Talking points for 24 April

Good morning, first up today let’s look at Zimbabwe.

Yesterday a comment piece in the state-run Herald newspaper called on the West to stop blocking Zimbabwe’s way forward. And almost immediately British PM Gordon Brown called for an arms embargo. ANC leader Jacob Zuma disagreed, although after meeting with Brown in London the pair did vow to “redouble” their efforts to get the election results released. But is the Herald right? Should the West leave well alone? Does Western criticism of President Mugabe do any good?

Another presidential election is raging in the US. At least the first stage is anyway. What should Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do? We’ve started talking here but to add grist to the mill exit polls suggested that people who voted for Clinton are less likely to switch their support to Obama than Obama voters are to turn to Clinton. In this Reuters analysis pollster John Zogby says: “Let’s not pretend, some of it is race.” Exit polls showed nearly 20 percent of voters in Pennsylvania said race was important to them, and they heavily backed Clinton. The Times in London has started talking about it, and the New York Times has a think about the numbers. So does Karl Rove – and he provides some answers. But could the poll numbers spell the beginning of the end of the dream for Obama?

A world leader in election campaigns, the US is also the world leader in prison population. Does prison work? And does your country send too many – or too few – people to jail? Let us know.

And a few more questions: with the UN warning that it will have to stop food aid in Gaza unless Israel allows more fuel across the border, has Israel’s blockade gone too far? Or is UNRWA bringing international politics into its work? Talking of going too far, what about the Libyan representative at the UN comparing Gaza to a Nazi death camp? Five Western envoys, lead by the French, walked out of the meeting. Is language like a reason why peace is so elusive? Or is it a symptom of the strength of feeling among Arabs, which will only be eased by Israeli actions?

Finally, can the nuclear powers stop weapons technology proliferating? The US says North Korea helped to build a nuclear recator in Syria, but does Washington have the right to stop trade between two sovereign nations?

15 Responses to “Talking points for 24 April”

  1. April 24, 2008 at 12:41

    Does prison work?
    No, no, no. Not here at least.

    The US prison system is riddled with maltreatment, neglect, corruption, and abuse among other problems. People will argue “Well so what, theyre criminals”. Yes, they are criminals on YOUR bankroll, you pay taxes, you pay for them to be there, you pay for their trials, don’t you want the most out of correctional facilities? Look at the staggaring rates of re-incarceration amongst criminals and argue that the prison system works. The only thing the US prison system is good for is housing too many inmates, too long, for petty crimes, and without doing a thing to help them; Just keep them from society long enough until we are ready to release them and have them do it all over again. And once they are released they often have nowhere to go. Programs which acclimate inmates back into civilian life are lacking at best.
    Now this isn’t a rant on criminals, but rather the institutions which are supposed to help them. Yes everyone has free will and makes their own decisions, but a little facilitation along the way to get them on the right path doesn’t hurt.
    And does your country send too many – or too few – people to jail?
    See above… far too many. But then again, there are far too many crimes being committed here in the US. So maybe its a cultural thing that needs to be addressed to stop the problems before they start, then we have to figure out what to do with them.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  2. 2 VictorK
    April 24, 2008 at 13:37

    When Brown calls for an embargo on China because of Tibet he’ll be taken seriously over Zimbabwe. South Africa and the AU should be leading on this. Western attempts at coercion will only enrage most Africans (who unfortunately prefer posturing about imaginary neo-colonial insults than taking practical steps to help Zimbabweans).

    Obama was always too good to be true: the mask has slipped and people have caught a glimpse of what it was covering – elitist, condescending, utopian, inexperienced and as mired in the old politics of race as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson. He can thank God that he’s running against someone even more flawed in Hillary. McCain will be something else.

    As long as people are not charged with crimes retroactively and are imprisoned after due process under the rule of law (which are more significant issues than mere incarceration rates, I think), what does it matter how large a country’s prison population is? Is every aspect of every country’s internal affairs really suitable for debate? Different nations=a diversity of social outcomes.

    Is this the same Gaza whose people repeatedly breached the border with Egypt at will not long ago? And would that be the same Egypt that is part of the Arab and Muslim world? Shouldn’t the real story here be the old one of ‘Arab and Muslim world refuse once more to lift a finger to help co-religionists in Palestine/Darfur/Chechnya/Kashmir/Somalia/Xinjiang/etc…’ Israel is condemned for not sending provisions to its enemies, even though there is no physical barrier to prevent the Palestinians being supplied by their friends – only those ‘friends’ would rather sit on their hands and have headlines about Libyan diplomats raving about Jew-Nazis starving Palestinian babies and disabled children to death in a second and greater Holocaust. The BBC certainly bought it. I’d rather have a talking point about Somalia and the recent statement about potentially genocidal developments there than the latest meaningless instalment in the increasingly unsympathetic Palestinian saga.

  3. 3 Xie_Ming
    April 24, 2008 at 13:57

    All states will eventually have the ability to use nuclear weapons.

    Efforts to delay the process and deny them to certain states contravene the principle of national sovereignty.

    Big power spin seeks to mislead the public. Any state may legally withdraw from any treaty or agreement whenever it wishes. Period.

    International relations will be based on force or law. If they are to be based on law in the future, then states must be willing to surrender some sovereignty to supranational bodies.

    Is Britain, for example, willing to do this?

    [When the British Foreign Minister appeared on WHYS, the moderator did not put this question to him].

  4. 4 selena
    April 24, 2008 at 15:25

    Well, they say if you live long enough you will see everything. Today I saw myself agreeing with Karl Rove.

    It is my fear that, if elected, Obama will carry a grudge, the way he has done for years against the University Professor who gave him a poor grade (reference his book).

    To me, Obama’s feeling of entitlement, that goes with thinking that one is perfect and no one should dare show anything less than reverence, tops the feeling of entitlement that Hillary has because of her background and experience.

    Hillary’s entitlement is rooted in the class system; Obama’s entitlement is rooted in inferiority.

    Yes, there are too many people in prison!

    All countries should hold nuclear weapons or, preferably, no country should hold them.

    And, what would happen if all the Arabs started helping the Palestinians? How long would that be tolerated?

  5. 5 John in Germany
    April 24, 2008 at 16:02

    Please explain your entitlement theory, How can entitlement come from class, and at the same time come from inferiority. And how can Mrs Clinton be entitled because of her birth situation, and not through her own effort. And Mr Obama’s entitlement be due to inferiority. Also due to birth?.

    Poor America if that is the criteria for selection to become the leader of one of the greatest nations on the World.

    No Country no Nuke weapons, that is sound.

    John in Germany

  6. 6 Xie_Ming
    April 24, 2008 at 16:54

    Having raised the issue of the strangulation of Gaza and the analogy with Nazi concentration camps, WHYS has failed, twice, to post a comment thereon and decided not to discuss the matter.

    As long as Western journalists are so intimidated or biased, there is little prospect that the public can become aware of the intense ideology underlying the perscution of the Palestinians.

    Perhaps potential Muslim posters already realize the hopelessness of seeking to present this subject in the Western media..

  7. 7 Mark Sandell
    April 24, 2008 at 17:14

    The above is an example of a post we’d rather not publish.
    Rational discussion, challenging opinions, fine- i’m the first to go with that.
    Tiresome drum-beating, accusations that we are part of some global Zionist conspiracy, references to concentration camps, suggestions that we’re intimidated (“bet you won’t print this” etc )just get, well- a little bit boring after a while.By all means put all of this up on your own blog and appeal to those who agree with you.We’re an open and safe forum.
    I refer the above to a comment during the blank page when someone said if we’re so biased why are we allowing this conversation to take place ?
    And i want a conversation, not rants; is that such a bad aim?
    Well, i’m at the point where i’ve had enough. Let’s see what the rest of you think.

  8. 8 VictorK
    April 24, 2008 at 17:22

    @ Mark: you’re right.

    (p.s. – I’ve been working with my conciseness coach!)

  9. 9 selena
    April 24, 2008 at 17:32

    Hi John,

    A sense of entitlement can always spring from class, in my opinion. Don’t the rich believe it is their right to rule the poor? Hillary has paid her dues in the political system. She is a member of the political elite. We could probably imagine her feeling a sense of entitlement.

    As I see it, Obama’s sense of entitlement comes from his idea of himself. He is (apparently) extremely book smart. So much so, that the one time he didn’t get a good grade, he was unable to accept it and has held a grudge ever since.

    Where a well rounded individual would have chalked that incident up to experience and laughed at it, Obama felt that he was entitled to a good grade, even though his Professor did not think so. We will never know who was right but Obama’s remembering that as a negative event rather than a funny story about university is what is strange.

    If one reads about Obama, his wife and his pastor, it seems they have all held grudges, on way or another, against White Americans.

    Some people can forever hold their grudges in check. Others get even when they are in a position to do so.

    I am sure you didn’t want me to go so far off track but anyway…. would appreciate you views.

  10. 10 Xie_Ming
    April 24, 2008 at 18:22

    The suggested topics and the nine responses allowed indicate bias on the part of WHYS.

    Mark Sandell should declare his bias and let someone else handle posts dealing with Israel.

  11. 11 Mark Sandell
    April 24, 2008 at 18:51

    Like i say- let the rest of you decide.
    Yours, very wearily
    etc etc

  12. 12 Xie_Ming
    April 24, 2008 at 19:07

    The two major issues fostering the recruitment of jihadis are:

    1) The treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis, supported by the USA.

    2) The invasion and occupation of Iraq by the USA & Britain.

    Unless media have the courage and honesty to directly address the ideology and actions of Israel, the situation cannot improve.

    WHYS has the potential of bringing together a World audience.
    Allowing personal bias concerning Israel to prevent an honest and documented examination of Israel’s action will defeat the potential and goals of WHYS.

  13. 13 VictorK
    April 24, 2008 at 19:18

    Re Xie Ming: I suppose when WHYS is regularly accused of pro-Israeli bias and pro-Arab bias it must be doing something right.

  14. 14 selena
    April 24, 2008 at 19:19

    Dear Mark,

    Israel is a sensitive topic. While I don’t think for a minute that there is a global Zionist conspiracy, it certainly can look that way at times to outsiders.

    The reason I don’t believe there is one is because people cannot agree long enough to hatch a plan with that kind of scope 🙂

    Anyway, the real issue here is: should there be a frank and open discussion, even to the point of comparisons that hurt deeply?

    The time must come when we will have to ask ourselves some very serious questions about borders, and countries and displacement and the rights of each individual person on this planet.

    Is that time now? I sincerely hope so because WHYS is the best thing I have seen so far when it comes to a bridge between cultures. It is not a strong bridge and it sways in the wind causing us all to lose balance. But, you are doing a formidable job well, even though at times it might not seem so.

    What is the answer in the here and now? I don’t know. As you say let the rest decide.

    Life is a bitch and we are all pimps… 😉

  15. 15 John in Germany
    April 25, 2008 at 08:42

    Hi Selena.

    Thanks, got your point, was rather worried about the right. I just feel, probably because i’m a European that Obama would bring fresh blood in to the system, but apparently he has a chip on his shoulder. If he is riding the black/white horse it could be negative for America, but he still has a lot of support from white Americans.
    Can you see one or the other being vice?.

    The rich are even brought up to believe that they have the right to rule the poor, and sadly, a very few poor that have made the grade remember their heritage, and prefer to take on the disguise of the rich. A lot are worse than the born rich, and bath in the luxury of money and power, some of them are our leaders today.

    In the village where i was born (England) the men used to touch thier caps when the squire drove by in his Rolls. Those men were not servile but had adapted themselves to the system, that happens today doesn’t it. It is like the celebrity bonus, not one of them say no! we don’t want it.

    Thanks for your clarifying answer.

    Have a nice day.

    John in Germany.

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