Archives for October 2007


Martin Vennard | 16:31 UK time, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

We're off air now, but keep sending your messages and we'll post them.

The programme came live from Phoenix, Arizona, and we got lots of messages about the two subjects we covered.

We started discussing if the rich should pay more taxes.

In our second hour we moved on to the value of water. With global warming and population growth, is water the new oil?

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Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 11:48 UK time, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Hi everyone. Plenty below including today’s subjects, a little on why we're here in Phoenix, how to listen to Saturday’s show from San Francisco, and my personal campaign to get better lighting in American hotels. So all absolutely vital.

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Live in Phoenix & stories from London

James Harrod | 10:00 UK time, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

phoenix.jpgHi it's James here, blogging from London.

Don't forget to post to our NEW BLOG - it's here and much easier to post

Half the team are asleep, getting some vital shut-eye before the broadcast from Phoenix. We're LIVE from 1700GMT. We're having our meeting in a few hours time - so ahead of that, do you have any thoughts or ideas that you'd like to discuss with us and our Phoenix audience? Do let us know by posting here or calling us to join the meeting at 1300GMT on +44 207 557 0635.

I'm sure the team over there will be bursting with ideas, and we have a few of our own here in London...

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Saudi - what's the UK doing?

James Harrod | 15:11 UK time, Tuesday, 30 October 2007

This is Peter blogging on James' log in. Don't forget to post to our new blog which is here

Two topics today, for you to get your teeth into, both from the Middle East.


King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been welcomed ceremonially to Britain by the Queen, with a state banquet at Buckingham Palace later today. The Liberal Democrats here, and a number of charities said the visit should not take place because of the kingdom’s poor human rights record...

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Do we overprotect our children?

James Harrod | 14:50 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2007

Hi, it's Peter on James' log in. Check out our new blog and post comments here

Dear World Have Your Sayer, morning / afternoon / evening, Peter Dobbie here with news of today's World Have Your Say on air at 1700 GMT, live from studio S38 here at Bush House.


Today we're devoting a big chunk of the programme to a question: do you protect, or rather overprotect your children.

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Do we mollycoddle our children?

Iain Croft | 10:26 UK time, Monday, 29 October 2007

A childhood expert says that the over-protection of today's children means they miss out on vital experiences and don't learn how to look after themselves.

In a book published today, Tim Gill -- a former British government adviser on children -- argues that society is "bubble-wrapping"' children and exaggerating the risks they face.

Mr Gill adds that the level of playground bullying is being exaggerated and children must learn to cope with name-calling and teasing to help them develop resilience.

Is he right? Do you remember having more freedom, or should that be less protection as a child? Is this zero-risk attitude damaging our youngsters?

We'd like to hear your views.

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Taking the temperature in San Francisco

| 20:55 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

As part of the World Service series on climate change, World Have Your Say will be broadcasting for the first time from San Francisco. And for the first time on a Saturday – 3rd November.

We’re very pleased to be joining forces with KALW, KQED and PRI for the broadcast, which will be devoted to the issue of climate change.

The location is the San Francisco Film Centre, very relevant considering the impressive list of people who have made films in the city; Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, Chris Columbus, Francis Ford Coppola, Phillip Kaufman and George Lucas. I visited for a few days as part of a road trip a few years ago, I'm still not sure if I felt at home because it's such a welcoming place, or because it felt so familiar from the number of films I have seen featuring it's hilly streets and tram system...

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WHYS goes to the West Coast of America...

| 20:00 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

What do the people of Phoenix Arizona want to talk to the world about?

As our broadcast from Phoenix Arizona is on 31st October, Halloween to many, perhaps the show will have a supernatural feel to it. Perhaps we’ll persuade Ros to leave his navy blue World Service t-shirt in the hotel room and dress him up as a witch for the occasion. Probably wasted on radio though, so let’s concentrate on the issues that may come up for discussion in Phoenix...

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Should we confront prejudice?

James Harrod | 13:25 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

gaybaby.jpgWhat sort of reaction do you have to this picture? The poster is part of an anti-discrimination campaign launched by Tuscany’s regional government.

It’s accompanied by the slogan “Sexual orientation is not a choice”. Thousands of these posters have been printed and will go up on city walls and public offices around the Italian region.

Some gay rights groups have welcomed the campaign - but conservative politicians have condemned it.

Is this kind of campaign going a step too far in confronting prejudice? Or are shock tactics the only way to confront prejudice? And, should we confront prejudice?

We’re talking about this on today’s show at 1700GMT - leave a comment and if you want to take part, then please leave your contact details (these will not be visible).

Iran sanctions

Iain Croft | 09:43 UK time, Friday, 26 October 2007

The US has stepped up its sanctions on Iran for "supporting terrorists" and pursuing nuclear activities.

Iran in turn has accused Washington of a hostile act, while the Revolutionary Guard -- singled out for special treatment by America -- declared itself ready to fight if necessary.

Is it time to put more pressure on Iran or is this a prelude to war?

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Giving your kids a smack

James Harrod | 16:41 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2007

Hi Anu here blogging on James' log-in

Just want to say thanks to Anna in Sweden for sending a very touching and personal account of her struggle to have children. And to Alma in the US who says I should consider not having children at all, because of the kind of world they'd have to live in. Much food for thought….!

Well, it's kids again today, but we're not discussing the merits of having or not having them…
What on earth you do when they misbehave? How many of you have had your child throwing a tantrum in public, refusing to listen, demanding attention, or a toy? How do you discipline them?

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Fiona Crack | 16:13 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2007

Iain here.

Now here is a thought to float your way..

Have you ever heard the Spanish National Anthem? You may have noticed that it doesn't have any words...?

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Burma, Fertility, Kyoto and Olympics

Fiona Crack | 09:20 UK time, Thursday, 25 October 2007

Hello I'm Iain (logging in as Fiona). I'm new to the team having just replaced David Mazower so this is my first blog, so do bear with me if its not up to your usual WHYS standards.


I've only been on the programme a few days now and it seems that in every programme meeting we keep saying that we should go back to look at what is happening in Burma.

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Turkey, a fatter world, armed teachers.....and more

Fiona Crack | 09:26 UK time, Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Troops are massing on the boarder but Turkey says it will exhaust all diplomatic solutions before sending troops into Iraq to stop the attacks by Kurdish PKK fighters. President Bush, with other world leaders, lobbies for calm. What can be done to ease the tensions?

Emails are coming in to the BBC website from the border area.

Since 1923 Kurds have been ignored and not given any status in Turkey. They have not been recognised as being proper citizens of the land of Turkey. So whose country are they citizens of? Where is their country? Where is their home? This problem has been ignored and Kurds have had enough. Turkey needs to be pressured by the EEC to solve this problem otherwise more lives will be lost. I do not condone murder/terrorism but at some point they must see they need to give Kurds their rights.
Akbe, Asagiolek/Bitlis

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Should scientists talk about race?

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 16:02 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2007

We're on air now - click here to listen

Hi there. It's been so long since I was in the office it feels like the first day of term at school coming in today. Just as well I've not got a new haircut to make it worse.

An inbox containing over 3000 emails initially made me feel like I'd been missed but it turns out most of them are offering me pain-killers, Viagra and investment opportunities in Dubai. Some though contained requests for the Daily Email, so welcome to all the newcomers and sorry I'm a little late adding you to the list.

Here are the details of today's show....

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Burmese rubies, Indian monkeys and mixed-faith schools

Fiona Crack | 09:35 UK time, Monday, 22 October 2007

Debbie Stothard, of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma, says that Burmese rubies are "red with the blood of young people." Are rubies from Burma the new African blood diamonds? British jewellers been accused of propping up the military dictatorship in Burma by trading in jems sourced from the country.

We talked a lot about Burma on World Have Your Say a few weeks ago, is it time to return and see how are contributors are doing there. And what they think about this new angle.

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Pakistan, South Africa and rugby

Martin Vennard | 16:29 UK time, Friday, 19 October 2007

Pakistan, South Africa loses one of its most famous singers and the Rugby World Cup are out three main topics -- unless of course there's anything else that takes your fancy.

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Pakistan, armed for school

Martin Vennard | 09:21 UK time, Friday, 19 October 2007

At least 130 people were killed late on Thursday night when two bombs exploded among crowds in Karachi celebrating the return of the former Pakistani PM Benazir Bhutto.

Ms Bhutto, who was travelling from the city's airport to a rally marking her homecoming after eight years in self-imposed exile, was not hurt.

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Armed for school

Martin Vennard | 08:30 UK time, Friday, 19 October 2007

Shirley Katz is an English teacher in Medford, Oregon, a town that is known in the US for its succulent pears.

Its economy is centered around agriculture and timber products, and it's a central location for people wanting to visit areas such as Oregon Caves National Monument, Crater Lake, and the Rogue River Valley.

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Can you beat the igloo house?

Martin Vennard | 08:11 UK time, Friday, 19 October 2007

pic1On our recent trip to Namibia, Ros and I had the pleasure of meeting a regular listener to WHYS, Chris Park, and her husband Ed, and visiting their "igloo" house.

It’s located at the top of a remote hill, 1,582m above sea level and around half-an-hour's drive outside the capital, Windhoek. We were wondering if any of our other listeners could beat Chris and Ed, who both originate from Britain, when it comes to living in unusual locations.

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Will Bhutto bring democracy to Pakistan?

Anu Anand | 14:06 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2007

Her whole life has been spent in opposition to Pakistan's military rulers. Her father was overthrown and then executed by General Zia ul Haq. She fled after General Musharraf took power (and many would say because of all the corruption charges filed against her).

Today, Benazir Bhutto has made a triumphal return to Karachi after apparently having done a deal with the enemy. Musharraf has agreed to have charges against her dropped, and there is talk that the constitution might be amended to allow her a third term as Prime Minister.

Is Benazir good for Pakistan?
Do you trust her motives?
Is she strong enough to deal with extremists?
Is she committed enough to improve the lives of Pakistanis?
Will she bring democracy, or further misrule?
Are her close ties with America a good or bad sign?
Are there any alternatives?

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Thursday - Bhutto returns, Somalia & race row

James Harrod | 09:30 UK time, Thursday, 18 October 2007

bhutto.jpgHi. Hope you're ok. Just a reminder that if you want to join our daily agenda meeting at 1100GMT then do call +44 207 557 0635 and we'll call you back.

So finally, the former PM of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto is heading back to the country, after 8 years in self-imposed exile. Thousands of supporters have lined the streets of Karachi to welcome her back. Troops and police are also out in force amid threats on her life by extremists...

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Your questions to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Fiona Crack | 20:00 UK time, Wednesday, 17 October 2007

We're off air now but you can listen again here. Sadly we're experiencing further difficulties with our blog, so please send an email to with your comments and we will post your thoughts in the main body of this post.

Should women only vote for women if given the chance? Are you more or less likely to vote if, like in India, you could choose an all-women party, concentrating on policies that affect women?

Are issues like equality at work, health, violence, education and child care, important enough to make you want a women to look after those policies? Or are you a man (or a women) fed-up with political girl-power?

We'll be asking President Johnson-Sirleaf, to join us, to debate this question, and to answer your questions for her on today's World Have Your Say,

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Women, Argentina and immigration

Martin Vennard | 09:14 UK time, Wednesday, 17 October 2007

A new all-female political party has been launched in India. The United Women Front, which has about a hundred members, has promised a new kind of politics.

It says it wants to focus specifically on women's issues, such as the aborting of female foetuses, and the provision of dowries for daughters getting married.

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Should the Blackwater Guards be tried in Iraq?

Anu Anand | 19:40 UK time, Tuesday, 16 October 2007

We're off now but you can listen again here and do leave your comments below.

Hi everyone. Hope your commute was nicer than mine. I spent it struggling to breathe as more and more desperate passengers crammed onto London's Central Line. I'm not having much better luck at the office, where I've had to scrounge for a desk and a chair to sit in. At least my husband packed my lunch! Speaking of husbands (or wives), we discussed the impending announcement of divorce in France's first family. It's expected that Nicholas and Cecilia Sarkozy will announce the breakup of their marriage this week... It got us thinking about the balance between success and happiness. Which is more important to you? Have you chosen work over a relationship? What impact has it had? Is it inevitable that great success brings great personal sacrifice?

We're looking at that for tomorrow. Meanwhile, here are today's topics:

It is now a month since the incident when Blackwater guards opened fire on Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, killing at least 17 people. Meanwhile, Lubna in Baghdad sent us this email a few days ago:

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Burma, Blackwater and Bollywood

Martin Vennard | 09:17 UK time, Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Japan, which is one of the leading donors of aid to Burma, is halting $4.7m in funding for a human resources centre in Burma, as economic pressure mounts on the military government there.

On Monday, the EU upped sanctions on Burma and the US urged "consequential" action against its leaders.

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Congo and Kids

Anu Anand | 16:04 UK time, Monday, 15 October 2007


It's true. My colleague, Mark Doyle, who is the BBC's developing world correspondent, coined that memorable phrase a few years ago in a documentary about Congo's rich mineral mines. Tantalum is an ore used to make capacitors in cell phones, DVD players, laptops and games consoles.

So the next time you watch a film on your DVD player, or send a text from your mobile phone, spare a thought for Congo, home to the world's second largest rainforest.... and home, tragically, to the worst conflict since World War Two, in which more than four million people have already died.

Interestingly, Congo also provided the uranium used by the US to build the bombs dropped over Nagasaki and Hiroshima in WWII.

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The dawning of a new era in China?

Martin Vennard | 09:21 UK time, Monday, 15 October 2007

The Chinese Communist Party has begun its 17th congress in Beijing, where President Hu Jintao has said the party has fallen short of the people's expectations.

The week-long gathering is held every five years to decide future policies and President Hu may use this congress to nominate a possible successor to take over from him in 2012.

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Has the rainbow nation faded away?

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 14:09 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2007

We're now OFF AIR, this is the end of the WHYS South Africa week. Send us your comments, post here on the blog, email us or send us a text message.

One SA Airways bone dry sandwich later, and I’m ready to write to you. We’re half-way through a flight from Durban to Cape Town and are slowly turning our mind to our final show here. We’d be a bit more sprightly if some ‘navigational complications’ with the drive from the farm in Ladysmith to Durban hadn’t meant we arrived well after 2 in the morning. Maybe we’ll pack a map next time.

Today’s show is live from Zula Bar in Cape Town….

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From Cape Town and London

Martin Vennard | 09:17 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2007

While my colleagues are ending their triumphant tour of South Africa with a farewell broadcast from the Zula Bar
in Cape Town, we're manning the fort back in London.

One story that caught my eye was the announcement by the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, that if he is re-elected he will hold a referendum on changing the constitution to recognise indigenous Australians.

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Whose land it is anyway?

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 18:00 UK time, Thursday, 11 October 2007

We're OFF AIR now, but keep posting your comments here on the blog.

Kilmeny and John are hosting WHYS today. They run a farm just outside Ladysmith which was run by John’s parents in turn before them. Rain allowing they are going to be getting a braii going (barbeque to the rest of us), and have invited everyone who works on their farms, as well as farmers and farm workers from the area to join them.

Kilmeny has told us that the issues of land reform and the sharing of farming knowledge has come so politicised in SA that it is very difficult to discuss them without people simply dividing according to the political allegiance.

Today we’ll try and get away from that. We’ll hear what land reform means in practice for all the people it affects, how knowledge is shared in this part of South Africa and whether other countries – Australia, USA, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Namibia spring to mind – have positive or negative lessons about land reform to share with or take from South Africa.

And of course we’ll ask the question at the heart of it all – who should their land, and the farm land of South Africa, belong to?

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Danish cheers for Doris Lessing

Leonardo Rocha | 17:02 UK time, Thursday, 11 October 2007

Today something happened that I have been waiting for for about 18 or 20 years.

That doesn't come from me, but from Luci, in Copenhagen. She's talking about Doris Lessing, the writer who was awarded today with the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Luci sent us a passionate email, telling us about the huge following Doris Lessing has in Denmark.

Have a look at what she had to say and tell us what you think.

Are you a Doris Lessing fan too? What does her work say to you?

The most visionary person on the planet: do you agree? What writers are on your list for next year's Nobel Prize?

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Thursday's menu

Martin Vennard | 09:10 UK time, Thursday, 11 October 2007

Over in South Africa, my colleagues are getting ready for a braai - a barbecue - and a broadcast today from a farm in Ladysmith, where they'll be hearing about rural and farming life, among other topics, in South Africa.

One big African story that they may also talk about is a new report that says that the cost of armed conflict on the continent over a 15-year period was equal to the amount of money received in aid during the same period.

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Does democracy deliver?

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 20:00 UK time, Wednesday, 10 October 2007

This is Ros in South Africa. We're off air now, but you can listen again here. After a few problems, our blog appears to be working again, so please post your comments below.

I’m sure many of you have seen Colonel Gaddafi’s comments about democracy. He’s none too convinced by Western-style democracy nor the West’s enthusiasm for exporting it. It’s a sham, treats people like ‘donkeys’ and doesn’t give people real influence over their country. Do you agree? What’s your experience in your country?

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Wednesday's fayre

Martin Vennard | 09:17 UK time, Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The programme is coming from Nelson Mandela Square in Johannesburg today and no doubt the team out there have already set up a number of talking points for the show.

Back at the ranch in London, I've been looking out for stories that may also be debated.

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Who’s going to benefit from the 2010 World Cup?

Martin Vennard | 19:30 UK time, Tuesday, 9 October 2007

We're off air now, but you can listen again here

This is the WHYS team in London. We had an excellent first hour of discussion from the Kaizer Chiefs' training ground in Soweto on Tuesday. We were due to roll into a second hour as well, but a power cut hit the area and we were unable to broadcast live to SAFM listeners and BBC World Service listeners in Africa. In the end we had to re-run a recording of the first hour of discussion. We can only apologise to everyone who wanted to join the discussion in the second hour. I think Ros and the team are currently sitting in the dark. I'm sure they'll blog about their experiences on Wednesday!

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Tuesday's agenda

Martin Vennard | 17:15 UK time, Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Our colleagues in South Africa are preparing to discuss the 2010 World Cup from the training ground of one of Africa's most popular football teams, the Kaizer Chiefs.

They will be joined by South African footballers Lucas Radebe, who played for Leeds United, and Sean Bartlett, as well as the former Brazilian player Carlos Pereira.

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Crime in South Africa

Martin Vennard | 16:52 UK time, Tuesday, 9 October 2007


These stories are all in today’s edition of The Sowetan newspaper. A serial killer is dumping bodies in a sugar cane plantation in Kaw-Zulu Natal, a girl was killed by a stray bullet while lying in her bed, a suspected burglar was shot and injured after a high-speed chase in Pretoria, in Soweto three men suspecting of holding up a supermarket were shot dead by the police, further south in Durban a security guard was killed during heist on a bank van (one has just driven past us and looks like a steel box) in the Eastern Cape a man has been arrested for raping his girlfriend, a Durban women has been arrested for having body parts in her possession, a charity in central Johannesburg has said so many of its staff are being mugged it’s difficult to recruit volunteers, details are emerging of a Joburg man who was stabbed many times ad died when he went to check on a noise outside his house, a domestic row turned to murder in KZN leaving a wife dead.

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Live from the South Africa Zimbabwe border

Fiona Crack | 13:04 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2007

We're OFF AIR now, but keep sending your comments and they will be posted here on the blog.


Hello from Musina - Ros here. This is the first town you’d come to if you were a Zimbabwean coming across the border to South Africa and it’s our first stop during a week of programmes here.

It is hot and beautiful here. The town is coloured with the purple of the jacarandas, the green of the sprinkled lawns and the dusty roadsides turned terracotta by the first rain of summer. And all around are baobab trees, some of which have hit the 1000 year mark. They look like a multi-armed scarecrows amongst the thorny scrub that surrounds Musina – with their branches contorting into a fantastic array of shapes. Pop ‘baobab’ into Google Images if you’ve not seen them before.

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On the border between Zimbabwe and South Africa

Martin Vennard | 12:55 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2007

Zimbabweb.JPGThe programme today is coming from Musina in South Africa, close to the border with Zimbabwe, and no doubt the issues faced by people there will dominate the show.

Some of the WHYS team managed to cross into Zimbabwe and see the reality on the ground there for themselves. Our editor, Mark, was one of them and he wrote the following:

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Who'd be an SM?

Martin Vennard | 12:33 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2007

One of our sound engineers, or SMs (that's studio managers not sado masochists), travelling with the team in South Africa is Sarah. She wanted to let you know a bit about the work they do:

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Now for something completely different

Martin Vennard | 11:43 UK time, Monday, 8 October 2007

Meanwhile, back in London, one story that is playing big is that of Alison Thorpe who wants her severely-disabled, teenaged daughter to have a hysterectomy to improve her quality of life.

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Hanging out with the Kaizer Chiefs

Fiona Crack | 20:00 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2007

That's the football team from Soweto, not the band from Leeds, although they are of course connected....

Phew - yesterday was a bit of a rush and I never got chance to blog. You'll forgive me when you hear what I did, not to mention the state of the Jo'burg traffic which is constant, never ending, and incredibly frustrating....

So straight off the plane and a drive to the Kaizer Chiefs training ground, the venue for Tuesday's programme. The village was built in 2006 so it's new and impressive - the room we're broadcasting in has a view out to Soweto - including the famous twin chimneys. Everything, absolutely everything, has the Kaiser Chiefs logo on. If fact if you click on the line and choose the upstairs bar, you can have a 360 degree look, at the room we'll be in on Tuesday!

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Is the Bhutto-Musharraf deal good for Pakistan?

James Harrod | 14:43 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2007

We're off air now - but you can follow the debate below...

Hi there, it's Peter Dobbie here blogging on James' log-in, with news of today's World Have Your Say -- on air as usual at 1700 GMT. Today we're looking for your thoughts on Pakistan and Burma.

Pakistan's presidential election can go ahead as planned on Saturday, but the legality of President Musharraf's bid is still in doubt. The Supreme Court says that no winner can be announced until it has ruled on whether General Musharraf can stand for re-election while still army chief. The court wants more time to consider the arguments...

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Friday - Pakistan, the American Dream & Clintons

James Harrod | 09:30 UK time, Friday, 5 October 2007

Hi. Hope this finds you well. I'm still a little under the weather, but thanks to Lubna in Baghdad, who e-mailed me some natural remedies yesterday. I'm trying those out and I'll let you know.

On to today, and the team have been working on two main topics for the show, but that doesn't mean we're closed to your ideas, so please do send us your stories.

Bruce from WHYS has been looking at the situation in Pakistan, on the eve of Presidential elections there. The mood has changed since yesterday, with former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, saying she's now "optimistic" of a power sharing deal with President Musharraf. But how will it work? Should another ex-PM Nawaz Sharif be offered a similar deal and what will this all mean for democracy in Pakistan?...

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Death Penalty - can it be humane? - LIVE

| 18:06 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2007

Hello there - it's actually Alex blogging the programme, on Anna's log-in.

First we're hearing about the simmering situation in Burma - from the BBC's Maung Maung Dhan. He says that people are being taken in the night to labour camps up country. Monasteries in Rangoon are silent, and there is the fear of monks being charged and sent to jail.

Maung Maung Dhan adds that some people are scared by the brutality of the military, but that a lot of student groups are saying that they should continue the struggle.

Do stay with us - we're talking about whether the death penalty can ever be humane....

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Can the death penalty ever be humane?

James Harrod | 14:23 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2007

Hello it's Peter Dobbie here blogging on James' log-in.

We generally like to put together a daily mixed bag of debating topics but today we think we've outdone ourselves. We're discussing the idea of a "humane" death penalty, turning homophobia on its head in the shape of, the ongoing crisis in Burma, and last, but not least, the American Dream -- and does it still exist, and if it does, what is it ?

Right, first things first...

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Thursday - Pakistan, lethal injections, art & religion

James Harrod | 09:30 UK time, Thursday, 4 October 2007

Hi there. This is my first day back for a fair while. I had a great holiday in New York, but then picked up a nasty chest virus, which left me bed-ridden for a week and a half. Yuck. I'm not 100% but have decided to return and battle through today and see how I feel. Don't you just hate getting ill?

Anyway enough about me, and onto today.

Trawling through my 1,000+ unread emails, I see we're planning a special on Pakistan tomorrow. Yesterday, the exiled former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, said power-sharing talks with President Pervez Musharraf were "totally stalled". According to officials, efforts are being made to restore dialogue. What now for the people of Pakistan - just days away from the Presidential elections?

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No More Britney

Anu Anand | 19:30 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Online- plenty of you are talking about Britney Spears. On-air, a fair number of you emailed to say, No More Britney. Others said, let's talk about why we're obsessed with celebrity - is it because of boredom, laziness, materialism, a fascination with grim public spectacle? And a few said, 'yes, it's important to talk about Britney, if only to examine what effect celebrity culture has.'

I've never spent much time reading about Britney Spears before today. I have to say I'm still pretty undecided about whether or not it was right to talk about the attention she's been receiving.

The majority of NO BRITNEY messages came from those of you in America who emailed while we were on air to say, 'We get enough useless celeb news here.' But Togo in Kampala texted to say, "Britney is part of the social fabric! Go on BBC, balance the 'diet'. Let's talk about her."

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Political dynasties and Britney

Anu Anand | 15:23 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

We're off air now, but you can follow the debate below. We still have ongoing problems posting comments, so we've put all the emails we recieved today at the bottom of the post.

Trawling your comments on the BBC's forums, and looking on the web... the biggest topic of conversation by far is..... Britney Spears.

Don't groan. It seems lots of you follow Britney's custody troubles, the allegations of possible drug abuse, and the acres of coverage she generates. During our meeting this morning, I made the case that we had to talk about Britney and it's fair to say the room immediately split 50-50.

"She's a mediocre pop-star, who cares?" retorted one of my colleagues. "Yeah but she's also a brilliant young business woman," said another. Why are you so obsessed with Britney? Do you care if she's a good mother? If you're sick of celebrity culture, how would you cover it if you were in our shoes?

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Is circumcision bad for you?

Leonardo Rocha | 11:19 UK time, Wednesday, 3 October 2007

A growing number or Jews in the United States is refusing to circumcise their children.

Many see it as blood ritual that should just be discontinued. What used to be a taboo, is now being openly discussed.

I wonder if similar debate is going on among Muslims and in Africa, where circumcision is a common practice.

What do you think? Is this a tradition that should be kept?

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Should children be brought up without religion?

Anu Anand | 13:36 UK time, Tuesday, 2 October 2007

We're off air now, but you can follow the debate below. We've all had problems publishing comments today, but all the emails we received (and there were a lot) are below.

It's a one topic show today...

Richard Dawkins is a British evolutionary biologist who argues that belief in God is irrational and harmful to society. His book, The God Delusion, has been on best-seller lists and has ignited debate about religion's role. Does religion fuel hatred, bigotry and war, as Dawkins argues? Or are his critics right: there is good religion, just as there is evil science? Read the critics on Dawkin's own site here.

Lots of you have written to us saying you want to talk about atheism. Some of you say atheists are more discriminated against than homosexuals. Others argue that if Christian and Jewish lobbies have influence, particularly in America and Britain, why shouldn't atheists?

Would the world be better off without religion? Dawkins argues that you wouldn't describe a child as 'Republican' or 'Marxist'... so should children be brought up without religion too, until they're old enough to choose for themselves?

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better late than never

Mark Sandell Mark Sandell | 11:49 UK time, Tuesday, 2 October 2007

....and this is very late, i apologise. I could give you the usual guff about meetings i had to go to , the fact that rage Boy is ill and he is on the "early" shift ( for Jimmy's admirers don't worry- he's lost his voice after coming back from holiday so i think he'll pull through), i'm off to South Africa tomorrow etc etc but it's still not on.
Mind you, it wasn't a great start to the day when i got sent an "article" written about our programme in a magazine called "Current". , though for some reason the piece isn't available online....

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Today-- Burma and Darfur

Anu Anand | 14:38 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2007

We're on air now - click here to listen

Hi there, I've just spent the last hour deleting hundreds of messages from a really persistent spammer. Only you know who you are 'Hofner'... but to those who've written to say you're still having trouble posting on the blog, Hofner isn't helping. Stranger still is that the spam has no link for car insurance or Viagra, so it really is utterly pointless. That's a roundabout way of saying-- we're doing our best to sort out the spam/posting problems. In the meantime, feel free to email your comments and we'll post them manually from here.

To those of you who expressed solidarity with Burmese protestors last week-- do you now think the worst has transpired? Have the protests failed? Someone said this morning on the World Today, the BBC World Service breakfast programme, that the regime had succeeded in frightening another generation of Burmese into silence. Is that because the regime is simply too well-armed, and too intractable? Is it because the world has failed Burma again? Is it because individually and collectively, people have failed to act: to write to their representatives, to protest, to speak out?

Several of you have written to say that the world should boycott the Beijing Olympics because of China's military and economic support to Burma's generals. Would you or have you written to your leaders to suggest just that?

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The questions you ask...

Mark Sandell Mark Sandell | 08:40 UK time, Monday, 1 October 2007

In answer to a few regular e-mails, can i just explain how we arrive at the questions you hear at the top of the programme (or on top of the blog) ?
It's simple really- if enough of you ask or suggest, then we ask the rest of the audience to join in. For example, ever since the Burma story got going we've had a steady stream of e-mails asking why the world doesn't boycott the Beijing Olympics to put pressure on China. Not enough to have been the main question - alot more of you have been bothered about whether the world will actually take any action, whether outside forces shoud interfere, whether sanctions work etc etc. And these therefore get asked at the top of the show...

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