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October 13 & 16: from Athens - Manama, Bahrain - Iraq - Tijuana, Mexico

From our correspondents around the world... 

A man searches in a pile of garbage in front of a bank branch in Athens, October 12, 2011. Garbage collection has stopped after municipal workers blocked the entrance to garbage dumps, as part of protests against the Greek government's handling of the economy.(Photo: REUTERS/John Kolesidis)



As Greece convulses, Greeks adapt. We'll find out how as we go inside the lives of those enduring the pain of a debt crisis.    

Bahrain's failed revolution is not over. The state continues to punish those who took part, and the protest goes on.

A failure in Iraq: we'll hear from an American diplomat who ruefully admits helping lose the battle for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

And we'll revisit the Mexican opera singers out to improve Tijuana's image, one aria at a time. 
 

In the fish halls of the Athens Central Market, customers can bargain for fresh fish -- but increasingly, CBC's Margaret Evans found, they can't afford the quality catch. (Photo: Margaret Evans)


Bailing out the Greek psyche

What does the debt crisis mean to the average Greek? It means for many, life will never be the same, whether you're selling wine or buying fish.

Many have taken to the streets in protest, but there's little in their angry cries that will make it go away. 

For that, Greeks will have to look to themselves, as we heard from CBC Correspondent Margaret Evans in the capital. 



Bahrain's unfinished revolution


Of all the uprisings of the Arab Spring, few seemed to be contained as quickly as the so-called "Pearl Revolution" in Bahrain.  

Last February thousands of Shia Muslims occupied streets in the tiny Gulf state demanding more political freedom -- and less of the Sunni Muslim elite -- led by King al-Khalifa. 

But within a month, government soldiers backed by Saudi troops, rolled into the demonstrators' camps and rolled up their revolution.

Legal punishments are still being meted out. But the protest continues, according to journalist Mansoor al Jamri. He's the Editor-in-chief of Al Wasat, an independent newspaper in Bahrain.

We reached him in the capitol city of Manama on the very day a Bahrain court fined him for publishing what it says was false news. 

He was on the phone, not in the recording studios we prefer to use, but that's another story and Rick began by asking him about it:




They meant well

Peter van Buren went to Iraq in 2009 to help rebuild the country. To fix things that were broken. But it sure fixed him.  

Nothing in his twenty years as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. State Department prepared him for the bizarre range of misconceived projects his government was funding there.   

Roads that went nowhere.  Yellow Pages for a city with few working phones.  And lots of projects that need electricity in a country that hardly has any.

He writes about his own misplaced labors in his new book called We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose The Battle for The Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.

Peter Van Buren spoke to Rick from Washington, and Rick began by asking how Peter would describe the US reconstruction effort in Iraq:


In that interview, Peter talks about his bafflement at some of the reconstruction projects his government was funding, like teaching women to make French pastries. In this   excerpt from the book, Van Buren explain the harm that all this misspending actually did:

In another   story, Van Buren reflects on watching soldiers on his Forward Operating Base (FOB) playing their nightly game of basketball:

And in this   excerpt, Van Buren talks about the U.S. military's love for "Humanitarian Assistance" projects, donations of food or goods to Iraqis:


The operatic redemption of Tijuana

Soprano Zully Martinez sings at the Mexico-U.S. border crossing in Tijuana. Photo/Marcelina Guadiana Cerda .

Between the drugs wars, shootouts and bodies dumped in the streets, Mexico has an image problem.  

But in the border city of Tijuana, artists and music lovers are trying to do something about it, as we first heard last April from journalist Claes Andreasson, when he met up with "the travelling opera."   

 Claes's operatic dispatch

Since we first aired that story last spring, drug violence in Mexico has resulted in frequent atrocities. Nonetheless, in June, Tijuana held the tenth annual Opera Street Festival.  More than 200 performers took part outside the opera cafe before an estimated crowd of 10,000. 


Next week: the fracas over fracking

Next week on Dispatches, journalist Maria Scarvalone takes us to Otsego County, New York, where the rural landscape may soon be dotted with natural gas wells.

But the debate over recovering the fuel by shooting water, sand and chemicals into the ground has the community split over the practice known as fracking. 

Some say what it really comes down to is a class division, pitting those who don't need to sell out to the gas companies against those who need the money, according to retired teacher Dick Downey.  

   Dick Downey on why he supports fracking


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

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