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March 17/20, 2011 Dispatches: from Kabul - Riyadh - Beijing - Douglas, South Africa -Cozumel - India via New York

Afghanistan's newly graduated police, salute Canadian trainers.

With NATO preparing to give a bigger security role to the Afghan military, the CBC correspondent in Kabul tells us how safe the public's feeling.  

The Redemption Of Larry Joe.  A South African convict turns to music to make a good finish from a bad start.

The outcaste elite. If talking to one of those call centres has changed the way you think about India, wait'll you hear how Indians feel about them! 

And an icy view from Beijing, where a foot in cold water is the poor man's recreation.

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CBC's Susan Ormiston in Afghanistan

The Afghanistanization process

Next week, after ten years of preparation, Afghanistan assumes responsibility for securing several parts of the country now patrolled by NATO.

Longer term, the date Afghans really focus on is 2014 -- when most NATO forces begin to withdraw completely, and Afghanistan has to police itself.

Meantime the spring fighting season's about to rear up.  The violence is expected to be worse than last year, according to the general in charge of American and NATO forces.

The CBC's newest foreign correspondent is Susan Ormiston, newsgathering now in Kabul.

Her conversation with Rick


Breaking the ice in Beijing

Will you look at the time? It's March break! Lots of folks in bathing suits, somewhere warm. Now what would Charly Sheen do?

Canadian journalist Allie Jaynes found out the Chinese version.

Taking the cold plunge  

The screwy Saudi security syndrome 

Rick remembers a Saudi man in flowing robes approaching him in the street and said the house across the square is headquarters to the notorious Abu Nidal, at the time a wanted terrorist:

"Then he asked if I had any whisky.  Screwy moments like that are, frankly, one of the perqs of being a correspondent."

And for a female correspondent working Saudi Arabia, the stories can be considerably weirder, especially in a time of unrest, like now, as we hear in this week's guest essay from the CBC's Laura Lynch.

Listen to Laura's essay


Lobsterman Charley and all that garbage


This week's Soundtrax feature is a response to last week's documentary about Lobsterman Charley and the plastic pollution in the Gulf of Mexico.

 Listen to Tom Paxton and the story of the Cozumel Cleanup   



India's out-caste achievers take your calls

Some call-centre comedy, courtesy of the BBC.

The ability to turn the Indian accent into something more western is one of the qualities they look for in Indian call-centre hires. 

Outsourcing call centres and tech support shops to India hs created an affluent new generation of young Indians.  But other disturbing truths are beginning to emerge.

And they're in a new book. Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing Is Changing The Way Indians Understand Themselves.

The author is sociologist Shehzad Nadeem, an American, from City University of New York

Shehzad spoke with Rick from New York.

Shehzad spoke with Rick from New York

Shehzad Nadeem is an assistant Professor of Sociology at City University of New York, Lehman College.  Dead Ringers is published by Princeton University Press.


 The Redemption Of Larry Joe


Larry leaves the Douglas Prison last December, a free man with a musical mission. 


Larry Joe, a troubled convict hoping for a music career, meets a restless music producer unsatisfied with his own.

That producer happened to be a one of the founders of the highly-popular group Freshly Ground.
The CBC's Corinne Smith picks up our story outside a penitentiary in the town of Douglas in South Africa's northern cap -- where Larry was released at the time his record was.



Listen to Corinne's documentary

  Read and hear more about Larry Joe and his CD at http://www.larryjoelive.com


Letters from listeners about Larry Joe 



Your Dispatches

Last week we heard the story of Antonio Savone and Rosa Gomez, tortured during Argentina's "dirty war" in the 1970s and recently allowed to testify against their captors.

Turns out listener Marshall Leslie of Toronto was there in 1976 and had his own taste of that ruthless regime. 

Camped outside of San Luis, Argentina, twenty other tourists and I woke to the sound of gunshots and yells.

Pretty soon it became clear that the shouts were orders - to get down and stay down. We had been surrounded by police and were under arrest.

As we came out of the interrogation rooms into the dark of the early morning we saw lines of men in the courtyard -- almost every one, young like us -- who had been picked up by the police during the night.

Standing in silent rows they were being questioned, yelled at, and hit.

(After Marshall was released) The British consul in the city...showed us how the state police had already planted a story in the daily paper. It said our group had been arrested while trying to illegally climb nearby Mount Aconcagua. These guys were good at covering their tracks.

Your story shows that some of them have been at it for 35 years. It also raises the possibility that Antonio Savone could have been one of the young men I passed, lined up in the Mendoza police courtyard early that morning.

I understand why 35 years won't erase Antonio's memories - even my vicarious ones still linger with me. And as my little anecdote ended, his more harrowing story was just beginning. I'm thankful that Antonio Savone's is finally nearing its resolution.

Phyllis Webster heard Antonio and Rosa's story online from Buenos Aires and writes;

I am in Argentina as a volunteer teacher for a few months.  This afternoon, I went to the Plaza de Mayo to watch the grandmothers and others who had lost family members during the Dirty War walk slowly around...It was very hot and very emotional as hundreds of us watched respectfully, occasionally applauding as they marched. 

I returned to listen to Dispatches, a program I have loved over the years, on CBC Radio Victoria on my computer and heard Rosa and Antonio's story and I wept again.

It has been a day to remember ... how inhumane we can be to our fellow beings and ...how caring we can be as demonstrated by Rosa and Antonio....we all have to be vigilant about human rights... in Argentina, in Canada and in all the countries of the world" writes Phyllis Webster in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Here's one from a dedicated listener, Derek Wilson of Port Moody, BC, who heard our March 3 interview about the book Punching Out -- about the last year in the life of Detroit auto plant  --before being shut down and its equipment moved to Mexico.

The item...about disassembling the Budd  auto parts stamping plant in Detroit to ship it to Mexico for re-use, really hit home with me..."

About eight years ago, the 40-year old Imperial Oil refinery in Port Moody, BC, was disassembled and shipped to China!

If the Enbridge pipeline across central British Columbia is approved, in a few years the Chinese may be refining Alberta tar sands...in the former IOCO refinery.

Ironic, eh?

...As peak oil raises transportation costs in the future, we will regret the days that we let Canada's industrial infrastructure slip away. It will be much more costly to re-construct.

The human technical know-how and trade skills may be harder to replace after it has been allowed to wither. Thanks for a report that should wave a red flag to our politicians and bureaucrats.

And if you'd care to comment on any of the stories we air or tell us one of your own, email dispatches@cbc.ca
There's more mail in Your Dispatches.


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