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Thursday - Iraq, PKK & celebrities

James Harrod | 10:00 UK time, Thursday, 1 November 2007

Hi. James here with some ideas to get you thinking on a Thursday.

Ros and the team are winding down after a frenetic 2-hour show in Phoenix, Arizona. You can listen again here.
Come and join our meeting to set the agenda at 1200GMT - +44 207 557 0635 and we'll call you back.

On to today's mix:

GOING TO IRAQ IS A "POTENTIAL DEATH SENTENCE"
Several hundred U.S. diplomats have expressed their anger about the State Department's decision to force foreign service officers to take jobs in Iraq, with some likening it to a "potential death sentence." ...

...It's the largest diplomatic call-up since Vietnam. Should officers be forced to go? And what's the risk in the heavily fortified green zone?

TROOP SURGE "WORKING"?
Meanwhile new figures suggest the death toll for US combat troops in Iraq has dropped sharply. 27 died last month - the lowest monthly total since March last year. So is the "surge" strategy actually working? Is it fair to compare monthly totals when so many more Iraqi civilians are dying every month?

PRESSURE INCREASES ON PKK REBEL FIGHTERS
Turkey, Iraq and the US have all taken steps to combat the threat of Kurdish fighters based in northern Iraq. Turkish television said Ankara had closed its air space for air traffic bound for northern Iraq, where fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, have bases. How much impact will the new measures have?

ANTI-GAY US CHURCH GETS RECORD FINE
A church whose members cheered a soldier's death as "punishment" for US tolerance of homosexuality has been told to pay almost $11m in damages. The Westboro Baptist Church was taken to court by the father of Lance Cpl Matthew Snyder, a marine who died serving in Iraq in March 2006. The church cited its constitutional right to free speech in its defence. It's certainly one of the most outspoken (and some say extreme) churches in the US - but should it have been hit with such a large fine? What constitutes free speech?

hm.bmpDO HIGH PROFILE FIGURES HAVE A RIGHT TO PRIVACY?
Martin from the WHYS team was interested in this one yesterday. In the past 24 hours Heather Mills - the ex-wife of Beatle Paul McCartney - conducted a number of TV interviews here in the UK criticising the media (the tabloids mainly) for the way she has been treated in the past couple of years. She said she had a dossier of 4,400 articles that were either critical or abusive. During one of the interviews she said:

"I've been close to suicide. I'm so upset about this... I've had worse press than a paedophile or a murderer and I've done nothing but charity for 20 years."

Unsurprisingly most of the papers here in the UK have reflected her outbursts in a negative light. In another twist her publicist Phil Hall resigned, after reportedly pleading with her not to conduct the interviews.

Is Heather Mills right? Has she been hounded so much by the press that this was the only way to let off steam? Do high profile figures have a right to privacy? Your thoughts please.

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