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July 1 & 8: from Gobi Desert, Mongolia - Tajikistan - London - Nicaragua - Damascus

Mongolian schoolchildren: the front line in the fight against fossil poachers in the Gobi desert (Photo/Danielle Nerman)

The many ways Canadians bring you the world.

An all-Canadian effort, starting with a  Calgary reporter in search of fossil thieves thwarting Canadian scientists in the Gobi Desert.

Then, a Canadian back from working in Tajikistan, which he describes as the Sopranos run by Fred Flintstone but too important to ignore.

We have a Canadian documentary-maker who bought himself a little piece of heaven in Nicaragua and found himself in a world of land craziness.

And, a Syrian-Canadian who took in Ladies Hour at the ancient Bath of Roses in Damascus, where they still dip like the Romans did.

Finally, a CBC journalist recalls going for gold in the Defend-Canada-From-The-British-Media Olympics. No place for false starts.

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Putting a price on history

On Canada Day weekend, we thought to mention Canadians are in fact, our secret weapon.  Wherever you go in the world, there we are, plugged into it. Telling about it.

Take the CBC's Danielle Nerman. Off in the Gobi Desert, once home to dinosaurs. Now it's home to dinosaur poachers. 

They scoop up the bones and sell them to the highest bidders, to the horror of a resident group of Canadian paleontologists.

Priceless clues to a distant past are vanishing into the black market as Danielle discovered, on the road to a 100-million-year-old crime scene. 

Danielle's dispatch...

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Dam taxes, Tajik style

Our listeners are our and ears around the world.

And when one of you emailed us about a curious new fee being levied in Tajikistan to fund a hydro project, we looked into it.

Apparently the government's telling people they've volunteered to pay it, though not everyone agrees.

One blogger calls it an "unregulated fear tax." He writes about a student prevented from taking an exam until he came up with 23-dollars worth of shares in the Roghun dam.

What sort of place is Tajikistan, we wondered, perched as it is on Afghanistan's northern border?  It's an unstable democracy in the middle of an unstable region according to Canadian Don Bowser.  

He served there as Chief Technical Advisor to the U.N. Development Program for the past five years. 

Don Bowser...

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Don Bowser is now in Kabul, working for the German government in Afghanistan's new anti-corruption agency.

Told you Canadians get around.

As for Tajikistan, the International Monetary Fund says it "welcomes the (Tajik) authorities commitment to full transparency and good governance, to ensure that the funds collected for the Roghun project are used effectively."

And it's considering a loan of  $42-million to the Tajik government. In addition to the $40-million it's already handed out.

Now that's a commitment.


Land, losers and lessons learned in Nicaragua

LAND trailer for feature documentary from Julian T. Pinder on Vimeo.


For awhile this decade, Nicaragua was being billed as "the new Florida." From 2005 to 2008, it was a the darling of a few American developers.

They went in with their architects and bulldozers bent on creating a "Central American Riviera."

Julian Pinder had already bought in. The Canadian filmmaker headed down there after studying film and politics at Queen's University.  He bought a little piece of paradise.  And let himself in for a further education in film and politics.

Developers followed. Social tensions mounted. And over a four-year-period, he turned his lens on a nasty little conflict with echoes of racism and revenge.

The result is a documentary called Land, that's been playing in Canadian theatres recently.

He arrived at the Dispatches studio, sporting a black hat and a beard-in-progress, looking a little like a compact Liam Neeson.

Julian's interview...

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Laura and the Limeys

Last February, the Vancouver Olympics shattered the anonymity of Canadians living in Britain. 
The British media were dining out on what they viewed as Vancouver's flaws and faults. And it fell to one of Dispatches own -- correspondent Laura Lynch  -- to confront the critics when she was invited to a debate on the BBC's nightly news.

Thumbnail image for laura.jpgLaura's essay...

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Bathing in history

In the Syrian capital of Damascus, a bathing complex built by the Romans is still in use, all these centuries later.

Ironically enough, this monument of the past, actually frees women from some cultural restrictions of the present.

It's also a field day for Mothers who go wife-spotting on behalf of their bachelor sons, as we hear from Syrian-Canadian journalist Oussayma Canbarieh, at the door to delight.

Oussayma's dispatch...

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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 host Rick MacInnes-Rae.

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