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Wednesday, 18 March, 2009

Sarah McDermott | 17:14 UK time, Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Here's Tim Whewell with news of what's happening this evening on Newsnight:

For generations the life of most Russian soldiers has been nasty, brutish and long. But at last, that's beginning to change. The Kremlin has realised that in order to modernise its army, its hundreds of thousands of badly-trained, demoralised conscripts have to be replaced by eager professionals. It is a huge task, and I've spent several days with Russia's elite paratroopers to see how it is progressing. I sample the army's new improved menus (now served by women), try a parachute jump, and learn to tie the traditional soldier's footcloths that are now being replaced by more modern socks. You might think anyone would want to sign up. But as I discover, the experiment is not going entirely to plan...

We will also be speaking to Lord Turner about his proposals for a "revolution" in regulation, and assessing how radical they are.

As unemployment tops 2 million, we speak to three people who have lost their jobs in the last few months to see how they are coping, including Tina who took on Tony McNulty in our Newsnight Jobs Special.

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And as judges in the Josef Fritzl case consider his sentence, we speak to the forensic psychiatrist who assessed him.

Do join Jeremy at 10.30pm.


  • Comment number 1.

    "You might think anyone would want to sign up."

    Their young people are very thin on the ground as a consequence of their currently very below replacement level TFR.

    I really do think you should take this on board Newsnight, instead of all the dramatic sparkly stuff...

  • Comment number 2.

    In the HoC Economics Debate this PM - it was asserted that the Buy-To-Let business was, at its peak, 4x the size of the car industry. So, as I have asked before, when it comes to economic contraction and 'home' reposessions, and cut-back in bank loans, just how much is accounted for by the Buy-To-Let business?

  • Comment number 3.

    Regulation of the Financial industry. Hmm, a tad late, but even now they still are scared stiff of upsetting a few million greedy house buyers and buy-to-let landlords at the expense of about 10 million savers.

    Too late to stay in your jobs Labour MPs - you have fecked about 10 million prudent savers, who depend on decent IRs for everyday living, and most of them are over-55s who turn out in force at elections.

    The moment Brown, Darling and Labour opted to lower IRs to save house prices at the expense of these silver savers Brown and most Labour MPs were on the way out of power and out of a job. Just a matter of time now.

    Frankly, I am amazed that Labour MPs have not been screaming blue murder at Brown to keep IRs higher. They are a bit slow this lot aren't they!

    Letting house prices crash, allowing people to be able to afford houses, to get back into the housing market, to start buying houses again might have got the economy moving this year and helped save Labour in 2010 at the ballot box. Oh dear - now it will be the end of this Summer before the report on possible mortgage capping to 3.5 times salary will be out. If I was a Labour MP I would be trying to figure out a housing crash 12 months ago! Silly Labour!

  • Comment number 4.

    As much as my heart feels for those who are out of work, the nice clean 'cozy' Job Centres of today are like a 5-star hotels compared to the drab and grey yellow-lit 'wells of despair' benefits offices in the 1980s when so many people in Wales, Scotland and the North of England found themselves out of work for a decade or more.

    In those days millons of people were told to get on their bikes and to move to look for work. Those still in work in the South East of England and the Midlands showed little sympathy for those in other parts of the UK who had been thrown on the scrap-heap. Some said that it was deserved, some mocked the unemployed and boasted how the South East and London didn't need the other parts of the UK. Is there Karma in the Universe?

    It would be wrong to say that there is gloating in many parts of the UK now as we listen to the stories of those unemployed in the South East - we know all too painfully that such unemployment is undoubtedly heading our way as the ripples of recession spread out from London - but there is a certain sense of irony as we watch on and listen to people who have been unemployed but a few short months compared to many Scots, Welsh and Northern English who were unemployed for year after year after year of no hope.

    Perhaps, just perhaps, being unemployed for a while will actually take away the arrogance, replace it with some humility and compassion...You never know, losing their jobs might just be the best thing that has happened to many of these people. It might make them better Human Beings. It might be the best thing that has ever happened to them.

    You are not your job - hopefully, many people will now realise this.

  • Comment number 5.


    Lord Turner said that, worldwide, the 'experts' agreed that they understood money and everything was hunky-dory; "LEARNED PAPERS WERE WRITTEN" supporting the established model.

    It turned out they we ALL wrong.

    But NOW it will be alright under the new system - ALL THE EXPERTS ARE AGREED!

    PS I can't resist pointing out that the IPCC 'experts' ALL agree that man-made CO2 is the cause of global warming. Now there's a thought . . .

  • Comment number 6.

    Brilliant Newsnight tonight -particularly with the trio of Kelly/Would/Owen (the ones on the Newsnight Special last month) talking to Jeremy about unemployment, and also with Dr. Heidi Kastner (Fritzl's Psychiatrist) and Lord Turner on the economic meltdown. :o)

  • Comment number 7.

    barrie (#5) What I heard from Turner last night certainly didn't inspire any faith in regulators, but like Lord Myners, he appears to know how to put on a 'good' show.

    One of Newsnight's commentators last night said that he thought the concept of regulator should be dispensed with and power returned to the BoE, but surely the problem is the size and sophistication of the Financial Sector, and with that, the speed with which it, adapts like a pathogen?

    All in all, this does not bode well I fear.

  • Comment number 8.

    Hey Jean, they are beginning to catch up with you at last! ; )

  • Comment number 9.


    Chris Mullin's 'A View From the Foothills' (Radio 4 all this week) is quite revealing of Blair's foibles and the Westminster charade in general. Mullin's use of 'The Man' (for Blair) is just SO apposite.

    "Adapts like a pathogen". My thoughts exactly JJ.

    On Paul Mason's thread, I have repeated my question of many months back: "What is money?" As I said at the start of all this, I don't think money can be defined, hence all the calculations 'don't add up'. The Emperor is still naked, but now he is broke as well.

  • Comment number 10.

    ecolizzy (#8) "Hey Jean, they are beginning to catch up with you at last! ; )"

    The trouble is, I'd be happy just seeing something, anything, being done nationally. All this diffusion of responsibilty to the world stage is hopeless given the drivers of the problems. Yet, highlight that one can't just go off and do what one likes whenever one likes without adverse consequences, and one is treated as a depressing party-pooper.

    I fear my dysgenesis = too many big_narcissistic_kids_who_just_want_to_have_fun and are anti-authority/patriarchy isn't too far from the truth.

    It's guaranteed to make me unpopular though :-(.

  • Comment number 11.

    I hate to mention the BNP but .... We had the "lost" membership list crisis and the incident with the caravan reception when Nick Griffin was in the area recently.

    So is there somebody trying to undermine Griffin from within? Undetected impure elements of the BNP?

    Anyway as with 99.9% of the population I look forward to them getting hammered at the next election.

  • Comment number 12.

    #10 Jaded_jean

    "It's guaranteed to make me unpopular though"

    Gosh somebody who likes planned economies Hitler style; hazy about the Holocaust; a race "realist" etc. - you could improve on unpopular.

  • Comment number 13.

    How about a piece from Mark Urban on when/if Iran and North Korea get a nuclear capability is it credible they would launch a missile against the West? Five to twenty that may not be accurate verses thousands that could be landed on a postage stamp?

    Is it not more likely that they would go via a back door option, where the author of the crime may not be easily identified (perhaps by the weapon isotopes I don't know), via a suitcase bomb?

    If Pakistan should become unstable what is their strategy on nuclear weapons e.g. rather than risk war with a suspicious India would they unload them to the US?

    Still with all of the economic gloom perhaps we don't want to depress people more.

  • Comment number 14.

    Newsnight Jobs Special

    Great interview on a sensitive and difficult topic; after watching Paxman ‘fry’ past panelists in the hot seat through countless Newsnight episodes, it is nice to finally discover the mellow side of him ;)

    Although the economic outlook looks bleak, a 6.5% unemployment rate is actually not that bad. The jobless figures are noticeably higher among other G7 countries both in Europe and North America. However, I suspect the real problem lies in the exceedingly high costs of living in the UK, and that people are feeling the pinch because their wage rates don’t rise accordingly. While wage deflation may be masking the extent of the problems in the labor market, let’s not rule out the distinct possibility of the government manipulating official unemployment statistics, by disqualifying people off the job claimant count for various reasons. The devil is in the detail.

  • Comment number 15.

    Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease remember that there's very little appetite outside BBC Television Centre for in depth programmes about inhuman sadism and unspeakable sexual perversion. Wrapping a programme up in false piety by claiming Fritzel's trial should have lasted for months and given journalists all the access they wanted is no excuse. Neither is insulting the Austrians by making racist claims that Fritzel's behaviour is some sort of Austrian national trait. Please spare us the gory details that only you can stomach.

  • Comment number 16.

    On the "revolution" in regulation, its inspiring to see those broad shoulders of the government accept responsibility. But no as I said before of Brown the buck will stop elsewhere - until he can't spin or slip and slide his way through. Leave the FSA and the BoE and the "greedy" - but legal - bankers to take the rap.

    I am also staggered that as the Wall St Crash was a "global phenomenon" some seventy years ago Brown did not think to point out, when he was the Iron Chancellor, that the economy could be affected by a global phenomenon at any time. Why if that is the case is there any point in changing the regulatory regime?

    Perhaps as most people now suspect if the regulatory regime had been up to par there may have been a severe recession instead of what looks to be a full blooded crash.

    Also there seems to be no movement on instruments. Are Credit Default Swaps likely to be brought under control?

  • Comment number 17.

    As the Army in Afghanistan are struggling with numbers and the government are struggling with finances should they consider a voluntary "National Service". One or two years and perhaps they would boost recruitment from those that stayed on.

    Clearly you would not get many people who were front line elite fighters but perhaps if you increased the support staff it may ease the pressure and morale of the troops. Help guard bases and maybe man road blocks etc

    On the other hand perhaps they would present targets and the costs of training would drain other vital resources. Also would many volunteer I suppose. You would also have to filter out the far right crack pots.

    On Afghanistan I think Obama is right to try and make it a priority but is his strategy not dependent on what is happening in Pakistan?

    It has to be a joined up policy and with Shariff getting locked up the other day it sounds a bit rocky there.

  • Comment number 18.

    thegangofone (#12) Just to further brighten up your day:

    "The theory of aggregated production, which is the point of the following book, nevertheless can be much easier adapted to the conditions of a totalitarian state [eines totalen Staates] than the theory of production and distribution of a given production put forth under conditions of free competition and a large degree of laissez-faire."

    J M Keynes (1936)
    (German Edition)

    nortongriffiths (#15) Well said.

  • Comment number 19.


    thegangofone (#12) "..who likes planned economies Hitler style; hazy about the Holocaust; a race "realist" etc. - you could improve on unpopular.

    A revealing suggestion.

    Presumably, not advocating a planned (regulated) economy, being full signed up to there having been a genocide of Jews by such people who did, and not believing in racial differences at all, makes people very popular?

    Hmmm...with whom exactly, and... why? What do they get out of it?


  • Comment number 20.

    Re tonight's proposed item on Google and The Street Map ........... there was another
    Google story this week - in The Guardian:

  • Comment number 21.

    #18 JadedJean

    99.9% of people regard the views of the far right as abhorrent and there is as much chance of them achieving a democratic victory at the polls as there is of Nick Griffin winning Big Brother - though I am sure somebody would want to give him a gong.

    In regards to your waffle yes you probably can adapt aggregated production more easily to a totalitarian state. You can probably achieve more by the use of slavery - as the Nazis did.

    But these are social costs that nobody wants to, nor will, pay (and I don't recall Keynes as a far right thinker).

    They also do not want the inflexibility of a totalitarian state as you end up with a dictator that you can't get rid of and they slide into despotic behaviour.

    Would the BNP of today be regarded as Brownshirt flotsam to be jettisoned once the purists had achieved power?

    If Hitler went up and down their ranks would he admire or quietly start drawing up lists and execution methods.

    Most of the public would not want to communicate with you (and don't) and I only do to alert people to your nature.

    You empower the anti-fascists and democrats and probably create divisions within the ranks of the far right who seek "action" rather verbage. Their is quantity but no quality.

    I know you will lunge for the usual "anarchist and Trotskyite" label for my "painting Hitler as darkly as possible" and that is before I even mention the murderous fiends "drinking sessions" with his niece. But everybody, probably even within the far right, is an anarchist and Trotskyite to you.

    I suppose you will be going on a caravan tour somewhere where the people are pure this summer?

    Remember it has to be upright and on the wheels to move it.

  • Comment number 22.

    Ecolizzie #8

    Hey Jean, they are beginning to catch up with you at last!"

    I heard said professor interviewed on R4's Today this morning. While I believe he is absolutely correct in his prediction, his advice for avoiding said perfect storm was restricted to such as using less water and fitting low energy light bulbs etc. (Remember "Save water - bath with a friend"?) I may have missed it, but I did not hear mention of he one and only obvious solution - birth control! The solution to most of this planet's ills. Some people round here won't like that idea, smacks of eugenics they'll say. Interestingly the Jewish New York population rid itself of an unpleasant hereditary disease by dint of practicing 'eugenics' upon themselves.

  • Comment number 23.


    "Most of the public would not want to communicate with you (and don't) and I only do to alert people to your nature."

    Oh dear Gango! I hold no brief for Jaded Jean, but I can't let that go. I have been led to a wide array of challenging scholarship through JJs posts; yours only lead to the aspirin bottle.

    I would not hesitate to seek out and debate with JJ.

    Very annoyed that you have provoked me to this, but as you have: did you register that Lord Turner said 100% of monetary experts were 'believers' and some even wrote learned papers? THEY WERE WRONG.

  • Comment number 24.

    thegangofone (#21) You really should try on some new classification systems.

    here's a sound chap although he's probably not one of your '99.9%ers' (is this an allusion to the ignorati?).

    And Mr Keynes too. What was Darwin, Galton, Spearman, Pearson, Fisher and many others up to do you think?

    Ever get the feeling you've been had?

  • Comment number 25.

    Go1 #21

    "In regards to your waffle"

    "You empower the anti-fascists and democrats and probably create divisions within the ranks of the far right who seek "action" rather verbage. Their is quantity but no quality."

    "Remember it has to be upright and on the wheels to move it."

    Who is waffling exactly? Possibly flecks of foam around the mouth?

  • Comment number 26.


    NewFazer (#22) "Interestingly the Jewish New York population rid itself of an unpleasant hereditary disease by dint of practicing 'eugenics' upon themselves."

    I think you'll find they missed a few e.g. NCAH (and maybe even the Axis II Cluster Bs?). Having said that, I bet nobody calls them 'Nazis' (except in Gaza etc).

    I often wonder if Gentiles are ever going to wake up to what's been done to them via the post-war Psychological Warfare Campaign of Collective Guilt and Neo-Liberalism? The net is awash with jewis webites, but any White Gentile website is deemed supremacist or racist. Anyone wonder why that is?

    One should also look at mean income by ethnic group and to ethnic representation in the House of Lords. See the 10x population over-represnetation and yet the dearth of British Chinese (who also comprise 0.5% of the population and come top in our school SATs league tables).

  • Comment number 27.


    Imagine a) either a sub-group surreptiously (and psychopathically) abusing a main group as cover, or b) said sub-group unwittingly doing so with lack of insight into the consequeces of their actions. Such scotoma (blind-spots) do exist in nature. Self-awareness is always moot when it comes to animal behaviour.

  • Comment number 28.


    Is there a double-standard here? Is it not rational (scientific) to look for deviations from what is expected by chance (ceteris paribus) statistically? Is it not incompetence to neglect searching for rational explanations for observed frequencies which depart from expected?

    Take three groups, where group A has a mean IQ 15 points lower than group B, and Group B has a mean 7.5 points below group C (A=85, B=100, C=107.5). Furthermore, assume that all three groups are of different size, with group A comprising 14% of the population and group C about 5% of the population (we'll leave how homogeneous group B is for now).

    What many people may not fully appreciate is that even if group C is a minority group (numercially), because IQ is Gaussian in distribution by design, groups C's hegemonic advantage over group A's especially is potentially enormous, especially if the culture preaches individualism and equality whilst allowing group interest to flourish for numerically minority groups (because of alleged past persecutions).

    This advantage prevails even relative to group B, even given group C's small size, especially if it is geographically concentrated in urban areas of major political, economic and cultural influence in the nation.

    This must confer hegemonic/political advantage, even if members of the group don't acknowledge this. That advantage is increased through increasing low skilled immigration and the birth-rate in group A.

    The point to be grasped here is that some minority groups may not be disadvantaged at all. The history of colonisation should have taught us that.

    Question: are we possibly seeing something along these lines emerge today without having fully appreciated how it works and how it foments conflict and predatory behaviour?

  • Comment number 29.

    JJ #28

    Given that all this is so, and it makes a chilling kinda sense...

    How would group B break the stranglehold and restore order?

  • Comment number 30.


    NewFazer (#29) "How would group B break the stranglehold and restore order?"

    Good question. At one time (long ago), I thought this was what anti-racist/other equalities legislation (along with anti-corruption/anti-nepotism measures) was designed to address.

    Instead, we appear to have made matters worse through having not fully appreciated that every time laws are passed, lawyers find ways of circumventing them to the benefit of the people they represent. Laws are written in Natural Language, which is, alas, not truth-functional.

    This is why an understanding of the nature of intenSion is so important. You should see Qune on lawyers (in his contribution to 'Take My Advice : Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two by James L. Harmon (Editor)'

  • Comment number 31.

    Sarah (Tim) in lieu of Jeremy:

    And as judges in the Josef Fritzl case consider his sentence, we speak to the forensic psychiatrist who assessed him.

    I think that correct punishment, since it has been imposed and I am not breaking any legal rules...on my own opinion...He should be sent to a Secure Mental Health Prison (Centre) for the rest of his natural life.....

    ~Dennis Junior~


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