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May 13 & 16: from Skeleton Canyon - London - Chicomuselo - Nanjie

(Photo/Grant Fuller)
Arizona ranchers are talking shoot-to-kill after one of their own turns up dead on a
route taken by Mexican drug smugglers.

Al-Jazeera comes to Canada. Should we take umbrage, or a valium?

A Mexican mine and a mysterious murder that reaches all the way to Canada.

A postcard from the politest people on earth. Why the Dogon of Mali just have to stop and chat.

And, the policies of the late Mao Zedong were fatal for a lot of people. So why are they being revived in parts of China?

Listen to this week's show

Death in the grasslands

    Perched on the Mexican border, Arizona ranchers are right on the beaten path taken by illegal immigrants coming north.

There was a time when a rancher's biggest worry was the holes they'd cut in the cattle fences.

But trespassing has taken a deadly turn on the Arizona grasslands.

A rancher was recently murdered. Shot to death, along with his dog.

Now his neighbours sleep uneasy, as we hear from CBC Correspondent Jennifer Westaway at one farm gate.

Listen to Jennifer's dispatch....

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Everything's fine in Mali

    Rituals.Try and get through life without one.

(Photo/Grant Fuller)
We shake hands. We air-kiss.

We forgot why we do it a long time ago. We just...do it.

In the African state of Mali, the Dogon people have a gregarious ritual of their own.

One they forget at their peril, as American journalist Grant Fuller points out in this week's guest essay.

Listen to Grant's essay....

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(Photo/Grant Fuller)

Everything's "sewa." Did you hear it? Means everything's fine. They say it so often, their neighbours reportedly call the Dogon, the "Sewa" people.

Aren't you glad you listen to Dispatches? Where else would you find that out?

Al-Jazeera comes to Canada

    Critics have called it "Terror TV," but as of this month, al-Jazeera is on the air in Canada, 24-7. It's even opening a bureau in Toronto. Not the Arabic version. That still hasn't got regulatory approval. Just the English version for now.

Both are based in the tiny Middle Eastern country of Qatar, backed by the ruling Emir.

The Arabic network regularly upsets its Arab and American critics by airing bin Laden videos, which tends to colour the reputation of its four-year-old English network as well.

So how do they differ, and what to expect?

Canadian journalist Richard Gizbert hosts a program on al-Jazeera English called The Listening Post, examining the global media.

Listen to Rick's conversation with Richard Gizbert...

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Murder in a mining town

    When he was alive, environmental activist Mariano Abarca was a problem for a Canadian mining company with an interest in Mexico. Ever since he turned up dead with three bullets in him, he's causing even bigger problems.

Abarca was a critic of the "Payback" mine in the southern state of Chiapas, rich in the dense industrial mineral known as barite.

The open-pit mine is run by Blackfire Exploration, a joint Canadian-Mexican operation. And before he died, Mariano Abarca led a campaign accusing Blackfire's mine of fouling the environment around it.

A number of people have since been arrested in connection with his murder. But, as we hear from Dominique Jarry-Shore, questions remain -- in Canada, and the community where he lived.

Listen to Dominique's documentary...

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Dispatches requested an interview with Blackfire through its office in Calgary, but the company declined to come on, or to respond to our written questions.

Meanwhile, the RCMP's International Anti-Corruption Unit in Calgary confirms it received a request to investigate the company under the Corruption of Foreign Officials Act.

The request came from a group of Canadian NGO's which includes those that visited the mine site. The RCMP says it's looking into "the merits of the complaint" to determine if it falls under the Unit's mandate.

The Great Leap Backwards

    Mao Zedong may be dead, but he's back in some parts of China.

It's now possible to find communities now living just as the Chairman once preached.

Communities without a currency. Without private property. But with big appeal for other Chinese, who treat them as tourist attractions.

It even has the blessing of the Chinese government, which usually steps lightly around mentioning the millions who perished during Mao's misdeeds.

Photographer Tomas Van Houtryve calls it "red tourism," and captures it in a photo exhibit he calls "The Great Leap Backwards."

Listen to Rick's interview with Tomas...

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Listener dispatches

Some feedback from listeners about recent programs:

Dermot Monaghan of Kingston, Nova Scotia heard our recent essay from Haiti by Stephen Phizicky and writes;

All through the earthquake crisis there was a stream of reports, yawing wildly between good news reports of how wonderful it was going, and accounts of helpless helpers despairing over piles of undeliverable food at the airstrip.The only clear thing was that the truth was staying in Haiti, and definitely not getting out.

Your piece this evening was helpful. Alas, it was also very discouraging. It seems likely that progress will only come if the BMW drivers get their slice, and they seem to like very big slices.

Our recent documentary touching on runaway inflation in Zimbabwe prompted Onne de Boer of Cardigan, New Brunswick to get in touch when she took our podcast on her power-walk. She passes on this story from a relative in Zimbabwe.

His family would have a wheelbarrow full of..Zim dollars. They would be...nervous going into...town to purchase goods with this wheelbarrow full of cash, because thugs would come by and rob them. The thugs would dump the cash and take the wheelbarrow, because it had more value. Hard to believe.


That's a theme echoed in this anecdote from Cathy Buckle, a writer and white farmer in Zimbabwe:

(recently)...a friend got a quote for a new garden tap, but decided against installing it, because they get stolen so regularly.

Stolen to be melted down, and made into coffin handles. Talking about coffins, I attended a funeral a few days ago, and was reminded that you have to dig your own graves now, as municipal workers don't, or won't, do it anymore.

Thanks for writing.

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

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