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February 3 & 6: from Cairo - Southern Sudan - Mexico - London - Kenya

American preacher Sam Childers set up an orphanage in Southern Sudan, then went hunting for the most fearsome of rebel leaders. Photo/Lionsgate Productions

Egypt's temper.  Word from the capital on the cusp of historic change.

Machine Gun Preacher of Sudan; why a reformed biker's waging war on one of Africa's the most feared rebel armies.

Cockeldoodeldoo!  The misplaced love of a Mexican for his cockfighting roosters.

Somalia: a free-fire zone where the streetlights don't work; welcome to the world of Mogadishu's Mayor.

The empire steps back; the BBC reduces foreign-language broadcasting to several key countries.

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Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, some riding horses and camels and wielding whips, clashed with anti-government protesters as Egypt's upheaval took a dangerous turn. Photo/ AP Mohammed Abou Zaid

People power maims Mubarak

They're calling your flight, sir.

Interviewing in the streets of Cairo one day Rick found himself -- not arrested exactly, but not free to go either -- until the Tourism Police were satisfied that he wasn't a threat to some sort of public order.

Some time later, recording in a crowd by a mosque, another kind of police confiscated the I.D. of his hardnosed interpreter who began wailing that without papers in Egypt, you might as well be stateless.

Two days, two unnerving events.

Imagine living in that permanent state of emergency, and the grievance of the crowds in Egypt starts to find focus.

It's hardly certain where this goes, unclear if it has unleashed Ammit the Destroyer, of Pharonic myth, or leads towards Thoth , the God of Wisdom.

For some perspective we reached Canadian journalist Hadeel al-Shalchi of the Associated Press wire service in the streets of Cairo.

Listen to Hadeel's interview now


Blood and Blades in a Mexican yard

In Mexico the world of cockfighting is all about blood and blades.

And it's not just a danger to the roosters. Bad debts can have bad endings or worse, for those to try to cheat at a past time that attracts some seriously-deadly gangsters.

Despite all that, Marvin Pinto can't stay away. For him, and a lot of other Mexicans, cockfighting is a not-so-magnificent obsession, as we hear from Dispatches contributor Dominique Jarry-Shore, out in the rooster yard.

Hear Dominique's dispatch now


Mohamud Noor left his life in London to become the new mayor of Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, five months ago.  He told his family not to be surprised if he's killed on the job.  Photo/AP 

Mogadishu's Mayor mayhem

Mohamed Ahmed Noor is a Mayor who accepts that he could get killed on the job.

Mogadishu, he says, is "in a coma".

That's one of the milder things said about the Somali capitol these days, where government troops are fighting the rebels of al-Shabab.

The Mayor grew up in the Somali capital but lived in England for many years.

Leaving the bright lights of London for no lights in Mogadishu has some calling him an inspiration, though others might think it's flat-out crazy.

Mohamed Ahmed Noor joins me from a stopover in Nairobi, Kenya.

Listen to our interview with the Mayor now


Budget cuts force "the Beeb" to cut five languages from its venerable international radio service.

The Empire steps back

The radio news network former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan once called "Britains' greatest gift to the world."

But due to budget cuts the national broadcaster is winding up five of its foreign language services, and moving seven others off radio and online, eliminating six-hundred-and-fifty jobs.

A spokesman says it's diverting funds away from places where it's "less effective and less needed," like China, Cuba, Vietnam and Ukraine.

The World Service once broadcast a British view of the world in 45 different languages. Now it's thirty-one. Those are the numbers.

But there are other stakes, as we hear in this week's guest essay from Canadian journalist Laura Lynch, a former CBC correspondent reporting now for the BBC World Service from London.

Hear Laura's essay now

If you've got a memory of listening to the BBC World Service in your country, tell us what it meant to you and we'll share it with the others. Email dispatches@cbc.ca


Your mail...about golf, Chinese style

Among other messages we've received lately, is this one from Paul Phelan in Vancouver, who heard about last week's piece on the runaway growth of golf in China.

"I only had the opportunity to golf once in the four years that I lived in China" he writes. "As a Laowai (foreigner) I was making a very decent salary by local standards; about five times the local Drs' salary...teaching English As a Second Language. (But) even with an abundance of money...I found it too expensive to Golf. Around a hundred-and-fifty Canadian dollars a round." That from Paul Phelan in Vancouver who sent that to our Facebook page and we invite you to send your comments there too.


Sam Childers - the American pastor who rescues child soldiers in Sudan, but loads up to hunt the rebels who enslaved them.  Photo/ Lionsgate Entertainment

Sudan's pistol-packing preacher

It wasn't so much a bolt-out-of-the-blue, as a baby that turned biker Sam Childers to God.

Against long odds, his ex-stripper girlfriend finally got pregnant, and that was pretty much it.

He gave up the outlaw lifestyle, though not the guns.

He quit peddling the dope that was killing junkies, and took his newly-reformed, God-fearing self to Sudan and commenced killing rebels so he could free child soldiers.

At least, that's his story.

It was enough to persuade Hollywood to make a soon-to-be-released film with actor Gerard Butler playing the man himself.

Canadian journalist Dennis Porter has been to play with him too, and witness the biblical vengeance of the Machine Gun Preacher.

Listen to Dennis' dispatch now


Coming up next week...Haiti's musical treasures

Next week we'll take you on a trip into Haitian history through music recorded by the legendary Alan Lomax, and words from Canadian Gage Averill, whose work on the project earned him a trip to the Grammy Awards later this month.

Listen to a teaser now


This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann, and Steve McNally, with thanks to correspondent Carolyn Dunn in Nairobi. Our technical producers Tim Lorimer and Victor Johnston. Our senior producer is Alan Guettel.

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