April 20, 2009
Posted: 1555 GMT

Hello everyone,

First of all, welcome to the International Desk's new slot.

Same show, same great team, but on air at 9pm cet, 10pm and 11pm in the Middle East.

Today, we're still playing aroung with our lead story, but we know for sure that the UN anti-racism conference will feature at the top of our rundown.

As it did in South Africa 8 years ago, this UN gathering in Switzerland is proving to be just as controversial. It's meant to be a forum to discuss racism and oppression. Yet again, it's become a platform for airing grievances, for fiery walk-outs, boycotts and sideline insults.

The Iranian president lashed out at Israel. Israel, the United States and other countries boycotted the meeting. There was even a bottleneck of E.U. delegates at the doors of the assembly room after they walked out in protest at Mahmoud Ahmadenijad's speech.

As Juliette de Rivero of Human Rights Watch said, the boycotters are "ceding the floor to more radical voices."

What do you think? Vote in today's Idesk poll and I'll read some of the results out on the air during our new prime hour.

Speaking of Iran, we will be covering American-Iranian journalist Roxana Saberi's case in Tehran. She was sentenced to 8 years in prison for "spying" after a one day, closed trial. Few people are hopeful that the appeals process will produce a different result.

Also on tap today, the economy.. The Dow is tanking, despite some hopeful numbers from Bank of America. We'll ask why and discuss what sectors are hardest hit.

That and the rest of the day's top stories, as always.

See you on TV at 9pm CET!


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Filed under: Today At The I-Desk

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Nick   April 20th, 2009 4:10 pm ET

Why is it always said that he wanted Israel wiped off the map. Please do the necessary research and you will see that comment was him quoting someone else!

Israel is far too protected by America and the other Western nations. They have such a hold. Their actions done by any other nation would be criticized!

Austin, Nigeria   April 20th, 2009 4:13 pm ET

Its is absurd that a global body like UN should allow its plateform to be used to deform other nations. They ought to have known that the Irainians president speech could not have different from what he gave. This is crutial at such a time as this when there is deliberate efforts by some world leaders like President Ubama to douse the tension around the world.

Austin, Nigeria.

Dumo   April 20th, 2009 4:16 pm ET

It was wrong to invite the iranian president considering that this was an anti racism conference. His speech was purely racist and something should be done about the U.N organizers for allowing him to make that speech.

Name: Dumo Dlamini

Country: Taiwan

Tobias, Netherlands   April 20th, 2009 4:17 pm ET

From a procedural point of view, the United Nations is not to blame for Mr. Ahmadinejad's unpleasant presence in Zurich. This however is no excuse for Mr. Ahmedinejad who is a certified hate-monger whose tirades against Israel does no good for regional peace. There should be a U.N. sanctioned measure to curb his hate sermons.

pradipta ghosh   April 20th, 2009 4:18 pm ET

I noticed you took the opinion of israeli and pro-israeli parties on ahmadinejad's speech.
what was missing was an arab response. wouldn't that be an objective way to 'report' news? to get varied and hopefully divergent opinions?

And btw, I am an indian national an am not a muslim.

bl8ant   April 20th, 2009 4:18 pm ET

The market, Beast that it is/was, is mortally wounded, when the corpse has been torn apart , the predators line up, what we have seen are the vultures that would still exploit the moment to their advantage, the wounded beast or it's survival mean nothing to these people. It has been a Bull market not a revival of the economy, and the reality will defy the rhetoric at the end of the day.

James W. Hawkins   April 20th, 2009 4:19 pm ET

The UN conference on racism – couldn't they have found another speaker? The UN knew it was inviting controversy by having Iran's leader speak, and they knew what he was going to say and do. Maybe this was intentional by UN staffers? Racism is awful and should be dealt with, but why politize it so much? It is counter-productive to do so.

Woody in Alexandria, Egypt

Donna Erismann   April 20th, 2009 4:20 pm ET

I find that it was inexcusable to allow the President of Iran to address the Anti-Racists conference in Switzerland. As an American (of Anglo Protestant decent) who has lived in Switzerland for 56 years, my view-points on many things differ from the norm. But allowing a man who refutes the Holocaust to even attend the conference is a total affront not only to the Jewish people but to all true antiracist human beings.

MAXWELL SULTAN SHAVANGA   April 20th, 2009 4:34 pm ET

The western deligates who walked out on president Ahmedinajad are not expressing anything new. This has always been the attitude of western countries on the issue of racism among others. They dont want to listen, they tell the world what is wrong and right, who is good and bad and when anyone else from the developing world has a different opinion or critisism then its time to boo, walk out. freeze aid,impose sanctions or just unleash their armies on them. Its time the western world lernt to listen and listen carefully,we all wish to be.

Peter Johnston (Dubai)   April 20th, 2009 5:03 pm ET

What is the real significance – and the desired achievement – of this ridiculous conference anyway ? Ahmadinejad is hardly considered a respected world leader, why does anything he says cause such a stir ? If Mugabe or Ghadaffi says something ridiculous (as they so often do) it is only the media who give them any attention or merit ... the same goes for Ahmadinejad. Just let him say what he wants, and let us get on with our lives without having to listen and hear his imbecilic comments.

Steven   April 20th, 2009 5:13 pm ET

Your question is based on the wrong premise. "The UN" didn't invite Ajmadinejad. Iran is a member of the UN and can decide who speaks for it at UN meetings. "The UN" has no influence there and connato be blamed. What is much more worrying in all this is that so many countries are using the UN as a forum for expressing despicable points of view. "United Nations" is in fact a contradiction in terms.

Marc   April 20th, 2009 5:35 pm ET

I think the president of Iran is the biggest racist.
He is a dictator, who used the Islam as an excuse for the things he says.

It's like the big companies where the CEO's swindle and the workers are victims.

That what happens in Iran ,where de people of Iran are the victim of the leader.

Bye bye from Belgium.

Alexander   April 20th, 2009 5:39 pm ET

The Iranian President's views on Israel are well known. His promotion of his Holocaust Denial Conference are well known. His aims appear to be personal aggrandisement and expansionist as well as anti-Israel. His unhistorical and largely untrue presentation of Western history is enough to tell us that he should not be allowed again to present his views in such a forum.

Yehia Amr   April 20th, 2009 7:11 pm ET

World leaders should acknowledge existence of racism in all corners of the world, from Iran to Israel and from America to Zimbabwe. The tragedy of the Holocaust should not be used to deny the genocide against the Palestinians or any other people. Walking out is an excuse for everyone to deny racism exists.
Yehia Amr, Saudi Arabia

achmed   April 20th, 2009 7:11 pm ET

i do believe the invitation of ahmed nijad to UN antiracist conference was genuine.let the world proof him what he called " the holocust myth" instead of walking out or boycotting .we all know how the world suppressed the innocent people of palestine.Ahmed nijad is true man because the truth is always bitter.

Thoth   April 20th, 2009 7:16 pm ET

As the Foreign minister of Norway put it, freedom of speech belongs also to those we do not like, but we must not let their words stand alone, we must answer them with our own words. Therefore the Foreign Minister of Norway chose to sit and chose to speak out.

That Isreal and until Obama the USA is the focul of discontent is the result of the brutishness – or the precieved brutishness – of policies of these goverments. Obama has shown the way forward by chosing not to be angered by slight as perpetrated by Amadenashjan or others, but to understand that the only way forward is to talk.

Do not take up the gauntlet so rudely thrown down here, Obama, let it lay. The words of Amadenashjan fall upon their own stupidity. Do not sink to his level, do not let him to chose the way forward. It is the wrong way. Just like the new goverment of Isreal is upon the wrong path. Let Brittain, France, Norway and others, who have not the problematic past of Isreal and the USA speak down the discontent of Amadenashjan and his like.

I hope CNN will cover this side of the story as well, I hope the extremists on both sides – in Isreal, USA and Iran – will not be alowed to highjack the agenda.

Yousef Shadid   April 20th, 2009 7:17 pm ET

Before you ask the question you should know the difference between religion and race. Being a jew is a religion not a race. But because eveyone is blinded by the jews and you work for them you don't know the difference. It is not for everyone to feel sorry for what happened to them in a forgotten war. They did the same thing to the women and children of Gaza. They are the racists. They are the genicidal maniacs.

Michael (Switzerland)   April 20th, 2009 7:18 pm ET

To invite the biggest racist of all at an anti racism conference is a joke I can't laugh about. The UN lost a lot of it's credibility today.

Kuswai   April 20th, 2009 7:21 pm ET

Why is it that the Western Countries and the Israelis should be listened at when they criticise others but when others do criticise them for their actions that are there for everyone to see and are facts (no one can deny them) is a crime and the leaders who preach democracy and freedom of speech boycott when other leaders speak?
It is about time Western powers especially US stop with their unquestionable support to Israel and be fair to the Palestinians (at least).
Ahmedinajad is a real man and should be applauded for being able to stand up against the most powerful.
Bravo Mr. President!

Tobechi Obinwanne   April 20th, 2009 7:21 pm ET

Ahmadenijad was obviously not being real. He is definitely the world's no.1 racist and had no reason to be at that conference. In these times of world wide chaos and anarchy, world leaders should focus on issues that would unit everyone and not on those that divide. The world is not safe because of hatred and so everyone should try in his own little way to make peace possible.

From Tobechi Obinwanne, Warri, Nigeria

navid   April 20th, 2009 7:22 pm ET

It was wright to invite the iranian president considering that that was an anti racism conference and he spoke about anti racism mean israel and america. every one sow the wars witch israel and U.S created for racism developing. FUCK ISRAEL, U.S, FRENCE, ITALY.....

Richard   April 20th, 2009 7:32 pm ET

I've just watched International Desk with Hala Gorani for the first time and I am almost in shock a news channel could be so interesting, engaging and informative.

I love the fast pace and the way it literally takes you all the way round the world even if you only watch for 10 minutes. I think every other news show I watch will seem boring after having watched International Desk!

Amazing job Hala and all the team at CNN! 🙂 Keep up the good work.

navid   April 20th, 2009 7:33 pm ET

It was right to invite the iranian president considering that that was an anti racism conference and he spoke about anti racism mean israel and america. every one sow the wars witch israel and U.S created for racism developing. people should learn polite at first like israel and U.S and some other countries that left the confrence.

Kuswai - Bahrain   April 20th, 2009 7:33 pm ET

So Obama is following Bush's foot step by being controlled by the Jewish lobbies. How come he is boycotting the conference while he promissed to listen and ingage in dialogue?
Boycotting the conference or walking out will not deter a man with strength and courage like Ahmedinajad to speak out the truth.
If telling Israel what she is doing (killing innocent lives including women and children) is Ant-Semitism, so be it.
We all know that the truth hurts and it hurts more when it is told to Israel.

Tobechi Obinwanne   April 20th, 2009 7:38 pm ET

The world may not know it but the truth is that the world's biggest threat to peace and security today is Ahmadenijad! For those of us who know his antecedents, he is a bigger threat than the Al Qaeda and the Taliban and is their strongest ally. He is known to sponsor and promote hate to the extreme. However, when those who know better and who should educate his type chicken out in the name of protest, they only give more room for the evil messages to be disemminated. And as they say in Ibo, "evil persists when good men do nothing".

From: Tobechi Obinwanne, Warri, Nigeria

bensaid   April 20th, 2009 7:46 pm ET


Ahmadinajad's speech in geneve and the walk out of western countrys show us once again the hypocrisy of the west. The west is in the front to defend free speech when it comes to the insult of prophet mohamed (saw).When it comes to Israel, there is zero tolerance to criticise them from the same western countrys. The third world countrys need many other leaders like Ahmadinajad to get the respect they deserve. This is not the way for the US and western countrys to re.establish the trust from the muslim world.Ahmadinajad's speech is just the truth, Israel is a racist state, how can man understand it otherwise when Israel opens its doors to europeans, russians, americans and others to so called holly land and in the same time, they deny palestinian refugies to return back to their homes and threatening those living in Israel today to be deported.Shame on western countrys, USA and the racist state of Israel

Amine   April 20th, 2009 7:53 pm ET

What a circus! western diplomats storming out the conferance because of Ahmedinejad speech?! what a bunch of hypocrites, western governments feel that they are the only ones entitled to speek on Racism and freedom and ....... that is the sick mentality of superiority of the west. I'm not a fan of the iranian leader, but come on! i've listened to his speech, and there is nothing Anti semitic about it, unless in the west , any criticism or dispute on israel becomes forbiden and illegal?? Isn't Israel like any one else should be criticised for its ill actions and it's crimes in general?? I strongly believe that the west is purely racist, and its racism is shown on its policies toward the rest of the world.
Diplomats or clouns as i would call them gained nothing and proved no point except their intolerance of freedom of speech. speech that it's not up to them to decide if its acceptable or not . the pittiful Ban ki moon of the useless UN organization once again didn't side with reason, reality and what is right,and of course sided with governments that keep his organization in business with their contributions.
shame on you CNN for your failure to cover the event professionaly which means , keep your opinion to yourself and let the viewers judge. you became no different than murdoch's channel. you lost my respect long time ago.

Zain Lakhani   April 20th, 2009 10:11 pm ET

The Iranian President had every right to speak his mind, its about time the west starts listening to him and be tolerant.

Umair - Pakistan   April 20th, 2009 10:17 pm ET

I would only wish that our other leaders stand up against Israel and the west. U.S has undertaken a policy of not doing what it preaches and it showed by walking out of the conference that there is no such thing as 'american values'.


Bill S   April 20th, 2009 11:17 pm ET

Welcome to your new time slot Hala,I hope the new time works out well
Cheers Bill S

Debbie   April 21st, 2009 4:02 pm ET

Who cares what the Iranian President had to say!!!!! I think with the economy being what it is today, people in general, are just trying to make their families and closest friends happy and help each other.
The Iranian President is so far away, out of most peoples lives, what difference does it make! To each their own!!! Most people have to much to worry about close to home, why bother with him! I just wish America and other countries would just live and let live and stay out of each others business. We would all be better off!

bl8ant   April 21st, 2009 6:22 pm ET

"An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind"


munn dass   April 24th, 2009 2:03 pm ET

freedom of speak? what a joke!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! people loosing faith on what so called western values learn it before you preach it. and time is coming so near for the.................. to rise again and teach those claims freedom what is freedom are.

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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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