Frontline Club

HIV / AIDS Season: Have we seen the worst?

February 6, 2009

      There are currently around 33 million people worldwide living with HIV. Almost 2/3 of these are in sub-Saharan Africa where nearly 12 million children have been orphaned. But while huge progress has been made in some areas – including a decline in HIV-related deaths – the current epidemic cannot be reversed without reducing the rate of new HIV infections. According to the UN, the slowing of the epidemic is because of improved treatment and more cautious sexual behaviour. Almost 3 million people are receiving treatment in the form of anti retro-viral drugs, and there is optimism among some scientists that microbicides – a preventative cream – might also be a significant part of managing the pandemic, along with other measures. But just how attainable and sustainable is changing sexual behaviour? Or is it drugs – and access to them – that is the real key to overcoming this epidemic? The search for the elusive vaccine continues, but for how long can we justify the millions being spent on this when many scientists say we are not much nearer to finding a vaccine than we were 27 years ago when AIDS was first recognised? We ask our panel of policy makers, scientists, journalists and community activists where they think the future lies for combating HIV and whether we really have seen the worst. Professor Robin Shattock is Professor of Cellular and Molecular Infection in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at St George's, University of London. He directs a research group working…

Media Talk: Gaza – Missiles and Messages

February 5, 2009

      With the recent war in Gaza finally over as the ceasefire on both sides comes into force and Israeli troops withdraw, we reflect on the role that the world media played as a legitimate weapon in both Hamas and Israel's arsenal. While both sides have been intent on trying to win the media war, restricted access to international and independent journalists at the Gazan border has become a highly contentious issue, with many journalists arguing that this was a tactic used by the IDF to win the war. In one of the most complicated and polarised conflicts in the world, we examine the media coverage of the recent war and ask it it's ever possible to achieve balance. While each side uses the media to present its own perspective to its own people in the Middle East, America, Britain and beyond, who are we to believe? Jonathan Miller is Foreign Affairs Correspondent for Channel 4 News and was reporting for them from inside Gaza during the latest conflict. He has also reported for them from conflicts in Iraq, Darfur, eastern Chad, Gaza and Lebanon, as well as covering several natural disasters – the Asian Tsunami, the Pakistan earthquake and Huricane Katrina.Alan Fisher is Al-Jazeera's correspondent on the Israeli-Gaza border. With more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, Alan has reported from more than forty countries around the globe, including the recent war in Georgia, the on-going fighting in Afghanistan, the battles around the Nahr El Bared refugee camp in Lebanon as well…

Media Talk: Peak Oil

February 3, 2009

  With latest reports predicting that we'll reach Peak Oil in the next 3-5 years and with oil prices more volatile than ever – reaching their peak in 2008 at almost $200 a barrel – will the oil crisis soon take over from the financial crisis as the world's most pressing concern and what exactly are we doing about it? While the jury is still out on whether or not we really are heading for Peak Oil, it seems that the end of "easy oil" could indeed be in sight if the latest industry reports are to be believed, even with the recent discoveries of oil fields off Brasil and Cuba. And with political barriers preventing the exploitation of oil in Nigeria, Iraq and Russia to name but some of the oil-rich countries, it seems that the search for alternative energy is now more pressing than ever. While the world economic crisis has significantly slowed down global oil consumption and sent prices plummeting to an all-time low, is there now a danger that we are no longer feeling the urgency to address the situation as we should be? Does a solution really depend on the ability of the market to adjust? And are we investing enough time and resources in looking for viable alternatives? And if oil prices do shoot up again, and gas-rich Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and Iran become increasingly powerful, what are the implications for the new world order? Jeremy Leggett is founder and Chairman of Solarcentury, the UK's largest solar solutions…

Tariq Ali on Pakistan

January 13, 2009

        Tariq Ali's new book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power, weighs the prospects of those contending for power in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto's assassination, and demonstrates Pakistan's unique influence on the emergence of a secure world or global conflagration. Tariq Ali is a writer, journalist and film-maker. He was born in Lahore in 1943 and was educated at Oxford University, where he became involved in student politics, in particular with the movement against the war in Vietnam. He owned his own independent television production company, Bandung, which produced programmes for Channel 4 in the UK during the 1980s. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio and contributes articles and journalism to magazines and newspapers including The Guardian and the London Review of Books. He is editorial director of London publishers Verso and is on the board of the New Left Review, for whom he is also an editor. Charles Glass is a freelance writer and broadcaster, who began his journalistic career in 1973 at the ABC News Beirut bureau with Peter Jennings. He covered the October Arab-Israeli War in Syria and Egypt and the civil war in Lebanon, where artillery fire wounded him in 1976. He became Chief Middle East correspondent of ABC News in 1983, a post he held in Beirut and London for 10 years. Since 1993, he has been a freelance writer in Paris, Tuscany, Venice and London, publishing books, short stories, essays and articles in the United States and Europe.  …

Insight: Elizabeth Pisani, The Wisdom of Whores

November 25, 2008

  Elizabeth Pisani has spent ten years working as a scientist in the bloated AIDS industry. In The Wisdom of Whores, she unfolds a universe of brothels and bureaucracies, of bickering junkies and squabbling charities, of men who sell sex and men who would rather prohibit it. Illustrating solid science with ribald tales from the frontlines of sex and drugs, The Wisdom of Whores explains how we could shut down HIV everywhere except sub-Saharan Africa. We could do it with a few, simple steps. We could do it with less money than we already have. But we won't. This book shows how politics, ideology and money – lots of money, ten billion dollars a year – have bulldozed through scientific evidence and common sense.The consequences of our global hypocrisy are tragic. Over 70 million people have been infected with HIV. We know how to stop the virus. But instead of doing what is needed, governments continue to squander taxpayer's money on feel-good programmes that make no difference. Yusef Azad is director of policy and campaigns at the advocacy group National AIDS Trust

Media Talk: Predicting the crash

November 7, 2008

    Panellists:   Paul Lashmar is an investigative journalist and is currently undertaking a research project into the reporting in the UK of the sub-prime market prior to August 2007 for publication in Journalism Practice. He writes for various newspapers including the Independent on Sunday, The Guardian and The Evening Standard, and his specialist areas include terrorism, intelligence, organised crime, offshore crime, business fraud and the Cold War.   Gillian Tett is an assistant editor of the Financial Times and oversees the global coverage of the financial markets. In 2007 she was awarded the Wincott prize, the premier British award for financial journalism, for her capital markets coverage. She was named British Business Journalist of the Year in 2008.   Ann Pettifor is a political economist and author of The Coming First World Debt Crisis (Palgrave, 2006) and editor of The Real World Economic Outlook (Palgrave, 2003). She is a fellow of the new economics foundation (nef) in London and director of Advocacy International.   Michael Blastland is a freelance writer and broadcaster and co-author of The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and In Life. A journalist all his professional life, he started on weekly newspapers before moving to the BBC where he made current affairs programmes for Radio 4, such as Analysis and More or Less.   Paul Mason is Newsnight's Economics Editor with a brief to cover an agenda that he sums up as: "profit, people and planet". He is also the author of…

Insight with David Loyn: Afghanistan – 200 Years of Intervention

October 9, 2008

      Afghanistan has been a strategic prize for foreign empires for more than 200 years. The British, Russians and Americans have all fought across its beautiful and inhospitable terrain, in conflicts variously ruthless, misguided and bloody. A century ago, the common sneer about how British soldiers treated Afghan tribesmen was that they would 'butcher' them, then 'bolt'. This violent history is the subject of David Loyn's book. David Loyn is the BBC's Developing World Correspondent with extensive experience in Afghanistan. His first book, Frontline was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize in 2006. Butcher and Bolt is a history of foreign engagement in Afghanistan beginning with the first British mission 200 years ago. Saul David is the author of many critically-acclaimed history books, including The Indian Mutiny, Zulu and Victoria's Wars.  He was recently appointed Professor of War Studies at the University of Buckingham, and in 2009 will supervise a London-based MA in Military History. He is also an experienced broadcaster and has presented and appeared in history programmes on all the major TV channels.   

Media Talk: Countdown to November

September 29, 2008

      The upcoming US election has been dubbed the most important in a generation. Will we see the first female vice-President in the White House, or will Barack Obama become the first African-American President? What are the major issues that will decide the American vote, and what can we expect to see in the final month of the campaign? Join us as we discuss all this and more with our panel of journalists, who have been watching, following and reporting closely on these elections from the US. James Naughtie has been a presenter of the Today programme since February 1994. Harriet Sherwood is foreign editor of The Guardian. Stryker McGuire is now contributing editor to Newsweek and was previously its London bureau chief from August 1996 until April 2008. Jon Snow is the main presenter of C4 News.  

Insight with Philippe Sands: Torture Team

September 23, 2008

      Philippe Sands investigates in his new book Torture Team – how the Rumsfeld Memo – a Memo signed by Donald Rumsfeld in 2002 that listed eighteen techniques of interrogation which defied international definitions of torture – set the stage for a divergence from the Geneva Convention and the Torture Convention. The Rumsfeld Memo authorised the controversial interrogation practices that went on to be used in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere, as part of the policy of extraordinary rendition. From his behind-the-scenes vantage point, Phillipe Sands investigates and is able to hold the individual gatekeepers in the Bush administration to account, for their failure to safeguard international law. Philippe Sands is an international lawyer and a professor of law at University College London. He is the author of Lawless World and is frequently a commentator on news and current affairs programmes including CNN, MSNBC, and BBC World Service. He has been involved in many leading international cases, including those involving the treatment of British detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Olenka Frenkiel is a reporter, writer and documentary film-maker specialising in international investigations for BBC Television and Radio. Her recent films in North Korea, Israel and Pakistan have won the Peabody, RTS and CINE Golden Eagle awards among others.  

Lord Malloch-Brown: An unlikely diplomat

September 17, 2008

  In conversation with Richard Beeston (The Times) Unlikely diplomat Lord Mark Malloch-Brown has never been afraid to speak his mind on Britain's role on foreign policy and continues to divide opinion in his current role as Minister for Africa, Asia and the Middle East. An outspoken opponent to the war in Iraq, he has criticised the Bush administration for its lack of support to the UN and said that the UK and the US are no longer joined at the hip. Instead, he has talked about building on Britain's partnerships with its European neighbours and broadening its international alliances to embrace NGOs such as Oxfam and Save the Children as well as terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah in the interests of dialogue. He has endorsed celebrity campaigning on Darfur and supported Spielberg's withdrawal of support for the Olympics over China's human rights record. He was the first British minister to visit Burma for 15 years in the wake of the recent cyclone. Most recently he has called on the British government to impose sanctions on Mugabe. We talk to Lord Malloch-Brown about his unique take on British foreign policy as well as his time as former deputy secretary general to the UN. 

Media Talk: Is Somalia the new Front in the War on

September 11, 2008

  Since 1991, Somalia has been a dangerous, violent and lawless place, home to numerous conflicts and civil war, as well as increasingly a third theatre of operations for the US in its global war on terror. From localised inter-tribal and clan warfare, to regional tensions and international disputes, Somalia remains a highly complex battleground. Will the recent Djibouti peace agreements between the Transitional Federal Government and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia result in anything concrete? And is Somalia really the next front in the War on Terror? Ahmed Abdisalam is Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information, Youth & Sports for the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG). Abdirahman Warsame is the deputy head of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and was chief negotiator in the recent UN-brokered peace talks in Djibouti. Mary Harper is an African specialist for the BBC. Sally Healy OBE is an Associate Fellow of the Africa Programe at Chatham House. She was formerly an East Africa specialist at the Foreign Office. She led a collaborative study of conflict in the Horn of Africa, the findings of which were published by Chatham House in June 2008: Lost Opportunities in the Horn of Africa: how Conflicts Connect and Peace agreements unravel. Patrick Smith is editor of Africa Confidential    

Media Talk: Understanding Somalia

September 11, 2008

      Awale Kullane (New Somali Youth League)Tom Quinn (MSF)Khadija Ali by skype (Somali peace activist)Juliana Ruhfus (Al Jazeera)   Somalia is a country beset by violence, instability and famine. Ranked 161 out of 163 countries on the Human Development Index and without an effective government since 1991, clan politics dominate this so-called "failed state". The humanitarian crisis has reached record levels in recent months, exacerbated by the global food crisis and the constant danger that aid agencies face in distributing food. What is the future of this war-ravaged and poverty-stricken country and what are its chances for an effective government? And what can be done to ensure that a humanitarian crisis on a massive scale is avoided and that Somalia remains open to aid workers and international assistance?

Insight: Somaliland

September 11, 2008

  In May 1991 Somaliland declared independence from the rest of Somalia and over the past 17 years the government there has restored law and order to make it one of the must democratic and functioning societies in the Horn of Africa. In stark contrast to its neighbour Somalia, Somaliland has become an oasis of peace, stability and progress and a haven for thousands of Somalis fleeing from their war-torn country.  

Insight – Karadzic to the Hague

July 31, 2008

  Ed Vulliamy (Guardian and Observer)Kemal Pervanic (survivor of the Omarska concentration camp)Sir Geoffrey Nice (QC)Gordana Igric by skype (BIRN) Location: 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ       After more than a decade on the run Radovan Karadzic has finally been caught and is expected to be sent to the Hague where he will face charges of genocide, complicity in genocide, extermination, murder, willful killing, persecutions, deportation, inhumane acts, terror against civilians and hostage-taking. Will a trial strengthen the credibility of the ICTY and other similar tribunals and does the Karadzic arrest send a message to other individuals committing war crimes and acts of genocide? How long might such a trial be expected to last and has the ICTY learnt any lessons from the Milosevic trial regarded by many as a something of a farce? We examine what motivated the Serbian government to finally go after Karadzic; will others follow him to The Hague? How did Karadzic manage to live as a therapist in Belgrade for so long and who, if anybody, within the Serbian political establishment and other government agencies knew of his whereabouts? Finally, what does the arrest and impending trial of the so-called "Butcher of Bosnia" mean to his victims and his former supporters? Will a trial finally provide a sense of closure to Bosnian Muslims for all the collective atrocities that they suffered? Ed Vulliamy is a journalist with the Guardian and Observer and the author of Seasons in Hell: understanding Bosnia’s war. He has reported extensively on the…

Insight – Five writers on Zimbabwe

July 29, 2008

  Chaired by George Alagiah (BBC)Lauren St John (author and journalist)Georgina Godwin (writer and broadcaster)Wilf Mbanga (The Zimbabwean)Andrew Mutandwa (former press secretary to Mugabe) Chofamba Innocent Sithole (writer and journalist) Location: 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ With no solution in sight to the current crisis in Zimbabwe, we ask five Zimbabwean writers and journalists for their reflections on where their country is heading and what should be done. Will the violence against the civilian population stop? What does the recent agreement mean between the MDC and Robert Mugabe? How long can Mugabe continue to preside over such chaos and how are ordinary Zimbabweans surviving amid rampant inflation, shortages and political violence?

Guns for hire

July 22, 2008

      Andy Bearpark (British Association of Private Security Companies)Tony Geraghty (author and journalist)Adam Roberts (author of The Wonga Coup)Ruth Tanner (War on Want)   Location: 13 Norfolk Place, London W2 1QJ This event will be webcast live – you can view it for free via the link on our homepage – www.frontlineclub.com In a world of shrinking defence budgets, smaller standing armies and increased threats from terrorism, the space for freelance soldiering is growing. Since 9/11, the number of Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) has rocketed – in Iraq alone, there are now an estimated 180,000 private contractors, outnumbering serving military personnel. Since 2003, the British government alone has spent an estimated £225 million on security contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The industry differs wildly from multi-million pound, multi-national corporations to misguided adventurers seeking to take over small, central African governments. However, one thing they all have in common is a lack of accountability and effective regulation. It is not only governments who rely on PMSCs for their protection, many large media groups use PMSCs to train and protect their staff in hostile environments. Join us while we discuss some of the worst excesses and examples of good practice within the industry. What is the likelihood of the industry ever being effectively regulated?And will the industry's efforts to escape its mercenary past be successful?Andy Bearpark is the Director General of the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC), an independent trade association representing the leading UK companies in the specialist private security…

Iraq – A fragile sovereignty

July 16, 2008

        Chaired by Jon Snow (C4)Patrick Cockburn (journalist and author)Toby Dodge (QMU, London)Major General John Batiste (via skype)Yahia Said (Revenue Watch Institute and LSE)Dr. Ali Al-Dabbagh (Iraqi government – via skype) As Iraq's roller coaster ride continues, the next six months will be crucial in determining the future shape of the nation. The two forthcoming elections, the US election in November and the Iraqi provincial elections in October, along with US-Iraqi agreements over long-term commitments and legal status for military personnel and contractors, have major implications for the besieged state and its people.   Panelists will discuss the possible outcomes and the details of the agreements determining the US long-term commitments to Iraq as well as the divisions within Iraq itself. Are these agreements an excuse for the US to legitimise a long-term occupation of Iraq or are the Iraqis on their way towards a real, if fragile, sovereignty?   Frontline Club: The Frontline Club started operating soon after the Frontline Television News agency closed down. The club was set up by the surviving members of the original team of maverick cameramen, and dedicated to the memory of friends and colleagues who lost their lives gathering news and images from the world's conflict zones.