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Martin Vennard | 09:10 UK time, Thursday, 11 October 2007

Over in South Africa, my colleagues are getting ready for a braai - a barbecue - and a broadcast today from a farm in Ladysmith, where they'll be hearing about rural and farming life, among other topics, in South Africa.

One big African story that they may also talk about is a new report that says that the cost of armed conflict on the continent over a 15-year period was equal to the amount of money received in aid during the same period.

The research was undertaken by a number of non-governmental organisations, including Oxfam, which puts the cost at around nearly $300bn.

The report concludes that what is needed is a global, legally-binding arms trade treaty. Do you think such a move would help stop war in Africa? Should aid be stopped until such a treaty is in force? Is Africa poor because of war?


More than 130 Muslim scholars have written to Pope Benedict and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths. They say that world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians.

The letter identifies similarities in both religions, such as the requirements to accept only one god and live in peace with one's neighbours.

What do you think? Does world peace depend on better relations between Muslims and Christians? Are relations between countries not equally important? What about relations between other religions or groups within religions?


An Iranian-born German footballer has refused to play a match in Israel, sparking an outcry in Germany, with some Jewish leaders calling for his exclusion from the German national team.

Ashkan Dejagah, who moved to Germany as a child, pulled out of Friday's game in Tel Aviv – a qualification match for the European Under-21 Championship – saying he was doing it out of respect for his Iranian parents.

It has also been reported that he feared that if he played he would be refused entry to Iran where many of his relatives still live. Iran refuses to recognise Israel and bans its citizens from visiting there. But some Jewish groups are calling for Dejagah to be dropped from the German squad.

Do sportsmen and women have a right to boycott countries for political or personal reasons?


Yesterday I wrote about the planned vote by a US congressional committee to recognise as genocide the 1915-17 mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks.

Despite warnings from President Bush and his administration to the committee that such a move would damage relations with Turkey, its members voted in favour.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the decision was unacceptable and had no validity for Turkey, which has always denied any genocide took place. Was the committee right to do what it did? Is it right for people to reassess historical events with a modern-day perspective?


A black professor at Columbia University in New York has found a hangman's noose left on her door and
police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

The discovery echoes a case last year in Jena, Louisiana, where white high school students placed nooses in a tree under which white students usually met.

Nooses are reviled by many as symbols of lynchings that were once common in the southern US. Is this latest incident a sign of rising racism in the US? Is ground won by the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s being lost?


Europe is marking its first anti-death penalty day, despite moves from Poland to block the event, calling for it also to condemn abortion and euthanasia.

The day was organised by the Council of Europe, a human rights body, after Poland's veto threatened to derail an EU-sponsored event. If you are against the death penalty should you also have to be against abortion and euthanasia?


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