragement are the exiles, many of them, Sunni Muslims.

They fled a civil war with Shia Muslims, and remain to be persuaded there's any reason to return.

But without that political reconciliation, Iraq remains poisoned by sectarianism, and as long as it stays that way, its stability is suspect.

Deborah Amos is an American journalist with a long history in the region, summed up now in her new book Eclipse Of The Sunnis: Power, Exile And Upheaval In The Middle East.

She joined Rick from Washington, as the ballots were being counted earlier this spring.

Rick's discussion with Deborah...

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Deborah Amos is a journalist with National Public Radio and author of Eclipse Of The Sunnis, published by Public Affairs.

The great African "land grab"

Rice farming in Sierra Leone (Wikimedia)

In Sierra Leone, up on the bulge of northwest Africa, prosperity is measured in rice.

Why they even have a saying: if you haven't eaten rice today, you haven't eaten.

But in one part of the country, rice is being replaced by sugar cane.

Africans won't be eating it. Nobody will. Foreign industries will convert it into ethanol. There's big money in bio-fuels.

So, any chance big land deals might hurt Sierra Leone's ability to feed itself as it continues to recover from an 11-year civil war?   Well, not to worry.

It's all been arranged, apparently. Even if there are some questions as to how, as we heard from Canadian journalist Joan Baxter.

Joan's documentary....

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Joan brought us one case of land in transition. For a more global picture, we got in touch with Devlin Kuyek  in Montreal.

He's a researcher with the non-profit organisation known as GRAIN.

That stands for Genetic Resources Action International. It's focused on sustainable food projects.

Rick's interview with Devlin....

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Coming up

Now a preview of a piece we'll bring you next week on  Dispatches. 

The story of the Halfghans. They're the privileged children of an elite which fled Afghanistan during the war years of the '80s.

Now though, many Halfghans are returning from the West. Some as journalists. Others in business, or development work.

Hadi Mojaddedi grew up in Denmark, though his family was so powerful, the Afghan King once gave it a castle. 

In this excerpt, Mojaddedi talks about  learning that his family name still carries weight -- and responsibility...

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

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