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February 11 & 14: from Port-au-Prince - Sochi, Russia - New York - Havana

Chinese teenager Deng Senshan spent a lot of time on the internet. So his parents sent him to a boot camp for what turned out to be a fatal cure. But is the web really addictive?

Not in Cuba, where few are allowed on it. We'll hear from some enterprising Cubans dodging the state's control.

The struggle for souls in Haiti: it's voodoo versus evangelism in a competition for converts amid the rubble.

And Uncle Sam wants youth: the American military's stealth campaign that targets new recruits.

And, Olympic security: if it's all we can do to safeguard these winter games, what'll it be like with a war zone bordering the site of the next one?

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Listen to part 2

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Click here to listen to the individual Dispatches.

The battle for Haiti's souls

A local voodoo mambo, Lamercie Charles Pierre, in her home in Narette, a neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (David Gutnick/CBC)
The crisis in Haiti is being answered by nations and NGOs from around the world. Including faith-based organizations.

Evangelical groups have been active in the country for years. And it hasn't always been an easy relationship. Their quest for converts runs counter to Haiti's homegrown voodoo culture, sometimes with tense results.

And the earthquake has quietly turned that up a notch, as we hear from CBC Correspondent Connie Watson, in the streets of the capital.

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Games and guns

Preparations for the winter Olympiad in Vancouver are done and dusted. Construction is already underway at the site of the next one.

The winter games in four years' time will be staged in the scenic Russian resort of Sochi, where, like Vancouver, you can see snow on the mountains from the beaches down below.

But in the Caucasus, deadly conflicts lurk in those lofty peaks.

The CBC's Security Correspondent, Bill Gillespie, has been there, and seen them, and ponders whether the next Winter Olympics could wind up in a war zone.

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A deadly "addiction"

Fifteen-year-old Deng Senshan was spending an awful lot of time on the internet, and his parents were getting worried.

After all, the Chinese government had been telling them it can be dangerous and addictive.

So they sent their son away for a new kind of therapy. A boot camp for internet addicts.

But therapy turned out to mean physical abuse. And getting hit with a chair probably hastened his death.The question is whether thousands of Chinese kids in these camps are there because of a genuine addiction, or just a fabrication, created by a state uncomfortable with technology that competes with its authority.

Journalist Christopher S. Stewart's story on Deng appeared in Wired Magazine.

Listen to Rick's conversation with Christopher, in our New York studio...

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Defying Castro 2.0

In Cuba, there's nothing worldwide about the web.

Castro likes to keep a lid on internet access. His rules are among the most restrictive in the world.

It's a country of 11 million, but connections are only available to a couple of hundred-thousand people...with connections. For average Cubans, getting the internet is like trying to buy black-market plutonium.

But that doesn't stop them from trying.

There's a small but lively underground, busy inventing ways to go online, as we hear from Canadian journalist Sheena Rossiter in the Cuban capital.

Listen to Sheena's documentary....

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Visit the blogs mentioned in Sheena's story:

Yoani Sanchez' Generation Y

Yasmin Portales' En 2310, Y 8225 

Recruiting by stealth

With the U.S. warring on two fronts, the Army's keen to keep recruits coming. And it's conducting a stealth campaign to do just that.

Millions of American teens are getting calls on their cellphones these days, from people they don't know, but who know an awful lot about them.

Recruiters, who know their Social Security Numbers. Where they go to school. Even, how smart they are. Their profiles are harvested online, and in the high schools, by the American military. And the law makes it easy.

American journalist David Goodman has written about the the military's effort in Mother Jones magazine. He describes it as "a virtual invasion into the lives of young Americans."

Listen to Rick's interview with David.... 

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Citizen dispatches

Time for a taste of some of your letters about our recent programs.

Floyd Rudmin of Kingston writes to comment on last week's debrief with our correspondent in Kandahar.

Your embedded reporter kept referring to the Taliban as "the bad guys." You should have asked why they are bad. The Karzai government we are supporting is in the process of inviting the Taliban into the government. Which means, they are not so bad. So, why are we "bringing the fight to the Taliban?" 

Jon Wright in Carbon, Alberta heard our recent piece about western paleontologists complaining about Mongolian poachers digging up dinosaur bones for sale on the black market. He writes:

While our scientists have been brought up by dint of their culture and their schooling, with a sense of entitlement towards anything that piques their ostensibly objective interest, it is my belief that it is people such as the Mongolians who are the ones entitled to what their own land gives up -- they live that landscape in a basic, timeless fashion, and must use what they find to survive.

Taking the big view of things, the world does not need another dinosaur skeleton, but it may very well need what the Mongols know about living small...who then are the real fossil poachers in Mongolia?

Our recent piece on the man who spreads the news in Liberia using only a streetfront chalkboard tickled listener Lindsey Walsh.

Howdy. I just heard the report on Alfred, the Liberian chalkboard journalist.I must say, that is the coolest thing I have ever heard.

Our interview with Drew Sullivan on the perils of "libel tourism," in which litigants use the UK as a court of convenience to sue publications found on the internet, caught the attention of Ian Fraser of Halifax, who describes himself as "admittedly, a lawyer." He says our guest got the main point right but mangled others along the way. Nonetheless he writes:

By English law, the media has a special defence to libel, which the judges call "responsible journalism." It amounts to what you or anyone in North American ...journalism would consider "responsible".

Making a reasonable attempt to talk to the story's target, before publication, IF that seems useful and there isn't too much of a rush -- that sort of thing. Truth is an entirely different defence; it is not necessary to prove truth as part of this media defence.

This is a change, developed since a landmark case in 1999... and recently adopted in Canada by our Supreme Court.

The British courts can be outrageously generous to plaintiffs, but that is in how the law is applied there -- and, according to the judges themselves in their opinions, because the standards of British journalism are so low.

The law itself -- this new common-law defence -- is not the problem, although, as usual with legal matters in Canada, we must remind ourselves that even our reformed version is nowhere near so oriented to free speech as American law.

If there's a problem, it's that the defence amounts to second-guessing the Editor -- so all depends on WHO is doing the second-guessing.


This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally. With technical producers Victor Johnston, Dean Ples and Anton Szabo, senior producer Alan Guettel and Rick Macinnes-Rae.

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