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Thursday, 8 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 8 May 08, 07:15 PM

Hello to viewers here and abroad..


"We'll starve to death if nothing is sent to us."

burma203.jpgThat was the desperate cry of one of the survivors of the worst cyclone to hit Asia in more than 15 years. But is there any chance of a huge relief effort in Burma when the government there appears to be blocking rapid access? The International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander told MPs the government was receiving "mixed signals" on the question of access for international staff following a disaster which may have killed 100,000. There may by up to a million more who have no water, food or shelter. So far there has only been a trickle of aid allowed in, and the US Ambassador said a US military cargo plane still does not have permission to fly in supplies. We'll be speaking to our correspondents in the region and to the International Development Secretary about the world's apparent impotence in the face of an intransigent junta. Should we just send helicopters filled with aid over the border?

Also tonight in the second of his three special reports from Afghanistan Mark Urban speaks to two men in Kabul - one a teenager - preparing to be suicide bombers. Intelligence officers say that the number of suicide attackers in the country has increased in recent months and many blame the lax border controls between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mark investigates the problems with border security and the growing threat posed by the bombers.

Abu Qatada
And as I write we have just heard that Abu Qatada the extremist Muslim cleric - reputedly Al Qaeda's man in Europe has been granted bail. We'll be exploring the reasoning behind this extraordinary decision.


  • Comment number 1.

    the courts refuse to extradite to Jordan despite the assurances. Isn't it snobbery, western arrogance and racist for the judges to assume, without evidence, that Jordan is lying in how it will treat people?

    our prisons are not safe [full of drugs etc] but the judges still send people there.

  • Comment number 2.


    According to PM News on Wednesday 7/5/08, China, India and other 'nations', except the 'West' have been let into Myanmar and are providing aid relief. Can we have some more reporting on the effective work these countries are doing and the 'real' - imperialist - reasons Myanmar refuses to allow in Western Countries of 'European' origin instead of splashing across media spectrums lies about Myanmars so-called incapacity to effect disaster management.

    Finally, isn't the height of arrogance that you can just fly into another country just because the country says they don't want you on their terrority. Perhaps when England is struck by future floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters resulting in the loss of life the whole 'Eastern' world should make a clamour about coming into the UK to provide relief to UK citizens. What will be the UK response?

  • Comment number 3.

    Do you remember Hurricane Katrina? As I recall there were no UN demands that America - champion of DEMOCRACY - be forced to accept airlifts of emergency food and supplies to the thousands of poor blacks and white who were unable to flee the wrath of the hurricane.

    In fact America, the great mistress of the seas, air and land couldn't cope with disaster management during hurricane Katrina and is now offering to fly in supplies to Myanmar via Thailand! Incredulous. Perhaps Myanmar should remind America of this.

    America and the West should learn from the rest of the world, that when your help is declined, they actually mean - NO THANKS.

    Finally, with what you propose of just flying in supplies without 'permission' wouldn't that be an act of WAR? Don't you see what is happeing with Georgia and Russia as Russia recenlty established 'diplomatic' relations with the break-away region of Abkhazia?

  • Comment number 4.

    With rice prices rising exponentially should we in the west continue to import vast quantities of rice for ready meals and puddings as children in the world where rice is a staple of their diet are going starving.

    Was delighted to see these VIRAL MARKETING posters being posted up around our local superstores.

  • Comment number 5.

    Abu Qatada has been granted bail? Whadya know!?! I suppose we'd give Osama bail if we caught him and tried him in the UK. It can't happen (mainly because the US can't catch him!).

    For years other countries, in particular France, wondered why on earth the UK allowed radical extremists to continue their 'missions' in the country. Have we learned nothing? Sometimes I think our laws are far too liberal ... and liberal is *not* a word I despise.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Liberal Democrat spokesman must surely be applying for a miisterial post in the next Government, expecting a coalition of Lib Dems and Labour. However, the Tories are right to stand up for public safety, highlighted by David Davis's demand for an immediate closure of the security loop at UK airports highlighted by Newsnight. New Labour are happy to inconvenience Joe Public in the hope that the wider population will see this as a necessary evil to combat terrorism. Criminals and terrorists are a relatively tiny proportion of the population, and thus, the might of the State should target the deterrent effort towards likely suspects. Newsnight are performing a superb public service by highlighting gaping gps and flaws in security. This will surely save lives.

  • Comment number 7.

    tomorrow's Scottish newspaper headlines (as reviewed by Newsnight Scotland) read:

    "No Way Back for Wendy" (Scottish Daily

    "Gordon Loses Grip on Scotland" (The Scotsman)

    "Salmond Offers Pact With Cameron" (The Herald)

    "Am I Bovvered?" (above a picture of the Scottish comedian Catherine Tait denied
    victory despite a popular vote - featured
    on the front page of the Scottish edition
    of 'The Times')

    see also: for Exchanges between Wendy Alexander and Alex Salmond at FMQs for blog update by the BBC Scotland
    Political Editor Brian Taylor for The Referendum Row - In Video!

  • Comment number 8.

    Burma: it is sad that the government does not
    want to accept ALL the international help that is being offered to the country.

    Afghanisan: i hope that mark urban is safe now following his assignment to afghanistan....

  • Comment number 9.

    Abu Qatada has been granted bail.

    Don't mention the European Human Rights Act (Labour's flagship legislation ) ,I mentioned it once , but I think I got away with it !

  • Comment number 10.

    The UN has been so strongly linked to the introduction of HIV/AIDS into Africa, the resurgence of smallpox and polio, and other scourges that it's hard to fault Burma (or any other country) for refusing UN personnel entry; I'd guess that most of the people actually on the ground are committed humanitarians, but have been co-opted unwittingly into the global wholesaler of War, Famine, Pestilence and Death. I wouldn't let the American military in, either, do to what appears the current program of killing everything that moves, toppling governments, settling in to stay until Hell freezes over and fatally polluting the soil, air and water with depleted uranium.

    Just offload the stuff and leave the rest to the Burmese. They may be corrupt, but it's their country, their people, and their business.


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