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November 10 & 13, 2011: from Les Cayes, Haiti - Detroit, Michigan - Rome - San Diego

Firefighters work to put out a warehouse fire in Detroit on October 30th, 2011, one they've labelled "suspicious." (Photo/Martine August)

Haitian justice on trial as prison guards stand accused of a jailhouse massacre. 

Detroit's better angels pull it through the fires of Devil's Night but need a miracle to end the decline at its core.   

Sex, murder and the fungus trade. Nepal's got a problem like you won't believe. 

The U.S. Navy is going green, one ship at a time, because saving energy is saving lives.

Ben Hur returns to Rome, but does a blockbuster film make for blockbuster theatre? 

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Justice on trial in Haiti

In Haiti, a test of the country's notorious judicial system is underway in an unruly courtroom in the western seaport of Les Cayes. 

In a steamy auditorium, 13 police officials are on trial accused of a prison massacre. In a country where the rule of law is often for sale or rent, this is a case the new government is keen to publicise, though it's a also a test for Jean-Marie Salomon, the Chief Prosecutor on the case.  

Hear the prosecutor (Audio provided by the New York Times). 

Reporter Walt Bogdanich broke the story of the massacre which prompted the trial he's been covering in Haiti

Walt  Bogdanich is a reporter with the New York Times (LINK). Here's more of the Times' video from the trial. 

Driving the Devil out of Detroit -- but for how long? 

Detroit has survived another Devil's night. 

On the night before Hallowe'en, it's a  tradition for some in the city to go about setting buildings on fire. 

It's not as bad as it once was, though conditions in the inner city still are, and that's a big part of it. 

Detroit's the poorest big city in the U.S., though not as big now that half the population left as jobs were outsourced from what was once the carmaking capital of America.  

At the same time, residents began to flee the high-crime housing ringing the centre of the city, plunging neighbourhoods into decline with no tax base to do anything about it.  And arson, became commonplace. 

Canadian journalist Edward Birnbaum was in Detroit recently and found some new twists on this old story emerging from the flames.  

The rare fungus, yarchagumba, is so coveted as an aphrodesiac it can sell for as much as $50,000 per pound (Photo/Getty)

Sex, murder and fungus

This is not your typical Dispatches story but there's nothing typical about an exotic substance in Nepal, reputed to improve your life.

It's called Yarchagumba.  And it's part plant.  Part insect.  And all profit, commanding over $100,000/kg. 

And there's new demand for it in China, where some believe it's the cure for ailments afflicting everything from your liver to your libido.  

But it wasn't so good for seven men found dead in rural Nepal in 2009, allegedly killed for poaching the yarchagumba pickings of a rival tribe.

That's just one of the profound effects it's having on the country according to journalist Eric Hansen, who wrote about it in a recent edition of Outside magazine. 

Hear Rick's interview with Eric Hansen 

The USS Makin Island is the hybrid "Prius" of aircraft carriers. It saved $2-million in fuel on its first mission.  Photo/US Navy

A mean, green fighting machine

In the United States, the push for energy conservation isn't just a civilian concern.

In fact the mighty American military is way out front, keen to go green, on land and sea, because it cuts costs -- and casualties -- as we first heard from CBC correspondent David Common last May, off the California coastline. 

Hear David's dispatch now 

The arena rock spectacular Ben Hur Live features real animals, a few ancient languages, a lot of skimpy outfits, and a few anachronisms as it arrives in Rome. (Photo/Getty Images Europe)

 Ben Hur? More like Ben Hurt

When Ben Hur was made back in 1959 -- it was box office gold. Good thing, because it was also the most expensive film ever made. 

And extravagant? 15,000 extras for the chariot scene alone. 

But it did huge box office, and saved the studio.  And 52 years later, Ben Hur's chariots have arrived in Rome, but this time, as a theatrical spectacle. 

And how's that working out? Dispatches contributor Megan Williams has a view from the audience. 

Hear Megan's View from Here 

Next week: Running for change in Afghanistan

With Canada and its NATO allies winding down their military role in Afghanistan, Afghans are going to have to take their future into their own hands. 

And journalist Laura Lynch will tell us about one woman who's trying.  Despite several assassination attempts and the contempt of some in its male-dominated society, Fawzia Koofi is running for President. 

Hear a clip from Fawzia Koofi 

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.

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