Do you want rice with that ?

Thanks to all of you who kept the global conversation going over the weekend with Ros moderating from his trawler off the Cornish coast. Technology’s a great thing isn’t it ?

Hard to move away from the arresting images of the Olympic torch making it’s journey across London yesterday. It reminded one texter to 5 Live of “It’s a Knockout” and it was difficult to know, watching it,  whether it was a brilliant exercise in freedom of speech, or a daft farce (as opposed to a sensible farce, obviously).  

I’d be interested to know what you thought of it all. Opinions here varied from anger at what some saw as heavy-handed policing (people had t shirts confiscated apparently) , to questions about who exactly who was responsible for the “torch attendants”  in their blue tracksuits and outrage that anyone would try to disrupt ex Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq  (no?-  just me then).

As for the wider issues to do with China (regularly discussed on WHYS- and yes, i’m sorry if some of you don’t like it but i’ll continue to seek pro-Chinese views. It’s called “balance”), here’s Johann Harri in today’s Independent with a plan.  It’s the most-read column on the site. Worth a try ? This article in the Irish Independent suggests targetting one concession – talking to the Dalai Lama- as a way forward. Your suggestions are of course what i’m asking for now.

I went to a seminar at the BBC on Friday – bear with me, there is a point to this – about the way we cover business stories. It was hosted by BBC Breakfast’s estimable Declan Curry (a former colleague of mine at 5 Live) and at the end he put forward six story themes that he thought would dominate business news across the globe. he pointed out that other business experts may venture another 6 but one of Declan’s was a simple question “do we have enough food ? “.

It’s an issue we’ve raised a few times on this blog ,but in the light of his comments i was drawn to this article in the Observer newspaper this weekend. The headline “Food Riots Fear After Rice Price Hits a High” in a sober paper like that one got me thinking. Our sister programme Africa Have Your Say is discussing this later in the week, and this piece appeared on the BBC website just this morning, but is it worrying you ?.


18 Responses to “Do you want rice with that ?”

  1. 1 Xie_Ming
    April 7, 2008 at 12:32

    Should “spoiled-brat protesters” be tolerated?

    There is a right to carry placards and to peacefully assemble, but there is no right to block traffic or assault, or to riot.

    It seems that those who cannot influence their government through legal means will seek to do so through illegal means.

    Publicity is often a goal of such actions? Should the media accomodate them?

    Is there a “slippery slope”f illegality leading to terrorism and assassination?

  2. 2 Brett
    April 7, 2008 at 13:17

    but is it worrying you ?.

    Suddenly landscaping with food crops is looking to be a better idea than idle and unproductive holly bushes or evergreens. Not to mention getting out and gardening is good for you 🙂

    And to answer the question, yes, it worries me.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  3. April 7, 2008 at 14:06

    Protesting SHOULD be tolerated, nay — encouraged. “To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes COWARDS of men.”
    When the IOC chose China, for money, no doubt, certain requirements were to be met. They have not. Therefore the Games should NOT be held there at all, until they are met. But the games themselves should NOT be boycotted. It takes away from everything it is supposed to represent. Instead: you just make sure now that every athlete, and every journalist, takes a really really good look around. And report what they find.

  4. 4 selena
    April 7, 2008 at 14:14

    There is hardly a mention of a food crisis on CNN where politics is the dominating force, each and every day. To be more precise, where the Obama factor is the dominating force. What is that saying… Nero fiddled while Rome burned?

    Nothing much worries me but I do believe we are headed for a big time food shortage. In the West, we can only maintain our overeating if people in the developing world work like slaves, for a subsistence wage.

    We are about to challenged and it’s about time.

  5. 5 selena
    April 7, 2008 at 14:20

    Rowdy protesters are selfish know-it-alls who use the same force to control that they accuse others of using. They just follow a cause because it looks good and appealing.

    If a cause is worth the candle, peaceful demonstrations will win the day. If the cause has merit, there is no need to fight.

    The only people being hurt over this are the athletes. But selfish people don’t care about others, no matter how much they protest.

  6. 6 gary
    April 7, 2008 at 15:04

    Hello All,
    Ros owns a trawler??!!
    Protestors must be tolerant as well as tolerated.

  7. 7 eric swenson
    April 7, 2008 at 15:59

    anyone who physically attacks someone else here in the usa would be arrested for assault and battery. free speech protest must never be prohibited, inhibited or curtailed anywhere in the world. are you listening chinese communist party (ccp)? however, as soon as an individual crosses the line from verbal to physical they should be arrested. as much as decent freedom loving people around the world want to protest the chinese communist party’s tyranny in tibet, and in china itself, we must limit our actions to peaceful nonviolent protest. what we all must understand is that one billion chinese people do not have access to independent non-biased truthful information about what is going on in china or the world. the ccp completely controls and censors everything the people of china see and hear. unfortunately, a majority of the chinese people believe what the ccp propagandists tell the people. every time there is a physical protest against the torch or anything else that has to do with the china or the olympics, the ccp broadcasts it nonstop to the chinese people, who then believe that the rest of the world is anti-chinese. we can only hope to force the ccp to reform is through strong peaceful nonviolent protest, economic and diplomatic pressure. violence serves no positive end in this situation.

  8. 8 eric swenson
    April 7, 2008 at 16:29

    not enough food? thank you eco-hysterics and techno-phobes! shortsighted policies like the eu’s rush to legislate the mandatory use of biofuels have helped to cause the world’s food shortage. of course the world’s rush to stop the fictional “man-made” global warming, has the politically correct crowd’s hysterical over reaction. yes there is global warming but it has nothing to do with man. proof? just check the recently released nasa photo showing the polar ice cap on mars melting! there is no martian carbon footprint or green house gases. global warming is caused by increased solar activity. does anyone out there understand basic economics. the price of oil goes up in direct relation to the demand for it. the price of food has gone up because of the price of fuel needed to produce food. biofuels require more energy to produce than the energy they create. they also produce lower miles per gallon than gasoline when used in vehicles, so you need to burn more of it to go the same distance. the solution? end all biofuel production worldwide and put all those fields back into food production. as to lowering petroleum use, lower the maximum speed limit on roadways and enforce the laws. going to a 55mph speed limit would lower our gas consumption more than 10%. if 10% more fuel hits the market the price will go down.

  9. 9 Will Rhodes
    April 7, 2008 at 17:43

    There is a right to carry placards and to peacefully assemble, but there is no right to block traffic or assault, or to riot.

    Xie_Ming April 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    I couldn’t disagree with you more!

    A government is elected to represent the people if that government then goes on to ignore the wishes of the people then they have a right to say something. Yes the public have to bring it to the attention of the government – and if the government carries on with it ignorance then the public should act.

    From general strikes to vocal protest and if, and I mean if this should happen they have the right to do so, riot needs to be considered then that government has failed and needs to be replaced.

    Recent protests come to mind, in the UK you have the ‘Poll Tax’ riots. No matter what any government official says – that riot got legislation changed! The protest about the cost of fuel – do you think that the British government ignored that? No they didn’t.

    There are times when peaceful protest will work – and that would always be preferred – but sometimes civil disobedience in required, and that should never be taken away from the public and the right to change those who represent them should be set in stone!

  10. 10 Will Rhodes
    April 7, 2008 at 17:52

    As to the food shortage.

    Interesting one this. But a little story is needed methinks.

    Last time I was back home I went shopping on Morrisons supermarket I called in for a few things because I couldn’t be bothered to go up town so paid the higher price for the convenience.

    What hit me when I went in was the amount of people who were shopping, and the amount of food there was in shopping trollies! Every till was open and at least four (4) till had six (6) people with more than one FULL trolley! I counted one woman who had four of her own – the sheer cost of that blew my mind.

    I seriously asked one of the clerks if there had been some sort of news about a disaster – she said no, looked down the line and smiled saying ‘It’s Christmas’.

    After picking my jaw up off the ground I asked how many days the store was shut – “one” she said.

    That day was the last day before the store closed for one day and the shelves were almost empty – I bought, eventually, my litre of milk and left.

    The only thing wrong with this story is that this wasn’t a one off thing – you can go to the store and see this almost every day – there is no way on this planet that a family needs that much food in their house.

  11. April 7, 2008 at 20:03

    There is a right to carry placards and to peacefully assemble, but there is no right to block traffic or assault, or to riot.

    Xie_Ming April 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    The problem is that in the UK there were confirmed reports of police conducting heavy handed bag searches on people who were wearing pro tibet t-shirts.

    Friends of mine who wanted to take part in peaceful protest had all their t-shirts taken from them.

    Plus the olympic officials who are accompaning the torch do not represent china well. In all the photos i have seen of them on the BBC website they look scary and menacing.

    Also the recent news that prominent human rights activists in China have been prosecuted is also a matter for concern.

    As Wil Ferguson pointed out, when the IOC chose china there were certain conditions which china must meet in order for the right to host the games. At the moment it doesnt appear to be meeting them. By this i am explicitly refering to curbs put on the international press to cover issues in beijing. Will reporters be allowed into Tibet during the olympics? it seems unlikely?

  12. 12 selena
    April 7, 2008 at 21:06

    Eric Swenson, you are someone talking my language. Climate change is happening but not because of man. I have been writing about that for years and I have been laughed at for years for writing that.

    We talk about the Chinese people being brainwashed!!! Yet, we believe every word we are told by those trying to control every aspect of our lives.

    Do as I say not as I do is the mantra of the Western world!

  13. 13 Brett
    April 8, 2008 at 01:00

    We talk about the Chinese people being brainwashed!!! Yet, we believe every word we are told by those trying to control every aspect of our lives.

    I’m sorry you feel as if the world is trying to control you by actively requesting and pressuring you to curb a Western lifestyle fueled by consumption, consumerism, and waste.

    Even if Climate Change is completely unaffected by man, do you not think that living a more conservationist and environmentally friendly life is not for the overall good regardless of the climate?

    “Do as I say not as I do” being the mantra of the Western world is correct in some aspects, but consider that many of those in the West who are pushing for more eco-friendly lifestyles are also those pushing for more eco-friendly legislation to help with that ‘mantra’ you speak of, and the negation of their good works by those who don’t care or feel they are more important than the rest of the world.
    Without legislation, little will be accomplished as the greedy and ignorant people who could care less about any environmental issues, and yes there are those in every country, will fill that void and negate the good done by those who truly care.
    Now put legislation in place, and actually enforce it, and we could change this Anti-Western rhetoric around to “Do as I say and do myself”. Perhaps that would give the West some legitimacy points?

    So are you game for making moves to save the earth for future generations (whether it be from pollution, climate change, or what have you), or are you looking to use the excuse “Well they do it, so I can too… I’m not changing until you do.” If we all have that mentality, nothing will ever get done.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  14. 14 Brett
    April 8, 2008 at 01:08

    not enough food? thank you eco-hysterics and techno-phobes!

    I would more appropriately thank the booming growth in world population, and many recent crop and livestock disasters stemming from disease and drought first before turning around and blaming eco-hysterics’ and techno-phobes’ biofuels as the sole reason for food shortages.
    Also, quite a bit of the land used for biofuels either comes from deforested areas or the crop/grazing lands which biofuels replaced have moved to deforested areas. This is land that was unused previously even for food production. Not all of the land used in biofuel production was taken from food bearing crops.

    if 10% more fuel hits the market the price will go down.
    Maybe for a brief moment, but this is all assuming the following:
    – Oil companies don’t just reduce their output to keep supply / demand level and thus allow for their profit level to remain as high as it is now.
    – Oil companies even bother to lower the price of oil / gas (remember, 2007 saw record breaking profit levels for the big dogs)
    – Stupid US consumers and developing countries won’t negate the 10% decrease in consumption of fuel by buying more personal busses and SUV’s
    – The amount of cars on the road does not increase thus negating the decrease in fuel consumption (not happening).
    – The worlds oil needs do not increase, again negating the 10% decrease marked in consumption (again, not likely to happen).
    – The production of oil remains constant (not likely to happen, remember, oil is a finite resource… and for those running around claiming “We’ll get it from Canadian tar sands”, well, you’ve got another thing coming if you think that it will be cheap, and clean oil)
    – All of the other countless factors to negate a 10% decrease in oil demand remain static (not likely to happen).

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va

  15. 15 Xie_Ming
    April 8, 2008 at 14:38

    There is a right to carry placards and to peacefully assemble, but there is no right to block traffic or assault, or to riot.

    April 7, 2008 at 12:32 pm

    Those who claim the right to assault a torch carrier, or to riot, or to interfere with shipping, or to chain themselves to railroad tracks, claim that they may act contrary to the laws.

    If they may violate the laws (rather than change them) may the police not also violate the laws by breaking heads?


    I am unaware of any right to confiscate a shirt with a message.

    Have you any further facts concerning this?

    If the right to stop and search exists, then someone wearing what appears to be a protester’s uniform should be a reasonable target for such a search.

  16. 16 Jeff Minter
    April 8, 2008 at 21:24

    “Do you want rice with that?”

    The stupid racial connotations have to stop, condescending the chinese every time they ‘annoy’ you is hardly going to make them more willing to listen.

  17. 17 George USA
    April 9, 2008 at 04:31


    dont take it so hard, your angry remark is posted,

    yet my remarks have been swept clean,

    like a cement slab after Hurricane Carla where a stately house stood on the bay

    disappeared, a disaparacido the mothers of Argintian have marched for in these many years

    emptied like the plastic feeding bowl of a Darfur child







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