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Friday's early thoughts

James Harrod | 10:00 UK time, Friday, 23 November 2007

Hi there. James here over at Television Centre with a look at what's around today. We had an amazing response to our programme last night, with over 400 comments on the text and email. If you didn't catch the show - you can listen again here.

Pakistan has been kicked out of the Commomwealth - the government has brandished the move as "unreasonable and unjustified". Commonwealth members says democracy needs to be restored before Pakistan's accepted again. So how relevant is the Commonwealth in today's political climate? Is it better to be "in" or "out"? ...

...A controversial author is under police protection after Muslims rioted in the streets of Calcutta, demanding her expulsion for blasphemy. Taslima Nasreen was put on a flight to Jaipur but was then told she couldn’t stay there either, for fear of further violence. Extremist Muslims have been calling for Ms Nasreen’s execution ever since she wrote her debut novel “Lajja” or “Shame” in 1994 depicting violence against minority Hindus by Muslim fundamentalists in Bangladesh. The outspoken feminist has also stirred anger with trenchant descriptions of the oppression of women in male-dominated Bangladesh, calling religion and patriarchy “the causes of women’s suffering. Should people be persecuted for what they write?

...Lebanese MPs are facing a midnight deadline to appoint a new President. But mediators fear rival camps will fail to reach a deal, plunging the country into a deeper political crisis. Repeated attempts to elect a new President over the past couple of months have been scuppered by rivalries between Western-backed and pro-Syrian factions. If a deal isn't reached, some fear a civil war. Would you like to sample the mood in Lebanon today?

What's going on in Senegal? The country's worst riots for almost two decades have broken out in the past couple of days. It's all down to a decision to ban hawkers (street traders) from the capital Dakar. The city is often held up as an example of peace and stability in the region. So what's gone wrong here and would you like to hear about the troubles?

Australia goes to the polls on Saturday. Polls are signalling a swing to the opposition. There are a few key battlegrounds - labour laws, Australian involvement in the Iraq war, economic growth and perhaps most interestingly - climate change. Aussie PM John Howard has poured scorn on the idea of global warming, while his main challenger Kevin Rudd says he will immediately ratify the Kyoto Protocol and has nominated a loose goal of reducing Australia's greenhouse gas emissions. There's a definite split but are Australians concerned? And is this the world's first climate change election?

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