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Refugees, hostages and other weighty problems

Martin Vennard | 09:03 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2007

Jordan is today hosting an international conference to find ways to help countries struggling to cope with large numbers of Iraqi refugees. The United Nations refugee agency's deputy high commissioner says the international community has a clear obligation to help resettle the refugees, who are fleeing Iraq at the rate of about fifty-thousand every month. The UN says most of them head for Jordan and Syria. We may talk about this.

South Korea is stepping up efforts to secure the release of 22 of its people taken hostage in Afghanistan.

The Seoul government condemned the Taleban for the death of one of the hostages on Wednesday, and sent an envoy to negotiate the others' release.

The Taleban said it would start killing the other hostages if a deadline on Wednesday passed without their demands being met for the release of a number of its members who have been captured. However, a spokesman said on Thursday that the remaining hostages were still alive.

Should such exchanges of hostages for prisoners take place?

On Wednesday we asked is there any sport you trust and whether there are any that remain drug-free? Lots of you responded to this item, but we didn't have much time for it.

Since then the Dutch cycling team, Rabobank, have sacked, Michael Rasmussen, who was leading the Tour de France. Rabobank said they had thrown the Danish rider out of the Tour because he'd violated team rules by misleading them about his whereabouts last month. He also missed random drug tests. The scandal was the third to hit the Tour in forty-eight hours. Maybe we will return to the subject today.

We also plan to speak today to BBC journalist Paul Bakibinga who has done reports for the World Service's Globesity series.

Paul, who has battled with his weight for most of his life, travelled to South Africa and Denmark to compare experiences with people there and to hear about ways of tackling obesity, a problem that affects around 400 million people around the world. You can ask him questions and put your comments to him.

Another story that has got people talking in America and elsewhere is the choice of a Chinese sculpter to make the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington.

Some people believe the commission should have been given to an Afro-American or at least someone from the US.

What do you think? Does an artist have to have a close link to a culture to be able to represent it through his or her work?


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