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Out of a South African jail, former gangster aims at the music charts

South African musician Larry Joe, as he leaves Douglas prison in December 2010.

Larry Joe's songs of redemption

We start with Larry Joe, who we first heard two years ago, when he was locked up in a South African prison for burglary.

He was a troubled convict hoping for a music career when he met a restless music producer unsatisfied with his own.

Aron Turest-Swartz was a co-founder of the popular South African group Freshly Ground. And when he heard Larry sing, he dropped what he was doing and turned the jail cell into a recording studio.

When we last heard from them, Larry was about to be released and so was his first album. And we wanted to know where their story has gone since then.

Larry Joe joined us from Cape Town in South Africa and his producer and friend, Aron Turest-Swartz, was in studio with Rick.

Listen to Rick's chat with them

Listen to Corinne Smith's documentary about Larry Joe from March 2011 

You can see video of Larry recording with Aron in Douglas prison and hear his music at Larry Joe Live!

Hear the rest of this week's Dispatches program here

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Italy closed the sea to refugees

Eritrean refugees had originally cheered the sight of an Italian ship in the Mediterranean. They'd been adrift for four days. Little did they know that Italy would breach international law and dump them in Libya to face near-certain abuse. (Photo: Closed Sea)

Here's a remarkable sound recorded on video aboard a disabled boat, as African refugees welcome the sight of an Italian helicopter after four days at sea without food and water.

But their delight is misplaced.

Italy is not there to welcome them, but to send them back where they came from.

In 2009, it defied the UN and illegally closed the Mediterranean to refugees.

The impact of that policy of pushback -- or refoulement, as it's known -- comes under scrutiny in a new film called Closed Sea.

It documents the astonishing story of Eritreans fleeing military repression at home, hoping to sail to Italy via Libya, and marooned by politics.

Writer and director Stefano Liberti joined us from Rome.

The June 7 Dispatches program

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What's cooking in Egyptian politics

Cooking show host Ghaila Mahmoud works in her modest kitchen at the studios of 25TV, a network formed in the wake of the Egyptian revolution in 2011. (Photo: courtesy 25TV)

Political revolution has changed the face of Egypt, and with it the faces Egyptians are watching.

After next week's runoff election, they'll be looking at a new President. But there's another trendsetting personality emerging on TV.

And she's a cook, doing what she does best.

Though the bare-bones economy of her dishes, reflects the sclerotic economy confronting most Egyptians.

The CBC's middle East Correspondent, Derek Stoffel, is with her to suss the ingredients that make up her celebrity.

Listen to Derek's documentary 

The June 7 Dispatches program

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Child "bomberitos" on Peru's most dangerous highway

Peru's Bomberitos to the rescue

Bomberito means "little fireman" in Spanish. In the Andes Mountains of Peru groups of them use their homemade carretas  to help stranded motorists and truckers along the highway.  The tips they earn help support their families. 

 Hevert (left) was a bomberito as a kid, helping rescue stranded motorists and victims of disasters.  They get their carretas up the steep highway through the Andes by attaching ropes, or just their hands, to passing transport trucks.  (Photos: Romi Burianova)

The photo that started it (below). Filmmaker Quincy Perkins saw this picture of two Bomberitos -- kids on their own in the mountains of Peru who make their way to mountain accidents and disasters. Our Dispatches contributor went with him to the Amazon valley as he made a film about them (Photo/StefanSonntag) 

It was one of those dinner party stories that sticks in your head. A rumour about kids racing homemade carts high in the Andes, acting as first responders during accidents and disasters.

They have a catchy name. They're said to do dangerous work in a dangerous region.

But are they real?  For Dispatches contributor Lori Chodos and a colleague, the voyage to find out was a story in itself.

 Lori's documentary

May 31 Dispatches









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Foreign slaves serving the U.S. military machine

Sarah Stillman has won several awards for her investigation of America's "Invisible Army".  (Photo by Alan Chin)

When the recruiter offered Lydia and Vinnie high-paid jobs in Dubai, they jumped in, not realizing they'd been sucked in, like so many other foreign workers.
By some estimates, as many as 70,000 work in appalling conditions on American military bases, locked into punitive contracts by unscrupulous contractors accountable to no one.
They're America's "invisible army."Journalist Sarah Stillman was struck by their stories during her time in Iraq in 2008, especially when she looked into how they were living.
The article she wrote about those workers -- which appeared in The New Yorker last year -- has won several awards. This month she picked up the Hillman Prize for Magazine Journalism and a National Magazine Award for her story.

Hear Rick's interview with Sarah

Sarah Stillman is a freelance journalist and visiting scholar at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

She is in Washington, D.C. Her story about foreign workers on American bases first appeared in The New Yorker.

Hear the rest of this week's Dispatches
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Reporter caps Zimbabwe gig with 24 days in grotty jail

New Zealand photographer Robin Hammond was imprisoned for 24 days by the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, atfer photographing people fleeing the country. (Photo: Amnesty International)

Tales of jail in Zimbabwe

In Zimbabwe, the police are pretty good at scaring people, according to Robin Hammond.

Maybe not so good at police work. The New Zealand photographer found out first hand.

He was jailed for taking pictures of Zimbabweans fleeing the political violence of the Mugabe regime.

He might still be in there if the police had promptly patted him down and seized his cellphone.

They didn't.

Long story short, Robin Hammond was held for twenty-four days and only released last week. We caught up with him in Paris to hear more about conditions in Zimbabwe.

Listen to Rick's conversation with Robin

New Zealander Robin Hammond is an award-winning photographer whose work in human rights and environmental issues.  He is now completing his retrospective on 32 years of Mugabe rule in Zimbabwe for the Carmignac Gestion Foundation.

Hear the rest of this week's program.