Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Should Britain Apologise for the Slave Trade?

2007 sees the United Kingdom mark 200 years since the British parliament abolished the transatlantic trade in slaves.

To publicise the anniversary a number of movies, television dramas and documentaries have been made that have in themselves brought controversy as many factions argue who in history should be credited with being the driving force behind the action that led to the abolishment of the abhorrent trade.

A further debate has emerged with some people requesting that Britain apologise.

Should governments, on behalf of their citizens, apologise for things their forefathers have done wrong or does the passing of generations make such apologies meaningless?

If an apology was to be made, who should make it and to whom and should any apology be accompanied with financial compensation?

Participate in this weeks open survey Should Britain Apologise for the Slave Trade?

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Controversial Glass Balcony Built Over Grand Canyon

In Phoenix at the Grand Canyon the Indian Hualapai tribe have constructed a large glass-bottomed walkway.

The $30 million Skywalk is perched at the canyon's edge and uses an elaborate system of pulleys connected to four tractor-trailers to allow the platform to extend some 70 feet over the rim and about 4,000 feet over the canyon floor.

The tribe hope that the attraction will encourage tourism to the remote western edge of the canyon where the tribe that number about 2,200 people live.

Construction of the platform started in April 2005 and was the idea of a Las Vegas developer David Jin.

David Jin approached the Hualapai in 1996 with a plan to build it using his own money and the tribe agreed but on the condition that the tribe would own the walkway and Jin would get a cut of any profits.

However some of the Hualapai elders have now started to question the wisdom of the project as to them the canyon is sacred ground and the construction cut into land scattered with Hualapai burial sites.

Environmentalists also have criticised the project for diminishing the canyon's majesty with some critics describing the structure as a tacky tourist attraction.

It is predicted that the Skywalk will become a major and popular attraction, bringing much needed income to the tribe.

Do you think the Hualapai tribe were right to agree to the construction?

Do you think the design of the Skywalk is environmentally in keeping with the Grand Canyon?

Participate in this weeks open survey Controversial Glass Balcony Built Over Grand Canyon?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Are Diamonds Rare?

In the 1870s at the Kimberley mine in South Africa a 128-carat, canary-yellow diamond called simply The Tiffany, was discovered. The diamond-encrusted mines at Kimberly became known as kimberlites and their discovery began a huge mining operation that continues to this day.

What the kimberlites offered was once-rare gems to millions upon millions of ordinary consumers and soon thousands of prospectors were thrown into fierce competition causing diamond prices to plummet from 500 dollars to ten cents a carat.

With diamonds increasingly in abundance, Cecil Rhodes founded the De Beers Mining Company as a group of diamond producers.

His first aim was to control production to prevent too many diamonds hitting the market and therefore keep prices high.

By controlling the supply and demand since that time De Beers has perhaps become the most successful cartel of the 20th century.

In the 1920s De Beers ran a successful marketing campaign that transformed the public's imagination about the diamond and has to this day, managed to associate diamonds to a symbol of human love and devotion.

In 1994, the Department of Justice charged De Beers in a price fixing scheme. Although the company denies the allegations the company failed to turn up in court and so the matter remains unresolved.

To the question that is sometimes asked "Are diamonds rare or are their prices hideously inflated?" De Beers officials are usually unresponsive on these points and instead they claim that the company has "democratised" diamonds by offering them to millions of ordinary consumers.

Critics argue that diamonds are at best semi-precious stones and were it not for De Beers, and considering the amount of diamonds in current circulation and the amount that are stock piled by De Beers, consumer quality gems commonly used for engagement rings would be cheap and in abundance.

Do you think that diamonds are rare and would you consider them as an investment?

Participate in this weeks open survey Are Diamonds Rare?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Britney Spears - A very public breakdown

Aged 25 Britney Spears recently suffered what appeared to be a very public breakdown when she was reported to have driven to a hairdressing salon and shaved her own head.

A child star who first found fame in 1993 as a member of the American TV show The Mickey Mouse Club, she went on to have phenomenal success with her first single "Baby....one more time" and a debut album which became the highest selling album of a teenager of all time.

With her media stock riding high she won MTV awards and publicly announced her relationship with fellow Mickey Mouse Club child star Justin Timberlake who had himself carved out a successful solo singing career.

When she broke up with Justin Timberlake though things started to go wrong and the media were there to not only see her burst into tears during a TV interview, but were at hand to report her Las Vegas marriage to her childhood friend Jason Alexander and it's annulment two days later.

Britney did get married for real to one of her backing dancers, Kevin Federline, in April 2004. The media were quick to report that the marriage would prove to be less than happy and while her new husband tried to carve out a singing career for himself, Britney became pregnant. The new baby did nothing to save the marriage and Britney and Kevin filed for divorce in December 2006 after just two years of marriage.

Rarely out of the media spotlight, Britney then alarms friends and family as she appears to mentally self-destruct resulting in the shaving of her head and visits in and out of rehab centres.

Reports have suggested that Britney is being treated for postnatal depression and that doctors believe that any substance abuse was a reaction to post-baby blues and an intense feeling on Britney’s part that she had lost control of her life.

Do you think this is the price people like Britney pay for having achieved stardom; or is it the fault of the media that continually fuels the paparazzi; or is it the general public that buys the newspapers and magazines that take delight in reporting when celebrities have bad hair days?

Participate in this weeks open survey Britney Spears - a very public breakdown