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March 3 & 6: from Tunis - London - Orestiada, Greece - Riyadh - Cameroon - Detroit

After ousting their tyranical president Tunisians have re-grouped to demand the old guard step down and allow newly-elected officials to write a democratic constitution. Photo/Megan Williams

Our correspondent in the casbah and the ongoing revolution in Tunisia.

Could it happen in Saudi Arabia? Our correspondent there says it is, kind of.  But there's no tractiont.

Gating the vineyard. Greece takes a dramatic step on the Turkish border to end its reputation as the gateway for illegals to Europe.

Trouble in a paradise of corruption.  One of Cameroon's best-known musicians goes to jail for mocking its "constipated constitution."

Selling America by the pound. Meet the author who's documented the end of a Detroit auto plant, and its rebirth in Mexico.

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"Caution, people are flammible." Tunisians have strong thoughts about a new constitution. Photo/Megan Williams

Camping out in the Casbah

We now rejoin the revolution in progress -- in Tunisia.  It's in a fragile state.

For a second week, the crowds are camping in the street, a sort of  living laboratory of debate, the likes of which they've never heard before.

And it's where Dispatches contributor Megan Williams, among the revolutionaries, spoke with Rick.

Hear Megan's debrief now

 

Zimbabwe's Mugabe up; MDC down

In Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's talking about calling an election this year -- with or without the political reforms he pledged. Perhaps he senses a chance to rid himself of the irksome partner in his coalition government.

For two years, his ZANU-PF party's had to share power with Morgan Tsvengarai and the Movement for Democratic Change.

But the MDC's electoral prospects are dimming as it squanders its political capital, according to journalists who cover Zimbabwe.  They were part of a panel at the Frontline Club, a journalists meeting place in London, England. 

Here's part of the conversation involving Geraldine Jackson (founder of the independent Zimbabwean radio station, SW Radio Africa) Blessing-Miles Tendi (author of Making History In Mugabe's Zimbabwe)and (beginning with) Geoff Hill (Johannesburg bureau chief for The Washington Times).

Hear their conversation

That full discussion is one the Frontline Club's website

 

The Greek gatekeepers of Europe

Would-be immigrants from various countries after crossing in secret fromTurkey into Greece.  Photo/AP

The eastern border of Greece gets a lot of traffic, much of it illegal.

In fact, most of the illegal immigrants in Europe today went in through Greece. It's earned a reputation as the loosely-guarded back door to the E.U. Lately the numbers have been soaring. 

 Now there are plans to put up a barrier to end the westward migration, as we hear from Joanna Kakissis in Orestiada, on the Turkish border.

  listen to Joanna's dispatch now

 

Oil crisis fuels Saudi profits; democracy runs on vapours 

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The Middle East runs on rumors and they can be dangerous and difficult to stop. 

So an Egyptian news agency's report of Saudi tanks being sent to aid a fellow Sunni monarch in Bahrain were quickly denied by Saudi officials this week.

Then came a claim the Saudis detained a Shi'ite cleric who's calling for a constitutional monarchy.

But oil prices spiked -- and Saudi stock took its biggest fall in two years, on talk of political unrest in one of the world's key oil producers.

Its king, meanwhile, found $37 billion recently to spread among a citizenry riveted on the sight of revolution among its neighbours.

Reporter Laura Lynch is in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

  listen to Laura's debrief with Rick

 

Senegal's Lapiro got thrown in jail for singing a protest song. Photo/ freemuse.org


Music behind bars

Paul Biya's been President of the West African state of Cameroon for 29 years now, and he's taking steps to see that doesn't end any time soon.

This is a guy with a fondness for foreign real estate and, truth to tell, a newfound tolerance for multi-party politics, which he used to call a "distasteful passing fetish."

That doesn't mean he listens to a critical complaint from his opponents. A musician named Lapiro tried singing one, and wound up in jail for trying.

From Senegal, Canadian journalist Amanda Fortier managed to reach him by phone, as he was coming back from court in Cameroon.

  listen to Amanda's dispatch now

This week marks World Music Freedom Day, which shines a light on the censorship and persecution of musicians and others around the globe. You can find out more about it at www.freemuse.org.

Amanda will bring us other profiles of African musicians living under repressirve regimes, in future Dispatches.

Just another rusty Ford plant

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In the American Rust Belt, factories are dismantled daily and entire assembly lines shipped to low-wage factories out-of-country.

For writer Paul Clemens, it's symptomatic of a wider economic malaise, a story he wanted to tell from the inside out.

So he wheedled his way into the Budd auto stamping plant in Detroit, a place he describes as looking like a "sacked village."  He took notes on its culture and the conversations of those tearing it down.

It's all in his new book called Punching Out: One Year In A Closing Auto Plant

  Paul speaks to Rick, from Detroit  

  Paul reads about the atmosphere over the winter in the Budd plant.

  Paul reads about the motley crew of men who worked there in the end.

  Paul reads about a conversation with an executive of the Brazilian company buying some of the equipment in the Budd plant.

Punching Out, is published by Doubleday.

 

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally. With technical producers Rob Selmanovic and Victor Johnston, senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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