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Early morning talking points...

Paul Coletti | 08:56 UK time, Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Good morning and welcome to the time of day when we try and see what talking points are out there. Last night on World Have Your Say we threw out a topic suggested by a listener from Africa who was concerned about the state of his country's exam system. To put it bluntly: there's a lot of cheating going on.

We received 19 texts on the subject so I've a feeling we'll be revisiting this tonight. Read on . . .

Exam cheating

Here's two of the many texts we received:

When I wrote my SSCE exams in 1996 we contributed 400 Naira each to buy question papers before the exam. Its quite common here. Dayo, Nigeria.
In Kenya an exam paper selling racket was exposed last year by an undercover journalist. School teachers actually buy the leaks for their students.

We also received similar messages from Malawi and Uganda so is this an Africa-wide malaise? What about us in the West, are we any better? I remember at school being able to buy past exam papers but I don't recall anyone getting hold of the actual papers on the day.

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Liz in the US
The President and Britain's first lady hosted a white tie dinner at the White House, preceded by a garden party at the British Ambassador's residence (amusing coverage here), there were 134 guests and rose blossom for pudding. The President and the Queen both lavishly praised the special relationship between the UK and the US, the Queen said: "Adminstrations may come and go, talk we will, listen we have, disagree at times, but united we must always remain. I raise my glass to the friendship between the two countries." Do you think the special relationship needs re-examining? Is it important to you or the wider world? Mr Sarkozy seems to have plans for reaffirming his country's links: "I want to make an appeal to our American friends: to say to them that they can count on our friendship, which has been reinforced by the historical tragedies that we have confronted together."

Large families = misdemeanour
An organisation called the Optimum Population Trust (OPT) says that reducing the child count will help the climate. OPT's John Guillebaud says: “the greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.” We had a few e-Mails on this subject from listeners when we last touched upon global warming. It's a controversial stance but do you think they have a point or are you with this writer who says: "In those terms, surely the greatest thing everyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to reduce his carbon footprint to zero by killing himself. The United Kingdom's present fertility rate is not three children or even two but 1.6 or 1.7, and the British will be extinct long before the polar bear."

Cycling doping scandal
At last, someone in sport accused of drug abuse has admitted their guilt. Giro d'Italia cycling champion Ivan Basso has admitted his involvement despite previsouly maintaining his innocence in the face of the Spanish authorities' investigative sting: operation Puerto. Renato di Rocco, Italian Cycling Federation, says: "The inquiry commission did a good job in getting Basso to confess. I am optimistic about the future." If you're a cycling fan are you optimistic? The sport has been plagued with doping scandals recently, can it recover?

May Day Riots in LA
We haven't touched on the trouble in LA at the May Day rally. Police Chief Bolton has sort of apologised and we now know that certain officers will be 'reassigned' (demoted) following the trouble. Are you happy with this outcome?

N. Ieland
We covered Northern Ireland extensively when the two factions came together to agree to restore devolved power a month or so ago but do you think it's worth talking about again today? The period of rule from London comes to an end today. All the major news networks are covering it as their lead item - but as we know, that doesn't mean it's a talking point.

Paris
No, not another post about France and its new guy at the top, but the celebrity 'heirhead' and professional soclialite, Paris Hilton. She's been sentenced to 45 days in prison but will be able to pay to get an 'upgrade' so that she doesn't have to mix with the tougher gals inside. Do you think she got off lightly because of her fame? Is it one rule for us and one for them or maybe you think the sentence too harsh?

Herod's tomb
They've found the tomb of the legendary Judean client king of the Romans, Herod. Apparently it was at a location called Herodium which, personally, I think was a bit of a giveaway. . . what took 'em so long!?

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