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US mixed report on Iraq

Victoria Harrison | 09:16 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2007

Morning, Vicki again today on the early blog post. The big story around is still Iraq and the US report on progress there......we've already asked this week whether the surge is working and whether the world is too scared of Al-Qaeda. But talk of Iraq and US troop withdrawal isn't going away.

The report is expected to give a mixed assessment claiming progress in some security areas like a drop in sectarian killings in Baghdad. What's the situation like outside Baghdad now? I read recently that some of the violence has been pushed out of Baghdad to other areas because of the surge.

The report is also expected to criticise the Iraqi government for its lack of progress on political reconcilation. The last big Iraq report out of the US recommended withdrawing support for the Iraqi government unless it showed "substantial progress" on security and national reconciliation, and changing the primary mission of U.S. forces from combat to training Iraqis so that combat units could be withdrawn by early 2008. So what has the Iraqi government been doing? What state are the Iraqi forces in today? Is it fair to push the blame on Maliki's administration?

We still hope to bring you the story about the illegal abortions in Kenya. 300000 backstreet abortions take place there each year and around 3000 women die as a result. There's been a strong debate about legalising abortion in Kenya since a forum was disrupted by pro-life campaigners and 4 pro-choice participants had to flee the venue. Should access to safe abortions be considered a woman's right?

In Tanzania there's a debate raging about whether an Indian chemical company should be allowed to construct a soda-ash plant on Lake Natron - it's one of the country's great sites of natural beauty. The tourism ministry wants to promote it as such. Millions of pink flamingos live on the lake and could disappear. The locals don't think they'll benefit from the plant. But the vice-president is reported to have said construction of the plant will go ahead. The idea of sustainable development has been around for a while now but how in practice do you balance the demands for growth with conservation? Can lessons be learnt from countries like Costa Rica? Should they look at the problems in places like Kenya's Lake Magadi?

Scientists in the UK are urging taxes be placed on fatty foods. They say more than 3,000 fatal heart attacks and strokes could be prevented in the UK each year as people would buy less unhealthy food if the prices were high. One of the researchers declared the time was right to debate a "fat tax". What do you think?

We're getting lots of emails into the BBC News website about the decision in Chile not to extradited former Peruvian president, Alberto Fujimori. He's accused of human rights violations and corruption back home, but has recently announced he will stand in this month's Senate elections in Japan. (He has dual nationality and fled to Japan in 2000 after massive protests in Peru brought down his government. He's now in Chile.) Should he be sent back to face justice at home in Peru?

And can you ask the British Queen to take off her crown? One American photographer did......


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