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November 19 & 22: from Washington - Peje, Kosovo - Mumbai - New York

Elections coming. Americans leaving. Tensions rising. A view from the barricades in Iraq.

From the land behind God's back, meet the burnesh of the Balkans: women who lead their lives as men.

A year since the Mumbai attacks some wounds have healed, but life for one survivor has never been the same.

Israel's military culture helps make its economy the start-up capital of the world.

And, India's tired of losing. Listen to its plan for dominating the world of international sports.

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Will Iraq go back to the barricades?

The hallmarks of a conflict can sometimes tell you as much about it as any of its battles.

Checkpoints for example.

In Bosnia, Rick remembers a bunch of paramilitaries blocking a road with anti-tank mines, dragging them on and off as the mood took them.

A burning tire would have done the job as it once did in Gaza. But that wouldn't have satisfied the wild-eyed need for overkill that so characterised the Balkan conflict.

On the Congo border, he watched a child soldier with an assault rifle block an entire U.N. convoy with just a rubber band, strung between two chairs in the road. That one's a brutal, no-tech war that continues.

For Joost Hiltermann, it was the behavior of American soldiers at checkpoints in Baghdad that informs his view of that conflict.

Hiltermann works for the International Crisis Group, an independent authority on conflict analysis.

He recently went to Iraq to size up the situation prior to elections in January, and returned saying the looming departure of American forces makes political sense in the U.S., but it's a "political unreality" for Iraq.

Joost Hiltermann,s reflections on Iraq appear in this week's edition of The New York Review Of Books, and he spoke to Rick from our Washington studio.

Speaking at a journalists forum held recently at The Frontline Club in London, England. Professor Sami Zubaida, emeritus professor of politics and sociology at Birkbeck College and author of Law and Power in the Islamic World, suggests Iraq's democratic prospects are more certain than say, Afghanistan's.

In the same forum there were many comments on Afghanistan.

Afghan filmmaker and journalist Najibullah Razak suggests many Afghans appreciate the swift justice involved in the Taliban's brand of sharia law.

Rachel Reid, former journalist (and Dispatches contributor) is now a researcher for Human Rights Watch in Kabul. She says democracy has failed in Afghanistan, because in fact it isn't democracy they've been offered.

You can watch the whole discussion on line.

Balkan women who are men

The Balkans are a region of ancient traditions. Some of them harsh. The blood feud for example, still exists.

So does the practice of sworn virgins -- women who choose to live out their lives as men.

Some do it for honour. Some for status.

But they almost always do it for the good of their families.

Dispatches contributor Lisa Hale met them and heard their stories.

Thanks to Andrew Hale for help on Lisa's piece.

Velvet memories of '68

Hammond Bentall of Stratford, Ontario wrote us about our piece last week on the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia.

It put him in mind of the Prague Spring of '68, when he and his buddy Fred were working for Ford, and drove some show cars from Vienna to a trade show in the occupied Czech city of Brno. We played his snapshot from those times, read by our CBC colleague Tony Catterall.

Brutal memories of '08

One year on from the murderous attacks on Mumbai, investigators suspect a wide conspiracy lay behind the three-day rampage which killed 178 people in India.

The only surviving gunman of the ten attackers has said they were all members of a militant organisation based in Pakistan.

Indian authorities say they have dozens of other suspects, and wonder how the shooters obtained such detailed information about the obscure passageways in the hotel and a Jewish centre that were targets.

They also wounded hundreds of bystanders.

Among the first to fall was a restaurant worker, who's since recovered from his wounds. Journalist Anna Cunningham found him living on the street, yet to recover from his ordeal.

Sadashiv Chandrakant Kolke's story...

Israeli tech takes off

Israel is Start-Up Nation.

If Dan Senor has it right, conflict is good for business in Israel.

Out of the frequent clashes with its neighbours have come a military culture and technology that's contributed to Israel hosting "the highest density of start-up (companies) in the world."

Thousands of new and developing businesses, all searching for markets.

According to a new book Start-Up Nation, Israel represents the greatest concentration of innovation and entrepreneurship in the world today."

Co-author Dan Senor, reads an excerpt...

Rick's interview with Dan, from our New York studio...

Dan Senor and Saul Singer are the co-authors of Start-Up Nation. It's published in Canada by McClelland and Stewart.

India wants gold

With another Olympics approaching, medal angst is upon Canadians once again.

Already we're hearing why Canada should win lots of them.

And if it doesn't, we'll hear it's because the population's just too small to produce enough athletes able to jump through those rings.

China after all, cleaned up in Beijing with a hundred medals.

But on that logic, India should've won big too too; it's the second most populous country in the world.

But it took home just three gongs for its trouble.

And now, as it draws closer to hosting next year's Commonwealth Games, India has come to grips with the fact that even though it's a country with a sporting culture dating back to thousands of years, it's lost its sporting culture.

Some Indians are trying to change that, as we hear from Canadian journalist Mihira Lakshman, on the road less taken.

Mihira's Dispatch...

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall and Alison Masemann, Steve McNally, and intern Filipe Leite, technical producer Victor Johnston and senior producer Alan Guettel.

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