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February 25 & 28: from Los Angeles - Harare - Dushanbe - London - Kandahar

In the L.A. neighbourhood of Watts, Miss Ware and Miss Williams have spent decades helping black kids find a bright future.

In Zimbabwe though, Robert Mugabe is rounding out his regime's 30 years, making sure the country has a bleak one.

Then there's Tajikistan. Our guest says it's The Sopranos run by Fred Flintstone. But too important to ignore.

Our correspondent goes for gold in the Defend-Canada-From-The-British-Media Olympics. It's no place for false starts.

And, most press clubs are more about single malts than multiple dangers. We'll hear why Afghanistan's is so different.

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Listen to Part 2

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Click here to listen to the individual Dispatches.

Dam Taxes, Tajik style

You are, as you know, our ears around the world.

So when one of you emailed us about a curious new fee being levied in Tajikistan to fund a hydro project, we looked into it. Apparently the government's telling people they've volunteered to pay.

But not everyone has his hand up.

One blogger calls it an "unregulated fear tax." He wrote about a student prevented from sitting a university exam until his brother plunked for $23 worth of shares in the Roghun dam.

What sort of place is Tajikistan, perched on Afghanistan's northern border? There's an election at the end of this month, so it's a democracy of sorts.

But a very unstable one, and right in the middle of a very dangerous region, according to Canadian Don Bowser.

He's been the Chief Technical Advisor to the U.N. Development Program there for the past five years.

He now teaches at Dalhousie University in Halifax.

Don's take on Tajikistan...

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Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund says it "welcomes the (Tajik) authorities commitment to full transparency and good governance, to ensure that the funds collected for the Roghun project are used effectively."

And the IMF is considering a loan of $42 million to the Tajik government. That's in addition to the $40 million it's already handed out. Now, there's commitment.

Olympic thunderbolts cross the pond

The Vancouver Olympics have temporarily shattered the vexing anonymity of being Canadian in Britain.

The British media has been dining out on our flaws and faults. But it fell to one of our own -- correspondent Laura Lynch --  to confront the critics on the BBC's equivalent of The National recently.

Laura and the Limeys...

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Afghan press gang

Well, if truth is the first casualty of war, someone forgot to tell it to the new breed of journalists in Afghanistan.

Eight years of renewed fighting have given rise to a homegrown news media.

But it faces dangers on all sides. And some are trying to create an institution to embolden and perhaps even protect them.

The CBC's Derek Stoffel tells the story of the men behind the Kandahar Press Club.

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Project Jordan in Watts

It's true, we on Dispatches spend a lot of time talking about the damage a handful of people can do to entire countries.

It's easy to lose sight of the flipside.

That's what this story is about: two grand old ladies, and the very good thing they do.

The backstory's simple.

Back in the '60s, some parents in a black neighbourhood of inner city L.A. realized that local kids needed help to succeed. Help to understand the world around them. Financial help to get them through college.

Wasn't a lot. Started out at 35-bucks a month for the six kids they sponsored each year. Because none of them made much money. But they made a difference.

Today, most of the parents have passed on. Only Miss Emily and Miss Ware remain.

CBC correspondent Jennifer Westaway has heard them talk the talk, and walk the walk.

Jennifer's dispatch...

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Mugabe takes 30

A shout-out this week to President Robert Mugabe, 86 years young. Still on top in Zimbabwe after 30 years.

Still untroubled by the nuances of democracy.

His enduring rule has been unimpaired by the so-called "Unity government" he entered into just a year ago, with his bitter political rivals in the MDC --- the Movement for Democratic Change, led by Morgan Tsvengarai.

Why, just last week, Mugabe ordered foreign companies to hand voting control over to black Zimbabweans. Somehow neither the MDC or the cabinet knew anything about it. And the country's freefall goes on.

His country's plight is no surprise to Philemon Matibe, a black farmer forced off his land for opposing Mugabe. An original candidate of the MDC, he's now among its critics. And he is an angry man.

He writes about it in his new autobiography, Madhinga Bucket Boy.

Philemon's story...

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Madhinga Bucket Boy is published by Mbedzi Publishing. Philemon Matibe lives in exile in Texas.

A reading from Madhinga Bucket Boy:

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And a second reading from Madhinga Bucket Boy:

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Dr. Michael Ocana of Kelowna, B.C. heard our recent interview about the death of a teenager enrolled at a brutal bootcamp for kids allegedly addicted to the internet in China.

As a youth psychiatrist, I hear of examples of "boot camp"- like approaches to addiction treatment here in Canada quite often. ...(the use of punishments or the removal of "privileges") have been used all too often, and continue to be used to curb people of their "addictive habits," often with disastrous results. Of course there are examples of effective residential treatments for addictions and eating disorders, but the difference is the use of group support and healing counselling interventions as opposed to coersive behavioural approaches. So before you send your loved one away for treatment, inform yourself about the practices of the facility that you entrust them to.

Last week we also heard about the Swiss referendum that banned minarets from mosques.  In it, a Serb immigrant said he wants the same system for Bosnia.

Scott Carn of London, Ontario writes:

As the partner of a Bosniak who suffered at the hands of the Serb and Croat forces, I am offended...

Your report made no mention that the reason why many Bosniaks are refugees in Switzerland because of the Serb-intiated genocide at Srebenica.

Now, we wrote him back, to say that if many of the opinions expressed in the piece seem borderline offensive, that is the point of the piece. But they are status quo for many in Switzerland, and the perogative of its democracy. The story wasn't about the legacy of the Bosnian War.

He replied:

It is impossible to report on a matter such as the minaret ban, without providing an analysis of why Muslims have come as refugees to Switzerland. There are many reasons for Swiss xenophobia, but to include the interview of a Serb on matters relating to Islam in Europe was not on.

Also last week, we heard from Norine Macdonald of the International Council on Security and Development.

She lives in Afganistan, and says NATO'S new operation in Hellmand province is a mistake, attacking minor Taliban targets in order to claim an "easy win" for the first major action of the new American troop surge.

Vittorio Canta of Sutton, Quebec heard that interview and writes:

It was very refreshing to hear the assessment of the war in Afghanistan from the woman you interviewed...If Obama received a Nobel price for his assumed intentions and speeches, what should we reward her with?

Your thoughts. Our thanks.

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally. With technical producer Victor Johnston, senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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