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If you haven't already,

Eddie Mair | 06:25 UK time, Wednesday, 9 May 2007

please consider signing the online petition about Alan Johnston. The button on the right will take you to a page with the latest information about him, and a link to the petition.

As you'll know if, like me, you switched on Today at 0600, there is some news. Full details on the link on the right.


  1. At 08:12 AM on 09 May 2007, chris downing wrote:

    re: scottish elections and this may have been said already but i'm new here. 100,000 numpties in the country or a savage indictment of the education system. either way the pols seem not to have the balls to raise this and choose to sling the blame around at each other. more intellectual dishonesty.

  2. At 09:07 AM on 09 May 2007, Gillian wrote:

    All we can do is hope that the latest news means we are one step closer to Alan's release.

    Chris (2) No school I know teaches fundamentals such as how to vote, why vote, what your vote means. I believe this to be one of the reasons why we have such low turn-outs for our elections. Why bother voting when you don't understand the implications of your vote? After all, ''they'' are all the same aren't they?!

  3. At 09:19 AM on 09 May 2007, Fifi wrote:

    A little harsh, Chris (2)!

    The Scottish education system is far better than the English one and those voting papers were a poorly thought-through shambles.

    If the public had an Election every six months they might well become attuned to changes in the system or the way it's presented. But the public never gets to be 'in practice' so the system has to be straightforward and easy to follow.

    I am hesitant (given my tartan chromosomes) to say this, but from where I'm sitting the chief fault was in trying to hold both Elections on the same day, on the same bit of paper.

    Thrifty perhaps, but a communications nightmare!

    * ducks behind pet haggis *


  4. At 09:32 AM on 09 May 2007, Fifi wrote:

    By the way, I endorse Eddie's plea to any who haven't yet signed the petition for Alan Johnston's release.

    One of the few things that have been shown to influence kidnappers in similar circumstances is the knowledge that public opinion is mobilised and cares deeply about the outcome.

    Show you care. Show we're watching. Sign the petition. Please!


  5. At 09:51 AM on 09 May 2007, Carl wrote:

    I am the first to appreciate that the BBC has a duty to be in all the trouble spots of the World, and I know that it is impossible/wrong for journalists to be wrapped in cotton wool, but I wonder is there not a case for at least throwing more of the licence fee at security for these journalists. As much as I'm sure the BBC hates it, the BBC stays out of Zimbabwe, and obviously a decision has been taken to obey the dictatorship, so is there not a case to at least strengthen security for these individuals? I remember for weeks fretting that Caroline Hawley would be picked off by a sniper as she stood on that hotel balcony in Bagdhad, film lights silhouetting her in the night air. Alan's plight is devastating for all, and I, as a humble listener and viewer, would like to add my call to those that hold him to please realise the kind of journalism that Alan was about, impartial and balanced, and do the 'right' thing for their cause too.. release him.

  6. At 10:32 AM on 09 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Sadly, I feel more pessimistic than previous posters. I'm expressing what I'm sure many others are silently thinking when I say that this development doesn't look too good. Firstly, I have the strong suspicion that Alan/Alan's ID have been hawked around amongst the various 'groups', probably for financial gain, as has been known to happen at other times. Secondly, I find it ominous that this bunch are trying to work a deal on the basis of just an ID card.

    Unless and until there is more tangible evidence that Alan is still alive, I remain, I'm afraid, extremely gloomy. My heart goes out again to all Alan's colleagues at the Beeb and to his family and friends. It is gutwrenching.

    This is one of those cases where I fervently pray that I'm totally, utterly wrong.

  7. At 10:50 AM on 09 May 2007, Gossipmistress wrote:

    Yes I heard it on 'Today' earlier. When I heard his name I was hoping it was more positive news. I've signed the petition and encouraged friends to as well. Our thoughts are with his family & friends.

  8. At 10:59 AM on 09 May 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Chris (1),

    More a 'savage indictment' of bureaucratic ballot design, and it's now revealed as 142,000 rejected ballots.


  9. At 11:12 AM on 09 May 2007, witchiwoman wrote:

    Mixed reaction to this news; the one phrase that keeps going through my mind is 'proof of life'. And as Alan had the presence of mind to drop some business cards when he was abducted (if I remember correctly) could he also have dropped this as well?

    I truly hope he is alive and well, I can't see how his death would benefit his abductors.

    I wish his friends, family and colleagues strength and optimisim; may he come home safely soon.

  10. At 11:29 AM on 09 May 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Yes, WW, I also hope that. Sorry if I sound gloomy. For what it's worth, I've had such feelings before and been confounded - and the joy I've felt when that's happened has been tremendous. None of us must give up hope.

  11. At 11:39 AM on 09 May 2007, Frances O wrote:

    Signed. Of course.

    But I won't, WON'T sign the Paris Hilton petition.

  12. At 12:35 PM on 09 May 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    I've got to admit, Frances, that when I heard about the Paris Hilton petition, I just collapsed with laughter! Here's a woman who is famous for being famous, thinking that this "provides hope for young people all over the US and the world. She provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives". GIVE ME A BREAK! (Sorry for shouting, but I think it deserves it). How far up her own orifice of egestion can she be????????

  13. At 03:30 PM on 09 May 2007, Frances O wrote:

    About tonsil-level, I should think, FF. I mean, my first thought was: "What a funny wind-up" and my second: "Oh, no, they MEAN it!"

    How unutterably ludicrous. And to let her off prison just because she's rich and F4BF - whaaaaat?

    Drunk-driving and driving while you're disqualified for drunk-driving is OK if you're famous? I think not. Better to set an example. Otherwise it'll be confirmation that there's one law for them...

    And OK, that's in the States, but even so.


  14. At 06:24 PM on 09 May 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    Gillian (@2) You say

    "No school I know teaches fundamentals such as how to vote, why vote, what your vote means."

    The school my children attended (they won scholarships) does teach these fundamentals, but since it's a Public School it probably isn't typical.

    They do turn out to vote, every time, but I like to think that since we discuss things as a family they might perhaps have picked up the idea of how to vote, and what it's all about, from us as well as from their school.

    Perhaps as with some other things, parents as well as teachers ought to be expected to do a little bit towards bringing up their children? Silly idea, I know, but it might be worth considering briefly.

  15. At 07:32 PM on 09 May 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Chris Ghoti (14) Your children were extremely fortunate to have had electoral matters included in their curriculum. I am in no position to say how typical this is, in any type of school. Having taught in four different education authorities, and having had my children educated in England and Scotland, I can only repeat that I do not personally know of a school which educates its students in the basics of our electoral system.
    I had great hopes that the relatively new subject of ''Citizenship'' would rectify this, and incidentally, might also examine the role of Local Government and so on, but again, that has not happened in any school I know of. I am sure that there are many other froggers who, like yourself, have had a different experience.
    On a personal level, I only have one child who is of voting age. I am pleased to say that she has voted at every opportunity, even making sure that she has had postal votes whist at Uni. I am proud to say that she supports a different Party to her parents. I use the word ''proud'' as I believe this is a result of what she, like your offspring, has learned from us as we have discussed political matters together. I am sure her siblings will be similarly motivated when they reach voting age. In spite of this, I still regret that they have had limited opportunities to discuss these matters at school.

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