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Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Live from Abu Dhabi Connect the World takes you on a journey across continents, investigating the stories that are changing our world.

Should far-right leader have TV platform?

October 22nd, 2009
04:52 PM ET

LONDON, England - Hundreds of anti-fascist protesters gathered outside the studios of the British Broadcasting Corporation ahead of a pre-taped appearance in a prime-time TV debate by the controversial leader of a far-right, anti-immigration party.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/22/art_griffin.jpg caption="Nick Griffin's appearance on 'Question Time' will mark the first time a far-right leader has appeared on prime-time TV in Britain."]

Government minister Peter Hain has said that by making the "extraordinary" decision to allow Griffin, a Member of the European Parliament, to speak, the "BBC will be showcasing the BNP on a panel alongside the mainstream parties as an equally legitimate, respectable, democratic political party, when it is nothing of the kind."

Writing in the Guardian newspaper, BBC Director-General Mark Thompson said: "The case against inviting the BNP to appear on Question Time is a case for censorship."

Thompson said the government should ban the BNP from the airwaves if it felt Griffin should not be allowed to take part. But Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it was a matter for the BBC and he did not want to interfere with it.

So should Griffin - or indeed any elected politician regardless of whether one agrees with their views - be given a platform on TV? Or should broadcasters' obligation not to air opinions considered offensive by many override the right to free speech? Send us your comments and we will try to use them on tonight's show.

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Does traffic drive you to despair?

October 21st, 2009
04:22 PM ET

All this week Connect The World has been reporting on traffic: with an estimated 1 billion cars around the world - 250 million in the U.S. alone - and 2,000 new drivers in China every day, it's no surprise that congestion, pollution and deaths on the roads are among the biggest concerns of most people's everyday lives.

In many major cities, for instance, traffic speeds are no faster than they were 100 years ago, when cars first took to the roads. Environmentalists are also especially worried that traffic is one of the fastest-growing sources of climate-warming carbon dioxide, and all projections are that it will continue to grow.

Despite all this, the world's love affair with the motor car shows no sign of abating. The car, of course, allows freedom of movement that public transport can never match. This is why the multi-billion-dollar motor industry is desperately striving to find alternative sources of power to replace fossil fuels when the oil inevitably runs out or in the event of politicians banning the internal combustion engine.

So in a world clogged with cars, what can be done about traffic? What really drives you mad about driving? Are drivers getting better or worse? Should individual countries impose limits on car ownership? And what will happen when the oil runs out? Send us your comments and we will try to use them in Thursday's live chat.

On Thursday on the Connect The World webcast on CNN.com Live at 2100 GMT/2300 CET with accompanying live Skype text chat from 2030 GMT/2230 CET, Becky discusses the issue and answers your questions.

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Connector of the Day: Manu Chao

October 21st, 2009
02:44 PM ET

Manu Chao, born in Paris in 1961 into a Galician family that had fled Spain's fascist regime, has long enjoyed a cult following in Britain. His new album is called "Baioarena" and is out now.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/21/art.chao.jpg caption="Chao won over many new fans when he road-tested his new material in America this summer."]

Chao came to prominence with Mano Negra. After several acclaimed albums the band split following a tour of war-torn Colombia in 1993. After buying an old train, Chao and his colleagues spent six weeks traveling via a disused rail track, stopping at villages to play concerts for audiences of peasants, guerrillas and drug traffickers.

Chao later worked with former Clash singer Joe Strummer, with whom he formed a strong bond. "He's the only hero I ever met who wasn't a disappointment," Chao says. "He was a great teacher for me - like an uncle."

Manu Chao sings in many languages - French, Spanish, Portuguese, English and Arabic, often mixing several languages in the same song. His music has as many influences as he does languages - blending punk, rock, latin, ska, salsa - giving his songs the taste of the truly global.

Many of Chao's lyrics talk about immigration, love, living in ghettos and drugs - and often carry a left-wing message.

One of his latest projects has been to perform and record in a mental health hospital in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The resulting album, "Colifita" - slang for "lunatic" - is a collaboration with psychiatric patients who run an Argentinian radio station called Radio Loony. Featuring 20 songs about life, love, loneliness, death, sunshine, mothers and the end of the world, it mixes some old Chao tunes with mostly new material from the singer and patients, including poetry and improvizations. The idea, according to the publicity blurb, is to "laugh, cry and meditate about life."

Download the Colifata album for free at www.vivalacolifata.org

Find out more about Chao's new album, Baionarena, at www.manuchao.net

Are we worrying too much about swine flu?

October 21st, 2009
11:41 AM ET

LONDON, England - Millions of Britons started to be vaccinated for swine flu Wednesday with the country's chief medic urging all priority groups to take up the offer of immunization.

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/21/vaccine.gi.jpg caption="Almost 400,000 people have been infected with swine flu around the world."]

The program, which offers more than 11 million people the vaccine, began with hospitals immunizing 2 million health workers and their patients against the disease.

Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer for England, said frontline health and social care workers must get themselves vaccinated against swine flu along with other groups classified as a "priority" or at risk, such as pregnant women and some children.

He said: "This is the first pandemic for which we have had vaccine to protect people. I urge everyone in the priority groups to have the vaccine - it will help prevent people in clinical risk groups from getting swine flu and the complications that may arise from it."

Several other countries have started immunization programs, including the United States, Australia and China.

There are two types of the vaccine available: the flu shot, an inactivated vaccine containing fragments of killed influenza virus, and a nasal spray, which is made using a weakened live flu virus.

The nasal spray will most likely be the first to be widely distributed, however certain groups, including pregnant women, young children and people with compromised immune systems, cannot receive the nasal spray.

So far U.S. health officials say that in clinical trials they've seen no serious side effects and that study subjects who have been immunized have generated a good response.

Swine flu has infected almost 400,000 people since April, of whom more than 4,700 have died, according to the World Health Organization. But these are small numbers compared to those who die every year from malaria, AIDS or even normal influenza. So are we giving swine flu too much prominence compared to other diseases? Send us your comments and we'll try to use them in tonight's show.

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Connector of the Day: Paulo Coelho

October 20th, 2009
03:39 PM ET

With his 1988 novel “The Alchemist” among the most-widely read novels of all time, Paulo Coelho is a publisher’s dream – except for the fact he doesn't mind giving away his books for free. [cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/20/art.coelho.afp.gi.jpg caption="Paulo Coelho poses during a photocall for 'The Experimental Witch' Tuesday at the Rome Film Festival."]

Coelho, whose work has been translated into 67 languages, earning him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records, has emerged as an unlikely promoter of pirated Internet versions of his own works.

There again, to anyone who has read “The Alchemist” – an allegorical tale of one boy’s quest to follow his dreams and fulfill his destiny – this mission to give away his writing should make complete sense.

Despite being a successful songwriter, Brazil-born Coelho says he always wanted to be a writer – eventually penning “The Alchemist” in 1988. The novel initially had a small print run, but snowballed into a global bestseller to rival the likes of Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code.”

Now a household name – and a United Nations messenger for peace – Coelho has emerged as an outspoken supporter of the Internet, seeing it as a useful tool for distributing his work to an even wider readership.

“I always thought that when, at the beginning of your career, you strive to be read, you can’t change your mind later and become greedy about it,” he said after revealing that he had been directing his readers to Web sites where they can download his books without paying.

What do you think of Coelho’s writing and his philosophies? Send us your comments, questions for Coelho and we’ll put them to him when he appears on the program on Monday.

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