Talking Points for 7th May

Hello, its Priya today on the blog.

It began on our blank page and continues here. Is coming out bad for your career?  George in Nigeria emailed us:

 i wanna talk about Gay rights in nigeria,which i’m finding it difficult 2 say here in nigeria especially in my town, its quite unbelievable what i went through because im gay in nigeria…

So not just in the workplace, but in your community. How have people come out? Was it harder/easier than you expected? In different places attitudes and experiences differ, and sometimes in surprising ways – what is your experience? Do you want to know if a neighbour or colleague is gay?  Hopefully we will hear from prominent gay people like Brian Paddick, former police commander and recently candidate in the London Mayoral elections, or Sheryl Swoopes, apparently the only openly gay professional basketball player.

Hilary or Obama? Every time a state votes for who wil be the Democrat challenging John McCain in the Presidential election, we expect some sort of resolution. Last night Indiana and North Carolina voted – the former marginally preferring Hilary, the latter resoundingly prefering Obama – meaning  there is still no clear winner. And so it goes on. But, as Peter Gizzi asked on our blog, is there any real difference between any of them? 

I do not even know the difference between a Democrat and a Republican? Is it a bit like our (UK) parliament where they are all very similar and money and personality win the day?
When you vote in your country…why do you do it? My grandmother spent a great chunk of her life with no voting rights, so  every election there is, she makes sure she puts her cross in a box. It hardly matters who she votes for, she feels she has a duty to do it. Many of my peers on the other hand never even bother to register, either because filling in a form is too much trouble or they feel there’s no point. According to this writer, in a ‘democracy’ the only thing that matters is that you vote, it doesn’t matter who for, otherwise you are a ‘you are a wilfully ignorant, stick-your head-in-the-sand numpty’.
Are your candidates all the same?  Do you feel there are real differences between the candidates? Are these differences  in policy and ideals or simply personality? And do you, like my uncle the other day, simply vote for ‘change’ – whatever ‘change’ may be.
Thomas Friedman of the New York Times certainly believes the world is in a democratic recession – there is less freedom today than there was at the end of the cold war. There are more elections, but less freedom. Do you agree?

The death toll in Burma continues to make the headlines – or rather the Burmese government’s continuing refusal to allow more than a trickle of aid in. The latest is that a minister has been appointed to oversee visa applications for aid workers while the few who are already there struggle to cope.

 The consensus appears to be that Mr and Mrs George Bush’s comments yesterday were not particularly helpful in reassuring a deeply distrustful government that aid would not be used as a cover to bring political change. Although we talked about this yesterday – it occurred to me that perhaps the Burmese government aren’t quite the monsters that they are made out to be… even they have admitted that they need help – and perhaps they would be more willing and able to accept it if everything wasn’t always tied to freedom and democracy?

It would be good to hear from more people inside the country. Lets see if we can.

Here in the UK the debate is about whether women should be able to abort foetuses over 20 weeks old (the current limit is 24 weeks) – because many believe that feotuses as young as 20 weeks can feel pain. The argument runs that only in exceptional circumstances should women be able to have a late abortion.  Who should have a say in this debate? Under what circumstances, if any, should abortion be legal?

Vladimir Putin is no longer President of Russia – today he hands over to his hand picked successor Dmitry Medvedev. When Mr Medvedev was elected, there was plenty of discussion about how much his Presidency would be him and how much would be Putin. The man who brought down the Soviet Union (who some say is what Putin is trying to recreate) has spoken out. Former USSR President Gorbachev claims the US has squandered the opportunity since the end of the cold war and is now trying to start a new one with Russia. Any thoughts? Did the Cold war ever end? Didn’t we just find new enemies?  

18 Responses to “Talking Points for 7th May”

  1. May 7, 2008 at 10:19


    Mark mentioned a competition to vote for the best mayor in the world. We’ve just had Mayoral elections in London, and our new Mayor, Boris Johnson, will meet New York’s Michaels Bloomberg tomorrow. Bloomberg was himself inspired by the old London Mayor, Ken Livingstone. Mayors appear to have a special role different to other polticians and local leaders – or do they?

    I saw this website http://www.worldmayor.com – vote for 2008’s best Mayor in the world- you have until the end of June. Who is your favourite Mayor and why? Let us know,.

  2. 2 teryila iorember
    May 7, 2008 at 10:36

    i am sick and tired of the US democratic primaries. this is much ado about little or nothing. Obama is a black and clinton is a woman. Neither the black race nor the female sex has ever ruled America.
    to make matters worse john mckain is too old. i am not excited about the whole presidential election.

  3. 3 priya - world have your say producer
    May 7, 2008 at 11:42

    On the subject of coming out, this month is the 10th anniversary of the tragic death of Justin Fashanu, the only British footballer ever to admit he was gay. John Amaechi was a successful basketball player, he came out once he had retired, he says he took note of Fashanu’s experiences before he took the decision to come out:


  4. 4 John in Germany
    May 7, 2008 at 11:55

    Hello Ros.
    Forgive me for diversing, The European Turtle Doves have decided that Tony Blair would not make a good European President!!. Reasons given were Borders, and Money. and of course Irak. Le President has backed of supporting him, i had hoped he was different, but here we go.

    Tony Blair would make an excellent President, he has the contacts, charisma, experience, audacity, and nerve. and as Euro President he is away from British politics. A little simple i know, but true.

    What do you think?.

    John in Germany,

  5. 5 Xie_Ming
    May 7, 2008 at 12:15

    Pryia raises some points that invite thought (rather than the usual tabulation of emotions).

    Freedom, Democracy, Equality and Security are all factors in a zero sum equation. What is the desirability of wealth?

    Thus, it you have freedom, you will not have equality and vice-versa.

    Security and Freedom require contradictory implementations.

    Would people rather be equal than wealthy ? (careful!).


    A good topic for the Blank Page where thought has more chance.

  6. 6 Brett
    May 7, 2008 at 12:26

    Are your candidates all the same?
    Not the same, but similar.
    Do you feel there are real differences between the candidates?
    A few differences, nothing drastic which would give us a variety of candidates to chose from.
    Are these differences in policy and ideals or simply personality?
    Mostly personal, its like what type wrapping do you want on your Christmas present? They’re almost the same, but the wrapping is entirely different.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  7. 7 Xie_Ming
    May 7, 2008 at 12:36

    “What is democracy?” is involved in Pryia’s talking point, but will probably require a separate thread.

    Hint: It may also be interpreted as government “for the benefit of” the people, rather than “by the people”.

  8. 8 Shirley
    May 7, 2008 at 12:41

    Actually, I won’t be voting for any of the major candidates; and I think it a failure of the “democratic” process here in the States that the campaign process is not more open to third-party candidates. As a Shia Muslim, I am bound by strict qualifications as to how I can vote. Among those resitrctions is that I cannot vote for anyone whose policies would disaffect Muslims globally or here in the States. A view of the proposed policies of Hillary, Barack, and also McCain shows that they fall under that restriction. I would probably be able to vote only for Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. I am not sure whether they will be on my ballot. That would be especially disappointing, because Cynthia’s platform is idelogically exciting for me.

    It really is too bad that we in the States still do not have one man, one vote.

  9. 9 steve
    May 7, 2008 at 13:13

    What is “too old” and one day would you want someone to say that about you?

  10. May 7, 2008 at 13:27

    I am an Obama fan in Cameroon and I will like to see him take the reins of power in the US as the next US President.

  11. 11 Xie_Ming
    May 7, 2008 at 14:23

    The Bush/Neocon administration has been tragic for America, but also for the World.

    Gorboshav is correct. Russia could have done much better without defense expenditures.

    The defensive function of NATO had ended. Bush pushed East and threatened Russia and everybody else, recreating the Cold War.

    Except to feed the Military/Industrial Complex (pace Eisenhower) and the oil, bases and Israel objectives of the Mid-East campaign, it was all unnecessary and a terrible misapplication of resources that may have put America into a permanent decline.

    In the immediate future, McCain promises a continuation of imperialist wars, and Clinton a continuation of Washinton’s international corruption. Only Obama might engender a more receptive international attitude toward America.

  12. 12 steve
    May 7, 2008 at 15:46

    For those of you not familiar with Cynthia McKinney


  13. 13 Janet T
    May 7, 2008 at 15:51

    My sister sent this to me- I thought I’d share:
    Read it acrefully!
    Electile Dysfunction: the inability to become aroused over any of the choices for president put forth by either party in the 2008 election year.

  14. 14 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 7, 2008 at 17:47

    Hi John in Germany,
    Are you actually German? I hate The European Union but seem helpless to do anything about it. As for Tony Blair being given the big “NO” I am delighted. He didn’t listen to The British People and is now getting his “come uppance”! I assume Agela Merkel will become President as it was she who resurected The Constitution now named The Lisbon Treaty. I assume that’s why she did that?

    Janet T
    Love your Electile Disfunction. Very true here in The UK Still on the point of voting it used to be the case in Australia that voting was compusory. Do not know if that still aplies? How do all of you feel about compusory voting.? Good, bad or what? I actually like the idea but will happilly be shot down in flames!

  15. 15 Janet T
    May 7, 2008 at 18:52

    @Peter- I don’t know- there are so many people I’d barely let walk my dog, let alone want voting just because they have to- we’d get write-ins for cartoon and TV show characters.
    I do wish more people would pay attention and vote because the issues matter to them. I’m always so heartened to see people in other countries line up to vote for the first time, and so disheartened that only about 50 percent of the eligible people in the US actually vote-In Oregon we have vote by mail- we don’t actually go to the polls, we receive our ballots in the mail and return them before election day via mail or drop box- at first I hated it, but now I love it.

  16. 16 Shirley
    May 7, 2008 at 19:30

    Steve, you have a very bad habit of calling anything anti-Semitic when it makes Israel look bad. There is a distinct difference between criticising Israel’s governmental policies and holding prejudices against Jewish people. Really, you need to get over it already. It’s odd that the Israeli lobby pulls the anti-Semitic card whenever any politician is not virulently anti-Palestinian.

    It’s also odd to see Cynthia accused of anti-Semitism because of remarks of those close to her. Is Barack Obama anti-American or anti-white just because of the remarks of epople clsoe to him?

    Cynthia’s campaign page is at http://www.runcynthiarun.org . Wikipedia has an article on her at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_McKinney . See also http://www.atljewishtimes.com/archives/1999/110599cs.htm .

  17. 17 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 7, 2008 at 20:14

    Hi Janet T,
    Yes it is sad people don’t vote. In my local pub there are people who moan about the government. I ask them “Did you vote” Often they say “No”. I tell them to be quiet (worse than that actually) i feel they have no right to criticise.

  18. 18 John in Germany
    May 8, 2008 at 07:49

    Hello and goodmorning.
    Interesting reading this morning.

    Has anyone thought about this, when we vote are we ever sure that what we vote for-election prommisses, policy, democracy, will ever be applied. Politicians are so openly liars, and in the end just follow the party line and not their continences. Breaking election prommisses has become a calculated risk before they are made,

    People are fed up with being led up the garden path every four years or so. to teach them a lesson no one should vote, there are not many lands where voting is compulsory, that would give them a lesson to think about. It is sad that in America so many millions of dollars are thrown into the wind, dollars that could be better used.

    Can you really be angry when someone prefers a pint, before voting? sorry or a gin tonic. for the ladies.

    Have a nice sunny day.

    John in Germany

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