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Mar 22 & 25 - from Jordan - Monrovia, Liberia - Sumatra - Chennai, India - China

 From our correspondents around the world...


A refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, being built last month for people fleeing the violence in Syria. (Photo/AP-Mohammad Hannon)

The boy with the bullet in his back; why the Syrian conflict makes for a nervous neighbour in Jordan.

A journalist in hiding talks about the consequences of exposing the brutal tactics of an African secret society.  

Then, aftermath of the Asian tsunami. People in Sumatra look to their past to find a future.

India's movie business.  It's big business but leaves human casualties in its wake and we'll hear how the fallen can be raised.

And, Twitter, but not as we know it.  The Chinese embrace their own version while keeping the censor at arms-length.

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 A new wave of refugees in Jordan 

He was a kid in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now he's in limbo, a Syrian refugee in the neighbouring country of Jordan.

As Syria's uprising widens, it spills more and more frightened civillians into countries around it.

Turkey. Lebanon. And Jordan, always balancing on the currents of regional conflict and long-time host to the Palestinian diaspora.

But now it's the Syrians turn to crowd into rented rooms in Jordan, and wait to see what the future holds.

And CBC Correspondent Derek Stoffel is watching a kid find his, on a makeshift soccer field in the city of Amman.

Listen to Derek Stoffel in Jordan


Mae Azango is a journalist in Liberia.  She's in hiding fearing for her safety after breaking a national taboo and writing a story about a secret sect that practices female genital mutilation. (Photo/Glenna Gordon)

A Liberian journalist in hiding 

At age thirteen, Ma Sabah was taken into the African bush and  circumcised according to the tradition of her people.

When you put it that way, it almost sounds noble.

But what Ma remembers is four women holding her down while another took a knife and hacked at her genitals.

That was over thirty years ago.  But for writing her story this month, reporter Mae Azango received death threats and she's now in hiding in Liberia where we've managed to reach her.

 Listen to Rick's interview with Mae Azango

Journalist Mae Azango, is in hiding in Liberia. She's a reporter with the daily newspaper FrontPage Africa, and the website New Narratives, a development project supporting independent media in Africa.



In Indonesia's Banda Aceh province, students from the Sanggar Seni Seuleweuet troupe are trying to revive ancient songs and dances involving "body percussion". Many previous practitioners were killed in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  It's one of the few forms of music allowed in this part of the world where most music is banned. (Photo/Niall Macaulay )

Sumatrans beat their chests to preserve their culture

Now, to a part of the world that lost much in the 2004 tsunami that swept the Indian Ocean, but remains determined not to lose its soul.

Kalaivani was forced into sex work after her husband died and she had a family to support. Now she counsels women in Chennai's sex trade, and is proud that her two children have become educated professionals. (Photo/ Priya Sankaran)

India's Sex Workers

The lure of stardom has been the downfall of more than a few actors drawn to the bright lights of Hollywood. For every one star that emerges, dozens fall. Some, right to the bottom.  

You don't hear their story very often.

India's huge film industry has a similar allure, and similar casualties, with a cultural twist. And we can tell you their story.

And how some are trying to catch them when they fall.

This one begins with the CBC's Priya Sankaran in one of India's key film production centres.



Twitter may be blocked in China, but the Chinese have Sina Weibo, which the government tries to police but may already have lost hold of.  (Photo/Reuters)

The trials of Tweeting in China

We know it as Twitter, though not in China, where it's blocked by state surveillance.  Instead, the state permits the Chinese something called Sina Weibo.

The principles are similar to Twitter.  The parameters, not so much. 

Not when Big Brother has its algorhythmic finger posed above delete, just waiting to wipe out any sign of dissent in those 140 characters on Weibo.

That's hasn't stopped hundreds of millions of Chinese from signing up.  It just means they have to find clever ways around it.

Author Rachel DeWoskin has been looking into it. She lived in China for five years in the 90's, writing and consulting and eventually becoming a TV star in a hugely-popular Chinese program similar to Sex and the City.
Her findings appeared in a recent edition of Vanity Fair magazine. She joined me from Chicago.
Your Dispatches

It's a busy and diverse mailbag from recent days, starting with Judith Benson of Salmon Arm, B.C.  She heard last week's piece on the drug violence in Mexico and writes about a new security response that she's seen.

For the past four years, my husband and I have spent some February time on Mexico's Pacific coast beaches between Puerta Vallarta and Mazatlan...knowing they are still safe from drug cartels.

We did notice a few changes this year.

Upon our arrival in the town where we stay, a truck loaded with men dressed and hooded in black, and carrying weapons, were perusing the main highway.

In the next town over on the main street...a truck was parked with men dressed in fatigues and carrying weapons. 

...Although their presence was a surprise, we prefer to consider them as guardians of the tourist industry, not as threats.

Our recent story on the difficulty Italians have gaining membership in the country's elite craft guilds intrigued  Daniel Girard in Austin, Texas, who says he's experienced the same thing in Canada.

I was educated through grade thirteen in Ontario. I earned my undergrad and masters degree in Florida, where I served as a math teacher for ten years, and a high school administrator for twelve years. 

For the last seven years, I've been a high school principal in a urban school with more than 2600 students.

The Ontario College of Teachers deems that I am unqualified as a school principal, because I have not taught in Ontario, and will not be eligible until I do so. 

Frankly, I see little difference between the practices in Italy and Canada.

And our piece on the emergence of organic wine in Italy's Slow Food movement prompted this note from Sharon Rempel of Victoria, B.C.;

Slow Food Canada nominated my baby, Red Fife wheat, as Canada's first nomination to the Ark of Taste" she writes.  That's their list of the best-tasting endangered foods, by the way. 

What wine is in Italy, wheat and bread is in Canada... Or so is my hope.

We have terroir each year, in each field, with each variety of wheat. That's why 'variety' and 'farmer' identification are so critical on each shipment of wheat. Now the Wheat Board is going, hopefully our marketing system can respect this 'terroir' of wheat.

Coming up next week on Dispatches: 

A word now about a story we'll bring you in a future edition of Dispatches. The CBC's Kimberly Gale returns to Japan, where radiation from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima reactor has become an all-consuming obsession for some.

Listen to a short excerpt from Kimberley's documentary

How safe is Japan? On an upcoming edition of Dispatches.


This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally with technical producer Nima Shams and Tim Lorimer.  Our senior producer is Alan Guettel.

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