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March 24 - 27, 2011 from: Noda and Sendai, Japan - Chernobyl - Tunis - Benghazi, Libya - Berlin

People ride bicycles pasrt debris of buildings wrecked by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, northeastern Japan. REUTERS/Yegor Trubnikov

Scenes from a tsunami It's already changing Japan forever.

With the weakness of nuclear plants exposed, we'll hear again from our reporter in Chernobyl.

We have a correspondent in Libya with the new rebel recruits. 

 And another in post-revolution Tunisia, where everyone's complaining. But now someone's listening.

Our correspondent just back from Japan gets his radiation tests.

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All that plus your letters, Rick's weird March break, and some deeply different Deep Purple.

 (Right) A defector from Gadhafi's forces trains young rebel recruits for the mission to overthrow the tyrant. Phot/Bonnie Allen


Japan's triple disaster


photo/Curt Petrovich

&In Japan,they're still searching through a landscape savaged by earthquake and tsunami. With more than 20-thousand; still missing, some are looking for bodies.

But others are searching for memories, as we hear from the CBC's Curt Petrovich in the battered city of Noda.

Listen to Curt's report


photo/Curt Petrovich.


Curt Petrovich was one of the CBC's reporters making way through the rubble of Japan's disaster zone. Their blog reports and pictures are on cbc.ca/news. These are two of Curt's photos, of Yosuke Oda --who was recovering neighbours' family photos in the ruins, and displaying them for families still able to reclaim their memories



People salvage possessions from the rubble in Rikuzentakata, northern Japan after the magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami struck the area, March 13, 2011. It's a town that might not be rebuilt. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won.



It changes everything...

The destruction has not only changed the Japanese landscape. It's also challenging Japanese culture. And it may yet take the lives of entire towns.

For the past 21/2 years, Daisuke Wakabayashi has reported on Japan's flourishing technology industry for the Wall Street Journal in Tokyo. He spoke to Rick from the countryside north of Sendai.

Listen to Daisuke's conversation with Rick




Chernobyl simmers; its people still suffer



As Daisuke says, there's been criticism of the way Japanese officials are dealing with the crisis, especially the damaged nuclear plant in Fukashima.

But nothing on the scale of Chernobyl, 25 years ago next month.

To ward off radiation back then, clean-up crews at the Lenin Nuclear Power Plant were told to just stay drunk.

Even today, the reactor's poison core still simmers beneath a concrete carapace, though remarkably, some residents have returned.

Last May, Dispatches contributor Saroja Coelho took us down the road to that ongoing disaster, and we thought the lesson bears re-telling.

Listen to Saroja's documentary  



North Africa: The View From Here

Benghazi Libya: On a highschool basketball court, Libyan rebels drill to become a fighting unit against Gadhafi. (photo/Bonnie Allen)



 Inside the ranks of Libya's newest rebels...

Moammar Gadhafi vows he'll destroy them.  Show them no mercy.  But Canadian journalist Bonnie Allen found the men and boys of Libya's rebel ranks in the embattled city of Benghazi are inexperienced fighters who are working hard, and praying, to become the fighting force that can take the dictator down.


Listen to Bonnie's dispatch  


Zamazi Messaoud Ladaissi says relatives of the ousted president beat and jailed him to force him to hand over his shop to them. Photo/Megan Williams.

...and the queues of Tunisia's newest complainers

Tunisia's democratic rebellion seems to be working.  Everybody's complaining. 

Only now, somebody's listening.

Especially, Canadian Megan Williams found out, when it comes to getting back what the  rulers of the former kleptocracy stole.

Listen to Megan's dispatch



 Name This Tune

Putting some oom-pah-pah into a rock classic. But the "why " behind it is a tale in itself. 

Go ahead, click here

Sound familiar?  It couldn't be Smoke on the Water, right?  Well, but not as you know it.  And -- trust us -- you do want to know why.

It's because this is a German military band, playing at the send-off of disgraced defense minister Karl-Theodor zu Gutternberg, ousted for allegedly plagiarising his doctoral thesis.

Makes sense. No?

Outgoing Ministers in Germany usually get to pick the music for their handover ceremony. And Karl requested...AC/DC, like you would.  Totally freaked out the conductor.  

"Totally breaks the mold of our music styles" he said. Denied. So the conductor picks ... this! Which apparently doesn't!

So as torchlight flickers off brass horns and coalscuttle helmets, the disgraced minister stands with an enigmatic little smile on his face, looking a little misty, and probably thinking:

"No matter what we get out of this, I know, I know we'll never forget..."

Of course, there's a video.

Watch it   .

Stories like that are why we come to work in the morning.


Glowing reports

In the course of a foreign career reporters can expect to wind up in a war or two ... or ten.

But the threat of radioactivity? With the leaking nuclear reactors in Japan it's a new and present danger. And you can bet they're taking it seriously.

The CBC's David Common has just returned from Japan, where he'd been reporting that story from a distance. He joined Rick in studio, just back from a radiation scan -- on his way to his home base in New York. 

Listen to David and Rick


Rick's embeds with the U.S. military

Rick took a well-earned March break in a place where nothing happens -- except....

 Listen to how Rick became a human shield


Your Dispatches

The letters file's been filling up with notes about last week's story on Larry Joe, the South African convict attempting to carve out a career in music. 

"What a beautiful voice and a heart-warming story," writes Sheila Allen from Fonthill, Ontario

"I lived in South Africa four years and loved the country but wanted to come back to Canada because of the violence.  This story gives hope of people helping one another and living together in harmony" she says

Cathy Daigle of Miramichi, New Brunswick is good with that.

"The story about Larry Joe is amazing...very glad to hear he has good people around him...This man can sing. I kept thinking that K'naan would be a good person for Larry Joe to meet if they haven't already.

"And they'd probably have a lot to talk about when it comes to overcoming obstacles."
"The music is wonderful, and so was the story," writes Lorraine Standing of Igloolik, Nunavut.  "Please pass along my best regards and encouragement to Larry, and everyone in South Africa who is helping him turn his life around. He is an inspiration."

Now, the mail also keeps coming about Antonio Savone, tortured during Argentina's "dirty war" in the 1970s. He recently returned to testify against his captors on behalf of another former prisoner.

"It brought tears to my eyes," writes Karin Schlanger from Palo Alto, California, who lived there at the time.

"Almost every day, soldiers with their machine guns pointing at us would pull us out of classrooms, line us up against walls...

"...they kept saying we were terrorists.  And we were dumb.  And we thought that a good education would save us from torture. They would laugh out loud... And the next day, someone would not show up for class, never to be seen again."

Your letters. Our thanks. There are more letters, in  Your Dispatches.


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

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