Talking points for 17 April

Good morning, to start today there are a couple of strong topics that came close earlier in the week but haven’t made it on air yet – What should be done about the food crisis? and Is it right to glamorize extreme thinness? – so perhaps they’ll make the programme today.


Among the new topics in their way is President Bush proposing that the US should halt the growth of is greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Is he right to focus on new technologies bringing emissions down or are binding limits needed sooner? And is he right to reject exemptions for developing countries such as India and China?

Next up is Zimbabwe, and South African President Thabo Mbeki’s defense of his response to the delays in announcing the result of the presidential election, while playing down the crisis at a UN debate he called to discuss peacekeeping in Africa. Other leaders, including Ban-Ki Moon and Gordon Brown, used the stage to speak out against the electoral process. The UN secretary general said the absence of a transparent solution to the impasse could mean the “situation could deteriorate further, with the serious implications for the people of Zimbabwe”, while the British prime minister said “No-one thinks – having seen the results at polling stations – that President Mugabe has won this election.”

For his part, Mr Mbeki said: “The solution to the problem of Zimbabwe lies in the hands of the people of Zimbabwe.” Given the steady progress in Kenya towards a grand coalition to resolve the election crisis there, is Mr Mbeki right to take a softly-softly approach? And on Kenya, is it too much to pay 40+ ministers more than $150,000 a year when almost half of all Kenyans survive on less than 50p a day?

Another topic we’ve talked a lot about lately is the Beijing Olympics. The torch is in India but should the world resist the attempt to hold the Olympics hostage? And what about the media? Comments are still coming in on our debate about western media bias against China and China may be fighting back with criticism of the BBC’s coverage and demands for an apology from CNN.

8 Responses to “Talking points for 17 April”

  1. 1 john in Germany
    April 17, 2008 at 08:14

    Good Morning Peter.

    It is easy to see why the rest of the world is worried about the attitude of most African leaders. 40 ministers, it is blatantly obvious as to what’s going on in Kenya. Nothing to do with democracy, just appeasing.

    Does one need to say more?. Yes-get a grip the rest of the United nations, Mr Brown has started, keep up the momentum so that a stop is applied to the corruption, and down right thievery of resources that would help the poor to health services, food, and education. BUT YOU WONT- WILL YOU? Debate until to-late, the new motto of a lot of our leaders.

    President Thobo Mebki silent diplomacy has a hidden background to it, it will come to the surface later. Sadly it has not reduced the time of the announcement of the election results in Zimbabwe. The rot set in a long time ago, and the rest of the World has found no cure.

    Extreme thinness. or Mobile skellets.

    A load of bones in a pretty dress. It is the fault of the clothing industry-the food industry, and the media, that we now have a situation where thinness has taken a priority over common sense. Watching a Paris clothing show the other day i wondered what would happen if the wind blew through an open window, the whole lot would have been blown away, including the grinning, designer.

    With the risk of being dubbed as sexist i make this statement. Ask the Men. and you will get the right answer. i bet my next all singing and dancing fitness-wellness-low cholesterol-fat reduced- high fibre-gluten free-low sugar-high fruit sugar-guaranteed to keep me going til i’m 200, little bottle filled with millions of healthy bacteria, breakfast drink, that 99% of men would say, no thanks, just normal, and the right amount in the right places.

    Have a nice day, and thanks for the hard work you all at BEEB put in to keep us informed.
    John in Germany

  2. 2 UMOH, AMOS
    April 17, 2008 at 10:00

    Good morning guys.

    Am extremely grateful for the turn of events. Robert Mugabe thought of making the Zimbabwe stuff look local-ized and wished that nobody outside ‘his’ country or the continent should know about, talkless of commenting on it. He bought over Mbeki (by God knows how much!) and they all desired to keep sealed lips (when actually fire was burning within).

    Thank Goodness, Thanks to Gordon Brown, Thanks to Ban Ki-moon. The whole stuff has taken an International dimension. What Mbeki couldn’t say, other people are stepping in to fill the vacuum. Enough of this madness that appears to be running in the heads of African lead-ers. World leaders should maintain a close watch and re-act as events unfold.

    After ruling a country for nearly 30 years, must someone be begged to exit? What kind of creatures are we (Afri-cans) turning ourselves into?? Oliver what…. NOT IN MY GENERATION.

  3. 3 Mark Sandell
    April 17, 2008 at 11:15

    Just a thought, but we’ve discussed women in politics a few times, and now Silvio Berlusconi comes out with these comments

  4. 4 John van Dokkumburg
    April 17, 2008 at 11:27

    About Bejing and the olimpics : politics dont intervire in this subject , this isnt about politics and differant systems and opinion , this is not made by and ment for politics but about and only fun for the people .

    It is basicly not even thinkable we want to drag this thing into politic by inviting politicians inviting politicians , that level is old idea of making your human face populair everybody knows ..

    Invitation at last , I dont think this is neccecary but if you think that it is for the benefit and the interst of the game .. ( maby there are lazy people in a country so a sport stimulate isnt hurt you ! ) then The Olympic Commitee can only do this and build a friendship … the political responsebility lays there to . Again i dont think we need to do that .

    John van Dokkumburg

  5. April 17, 2008 at 11:37

    To add to the Zimbabwe mix, the government response to Gordon Brown’s comments at the UN has been predictable. The Herald had this to say.

    So was Brown right to speak out?

    And here’s what South Africans are talking about – a Chinese ship that police said contains arms destined for Zimbabwe unloading its cargo at a South African port. South Africa’s not going to interfere but with the government accusing opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of treason is an armed escalation to the crisis about to happen?

  6. 6 Katharina in Ghent
    April 17, 2008 at 12:01

    Good morning,

    I just read an article this morning, generally about the high fuel and food prices, but there is one interesting thing mentioned: that the next wheat harvest in Australia should be a good one, so maybe at least there we might see some relief. If you have someone around who can read German, here’s the link:


    Extreme thinness has been a problem for a long time, at least since Twiggy showed up. In the last few years though there has been increasing pressure on young women and also men to be thinner and look like a Hollywood star, there even have been Extreme Makeover shows where they get their faces surgically altered to look more like one! I believe the problem is that young people don’t get enough self exteem through their parents and peers and then try to make it up with something superficious. That the Western society has at the same time an obesity problem strikes me as ironic. In any case I think it’s just about time that designers start being forced to make their clothes for models that are more than just skin and bones…

    Regarding Zimbabwe, I’m very glad that finally at least two important politicians started to speak up against this farce. Given that even with all the vote-rigging Mugabe didn’t get a clear majority – which basically means that the opposition did, it seems really crazy to me that there should be a run-off election. Maybe Mugabe could print the slips already with the X on the “right” spot, that’s the only way he stands a chance.

    Olympics and China? China must have known that it will be under a lot of scrutiny when it applied for the games, so I don’t feel sorry at all for it. If you don’t want the world to see and condemn your attrocities, then you shouldn’t put yourself in the spotlight. To put it very nastily: North Korea is doing that one right, no one really knows what’s going on there.

    Looking forward to tonight’s show!

  7. 7 john in Germany
    April 17, 2008 at 12:58

    Hello Peter.
    Do You have a gut feeling. Silent diplomacy,, that kills. Wait a while, it will surface soon.

    John in Germany

  8. 8 VictorK
    April 17, 2008 at 13:05

    The Zimbabwean government is right to object to Britain’s oral interference in its affairs. Fortunately that’s probably all they’ll ever have to worry about: the army that fled from Basra is unlikely to trouble Harare.

    Gordon Brown has a remit to protect and promote British interets, not to see democracy prevail in Zimbabwe (or to encourage respect for human rights in China). It really is pure colonial arrogance for Britain to be forever lecturing a sovereign state about a purely internal matter. It was this same spirit of complacent self-righteousness that led to ‘virtuous’ interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and we all know how those turned out. Do Western leaders learn nothing from their mistakes, or is governing a country like Britain not enough to monopolise Brown’s attention?

    Britain and the USA take it for granted that nobody will tell them how they should run their internal affairs (Mexico excepted re the US) but don’t grant the same courtesy to other equally sovereign states. And given Britain’s part in contributing to many of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia’s past problems, a little modesty really is in order (I’m sure that Germany has a view about Israel-Palestine, but the Germans have the self-awareness and humility to keep it to themselves).

    President Mugabe got it just about right when he dismissed Gordon Brown as ‘a little dot’ on the face of the earth, however self-important. You don’t become a world leader by constantly opening your mouth about the world’s problems but by contributing to their solution (assuming that they actually are nay of your business in the first place). Brown is trying too hard to cut a figure in the world and is making a fool of himself in the process (tough on Zimbabwe, timid and cowering when it comes to China?)

    And btw, given the mutual enmity between the BBC and President Mugabe WHYS should really go into ‘balance’ overdrive when you next address Zimbabwe.

    Re Kenya: all African politicians and rulers behave like this. At least the Kenyans are being transparent about it as they seem to have paid themselves astronomical salaries following a due Parliamentary process. Elsewhere it would just be a matter of stealing as much as you can for as long as you can and killing any journalists foolish enough to look into your finances. The Kenyan politicians deserve credit for being better than that. The reference to Kenyans living on less than 50p a day is sensationalist economics. If the cost of living in Kenya is much less than 50p a day than Kenyans have it good and are to be envied. The fact that there is no mass hunger in Kenya suggests that things aren’t as bad as ‘less than 50p a day’ might suggest to Western ears.

    On the Olympics and the cries that sport and politics shouldn’t be mixed together: I’m still trying to reconcile that with the fact of a world-wide sporting boycott against South Africa and Rhodesia. The entire world mixed sports and politics then so it’s too late to complain about others doing it now. Someone needs to explain to the writer of the San Francisco article you linked to that a boycott of the Olympics involves athletes – rather than politicians – not turning up. And if there really shouldn’t be a link between sport and politics then why should it matter whether politicians do attend the opening/closing ceremonies of the games? Isn’t the point to appease the Chinese regime by having the world’s political elite come to admire their achievements in hosting the games, in turning Beijing into a modern city, and in turning China into a rising economic and political force? In other words, to pay political tribute to the Communist Party’s successes. Isn’t it China that has already politicised the games? The hypocrisy and contradiction around this subject are headspinning.

    Berlusconi has a point. I seriously doubt if most of those women Cabinet Ministers are there solely on merit. In fact, probably none of them are. A female head of defence would have been inconceivable when the Spanish retained their old character and believed in real differences between the natures of men and women. Isn’t there something unsettling in having a woman, a giver of life, presiding over the Ministry of death? Unnatural and wrong. That Zapatero is an egalitarian ideologue and a feminist explains how a majority of Cabinet ministers came to be women. From Franco to the most extreme liberalism in less than a generation.

    As a matter of general experience – though there are exceptions like Margaret Thatcher and Hillary Clinton – men do seem more suited to politics than women. Here in Britain Gordon Brown has several female Cabinet members: not one of them is a first rate Minister (though in fairness, hardly any of the men are either); none of them are spoken of as future leaders of their party; a couple of them are a laughingstock and clearly out of their depth; and the calibre of female Labour MPs generally is summed up in the tabloid phrase that for years was regularly used to describe them, and that none of them had the self-respect to challenge: ‘Blair babes.’

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: