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April 26 & 29, 2012: from Baku, Azerbaijan - Mumbai, India - Manila, the Philippines - Copenhagen, Denmark - Shanghai, China

From our correspondents around the world...


Danish film director Mads Brugger in a scene from The Ambassador. He posed as a diplomat and arranged to smuggle diamonds from Africa.  Here he takes a boat ride with his new assistants in the Central African Republic. (Photo/The Ambassador)

A journalist in Azerbaijan discovers Big Brother isn't just watching her. He's filming her.

Stop with the honking! The quest for quiet in one of India's noisiest cities.

A Danish filmmaker turns diamond-smuggling diplomat. Mads Brugger sets up a sting in central Africa.

And, the rebellious new farmers of China. Young. Well-educated. And getting no respect.

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Explicit videos of Khadija Ismayilova were sent to her. She says she was told to stop investigating the financial dealings of Azerbaijan's president Ilham Aliyev and his family. She refused. (Photo: RFE-RL/Turkhan Kerlmov)

Sour note in Azerbaijan

This is the syrupy tune that won Azerbaijan the right to stage the long-running Eurovision Song Contest next month.

The title of the song incidentally, is called Running Scared, which sums up the life some are leading these days in Azerbaijan.

Critics are asking if Azerbaijan is a fitting host for an international talent show featuring performers from over 70 nations and watched by hundreds of millions around the world.
Human Rights Watch reports people are being forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for Eurovision contest venues.

Journalists who show the State in unflattering light, like Idrak Abbasov, have been attacked and beaten.

And when his friend Khadija Ismayilova refused to bend to blackmail, someone installed a hidden camera in her bedroom and posted intimate moments online.

She remains unbowed, and joined Rick from Azerbaijan's capital of Baku to explain.

Journalist Khadija Ismayilova, a freelancer with Radio Free Europe, hosts a radio talk show in Baku.  She co-ordinates the Caucasus for the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project.

Auto rickshaws in Mumbai, India. Car and rickshaw horns are part of the daily din in the city, where some are trying to control noise pollution and impose decibel limits (Photo/Brahm Rosensweig)




Mumbai: honk if you want quiet

We used to think Cairo and Tehran were the loudest cities in the world. Exciting, frenetic, and mysterious; absolutely.

But the incessant honking of car horns made noise pollution more than the equal of the air pollution from car exhaust.

Sometimes sleep was the only relief. But Dispatches contributor Edward Birnbaum has found a city that defies it.

Listen to Edward's dispatch

Ten year old Ericson is among the Philipino kids who were school dropouts but are learning the basics in street corner "pushcart" schools. Learning supplies are brought to poor neighbourhoods in "pushcarts" by volounteer teachers. Once up to speed, they try to integrate the kids back into regular classrooms. (Photo: Simone Orendain)

The View from Manila

This week's View From Here takes us to the Philippines, where there's a push to get poor kids off the streets, and into school on streetcorners.

Listen to Simone Orendain's documentary

Danish film director Mads Bruger in a scene from The Ambassador. He posed as an diplomat in order to document corruption in Liberia. Here he is appointed Liberia's ambassador by that country's Foreign Minster, Toga McIntosh (Photo/Pressestil)

Diplomatic Impunity in Africa

Our next guest is a documentary filmmaker who doesn't need to be told to think outside the box, because near as we can tell, he's hardly ever in it.

His name is Mads Brugger, and he has a new film showing at the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto this week and next.

The Ambassador starts with an outrageous premise that never looks back.

It's Brugger commiting what he calls "performative journalism", buying diplomatic credentials from one African state to gain immunity he can use to smuggle diamonds from another.

Along the way he spills the stones all over the carpet. Bribes everything that moves. Even plays recordings of whale calls for a pair of stoic pygmies.

A man in a box of his own.

But along the way, the Danish filmmaker reveals the cozy world of politics and diplomacy isn't as noble as it might have you believe. He joined us via Skype from Copernhagen to explain.

Listen to Rick's interview with Mads Brugger

In The Ambassador filmmaker Mads Brugger bugs, bribes and buys diplomatic credentials to expose larceny lurking beneath.

Here's an excerpt.

Vendors at the Nonghao Farmers Market in Shanghai. They are the so-called New Farmers -- young people who choose presicide-free, small-scale farming over a life in the big city. (photo: Rebecca Kanthor)

Shanghaied: Chinese head back to the land

Just a few years ago, the priorities of most young Chinese couples in Shanghai went like this:

Buy a car.
Marry and have a family.
Save for a house.

And the surging economy was making it possible for them to afford the things their parents couldn't dream of back in the day, when most were living on farms.

But a shift in priorities means their rural lifestyle is starting to look pretty good to some younger Chinese.

And that's a development so new, journalist Rebecca Kanthor wasn't entirely prepared for what she found amid the high-rises of Shanghai.

Listen to Rebecca Kanthor's dispatch

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This program is the work Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann, and Steve McNally. With technical producers Nima Shams and Tim Lorimer. Senior producer Alan Guettel, and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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