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November 4 & 7, 2010: from Berlin - Zambia - Mae Sot, Thailand - Hainan province, China - Guca, Serbia

A Norwegian Elvis impersonator tries to lighten the mood for Burmese refugees in a camp on the Thai border.

No joke: What's an Elvis impersonator have in common with this weekend's election in Burma? Both are pretending to be something they're not.

Japan vs. China. Why rare earth, wind and fiery rhetoric have them in a diplomatic throwdown.

Serbian discord: The sweet sound of celebration sours as nationalism invades a gathering of brass bands in Serbia.

Charity got your goat?   They say you'll help a villager in some far away place if you buy him or her one.  A Canadian went to Zambia to see for himself.

Art for art's sake? Berlin's grungy art house called Tacheles is on prime real estate. The tourist landmark may be too valuable to keep.

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Burma's vote: a wardrobe change? 

Here's something you don't hear every day.

The generals who control Burma, also known as Myanmar, are urging the public to vote them out of office on November 7th.

They're billing the election as a transition from military to civillian rule.

But while it may change the generals' clothes, few believe it'll change their ways.

It's been twenty years since the last election. But the military didn't like the results and took over, slapping the winner under house arrest where she is again today.

Burmese refugees, waiting out this election in neighbouring Thailand, have nothing to gain, yet still much to lose.

We have a reporter in their camp, but for his own security, we're not using his name. Unusual, yes. But so is this story.

Our dispatch from from the Burma border... ...

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Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has expressed concern about the "oppresive" conditions under which the election will be held.  It issued this statement.


China and Japan need some zen

What began with the collision of a Chinese trawler with Japanese patrol boats near disputed islands in the windy East China Sea, is turning into a diplomatic shipwreck in need of salvage.

CBC China correspondent Anthony Germain explains...

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The View from Here:  Guca, Serbia

Trubaci blast their horns while onlookers take it all in, in Guca, Serbia (photo/Lisa Hale)

Brass bands and the Balkans might not seem like a match, but they have a long history in Serbia, which recently played host to a global gathering of horn players.

Good times and good beer were top of the agenda, though others were keen to hijack it, as Lisa Hale discovered, when it came time to strike up the band.


Lisa's dispatch...

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By the way, Serbia's Parliament has just apologized to Bosnian Muslims for the massacre at Srebrenica, engineered by fugitive commander Ratko Mladic. The government is also  increasing the bounty on his head tenfold. With the E.U. warning there will be no admission as long as he's at large, Serbia's reward for his capture is now 14 million dollars.

There are new blog entries almost every day on The View From Here.


Christopher Richardson in Zambia in search of the goats he donated from Canada Photo/Henge Productions


Where's my goat?

The holiday season is approaching, and so are the flyers from charities urging us to give the gift of a goat, to a needy person in the developing world.

They like to call it an "ethical donation."

But what happens between the giving and the getting? Does it make any real difference?

Christopher Richardson decided to find out. He donated goats in the names of fifty of his clients, rather than give them hats or pens or that kind of swag.

But, he found some of them wondering if there really was a goat!

And being a filmmaker, he turned his quest into the new documentary entitled Where's My Goat.

Christopher Richardson from St.John's...

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If you want to see Where's My Goat, it's on The Documentary Channel Friday Nov 5th, at 7pm eastern, and again on December 12th and 25th.   Watch the trailer.


The bombed-out Tacheles art house is one of Berlin's most visited sites. Photo/Kunsthaus Tacheles

Artsy grunge vs. das Kapital

In east Berlin, a shrine of the sub-culture is up for auction, and not everyone's happy about it. It's called Tacheles.

You'll even find it in the guidebooks. An art collective that sprang from the repression of life in the former communist regime.

But what was once just a bohemian squat in a bombed-out building, is now prime real estate.

And the artists could be evicted at any time as we hear from Dispatches contributor Alexa Dvorson, in upper east side Berlin.

Alexa's dispatch...

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You've sent mail!

Here's a sampling of the mail we got after last week's interview about thorium, a commonplace mineral capable of powering nuclear reactors that's safer than uranium Martin Golder in Victoria, B.C. writes...

While researching this subject a few years ago, I came across a statement that I didn't hear in your program. The only reason that this process was not chosen as the preferred nuclear power source was because it produced no weapons-grade fuel.

In Calgary, Bryan Lokstet weighs in...

It sounds like the final nail in the coffin for the liquid thorium reactor, is that it did not produce a viable weapons-grade by-product to aid the U.S. military's development of nuclear warheads.

It seems the legacy of the nuclear arms race still haunts us to this day.

From Daniel Donaldson in Toronto; Canada,

With its history of nuclear engineering, including a focus on approaches different from the U.S. mainstream -- and huge Thorium reserves to say nothing of the shameful despolation of the Tar Sands -- should be a world leader in this technology.

Perhaps your piece will catch the ear of someone in Ottawa or AECL who will show some intellectual curiosity, and perhaps a little courage, and put us on this path.

John Robertson in Deep River, Ontario writes to say he WAS a scientist with Atomic Energy of Canada back in 1978 and did tests on thorium...

In a CANDU reactor, the present fuel -- uranium oxide -- would be replaced by a similar ceramic, thorium oxide....tests by AECL before I retired in 1985 demonstrated the performance of the two is very similar.

The simple reason that thorium is not yet being exploited, is that as long as uranium is at its present price, it produces electricity at a lower cost.

Also last week we heard about a Norwegian delicacy consisting of a brined and boiled sheep's head. And we asked if you had a recipe like that of your own. Dr Iain F Clayre, retired missionary, from Edmonton, spent five years among headhunters of Borneo, in the late '60s...

You will be glad to know that they no longer took heads as trophies. They did, however, make two kinds of "jaroc", a wild pig-meat and a fish jaroc.

Chunks of either were stuffed into a hollow bamboo ... with alternate layers of local salt produced by boiling the water from particular springs...

A clay bung was stuffed into the top and the whole buried in the ground for some months. When it was dug up for eating, it tasted not unlike a ripe gorgonzola cheese.

They also harvest 50cm long garret worms from rafts of logs they anchor in the brackish water where the rivers meet the sea, and cook them up like live spaghetti. I confess I preferred the sago grubs. 

And, Doug Stern of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut sent a picture and wrote...

Yes I do (have a recipe), and it's not from another country, but ours, Canada. In the central Arctic where I live, a traditional delicacy is cooked caribou head. Especially this time of year when caribou are close to town on their annual migration to the coast.

In the past 3 days I've had 'neaquq', literally 'head', for supper twice. Yes it's an aquired taste, and like the Norwegian students and some adults who are 'disgusted' by the look, so too are the younger generation of Inuit not quite so enamored of this meal.... Brain, eyeball, optic nerve, jaw meat, nose, even the fat in the head tastes different. Couldn't ask for a better smorgasbord of flavours and textures.

Doug's smorgasboard, fresh from the oven!

(photo/Doug Stern)

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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