Talking points for 22 April

Good morning, on yesterday’s post I mentioned the Chinese protests against the French supermarket chain Carrefour over the west’s stance on Tibet. Today the French President Nicolas Sarkozy is launching a diplomatic charm offensive to limit the fall out ahead of the Olympic Games. It comes as the leadership in Beijing is, for the first time, flexing its economic muscle. So should the West stop antagonising China? With the rising economic power of China, does the West need to work with China instead of playing the blame game?

An interesting editorial in the Boston Globe suggests a rise in Chinese nationalism is resulting in a harder line amongst China’s youth. We heard similar reports in Tibet, during recent violence. What is turning young people in Tibet and China to violence? And why has the division between youth and the rest of society emerged?

In the US the animosity continues between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama ahead of today’s crucial Pennsylvania Primary. Clinton used images of Pearl Harbor and Osama bin Laden in a television advert to question Senator Obama’s ability to lead in a crisis. He brushed it off as playing “the politics of fear.” But how damaging is the bitter infighting between the Democratic presidential hopefuls? Is it driving voters towards the Republican nominee John McCain? Is now the time for Clinton or Obama to pull out of the race?

The waiting and the tension continues in Zimbabwe as the Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa urges other African leaders not to allow a ship carrying arms for Zimbabwe to enter their territorial waters. Last week dock workers in South Africa refused to unload the weapons because of concerns the Zimbabwean government would use them against the opposition in the post-election deadlock. A South African court refused to allow the weapons to be transported across the country. Is stopping the weapons getting through to Zimbabwe the best way for Africa to send a message to Robert Mugabe?

Meanwhile the partial recount of votes in the election continues. A foreign election observer from South Africa is quoted as saying “From what I have seen and experienced in Zimbabwe over the past three days, it is clear that the process of recounting the contested wards from the recent elections is fatally flawed,” How much longer can the post election limbo continue in Zimbabwe?
And worth a read of this powerful account from the Zimbabwe South Africa border, where WHYS broadcast from last year.

Other debates still going – Do Muslims treat women badly? This was prompted by, amongst other discussions and talking points, a report by Human Rights Watch says Saudi women are ‘kept in childhood’.

And should politicians help out the banks? Yesterday the Bank of England announced details of a $100 billion bank rescue plan in a move designed to prevent the credit crisis causing more damage to the banking system and the economy. But should taxpayers money be used to bail out banks that are still making profit?

22 Responses to “Talking points for 22 April”

  1. 1 chou awara seteven
    April 22, 2008 at 10:50

    ‘African leaders not to allow a ship carrying arms for Zimbabwe to enter their territorial waters’

    But what is the international community still waiting.
    Isn’t the fact that the the Zimbabwe government is seeking to Import arms in such a period of crisis, enough evidence that the Mugabe’s regime should be brought to order.
    Or is the UN, the US, the UK and all the other God know UUUUU’s waiting for an open civil war before intervening.
    To the best of my knowledge………”prevention is better than cure”.

  2. April 22, 2008 at 11:09

    I listen as I wake up in the morning in Orlando Florida. Today, is Earth Day and you were talking about the use of food for fuel and interviewing an offical of the program in Brazil. The BBC comment was, “and there will people shouting at their radio… yes but you are cutting down the rain forest!” Thanks so much for asking that questions. You could hear the tension on the radio. This offical was obviously not use to being asked real questions like this on a national stage. Yes, I was shouting at my radio, even at 5 am in the morning and thank you for asking that questions. We seldom get real journalism in the US any more. I am a huge fan of your program. Please keep up the good work! I wish you were on more often in the US.

  3. April 22, 2008 at 12:49

    But how damaging is the bitter infighting between the Democratic presidential hopefuls?
    I suppose we will see, it is certainly not helping.

    Is it driving voters towards the Republican nominee John McCain?
    Not I. But I also will not be voting for Clinton if she makes it. Her conduct during this race is just icing on the cow-pie.

    Is now the time for Clinton or Obama to pull out of the race?
    Yes, but Hillary wont, she “Just cares so much about the democratic party”… Enough to run it right into the ground.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  4. 4 john in Germany
    April 22, 2008 at 13:24

    Having had to adjourn my long break, and readying everything there was to read, and listening to BeeB all night, due to the joy of not having to go away.

    Thinking, and that’s dangerous, i started to compare Africa, with Europe in the leader area, from top managers onwards. Maybe you remember Vodophone, Herr Ackerman, and the scandal at the moment with the rich avoiding tax by taking little trips to Lichtenstein. a few CDs have caused a lot of ripples on the not so smooth waters. and at least one board chairman has had to go, and is charged with tax avoidance, in criminal volume.

    A question i had to ask myself was. Are out top managers any better?. and are we lucky to have strong unions that at least keep things from getting to much out of hand?.,accept of course the old works council from VW. We have Politicians with positions on various boards of big business, i wonder how it works separating the knowledge one gets a a politician, from that which is allowed to be used in the position of a board member, or advisor to a international firm. And i wonder how one can give his all in the very trying job of politician, when one has other very trying board positions. It don’t work !00% times 5 or 6. so what job is loosing out?. It is amazing how quickly ex politicians obtain good positions in some of the largest world concerns., isn’t it???. i am not accusing anyone of being criminal or incompetent, but just wondering how it works.

    Conclusion, in reality the problem occurs in every higher echelon of life, but in various degrees, and where the control mechanism is in order, it is held within some sort of bounds.
    Enjoyed reading all the comments on the Blank Page.

    John in Germany

  5. 5 selena
    April 22, 2008 at 14:06

    Brett, is it too much to expect that politicians who have spent a lifetime in the Party will respect it in the end? Long timers feel a sense of entitlement and will always run the Party into the ground rather than give up power.

    Having said that, the charismatic messiah factor worries me in Obama’s case. It is extremely worrisome when people run en masse to catch the wagon.

    There is not much to choose from, in my opinion.

  6. April 22, 2008 at 14:17


    Oh, the charismatic messiah factor worries me too. It’s like choosing which foot I get to shoot myself in, the right or left.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  7. 7 john in Germany
    April 22, 2008 at 14:25

    Selena, could it be that two factors are the whole pile driver behind this selection. The first lady for President, and the the first coloured gentleman for President

    John in Germany

  8. 8 UMOH, AMOS from Nigeria
    April 22, 2008 at 14:40

    With the turn of events around Zimbabwe from the Continent and the world, I can bet you guys (Chloe Tilley and Ros) that Robert Mugabe cannot sur-vive this very time around. It a matter of time. Infact a matter of days…. The message already is CLEAR.

    With 400 Opposition supporters arrested, 500 attacked, 10 killed and 3,000 families displaced, what more patience do we need to have to prevent a revolution? Instead of importing Syringes, drugs, food, etc, the urgent thing that entered the head of Government officials to import was Arms and Am-munitions (to fight God knows who).

    My heart goes out to those Zimbabwean families who have lost loved ones and have sustained injuries in one form or the other. Hold on guys, there is LIGHT at the end of this tunnel.

    HELP IS ON ITS WAY and you are not alone in this battle.

  9. 9 steve
    April 22, 2008 at 14:52

    @ Selena

    Bravo! You see the light about politicians. All they care about is themselves. They’ll do whatever it takes to get what they want, regardless of the consequences. See Ros, I didn’t use the word, and we all know it’s true about politicians. I just don’t see why people get worked up over elections given every single candidate is one of these people. There’s no other reason you would seek office other than you think you are important, and that gets dangerous people into power.

  10. 10 Ros Atkins
    April 22, 2008 at 14:57

    Hi Ros,
    Akbar here in Tehran

    I heard the program on Monday.
    There is so much mystery surrounding the Iraq War.
    Who is fighting who? There are Shiites, Sunnis,
    PPK, Jalal Talebani’s supporters, followers of Massoud Barzani,
    Armenians, Arabs in Tikrit, and countless other groups and
    factions involved in the dispute for land and economic windfalls.
    Do you think we should talk of the sympathies and feelings
    of the Coalition Forces for the various factions, or the views of
    their adversaries?
    who is fighting who?
    We genrally associate field action with courage, valour and
    human sacrifice. ……………..All this is being played down
    in Iraq.
    Are the British fighting someone else’s war?
    Are the Amercians leading their allies up the garden path.
    Remember what Sir Jeremy Greenstock said when he was
    caught in the cross-fire? There is no clear-cut objective in Iraq,
    or coordination between the allies.
    Waht do you think?

    As always, thku so much for everything.


    Akbar Javadi

  11. 11 John in Salem
    April 22, 2008 at 16:41

    There are lots of people in public office who don’t fit your Mark Twain-style cynical model of the politician, people who do their jobs because they actually believe in the idea of public service.
    Our system of democracy calls for someone to fill the top spot every four years and you’re not going to find any egoless monks or asetics stepping up to the plate. The job requires someone with a solid belief in themselves and their abilities, and while there is certainly no shortage of hubris out there, painting everyone with the same brush is unfair and counterproductive.

  12. 12 steve
    April 22, 2008 at 17:07

    @ John

    If you meant public servants, people who work for the government, but aren’t politicians, and don’t run for office, I would agree with you 100% However people that seek office, seek your votes (popularity), seek power, are sick people. I come from a family of public servants. Both my parents are government workers for their entire careers. However, politicians are a completely different story.

  13. 13 Janet T
    April 22, 2008 at 17:28

    Steve- what do you suggest then?? Who do we get to run for public office- where are these selfless souls who are willing to sacrifice themselves and their families on the alter of the national media. You always say that politicians are ego maniacs- but how do you suggest the system be changed to what you think would be a proper way to have people run for office-and don’t you think some ego is necessary for someone to stand up and say “I would be the best person for this job”- if you are hiring a person for your office- don’t you want someone who believes in themselves and their capabilities?

  14. 14 steve
    April 22, 2008 at 17:46


    Well, assume away the constitutional amendments needed, we could switch to a direct democracy. Believing in yourself or your capabilities doesn’t make you qualified for the job. I’m sure there are elementary school dropouts that think it’s easy to fly an airplane. Would you hire them? Some people have overly inflated views of themselves. Go to a big city and talk to some people, you’ll see what I’m talking about. People like that shouldn’t be rewarded by the rest of us by us voting for them.

    Even when they say “I would be the best person for the job” they are still lying. They don’t think they are the best person, they just WANT the job. They want thte power. They want the status and prestige. Don’t you ever listen to them talk and how easy it is for them to lie, just outlandish lies that they expect you to believe? Did you watch the Hillary/Obama thing on Faith I believe in Sunday night? It was insulting to watch them claim they are religious, believe that god created the universe when you know they are completely secular. Did you hear hillary lie about the sniper fire in Bosnia? They are so self absorbed they think that everyone will believe whatever they say because they think they are important and are entitled to the office they seek.

    A direct democracy would solve the problem. Until then, we will have self serving people who will say and do anything to get what they want. If you don’t believe me, just look to the past, present and future and wonder why people always say “politicians never deliver on their promises”. duh.

  15. 15 Janet T
    April 22, 2008 at 17:50

    @Brett and Selena-
    We still have primaries coming up in Oregon- and I still have no idea whom I will vote for- , or who to vote for in the General election this fall.
    I think that anyone who inherits this mess is a one term president, sort of like Bush 1 after Regan- they have no idea of the dirt that has been swept under the rug- for the next occupant. Very hard choices will have to be made, and the people of the US will not like it. I know we can make the sacrifices and tough choices but no one will want to- hence the one term president. I like Obama’s message of hope and change- I like certain aspects of Hillary and McCain as well. The bottom line- you never know how someone will react in a situation, they are just trying to get their foot in the white house door and will say anything- realties are always different. So you have to vote for the person you think will stay closest to the course they laid out in a million speeches.

  16. 16 Janet T
    April 22, 2008 at 18:47

    by a direct democracy do you mean, we the people, vote on eveything? With people so influenced by the media nd pop culture I find this slightly horrifying.
    Is there a government you would popint to as an example of what you’d like to see?
    Yes I know they all lie- I still think the Hillary/sniper fire thing was so strange- what was she thinking?? It was a state visit and she was First Lady- and there were other people there! so strange- even her explaination was weird.

  17. 17 steve
    April 22, 2008 at 18:53

    @ Janet:

    But the Hillary thing just shows what we get when we elect these people. People so self absorbed they think we will believe anything they say. That’s what happens when you vote for mentally ill people, the people that run for office.

    I’m not saying a direct democracy would be easy, I’m not even saying it would be constitutional (it wouldn’t be, we would have to change the constitution). But it’s not as “frightening” as you would think, as if you’re worried that someone who spends their entire life watching Reality TV and American Idol is going to sit there and draft legislation, I think you are mistaken. Only the people that take things seriously would actually draft something, or approach a bill drafting service to draft the legislation based upon their idea. Lawmaking isn’t just voting on laws. Someone has to come up with the ideas. Lobbying groups would lose all of their influence. You don’t think this would be a good idea other than the problems of having 200,000,000 voters and having to agree on things?Won’t be easy, but it would solve the problem of us electing self absorbed psychos into office. It would be the truest form of democracy.

    There are no current examples of this. But with technology it could in theory be possible. It’s that or continue voting for people who think you believe their lies.

  18. 18 John in Salem
    April 22, 2008 at 19:05

    There is a Roman proverb you may be familiar with –
    “Senatus bestia, senatores boni viri – The Senate is a beast, the senators are good men”. Politicians ARE public servants – the only difference is the size of the hiring committee.
    Direct democracy is vulnerable to whatever happens to be the current mood of the population and invariably results in a tyranny of the majority.
    Requiring our leaders and representatives to run for office is a system that was designed for our benefit and we can’t blame good people for our inability to judge character or to do our homework.

  19. 19 steve
    April 22, 2008 at 19:20

    @ john

    I would rather there by tyanny of the majority than tyranny of the minority, or tyranny of the lying self serving… No amount of homework can prevent those types of people for running for office. If you even want to be elected, then there’s something wrong. It’s inherent in all that run for political office. It’s the “I think I’m important, I want power” mentality that’s the problem.

    Just watch them. They are so self absorbed they think EVERYONE believes them, even when they make an obvious lie, that was so easily provable a lie, like with Hillary Clinton and the Bosnia sniper comments. Only mental illness could lead someone to say something like that and think nobody would realize it.

  20. 20 selena
    April 22, 2008 at 22:45

    It is impossible not to be cynical about politics. For instance, in an ideal world, Barack Obama would have helped Hillary Clinton and been prepared to run later. He is young and has plenty of time to get more experience and support a fellow democrat along the way.

    If Obama had had the courage to take a good look at himself when he started to become so popular, that would have signified change, for me. As it is, he has become caught up in the idea that people have of him and his ability to speak. Sadly, speaking well, does not a change agent make!

    But politicians are not the only ones who feel a sense of entitlement. Have you ever interviewed several people for a job to later have an unsuccessful applicant approach you from the point of view that the job should have been his/hers?

    That attitude is revered in our culture. People tell you they can do a good job and you are supposed to believe them. If you look closely, you can see the flaws in this approach. The biggest opportunist is likely to be the one who can spew out all the current buzzwords.

  21. 21 steve
    April 23, 2008 at 00:30

    The difference between a politician and job candidate is that the job candidates could very well be u nemployed, and desperate to pay their rent or whatever. Politicians tend to be wealthy, very wealthy. They want to be elected due to ambition, not because they want tmoney to pay their bills.

    I don’t think Either HIllary or Obama would want to be VP. It’s a pretty powerless position. Hillary would be about 70 by the time she’d be able to run for President if she agreed to be VP, and all she would do is sit at the senate and vote if there is a tie. Too much ego involved for them to do that. They want power, that’s what , err, I won’t use the word, do and want. They want power, because they feel they deserve it for no other reason that they feel important.

  22. 22 john in Germany
    April 23, 2008 at 08:17

    Puppet on a string.

    Alone the competition before the election is enough to cause some people to get a headache, both candidates from the same party are already firing shots at each other, OK the American way of life. We have written about hunger, and millions have been spent on the election run up. And we still have no candidate, and even then he or she could be beaten by the Republican. Why? because the republicans can concentrate on their candidate, and his promotion.

    Who runs America or for that matter any country, the civil servants ensure the continuity, and keep the wheel oiled. The advisory staffs, keep their man or woman on the right path. The lobbyists ensure that everything s going my way. And the voters look on and wonder what has happened to all the promises that were made before the election. I hope that Barack Obama wins the present fight, and if he becomes President, that his advisor’s are good for America.

    How about this, could it be that the big money is worried about a Mr Obame becoming president? Seems to me that could be the problem, and he’s not poor.

    Let the best man or woman win, and hope that we get peace in our world, and that the hungry are fed, and the sick get medical attention. America certainly does her bit in helping, An Obama may do more?.

    Interviewing candidates for a position is not easy- sitting on a selection committee is harder. The nicest thing about the committee is that it is anonymous, and no candidate bothers one whatever the results.

    John in Germany

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