Bishop Paul Verryn talks to Sir David from
Johannesburg, South Africa
Bishop Paul Verryn and Helen Zille

On May 11, a wave of brutal attacks against foreigners began in townships around Johannesburg. At least 42 people have been killed and thousands have been displaced. The violence also spread to Cape Town. For the first time since the end of Apartheid the army have been deployed.  

In recent years, more and more foreigners have migrated to Africa's wealthiest economy in search of a better life. Some South Africans blame foreigners for their country's problems - like unemployment and crime. The violence has not just been aimed at foreigners - some South Africans from smaller ethnic groups have been targeted as well.

Bishop Verryn and Helen Zille, Cape Town's mayor, join Sir David to discuss the situation.

Bishop Verryn calls on the country's political leaders to make clear that such violence is unacceptable while Zille says that the South African government's policy towards countries like Zimbabwe is partly to blame for the trouble. 
Gore Vidal

Gore Vidal discusses the US
presidential elections
This week Barack Obama won the Democratic primary in Oregon. The result edges the Illinois senator yet closer to securing the Democratic party's nomination to run in November's US presidential election.
Hillary Clinton, however, has promised to fight on despite having little chance of winning. Clinton claims to be stronger in the battleground states crucial in the general election. But many believe this is damaging the Democrats and Obama's eventual presidential campaign.

Gore Vidal, the author and polemicist, talks to Sir David. He says Hillary Clinton has lost the battle to become the Democratic presidential candidate.

Vidal says that despite his lack of experience Barack Obama is an attractive, intelligent candidate, and it would be a sign of progress if the US elected its first black president.
Jihad Makdissi

Jihad Makdissi reveals that he is cautiously
optimistic about Israeli-Syrian peace talks
This week Israel and Syria held peace talks, the first since 2000. The last round of negotiations broke down after the two sides failed to agree on the extent of Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights.

The territory is of strategic importance with its vantage over northern Israel and southern Syria, and any agreement between the two countries will almost certainly have to resolve its status.

It is thought Israel may be willing to withdraw from the Golan territory captured during the 1967 war. But in exchange, Israel is likely to demand Syria sever its ties with the Iranian government and the Lebanese group, Hezbollah. The talks are being mediated by Turkey.

Jihad Makdissi, a Syrian embassy spokesman in London, joins Sir David to discuss the talks. 

Makdissi says he is cautiously optimistic about the negotiations, adding that they may pave the way for direct negotiations between the two country's.
James Ivory

James Ivory discusses his life's work
From A Room with a View to Howards End and The Remains of the Day, Merchant Ivory has become synonymous with beautifully crafted feature films and period dramas. 

The film company was founded in 1961 by James Ivory and Ismail Merchant. It has since won 6 Academy Awards and a staggering 42 nominations.

Despite the death of Ismail Merchant last year, the Merchant Ivory brand still lives on through the director James Ivory. 

He joins Sir David to discuss his life's work. 
Liam Halligan

Economist Liam Halligan explains why oil
prices are soaring
On Thursday morning the price of oil reached a new record high - $135 a barrel. 

Three years ago the investment bank, Goldman Sachs, suggested to some ridicule that oil could pass $100. Now Goldman Sachs is predicting a super-spike that will drive crude oil up to $200 a barrel.

What are the real causes for this relentless rise in oil prices - high demand, the weak dollar, speculation or a combination of all of these factors?

Liam Halligan, the chief economist of Prosperity Capital Management, joins Sir David. 

He says that unrelenting demand from India and China and the increasing demand for material goods in these countries is one of the many factors driving up crude oil prices. On the supply side, he says, the world cannot produce oil fast enough to meet demand.

Matthias Schmale

Matthias Schmale of the Red Cross discusses
the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar
On May 2, Cyclone Nargis crashed into Myanmar. Around 78,000 people are thought to have died and a similar number may still be missing. The country now faces an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Thousands have lost their homes and possessions, and are now threatened with disease and starvation.

The country's ruling military junta has been heavily criticised by the international community for not allowing more aid into the country. But now, weeks after the cyclone, Myanmar's top leader has agreed to let all foreign aid workers into the country to help with the relief operation.

Joining Sir David to discuss the latest development is Matthias Schmale, the international director of the British Red Cross.

Schmale expresses his hope that that the Burmese government will follow their words with action. But he warns that with each passing day the risk to human health increases.

Watch the interviews with Liam Halligan and Matthias Schmale

Frost over the World airs at 18:00GMT every Friday on Al Jazeera English and is repeated during the week.
This episode of Frost over the World aired on Friday, May 23, 2008

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