Good morning, what to talk about today? The news website isn’t much help – its top story, “Vaccine against HIV ‘no nearer'”, is a headline I would have got a ticking off for way back when I worked at a newspaper. The theory is that if nothing has changed, why would someone want to read it? Anyway, moving on to the World Service, our first item is the Serbian foreign minister telling the UN Security Council that it must stop the province of Kosovo declaring independence.
That’s a bit more like it – is Russian President Putin right to argue that Kosovo is in the same category as the separatist conflicts in parts of the former Soviet Union, such as Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Trans-Dniester? The Georgian president certainly doesn’t think so, but Mr Putin’s comments have him worried. The Russian president also says it is “not moral or legal” for Kosovo to declare independence – is he right?
Here’s a question for you – is it right to attack your enemies wherever they are in the world? Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah has warned Israel to expect just that in retaliation for what he called its role in killing Imad Mughniyah.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the former Dutch politician, has been in Brussels to plead for political backing for a controversial proposal to get the EU to pay for her protection. The proposal is for teh European Union to create a a fund to help protect people in her position.
French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy says “Europe needs to defend her because she has defended Europe.” So who’s duty is it to protect free speech? And how far should efforts to provide that protection extend?
On a similar note, how far should a government keep an eye (spy?) on its citizens to keep them safe? President Bush and the Democrat-controlled Congress disagree. The president is even threatening to delay his trip to Africa to “help [the House leadership] complete their work on this critical bill.”
Here’s the view of SJ in Oregon: “I started yelling at the screen when Bush says ‘We’re having a debate in America on whether or not we ought to be listening to terrorists making’ phone calls in the United States. And the answer is darn right we ought to be.’ So everybody who has had phone calls listened to – who knows how many people – are now terrorists? Straight-up unconstitutional and flies in the face of presumption of innocence (innocent until proven guilty). Bush thinks the Bill of Rights exists for no reason – that it’s just some shield for criminals. It’s the other way around – those amendments are meant to protect people from the real criminal… from a gov’t gone mad in its paranoia…”
What do you think?
It’s certainly the kind of debate the chattering classes might have here – and this week they are after ministers said they wanted pupils of all ages to be offered at least an hour a day of culture during the week. Simon Heffer calls it “cultural Stalinism”. Do we value knowledge, art and culture as much as we should or do these things matter less in the modern world of instant news and entertainment?
Oh, and as an aside, it’s not often I agree with Sepp Blatter, but he’s on the money with this one.