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October 21 & 24, 2010: from Palermo, Sicily - Los Angeles - New York - Kandahar - Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Traditional cooking in Assam, India. Photo/Hanna Ingber Win.

Where there's smoke: Cook stoves pollute and kill millions. Designing a smokeless stove is caputuring some creative imaginations.              

Okay in custody: Why Canada built a playground in an Afghan prison.

Journalists on the take: It's more common than we knew!

Saying "no thanks" to the Mob: An effort to get tourists to support those who stand up to the bosses.

Heard about India's civil war?  Thousands have been killed, and the number's rising.

All this and a musical memory from fall of apartheid in South Africa.

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 Afgan women in prison: finally finding security

Canada has helped renovate the notorious prison that female inmates don't want to leave. Perhaps it's because their children are in jail with them and it's safer than the street.

With armed bodyguards for protection, CBC Correspondent Carolyn Dunn was able to gather a hurried picture inside a place that's been a target of the Taliban, though after just ninety minutes, her nervous escorts pulled the plug.

Carolyn's dispatch...

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Cash for coverage

Rick once spent a vexing half-hour detained in Kinshasa's airport security so a greedy functionary could rail about the media. Then, smiling sweetly, he demanded twenty dollars to let hi leave leave the building.

Bribes are not an uncommon request for some journalists. What's new is the number more accustomed to receiving them. In Peru, it's called "mermelada". In China, they like it in red envelopes. And in Madagascar, they just call it a "tip", given to ensure the reporting of a story a certain way.

It's all documented in a startling new report called Cash For Coverage, commissioned by the Centre for International Media Assistance, and the National Endowment for Democracy in the U.S. It found the practice disturbingly common around the world.

Sometimes it's just twenty bucks slipped into an envelope at a press conference in Ghana, supposedly to cover "transportation costs." Or it's thousands paid by an African National Congress official to the journalists he calls his "airforce." The report calls bribery "a single problem with many faces."

A recent survey of Cambodian journalists found a quarter of them know somebody who's taken a bribe to write a favourable story. And 35% know someone who's taken money to stop them filing a bad one.

It's all familiar to Kay Kimsong, the editor-in-chief of the Phnom Penh Post's Khmer-language edition. 

His view from Cambodia...

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Kay Kimsong, the editor-in-chief of the Khmer-language edition of the Phnom Penh Post.

By the way, one solution suggested in the Cash For Coverage report is that news organizations simply pay journalists a living wage, so they won't be tempted by petty bribes.

It also notes one of the first attempts to expose bribery among journalists started with a sting by a PR firm in Moscow. It sent out phony press releases about a fictitious company, then waited. And sure enough, requests from newspaper hacks seeking cash for coverage came rolling in.

Read an excerpt from the report at our The View from Here blog. 

Thanks to Dispatches contributor Brian Calvert for producing that View from Cambodia.


India's long secret war

Heard about the civil war in India?

Eight-hundred dead this year - 10,000 in the past decade. News to you? It's news to a lot of people not tuned in to that part of the world. But a Maoist insurgency's been going on there for forty years, graduating now from a little rural unrest, to full-on guerilla warfare.

And it's getting worse. In part because of India's cack-handed efforts at containing what it admits is "the single greatest threat to the country's internal security." That's one of the critical observations in this month's edition of Foreign Policy magazine, co-authored by investigative journalist Scott Carney.

You may remember his last appearance on this program exposing the global black market in stolen human bones. With more on India's widening conflict

Scott joined us from Los Angeles...

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You can see more at Scott's website and photo gallery



Turning tables on the mafia

A Sicilian shop sign says "Oppose mafia extortion, change your spending habits!" Photo/Nancy Greenleese.
In Sicily, tourists can now sip where Mafia Dons used to sup, knowing their money's not lining the mob's pockets this time 'round.

It's happening because the government and a daring group of artisans want to break the grip of organized crime on the island. So they're encouraging visitors to patronize only businesses that declare themselves part of the anti-mafia movement.

First though, they have to convince more businesses. It's a risky part of a wider effort to change Sicily's culture at home and image abroad, as we hear from Nancy Greenleese in the land of the Corleones.


Nancy's documentary...

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South Africa: Song for a revolution

We've been asking you to send us music you associate with global events you've witnessed or watched and this week's pick is from Stuart Cryer in Sudbury, Ontario, who was in South Africa when the sun began to set on apartheid.

Stuart's musical pick...

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If you associate a particular piece of music with some world event or personal adventure, happy or sad, tell us why <?xml:namespace prefix = mailto />and we'll see about making it radio.

You can find more musical memories at our View from Here blog.  That's where you can see the full text of Stuart's email.  


How not to die for a meal

Back in the 1600s, stovemakers in England tested their prototypes by soaking a chunk of coal in cat urine, and throwing it on the fire.

If the stink went up the stank, well, it was good to go. But if it stunk the joint out; back to square one.

Four hundred years later, that same quest draws a bunch of guys to the Oregon woods for the annual pilgrimage known as Stove Camp, aiming to come up with a cheap and efficient stove to feed the Third World.

As it is, smoke-related illness from cooking fires is killing over a million people a year. And it's the second-biggest source of global warming, so it's also attracting some high-tech commercial interest.

The quest just got a big boost from a sixty-million-dollar initiative recently announced by U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton...

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The quest for clean stoves intrigues American journalist Burkhard Bilger, who's written about  it in The New Yorker Magazine.

And he joined us from New York...

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Here's how Bilger describes "Stove Camp"...

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Your letters: Cuba comebacks

American journalist Patrick Symmes was on Dispatches recently, describing his month spent living in Havana on the state rations issued to the average Cuban. He lost some weight and made some critical observations of the way the country is run. Soon after, we heard from Dispatches listener Michael Hunter in Edmonton, Alberta, who says he was "shocked" by our guest's account of shortages. Hunter says he toured Cuban farms with a group of Canadian farmers and academics last spring and writes:

Your guest is incorrect: not only is it not "illegal now to grow a carrot in your backyard," the Cuban government has undertaken a massive agricultural education campaign for years to encourage its citizens to grow their own food.

Only in recent years has beef become available, and yes, the average Cuban cannot afford it, and only receive it in their rations a few times a year. Pork and chicken, however, are widely available.

The sustainable agriculture movement in Cuba...is providing more and more Cubans with a real, sustainable livelihood. It is an example for the rest of the world to follow. 

Rose Ann Reid of Chelsea, Quebec went on a three-week cycling trip of Cuba a couple of years ago and writes:

We didn't see evidence of a malnourished population, and most certainly didn't witness the obesity that is becoming more and more common in North America.

I have no doubt that Cubans suffer economically, and can only guess -- how much is due to government policies -- and how much to the embargo.

However, there is something very special about these people which I hope is not lost when the change arrives.

Your letters. Our thanks. You can email us, or now follow us on Twitter. Read more of your letters at Your Dispatches


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

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