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We're meeting now...

Paul Coletti | 11:12 UK time, Monday, 7 May 2007

Good morning and welcome to the time when we decide what topics we'll be talking about this evening. As ever, call us on +44 207 557 0635 (the office phone, not the number you call to come on air) if you'd like to take part. Alternatively you can do what Jibo in Nigeria did and send us a mail.

Also, Dear Listener, we're pleased to announce that we've lined up internationally acclaimed, controversial, campaigning journalist John Pilger for Wednesday 9th May. He's got a new film out, click the pic for more details.
If you have questions for Mr Pilger, and we're sure you will have, then let us know: worldhaveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

This is Jibo's e-Mail:

Dear BBC Desk, I write to propose a topic for global view and discussion on the recently concluded "election" in Nigeria titled" Rethinking Democracy and Elections in Nigeria". I chose the topic because it is of national importance to our country, particularly at this material time when there are bundles of complaints and lamentations from several quarters across the country on the manner and ways the 2007 elections were conducted. Majority of Nigerians and the world over have attested that the election process was full of fraud and malpractices. I was also a witness to the fact that there was nothing like free and fair election throughout. People went away with stolen mandates and nobody can question the illegitimacy of the electoral malpractices and ineptitudes because the contestants, especially those from the ruling party PDP, used force to deal with opposition willy nilly. Below are the foreign observers' view on what they saw: 1. European Union-"Any administration founded on this fraud cannot have legitimacy". 2. White House's National Security Spokesman, Mr. Gordon- " We are deeply troubled by what we saw in Nigeria over the weekend". And then the national view: 3. The Nigerian Bar Association(NBA)- " The NBA notes with concern that inasmuch as it appreciates the problems inherent in conducting elections, there does not seem to be any meaningful sign of improvement in the standards of preparation from one election to the other. The situation in 1999 was much better than that of 2003 and that of 2007 is worse than 2003". These are some of the views that I want to share with those interested in discussing the matter. I would like to ask wether the International Community such as EU and White House can still recognise this government based on what they said above. many thanks, Jibo, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria-Nigeria

What do you think? Is there some meat left on the bones of Nigeria's election? Mr Yar'Adua hasn't taken office yet (I think) so is it worth debating whether we should recognise this electoral result?

Is atheism the new fundamentalism?
This story is about the Rational Responders - they're the anti-faith group who started the Blasphemy Challenge we covered on the programme a few months ago. On Saturday night they debated the existence of God with Christians on TV show Nightline There's a fair amount on the internet, including this article by Madeleine Bunting in today's Guardian that has got people going. We could do our own debate? The main guy from the Rational Responders was set up to come on before but didn't make it. Or do a look back - plenty of clips around - and reaction.

This one is getting a lot of interest here in the room. It's an age-old question but is atheism, or lack of belief, itself a kind of belief? If you read Bunting's article from the link above you'll see some big names in the world of journalism and academia have all got new books out denyiong a God.

The Boss like this one: LA police chief apologises Sunday for yet another LAPD own-goal. Did you see the footage from the May Day rally in MacArthur Park? Do you think the LAPD officers need "retraining" as Chief Bolton says?

And in Italy, you can't be rich and be a politician -- prime minister Romano Prodi wants to bring in a law making people with businesses worth more than fifteen-million euros sell them or put them into a blind trust if they want to hold political office -- this would hit Silvio Berlusconi who'd like to return to office one day -- but he's not the only rich politician in the world, what do you think of such plans?

Home Alone
It's a story garnering massive attention in the UK but does it have wider appeal? Victoria has raised this: "A British family in Portugal is waiting desperately for news of their child abducted from a hotel while they dined -- they can't be beside you 24 hours a day, so how do you protect your children? How do you decide when and who to leave them with? It's a huge dilemma facing many parents "

The big news in Europe is of course Sarko's win in France. Here's Leo suggestions:

FRANCE 1: More and more people -- many of them well known writers and philosophers -- blogging now. We could get one or two of them for our France conversation today. Michel Onfray is one of them, a well known philosopher. . . I just need to check he speaks English!

FRANCE 2: a lot has been said about Sarkozy's domestic policies. On the foreign policy front, we have focused mostly on the US. How about Africa? Our sister programme The World Today had an African pundit on today saying France doesn't care for Sub-Saharan Africa and doesn't invest in Africa outside the Magreb and South Africa. Will it change in Sarko's era?

Victoria's also interested in France:
Sarkozy says he'll work for everyone but can he bring the ethnic minorities / immigrants on board if he's to prevent the riots we've seen before in France? Can political leaders ever work for everyone? And what about the plans he's been talking about since his victory yesterday, for north-African nations to join Europe in a Mediterranean Union? He hopes it will conquer disease, famine, poverty and war, there would be a common agreement on controlled immigration and an ambitious policy on development. Big plans there then . . . . but how does north Africa or the rest of Europe feel about such a union?

Israel Boycott
The boss has this one . . . A bunch of Brit academics are restarting their campaign to boycott Israeli academic institutions. Is this just a subtle form of anti-Semitism or are they right to boycott any Israeli academic who fails to "publicly disassociate themselves from Israeli policies." Aren't universities all about encouraging differing sets of ideas?

Escaping the caste system
Anna has seen this one about India's caste system . . a topic I personally find fascinating, if you've the time then I recoomend you read this article: Hari Pippal is a millionaire entrepreneur in India despite his "Dalit" (untouchable) status. PM Manmohan Singh has compared the caste system to apartheid South Africa. Obviously something we talked about in India, but could we see if Hari speaks English and speak to him later this week…..? Is Mr Pippal a symbol of the new India?

Typical of Fiona to come up with this . . The most viewed story and in all the papers is….18,000 bare all in Mexico City! Together with…. South Africa town goes mad as nudist threatens to come. Is there something in this? Are we too prissy about exposed flesh? What's the problem with nudity anyway?

Victoria's also weighed in on this: "Thousands of people have stripped naked in the centre of Mexico City to appear in the latest series of photographs by the American artist, Spencer Tunick. More than eighteen-thousand people took part in the biggest project of its kind --- would you strip off for art? And are photos of naked crowds art?"

It's a classic "and finally" light item which we could just throw out to our audience . . .we're doing a swift poll in the office on whether you would strip for art and amazingly the lovely Alex, our very own Hippy Chick, has just halted all conversation by confessing to having stripped in the name of art for a photographer friend. She wasn't paid but did get a copy of the pic! So that's one out of seven then . . . over to you Dear Listener.

Is you survival more important than achieving a goal?
Tom has come in late and reckons this story about a Utah man dying of thirst on a survival trek is a good 'un. We're all agreed this is a very interesting and compelling story and we may return to it.


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