Talking Points for 08 May

Good morning, and thanks to Will and ZK for keeping things going overnight. The Ghana oil story is an interesting one – we have asked (probably a long time) in the past if the discovery of oil is good for a country. Steve brings up something that I was bound to mention – Israel’s 60th birthday.

Mark isn’t a fan of anniversary stories but the celebrations make it a bit more than just us using the date as peg to do something. But what could we do – our ready-made discussion shows how the discussion quickly turns to the traditional argument. Should Israel be celebrated? I would like to hear Israelis talk about where their country has succeeded or failed over its first 60 years.

It was also interesting to read Steve and Brett declare themselves normally against the death penalty but for it in the case of the DC sniper. How does one murder (or several in this case) deserve death more than another?

Something we came close to doing yesterday – is it time for Hillary to accept defeat? Even loyal supporters seem to be wavering. Do you think she can still win? And how long and hard, and at what cost, do you pursue a lifetime ambition?

Another story raised overnight was the new dawn in Sino-Japanese relations. Could the two Asian giants become as close as France and Germany in the years to come? What do Chinese and Japanese think of the rapprochement?

And something that wasn’t mentioned – should we take this as a sign that two days is enough – was Burma – there’s growing international concern at the time it’s taking to get aid into the country. We’ll certainly keep track of the people we’ve spoken to over the past two days as they continue to hope to get in touch with friends and relatives.

And a few quick thoughts: Is Putin’s new role good for Russia, and Russian democracy? Will the new London mayor’s outlawing of alcohol on public transport make a real difference? What change in people’s behaviour would most improve your life? And Josef Fritzl says he’s not a monster and wants credit for taking his daughter to hospital rather than letting her die in the underground prison he built. His lawyer says he “doesn’t belong in a prison; but rather in a closed psychiatric hospital.” Not much I can say to that I’m afraid.

But let us know what you think about these or any other stories…

42 Responses to “Talking Points for 08 May”

  1. 1 Ros Atkins
    May 7, 2008 at 19:11

    Seen this?
    Sepp Blatter is saying that football clubs should have a maximum of five foreigners on the pitch. It’d change club football as we know – or at least in the big four leagues. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd regularly field teams with well over five players from abroad.

    It also ties in with Kevin Keegan saying that the English league has become too predictable, a theme Sepp Blatter has also picked up on.

    here’s the Keegan story:

  2. 2 Brett
    May 7, 2008 at 19:46

    I think it will be interesting to see how Ghana’s offshore oil discovery of more than 1 billion barrels will be handled and what the percieved benefits and / or problems it will bring to the country are.


  3. 3 Janet T
    May 7, 2008 at 20:21


    we will either annex them as a territory, or invade.

  4. May 7, 2008 at 20:35

    Hi to my 2 precious friends ZK and Will… Has anyone heard this story on the BBC World Service Radio this evening that the Iraqi government is planning to evacuate hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians from Al Sadr City in Eastern Baghdad in preparation for a major assualt led by the American and Iraqi security forces against Al Mehdi army militia in the city in the next few days… 2 big football stadiums are said to be prepared for hosting those poor refugees… In Al Sadr city lives 2.5 million human beings. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  5. 5 Will Rhodes
    May 7, 2008 at 21:16

    Carrying on from Brett’s post on Ghana oil, this is a bit closer to home for me. It is said in a few local reports that oil has been discovered off the coast of New Brunswick where I am typing this from; and except from the story:

    Irving Oil already operates a large refinery in Saint John, and its output accounts for 75 per cent of Canada’s gasoline exports to the U.S.

    The company is likely to say more about its plans on Thursday, when Irving Oil’s director of refining growth Kevin Scott is due to talk to a sold-out Board of Trade luncheon. The topic of his talk is the potential for further development of Saint John as an energy hub.

    This will mean both east and west Canada will be producing oil and gas for the US market.

    Will, do you think, this effect the $120 + dollar a barrel price that we are seeing now and will it effect the third world economies that are riding on the crest of the oil price boom?

  6. 6 Xie_Ming
    May 7, 2008 at 21:41

    Will & ZK:

    Some possible topics to come to grips with (that do not involve a bland discussion of sports, etc)

    (1) Funding of the media. Public vs. advertising funding.

    (2) Comments of G. Trow in the New Yorker of 1980 “Within the Context of No Context”, concerning the media as the voice of a narcissistic child.

    (3) Proper goals of WHYS- to tabulate emotional phrases or something more?


    (6) Rise of China and implications thereof.

    (7) Overpopulation- constraints of Energy and Food. Argument that the per capita energy deficit will force a vast reduction in population.

    (8) Freedom vs. Security vs. Equality.

    (9) Democracy- can you define it?

    (10) Personal wealth- what is its importance relative to?

    (11) What is the “burden of history”?

    (13) Iraq and Sadr City- what is being done and what should be done?

    (16) The role of stereotyping in society. It has evolved from the necessity for survival.


  7. 7 Xie_Ming
    May 7, 2008 at 21:43


    Which militias are involved in Sadr City?

    Are any Sunni militia involved?

  8. 8 steve
    May 7, 2008 at 22:03

    Interesting. DC Sniper wants to waive all rights of appeal so that “an innocent black man can be murdered”.. 🙄 Caught redhanded, brutally killing people all throughout the DC area. I’m normally against the death penalty, but I’m glad this guy is going to fry. He won’t even accept responsibility for his horrific actions.


  9. 9 Brett
    May 7, 2008 at 22:56

    Interesting. DC Sniper wants to waive all rights of appeal so that “an innocent black man can be murdered”.. 🙄 Caught redhanded, brutally killing people all throughout the DC area. I’m normally against the death penalty, but I’m glad this guy is going to fry. He won’t even accept responsibility for his horrific actions.

    Yea, that was crazy, when they came down to the Ashland area, that was like 10 miles north of me, Richmonder’s were freaking out as they made their way south! That whole thing was happening all around your area, wasn’t it?

    I’m normally against the death penalty too, but this guy… I mean I wouldn’t be the one to flip the switch… but this guy has got to go.

    “Innocent” HA! You couldn’t have planted better evidence than what they found.

  10. 10 Jens
    May 8, 2008 at 00:02


    “It is said in a few local reports that oil has been discovered off the coast of New Brunswick where I am typing this from; and except from the story”

    Well now that makes Canada an ideal country for the next invasion. Plus you guys have real bacon compared to the streaky stuff we have. Give it a year or two and “say hello to your little friend”…….

    i think in view of this Obama could really gain some votes by suggesting to annex Canada in the name of cheap gas and great cheap skiing holiday…….

    Well i only know Toronto, but i loved my visist there. great folks you guys are up north.

  11. 11 Will Rhodes
    May 8, 2008 at 00:51

    Landmark China-Japan deal agreed

    China and Japan have signed a historic deal agreeing a “new starting point” in relations, after summit talks in Tokyo.

    China’s President Hu Jintao and Yasuo Fukuda of Japan agreed a blueprint for future ties – including a yearly summit between the nations’ leaders.

    What effect could this have on the far-east and the surrounding countries?

    Would those countries need to fear a new found cooperation between these two countries, what would be the political and economic outcome?

    Full Story

  12. 12 ZK
    May 8, 2008 at 00:51


    Al Gore has claimed the Burma cyclone is related to global warming. That seems a stretch far to me; it is the first of two annual peaks of cyclone season in this area, so can this be blamed on warming?

  13. 13 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    May 8, 2008 at 00:54

    Hi guys,

    I am, myself, very interested in the oil find in Ghana, especially, though the news about New Brunswick should prove interesting as well! The idea about invasion of Ghana and, possibly, New Brunswick makes for interesting contemplation! Whatever reason will they come up with, if that were to happen? I mean…!That should prove a most interesting watch, I am sure!

    As for the DC Sniper, my two cents worth, you live by it, you die by it! It’s so very, very sad!

  14. 14 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 00:58

    AS the sun wends its way toward the International Date Line, one wonders what new voices may appear and what their interests may be-

    of course, it will take a while for the knowledge of this new initiative by Ross and Will to become known. In any case, we know that Selena will respond before the British World does!

    Last weekend, the “spaceship” was an approach to values and utopia, things one should look at if one wishes to break from a mold that is generally thought unsatisfactory.

    The BBC has a special on the 1968 student Revolution in France. Some might find it worthwhile. The idea was breaking down the structures to find a new truth.

    One phrase did resonate with me:
    “Philosophy is also a political duty!”. What say you, RPJS?

    Is democracy government “for the benefit of the people” or “by the people”? If one asserts the latter, is it at all possible?

    Is anyone interested in this?

  15. 15 steve
    May 8, 2008 at 01:00

    INVADE CANADA!!!!! You can take the oil though, I’ll take the montreal women..

    Brett: I was actually in law school in NY at the time of the sniper shootings, though I did come home to see my parents while the sniper thing was going on. There were lots of killings around where I grew up.

  16. 16 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 01:06

    Some time ago, I took a long plane flight with a man who became Prime Minister of Japan.

    He explained that Japan would more likely fight the Russians than the Chinese “because they are Westerners and we are Orientals”.

    As to Oriental values of respect for the family and individual: “First, you have to feed the population”.

    Let all “cause of the weekers” reflect on this!

  17. 17 steve
    May 8, 2008 at 01:15

    @ Xie Ming:

    That didn’t stop Japan from invading a lot of Asia in the 1930s, did it? And Japan has been at war with Russia back in the early 20th century.

  18. 18 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 01:37

    The Japanese PM’s facts are as quoted. I suspect that the weapons we were talking about were for use against the USA,
    and that Russia was mentioned (by me) as a diplomatic dodge.

    However, the real point here is the attitude.

    For those who may not know, some Japanese hotels advertise in Western media (for prestiege), but will not accept Western guests.


    Is there an increase in Islamic fundamentalism in Malaysia?

    If so, why and how extensive is it?

  19. 19 ZK
    May 8, 2008 at 01:44

    I could not possibly answer that question wholly as I haven’t been on to in Malaysia for years and am not 100% familiar with the politics there.

    However, I am able to say this: Malaysia has always favoured Muslims and Malays [this is enshrined in law; the “bumiputera policy”] and so minorities have often found it difficult in Malaysia. Also bear in mind that since independence they have always been ruled by the same Malay Muslim-dominated coalition.

    In recent times there have been more reports of the syariah courts being called in to settle disputes involving non-Muslims, which has caused great concern. There have also been reports of religious police entering houses and hotel rooms of Westerners late at night and accusing them of behaving immorally.

    With the latest developments (a minister wants single Muslim women to be barred from travelling abroad without permits) it would appear that the proponents of Islamic fundamentalism are beginning to become stronger and having their way.

  20. 20 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 02:00

    Thanks ZK- that’s solid info. It sounds as though it might not be such a good tourist testination now?


    For our efforts to remold the World:

    As nearly everyone knows, the media shape our attitudes as we sit in front on the boob tube and do not communicate with others in social organizations. A blog such as this offers an opportunity to break out of this indoctrination.

    In a perceptive article in the New Yorker, “Within the Context of No Context” (Nov. 17, 1980), G. W. S. Trow offered several insights about the action of the media in modern American society. Some of these ideas are paraphrased here.

    Counting takes the place of judgment. Only things that could be counted were important. Those things with high counts were boosted even more. People sought a false intimacy for reassurance. The culture acted in a childish way. News is mostly reported without history or context for judgment.

    The mass is molded by television. If we recall how children form their worldviews, the values and reality that television conveys and establishes are threatening. Most of us, including media personnel, belong to the “now generation” and have our consciousness formed by television.

    The culture is now being transmitted via consumerism. Fashion changes rapidly and with little cultural resistance. There is a risk that a psychic void of materialist consumerism may be quickly replaced by values of a very different sort.

    The brain loses the ability to integrate ideas- no imagination is required, music, words and image are all supplied to the passive receptor. The attention span shortens and one must jump from subject to subject- conditioned reflex takes over from thought.

    The media man assumes the role of prophet and priest- something for which he is totally unqualified.

    How to break out of this vise?

  21. 21 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 02:33


    How do you assess the situation with regard to Islamic fundamentalism and “human rights” in Indonesia?


    How content is the population with the authoritarian government in Singapore?

  22. 22 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 02:43


    Some fellow was talking with equanimity about the high price of fuel and the rationalization that it would force. Without the price hike, there would not be enough incentive to economize.

    Another advantage is that it redistributes wealth from the “haves” to the “have nots”. Some of these Gulf nations are working fast to use a lot of that wealth to create an infrastructure, desalinization, etc.

    The mentality that thought it could invade Iraq to get control of oil is something that our world should grow away from

  23. 23 Will Rhodes
    May 8, 2008 at 03:07


    When it comes down to oil and its derivatives many are living in a dream world. Oil is worth more than gold – and it will be for the foreseeable future. If the US is serious about getting alternatives up and running then things may begin to change – but I cannot see them being that serious when some are making so much money.

    Remember – it isn’t that OPEC is rising the price of oil, it’s Wall Street.

  24. 24 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 03:29

    Has anyone tracked the funding of Obama?

  25. 25 ZK
    May 8, 2008 at 03:44

    Xie Ming:

    I can’t comment on Indonesia as I’ve not got loads of knowledge on them.

    Regarding Singapore, it’s fair to say that a huge majority of the people have no problem with our government at all. Generally there is an overwhelming feeling here that our government has our best interests in mind. There is little dissent not because people are afraid of reprisals but because there is a genuine trust in the government.

  26. 27 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 04:40


    Yours is an important observation for those who
    talk about “human rights” and “democracy”.

    It sounds as though your situation is one where government is run
    “for the people”, rather than “by the people”.

    Someone may want to talk a little bit about Confucian values and whether there are Asian values and if so, whether they are changing.

    However, I must say “good night” to all and catch up with it all tomorrow.

  27. 28 adam in portland
    May 8, 2008 at 05:28

    Lubna, I did hear of the Iraqi government warning people in Sadr City to go to the football stadiums. It was on the news on the radio station I listen to WHYS on. that was at about 0100 your time I think.
    They were guessing it is becuase of a coming invasion by government forces to clear out militias.
    Keep your head down Lubna.

  28. 29 Dennis Cote
    May 8, 2008 at 06:26

    Doesn’t Al Gore think ‘everything’ is related to global warming?
    I think too much money’s being dumped into it.
    Surely it could go to causes we have currently going on, such as fuel alternatives, food or natural disasters.
    It wouldn’t bother me never to hear of global warming again.

  29. May 8, 2008 at 07:00

    Hello to both of you Precious Xie-Ming and Precious Adam… And it’s really sooooooo good to have you back to the WHYS blog Precious Adam, it’s been really a long time ! :-). To answer your Q. Precious Xie-Ming : Al Mehdi army militia (a Muslim Shiite radical militia) is the main militia involved in Al Sadr city, but there’re also other militias involved in a rather hidden way, like Badr militia (a Muslim Shiite militia that’s got supposedly a radical agenda but at the same time very strong links to both Iran and the US !!!). No Muslim Sunni militias involved as far as I know…. Imagine with me guys : Evacuating hundreds of thousands of human beings from their city and ‘hosting’ them in two big football stadiums !! What about the women, the children, the elderly, the sick ?? Who’s gonna guarantee the safety of those human beings ?? Who’s gonna guarantee that Al Qaeda criminals won’t attack those human beings during the evacuation procedures or during their ‘temporary’ presence in those 2 big football stadiums ?? With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  30. May 8, 2008 at 07:48

    Pete, I’m not sure need a night editor if you’re start working this early. I’d like to try and get hold of WHYS listener Zainab. He lives in Sadr City in Baghdad and could tell us more about this evacuation – either on air or on the blog. Ros

  31. 32 Jonny
    May 8, 2008 at 08:44

    @ Steve/Brett – I was in D.C. during the sniper shootings, it was my first few months in college and I remember how awful it all was. But I have to disagree with your position that “he has to go.” If you’re normally against the death penalty, then I urge you to really think about your beliefs. The administration of justice has to be passionless and even, similarly your opposition to the death penalty should be the same.

    The fact that Mr. Muhammad also shows signs of brain damage only intensifies my belief that his sentence should be life imprisonment.

    Peter poses an interesting question, “How does one murder (or several in this case) deserve death more than another?” But soon, that may not be broad enough. Don’t forget that the US Supreme court will hand down a decision that could extend the death penalty for non-homicide cases. This country only recently stopped executing kids (in 2005!) and the mentally retarded (2002!) but is trending toward harsher punishment for crimes like rape. Some justices fear that they will be forced to “morally categorize crime” and so interestingly, the passions expressed by Steve and Brett may be the future of the administration of the death penalty.

    By the way, I’m Jonny. WHYS fills a special need for me: it comes on in the morning when my boss decides to sing some choice hits of the 70s. Thanks for drowning him out ROS and callers!

  32. May 8, 2008 at 08:58

    My Precious Ros… My lovely Zainab is ‘she’ and not ‘he’… I’m feeling really soooooo concerned about her safety… The last time I saw a comment from her on the WHYS blog was on Blank Page NO.3… My lovely Zainab, I’m feeling really soooooo worried about you… Please get back to all of us soon ok ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  33. May 8, 2008 at 09:24

    You’re of course right Lubna. I don’t why I got mixed up there. I have her email address at work. Once I get in I will drop her a line. I don’t have a phone number for her.

  34. 35 Xie_Ming
    May 8, 2008 at 12:32


    Media and its corruption by personnel who seek to advocate a cause is not something that WHYS blog fans should ignore.

    Perhaps this might become a talking point?

  35. 36 steve
    May 8, 2008 at 12:40

    @ Johnny

    Because he had modified his car, drove around with a kid in the trunk, or him in the trunk, blowing random people’s brains out for no reason other than he found killing people to be enjoyable. He terrorized an entire region for his own entertainment. That’s why.

    These people are why he should die. He has no regrets, and wants to be a martyr now, hoping someone as evil as himself will take up a defense campaign for him.


  36. 37 Brett
    May 8, 2008 at 12:58

    @ Johnny
    If you’re normally against the death penalty, then I urge you to really think about your beliefs. The administration of justice has to be passionless and even, similarly your opposition to the death penalty should be the same.

    I agree with you and see your point. However, should our already thinly stretched tax dollars go to keeping someone alive for life, feeding, and housing them (even if it is in a prison) when they took the lives of those innocent people and have, at least to my knowledge, shown no remorse for doing so?

    It cost an average of $23,876 dollars to imprison someone in 2005:

    If he stayed alive for 40 years in prison, society will have spent (without inflation and other rising costs) $955,040.00 to keep him alive during the span of his life behind bars. All of this while innocent people are starving, left homeless, and dying because of their inability to afford basic healthcare and other necessities and societies inability to help those people [the innocent ones] out.

    Do you not think that others who have not taken lives and shown no compassion or remorse could not be better helped with that $23,876? Do you not think that other prisoners who have not comitted such atrocious or show at very least a willingness for forgiveness and reform could not be given better programs or treatment with that money? The US prison system is lacking, as shown in the recent WHYS program. Part of that is due to underfunding, part of it is due to overcrowding, part is due to our willingness to mass-imprison non-violent crimes.

    I know, it is a harsh statement, but society needs help, society needs as much money as it can get for social programs, society does not need a ruthless and remorseless killer as another tax burden to feed and keep alive for the rest of their life.

    And I completely agree with you on your statement of who will decide when that life will be taken and the thought is a very important one with blurred lines. It is a dangerous path to start down on and I understand that. I would not make the decision to kill him, but for the reasons listed above plus more, should he be sentanced to death, I will not lose any sleep over it.

    I also have many arguments for not using the death penalty under any circumstances, but it is situations like these that beg the question… “Why?” Then again you have the question raised “Well what is life worth to society?” It’s a very emotional argument and I am unfortunately on both sides of it.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  37. 38 Jonny
    May 8, 2008 at 19:19

    First of all, I didn’t mean to sound like such a “blowhard” last night, especially when I’m new here.

    @ Steve – I reckon that the society that condones murder for murder is also one that breeds insensitivity t o it. The violence is cyclical. Will the death penalty prevent the next idiot from doing something similar? Empirical evidence points to no. Our system of law cannot be reduced to passion and vengeance, especially when it’s not preventative!

    @ Brett – I agree, to spend that much seems ridiculous. But if you’re arguing about $23,000 a year in the richest country the world has ever seen, I would suggest re-directing your focus to the giant drain that is Iraq. This country can take care of its prisoners and take care of its poor – but of course doesn’t.

    It’s frustrating that Mr. Muhammad shows no remorse, and it angers me as well. However, isn’t the point of our prison system rehabilitation?

  38. 39 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 8, 2008 at 19:35

    Hi all really enjoyed tonight’s programme,
    As an ageing aircraft enthusiast I was reading recently that EADS (Airbus) effectively lost 1.1 billion euros because of the weak dollar and the strong euro. As a result if the order for A 330 tankers for The US military goes ahead it will be conducted in dollars. The fact they absorbed this I think is quite something. Boeing is doing well as the weak dollar makes its planes “cheaper”. They are having problems with the 787 dreamliner but I’m sure it will get sorted. Airbus seem to be “catching up” with The A380. Anyone ever flown on it? I’ve only seen it on yuotube.

    I was wondering with globalisation and all that if one day in the distant future long after I’m dead, there might be ONE currency throughout The World? What do you think?

  39. 40 Brett
    May 8, 2008 at 21:48

    @ Johnny
    No problem at all, I respect and understand your opinion and even agree with almost all of it.

    I guess this just boils down to societies priorities, wants, and needs, and the governments lack of being able to line up with them… again. I agree that Iraq was a mistake from day 1, ties up resources which could be better allocated elsewhere, and have fought it endlessly on this blog and many other forums and conversations. It still doesn’t change the fact that our government is not listening to its citizens about it (among many other issues and subjects).

    And yes, the point of the prison system is to rehabilitate. But the US has a poor poor track record of doing so, and it doesn’t seem to be working at the current moment either.
    *The question could be raised then “Well why should a man lose his life because the system is broken?”

    I suppose there are plenty of ‘what-ifs’ and plenty of ways to fix the multiple issues under discussion here, but I don’t ever see the US being able to align its resource usage with the needs and wants of the people. So we are left with a broken system and trying to repair parts of it while others are failing.

    I agree with you and understand you on all of the points you have made. But under our current system, and the current way of things in our society, I will not lose sleep if this man loses his life. Again, I would not make that call, I would not flip that switch, but should he die, he has no one to blame but himself.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  40. 41 Dennis Young, Jr.
    May 8, 2008 at 22:29

    @ Lubna:

    i saw your post your friend Zainab and i hope
    she is doing good…….and i hope ros
    emails her…

    Hugs and Kisses from Madrid…..
    Dennis~~from Madrid, United States of America

  41. 42 John in Germany
    May 10, 2008 at 10:31

    Most reports that come from countries with the death penalty, are negative in the fact that it does not deter. What it does do however is to punish, and lets face it we all hang on to life., most of us anyway. So the punish effect is high, and according to believe right or wrong. The death penalty should never be used to punish any other offence than causing death, except in war, so it is abused by a large number of countries on our planet.

    A question. Could a non radical Imam condemn suicide bombers, there fore making it murder, to blow yourself, and others into eternity?.

    How many shell shocked soldiers in the two world wars were executed for cowardly behaviour?. i leave the answer open, because most of the comdemers no longer live. No doubt at the time it seemed to be right, now we know differently.

    Looking forward to a good open page.
    John in Germany

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