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Tuesday 19 February, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Feb 08, 06:10 PM

castro.jpgFidel Castro has finally stepped down as President of Cuba 49 years after the Cuban Revolution. Tonight we consider his legacy for Cuba, the Cold War and revolutionaries (and would-be revolutionaries) across the world. George Galloway and a leading Cuban American opponent of Castro will be discussing the president's legacy.

The Pakistan elections have delivered a significant blow to President Musharraf. The PPP, the party of the late Benazir Bhutto say they hope to form a coalition Government with another opposition party. So what happens next? Should Musharraf fear impeachment? Mark Urban reports from Pakistan.

There has been a powerful press conference this afternoon concerning the young people in and around Bridgend who have taken their lives in recent months. The police and parents of one of the teenagers strongly criticised media coverage of suicides and said that some of the reporting may even have encouraged some young people to kill themselves.
The police say they have found no evidence of suicide pacts or any other link between the deaths. Tonight, we ask, have the media helped to create a phenomenon they claim to simply have reported?

And, finally, we'll have Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero live in the studio. She's brilliant at improvisation and she'll play out on a piece based on a viewer's suggestion to our website.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:47 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • John wrote:

Is George Gallaway really the only person you could get on the "pro" side. There are lots of arguments for and against his regime but do not think you should end the discussion before it begins by getting someone like GG to argue the defense!

  • 2.
  • At 07:38 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • neil robertson wrote:

George Galloway and Gabriela Montero sounds like an interesting lineup on the day on which Fidel hangs up his fatigues ... but background reading
should also perhaps include a couple
or articles by Brian Wilson (former Trade Minister) on his lifelong love
affair with Cuba and meeting Castro?

Robert Strange Macnamara's 'Fog Of
War' is also essential DVD viewing
for his account of his discussions
about the Cuban Missile Crisis with
Castro and the Cuban leadership when
they were all older: and much wiser?

For Brian Wilson's recollections see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2003/aug/28/cuba.world

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/feb/08/comment.cuba

  • 3.
  • At 07:59 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • John wrote:

Is George Gallaway really the only person you could get on the "pro" side. There are lots of arguments for and against his regime but do not think you should end the discussion before it begins by getting someone like GG to argue the defense!

  • 4.
  • At 08:09 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Nick Thornsby wrote:

Just seen Galloway on C4 news, and he was as ridiculous as usual. He simply doesn't answer questions and gets stupidly defensive for no reason. He was spouting out loads of conspiracy theories, and apparently channel 4 news is just full of regurgitated fox news content!

Should be interesting anyway, and no doubt there will be a 'heated' debate!

  • 5.
  • At 09:38 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • robert b wrote:

Who will be replacing Stephanie Flanders as Newsnight economice editor?

rob

I agree John. I don't think Galloway did himself any favours on Channel 4 tonight. His attack mode is looking increasingly stale these days. He is sometimes fun to watch but surely Newsnight could have found someone a bit more credible.

I agree John. I don't think Galloway did himself any favours on Channel 4 tonight. His attack mode is looking increasingly stale these days. He is sometimes fun to watch but surely Newsnight could have found someone a bit more credible.

The journalists were quick to challenge the police to provide hard evidence that they could be held responsible for anyone's suicide - applying a far higher standard than they themselves did when claiming that there were suicide cults on the internet. Meanwhile, the Daily Mail today runs a story with the headline 'Bridgend bully spared jail for driving friend to suicide using networking site to form fake relationship'. The story is actually about two lads in Brighton. The only mention of Bridgend is in that headline.

  • 9.
  • At 11:26 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Compay Segundo wrote:

A SHAMEFUL PRAISE OF FASCISM

The most shameful praise of dictatorship and authoritarianism I have ever seen. The pathetic scene of Mr Paxman losing the plot and trying to silence the Cuban political refugee says it all. (GG was funny, though)

As always the liberal left fond of condoning ruthless and bloodthirsty regimes as long as they oppose the West or the United States.

Shouldn’t there be better ways to waste the money we pay for the TV license? Paxman, SVP, cash your pension, retire and leave us alone...

  • 10.
  • At 11:28 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Michael Valdiny wrote:

Poor old Galloway, all his dictators are either being hanged, deposed, or retiring. Now Castro hangs up his combats and on Bush's watch.. Its enough to make you turn to capitalism.

  • 11.
  • At 11:29 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Michael Valdiny wrote:

Poor old Galloway, all his dictators are either being hanged, deposed, or retiring. Now Castro hangs up his combats and on Bush's watch.. Its enough to make you turn to capitalism.

  • 12.
  • At 11:32 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Compay Segundo wrote:

A SHAMEFUL PRAISE OF FASCISM

The most shameful praise of dictatorship and authoritarianism I have ever seen. The pathetic scene of Mr Paxman losing the plot and trying to silence the Cuban political refugee says it all. (GG was funny, though)

As always the liberal left fond of condoning ruthless and bloodthirsty regimes as long as they oppose the West or the United States.

Shouldn’t there be better ways to waste the money we pay for the TV license? Paxman, SVP, cash your pension, retire and leave us alone...

  • 13.
  • At 11:32 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • michaela smith wrote:

I travelled through all of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Haiti. I spent 7 incredible weeks in Cuba - 2 of which I survived on a mere $50 after being robbed. It provided me with quite some in-depth understanding of Cuba, which most tourists, ambassadors and journalists would never gain. Cuba is the ONLY place in all of L-A where children do not have to work, where no-one sleeps in the streets, where conditions are reasonably humane in terms of food and shelter, education and health care. Sure, the population is kept on a short leash in terms of certain freedoms - we 'free' Westerners are kept on an equally short one in terms of many others. As far as oppression goes, the Cubans complain that there's a policeman on every corner to control them - well what about our cameras? Less visible but much more omnipresent. When George W placed Cuba on the list of rogue nations, in May 2002, I was so impressed at the tribunals being held to discuss - amongst locals - how to respond. 8 out of the 11 million inhabitants marched for their country. Very sorry if this destroys everyone's idea of a dictatorship but you can't tell me that a dictator can get that proportion of his people to march out of fear! Whatever Castro's shortcomings, he did well. And if he didn't, why were the US soooo scared of the influence of Castroism in the region that they invaded Grenada (1982), supposedly because the presence of Cubans there posed 'a threat to national security'? It wasn't GG's comments that made me howl with laughter, it was the salon pro-democracy journalist Mr. Hamm.

  • 14.
  • At 11:36 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • michaela smith wrote:

I travelled through all of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Haiti. I spent 7 incredible weeks in Cuba - 2 of which I survived on a mere $50 after being robbed. It provided me with quite some in-depth understanding of Cuba, which most tourists, ambassadors and journalists would never gain. Cuba is the ONLY place in all of L-A where children do not have to work, where no-one sleeps in the streets, where conditions are reasonably humane in terms of food and shelter, education and health care. Sure, the population is kept on a short leash in terms of certain freedoms - we 'free' Westerners are kept on an equally short one in terms of many others. As far as oppression goes, the Cubans complain that there's a policeman on every corner to control them - well what about our cameras? Less visible but much more omnipresent. When George W placed Cuba on the list of rogue nations, in May 2002, I was so impressed at the tribunals being held to discuss - amongst locals - how to respond. 8 out of the 11 million inhabitants marched for their country. Very sorry if this destroys everyone's idea of a dictatorship but you can't tell me that a dictator can get that proportion of his people to march out of fear! Whatever Castro's shortcomings, he did well. And if he didn't, why were the US soooo scared of the influence of Castroism in the region that they invaded Grenada (1982), supposedly because the presence of Cubans there posed 'a threat to national security'? It wasn't GG's comments that made me howl with laughter, it was the salon pro-democracy journalist Mr. Hamm.

I truly fear for Cuba now that Castro has 'hung up his fatigues'. Just look at the Dominican Republic, supposely a free and democratic nation but in reality sold lock stock and two cocaine spouting barrels to Westerners with the indigenous population effectively in modern day slavery, pandering to the needs of the rich estranjeros. KEEP AMERICA AWAY from Cuba. It'll be the death knell for many.

  • 15.
  • At 11:37 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • neil robertson wrote:

To get from 'The Wombles' theme to an evocation of The Orinoco River
as it flows through Venezuela was
quite brilliant! And without maps!

  • 16.
  • At 11:41 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • michaela smith wrote:

I travelled through all of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Haiti. I spent 7 incredible weeks in Cuba - 2 of which I survived on a mere $50 after being robbed. It provided me with quite some in-depth understanding of Cuba, which most tourists, ambassadors and journalists would never gain. Cuba is the ONLY place in all of L-A where children do not have to work, where no-one sleeps in the streets, where conditions are reasonably humane in terms of food and shelter, education and health care. Sure, the population is kept on a short leash in terms of certain freedoms - we 'free' Westerners are kept on an equally short one in terms of many others. As far as oppression goes, the Cubans complain that there's a policeman on every corner to control them - well what about our cameras? Less visible but much more omnipresent. When George W placed Cuba on the list of rogue nations, in May 2002, I was so impressed at the tribunals being held to discuss - amongst locals - how to respond. 8 out of the 11 million inhabitants marched for their country. Very sorry if this destroys everyone's idea of a dictatorship but you can't tell me that a dictator can get that proportion of his people to march out of fear! Whatever Castro's shortcomings, he did well. And if he didn't, why were the US soooo scared of the influence of Castroism in the region that they invaded Grenada (1982), supposedly because the presence of Cubans there posed 'a threat to national security'? It wasn't GG's comments that made me howl with laughter, it was the salon pro-democracy journalist Mr. Hamm.

I truly fear for Cuba now that Castro has 'hung up his fatigues'. Just look at the Dominican Republic, supposely a free and democratic nation but in reality sold lock stock and two cocaine spouting barrels to Westerners with the indigenous population effectively in modern day slavery, pandering to the needs of the rich estranjeros. KEEP AMERICA AWAY from Cuba. It'll be the death knell for many.

  • 17.
  • At 11:48 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Stephen Lawrence wrote:

The director of the programme must be a Philistine, how could he or she fade out Gabriela Montero for the weather report! Those kind of talents are uplifting and should be celebrated to the full.

Steve

  • 18.
  • At 11:54 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • Stephen Lawrence wrote:

The director of the programme must be a Philistine, how could he or she fade out Gabriela Montero for the weather report! Those kind of talents are uplifting and should be celebrated to the full.

Steve

  • 19.
  • At 11:55 PM on 19 Feb 2008,
  • michaela smith wrote:

I travelled through all of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Haiti. I spent 7 incredible weeks in Cuba - 2 of which I survived on a mere $50 after being robbed. It provided me with quite some in-depth understanding of Cuba, which most tourists, ambassadors and journalists would never gain. Cuba is the ONLY place in all of L-A where children do not have to work, where no-one sleeps in the streets, where conditions are reasonably humane in terms of food and shelter, education and health care. Sure, the population is kept on a short leash in terms of certain freedoms - we 'free' Westerners are kept on an equally short one in terms of many others. As far as oppression goes, the Cubans complain that there's a policeman on every corner to control them - well what about our cameras? Less visible but much more omnipresent. When George W placed Cuba on the list of rogue nations, in May 2002, I was so impressed at the tribunals being held to discuss - amongst locals - how to respond. 8 out of the 11 million inhabitants marched for their country. Very sorry if this destroys everyone's idea of a dictatorship but you can't tell me that a dictator can get that proportion of his people to march out of fear! Whatever Castro's shortcomings, he did well. And if he didn't, why were the US soooo scared of the influence of Castroism in the region that they invaded Grenada (1982), supposedly because the presence of Cubans there posed 'a threat to national security'? It wasn't GG's comments that made me howl with laughter, it was the salon pro-democracy journalist Mr. Hamm.

I truly fear for Cuba now that Castro has 'hung up his fatigues'. Just look at the Dominican Republic, supposely a free and democratic nation but in reality sold lock stock and two cocaine spouting barrels to Westerners with the indigenous population effectively in modern day slavery, pandering to the needs of the rich estranjeros. KEEP AMERICA AWAY from Cuba. It'll be the death knell for many.

  • 20.
  • At 12:05 AM on 20 Feb 2008,
  • michaela smith wrote:

I travelled through all of Latin America and the Caribbean, including Haiti. I spent 7 incredible weeks in Cuba - 2 of which I survived on a mere $50 after being robbed. It provided me with quite some in-depth understanding of Cuba, which most tourists, ambassadors and journalists would never gain. Cuba is the ONLY place in all of L-A where children do not have to work, where no-one sleeps in the streets, where conditions are reasonably humane in terms of food and shelter, education and health care. Sure, the population is kept on a short leash in terms of certain freedoms - we 'free' Westerners are kept on an equally short one in terms of many others. As far as oppression goes, the Cubans complain that there's a policeman on every corner to control them - well what about our cameras? Less visible but much more omnipresent. When George W placed Cuba on the list of rogue nations, in May 2002, I was so impressed at the tribunals being held to discuss - amongst locals - how to respond. 8 out of the 11 million inhabitants marched for their country. Very sorry if this destroys everyone's idea of a dictatorship but you can't tell me that a dictator can get that proportion of his people to march out of fear! Whatever Castro's shortcomings, he did well. And if he didn't, why were the US soooo scared of the influence of Castroism in the region that they invaded Grenada (1982), supposedly because the presence of Cubans there posed 'a threat to national security'? It wasn't GG's comments that made me howl with laughter, it was the salon pro-democracy journalist Mr. Hamm.

I truly fear for Cuba now that Castro has 'hung up his fatigues'. Just look at the Dominican Republic, supposely a free and democratic nation but in reality sold lock stock and two cocaine spouting barrels to Westerners with the indigenous population effectively in modern day slavery, pandering to the needs of the rich estranjeros. KEEP AMERICA AWAY from Cuba. It'll be the death knell for many.

  • 21.
  • At 12:31 AM on 20 Feb 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

RE Bridgend-Media link.
How can the media be to blame when the media was quite slow off the mark with the reporting.
If the media is now to blame for these lost souls then how can it be that this 'virus' isn't spreading round the country to adolescents with no connection to Bridgend? For instance do depressed children in Monmouth, Newport Cardiff Bristol all say to themselves "What a good idea"...
"Dratt I live outside the area; oh well on with my miserable life"
...How do we know there isn't one or more crazy people out in society seeking out these victims and staging suicide??

  • 22.
  • At 01:02 AM on 20 Feb 2008,
  • Pauline Campbell wrote:

DEATHS OF YOUNG PEOPLE IN AND AROUND BRIDGEND

Media coverage of the recent tragic deaths in Bridgend leaves much to be desired.

These deaths should not be referred to as "suicides", as police investigations are ongoing, and inquests are outstanding.

When police investigations are completed, and evidence is passed to the Coroner, inquests will then take place in a court of law. Only the Coroner's Court has the right to say, in light of the evidence, whether these deaths are suicides. In the meantime, they should be referred to as apparently self-inflicted deaths. To describe a death as a suicide, or apparent suicide, prior to an inquest taking place, is unacceptable.

Even if the deaths are found to be self-inflicted, it does not necessarily follow that suicide verdicts will be returned. There is a commonly held misconception that a self-inflicted death and a suicide are the same thing. Journalists making incorrect assumptions fail to realise that suicide is to do with intent. A Coroner's Court is not allowed to return a suicide verdict unless the evidence indicates that the person intended to take their own life. Responsible coverage of such deaths necessitates accurate reporting of the facts but, equally important, should also take into account the feelings of grieving families.

Newsnight's front page ("media reporting of the suicides in Bridgend") incorrectly uses the word "suicides".

Your report states "there has been a powerful press conference this afternoon concerning the young people in and around Bridgend who have taken their lives in recent months". The sentence should state: "... who have apparently taken their lives in recent months".

My teenage daughter died in 2003. Her death was self-inflicted. In 2005, the inquest jury (quite rightly) did NOT return a "suicide" verdict, as the evidence in court clearly indicated that she had not intended to die, and that her death was a "cry for help" that went unheeded. The court's verdict was highly critical of those who were responsible for my daughter's care when she died, and cited a "failure in the duty of care" as having contributed to her death.

  • 23.
  • At 01:14 AM on 20 Feb 2008,
  • Compay Segundo wrote:

"It provided me with quite some in-depth understanding of Cuba, which most tourists, ambassadors and journalists would never gain."

SILLY TOURISTS, SILLY REMARKS

It is evident that some people's in-depth understanding of Cuba isn't any better than the Spanish in-depth understanding of the Benidorm-average tourist that never leaves the resort compound...

The people who make that kind of silly remarks, I would have them living in the island for a few years, in a Cuban salary, where they will be able to enjoy that "reasonable" food -fresh produce rationing and meat once a month may be a good diet- and "humane" shelter –enjoy the comfort of sharing a bathroom with 3 families in a half collapsed building-, and enjoying the omnipresent police who would kindly provide them with free lodging (behind bars) as soon as they make a complain against the ruling party...

I suspect that what he enjoyed were those women so desperate in poverty that they would get laid just on return for a hot water shower.

  • 24.
  • At 04:55 AM on 20 Feb 2008,
  • the cookie ducker wrote:

Che's been dead for forty odd years and at long last the Cubans have a chance to finally grow up, with the ageing leader Fidel finally calling it a day.
Revolutions driven by the desire for freedom for the people normally spawn tyrannical dictatorships. Cuba just accepted arrested development instead; thanks to the hatred of the USA from some idiot in a green jacket and hat. Some on the left still have that 'citizen smith' attitude about Cuba and its iconic romantic myth still plasted on their 1970s bedroom walls, even on some labour MPs ideological alters, when will THEY ever grow up eh?

Jeremy asked a guest what positives has come out of Cuba...i can give him an answer to that easy question..a nation of resourceful car mechanics.

Venezuelan pianist Gabriela clearly has talent with her ability to improvise known tunes and also play in the style of past composers and musicians but i think adding the extra thrill of introducing her to a tune from a 30 yr old childrens English TV programme was possibly asking a bit much from her.. who flipped the coin on this choice?...anyhow she did not flap, even with Jeremy already out of his comfy-zone hurrying her along, nailed the basic melody in a few seconds and cracked on..where i don't know as the credits and weather came in far too quick for us to hear that familiar wombles tune manifest from this piano virtuosic....

What an absolutley brilliant Newsnight! From the the debate on Castro - even Jeremy was shocked to hear George Galloway comparing Hitler to George Bush! Other than GG, it was a very interesting debate. Excellent debate on the Bridgend suicides. However, the best was saved til last! Poor Gabriela had to improvise on the Wombles theme tune - and she was outstanding!!! Could we have her back on Newsnight???? :-)

  • 26.
  • At 03:26 PM on 20 Feb 2008,
  • Tracer Hand wrote:

Test

  • 27.
  • At 04:49 PM on 20 Feb 2008,
  • michaela smith wrote:

Sorry Compay but you miss the point. On neighbouring Hispaniola - supposedly 'free and democratic' - conditions are infinitely worse, without the libretto (ration book) to fall back on and no shelter and lots of child labour and infinitely more prostitution and sex tourism than in Cuba. That's the fairly wealthy DR I'm talking about. You want to know about Haiti??? Take all the pictures of starving, miserable, sick African children and multiply them by a 1000 and you begin to get an inkling of the level of deprivation in Haiti. So my hat off to Fidel Castro - for all his shortcomings - and back on for Bush's definition of freedom and democracy.

Oh and Michaela is a woman's name and I'm definitely not gay

Galloway is entertaining always.
The US did make life very difficult for Castro and smeared his country terribly.
Who will replace him and are the US delighted?
I can only imagine what their secret service are up to as we speak!

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