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March 18 & 21: from Bhutan - Iraq - Ethiopia - Toronto

Climate change. Believe in it or not, treacherous weather systems are causing perilous effects in much of the world.

Right now, Ethiopian farmers battle a drought that threatens the new high-yield wheat crop, by reaching into the past for ancient seeds that can stand it.

And Bhutan fights flooding, one rock at a time, in the place where our reporter says rocky peaks sit like old men...with glaciers wrinkling down their faces.

And, the word from Limbo World, where non-countries do almost anything to become real ones. Even tending to a reporter's wounds.

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Rolling Rocks in Bhutan

To punish Sisyphus, the Greek gods commanded him to push this huge rock up a mountainside. And whenever he got near the top, they'd make it roll down so he'd have to start all over again.

Bhutanese work crews move boulders by hand on Thorthomi glacier in the Himlalayas. (Photo/Anjali Nayar)

Which brings us to Bhutan.

Melting glaciers are creating dangerous new lakes in the Himalayan mountains. And work crews have to drain them so they don't flood villages below.

But they have to push those rocks away, by hand.

It's a Sisyphean task with deadly consequences if they fail, and Dispatches contributor Anjali Nayar recently joined them at the start of a day of it.

Listen to Anjali's Dispatch... 

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Anjali spent three weeks on that story in northern Bhutan, and also wrote a magazine piece about it for the British journal "Nature."

It won Best Feature on Climate Change in the Himalayas, from the Integrated Centre for Mountain Research in Katmandu, Nepal.

Operation Iraqi Instability

A pistol-pushing Prime Minister. A faith at war with itself. A woman reduced to selling herself to survive in a foreign capital. The dynamics of Iraq are no end of troubling.

And with parliamentary elections now over, the bickering and negotiating a new coalition government begins.

Watching from beyond the border for any signs of encouragement are the exiles, many of them Sunni Muslims.

They fled a civil war with Shia Muslims, and remain to be persuaded there's any reason to return.

But without that political reconciliation, Iraq remains poisoned by sectarianism, and as long as it stays that way, its stability is suspect.

Deborah Amos is an American journalist with a long history in the region, summed up now in her new book "Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile and Upheaval in the Middle East."

Listen to Rick's converation with Deborah...

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Limbo World

Nagorno-Karabak feels Abkhazia's pain.

Palestinians cross from the Egyptian side of Rafah to the Gaza Strip over the border wall on Friday. (Eyad Baba/Associated Press)

They both look like states. And talk like states. But like northern Cyprus and western Sahara, and South Ossetia, they're not states.

Like Transnistria and Puntland and Palestine, they're sort of....quasi-states.

There's just a handful of them, carved out of conflicts past and present. But they desperately crave international recognition and the prestige of their own passport stamp.

Journalist Graeme Wood has been to many of them and has a word for that unique and forlorn place they occupy.

Listen to Graeme in the Dispatches studio...

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 Coming up   

Coming up next week on Dispatches, an interview about the hidden work done by the hidden workers of the United States.

Journalist Gabriel Thompson spent a year doing the jobs most Americans won't do, to learn about low-wage working conditions and the forces that encourage them.

Thompson's now written a book about his months cutting lettuce, delivering fast food and in this reading, he recalls lunch-hour in a poultry plant.

Listen to Gabriel reading from "Working in the Shadows" ...

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The wisdom of seed savers

In Ethiopia, as we heard earlier in Bhutan, water is a problem.

It's battling through four straight years of drought. The change in climate helps spread a fungus that kills off imported strains of wheat.

So flying in the face of conventional agricultural wisdom, Ethiopians are turning back to native seed, creating banks of hardy local strains that can survive times like these.

The West used to laugh at the them. Now it's the Ethiopians' turn to giggle, as we hear from Dispatches contributor Dave Kattenburg.

Listen to Dave's documentary...

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This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally, technical producers Sean Brocklehurst and Tim Lorimer and Senior Producer Alan Guettel and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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