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November 3 & 6: from, Syria - Lukango, Democratic Republic of Congo - Berlin - Sudan - Washington - Japan

Syrian demonstrators have been killed in the thousands by their government. They now say they're ready to take up arms. Photo/AP

Inside the Syrian uprising with a correspondent who says the passive protesters are about to start shooting back.

A sinner in China, celebrity abroad.  The quiet poet turned enemy of the state, saved from madness by a flute.

Can an eye-in-the-sky stop an atrocity on the ground? We'll look in on the progress of the satellite snooping on Sudan. 

Then, from Japan's radioactivity zone, a fisherman's tale of hope and denial.

And in Congo, it takes a village to get anything done, because the government isn't doing  anything to improve people's lives.

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British Journalist Ramita Navai went undercover with Syrians opposing the Assad regime. Photo/PBS-Frontline

Undercover with Syria's rebels

Syria appears to be reneging on another peace plan negotiated by the states of the Arab League.

Activists inside Syria say it began as tanks opened fire on demonstrators in the southern city of Homs just a day after the deal was made.

Earlier this week, the Arab League anounced Syria had agreed to pull its troops off the streets, and release imprisoned protesters.

With more than three-thousand civillians dead in eight months of state repression, there are signs the demonstrators are preparing to shoot back.

British TV correspondent Ramita Navai was recently there to shadow the opposition figures behind the rebellion, and witness the terrible price they pay for it.

Her documentary airs next week on the PBS program Frontline, and Ramita Navai joins us from London with some context for this dramatic time in Syria's history.

Hear Ramita's interview here

Ramita Navai's documentary "Syria Undercover" airs on Frontline on Tuesday, November 8th.


Chinese poet and dissident Liao Yiwu was forced into exile for his critcism of the Chinese state. Photo/AP

Compelled to write, forced to flee

China is once again leaning on noted dissident Ai Weiwei in an effort to shut him up.

He's been accused of tax evasion and ordered to pay millions, but defied a gag order and went public with the story. 

He remains in his Beijing home, but other dissidents are not so lucky.

For them, exile is the only answer as China moves to silence dissenters who might be getting ideas from the Arab Spring. 

Correspondent Saroja Coelho has the story of Liao Yiwu, who used to be bound by shackles to fellow victims of state repression.

Having fled the threat of yet another prison term in China, he is today a celebrity in Germany, where he now feels bound to tell the stories of the downtrodden. 

Saroja's documentary

Our thanks to the Digital Archive for Chinese Studies at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands for the original recording of Liao Yiwu's poem, Massacre.


Satellite photos are being used to reveal attacks on civilian populations and the location of mass graves. Photo/Satellite Sentinel Project

Spying eyes from space

Rick attended a conference in Montreal recently where they were talking about
the responsibility of all nations to protect a people being harmed by one of their own.

This tall bearded guy was describing an effort to detect war crimes being committed in Sudan, and to deter those who might commit others, by using satellites images.

Listening to him was like hearing a CSI script read aloud.  Mass graves sought and found with forensic precision. 

Jonathan Hutson was talking about the Satellite Sentinel Project, begun last year by actor George Clooney, and the American organization known as "ENOUGH - The Project To End Genocide And Crimes Against Humanity." 

Jonathan Hutson's interview


Government official Yasuhiro Sonoda drank water from the stricken Fukushima plant to show how radiation levels have been reduced. Photo/AP

Hope and denial in Japan

This week in Japan, a politician drank a glass of water drawn from a puddle on the floor of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

BBC correspondent Roland Buerk described it this way...

Wait. What?
They're watering plants around the Fukushima nuclear plant?  The one where no one's allowed within 20 kilometres?  

Where water's boiling at a bazillion degrees and repairs have failed time and again?  They want the hydrangea's to look exquisite!  What could it mean?

Ahhh.  It seems the government's inviting journalists tour the reactor site next week for the first time since a partial meltdown triggered by the earthquake eight months ago. 

Things must be getting better, musn't they?  Daisann McLane is an award-winning travel writer who's works have appeared in Rolling Stone and the New York Times. 

Here's her take after a recent visit to Japan. 

Daisann's essay

The Japanese government now says it hopes to stabilize the reactor by the end of December. Latest reports suggest radioactivity off the coast of the Fukushima plant is up to fifty-eight times higher than before the earthquake.  And that, they say, is still be well below permissible levels for ocean waters - apparently.


People near Lukanga, DRC dig a trench that will divert water to provide electricity to their village.  It was all planned and built without government help.  Photo/Dennis Porter

Congo: the DIY State

If you want something done in the Democratic Republic of Congo, you've pretty much have to do it yourself.

It has some of the trappings of a state, but public services aren't one of them.

There are towns where you can't call a cop because the station has no phone.

Congo's holding elections at the end of this month.  But after three decades of a dictatorship that taught looting by example, followed by a lingering civil war, its 70-million citizens aren't expecting much change from the top down.

No, in Congo change has to come from the ground up, as we hear from Canadian journalist Dennis Porter at the outdoor grocery store.

Dennis' documentary

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally with technical producers Greg Fleet, Tim Lorimer, and Victor Johnston, and senior producer Alan Guettel. 

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