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December 15 & 18: from Rio de Janeiro - Democratic Republic of Congo - Mexico City - Russia - Delhi

From our correspondents around the world....

A view of the construction underway at the fabled Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. Locals are upset that the stadium is being "upgraded" for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, saying it is losing its character and becoming more elitist. 

In a stadium in Brazil reside the memories of a nation. But in trying to make it better are they about to make it worse?

Congo elects a new president. Or is it two? That's not supposed to happen. 

Inside a Mafia State.  Russia's efforts to intimidate journalists, one break-in at a time.

And, a swing through a city on a swamp. Never mind New Orleans. Mexico City's sinkin', man.



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Extreme makeover:
the soccer stadium edition

Rio de Janeiro is having a love-hate relationship.  With a building. Not just any building. A stadium. One of the world's largest.

And since it's going to host some big deal sports events pretty soon, they're going to make it...smaller. 

Which feels odd.

Then again, you should hear how Brazilian sports fans feel about it, especially when they find out why.

CBC correspondent Connie Watson is there as they give it a hundred-and-ten percent. 

Connie's dispatch

Supporters of Congolese president Joseph Kabila take to the streets in celebration in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Friday Dec. 9, 2011, after the electoral commission declared their candidate the winner. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

One president too many

People in the Democratic Republic of Congo long ago learned to live with less, but when it comes to presidents, they're suddenly flush. 

By the numbers, Joseph Kabila's been re-elected in last month's election. But the numbers are questioned by critics crying fraud.

Kabila's main opponent says HE's actually president after wining an election in which unregistered voters appeared out of nowhere, and and ballot boxes disappeared...somewhere.

This much is certain. This kind of political instability is risky in a country still fractured from a war in the last decade that killed off a population the size of Norway's.

Jason Steans (Photo/Carolyn Dunn)

For analysis of the situation,  Rick spoke with Jason Stearns, an American journalist who's written extensively about Congo. His latest book is called Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and The Great War of Africa. He was in Nairobi.

Rick's conversation with Jason

A Domino's Pizza outlet stands next to Tikka Town at the DLF Mall food court in Delhi. (Photo/Faiz Jamil)

 Fast food in the land  of slow cooking

You know what they call a, ah, a Quarter Pounder with Cheese ah, in Paris? 

They call it a, Royale with Cheeeeese. 

With those lines in the film Pulp Fiction, Vincent enlightened the Fast Food Nation on the little differences one culture imposes on another's cuisine.  

We at Dispatches are about to update you now on what happens when India enters the picture. Hint. They call it a, McAloo Tikki.    

Faiz Jamil's View from Here


A protester wearing a mask of Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, attends a sanctioned rally in Moscow to protest against the results of the December 10 parliamentary elections in Russia. (Photo: REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin)

The wrath of Putin's Mafia State

Journalist Luke Harding went back to his Moscow apartment one day and found the phone off the hook. 

By itself, no big deal.  But there was also that woman who knocked on the door, just stared at him and left.  

And the stranger at the airport who punched him in the back. 

And the time he came home and found all 14 batteries removed from the security system. 

Intimidation is all in a day's work for correspondents in the Russia of President Vladimir Putin, where journalists like Luke Harding of The Guardian newspaper are routinely harassed. 

This year he became the first western reporter to be expelled from Russia since the Cold War, ending a four-year campaign of what he calls "soft torture" in "the world's foremost spy state." 

It's all in his new book, Mafia State: How One Reporter Became An Enemy of the Brutal New Russia.  It will be published in Canada and the U.S. in May 2012 by Palgrave Macmillan, and is available now from Guardian Books.

Rick's interview with Luke

A special extended edition of the interview

This week the editor and a senior manager at Russia's most popular news weekly were fired. Likely, said one of them, because their "coverage was not sufficiently sympathetic towards the party that won the elections."  Publishing the close-up of a spoiled ballot on which someone wrote profanity about Putin probably didn't help.   

And here's Luke Harding once again, describing one of the FSB's break-ins, part of an ongoing campaign against him: 

A view of Sara Gomez' apartment building (Left) in Mexico City. Inside, every wall seems slanted, the floors uneven. It's a victim of the widespread sinking of the city, due to the unstable earth below. (Photo/Myles Estey)

Mexico: a sinking city on a swamp

Italy's famous leaning tower of Pisa tilts an alarming four metres off-centre. That's a list of about four degrees. More than enough to get your attention.

But in Mexico City, that kind of architectural abberation wouldn't rate a mention.  

Because it's so commonplace.

If a house in the Mexican capital has a level surface, well, it's only a matter of time as we hear from Canadian journalist Myles Estey, in a home that would defeat even Holmes.   

Myles' documentary

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

We'll bring you the world!

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