Talking Points for 19 May

Hello there, it’s Priya today. Thanks very much to Bob in Australia and Abdelilah in Morocco for looking after the latest blank page. A massive 229 comment so far, it has taken me a while to read through them all, but there are some interesting ideas. More on those below.


First up, Karnie asked you last week for your reaction to the violence against immmigrants in South Africa. Police say at least 12 people have been killed in continuing attacks on migrant workers in and around Johannesburg. Hundreds of migrant workers have taken refuge in police stations and churches.

Traps, who writes for Thought Leader in South Africa got in touch with WHYS- he’s been spekaing to people in the area about it.

I went out onto the streets of Alexandra to ascertain the underlying cause of the violence. I spoke to both sides (locals and Zimbabweans) as well as the police, magistrates, prosecutors and other interested parties.

Is this the new South Africa?


An issue that came up on the blank page… is diplomacy better than military action? Does it always work? They were talking about ex US President Jimmy Carter talking to Hamas a few weeks ago among other things, but the issue is relevant to some of todays stories:

A leading Commander of the FARC rebels in Colombia has surrendered to the authorities. A BBC correspondent in Colombia says her surrender is a triumph for President Alvaro Uribe who had made her a priority target for the security forces.

The Colombians have used a combination of diplomacy with some paramilitary groups such as the right wing AUC, and military action against a=others such as the FARC, who appear to be losing a lot of their senior members recently. Which one has worked better?

In Spain, car bomb exploded in the northern Basque seaside town of Getxo – nobody was hurt, this time, but Basque separatist group ETA have been blamed.

Prime Minster Zapatero has attempted to talk to ETA, but the process has been marred by hte bombings and by political opposition to talks. Would military action work better here? Are there any other solutions?

How about this for a solution?


Diplomats from more than 100 countries are gathering in Dublin today for conference aimed at finalising an international treaty to ban cluster bombs. They are undoubtedly controversial, given that many of the little bomblets remain unexploded until a civilian accidentally picks one up or treads on one. The arguments in favour of a weapon which causes so many civilian casualties are not easy to see… But some of the biggest producers and stockpilers of the weapons – the United States, China, Russia, Israel and India are not taking part in this conference. So what is the point of a treaty where the main players refuse to sign? And if you’re country uses them – can you see why they might want to continue using them? Are they an important part of modern warfare?


A Californian court overturns a law against same sex marriage.

Do unelected judges have the right to go against the will of the people? Or is the ‘will of the people’ not always to be trusted? Should we trust judges to think the issues through properly (and their consequences) in a way that ordinary voters cannot or do not?

Here is an interesting way to see it.


Climate-change litigation is heating up. Will the legal strategy that brought down Big Tobacco work against Big Oil?

As scientific evidence accumulates on the destructive impact of carbon-dioxide emissions, a handful of lawyers in the US are beginning to bring suits against the major contributors to climate change. Their arguments, so far, have not been well received; the courts have been understandably reluctant to hold a specific group of defendants responsible for a problem for which everyone on Earth bears some responsibility

One of the lawyers said:

“You’re not asking the court to evaluate the reasonableness of the conduct, you’re asking a court to evaluate if somebody conspired to lie.”

So is this the way forward?

11 Responses to “Talking Points for 19 May”

  1. May 19, 2008 at 10:21

    I also liked this suggestion on the blank page:


    Should everyone be held accountable for their actions without exception?

    Dwight in Cleveland expands on the theme (inspired by the case of Josef Fritzl in Austria)

    “At what age? Is a 6 yr old responsible for sexual assault? At what mentality level? Can a mentally handicapped person be charge for shop lifting? We used to get a retarded guy to buy us beer when I was 14. should he have been culpable for contributing to the delinquency of a minor?

  2. May 19, 2008 at 10:27

    And this one:


    UN investigator to examine racism in the US. The UK received criticism back in 2000 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/892465.stm

    Does the US have a problem with racism?

  3. 3 ZK
    May 19, 2008 at 11:19

    How about Burma? When WHYS last covered this, some people said ASEAN and China should take the initiative, rather than depend on the west. An Asean conference in Singapore has finalised a deal that would see foreign medics enter Burma. So what does this signify for the relief effort? Should everything go through Asean? There are still American, French and British ships offshore Burma. Do they send their aid to Asean to distribute, or continue to wait?

  4. May 19, 2008 at 12:00


    An interesting discussion about repsonibility and relates back to an earlier suggestion – Are parents ‘abdicating responsibility’?

    And, perhaps more tenuously, something else we discussed before: Are we afraid of teenagers?

    Have a look at hese discussions – they all refer to in some way to responsibility

  5. 5 Brett
    May 19, 2008 at 12:24



    Of course this won’t stop the US from using them. Just like DU rounds and weapons, the US will just ignore it and go on business as usual.

  6. 6 VictorK
    May 19, 2008 at 12:49

    Racist violence in South Africa: not a word from the UN; but the US, which has over several decades spent billions assisting its minorities, and has even legalised discrimination in favour of minorities and against whites: well, of course, that merits a UN investigation.

    As long as the UN is more concerned to find any pretext to attack the hated West than to address the real problems that exist in the world, and especially the non-Western world, then we can expect absurdities like this.

  7. 7 Brett
    May 19, 2008 at 13:30


    Should those who chose to live in suburbia and commute an hour or more every day in their gas guzzling pickups and SUVs compensate me for climate change?

    No one forced gas down the throats of consumers? We readily buy it up and waste it in some of the most inefficient ways possible.

    Oil comanies should be held responsible, as well as every single one of us, individually, for the damage we are contributing through our purchases, travel, and lifestyle. You drive a personal bus 60 miles to work every day, live in a mansion with flood lights surrounding it, turned on all night every night, to show it off to everyone, leave every light in the house on, heat and cool your 3000+ sq foot home, you need to be held responsible, and it needs to be in accordance with your level of irresponsibility….. whoops, I mean consumption.

    And don’t cry when you have to pay more than the poor guy who lives in a little apartment and takes the bus 5 miles to work every day.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  8. 8 Shirley
    May 19, 2008 at 14:01

    Just a brief note that when I wrote that post about Pres. Jimmy Carter, I did not know that Khalid Mash`al did not actually agree to the 1967 borders. I really do not have any idea why there was word that he did; and I really have no idea how word got out that he did when he did not. After having slept on it, Is till feel that Pres. Carter did the right thing.

    Steve, wherever the chance might occur (possibly the next blank page), I look forward to more conversation. I know that a question of yours has been left hanging. Thank you for your patience and respect.

  9. 9 Virginia Davis
    May 19, 2008 at 14:14

    @Cluster bombs

    Absolutely they should not be allowed. Their manufacture should cease. I am ashamed that the United States has not come to this position.

    Virginia in Oregon

  10. 10 steve
    May 19, 2008 at 19:03

    News from racist America:

    Former KKK member, Senator Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, has just endorsed Senator Obama.

  11. 11 Dennis
    May 19, 2008 at 21:49

    XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE IN SOUTH AFRICA: I hope that the country is not going to Xenophobic to the extreme, and the country needs to accept that foreigners are coming to the country.

    DIPLOMACY V MILITARY SOLUTIONS: Sometimes Diplomatic overtures can work perfectly and Military Solutions, can work also, if they are combined together…


    SHOULD OIL COMPANIES COMPENSATE US FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: Yes! also, should the food companies should reimbursed us for climate changed.

    CALIFORNIA COURT APPROVES GAY MARRIAGE DESPITE REFERENDUM AGAINST IT: Good job to the court, from time-to-time, a court of law has to over-ruled the citizens…when they make not intelligent decisions…..

    Dennis~~Madrid, U.S.A.

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: