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December 30 & Jan 2: from Kibera, Kenya - Montevideo, Uruguay - Dublin, Ireland - New York

A scene from "Togetherness Supreme", a film about people caught up in post-election violence in Kenya (photo/David McDougall)

Art imitates dangerous life in Kenya, where political violence lies dormant, but deadly.

How Ireland's Celtic Tiger got to be one sick cat. A new book predicts the Irish economy will be a zombie for years to come.

Why Big Tobacco is taking on an entire country in Latin America.

And possession of cocaine got Amir Amma 25-to-life, a sentence seemingly more suited to murder. But times are changing in New York, and so is he. 

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Hoping life imitates art in Kenya 

Filmmakers get ready to show their film -- about post-election violence in the slums of Kibera, Kenya -- to residents of Kibera(photo/Nathan Collett)

In 2007, Kenya erupted in tribal violence after a disputed national election. A thousand people were killed.

And those troubled days have been re-created in a film shot in Kibera, featuring local actors and extras who survived the mob attacks.

You want to believe they bring some personal baggage to the proceedings.
Kenya remains troubled as the clock ticks towards the next election.

Which made it a little hard to write the film's ending, as David McDougall first told us last summer when he got off the bus to Kibera.

Listen to David's dispatch now

The danger of political violence in Kenya is far from passed according to secret diplomatic cables recently released by Wikileaks.

They quote the U.S. Ambassador warning the government's "failure to implement significant reforms, greatly enhance prospects for a violent crisis in 2012 or before, which might well prove much worse than the last post-election crisis."


Financial furball gags Celtic Tiger

When Ireland's finances collapsed in 2007, it "made Icarus look boringly stable," to quote the Irish journalist Fintan O'Toole.

Banks fell. New homes sit abandoned. Hotels stand empty.

Flying too close to the sun has brought the economy of the so-called "Celtic Tiger" to a virtual standstill.

And a country of just 4 million people is left with a debt it'll never pay off that's eroded its very sense of itself.

The blame's being heaped on property developers, bankers, and a culture of corruption fostered by bad governance. Some green shoots of recovery are appearing in other recession-wracked countries of Europe, but Ireland's not expecting it to happen there any time soon.

The Irish author Fintan O'Toole documented the causes and effects in his pull-no-punches book: Ship Of Fools - How Stupidity And Corruption Sank The Celtic Tiger.

Listen to Rick's conversation with Fintan now

Fintan O'Toole is a journalist with The Irish Times newspaper, and author of Ship Of Fools, published by Public Affairs. He was in New York.


Uruguay's round vs. big tobacco

The Marlboro Man is fixing to put his brand on Uruguay, and one way or another, somebody's going to get burned.

With markets drying up in the developed world, cigarette company Philip Morris hopes to expand in the developing world and Latin America.

And its filed lawsuits against several countries with tough anti-smoking laws.

In Uruguay, Philip Morris claims excessive regulation is costing it money and it's suing for compensation.

This is the first time Big Tobacco has challenged a government, using the terms of an international trade agreement.

Roberto Bissio has been monitoring the case for the Third World Institute, a civil society organization based in Uruguay. Rick reached him in Paris last May.

Listen to Rick's interview with Roberto now

And since we first aired that interview last spring, Bissio reports the legal process may take several years, but Uruguay's getting international support. New York's millionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg is even offering to pay legal costs with funds from his Bloomberg Foundation.

New York's lost generation

New York in the '70s was at war with heroin. The drug laws it passed back in the day were brutual, and remained on the books for years after.

Possession of small amounts of almost any drug sent kids to the cells with sentences equal to those of convicted killers.

Now, nearly 40 years later, that's beginning to change. In a piece we first aired last May, American journalist Maria Scarvalone tracked the remarkable case of a man keen to catch up, after a generation lost in jail. 

LIsten to Maria's documentary now

And an update on that story: Amir's made it to college this semester, majoring in Social Work with a minor in Public Policy. But it's been challenging: he's had to go on public assistance, and has not been able to find any work. He says he's learned a "higher level of humility" since leaving jail.

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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