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August 12 & 15: from New York - Chernobyl - Washington, D.C - Monrovia - Uganda

The Masjid El-Ber in Queens is home to a mostly Egyptian, Bengali, Caribbean and Moroccan congregation. (Photo/Aman Ali)

The Ramadan Blogs. Two American-raised Muslims have their eyes opened when they attend a different New York mosque, every day for the month of Ramadan, and see the world. 

Chernobyl smoulders and Ukrainians still get burned, 24 years after the world's worst nuclear accident.

Libel Tourism. It's so easy to sue in parts of Europe that some publications are re-considering their future on the internet.

The Teeth May Smile But The Heart Does Not Forget. An author revisits the crimes of Idi Amin that Ugandans have agreed to ignore.

On the chalkboard. How Liberians get their news the old-fashioned way.

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An encore edition of Dispatches in the summer

 

A Mosque world tour

The holy month of Ramadan, Islam's period of prayer and fasting, began this week.

Last year, two Muslims in New York City came up with what they called "an insanely random idea."

How about worshipping at a different New York mosque every night for the entire month of Ramadan.

Why? Why not.

And so a website was born, as with some trepidation, the American-raised pair headed out to the masjids as they're known in Arabic, of dozens of different nations.

Here are excerpts from their blog, read by the authors and Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq.

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After visiting 30 mosques in New York last year, they're widening their horizons this Ramadan. They'll visit 30 mosques in 30 states -- from Augusta, Maine to Houston, to Boise, Idaho -- and ending up in Dearborn, Michigan in early September.

We'll hear about that Ramadan roadtrip on an upcoming Dispatches.

The 30 Mosques blog

You can tell us about your Ramadan adventures: dispatches@cbc.ca

 

Chalkdust news

Now... In Kinshasa, capital of the French-speaking Democratic Republic of Congo, newspapers cost money and most people haven't got any.

So a single copy of whatever's available gets posted on a board outdoors and everybody stands around in the street discussing the pressing issues of the day.

They call it parliament debout. The standing parliament.

In distant Liberia, still recovering from its long civil war, the obstacles to information are even greater.

And there too, someone's found another remarkable way around them, as we hear from Dispatches contributor Prue Clarke.

 Prue's dispatch...

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That piece was an re-worked version of the one awarded a 2009 Edward R. Murrow Award in the Feature Reporting category.

 

 Cruising for a fight

 A ruling by Canada's Supreme Court this year was hailed as a new defence for journalists facing libel lawsuits.

But it may already be out-of-date.

People with a grievance against the media can now pursue it from a growing list of countries where it's easy to sue, and easy to win.

Shopping for a court is being called "libel tourism." And it's all because of the internet, which makes it possible to sue from a country other than the one where the story first appears.

So you're thinking, "Right. Some police state, I suppose."

Surprise. It's the United Kingdom. And right behind are Australia, Ireland and France.

As a result, one supermarket tabloid is blocking its website to the U.K. Some mainstream newspapers are considering it too.

This is revealed in a study prepared for the Center For International Media Assistance by journalist Drew Sullivan.

Drew, from Washington D.C....

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Drew Sullivan is the author of Libel Tourism: Silencing The Press Through Trans-national Legal Threats. The Center For International Media Assistance is a project of the National Endowment For Democracy.

Since that interview first aired, Iceland's begun writing new law intended to confound libel tourism, by turning itself into an offshore haven for freedom of expression.

It's offering more protection to journalists and their sources than any other country in the world, providing they rout their internet publications through Iceland.

One analyst says that may not prevent lawsuits being filed against them in third countries, but it may prevent the arbitrary shutdown of their servers.

 

Chernobyl's lingering afterglow

Twenty-four years ago, the world watched in horror as doomed men battled an explosion in a crippled Soviet nuclear reactor, and radioactive fallout drifted across Europe.

It happened at the Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, though most remember it for the obscure Ukranian village where it was located: Chernobyl.

Clean-up crews were told to just stay drunk to ward off radiation.

Even today, the reactor's poison core still simmers beneath a concrete cover.

And remarkably, some residents have returned.

Dispatches contributor Saroja Coelho, travelled the road to the ongoing disaster.

Saroja's documentary....

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The heart does not forget

Memory of course, is often a casualty of history.

Take Eliphaz Laki for example, shot in the back of the neck. We know that now.

But when he disappeared during the vicious rule of Idi Amin in Uganda, his family knew nothing at all.

He simply disappeared, like so many other Ugandans.

It took 30 years for his son to uncover why Eliphaz had been taken to a farmer's field by two of Amin's men, who proceeded to argue over who would kill him.

There are a lot of stories like that in Uganda's bloody history. But it prefers to leave them forgotton in the ground, with the bones of the dead.

However, journalist Andrew Rice sees Laki's story as a window on the country's unreconciled past, an era that began in the '70s with the turbulent leadership of Presidents Milton Obote, Idi Amin, and then -- as now -- Yoweri Museveni.

He's written it out in a book titled after a proverb of Laki's Banyankole tribe. The Teeth May Smile But The Heart Does Not Forget.

Andrew Rice, from New York...

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The Teeth May Smile But The Heart Does Not Forget is published by Metropolitan Books.

The author reads an excerpt......

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

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