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The AM Glass Box

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Eddie Mair | 05:04 UK time, Tuesday, 10 November 2009

glassmorningautumn.JPGGood morning.

You may have read your morning paper and listened to the radio, and have some ideas you want to hear on PM tonight.

Perhaps a question about something in the news you would like answered - or better still, direct experience of something topical. Or maybe there's an aspect to a big story you haven't heard explored that you would like to hear.

The PM team will meet in a real glass box at 11am. Why not be part of the meeting by sharing your thoughts in this virtual glass box?


  • 1. At 06:24am on 10 Nov 2009, Redheylin wrote:

    The early bird catches the cold.

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  • 2. At 06:55am on 10 Nov 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    Labour government plans to fund private health care. How much is this to do with their friends in the private sector who must be following a down-turn in business due to recession, and the securing of future careers as opposed to real concern for patients? We've all heard those stories about the consultant that go,..."well on the NHS Mrs Smith your going to have to wait another six months I'm afraid". However, if you've got the spondulix...I can fit you in next Friday at mi private clinic". "oh wait a minute, the NHS will pay for it now". Who can you see rubbing their hands?

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  • 3. At 06:57am on 10 Nov 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    Cameron on poverty...MMM...more please.

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  • 4. At 07:24am on 10 Nov 2009, steelpulse wrote:

    PM. Mr Cameron up today?
    My mind screams Public Relation exercise. No offence Conservative Party but I just read that reported explanation of one Lord's tax status here in Great Britain and need the combined talents of Messrs Flanders, Peston and Davis to get an understandable explanation as to what it meant. Or Nils on his Sweeney of course.
    PR exercise? I have no idea why though Eddie. But hang - what was that my Today radio said - "and there are no plans for a recall here" Recall. Oh yes. Remembrance of things (run) Pass - me! Allegedly. It was funny - scales from eyes falling from eyes on 9 November.
    Subject: and there are no plans for a recall here
    Anagram: Carpeted fan release Hell anna horror

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  • 5. At 08:35am on 10 Nov 2009, funnyJoedunn wrote:

    Yvette Cooper and Teresa May interviewed on the Today program...O' dear.

    How sad to hear two 'RICH' women pontificate and argue over, not whether the poor should eat 'cake' or not but, over what flavour that cake should be...so sad, so sad. The argument wasn't about how you reduce poverty and poor people, but about what methods make poverty and serfdom more socially acceptible...so sad.

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  • 6. At 08:46am on 10 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 7. At 08:53am on 10 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    Oh look the Brown letter runs on for a second day.
    There is something distasteful the way a mothers loss is being used by the Tories and their allies to attack Gordon Brown.
    The spinmeisters at Tory HQ must be rubbing their hands with glee the way the media is running with this story.

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  • 8. At 08:55am on 10 Nov 2009, Redheylin wrote:

    Today all politics ended
    It was a democratic vote
    Everyone went to their favourite place
    And sent their passports to be displayed
    On the Berlin wall.

    Today the politicians went home
    With thanks and a round of cheers
    Partly for their help and partly
    For going home, obviously.

    Today the obscure laughing ones
    Were cajoled by crowds into running the buses
    Which they did, just to be nice,
    While everyone talked about
    How wonderful the world could be.

    Today the Sahara was thoughtfully set aside
    For all who enjoy killing one another
    Every child took a trip to look,
    And left the fighters a sandwich and a beer.

    Today everyone said it was high time
    For the party they'd been waiting for all their lives,
    And, finding that many friends were able,
    Agreed to swop jobs every time they got bored.

    Today those who disagreed
    Were questioned by councillors.
    A few changed their minds,
    A few, sadly, had to be confined
    Until reason and human kindness prevails.

    Today everyone confessed the common weakness
    And cured one another with leg-pulls and finger-wags.
    Feeling silly, we all reverted
    To acting normal, declaring
    All moral codes fair enough but beside the point.

    Today was not a dream but inevitably real:
    Everyone remembering bright, laughing infancy
    Considering the crocus, tender brave, of spring,
    Saw that never would life's spirit be born but in beauty,
    Realised that the stupid misery of herd and habit,
    And every necessary evil could not prevail,
    For existence is set on something better.
    Why fight it? (we all said) It may as well be today.....

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  • 9. At 08:55am on 10 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    Lets try again:
    Remember, remember, the 1979 Tories.
    They promised all sorts of goodies and delivered ..er something a lot different.

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  • 10. At 09:01am on 10 Nov 2009, Anne P wrote:

    Looternite (9) - but isn't that true of all politicians?

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  • 11. At 09:33am on 10 Nov 2009, Richard wrote:

    Interested to see that the mother telephoned by Gordon Brown had the foresight to record the conversation. Not sure this is the normal reaction of someone in this position, it certainly wouldn't occur to me to do that unless I was proposing to publicise what was said in the course of a private and personal conversation. What was the motive and how did the Sun get hold of the transcript? Really sad that politics should be enetering into a personal and family tragedy like this and shame on the press and media for making capital out of it.I hope that the efforts of the Sun to stir up trouble backfire on them.

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  • 12. At 09:38am on 10 Nov 2009, Redheylin wrote:

    12. Your questions are just those I'd like an intelligent programme to enquire about on my behalf.

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  • 13. At 09:39am on 10 Nov 2009, Richard_SM wrote:


    We’re regularly told by Gordon Brown that British troops will withdraw from Afghanistan, when the Afghan army/police can do the job for themselves. We should be giving information on the progress. How has the recruitment and training been going for the last seven or eight years?

    What are the present numbers?
    What is the target number?
    How long does the training programme last?
    How many are being trained?

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  • 14. At 09:42am on 10 Nov 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    #13 Addendum to my post

    How many training establishments?

    And can we have quarterly updates on recruitment?

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  • 15. At 09:44am on 10 Nov 2009, Richard wrote:

    The campaign against Brown is beginning to look like playground bullying. Making fun of his writing and spelling, recording what he says in private conversations, mocking his social skills, picking on everything he says and does and belittling it. The guy can't win and, once he's lost, the bullies will move on to someone else. Beware Mr Cameron, it may be your turn next.

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  • 16. At 09:47am on 10 Nov 2009, Richard_SM wrote:


    As World leaders celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall's fall saying the battle against injustice must continue, activists inconveniently reminded them of the illegal Israeli-built wall in the West Bank and pulled down a section, Berlin style.


    What actions in their “battle against injustice” do Brown, Clinton, Merkel have in mind?

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  • 17. At 09:56am on 10 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    #15. Richard
    I agree with you this looks and smells like bullying.
    The Sun and the Tory central office honed these skills against Kinnoch - remember.

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  • 18. At 10:02am on 10 Nov 2009, Big Sister wrote:

    Richard (11) and others:

    Regarding the recording of Mr. Brown's call, I have checked the position on this and it would appear that Mrs. Janes is in breach of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. According to the Oftel website

    "RIPA, does not prohibit individuals from recording their own communications provided that the recording is for their own use. Recording or monitoring are only prohibited where some of the contents of the communication - which can be a phone conversation or an e-mail - are made available to a third party, ie someone who was neither the caller or sender nor the intended recipient of the original communication."


    Perhaps PM might like to investigate this further? I'd also like to know why Mrs. Janes decided to share this private conversation with others via the Sun. We all know why the Sun has published, but what were her motives, or what did she hope to achieve?

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  • 19. At 10:05am on 10 Nov 2009, lucien desgai wrote:

    David Cameron's proposals for poverty reduction has echos of George W Bush's 'caring conservatism'. The American policy was about removing government welfare provision and funding 'community groups' to support and work with the poor.
    The beneficiaries of this policy were the churches - the 'community groups' - accountavle to god, and god alone. Assistance to the poor became an evangelism mission, funded by but barely answerable to the the taxpayer.

    To whom does Cameron intend to surrender the state's duty of welfare provision? And what restrictions will he place on how these organisations assess and engage with their clients?

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  • 20. At 10:07am on 10 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    Where did Mrs Janes get the recording device. I do not have anything near my phone that would record two way telephone communications. This looks like a set up and she may have been coached by the Sun into what to say. It smells!

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  • 21. At 10:11am on 10 Nov 2009, DoctorDolots wrote:

    Doesn't everyone have telephone recording equipment set up to monitor all calls? Perhaps the Sun kindly provided it, along with a couple of reporters. Certainly sounds like her side of the conversation was scripted, calculated for a listening audience. Or am I cynical?

    Interesting point Big Sister, hope PM investigates as it should, rather than repeating tittle-tattle like the rest of the tabloidals.

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  • 22. At 10:12am on 10 Nov 2009, Looternite wrote:

    #19. lucien_desgai
    Yes you are right. This does look like the American model and we will end up with the "Deserving Poor". They will have access to "Poor Relief" only via their religous group.
    If you ain't god fearing you are on your own.
    Victorian values again.

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  • 23. At 10:23am on 10 Nov 2009, GiulioNapolitani wrote:

    The fact that Mrs Janes had recording equipment ready in anticipation of the Prime Minister's call is telling. It strongly suggests that she may have been 'prepared' in other ways prior to the event. It would be interesting to know who else was present when Mrs Janes received the call.

    It is a sign of the Sun's desperation that this is the only stick they can find with which to beat Gordon Brown. I hope that Cameron et al will have the wit and decency to keep a good distance between themselves and what increasingly appears to be the manipulation of a grieving mother in the furtherance of a petty vendetta.

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  • 24. At 10:32am on 10 Nov 2009, concerned_uk_citizen wrote:

    I have no doubt that there are a good number of back benchers who are good constituency MP’s, if they are then will they stand without a party support and refuse a party whip, stand for the constituency and vote on conscience not party line or on the promise / expectation of higher office?
    Its time we had some democracy back in this country not a professional political machine that appears to do little for the country, rather only serves to create wealth for the few within the circle. Are we not that different than the old communist regimes where the party faithful were looked after and the rest suffered? Comments please

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  • 25. At 10:35am on 10 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Is there any chance that PM could give a bit more promotion of the Sun to complement the efforts of the rest of the BBC?
    - Perhaps the Sun could provide entertaining recordings of telephone conversations that you could play - they're bound to me as entertaining as the Upshares/Downshares pieces.
    - Maybe get some Sun reporters to read out the news headlines and give your own staff a rest.
    - Now that we have the weather forecast off to a tee, couldn't we shorten it by a minute and slot in a few lines from the Sun’s political editor?

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  • 26. At 10:37am on 10 Nov 2009, DoctorDolots wrote:

    Whistleblower say phoney oil figures are being used to avoid panic on markets - the world is much closer to running out of oil than official estimates show, a whistleblower at the International Energy Agency claims, according to The Guardian. Perhaps an item on this?

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  • 27. At 10:44am on 10 Nov 2009, GiulioNapolitani wrote:

    # 25. Preston Firmlie wrote:

    Perhaps the Sun could provide entertaining recordings of telephone conversations that you could play

    You mean the News of the World, surely? Though, of course, the Press Complaints Commission has established that nothing of that sort went on. Ahem...

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  • 28. At 10:45am on 10 Nov 2009, GiulioNapolitani wrote:

    #26. DoctorDolots wrote:
    Whistleblower say phoney oil figures are being used to avoid panic on markets

    Alternatively: "Oil speculators attempt to create panic on markets"

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  • 29. At 10:52am on 10 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    GiulioNapolitani (27) - No, it's definitely the Sun.
    It looks like their readers are making recordings of two-way conversations on their phones and then letting the Sun have them. It must be a bit like sending a video in to 'You've Been Framed'.
    I don't know what the going rate is though, but I'm sure it's more than the £250 that YBF used to offer. Maybe PM could find out for us.

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  • 30. At 10:53am on 10 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:

    I note that Today gave space to the seriously under-reported (but hardy perennial to those on the receiving end) continued rogue behaviour of Israel. Why does it seem to me that this subject, while sometimes surfacing on this blog, rarely receives much attention on PM?

    I realise that apparently insoluble (and un-changing|?) situations are difficult for journalism to find a way into, a "new angle" as it were, but....

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  • 31. At 10:57am on 10 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:


    • "I have no doubt that there are a good number of back benchers who are good constituency MP’s, if they are then will they stand without a party support and refuse a party whip, stand for the constituency and vote on conscience not party line or on the promise / expectation of higher office?"

    Hear Here!

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  • 32. At 11:00am on 10 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    I did wonder how 'The Sun' found out about the letter in the first place - do they 'stalk' the newly bereaved parents of those killed in Afghanistan?

    I find it quite shocking that Mrs. Janes was prepared with appropriate equipment and recorded the conversation. Agree entirely with Big Sister - as far as I know, it is illegal to tape a conversation (especially if it is for uses such as this) without the person who is recorded being told.

    We all sympathise with a mother losing her beloved son but, as Big Sister asks, what were her motives in all this?

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  • 33. At 11:03am on 10 Nov 2009, DoctorDolots wrote:

    I imagine the Sun pays well for stories.

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  • 34. At 11:08am on 10 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:

    30 pieces of silver?

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  • 35. At 11:18am on 10 Nov 2009, DoctorDolots wrote:

    34 LordNathan, much more than that these days.

    I'm concerned by the way our country has succumbed to war fever; no day passes without news of the wars, soldiers returning and marching in triumph, bodies returning to streets lined with people, Union Jacks everywhere, war talk, war experts, war TV programmes...

    But the lyrics of Buffy Saint Marie's song The Universal Soldier [sung also by Donavan] are not allowed to be posted here, are the mods worried about copyright? If that's the case the dozens of sites printing them need telling, or is it that no message that is anti-war is allowed in this war-obsessed country now, and the BBC is right in there with the rest? This used to be a country where all views were respected, but there seems to be an attitude of intelerance around, as if to be anti war generally and these wars particularly is to insult young men who were conned and manipulated into signing their lives away in adventures politicians start but never suffer the consequences of.

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  • 36. At 11:26am on 10 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Yep, what are the chances of PM asking the Sun a few questions rather than just broadcasting what it says?
    Who made the first contact - Mrs Janes to the Sun or vice-versa?
    Did the Sun or any associates provide recording equipment or instruction in its use?
    Has their been or will there be any direct or indirect remuneration by the Sun to Mrs Janes or any other person/body in connection with this ongoing 'story'?
    Now, that the BBC have been running this 'story' for a few days, what about employing a little journalistic effort? I'm sure there are other questions to be asked.

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  • 37. At 11:41am on 10 Nov 2009, Ikki wrote:

    Can we at least give Gordon Brown his due for writing to the families of our fallen..! Even though i think its the very least he could do.
    Can PM also report, does Gordon Brown write to every soldier or the families of soldiers who are wounded, lose a limb or suffer from PTSD..? Maybe he need to tell them that he's sorry to...

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  • 38. At 11:50am on 10 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    Ln 7, Don't worry, Cameron still has Ashcroft to fully explain.

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  • 39. At 11:58am on 10 Nov 2009, concerned_uk_citizen wrote:

    #37 I will only say that I give Brown some credit for writing to the families of ‘the fallen’, I can find no credit for the former PM.

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  • 40. At 12:00pm on 10 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    LS 32, PM is stalking those lottery winners to find out who they are. The report yesterday was totally uncalled for.

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  • 41. At 12:09pm on 10 Nov 2009, concerned_uk_citizen wrote:

    Post code law – charged or cautioned.
    Is it time for a National Police Force?

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  • 42. At 12:25pm on 10 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:


    • "Is it time for a National Police Force?"

    God(s) help us! Bring back Dixon!

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  • 43. At 12:30pm on 10 Nov 2009, Ikki wrote:

    Maybe that is something the PM team could find out..!
    Did Tony Blair put pen to paper with regards to "The Fallen"..? Was his hand writing and spelling on a par with my 3year old daughter? "Cutting edge journalism"

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  • 44. At 12:33pm on 10 Nov 2009, GiulioNapolitani wrote:

    # 29. At 10:52am on 10 Nov 2009, Preston Firmlie wrote:
    GiulioNapolitani (27) - No, it's definitely the Sun.

    This was a reference to the Press Complaints Commission's ruling yesterday on the Guardian's allegations of large-scale phone tapping by the News of the World (the Sun's sister paper).

    Listening to the Jeremy Vine phone-in show, it begins to sound like this story has backfired royally on the Sun, not least with other service families.

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  • 45. At 12:37pm on 10 Nov 2009, concerned_uk_citizen wrote:

    #42 LN
    In the days of Dixon the emphasis was on law and order. Today the emphasis is on ticking boxes, handing out fines and stopping lawful protest. Remember Labour conference 80 year old heckler arrested under ‘anti terrorism’ law. London demo, police removing ID. Yes bring back Dixon et al but as yet I have no time machine.

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  • 46. At 12:44pm on 10 Nov 2009, mittfh wrote:

    *Sigh* This non-story about Gordon's apology to the grieving mother.

    Presumably this isn't the first / only soldier he's sent a letter to, so maybe if the government released the total number of letters sent, it would help put this into context (mountains, molehills, storms and teacups spring to mind).

    Secondly, according to the BBC report, this particular soldier was killed while on foot patrol, NOT while being driven from point A to point B. So extra helicopters would have been useless in his case.

    Thirdly, the equipment we had over there was perfectly adequate for about five years or so, until someone had the bright (*COUGH*) idea of repositioning our troops in Helmand Province. Anyway, helicopters are expensive items of kit, and you can't just magic them up out of thin air.

    Fourthly, I doubt The Blue Party would have fared any better under similar circumstances - IIRC they were in favour of both the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns...

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  • 47. At 1:03pm on 10 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    GiulioNapolitani (44)- Yes, I know that story. And one good thing about it is that the Tories will be well protected against that sort of thing, what with the former editor of the News of the World, Andy Coulson, now being their communications chief.
    His experience of being in charge of the paper when one of his reporters was jailed for plotting to intercept phone messages left for royal aides will be invaluable to him in preventing similar occurrences.

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  • 48. At 1:03pm on 10 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:

    CUKC 45,

    A "national police force" doesn't seem to me to be likely to reduce the idiocies you list - quite the reverse. Why does it seem a 'good idea' to you?

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  • 49. At 1:13pm on 10 Nov 2009, Richard_SM wrote:

    The grieving mother/Sun/Gordon Brown 'story' is evolving. Brown is gaining enormous public sympathy, whilst at the same it's putting Brown under pressure over Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Sun are getting negative blow-back, though no doubt increasing sales. Let it run.

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  • 50. At 1:31pm on 10 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Preston@36: good questions.

    Would the PM team please note: the absence of a listing a weekday alongside the heading 'The AM Glass Box' makes it impossible to tell which is which. As I type one is on 49 comments and one is on 45 and they are neck and neck at the top of the 'Topical Posts' list. By co-incidence, the photo is the same too - therefore more scrolling required.

    Please consider putting the day of the week with the heading, as Sequin helpfully does, and - squeaky wheel - bring back 'recent comments'.

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  • 51. At 1:47pm on 10 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Lady Sue (5o) - I'd give up on sensible requests like that. I don't think anybody with any influence ever reads what we write - we're just talking amongst ourselves.

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  • 52. At 2:06pm on 10 Nov 2009, vainly_here wrote:

    Richard_SM (16)
    Funnily enough, I wondered if you would mention that subject. The Berlin Wall split one group of people into two, whereas the Israeli security barrier is an attempt to prevent one group of people from attacking another. It's along way from the Mediterranean and the Euphrates, so should be well within Israel's borders. BTW, did you know Hizbullah has effectively banned the diary of Anne Frank from Lebanon's schools?

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  • 53. At 2:13pm on 10 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:

    • "the Israeli security barrier is an attempt to prevent one group of people from attacking another"

    And to make it easier for the other to oppress and attack the corralled ones.

    The Human right5s aspects f the "Separation fence"

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  • 54. At 2:16pm on 10 Nov 2009, U14138029 wrote:

    Vyle Hernia (52) - Not mentioning of course that the Berlin wall marked the point where one nation split into two, whereas the Israeli wall delineates parts of one nation illegally occupied by another.

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  • 55. At 2:18pm on 10 Nov 2009, Gillianian wrote:

    mittfh(46) It is my understanding that Mrs Janes believes her son was bleeding to death while waiting for a helicopter to bring help after he was wounded.

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  • 56. At 2:21pm on 10 Nov 2009, Lady_Sue wrote:

    Preston@51: I live in hope.

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  • 57. At 2:26pm on 10 Nov 2009, Lord Nathan wrote:

    • "did you know Hizbullah has effectively banned the diary of Anne Frank from Lebanon's schools?"

    Meanhile, in Israel,
    • "The Nakba denial is found in the geography and the history taught in schools, on the maps of the country and in the signs marking places on its surface. All of them ignore almost completely the event which made possible the establishment of the Jewish State as a state with a Jewish majority and a Palestinian minority, after the majority of the indigenous people of the country were evicted, their properties destroyed and/or confiscated for the benefit of the new state."


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  • 58. At 2:46pm on 10 Nov 2009, mittfh wrote:

    Meanwhile in other news, a man fell onto the M40 at the Longbridge island this morning, where he was hit by several cars and sustained fatal injuries: http://tr.im/EFML

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  • 59. At 3:13pm on 10 Nov 2009, Hawk wrote:

    I must complain about the constant use, by the beeb, of these two words that do not go together 'Sun Newspaper'. Next you'll be saying 'truthful politician'.

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  • 60. At 4:23pm on 10 Nov 2009, concerned_uk_citizen wrote:

    #48 LN Sorry for late reply I have been off line – Why do I suggest a national police force – we have I think there are 43 forces all independent and all interpreting the way the law should be enforced differently. If as Panorama suggest it depends on which force you are in as to whether you would go to court or get a caution, its justice by post code! We have seen time and time again that the sharing of information across borders is woeful. There are already agreements about sharing info and cross border pursuit between some forces but this is limited.
    We are not a big country. I think one force for crime and a National Transport Police to cover Ports, Airports, Docks, Trains and Traffic. With a National (Criminal) Police tackling crime and anti social behaviour. I would also suggest that control of the Police is taken away from a Minister and given to a person selected by the Lords and judiciary, taking away as much as possible political interference. Of course this won’t happen, the Government would never let control go, the members of ACPO would fight it, the councils who can currently influence their local police would not agree with it but can’t we stir things up and talk about it!

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  • 61. At 4:36pm on 10 Nov 2009, steelpulse wrote:

    Eddie - can I smile at Post Number 59 - if I keep it "brief"? The smile that is of course!
    News all very sad today. But I was idly wondering if ........... no I cannot say that can I? Or that! Or - well ESPECIALLY not THAT!
    So another brief smile at remembering the BBC TV News today at 1.00pm - and the last item of a female football player showing that they (the distaff side) need no teaching from the fellahs how NOT to behave on a football pitch. Ouch!
    I can talk. I am nobodies poster boy for good behaviour but then I never..........no I mustn't say that either! lol
    Subject: from the team - from the team - from the team
    Anagram: Met hate form - Them from tea - Ahem MOT - fret

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  • 62. At 4:40pm on 10 Nov 2009, needsanewnickname wrote:

    So PM is covering the Gordon Brown/letter/secretly recorded phone call story. Can we (well, you) move it on a bit?

    While I cannot imagine the pain a mother feels at the death of her son, I don't feel comfortable with giving the 'Janesgate' story to a red-top, or secretly recording phone conversations.

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  • 63. At 4:47pm on 10 Nov 2009, mittfh wrote:

    Uh oh...

    RT: @jemimakiss: Radio 4's PM show is going to broadcast some of the call with Brown secretly recorded by Jacqui Janes. I don't think that's right.

    RT: @jemimakiss: FYI, I've had 11 replies agreeing about Brown's letter.

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  • 64. At 4:55pm on 10 Nov 2009, concerned_uk_citizen wrote:

    Is there no NEWS today, is Brown baiting all that there is? Come on I know the BBC have had cuts but I thought there was still a journalist or two on the staff!

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  • 65. At 5:09pm on 10 Nov 2009, davmcn wrote:

    PF 51, You say something?

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