Archives for June 2011

On Air: 1700G striking public workers and gay rights

Jill McGivering Jill McGivering | 14:03 UK time, Thursday, 30 June 2011


As strikes and protests dominate the headlines, we're debating:
Is it right for public sector workers to strike?
In Britain, hundreds of thousands of public sector workers have been striking today, angry about pay and changes to pensions. Thousands of schools closed and many public services were disrupted. The UK's Daily Telegraph newspaper says some emergency service workers also stayed at home.

All this as Greece recovers from two days of violent protests about public spending cuts. Just last year, workers in South Africa's schools and hospitals were locked in a long running dispute -- which included weeks of strikes.

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On air at 1100GMT: What do strikes ever achieve?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:20 UK time, Thursday, 30 June 2011


Thousands of public sector workers are on strike today across the UK, in a row with the government over pensions and women being forced to work longer.

Greece has just seen a 48 hour strike over the austerity plans which were voted on by parliament. But they were approved by the Greek government, so what did the strike achieve?

According to the Montreal Gazette

"Protests are becoming increasingly common across Europe in what is turning into a summer of strife." In Poland, the Solidarity trade union has organized a day of protests in Warsaw against the centre-right government. "

Do they ever work? Unite is one of the unions taking action in Britain today, Alan Mcguckin says

"Strikes are the only guaranteed resource that working people can use to defend themselves."

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On air at 1700 GMT: Should animal rights trump religious rights & reaction to the Greek vote.

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 14:59 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011

riots in athens

Two parliaments, two votes, thousands of tweets, posts and comments.

The Greek parliament have just voted in favour of proposed austerity measures but the clashes between protesters and the riot police continue.

@paulmasonnews tweets
ppl gather at cafes to watch vote + riot splitscreen - while riot rages at end of street #greece

We will be following how it develops on the ground. We'd also like to get your reaction to the outcome of the vote during the show. We have a live page with all the latest updates
Also today: Should animal rights trump religious rights?
The Netherlands' parliament voted Tuesday to ban ritualised slaughter of animals, in a move that will make the Islamic halal and Jewish kosher methods of slaughter illegal. It does still need to pass through the Dutch senate before becoming law. The main argument is that animals should be anaesthetised or "stunned" before killing.

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On air at 1100GMT: A pivotal moment for Greece

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:22 UK time, Wednesday, 29 June 2011


Petrol bombs were thrown and tear gas fired on protestors in Athens, in the worst violent protests Greece has seen in over a year.

In the next few hours Greek politicians will vote on a 28 billion euro austerity plan, that PM George says I the only way to get Greece back on its feet. If it's not approved Greece could run out of money within weeks.

You can follow the developments here at the BBC live page

As I look up at the TV above our desk Sky News has a graphic showing the potential domino effect of Greece defaulting on it's loans, affecting Portugal, Ireland and Spain

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On air at 17GMT: The Greece crisis continues

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 14:23 UK time, Tuesday, 28 June 2011

On today's programme, we'll build-up as detailed a picture as we can of what's happening in Greece with the help of people who are there. And we'll reflect on the newspaper columns and blog posts around the world taking different perspectives on the crisis. If you've seen a piece you'd like to recommend, pls post the link.

This is where we are with Greece:

- a 48-hour general strike has begun

- the protests in Athens have turned violent

- Jurgen Stark, a member of the European Central Bank's Executive Board, has said Greece defaulting on its debt repayments could overshadow the collapse of Lehman Brothers

- the vote in the Greek parliament on the austerity measures that the eurozone and the IMF have made a pre-requisite for a second bail-out is tomorrow

Speak to you about it all later.

On air at 1100GMT: Aung San Suu Kyi's Reith Lectures

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:15 UK time, Tuesday, 28 June 2011


This topic was

discussed on 28 June 2011. Listen to the podcast.



Today we have a special programme, carrying the first of this year's Reith Lectures delivered by Aung San Suu Kyi.

The pro democracy leader and Nobel Peace prize winner, was secretly recorded in Burma, the Guardian says

"she speaks movingly of the price she and fellow activists have paid while travelling what she calls the "hard road to freedom" - and of her heartfelt belief in the justice of their cause, which sustained her during nearly 15 years in jail or under house arrest."


Her two lectures, one broadcast today and one next week, will discuss the themes of dissent and liberty and are part of a wider series, entitled 'Securing Freedom', reflecting on global events of the past year.

Former MI5 Director-General Baroness Manningham-Buller will present three further lectures in September.

Aung San Suu Kyi said:

"When I was under house arrest, it was the BBC that spoke to me - I listened.


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On Air: Why can't some male sports fans control themselves?

WHYS Team WHYS Team | 15:16 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011

Police fire water at River Plate fans in Buenos Aires.

Dozens of people have been injured in clashes that broke out in Buenos Aires after Argentina's legendary football club River Plate were relegated to the second division.

The violence erupted inside the stadium. Street battles between angry fans and police continued outside.

River needed to win by two clear goals against Belgrano de Cordoba, but only managed a 1-1 draw.

The match, held in River's Monumental stadium, had to be abandoned in the final minute, amid chaotic scenes.

River Plate's fate seemed sealed after Mariano Pavone missed a penalty. Police fired water cannon up into the stands, following a pitch invasion by furious River fans.

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Should anyone negotiate with people who use child suicide bombers?

Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 10:21 UK time, Monday, 27 June 2011


This topic was discussed on 27 June 2011. Listen to the podcast

Chloe here on Ben's login. An eight year old girl has been tricked into becoming a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Authorities say insurgents gave the girl a package and told her to take it to a police vehicle, detonating it as she approached. She was the only person who died.

A statement by the ministry described the Uruzgan incident as a "crime and a shameful act".

Just last week a nine-year-old girl in Pakistan said she was abducted from her home in Peshawar, taken to an area near the Afghan border, and forced to wear an explosive vest. Sohana Jawed told a press conference there that she was put in a suicide vest and told to stand near some soldiers, but she threw the vest off and ran away.

Should we be negotiating with these people?

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WHYS on TV: Greece gets another bail out

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Gabriela Pomeroy | 18:26 UK time, Friday, 24 June 2011

In case you missed it, here's the TV show again. We speak to people around the world about the eurozone in crisis.

The World Debate on post-revolution Egypt

Krupa Thakrar Padhy Krupa Thakrar Padhy | 13:49 UK time, Friday, 24 June 2011

During our recent trip to Cairo, we produced a World Debate for BBC World which looked at the future, aspirations and realities of post-revolution Egypt. Ros was joined by blogger and journalist Hossam El-Hamalawy ( @3arabawy), social activist Gigi Ibrahim (@Gsquare86), comedian and actress Mona Hala (@monatov) and Dr. Hisham Hellyer (@hahellyer) fellow from the University of Warwick. You can watch the show here or on World TV tomorrow.

On air at 1100GMT: Should Greece sort out it's own problems?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:05 UK time, Friday, 24 June 2011


Greece has been thrown another lifeline after European leaders agreed to launch a fresh bailout as long as they pass a tough austerity package next week. It's expected that the total will be up to €120bn (£107bn) and the 16 countries using the single currency will foot the bill.

A statement said that the draconian package of €28bn in spending cuts and tax rises plus a €50bn privatisation programme "must be finalised as a matter of urgency in the coming days" by Greece to qualify for the new bailout.

Here are all of the options open to Greece.

Is it time for solidarity? Should we all be in this together? Plus, on a practical level, if Greece fails could it then it could start a domino effect with Ireland, Spain and Portugal going bust? Or has Greece been given enough money and be allowed to fail?

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On Air 1700G: The World's Widows

Jill McGivering Jill McGivering | 13:35 UK time, Thursday, 23 June 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 23 June 2011. Listen to the programme.

Today is the first ever UN International Widows' Day. It's putting the spotlight on a particularly vulnerable population - a group of people who are rarely able to make their voices heard.

Rosaleen Cunningham posted a thoughtful article on the HelpAge International website which looks at the way women who are widowed often face triple discrimination. They're excluded on the grounds of their gender, because of their age especially if they are widowed late in life and also by the stigma which is associated with having lost a husband and being a woman living without a man.

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On air at 1100GMT: Your verdict on the Geert Wilders acquittal.

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:19 UK time, Thursday, 23 June 2011


This programme has now been broadcast. You can listen to a podcast of the discussion here.

The Dutch far-right politician described Islam as "fascist", comparing the Koran to Hitler's Mein Kampf. But a judge has decided that his statements were "acceptable within the context of public debate" and he has been acquitted of charges of inciting hatred against Muslims. Geert Wilders had insisted his statements were directed at Islam and not at Muslim believers - something which is legal under Dutch law.

Is this a victory for freedom of speech? Or evidence of a growing acceptance of islamophobia?

OliverCooper tweets

"Geert Wilders's acquittal is a victory for free speech. I would never vote for Wilders, but criticism - however pointed - is sacred."

Santosh posted on facebook

"Give muslims a chance to explain their religion 1st! Outside the muslim world many people have no idea what the holy book of quran actually says."

wyclif tweets

"Geert Wilders acquitted on hate speech charges. State-sanctioned persecution of free opinion fails, as does Islamofascism."

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Are the Arab uprisings driven by outside plots?

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 15:12 UK time, Wednesday, 22 June 2011

From the start of the Arab uprisings, those in power have been making accusations of outside involvement and plotting. Hosni Mubarak consistently blamed Al Qaeda for the Egyptian unrest.

Today, Bahrain has accused Iran of seeking to destabilise the country.

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On air at 1100GMT: Are the Greeks behaving like a spoilt child?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:14 UK time, Wednesday, 22 June 2011


The Greek Prime Minister George Papandreo can breath a sigh of relief. Despite widespread protests on the streets of Greece, his government won a critical vote of confidence as it struggles to win support for extra austerity measures and avoid defaulting on it's debt.

One of the thousands of protestors outside the parliament building, Efi Koloverou, a 22-year-old student, told Reuters,

"I believe we should go bankrupt and get it over with. These measures are slowly killing us,"

But many people across Europe, who are having to face their own austerity measures have little sympathy for the Greek people,

"Some of the policies announced last year and now, supposedly as assaults on the Greek way of life, raised eyebrows across Europe. Few knew of the Christmas, Easter and summer holiday bonuses in the public sector, known as 13th and 14th salaries, which were abolished for those earning above €3,000 a month (£2,700) and capped for those on €1,000 euros or less. Only now is the working week for Greek public employees being raised from 37.5 to 40 hours.

For many in northern Europe, the rioting in Athens must remind them of a tantrum by a spoilt child"


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On air @ 1700GMT: Why do some people still drink and drive?

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 14:35 UK time, Tuesday, 21 June 2011

road accident site


If you put any of the following hashtags #RyanDunn, #jackass #RIP, #ebert, #dontdrinkdrive into Twitter, immediately you'll tap into a big debate happening right now. Here's how it started. Ryan Dunn and Zachary Hartwell died yesterday in a car crash. Dunn who was driving, was a celebrity, a star from the MTV programme Jackass.
A photo had been posted to his page showing him in a bar drinking apparently before getting in his car. We don't know for sure, and currently an autopsy is been performed on Mr. Dunn's body. The photo above is of the scene of the accident.

Roger Ebert is a famous film critic, he tweeted Friends don't let Jackasses drink and drive.

And so an online debate has kicked off on whether it was appropriate for Ebert to tweet his thoughts on drink driving. Tons of people think it was, they do not find drink driving acceptable, here's a couple of their comments.

@october_cmu: I lost a friend to a drunk driver, So I agree with what Roger Ebert said. drunk driving related deaths are 100% preventable.

@ColetteLala: Why is everyone getting so mad at Roger Ebert? Let's remember, had Ryan Dunn lived, he'd be facing manslaughter charges right about now.

Others though, think Ebert had no right to speak out and have berated Ebert for even bringing it up.

Here's what Bam Margera, Dunn's co-star said in a tweet that immediately went viral:
I just lost my best friend, I have been crying hysterical for a full day and piece of (expletive) roger ebert has the gall to put in his 2 cents. ... About a jackass drunk driving and his is one, (expletive) you!

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Bar the shouting

Mark Sandell Mark Sandell | 13:31 UK time, Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Photo of a couple shouting at each other

We work very hard to make sure we keep WHYS as a safe and courteous forum for people to explore their ideas and opinions - and have them challenged.

Throughout the "Arab Spring" we've sought to keep that going but last night's programme (1800 B) fell a bit short- through, it has to be said, no fault of ours.

Here are a few of your comments :

"Cut the interrupters mics. This is ridiculous. It sounds like a fox news program."

and :

What are the ages of these guys arguing? Twelve? It is cringeworthy to listen to.

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On air on at 1100GMT: How is Colonel Gadaffi still in power?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:22 UK time, Tuesday, 21 June 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 21 June 2011. You can listen to it here.


Twice in two days Nato airstrikes have seemingly killed civilians in Libya, meaning the campaign is coming under fresh scrutiny. The Libyan regime was keen to capitalise on rifts developing in the alliance and took journalists to see the damage and bodies.

"NATO's credibility is at risk," Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg. "We cannot run the risk of killing civilians. This is not good at all."

As cracks appear in the Nato coalition, the White House is battling attempts in Congress to choke funding for all or part of US operations in Libya saying it would send a "bad message" at a time when Muammar Gaddafi's days were "numbered."

British Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama have been saying for weeks that his days are numbered, but still he clings on.
Tripolitanian Libyan tweets

Maybe if #Gaddafi would stop using human shields, there would be less #NATO civilian casualties? but when did he ever care about civilians.

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On Air at 1700GMT: Syrian dialogue & the price of intervention in Libya

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 13:26 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011

"a timeline shall be set for dialogue... we must give this dialogue a chance because the future of Syria depends on it"

Words from Syrian president Bashar al-Assad this morning in a 75-minute speech.

But what would a Syrian dialogue sound like? Tonight we plan to find out. We'll have a number of guests with different points of view on how they see the future of Syria. Please do get in touch if you'd like to take part.

Here's a link to Chloe's earlier post on the Syrian president's speech

Also tonight: What's the price of intervention?

Nato ,for the first time in the Libya campaign, has acknowledged responsibility for civilian casualities.

Time's Tony Karon blogs at Global Spin that

....Sunday morning's debacle -- caused, NATO believes, by a "weapons systems failure" that resulted in a bomb or missile missing its target -- could not have come at a worse time for the Alliance...

What do you think about intervention when you hear an admission like this?

Here's what state-run Jamahiriya News Agency had to say:
"In a sign of a moral and religious bankruptcy and military defeat the warplanes of NATO staged a barbaric air attack against an otherwise a peaceful residential area in Tripoli killing three members of one family,"

@jwmccarty tweets: Wondering how the progressive folks who pushed for Libya Intervention, & believed it'd only be a no fly zone w/ quick resolution, feel now..

But there are many more who think, it's important to stay the course, even if civilians are killed in the process.

I hope you'll get in touch.


On air at 1100GMT: Reaction to President Assad's address

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 09:53 UK time, Monday, 20 June 2011


Update: This is what President Assad has said so far....

He has sent out a strong message that he blames the current problems in Syria on saboteurs and says they trying to exploit legitimate demands for reform in the country.

He went on that we should solve Syrian problems ourselves and that there are some countries whose regimes are in the dark ages, we are not one of them.

He claimed conspiracy is blooming in Syria and that 64,000 people were wanted by authorities, some have handed themselves in

President Bashar al-Assad said that Syria was at a "turning point" after "difficult days," and promised it would emerge stronger in the face of the "plotting" against it.

After three months of demonstrations against the regime in Syria, President Bashar al-Assad is to address the nation for the first time as his security forces continue operations against protesters. He's expected to speak at around 0900 GMT. We're bringing together a number of Syrians to discuss what he says.

WHYS on TV: Your questions on the Arab Uprisings

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Xavier Zapata | 18:16 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

Here's the World Have Your Say broadcast on BBC World News on 17 June 2011 if you missed it.

Ros talks to a panel of experts about the many questions and issues that you're raising about the Arab Uprisings. He spoke to Mahmoud Salem aka Sandmonkey, Egypt's best-known blogger, Mona Eltahawy, Arab affairs analyst and prolific tweeter, Paul Whiteway, former British diplomat in Syria, and David Ignatius, Associate Editor of the Washington Post.

On air at 1700 GMT: Saudi Arabia female drivers; Greek bail-out; and would you stop if you saw an accident?

WHYS Team WHYS Team | 15:35 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

saudi woman driver

This topic was discussed on 17 June 2011. Listen to the podcast.

Women in Saudi Arabia defied a decades old ban by driving through the streets of their country today. The protest was triggered by an online campaign; you may have seen the hashtag #Women2Drive on Twitter. We will hear from people in Saudi Arabia for their opinions on this issue. What do you make of this? Do you support the women? Will defying a ban like this help or hinder their campaign? We spoke to some women this morning. Here's a link to Chloe's post where you can read more on this story.

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On TV at 15GMT: Your questions on the Arab Uprisings

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 14:03 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

It worked very well on the radio on Wednesday, so we'll continue the format on TV today. There are so many questions and issues that you're raising, we'll get through as many as we can with our invited guests. They are:

Sandmonkey, Egypt's best-known blogger - live from Cairo

Mona Eltahawy, Arab affairs analyst and prolific tweeter - live from LA

Paul Whiteway, former British diplomat in Syria - live from London

David Ignatius, Associate Editor of the Washington Post - live from DC

Please leave questions for them here.

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Would you stop?

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 13:55 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011

I've just been finding out about an astonishing story in Russia. This is comes via our colleagues at The police there faked a car accident, and got a child to lie on the side of the road covered in red paint. No-one stopped, no-one called the police.

Oleg in Sochi emailed: 'The fact that no one called to emergency services proves that police were right to stage the accident. It would be interesting to do the same experiment in other countries to see the difference.' I agree it would be. that may be difficult, but we can at least ask those of you who follow WHYS whether you would stop where you live?

I remember when I lived in Jo'burg in 1997/1998 and I had to swerve to avoid hitting a body lying in the road. It was 4am and near Hillbrow (the city's most dangerous area) and I kept on driving. It felt uncomfortable to do so, it also felt very foolish to stop.

On air at 1100GMT: What does the women's driving protest mean for Saudi Arabia?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:25 UK time, Friday, 17 June 2011


This topic was discussed on Friday 17 June 2011. Listen to the programme.

Women across the deeply conservative country are being urged to drive through the streets today to defy a decades old driving ban. An online campaign has called on women who hold international driving licences to start driving today. The "Women2Drive" campaign has used Facebook and Twitter to encourage women to drive as part of their normal daily activities rather than converge in one place.

This blog outlines to women what they should and shouldn't do today

It's not the first time women have tried to get the driving ban lifted. But last month a woman called Manal al-Sharif filmed herself driving a car through the streets of Saudi Arabia and uploaded it to youtube, she was later arrested, but the movement began once more..

This article compares the movement to that of Rosa Park.

"women are not permitted to share elevators with men. Nor are they allowed to walk in the streets, drive cars, or leave the country without the permission of a male guardian."

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On air at 1700GMT: Is it right to put a price on Al-Zawahiri's head, riots in Vancouver and BBC's Urinboy Usmonov

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 14:22 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011



I've just been reading through a lot of your comments on the appointment of Al-Zawahiri as the new leader of Al Qaeda. It's fair to say many of you are making jokes about the appointment, like this one....

@simonblackwell: Ayman al-Zawahiri's first day at the office. Changes Bin Laden's desktop wallpaper. Gets rid of dried-up Pritt Stick. Joins LinkedIn.

But jokes aside there is a serious discussion about whether the 25 million dollar bounty on the head of Mr. Al-Zawahiri is the right approach in tackling extremism.

Some of you think the focus should be trying to change the hearts and minds of supporters of Al Qaeda, or worry about extremism on the whole, not just one person.

Sun Lee Chee writes on our Facebook page
Instead of bounty on him why not spend resources to identify Al-Qaeda support in terms of money & weapons distribution?

Victor in Kenya tweetedAmerica just has just created a new scape goat. The bounty means nothing.

Whatever you make of a price on Al-Qaeda's new leader's head, please do get in touch.

We'll also be asking should Vancouver be ashamed?

Named the world's most livable city in 2011 by The Economist, Vancouver last night erupted in riots after their team the Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in the final of the Stanley Cup, an ice-hockey championship. The riots lasted about four hours. At least 10 cars were overturned and torched, here's a link to some of the photos. They are not the images that most most would expect from Vancouver, do you see today as a 'day of shame' as many are calling it?

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on air at 1100GMT: Is Greece ungovernable?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:22 UK time, Thursday, 16 June 2011


These topics were discussed on World Have Your Say on 16 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

It's being seen as a desperate move. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is set to announce a new cabinet as he tries to get support for new austerity measures.

It's expected that the Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou will be replaced

Yesterday, Greece saw some of the most violent protests in over a year against the plans which are needed to secure more EU and IMF aid.

The government is seeking approval for a package of 28bn euros (£24.6bn; $40.5bn) of cuts, due to take effect from 2012 to 2015. It is neccessary for Greece to secure it's next aid package of - 12bn euros - from the EU and IMF.

It has caused jitters on the financial markets. The European Central Bank warned that a Greek default could spark "contagion" across Europe, causing Greek banks to implode and inflicting major damage on the big banks in France and Germany.

"It looks like a week of chaos," said a European official in Brussels.

Fears over Greece's ability to pay its debts are growing but is this all Greece's fault?

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On air at 17GMT: More of your questions on the Arab Uprisings

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 15:23 UK time, Wednesday, 15 June 2011

It might be coming on for six months since this unrest began, but the issues and the questions thrown up by the numerous different scenarios playing out keep coming. We're putting together of experts inside and outside of the BBC to answer any questions you have on any of the countries involved.


We're collating what's coming out of Athens and will mix that with some of your calls. Here's the latest.

Speak to you later.

On air at 1100 GMT: Is India one of the worst places in the world for women?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:17 UK time, Wednesday, 15 June 2011


A study says yes, after finding India as the fourth worst place in the world to live as a woman. Somewhat predictably Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan come above it, but for an emerging nation to rank so highly many people are surprised.

The study says India is rated fourth due to high levels of female foeticide and sex trafficking.

In 2009, India's Home Secretary Madhukar Gupta had remarked that at least 100 million people were involved in human trafficking in India.

A recent report issued by the UN Population Fund, in India, said there are around 50 million girls 'missing' over the past 10 years. They  put it down to female infanticide and foeticide.

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On air at 1700GMT: Cyber War and Suicide on TV

Jill McGivering Jill McGivering | 14:08 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011

hand clicking on computer mouse

These topics were discussed on World Have Your Say on 14 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

In the 1700G edition of the programme, we're looking at two hot topics. First: How threatened do you feel by cyber war? According to Reuters, South Korea announced today that it's drawing up a cyber security master plan to protect itself after a wave of attacks. Meanwhile a minister in Indonesia says they face more than a million hacker attacks every day.

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On air at 1100GMT: What's it like to be unemployed in Gaza?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 09:50 UK time, Tuesday, 14 June 2011


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 14 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Gaza is one of the unemployment hotspots of the world. A UN report shows that over 45 percent of people of working-age are jobless and real wages have fallen 34.5% since the first half of 2006. That's when sanctions were imposed by Israel after Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, won a Palestinian legislative election.

The BBC's Jon Donnison, in Gaza, says he notices the tremendous number of people in the coastal strip sitting around with time on their hands. He says in one of the main park areas running through the heart of Gaza City, young men sit at virtually every bench smoking, chatting and shading themselves from the sun.

Speaking on release of the report, the UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness says,

"It is hard to understand the logic of a man-made policy which deliberately impoverishes so many and condemns hundreds of thousands of potentially productive people to a life of destitution."


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On air at 1700GMT: Can hoaxes like 'Gay Girl in Damascus' ever be justified?

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 14:21 UK time, Monday, 13 June 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 13 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

@bangpound: There is no positive side effect of the #Amina hoax. It did not bring attention to Syria. It brought attention to a white fantasy.

@BSyria: I don't believe #GayGirlHoax will cause any considerable damage. It was just annoying and it hurt some people.

If you've been listening over the past week you've probably heard us talk about Amina Arraf, the so-called 'A Gay Girl in Damascus'.

I say 'so-called' because it turns out the gay girl in Damascus is actually a 40-year-old white American man from Georgia, currently living in Scotland, called Tom MacMaster.

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Arab Uprisings Special from Cairo

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Xavier Zapata | 16:26 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011

Here's the World Have Your Say broadcast on BBC World News on 10 June 2011 if you missed it.

We filmed this special edition from a hotel just to the side of two pyramids, on the outskirts of Cairo. Ros spoke to people about international community's response to the unrest across the Arab world, the price of these uprisings, and the role of Islam.

On air from Cairo: Arab Uprisings Special

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Ben James Ben James | 14:31 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 10 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Here's the spectacular venue where Ros, Simon, Krupa and Naveena from the WHYS team - with colleagues from the BBC Arabic Service - are preparing for today's programmes on the Arab Uprisings.

We're on air at 1600GMT on BBC World News TV (one hour later than normal) and 1700GMT / 1800GMT on BBC World Service radio (usual times) and we hope you can join in.

We're going to focus on these areas, as they seem to be much discussed at the moment ...

1. Why the difference in the response from the UN in Syria compared to the response in Libya?

2. How do you fix economies slowed down by the Arab Uprisings? If economies are taking a serious hit - was it worth it?

3. The role that capitalism and Islam should play in future Arab societies.

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WHYS on TV: Ros talks to Zahraa Kassem, sister of Khaled Said

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Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 14:29 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011

Zahraa Kassem, sister of Khaled Said - the young man killed by the secret police and was the spark for the Egyptian Revolution - talks to World Have Your Say's Ros Atkins.

On air at 1100GMT: Should Turkey help Syrians?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:13 UK time, Friday, 10 June 2011


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 10 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

The flow of Syrian refugees into Turkey is continuing as they flee from the expected military crackdown by the Assad government. On Wednesday 500 Syrians had crossed the border, yesterday that figure stood at 2,700.

Metin Corabatir, spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency says,

"People are coming every possible way, on motorcycles, light trucks, whatever vehicles they can find and some walked,"


Meanwhile the Turkish Prime Minsiter Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the Syrian crackdown on protesters "inhumane," and described it as barbaric, according to reports in the Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman.

LibyaNewMedia tweets:

"Syrian refugees in Turkey say that soldiers have given poisoned water to the people & those that went to hospitals were killed"


Jeremy Bowen tweets

Refugees gathering inside Syria preparing to cross into Turkey -- waving olive branches as they move towards frontier.

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On air at 1700GMT: Syrian refugees, "land grabs" in Africa & Cesare Battisti

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 14:46 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say in 9 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Hi Nuala here posting for Ros who is in Cairo as you've probably seen from his posts, pics and tweets. You can chat with him at 1700 & 1800GMT and we have three conversations that we'd like to take part in.

The fallout from the unrest in Syria appears to be intensifying. Across the border from Syria, a Turkish official said around one thousand Syrian refugees entered overnight, bringing the total to more than fifteen hundred since violence erupted in the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur earlier in the week. We'll bring you the latest at 1700 GMT. In the meantime, what's your reaction to this exodus of refugees?

Also, a US think-tank says hedge funds are behind "land grabs" in Africa to boost their profits in the food and biofuel sectors. It says the acquisitions have displaced millions of small farmers, and created insecurity in the global food system. However, some companies named in the report say that they're bringing more work, and higher salaries to impoverished areas. Is it harmful for hedge funds to buy up land in Africa?

And, Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has attacked Brazil for freeing Cesare Battisti a former Italian left-wing militant and convicted murderer. Mr Berlusconi says his release denies justice to his victims. Italy says it will now ask the international court in the Hague to back its fight to get Mr Battisti returned. Is Brazil right not to extradite him? What do people in Brazil and Italy make of this case?

Whether it's Syrians in Turkey, "land grabs" in Africa or the Italian Cesare Battisti in Brazil that you'd like to talk about, please do get in touch.

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Can anything be done to stop rape being used as a weapon of war?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:59 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say in 9 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.




Government troops in Libya have been ordered to carry out hundreds of rapes and given viagra type drugs to encourage them to attack women, according to the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo said witnesses had come forward confirming that the Libyan government was buying containers of sex drugs to allow the policy to be carried out. And this is a new aspect of Colonel Gaddafi's repression.

Last month, Mr Moreno-Ocampo asked ICC judges to approve arrest warrants for Col Gaddafi, his Saif al-Islam, and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanussi.

The rumours first emerged last month when Eman al-Obeidy, caught the world's attention when she accused members of Col Gaddafi's forces of gang-raping her.

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WHYS in Cairo

Post categories:

Ros Atkins Ros Atkins | 10:36 UK time, Thursday, 9 June 2011

Hi everyone from a hotel just to the side of two pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo. This picture is taken from front of the terrace where we'll be based (for lots of more photos of where we've been, see our flickrstream). We've just finished a big production meeting ahead of tomorrow's live TV and radio debates where we're bringing together WHYS and BBC Arabic. All seems to be going to plan but then we haven't broadcast anything, so we're not counting our chickens yet. We're also on air for the radio today at the usual time.

If you want to get in touch with us or comment on our broadcasts over the next 48 hours, we're using the #bbccairo hashtag.

First things first here are the details of when we're broadcasting tomorrow.

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On Air: Syrian blogger and Men Behaving Badly

Jill McGivering Jill McGivering | 14:44 UK time, Wednesday, 8 June 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say in 8 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.



Two topics on our minds today.

First of all, Syria. What do we really know about American-Syrian blogger, Amina Arraf?

An international campaign is calling for the release of the American-Syrian blogger, Amina Arraf. Reports, started by posts on her blog, suggest she was detained by the security forces in Damascus. Amina's blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus" gave her a reputation for being outspoken in writing about her sexuality - she's a lesbian - and in criticising President Assad and calling for reform in Syria.

Now there's a Facebook page dedicated to her release and the hashtag #FreeAmina is trending on Twitter. But some journalists have raised doubts about who's really written the blog - and whether Amina, if that's her identity, has in fact been detained. American journalist Andy Carvin has been looking into this and says he finds it odd that he can't find anyone who's met her in person.

All this points to a wider problem: the information fog surrounding events in Syria. There's little independent confirmation of events and no access for foreign journalists. How much can we know for sure about what's really happening there?

And we're also looking at a very different subject, sexual misconduct.
We ask: Why do powerful men think they can get away with it?

A lot of you are talking about the married American Congressman, Anthony Wiener. He's admitted having online sexual relationships with six women. He was forced to speak out, if you remember, after a female student was sent a lewd photograph via Twitter of him in his underwear.

And then there were the revelations about two other American politicians who recently admitted to sexual affairs: former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senator John Edwards. The Detroit Free Press tries to make sense of the psychology. Meanwhile argues that women are simply drawn to powerful men - and explains why. We'll be hearing from their UK editor on the programme.

What do you think? Do powerful men think they're invincible? Do men become powerful because they're risk takers - in their personal lives as well as their careers?

Look forward to talking later.

Has the international community failed Libya?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 09:48 UK time, Wednesday, 8 June 2011



 This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say in 8 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

As the Nato bombing campaign intensifies in Libya, defence ministers are meeting in Brussels to review the results of two months of air strikes in the country.

The meeting will not only look at the success of the bombing campaign, but also what would happen in any transition period, post Gaddafi. That in itself isn't easy. Gaddafi has vowed to remain in the country "dead or alive", saying martyrdom would be a "million times better" than surrender.

jus10two tweets

Nato is bombing Libya because it can. This senseless destruction and vandalism of a sovereign state by partisan invaders invites civil war.


Pimako Maurice on facebook says

Let them accomplish the mission & give room for a new beginning


But the Nato campaign is only part of the story.

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ON AIR 1700G: Syria, Yemen and Libya

Jill McGivering Jill McGivering | 17:40 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say in 7 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

It's proving extremely difficult to find out exactly what's happening in the Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughur. Have a look at this BBC piece which assesses who's saying what.

There are reports that some residents are now fleeing the town because they're frightened of a military assault. The Syrian authorities say there'll be decisive action to restore control. All this after state media reported that more than a hundred and twenty members of the security forces were killed there in the last few days of violence.

In Libya, huge explosions are reported in Tripoli as Nato jets strike. And in Yemen, there's more violence in the south amid uncertainty about the political future, now President Saleh has left the country for medical treatment. The Guardian newspaper has this assessment of what may come next.

We'll have the latest on what's happening in Syria. And as the turmoil continues across the region, we want to ask: what impact is the unrest having on daily life? Are you living in a country where there's currently turmoil - or perhaps in touch with family there? What can you tell us about the conditions - and how to cope, practically and psychologically?

Look forward to hearing from you soon.

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On air at 1100GMT: Syrian crackdown.....a new phase?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:10 UK time, Tuesday, 7 June 2011


This topic was discussed in World Have Your Say on 7 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Conversations about Syria have spiked in the pt 24 hours with news that the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shughour is bracing itself for an attack by government forces. It follows claims that dozens of its police and security forces were killed in attacks there.

fpmag‎ tweets

Darkness in Syria: If Assad falls and the Muslim Brotherhood rises. #news #politics


AnonymousSyrian‎ tweets

If Asma Al Assad of #Syria had any COURAGE and HUMANITY, she would dissociate herself from her husbands' actions.


An estimated 1,200 civilians have already been killed since the uprising began in March. It looks like a crackdown in the town is likely after authorities rapidly upgraded the number of security personnel were killed.

Initially the state news agency, Sana, said 28 personnel had been killed, including in an armed ambush and at a state security post. It revised the figure up to 43, 80 and then 120 within the space of an hour without an explanation. The claims can't be independently verified as all foreign journalists are banned from the country.

It's a hugely confusing picture. Amateur footage and eyewitnesses have depicted scenes of plain-clothes security forces and the army shooting at peaceful protesters. Residents have posted messages on Facebook saying they fear a slaughter and appealing for help from outside.

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Do drug companies deserve praise today?

Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 17:22 UK time, Monday, 6 June 2011

This topic was discussed on 6 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

This blog post was written by Mahfuz and posted by me.

A lot of you are talking about the news that major drug companies have agreed to significantly reduce their prices for vaccines in developing countries.

The price reduction is part of an effort to provide supplies for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation.

Despite the assurance of price reduction, there is still funding a shortfall of $3.7 billion in for vaccinations all the way to 2015, and this latest decision is part of the effort to plug that gap.

Miscrosoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda, who are involved in public health through their Foundation, expressed their excitement: "We're particularly excited about the offers for rotavirus vaccine because the shock of learning that more than 500,000 children die each year from a preventable disease that causes severe diarrhea is what drew us to work in global health in the first place".

Some are sceptical though. @fauxstellata ‎tweeted: "#Glaxo have just cut the price of a diarrohea vaccine by 95% and not in an attempt to influence share prices. Finally nice capitalism?"

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On air at 1100GMT: Yemen, what next?

Chloe Tilley Chloe Tilley | 10:04 UK time, Monday, 6 June 2011


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 6 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

On Friday's programme we discussed the extent of the Yemeni President's injuries after a bomb attack on his compound. Now it seems things are a little clearer.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh is recovering from surgery in Saudi Arabia to remove shrapnel from his chest according to Saudi officials.

He left the country to cheers from opposition supporters, with many people thinking it is unlikely he will return.

The BBC's Middle East correspondent Jon Leyne says,

"even if President Saleh wants to return, it is unlikely Saudi Arabia will allow him"

But what does that mean for Yemen? Mr Saleh's son and other relatives are in charge of key units of the security forces. So will things change?

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WHYS on TV: Fifa & Yemen

Post categories:

Ben James Ben James | 19:20 UK time, Friday, 3 June 2011

In case you missed it, here's another chance to watch today's edition of WHYS on BBC World News TV - including your questions to Fifa's Jim Boyce and reaction to the developing story in Yemen.

On air at 1700: The latest on Yemen and should the Bahrain Grand Prix go ahead?

Xavier Zapata | 17:27 UK time, Friday, 3 June 2011

Today the unrest in Yemen has intensified. The presidential compound has been attacked and the President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, has been wounded. Several other officials were also injured when at least two shells hit a mosque in the compound. It's the most significant escalation in days of fighting in Sanaa between President Saleh's forces and armed tribesmen allied to the powerful al Ahmar family. We'll be getting the latest on the situation in Yemen at 1700 GMT. Send us your questions and we'll do your best to address them. And if you're in Yemen, or worrying about your relatives in Yemen do get in touch.

On air 1700GMT: Should the Bahrain Grand Prix go ahead?

Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 13:57 UK time, Friday, 3 June 2011

Bahrain Grand Prix circuit

It certainly will happen, according to the country's information minister. He's been Tweeting that it has been agreed in a meeting with the body that runs F1, the FIA, and will now take place on 30 October.

The race had been scheduled to open the season, but was cancelled because of the unrest in the country. Now, with the state of emergency lifted, the circuit's chairman Zayed Rashid Alzayani says "We feel we are in position to have the event back."

Speaking before the meeting at which the decision was confirmed, Bernie Ecclestone, who runs F1, outlined the criteria for the race being reinstated, saying "This has to do with whether people... I don't know, to be honest, with this occasion whether people are concerned with their safety if they go or whether people are concerned with what has happened in the past."

But not everyone is happy about it.

The teams, who have been called upon to boycott the race by more than 300,000 people in an online petition, are believed to be against a return to Bahrain.

And before the decision was made Red Bull driver Mark Webber said on Twitter that "When people in a country are being hurt, the issues are bigger than sport."

Fans have reacted with some outrage too. Here's locomotivesuk:

Total shocker that F1's going back to Bahrain. They boycotted South Africa during Apartheid, they should do the same now.

What do you think? Is this the right decision? Should sport be kept separate from events like the Arab Spring?

Why do some still see Ratko Mladic as a hero?

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 08:34 UK time, Friday, 3 June 2011

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 3 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

mladic in court

I'm watching Ratko Mladic making his first appearance at the Hague. In the first few minutes there has been disagreement on the date of his birth and a discussion on where he was born.....this could take a while....Mladic is answering directly to the judge and does not appear frail though the judge did say they can discuss his health later. There's also disagreement around the world whether Mladic should be appearing in the Hague at all.

Here's a little from a article on what people are talking about:
Serbia is continuing a fierce debate, arguing whether the General's extradition to The Hague was the right thing to do. Serbian Radical Party (SRS) that is considered nationalistic stated that it strongly condemned the regime of Boris Tadic for the shameful extradition of the Serbian hero, General Ratko Mladic. They added that this "treacherous act" was threatening the survival of the Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina. - Ed.) and the country's national interests.

Does that surprise you or do you sympathise with the SRS? Here a little of what you are saying online.

Tetradugenica‎ tweets ratko mladic was a hero of serbia and i must protest his villification in the international press

A tweets from WeDoAdventureWe've just seen a Banja Luka newspaper declaring "Mladic is our hero". 12000 demonstrated against his arrest here yesterday. #adifferentpov

wambelzig‎ tweets I am surprised how many people still see Ratko Mladic as a Serbian National Hero,seems still some people have learned anything from that war
As I was typing Mladic has just told the court "I am a gravely ill man".... to be continued.
Click here for the live update page



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On Air 1700GMT: What would the world look like if all drugs were legalised?

Robyn Bresnahan Robyn Bresnahan | 13:08 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

A line of cocaine


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 2 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Close your eyes for a minute and picture this. You go down to your local pharmacy and order some cocaine over-the-counter. Later, you catch up with a friend at a coffee shop that sells weed and smoke a couple joints. Another pal joins you, who has just come from shooting up with heroin.

No need to worry about trouble from the police. All of the above are legal.

Okay - so that's a pretty mythical scenario at the moment. But what if it wasn't?

A new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy released on Thursday says the global war on drugs has "failed".

One of the key recommendations: countries should legalise drugs. Not all drugs - but some of them.

In fact there's a large school of thought that agrees with this principle. Take a read of this article from the Economist.

So today on the programme we're asking: what would the world look like if all drugs were legalised?

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On Air 1100GMT: Is the war on drugs over?

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 09:15 UK time, Thursday, 2 June 2011

war on drugs

This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 2 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

I'm flicking through the War on Drugs report that has just been released. The first giveaway to what the panel is about to announce is that they have scratched out the word 'War'. You can see the whole 'On Drugs' report, for yourself here.

So what does the report say? It says the war has "failed" and calls for the legalisation of some drugs and an end to the criminalisation of drug users. Pretty strong stuff, if you'll excuse the pun. The Global Commission on Drug Policy is a panel of heavy-hitters on the world stage, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Sir Richard Branson, former leaders of Brazil and Colombia and Mario Vargas Llosa to name just a few. Here's the full list.

The White House rejected the findings, saying the report was misguided. But what about you? What do you think of their result and recommendations. Break the drug taboo, treat drug addicts like patients, not criminals? And what about experimenting with legalisation?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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On air 1700GMT: Will the death of Saleem Shahzad change anything in Pakistan?

Robyn Bresnahan Robyn Bresnahan | 14:46 UK time, Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Funeral of killed journalist Saleem Shahzad.


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 1 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Journalists in Pakistan bid a sad farewell to their colleague Saleem Shazad today. Fellow reporter Abbas Nasir from Pakistan's Dawn newspaper said he was filled with "deep, helpless despair."
After disappearing on Sunday from Islamabad, Shahzad was found slain dozens of miles outside the capital yesterday. Police said his body bore signs of torture.

An investigative reporter who wrote for the Asia Time Online and other publications, he often covered sensitive topics in Pakistan such as the ties between al-Qaeda and Pakistan's navy. Before he was killed, he told a human rights activist he'd been threatened by intelligence agents.

But will his death change anything in Pakistan?

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On air 1100GMT: The death of Saleem Shahzad

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 10:59 UK time, Wednesday, 1 June 2011


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 1 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Details are emerging on the death of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad. Mr. Shahzad, Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief was kidnapped and murdered, his body was found yesterday, two days after he was reported missing. Human Rights Watch said Mr. Shahzad had received repeated threats from Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or other Pakistani intelligence agencies following his earlier stories about military links to extremist groups.

Reaction from his colleagues has been swift. Here's his colleague Pedro Escobar and two more tributes from Hasan Mansoor and Arman Sabir.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say:

His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan's stability.


What response and action would you like to see from Pakistan?

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On air 1100GMT: Should football fans try to change Fifa?

Nuala McGovern Nuala McGovern | 09:26 UK time, Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Sepp Blatter, Fifa president


This topic was discussed on World Have Your Say on 1 June, 2011. Listen to the programme.

Fifa continue to dominate the headlines and your conversations. The 61st Fifa Congress got underway for the second day in Zurich, you can watch the live proceedings here. The representatives of all Member Associations are gathering together for `football`s parliament` after a turbulent week for the organisation, 'troubled waters' is what Sepp Blatter calls it. Also, I've been reading this live blog by Paul Kelso from The Telegraph, you might like it too.

Here's a snippet just in from Paul on his blog:

England's proposal to postpone the Fifa presidential election has been defeated by 172 votes to 17 at the Fifa Congress this morning.

So I guess that's not going to happen. But what about this suggestion from Martin Samuel into what he'd like to see fans do, boycott the products from companies that sponsor Fifa.

Here' Martin's take:

It starts at your club, with the supporters group and a boycott of the product. From there, apply pressure for it not to be sold within the stadium which, if it is not being bought anyway, actually makes business sense. Now make Coca-Cola aware of this policy. Make it a national issue. Get other supporters groups from other major leagues involved.Spread the word regarding other sponsors. There are so many more of you than there are of them.

Are you moved to take that action? Here's the response so far from Fifa's top sponsors

One more piece of news the German Football Association have called for a probe into awarding Qatar the 2022 World Cup. Do you think it needs to be investigated? Would you like your country to support Germany on this issue?

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