Talking Points for 6 June

Thanks very much to Steve for being our night editor: lots of new ideas in there, including a discussion of secularism and the headscarf in Turkey, and whether PDAs (public displays of affection) by lesbians should be allowed.

Meanwhile our debate on vegetarianism is still raging, and it looks likely that we’ll dive in today and talk about it on air.

But even apart from the food debate there is plenty in the news to chew over, if you’ll forgive the pun.

As our colleague Jon Donnison has posted, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have held ’secret’ talks in Washington, which is pretty intriguing…

And in Zimbabwe, as the date for the run-off presidential election approaches, several foreign diplomats have been briefly detained during an investigation into political violence, and now aid agencies there have been told to suspend their operations. Some reports suggest there’s been a creeping coup d’etat in the country, with Mugabe remaining just as a figurehead for the military, who are really running the country. Are you interesting in hearing from our regulars in Zimbabwe?

Finally, the alleged mastermind of the September 11th attacks on New York and Washington, currently on trial in Guantanamo Bay, says he wants the death penalty – so he can become a ‘martyr’. Do you think he should be allowed to die like this? And do you think any prisoner should have the right to CHOOSE a death sentence?

70 Responses to “Talking Points for 6 June”

  1. 1 Will Rhodes
    June 5, 2008 at 19:33

    Secularism in Turkey.

    This story, http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/europe/06/05/turkey.scarves/index.html

    and this story http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7438348.stm

    intrigued me today.

    In a separate case at the Constitutional Court, Turkey’s chief prosecutor is seeking to disband the ruling party because it is “the focal point of anti-secular activities.” The headscarf issue is given as one example of such alleged anti-secularism.

    The Constitutional Court ruling is seen as a weather vane for a ruling on the AK party. The court could have dropped the case or taken softer options to the amendments, but it took the toughest interpretation of the law.

    From CNN

    Some 71 members of the party, including the prime minister and the president, could also be banned from belonging to a political party for five years.

    “It is a historic ruling… It signals that hard times are coming for the AKP,” said veteran politician Husamettin Cindoruk.

    From the BBC

  2. 2 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 19:34

    Well, this is related to vegetarianism, but not really.

    The implication of this story could be huge for airlines. Basically a passenger sued American Airlines for serving peanuts on a flight because her child is allergic. The implications of this is that a tiny minority will mean a type of food will be banned, and the airline will have to make sure passengers don’t bring peanuts on board, or did not eat peanuts recently so they have no traces of peanuts on them, rather than people with allergies just having ot take the risk like they have had do for however long humans with allergiest have existed.


  3. 3 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 19:37

    Cuts now hit Contiental Airlines. To cut 3000 jobs and 11% of its flights….. Say bye bye to cheap flights, or travelling for that matter. Glad I used up my miles this past weekend before I no doubt would have lost them!


  4. 4 Dennis
    June 5, 2008 at 19:44

    Afternoon Steve:

    I hope you enjoy your night moderating tonight!

    Onondaga Community College
    Syracuse, New York

  5. 5 Ros Atkins
    June 5, 2008 at 19:50

    This just in from a colleague in Washington. Should lesbians kiss in public? here’s the story.

  6. 6 Will Rhodes
    June 5, 2008 at 19:57

    On the lesbian kiss: Who cares, barring a few?

  7. 7 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 20:23

    As for the lesbian kiss thing, that’s the other side of political correctness. While it’s okay to ban the majority from doing things that offends a minority, it’s somehow insensitive if you ask a minority to stop doing something that offends the majority.. However my advice for that person offended by lesbians kissing in seattle, you’ve picked a really bad town to live in if you are offended by lesbians.

  8. 8 Scott Millar
    June 5, 2008 at 20:33


    + We could ask whether we should have the freedom to publicly be offended. I find religious people offensive for substantive reasons. I could declare their public evangelizing offensive. But I do not deserve this right—unless I am willing to give up my own similar public rights. We can’t pick and chose the content of rights. The are either equitable or they are not.

  9. 9 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 20:43

    1,000,000 US homes now in foreclosure, the highest amount ever. This is what happens when you live beyond your means.


  10. 10 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 20:48

    This was another interesting story from not too long ago, about a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial with Rachel Ray wearing what appears to be a Keffiyeh, and how US arabs are angered about the upset some had about her wearing it.


  11. 11 Shirley
    June 5, 2008 at 20:58

    I’ve also heard the BBC report on the radio that Turkey has re-imposed its ban on the headscarf in universities. Disbanding parties? We here in the States have a political part clled the “Constitutional Party” that integrates religion and politics on several levels in several areas. Their platform page is here. We don’t go around trying to break them up. The will of the people has essentially declared their platform to be a moot point. Why shouldn’t Turkey also democratically trust the will of its people?

  12. June 5, 2008 at 20:59

    @ 1 million home foreclosures.

    That is what happens when you have a policy of an “ownership society” with absolutely no recognizable knowledge of free markets, sociology, or economics. Whey you use government funds to back companies offering loans to people who have nothing to loose, you are asking for who are wiling to gamble. When you see people buying and selling durable goods like they are produce, you know you are heading down the wrong path.

    I am not sure but I think less people became owners as a result of the ownership society policy, then children that got brought along as a result the “no child left behind.” Then again, I would have to say that these two policies have an incestuous relationship

  13. 13 Jens
    June 5, 2008 at 21:00

    I have a kaffiyeh and i can tell you it is one of the best protective scarves you can have. keeps you warm in the winter, protects against sand storms etc. This is not a symbol, this is a practical peace of clothing

  14. 14 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 21:04

    @ Jens. There aren’t many sandstorms in the US, and I would presume a wool scarf would keep you warmer in the cold winters we have in the US, which are much colder than winters in the middle east. I have a feeling it was a symbol given it’s practicality is lessened in the US.

  15. 15 Jens
    June 5, 2008 at 21:06

    having ot take the risk like they have had do for however long humans with allergiest have existed.

    steve you miss the point.

    everything has to be regulated and dictated, or dumb will sue….i am sick of this. who is going to take respsonsibilities for their own actions. my wife had a bad motorcycle accident last sunday because she missed a gear change and fell down a 15 yard ravine. we would never dream of sueing the motorcycle company for having a grea shift that sometimes misses or our state for not having corregated iron barriers. you do things and when it messes up you accet that nothing is 1005 safe or fool prove.

  16. 16 Shirley
    June 5, 2008 at 21:07

    On those same BBC radio headlines, I have heard tha Khalid Shaykh Muhammad has asked for execution so that he can become a martyr. I about fell off the chair laughing. Is he that deluded that he thinks that Islam defines martyr in such a way?

    testing html:

    sorry for the trouble

  17. 17 Jens
    June 5, 2008 at 21:08


    there are in my region plenty of sand storms, like right now 40 plus mph winds in the desert. wool might keep me warmer, but it itches like hell.

    i am just saying one does not need to attach symbolysme to everything. i have one of these scarves but in a very discret color, like just plain black.

  18. 18 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 21:10

    @ Jens

    Welcome to generation “I want this, and I want it right now, to hell with everyone else”. So nobody can have peanuts because some are allergic… If they would change the legal system to the english system where the loser pays legal bills, these stupid lawsuits (like some idiot spilling coffee on themself) would be rare.

  19. 19 Scott Millar
    June 5, 2008 at 21:13


    There is an inherent problem with Democracy and its relation to freedom. Democracies are free assuming all the voters are objective nonrestrictive freedom seekers. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. Sometimes you can’t leave things just up to the people, because their very votes can essentially cancel out Democracy and human rights along with it. Often principles of equality should override principles of Democracy. The problem is determining when and how or who should decide. The all-or-nothing approach to Democracy puts to much faith in people—and people rarely live up to the challenge.

  20. 20 Zak
    June 5, 2008 at 21:15

    This is really huge news: Plan for quake ‘warning system’

    Scientists were starting to wonder if they ever would be able to accurately predict quakes but now there’s been an amazing discovery based on electron density fluctuations in the atmosphere. NASA, CA and UK scientists are testing with experiments currently.

  21. June 5, 2008 at 21:23

    Two lesbians kissing in public? As long as they don’t kiss passionately/erotically, there is no harm in that. The problem is when a drunken spectator asked to join the party that can turn into an orgy.

    I can hear some conservatives saying, “Shame on them!”
    If there are no laws punishing this conduct, protesting will be an infringement on the other’s personal liberty. Perhaps, in public places, there should be separate areas for gay people as there used to be separate places for smokers and non-smokers. Some people can get sick by second-hand smoking. In the case of such lesbians some can get aroused by second-hand kissing.

    It’s all up to society to take a collective stand taking into account gay rights.
    Personally when I am in the street, “confronted” by a beautiful woman dressed and moving erotically, I simply change the way or take the other side of the street not to be overwhelmed by her!

    It all depends on which side you see it and which side to choose to avert it.

  22. 22 Jens
    June 5, 2008 at 21:25

    “like some idiot spilling coffee on themself,”

    that idiot lives in my current home town and I drive past that specific burger restaurat every day.

    i just hope they burned of their reproductive organs

  23. 23 Venessa
    June 5, 2008 at 21:43

    Crazy – I agree with you! I’m sick of people suing because of their own stupidity or lack of ability to assess risk when making decision and therefore placing blame elsewhere.

    Lesbians kissing in public:
    Unless you are going to outlaw it for everyone then get over it. If you see something you don’t like; avert your eyes!

    Housing foreclosures:
    I too am sick of people living beyond their means. Of course it has become the “American way.” If someone ended up in a loan they can’t pay; too bad. Know the terms of your agreements before you sign them.

  24. 24 Zak
    June 5, 2008 at 21:47

    Well if you’re gonna moderate that comment above then I guess I can get in a Kevin Kline line from ‘A Fish Called Wanda’ that I find to accurately describe the latest, and several Spring topics lately: ‘What is it, hump’a’limey week or something?’

  25. 25 Tino
    June 5, 2008 at 22:13

    Lesbian kiss: Who cares. Sounds hot.

    Kaffiyeh: Eh, insofar as she doesn’t dress herself most likely it is not a big deal. I would probably fire my fashion person as Rachel Ray though.

    Peanuts: That is absurd. I like peanuts and suspect I am in the majority. Don’t fly on the damn plane (or, if you happen to be brilliant, don’t eat the peanuts).

    Secularism in Turkey: Good for them, let us do it in the US now.

  26. 26 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 22:22

    @ Zak

    what comment? Someone must have taken over when I was on my commute home. I’ll be gone for a couple hours in a bikeride. Hopefully the world won’t come to an end during that time.

  27. 27 steve
    June 5, 2008 at 22:23

    @ Tino

    I think with the peanuts, it’s even peanut particles in the recycled air on an airplane that can set off an allergic reaction. And people tend to open their peanuts pretty much at the same time given how there is drink service on flights, at least now. I was guilty of opening many peanut bags on my flights on Monday.

  28. 28 Tino
    June 5, 2008 at 22:42

    Hmm I would have to think about my position on that issue then. I do not like the idea of banning peanuts on flight but I also do not like the idea of banning allergia people from flying.

  29. 30 Amy
    June 5, 2008 at 23:26

    I don’t know why I’m not surprised by this:


    I hope you all have a great day/night and please know that if this happened to any of you and I was there, I would come to your aid in a heartbeat!

    Amy in Beaverton

  30. 31 Scott Millar
    June 5, 2008 at 23:49


    + While at first a peanut ban on jetliners seems absurd—on second look the practical implications seem minimal. The offering of peanuts was started by the airlines and they have a right to take it away, it has no intrinsic relation to the service they are offering of transporting people. It is a perk and perks can be taken away at will. The reality of peanut allergies seem well grounded in science unlike other slightly subjective allergies.

    + If the wearing of fragrance on a jetliner was banned, the implications would be more broad, more personally restrictive and inconvenient—to which I might say no.

  31. 32 Anne of Sydney
    June 6, 2008 at 01:32

    Michael Backman is a respected commentator on Asian affairs and has written several articles critical of the economic and political systems in the region.

    One of his articles written last year, just prior to his last controversial visit to Australia, judges the Dalai Lama not as a revered religious figure but as a political leader.

    It’s an eye-opening read as there hasn’t been much written about him as a political figure.


    In my mind, the DL can be a respected religious leader, but as a politician his intentions are highly suspect and doesn’t garner as much support from me – as far as running a transparent democratic nation is concerned.

  32. 33 steve
    June 6, 2008 at 01:32

    @ Amy, I got hit by a car while walking across the street and not only did the driver not stop and get out, the bystanders laughed at me.

  33. 34 Tino
    June 6, 2008 at 01:34

    I decided I agree with possibly banning peanuts. I do not, however, feel the man has any right whatsoever to sue the company. I generally fly airtran and they serve pretzels mostly anyway.

  34. 35 Will Rhodes
    June 6, 2008 at 03:10

    Did you let that one through, Steve? #comment-29456 😐

  35. 36 Scott Millar
    June 6, 2008 at 03:26


    Where have all the naysayers gone? How did Mr. Obama get a free feedback pass on the wholesale sellout of his black (their word) church? Are there no offended black Americans or Americans of any color? This is, as clear a case as any, of selling-out your community, to win a nomination or election.

    How has the media kept so mummily humdrum on his resignation. I have never ever thought the media had a pervasive bias until now. I can’t imagine another logical conclusion on this issue—the mainstream media is decidedly pro-Obama. Or shall we claim, the media has all of a sudden taken the BMW high-road? It’s remarkable! It’s unbelievable! It’s an Obama-nation!

  36. 37 steve
    June 6, 2008 at 03:33

    @ scott

    All politicians will do whatever it takes to get elected. Obama is a narcissist, just like the rest, and will “sell out” his mother to get elected (if she were alive)…

  37. 38 Tino
    June 6, 2008 at 03:33

    Guess it is a good thing Christianity had a reformation, eh?

  38. 39 Colleen D
    June 6, 2008 at 03:46

    freedom of speech applies to blogs too…

    but if there’s freedom of speech, there must also be freedom of dress, right?!?!

  39. 40 steve
    June 6, 2008 at 03:51

    @ Colleen

    Not really, blogs , the providers will have terms of service, and would usually forbid hate speech, and other things, so there really isn’t freedom of speech on the internet unless your website was hosted on some place that has no such rules.


  40. 41 steve
    June 6, 2008 at 04:00

    My apologies people, I’m absolutely exhausted after my bike ride today and am struggling to stay away, so I’m going to have to hit the hay right now. If any other mods are still up, please feel free to moderate as usual. Good night everyone.

  41. 42 Colleen D
    June 6, 2008 at 04:06

    @ steve

    ok true… i guess i meant freedom of speech assuming one’s speech is not harming anyone else… i was responding to will’s comment.. and to that fact that if people want freedom to express their religious beliefs freely, then you can’t judge or censor others for their own preferences whether it be in dress, or whatever else (also when not harming others)… just my 2 cents!

  42. 43 steve
    June 6, 2008 at 04:07

    Oh, one news story before I go: Sources say that Hillary Clinton and Obama met tonight. What does that mean?


  43. 44 steve
    June 6, 2008 at 04:09

    Free speech??


    Students forbidden from going to high school graduation because they had confederate battleflags.

  44. 45 Scott Millar
    June 6, 2008 at 04:25

    @ Steve,

    Thanks for reiterating your views on the narcissism of ALL politicians. It is one area where I actually agree with you. However, Obama is allegedly, as we’ve all repeatedly been told, about change. So either he is or he isn’t. How this un-change-ish aspect of his affairs did not ignite even a slender birthday-cake-candle, I do not comprehend.

  45. 46 Zak
    June 6, 2008 at 06:36

    There’s a Pacific Coast, Washington, Idaho, to Mexico Amber Alert

  46. 47 Zak
    June 6, 2008 at 06:54

    Heya Amy. My brother was hit and run and one theory is that the trauma from his head injury caused his brain cancer. I told Ross you’d make a good moderator, apparently he emailed you about it but didn’t hear back, let him know if you want to, but if you don’t that’s cool too. I’m signed up to moderate this weekend with Abdi in Kenya.

    Found one slight inconvenience that I’ll have to take care of early Sunday morning; a thief in my veggie oil fuel supply. That just shows you how desperate people are these days. When I first started running veggie oil a couple years back gas prices were more than a dollar less than they are now and diesel 1.50. So in a pretty small town I never really thought people would be stealing it; but times have changed. To show you how desperate this person obviously is he doesn’t even have the fuel system to run veggie oil and he’s pumping it straight into his fuel tank. Bottom line that will just ruin a motor straight away but I guess the few miles this guy gets out of it will satisfy him.

    FYI. for the weekend : I don’t want to see comments that proselytize religion as an argument; religion for one, offensive to others. I also don’t want to see hate based comments that go as far as labeling who people are; even in an indirect manner. There are examples of that here on this page and I would not have moderated those 2 comments. I can only hope to expect the same of my fellow moderators. I’m going ask WHYS about this as it seems to me this type of commenting is against the rules anyway.

  47. 48 John in Germany
    June 6, 2008 at 07:54

    Zimbabwe,-God help us.

    John in Germany

  48. June 6, 2008 at 09:02

    Hi Will Rhodes

    What has happened in Turkey is sad. I had such high hopes for Turkey.
    When I visited the country in 2007, I saw bikinis on the beach while the daily
    noon prayers echoed in the background.
    I though here is the modern, Islamic state of the future. We still have a lot
    To learn from Turkey. They have capitalized on their historic past.
    Turkey has been sidelined from the EU for the time being. It may have to
    struggle to make ends meet. Its role in NATO is not quite clear.
    Turkey stayed away from the Iraq War, much to the displeasure of the United States. Germany is the major power broker in Ankara. Remains to see where all this will lead.

  49. 50 Mohammed Ali
    June 6, 2008 at 10:32

    What the hell do I have to do with Lessbians kissing in public. They like they can even do other things in Public, that’s how they choose to live. Whoever complains when people drink in public or insult the president in public.

  50. 51 Mohammed Ali
    June 6, 2008 at 10:42

    Should Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be granted the death penalty which he is requesting for, punishment is meant to make people know that they have done wrong. Obviously when one is dead there is no way of knowing if that person has remorse for what he did. Secondly, people should be punish for their wrong doings or crimes comitted, but if death doesn’t seem a punishment to this guy, then what should be done to serve as punishment for him and the others who are requesting for the death sentence in order to be a matyr? Should they be guven life imprisonment with hard labour or what?

  51. June 6, 2008 at 11:10

    It is absolutely wrong to forbid the students from going to high school graduation for having confederated the battleflags.i hope those who are behind this can then, know what freedom of every things is and address it accordingly.

  52. 53 VictorK
    June 6, 2008 at 13:14

    This story brings to mind the enduring contrast between the friendly, attractive and reasonable way in which Muslims present their religion when they are performing for a credulous Western audience, and what actually happens on the ground when Muslims think they have numbers on their side and can deal with non-Muslims without any need to genuflect to ecumenical pieties.


  53. 54 Shirley
    June 6, 2008 at 13:34

    Are there certain expectation of how students would dress at the graduation ceremony? I don’t like Confederate symbology, but then again, I might like to hang a flag or banner that might offend others; or perhaps some people might get freaked if I wear all black. Since this was an occasion-specific situation, I would think that the wearing of a Confederate symbol would depend on the rules or expectations related to the situation.

  54. 55 Shirley
    June 6, 2008 at 13:44

    Shu Hadatha fi Haditha?
    (might be bad Arabic – can Lubna check?)
    Marine cleared over Iraq killings
    Thursday, 5 June 2008
    A US military jury has acquitted a marine of charges that he helped cover up the killing of 24 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005. Lt Andrew Grayson had been charged with obstruction of justice and making false statements. Four marines and four officers were initially charged in the case, but the case against five of them was dropped.

    It feels insulting to me. Obviously, criminal acts took place. I think that this has been a failure of the justice system. I’m interested in what Lubna thinks (as well as whether she got any email from me).

  55. 56 steve
    June 6, 2008 at 13:47

    Some interesting news:

    (1) US economy lost 45,000 jobs in May. Unemployment up to 5.5%

    (2) Baby survives abortion, expected to live “normal life”


  56. 57 Dennis
    June 6, 2008 at 14:48

    thanks steve being night editor.! story for not being in…attending college.

    onondaga community college
    syracuse, new york
    united states of america

  57. 58 John in Germany
    June 6, 2008 at 14:54

    Firstly prisoners should never be allowed to choose their own sentence, it should only be in the hands of the judges to decide, and the prerogative of a designated person King/Queen, President, Governor or such persons, to commute if the sentence was death. To Matyr a criminal would be a sin against those that lost their lives due to his or her actions.

    Signs of affection.
    If society allows lesbian partnerships including marriage like associations, then it should also allow signs of affection outside, as long as they do not exceed the standards set for Hetrosexuals.

    We all no the answer for Zimbabwe, but our leaders are to soft and afraid to do anything, Get rid of the man and his cronies, that’s the answer, but they will let him carry on to destroy and destruct his own people. We can only write, those that have the power wont hear our laments. Why? has someone the true unbiased answer? come on then let us know ,for the peace of our souls.

    John in Germany

  58. 59 Shayhar
    June 6, 2008 at 15:34

    For some unexplainable reason, I’m not as uncomfortable watching lesbian disply of affection as I am of gay men, but live and let live. Don’t like it, look the other way.

    It’s not martyrdom if one needs to ask for it or if it involved innocent people. There should be a fatwa restricting martyrdom to death by direct combat against a proven enemy.

  59. 60 Shirley
    June 6, 2008 at 15:53

    my bad, I posted to TP 05June. Sorry. :=(

    UN food summit stalls over trade (Thursday, 5 June 2008) by the BBC mentioned the following: Argentina objects to a call to reduce trade barriers. Sue Kedgley, a Green MP from New Zealand, said, “Argentina wants the ability to impose its own trade restrictions.” Export taxes are used in Argentina to protect consumers against food inflation. Earlier, senior European officials said some countries were refusing to sign a final statement “demonising” biofuels. Brazil has fiercely defended its right to grow sugarcane for ethanol. Jacques Diouf, the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which is hosting the summit, said investment in seeds was essential in the next few weeks to take the maximum opportunity from this year’s harvest.

    I appreciate Mr Diouf’s commitment to invest in seeds, though I am unsure that he means it in the same way that I do. What bothers me more, though, is the pressure that is being given to countries to open up their markets. Something about that just does nto feel right. Andthe debate over biofuels continues.

    The UNFAO’s news article, Food Summit calls for more investment in agriculture (6 June 2008), covers the summit with some dryness (but perhaps more intellectually and in depth? I was not able to focus).

    One of the yahoo News thingies, FACTBOX: Main points of U.N. food summit declaration (Thursday, June 5), listed the main points of the conference: Coordinated Action, Existing Goals, Food Assistance, Supporting Agriculture, Stocks & Export Bans, Climate Change, Research, Trade, Biofuels. Some interesting points from the “Supporting Agriculture” point: “All relevant organisations and cooperating countries should be prepared to assist countries, on their request, to put in place the revised policies and measures to help farmers, particularly small-scale producers, increase production and integrate with local, regional, and international markets. Development partners are invited to participate in and contribute to…measures to give farmers in low-income food-deficit and the most affected countries access to appropriate locally adapted seeds, fertilizers, animal feed and other inputs, as well as technical assistance, in order to increase agricultural production.” And on “Biofuels”: “in-depth studies are necessary to ensure that production and use of biofuels is sustainable…”

    I recognise the former from statements issued by U.N. officials as part of the run-up to the summit. Some of them concerned me, particularly the participation of “developoment partners.” I am very concerned about the potential Westernisation of the agriculture of developing countries. I think that it is important to maintain the pristine aspect of agricultural methods and potential oppoerutnities in developing countries, rather than try to implement large monoculture crops that use fertilisers and insectisides and depend on unnatural irrigation.

  60. 61 Shirley
    June 6, 2008 at 16:15

    I was finally able to see someone agreeing with me on the trade issue in another BBC news article: Food on the agenda (3 Jun 08). Oxfam’s Zander Woollcombe says subsidies “make European food cheaper than food produced in developing countries, and when that is combined with the European Union and other rich countries forcing developing countries to open their markets, what you get is artificially cheaper European food coming into poor countries and wiping out their national industries.”

    It seems that forcing countires to open up their marets would help rich countries and hurt poor ones?

    Some more BBC coverage: UN plan to increase food supplies (Friday, 6 June 2008) : Global food production must be doubled by 2030 and farmers in poor countries better supported, a UN summit on the current food crisis has concluded. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned up to $20bn (£10.2bn) a year was needed to alleviate the crisis.

    Something around 1-% has so far been pledged, from what I have seen. Are there other things that are considered more important in our world?

    And finally, some mention, be it brief, about criticisms from outside the conference: Representatives from non-governmental organisations complained they were excluded from discussions. ActionAid’s food and hunger policy adviser, Magda Kropiwnicka, said the concluding statement lacked concrete proposals. However, the BBC followed up immediately with a “but” statement and carried on as if nothing had happened. The article mentioned the concern of UN officials about biofuels: “diverting food crops to fuel use and tightening supply” “may have triggered as much as 30% of global price inflation” (as the sentence is rearranged). The article continues, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, said the decision by both the US and EU to increase biofuels targets sent a “dangerous signal” to the market which would only fuel speculation on commodities. This was much stronger than the anguage that was eventually issued, as we saw in the Factpoints list.

  61. 62 John in Salem
    June 6, 2008 at 16:21

    PDA’s? Sounds like one of those committee-invented acronyms like the drug companies use, like RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome).
    I saw a good bumper sticker lately. It read – “I Have Nothing Against Straight People – As Long As They Don’t Do It In Public!”

    Bottom line – if you don’t like seeing it, don’t look at it.

  62. 63 Shirley
    June 6, 2008 at 16:32

    It would be interestng to see a clarification issued on martyrdom. Many people, even Muslims, wrongly assume that just being killed by a non-Muslim renders one a martyr in Islamic thinking. Unfortunately for Khalid Shaykh Muhammad, there are so many conditions for the legitimacy of martyrdom that he is probably not gong to make it into those ranks. One can’t have killed women, children, or non-combatants. One cannot have destroyed trees, crops, other vegetation, or buildings. One needs to be responding to the call of a proper Islamic leader (none techincally exists now to issue such a call) and needs to be fighting under his command. And usually, these calls are made in response to the suffering and oppression of Muslims (or anyone, for that matter) at the hands of a tyrannical dictator. Bush might be bad, but he doesn’t qualify as a tyrannical dictator. The people of the U.S. are not being oppressed or tyrannised. Even we Muslims have it well over here. The WTC was a building – a civilian one, no less. The 3,000 people who died there were women, elderly, and all non-combatants. And no legitimate Islamic leader has called for any kind of combat. See the preceding as to why not.

    I’m just the average Jane Muslim, and I can figure that out. Why others can’t is beyond me.

  63. 64 Tino
    June 6, 2008 at 16:34

    “It feels insulting to me. Obviously, criminal acts took place. I think that this has been a failure of the justice system. I’m interested in what Lubna thinks (as well as whether she got any email from me).”

    Three of them are clearly still with charges since 5/8 were dropped. Why is that so insulting?

  64. 65 Tino
    June 6, 2008 at 16:34

    @ VictorK

    Could not agree more, Britain is very close to becoming an Islamic country.

  65. 66 Mohammed Ali
    June 6, 2008 at 17:26

    @Victor, the wicked behaviour of a few group of fanatical muslims should not be attributed to the entire muslim community and that should go for all groups and people.

  66. 67 Tino
    June 6, 2008 at 17:43

    “Many people, even Muslims, wrongly assume that just being killed by a non-Muslim renders one a martyr in Islamic thinking.”

    I still do not get how you come to your conclusions. You are clearly in the minority on many of your theological issues – yet assume everyone else is making the wrong assumptions.

    @ Mohammed

    That is not the wicked behavior of a small group, it is repeated across the world. That is a Muslim cop employed in Britain, which should therefore be an example of a ‘moderate’ one (unless you think Britain regularly employs extremist police). The middle east is even worse in terms of the way they act. It is proven time and again that once Islam has enough power they become intolerant to other ways.

  67. 68 Shirley
    June 6, 2008 at 18:06

    did my post go through?

    A South African (?) news source offered the best coverage of activist voices that I have seen. Farmers ‘disgusted’ with food summit (Jun 6 2008) SMALL farmers’ groups yesterday reacted with “disgust” to the conclusions of the United Nations food security summit, saying they would further the same failed policies that led to the world food price crisis. Indonesia’s Henry Saragih denounced “policies which force farmers to produce food for export and push the government to import basic foodstuffs. The industrial model of agriculture has … brought agriculture under the control of transnational agribusiness corporations, many who have profited from the current crisis. This fails the people’s right to food. This fails the people’s right to a livelihood.” “The recommendations for more liberalisation would lead to more violations of the right to food,” Maryam Rahmanian of Iran’s Centre for Sustainable Development said in a statement. She told the news conference, Since the 1996 World Food Summit, “we have warned continually that the current model would lead to a food crisis, and it has. Food sovereignty is not compatible with models of production and technologies that marginalise small farmers and increase pollution.” Brazilian activist Flavio Valente lashed out at multi-national food corporations whose profits have shot up through the crisis, saying it was “about time we treated this as a crime against humanity”. American activist Dena Hoff noted: “In the first quarter of 2008, profits of Monsanto have already shot up by 108 percent, while Cargill registered profit increases of 86 percent … More food aid would help these companies, but do not offer any solutions for the poor and hungry.” Valente noted that market speculation that has helped drive up food prices “was not even mentioned” in the draft declaration.

  68. 70 Rebecca
    June 7, 2008 at 15:21

    Secularity should be the neutrality of the state in relation to religion, not a form of pseudo-atheism, it is to not align with any particular religion, not to favour nor impede any religion. To ban any religious symbols, be they headscarves or crucifixes is to breach freedom of expression and the right to religion or equally to abstain from religion.

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