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September 29, 2011: from, Mumbai, India - Chisinau, Moldova - Loruth, Kenya - Peshawar, Pakistan - Bangladesh

From our correspondents around the world...

Oxfam staffer gives out cash to a famine victim in Kenya.  An aid solution that can have problems.   Photo/Anjali Nayar

Pay Day: Desperate times call for unusual measures to combat the drought in Kenya.

After years of being named and shamed, is the RCMP cracking down on Canadian corruption overseas?   

Al Qaeda then and now, from the Pakistani journalist who had rare access to both of its leaders.  

Broken sidewalks, broken lives. Why nobody dares write the story of modern-day Moldova.

and, Indian bling: diamonds are the new gold. 

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Abdoulai Mohamed counting the cash to be handed out to victims of the drought in Loruth, Kenya.  Photo/Anjali Nayar


Cash for Kenyans

In drought-stricken Kenya, there's this pregnant woman who walks for kilometres every day, seeking ways to feed her family.  And there are millions like her at risk of famine.  

And now, one western aid group operating there is adding to the traditional approaches to foreign assistance.  It's taken to handing out cash.

That's a bit of a departure from the usual goals of funding sustainable development because it lets the needy decide how to spend it, as we hear from Dispatches contributor Anjali Nayar in a village on Kenya's northern border.

Hear Anjali's dispatch.

 

One of several fires at the Canadian-owned gas well in Tengratila, Bangladesh.  Photo/Bangladesh Daily Star

Canada's Corruption Crackdown?

Is Canada finally getting serious about bribery involving Canadian companies abroad?

An Alberta court recently levied the largest fine in the brief history of the RCMP's young anti-corruption agency: $9.5 million against Niko Resources of Calgary.

It's admitted slipping goodies to the cabinet minister in Bangladesh who was in charge of deciding how much Niko should pay to a village damaged by an explosion at its drill site.

The case brings the number of convictions under Canada's Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act to a total of exactly...two.

Two in the 12 years since the Act came into force, because until relatively recently, there wasn't anyone to enforce it.

For its inaction, Canada's been repeatedly named and shamed by the OECD -- the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

So, are we serious now?  Lawyer James Klotz is president of Transparency International Canada, an independent agency monitoring global corruption.  He's also a partner at the law firm Miller Thomson in Toronto.

Listen to Rick's chat with James

The RCMP by the way, now tells us it's opened some new investigations, in addition to the 23 we now know about.  But, anti-corruption unit Inspector Gordon Drayton would not say how many.

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Yusufzai with bin Laden in Khost, southern Afghanistan during one of their two meetings.  Photo/courtesy R.Yusufzai

Al-Qaeda, close up

After a dizzying drive through the wilds of Afghanistan, journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai found himself in an al-Qaeda training camp, sitting across from a sickly man trying to look strong. 

It was Osama bin Laden, and the two talked into the night with translation from his personal physician, Ayman al-Zawahri, the abrasive Egyptian militant who has now succeeded him.

It was a rare opportunity for a journalist, and Yusufzai has had two of them. With Zawahri now on top, the question is, what's he capable of?

To field it, Rick was joined from Peshawar by Rahimullah Yusufzai.  He's Resident Editor with The News International, an English-language daily newspaper in Pakistan.

Hear our interview with Rahimullah Yusufzai

 

Journalists in Moldova who don't play it safe tend to get beaten, or worse.  Photo/Reuters

Modova motto: "You don't want to know, and we ain't asking"

The British writer L.P. Hartley once wrote; "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there," thereby anticipating the present state of modern-day Moldova by more than 50 years.

Journalists there don't get to write what they know.

Not if they know what's good for them, as this week's guest essayist recently discovered.

Jeffrey Dvorkin is executive Director of the Organization of News Ombudsmen.

He was recently in Moldova talking with reporters from across eastern Europe about making their craft a little more independent in a country where journalists have to watch their step, in more ways than one.

Jeffrey Dvorkin's essay

Jeffrey Dvorkin is Director of both the Organization of News Ombudsmen, and the University of Toronto's Journalism Program. He was in Moldova at the invitation of the Council of Europe, an arm of the European Union.

 

Himanshu and Komal, show off their "bling" at their wedding in Mumbai.  Photo/Hubert Hayaud

Bombay bling

In India, there's a new bling in town.

The choice of gold jewellery as the herald of wealth and hedge against hard times, is getting a run for its money from diamonds. 

Put another way, an industry built on fear, now competes with one rooted in fancy.

From high-end baubles down to 20-dollar tastes, India caters to all comers with a diamond marketing campaign driven by the white-hot stars of Bollywood.
 
A little ironic for a country that doesn't have any diamond mines of its own. 

But there's been a shift in culture.  And it's putting the pinch not only on gold dealers, but also the rough-and-tumble diamond traders who do million-dollar deals in the streets, and will soon be left out in them, as we hear from Wendy Champagne at a Mumbai jewellery store.   

Wendy's dispatch from Mumbai

 

Your Dispatches

Last week we aired Rick's story on climate change in Chicago, then asked if you've had any where you live.

From British Columbia, Rosamonde and Patrick Dupuy write:

We've noticed here how seldom we now have a true deep freeze in the Gulf Islands.  We've lived on Salt Spring Island for forty years...Every four years, the pond froze over...long enough that we could...skate...on it for two or three days.

For this to happen, we had to have four or five days of...unbroken freeze. Since 1997, the pond has NOT frozen deeply enough to skate on.

Many dedicated people are working on all aspects of climate change here...but our personal guess at this point...is that it's too late now to do anything significant enough to reverse the damage.

John Torgunrud writes to say he's a towboat captain based in Vancouver, and noticed a change in the years he's spent steaming north to the Arctic.

In the '80s, we had...to get in and out past the north coast of Alaska, in late August and the first of September.Now we have at (least) two to three MONTHS,  from the end of July to the beginning of October.  Two summers ago, I went from Roberts Bay (in Nunavut) to Vancouver in the beginning of September without seeing ONE piece of ice.

(On that same trip) we saw at least seven large sailboats doing the North West Passage for fun, as well as a very crazy Newfoundlander doing it in a large Zodiac. The Arctic now is the latest TOURIST site.

From Fredericton, Tom Hickie writes to say weather certainly changes but questions if we can ever know the cause of it.

When I lived in Saint John during the fifties and sixties, it was the snowiest  city in Canada. When I moved to Fredericton in the seventies, we accumulated                  much more snow than Saint John.

If historical records are accurate, mini-ice ages occur routinely in various areas for various reasons.  Large cities such as Chicago affect the local weather patterns just as do...large reservoirs or highways.

I am all for reducing emissions and smog, and conserving and saving money, but I doubt that we have the technology to determine how and why the climate is changing.

Have a great fall that will experience significant cooling interspersed with very warm days.

Write us with your Dispatch

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann, Steve McNally, and intern Kazim Rizvi, with technical producers Victor Johnston, and Tim Lorimer, senior producer Alan Guettel, and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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