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October 28 & 31, 2010: from Rio de Janeiro - Dublin - Voss, Norway - Huntsville, Alabama - London

High-school students tuck into a meal of smalahove in Norway (photo/Nachammai Raman).

Brazil reclaims lost communities: an ambitious plan to transform the capital's most dangerous shantytowns.

Why hundreds of sham marriages are taking place in Ireland, and there's not much police can do about it.

The Wikileaks whistleblower defends his decision to publish documents that pillory the Pentagon.

Is the key to clean energy buried beneath Nevada? We have the story of thorium in a drum.

And, fancy another helping of sheep cheeks? Norwegians line up for an acquired taste.

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Brazil's new "Class C"

In Rio de Janiero, the money runs uphill.

Brazil's economic boom has bought it the chance to drive drug violence from the hillside shanty-towns known as "favelas."

And in regimented Brazilian society -- where the rich are "Class A" and the very poor are "Class E" -- the favelas now house an emerging middle class known as "Class C."

It's the result of a bold social compact.

What was once the preserve of poverty and lawlessness is becoming desirable real estate, as we hear from CBC Correspondent Connie Watson in Rio's Babilonia, a favela in transformation.

Connie's dispatch...

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And Brazil's now focused on reclaiming another thousand favelas, aiming to pacify and transform some of the most violent in time for the influx of tourists to the World Cup in four years time, and and the Olympics in 2016.

Voters will get a chance to pass judgment on the outgoing President's agenda, by choosing between his handpicked successor and an opposition figure in this weekend's Presidential election.

 Not love, actually

She arrived at Dublin airport from Latvia, just 18 years old. Like most of the others, Anna was young, naive and poor.

She'd been recruited from a European Union state by human traffickers, procuring women to enter into sham marriages to men from non-EU countries seeking a shortcut to legal residence.

Since Latvia is so poor, and Ireland has no laws against marriages of convenience, they're the new playgrounds for the scammers.

Jamie Smyth, social affairs correspondent for The Irish Times, profiled Anna as part of an extensive series on Ireland's surge in sham marriages.

He spoke to Rick from Dublin...

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Your dispatches

Now, some of your letters about last week's story on building a better cookstove for the Third World.

Susan Gage with the charity InnovativeCommunities.org in Victoria, B.C. says it warmed her heart.

She was in Guatemala last winter to meet a truckload of clean-burning, fuel-efficient stoves to a rural Mayan community.

I'll never forget the sight of the waiting families rushing out to help carry the heavy cement blocks, the fire-box parts, the metal planchas, up the steep lakeside hill to their homes.

Goodbye to smoky open-hearth fires, to burns and respiratory diseases, to spending a big slice of their small earnings on firewood.

[The same region was hit with devastating landslides last spring.]

One of the causes was deforestation. All of those open-hearth fires have been gobbling up all the trees that once held the soil in place. When you replace an open-hearth fire with a clean-burning stove, you not only improve the health of families, and reduce (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere; you reduce the amount of firewood by 70 %.

Michael Irwin sent this email from Kelowna, B.C.:

Given the huge size of the potential market, the carbon-negative aspect of pyrolyzing stoves offers more than smoke-free indoor air, but also significant free soil enhancement, the use of crop residue fuels -- saving forests -- and even the possibility of selling bio-char [which captures greenhouse gases.]

These stoves are the tip of the iceberg of the positive story of bio-char, which should be making the news in a big way.

Keep your letters coming by email. Or follow us on Twitter.

And read more letters at Your Dispatches.


All we like sheep

Ivar Loene's 5-year-old grandson Henrik's favourite food is smalahove, as he tells visiting students (photo/Nachammai Raman).

From time to time, usually around Burns Night in January, the sons of Scotland endure flagrant abuse from those untutored in the ways of the haggis.

When confronted with a sheep's stomach stuffed with innards, there really is no middle ground, oddly enough. It's either reverence or revulsion.

So those of you of Scots descent can sympathise with folks in Norway, as they discover for the first time an old-time sheep dish of their own.

We're off to west Norway on a voyage of culinary discovery with Nacha Raman.

Nacha's documentary...

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Haiti...Rumours of Glory here

This week on our Soundtrack feature, another piece of music forever linked to a world event witnessed by a Dispatches listener.

Listen to Tom Ross' musical memory...

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More music that takes you back at our blog, The View from Here.


Thorium in a drum

Buried in the Nevada desert are a few hundred drums of a common mineral that could power every state in the U.S.

It's called thorium, mostly used in lightbulbs and welding. But capable of powering nuclear reactors in liquid or solid form. In the '50s, the U.S. looked into it until promoters of uranium reactors muscled it out.

But thorium remains cheaper. And safer. And some say it holds the key to a future of clean and affordable energy. The catch? Billions in startup costs, and not many investors as long as uranium's around.

Which is why the American military dumped -- ah, stored -- all that thorium under Nevada in 2005 after sitting on it for 50 years.

But thorium's defenders live in hope, and Kirk Sorensen is one of them. He's a nuclear technology engineer, formerly with NASA. And a bit of a voice in the American nuclear wilderness, it has to be said.

He spoke to Rick from Huntsville, Alabama...

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Kirk Sorensen is a nuclear technology engineer with Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama. On his Twitter page he describes himself as a "thorium evangelist."


Wikileaks speaks

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at a news conference in London recently, releasing Iraq war documents. (Lennart Preiss/Associated Press).

The editor of the Wikileaks website has finally revealed his sources.

Australian Julian Assange is riding a wave of controversy these days following his recent publication of nearly 400,000 pages of classified U.S. government documents on the war in Iraq.

He defended his decision before a gathering of journalists at The Frontline Club in London, England this week, sharing the stage with another famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg.

His disclosure of the Pentagon Papers revealed a President lying about state of the war in Vietnam back in the '70s.

Here's an excerpt of Assange. Forgive the siren intruding on Ellsberg. Not all London windows are soundproof....

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