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October 6, 2011: from Peshawar, Pakistan - Guatemala City - Misrata, Libya - Mendoza, Argentina

From our correspondents around the world... 

It's the "real" Hadeel. The Associated Press reporter found a persistant impersonator went online as her and filed false reports of Western attrocities in Libya. Photo/Twitter

The downside of Twitter for a correspondent in the Middle East - impersonators hijack her identity.  

On the road with the bomberos of Guatemala, tending to the casualties of a culture in crisis.
The badlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan - why they're plagued by violence and it will likely get worse.

And, we revisit a heartbreaking homecoming in Argentina, as two torture victims reunite in the hopes of convicting their captors.

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Canadian Hadeel al-Shalchi at work for AP in the Middle East where Twitter proved to be a useful reporting tool, but is also causing her some concern.  Photo/Associated Press

Twitter: the real Hadeel?

Like a lot of us, Canadian journalist Hadeel al-Shalchi has a Twitter account.  Helps her work as Middle East correspondent for The Associated Press.

She has ten thousand followers. And now, to her surprise and unease, some imitators. But not in a flattering way.

Not when they're Twittering misinformation in her name. 

It could happen to anyone, but it's a particular irritant when you're reporting from a very sensitive part of the world.
Hadeel al-Shalchi joins me from the city of Misrata, where she's covering the Libyan revolution.    Hear Rick's chat with Hadeel

This is one story that Hadeel says triggered some threatening behaviour. You can follow her on  Twitter at @hadeelalsh


A tarp baring the insignia of Guatemala City's "volunteers" covers a drug-trade murder victim. Photo/Myles Estey

Gruesome Guatemala

While covering the war in El Salvador back in the 80s, Rick remembers well bumping into a Canadian diplomat visiting the capital from his post in neighbouring Guatemala.

The city of El Salvador was under seige at the time.

The nights were a flickering horror show of screams and gunfire and phosphorous flares strobing wildly in the night sky. By day, there were running battles and bodies in the street.

So Rick asked, "why on earth would you choose to visit...this...when you could be in Guatemala City?"

He's never forgotten the answer.

"It's safer here" he said, kidding only a little. In his view, a war zone was safer than the Guatemalan capital. But if it was true then, it's unfortunately still true all these years later.

Drug-driven street violence is so bad, they have thousands of volunteers  driving around each night just tending to the carnage, and Canadian journalist Myles Estey is with them to witness it.  Listen to Myles' dispatch


Soundtrax: a musical dispatch from rural China

This week's audio dispatch is from Bryan Tudor in Regina


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The Taliban's home away from home

The tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan are bracing for a new wave of instability.

With U.S. troops now in a phased withdrawal from the Afghan theatre, Islamic militants are expected to launch new attacks on Afghan targets from hideouts in what are known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Despite a long military campaig by the Pakistan Army, these 14 regions still conceal Taliban and al-Queda members.  And the notorious Haqqani clan, accused by the U.S. of bombing its Kabul embassy and being in league with the Pakistan government.

Journalist  Rahimullah Yusufzai, has covered the region for thirty years.  After his last visit to the tribal areas a few weeks ago, he returned shaken and pessimistic, and joins me from his home in Peshawar to explain why. Hear our interview with Rahimullah Yusufzai

He is resident editor with The News International, an English-language daily paper in Peshawar, Pakistan.


Rosa Gomez and Antonio Savone suffered at the hands of the same torturers. They reunited to try to jail their tormentors. Photo/Alison Crawford

Still cleaning up after Argentina's dirty war

Some guilty verdicts were handed down this week in a case that began many years ago in a very dark place in 1970s Argentina.

They called it "the Singing Room." And sometimes, "the Barbeque," which is closer to what it really was; a torture chamber in the basement of a Mendoza police station.

And it was bad, what they did to Antonio Savone. Much worse for Rosa Gomez, the woman whose eyes he could see -- and whose cries he could hear -- coming from the cell facing his.

Argentina was in the grip of a murderous dictatorship, and last March, Antonio headed back to meet Rosa face-to-face, and confront their captors.

The CBC's Alison Crawford begans our story in Antonio's Toronto home, as he packed to testify in Mendoza.

Listen to Alison's dispatch

This week, five of the six defendants in the D-2 case were convicted of crimes ranging from kidnap to torture and murder.  The judge called them all "crimes against humanity."  Four were given life sentences, including the man who killed Rosa's husband. A fifth got twelve years and another was acquitted, but is already convicted of crimes in another detention centre. All will go to prison; they had been under house arrest. Report in El Sol (the Mendoza Sun)

And Antonio was in court to hear the verdict. He'll return next year to testify against those accused of sexually assaulting Rosa Gomez.

Meanwhile, two judges have been suspended as a result of the investigation into human rights violations, though the prosecutor, that signed off on the "confession" Antonio was unaware of until his trial, has skipped the country and is claiming refugee status in Chile.

Antonio has also been contacted by a novelist and a filmmaker interested in documenting his story.  And an artist who wants to draw his eyes. 

Finally, he tells us by email that he speaks with Rosa all the time. "I feel very close to (her)" he writes. She is now, "a part of my life."

Dispatches thanks CBC producer Mariel Borelli for performing the voice over translation for Rosa Gomez.


Coming up next week...

Join us for an insider's look at America's efforts to re-build Iraq after its war there.
Give that widow a tractor - a foreign service official's tale of waste and ineptitude.

This program is the work of producers Dawna Dingwall, Alison Masemann and Steve McNally with technical producers Victor Johnston, Tim Lorimer and Steve Russell, intern Kazim Rizvi, senior producer Alan Guettel, and Rick MacInnes-Rae.

We'll bring you the world!

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