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November 11 & 14, 2010: from Cambodia, New Delhi, Mali, Israel

Follow us on Twitter!  @cbcdispatches

U.S. President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (with Henry Kissinger) agreed in 1969 that Israel would adopt a policy of "ambiguity" about whether it had nukes.

Photo/Nixon Library

Israel has nukes but nobody can talk about them. An Israeli author says that's unacceptable. He reveals what his government won't.

Mystery bones: In Cambodia, scientists looking for tigers found human bones. But whose bones are in those lost jars?

For the poor of India,"trickle-down" means a soaking from the latest monsoon. We look at why it's so hard to create a social welfare system that works there. 

The long hello: A lesson from the Dogon. The politest people on earth?

 

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India's trickle-down barely a drop

Abu Hassan could use a break. But he's in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He lives in poverty, in India, in a city one activist calls "the capital of hunger."

Next year the country will be counting its poor, to determine who truly qualifies for welfare. Delhi plans to make as many as a hundred-million more Indians eligible for subsidies.

Good luck Abu Hassan.

He lives in a time when India's economy's under new pressure to perform, but the old ways still conspire against him.

CBC Correspondent Jennifer Westaway takes us to meet him...

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 Israel's nukes: don't ask, don't tell

You could forgive Israel for nuclear nervousness.  A couple of well-placed bombs over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv could do more harm than the Holocaust.

Survival was the whole reason it began building its own nukes back in the 60's, though it's never publicly admitted to having any.

Consequently, Israel is a precedent in international affairs. The world's only unacknowledged nuclear power.

It's got nukes, and other states pretend not to know.

But that policy of don't-ask-don't-tell is no longer appropriate, says Avner Cohen, who first revealed Israel's nuclear history in a 1998 book.

And he has more to say in his new one, entitled The Worst Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain With The Bomb.

It reveals Israel's atomic weapons are not accountable to any legal process, and that there are flaws in oversight and defence decisions.

Plus, there are restrictions on reporting about them.

To Cohen, it all betrays the democratic values Israel purports to uphold. He likens it to Iran's policy of describing its nuclear program as peaceful, despite indications to the contrary.

Now Cohen's not just some muck-raking hack. He's a respected academic, currently Senior Fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) of the Monterey Institute of International Studies.  And he's paid a heavy personal price for taking on the Israeli government.

He supports his country's decision to build atomic bombs. But not the official state policy he calls "amimut", the Hebrew word for opacity.

Avner Cohen's interview...

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Don't ask...about Darfur  

Reporting on the conflict in Darfur is tough and getting tougher.  Authorities in Sudan are cracking down on those trying to cover it.

Rick has this on Radio Dabanga...

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

 

Cambodian bones, a case for Indy Jones?

In 2003, wildlife rangers in Cambodia went looking for tigers. Instead, they found jars and coffins, centuries old, filled with human remains.  Thirteen in all.

Which made no sense.

Cambodians have practiced cremation for hundreds of years. So who were these people?

It remained a mystery, until recently.

In a story we first aired last March, Dispatches contributor Brian Calvert met up with an American scientist braving elephants and...moths...to learn the secret of those jars in the jungle.

Brian's dispatch......

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By the way, Beaven's wrist? Broken.  It needed orthopedic surgery. But she was back in the Cambodian bush last summer, to return some beads, the ring, and pottery fragments to villagers near the site. And there are still two more finds to study.

 

Among the Dogon people of Mali, just saying "hi" is never enough. Photo/Jaap Croese.

Say "hello", and a lot more

Ritual. Try and get through a day without one.

We shake hands. We air-kiss. We long ago forgot why we do it. We just...do.

Maybe we need to go back to the beginning. In the African state of Mali, the Dogon people have a gregarious ritual of their own.

One they forget at their peril, as American journalist Grant Fuller first told us last May.

Grant's mini-dispatch...

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Everything's "sewa." Did you hear it in Grant's piece? It means, everything's fine. In fact, the Dogon say it so often, the neighbours reportedly call them Dogon, the "Everything's Fine People." Now where else are you gonna learn something like that? Only here, that's where!

 

Coming soon to Dispatches...

Nirupama Subramanian, a journalist from India had the rare chance to report from neighbouring Pakistan.

You see, the rival countries have an unwritten rule: only two journalists from each country can go and cover the other one.

For Subramanian, working in Pakistan meant she was constantly trailed by the state security services, couldn't travel outside the major cities, and she didn't dare appear too curious about things...

A clip from her interview...

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More with Indian journalist Nirupama Subramanian, on an upcoming episode of 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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