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You set the agenda

David Mazower | 10:22 UK time, Friday, 29 September 2006

It's James here, and as always, we're turning the show over to you. You set the agenda, so what do you want to talk about today? Here's some ideas to get you started, but if you've seen a great story that i've missed, let us know by posting a comment on our blog.

Perhaps we should turn our attention to Brazil, where voters will be heading to the polls on Sunday for presidential elections. In the news today, current president Luis Inacio Lula da Silva has pulled out of a televised debate with other candidates hours before it was due to go on air. It's the latest instalment in a campaign beset by allegations of dirty tricks and corruption. Will you vote in the Brazilian election? What are the main issues at stake for you? And if you're outside Brazil, let us know what you think about the possibility of another Lula term.

Leave your comments here on the blog, or have your say in our online debate.

If your knowledge of Brazilian politics needs a little polishing up, check this election primer.

The elections are also the cover story in this week's Economist, which says Lula has showered money on the poor, cut inflation, created jobs and kept the economy growing. But perhaps not surprisingly for the Economist, it says whoever wins the elections needs to push on with economic reforms. Do you agree, or should Brazil be forging its own development path?

Another top story is the first speech by Japan's new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. He says he wants to improve ties with Japan's Asian neighbours, such as China and South Korea. He also emphasised patriotism, and talked about revising Japan's pacifist constitution. Is this a new era for Japan? Can Japan and its neighbours become more friendly? Are you worried about Japan pursuing a more pro-active military policy? Add your views to our online debate.

We've talked a lot about the "war on terrorism" this week. Today, the US Senate has endorsed the Bush administration's proposed new rules for the interrogation and prosecution of foreigners suspected of terrorism. Are these rules necessary to fight terrorism, or do they leave suspects open to human rights violations?

And its not just Brazilians voting at the moment - Zambians have just been to the polls too. In fact, voting is continuing in some areas, because polling materials reached some booths too late yesterday. Vote counting is continuing, and results may be announced after the final voting ends this evening. Did you vote in the elections? Who did you vote for? Let us know here on the blog, or contribute your experience to our online forum.

And finally, one of the most popular stories on our website has fired up my imagination. Today the first female space tourist has returned to earth. For the bargain basement price of $20m (£10.6m), Iranian-born US businesswoman Anousheh Ansari spent 10 days aboard the International Space Station. She said it was "magnificent" - if you had a spare $20m lying around (or 2 million frequent flyer miles), would you head to space? Or are there more important things to spend our money on? And with space travel likely to become more popular and more frequent, should we be worrying about the environmental impact of too many rocket flights?

As always, we want to hear your views - let us know what you want to talk about.


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