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Tuesday 30 August 2011

Sarah McDermott | 11:29 UK time, Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Seven people have been shot dead by security forces during anti-government protests in Syria at the start of the festival of Eid al-Fitr, activists say. Our diplomatic editor Mark Urban will have the latest later.

Tim Whewell is in Libya and has a film for us about nation building, which sees him haggling over the price of AK47s at a Benghazi gun market.

Anna Adams examines the row over independent abortion counselling and who should do it.

And Neil Bowdler considers if resomation, a body 'liquefaction' process, and promession, a method of freeze-drying corpses, could offer greener alternatives to burial and cremation. Read more about that here.

Do join Emily at 2230 on BBC Two.


  • Comment number 1.


    How many UNCONSULTED, potential conceptions, would opt to leave Nirvana, and be subjected to modern gestation, parturition, rearing, programming and Mammonnic manipulation, followed by 'storage unto death'?

    As I often quote Long John Silver: "The dead will be the lucky ones". To debate the NUANCES of abortion, against this soulless backdrop, is on a par with 'angels on a pin'. And set against wholesale slaughter of Johnnie Foreigner - fatuous.

  • Comment number 2.

    DEFENCE WEAPONS (on topic)

    Might Tim enquire the price of UK-produced defence weapons? You know, smart-guns that only kill bad guys? From memory, we disbanded our arms industry after the Arms for Iraq scandal, and now produce nothing offensive. . .

    It makes one proud.

  • Comment number 3.


    Re Mike Rudin (BBC producer of the series Conspiracies)

    Now just why would he possibly want to promote the idea that claims of a 9/11 'inside job' is just a conspiracy theory? What does he have to gain, remembering that it precipitated the entire 'war-on-terror' policy.

    Some statist or other on here may have described him as being a Trotskyite anarchist.


  • Comment number 4.


    What about Binladenisation? This is burial at sea in a long-span biodegradable mesh bag, with some beach pebbles for weight.

    I rather think the Jews might favour this approach, when the Mount of Olives is full. They are a very resourceful people, as JJ was wont to remark.

  • Comment number 5.

    NATION BUILDING (on topic)

    Is it me, or is 'NATION BUILDING' about as ARROGANT as any imploding faux democracy can get? Dave recently announced, in advanced, what the was going to AGREE at Jalil, the basic requirements for Libya - going forward. ('at' used advisedly.)

    And 'Just' William Hague has - apparently - all the skills to bring a 'just' and lasting peace, to an Arab society that is known throughout the Mediterranean, as 'Little Yorkshire'. Indeed, in Benghazi, they speak of little else.

    One day, a grateful Libya will take to wearing crumpled woolly socks in homage to a great statesman of our time - the man who ALSO saved the Pound.


  • Comment number 6.

    I have been following events in Libya (mostly via Sky News and Al Jazeera) very closely and it is good to see that lessons truly have been learnt by the 'coalition of the willing', both in the execution of the war itself and in the following phase as the NTC attempt to built a broadly democratic society almost from scratch.

    Nevertheless, I would imagine that if I lived in Libya just now, an AK47 would be a very high on the shopping list, it can always be handed in in a few months time when things are hopefully more stable there although no doubt NewsNight will interpret it in an entirely different light.

    All those years ago Andy Grove (ex-Intel CEO) said 'Only the paranoid survive' and there is some truth in that.

  • Comment number 7.

    Alternative to burial and cremation? What is the difference between the so-called "green" method and just sticking a dead body in a vat of hydrofluoric acid? :p

  • Comment number 8.

    "COALITION OF THE WILLING" (comment: on-topic post #6)

    Um- how can I put this?

    I think that mind numbing phrase (coalition of the willing) was born of the Miltonian union of Dubya Bush and Zed Blair? It doesn't even manage to be a respectable oxymoron or a non-sequitur! Is it a sort of tautological inexactitude?

    What is a coalition of the unwilling called? RANK AND FILE LIB-DEMS?


  • Comment number 9.

    NIMBY (comment: on-message #7)

    Are you, at all, acquainted with Hydrofluoric Acid 76?

  • Comment number 10.

    why do we want to 'interfere' in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and never ever do want to 'interfere' in Palestine and help a population subjugated and terrorised for over half century/ The double standard of double standards shurely.....

  • Comment number 11.

    Funny subjects for NN tonight, birth and death, how to get more babies born and how to get rid of the bodies we no longer need, what a juxtaposition.

    And no mention of the housing shortage, but then they'd have to bring up mass immigration the main reason we have a housing shortage, and mentioning immigration wouldn't do at all would it.

    I've listened to several reports on the beeb now, they talk about everything, all true, except the millions more people the UK population has swollen by, what is it now, 2 a minute if you include the births as well.

    Barrie sorry to see you are being so heavily censored. Must be something really interesting to the rest of us.

  • Comment number 12.

    THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE, APPLIED TO KILLING (response: on-topic#10)

    Hardly the way of 'honourable' men to say, without a hint of embarrassment: "Oh we can't attack Israel - Syria - (remember Tibet?) WE MIGHT GET HURT!"

    Where is the honour in such an approach? Yet 600 odd (very odd) MPs, accept the prefix 'honourable' WITHOUT ANY JUSTIFICATION WHATSOEVER. Then they go on to manipulate at home and annihilate abroad, and like those despicable rioters


    When shall we see the first MP renounce the mockery of 'honourable'? ('Member' - they can keep.)

    Nuff sed

  • Comment number 13.

    Annie Machon talks about how the state uses the media

    an anecdote about someone in NN gets a mention!

  • Comment number 14.

    Why does most of the BBC shut down for the same holiday periods as the nigh useless Westminster whittol politicians (Newsnight being the exception, of course).

    Where in the UK Constitution (or BBC Trust documents) does it say that the UK Parliament (and BBC combined?) should be run like a college campus with extended summer holiday breaks failing to deliver overall value for money for licence payers & taxpayers?

    Time for a some shake outs - this is what David Cameron proposed last year but for some reason or another - he seems to have changed his mind on this & has gone very quiet.

    Full marks Newsnight for, at least - 'showing up!'

  • Comment number 15.

    I think I still prefer a box of ashes for livening up the dear friend's cabbage patch.

    The propsect of being able to pour the remains of a relative down the sink or take one home freeze dried to stand in the corner in their own glass case or something - which is what would & will happen if either of the two proposed body treatment technologies ever get put into normal use - fills me with dread, shock & disgust.

    'Earth to earth
    Ashes to ashes
    Dust to dust'

    These words are important & are there & used for important reasons.

  • Comment number 16.

    Last post tonight, I promise.

    Why don't those in Syria get a bit more savvy & try not to get themselves shot by nasty despotic enforcers.

    Try some form of govt non-cooperation, go slows, less visible forms of civil disobedeince, sabotage etc.

    For goodness sake you guys in Syria - wise up a bit & be a bit more careful!

    There are plenty of ways of bringing down a rotten despot govt without getting yourselves shot - just try thinking a bit harder!

  • Comment number 17.

    UK's summer 'coolest since 1993' says Met Office

    oh no. NASA is expecting aliens to wipe out mankind because of global warming.

  • Comment number 18.


    Its probably just another eco-fascist inspired investment scam, typical of the eco-fascist leaning BBC to give it such prominent virtual advertising coverage!

  • Comment number 19.

    Eco fascist? I've heard it all now
    Is that that mad scientific rogues in the private sector are eco fascists & the rest work at the NHS?

  • Comment number 20.

    nautonier wrote:
    "There are plenty of ways of bringing down a rotten despot govt without getting yourselves shot - just try thinking a bit harder!"

    Any ideas for nearer home?

  • Comment number 21.


    The health-fascists have almost completed their takeover of the NHS, along with the safety-fascists its all part of the Corporate Nazi ideology festering in the UK establishment !!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    20.At 19:55 30th Aug 2011, indignantindegene wrote:
    nautonier wrote:
    "There are plenty of ways of bringing down a rotten despot govt without getting yourselves shot - just try thinking a bit harder!"

    Any ideas for nearer home?


    Yeah - Keep voting Tory!

  • Comment number 23.

    21.At 20:08 30th Aug 2011, brossen99 wrote:

    So all those extra billions spent by Nu Labour wasn't wasted after all - funny isn't it - that the worst fascists - invariably turn out to be socialists/commies in disguise?

  • Comment number 24.

    #13 jc

    Re Annie Machon

    Great link - a must watch

    John Simpson is the worst offender imho.

  • Comment number 25.


    Re Annie Machon

    Alas, Annie was/is not aware of the writings of one of the very few who has deduced what the real aganda of the elite, in western liberal democracies, really is.

    JJ-five names worked it out.

    I honestly believe Churchill worked it out, but he was seduced by their promise of historical immortality, dependant upon defeat of national socialism. He sold out his soul for a bit of historical fame.

    If you really don't get the real anti-statist vs statist agenda of the REAL politics of the c20th, then don't bother.

    Because you are probably a bit stupid.

  • Comment number 26.

    Abortion, The leftist, and the full-on hate of Christianity. Classic BBC report was that. Can we have a report on the manner Islam treats their women and their attitudes towards the gay community. (Don't hold your breath awaiting that report)

    Is six weeks of life in the womb not a life. Is a seedling sprouting not life?
    Consider contraception or sterlisation if you don't want Babeeees...there you go, problem solved and the money saved on councelors will be tremendous.
    My mates son broke his arm a few months ago and he has a counselor...unbelieveable!!!!!.."you broke your arm now get over it you big baby, your 15..get a grip and move on"...thats all that needs to be said. I digress.

    I'm not religious and I care not one jot what a woman does with her body or unborn child. My beef is the attack of Christianity by the leftists and their media arm (the BBC) whilst never touching on the attitudes of Islam. Any chance the family hating Marxist leftists and their media arm get (the BBC) they go all hard core when attacking Christianity..but we see the double standards, we know what your doing.

    Stop reading the Guardian and get some Daily Mail delivered at the BBC for goodness sake. Your becoming so hard to watch these days.

  • Comment number 27.


    Great tirade Kev.

    I think pregnancy is the primary cause of abortion. I think alcohol is the primary cause of pregnancy. I suspect awareness of abortion on demand might be causative in pregnancy (like awareness of air bags may be causative in accidents).

    We just don't have a culture any more - do we. No pride, shame, embarrassment, humility, virtue, integrity or dignity.


  • Comment number 28.

  • Comment number 29.

    I have been surveying the opportunities to positively/constructively criticise the BBC`s "output going forward" and come across nothing which really fits with my desired specification.
    This comments section comes closest in that it seems to allow a fair range of criticisms without being too oppressive to you regulars,but can anyone here explain the bizarre goings on at Biased BBC?
    In an age of RT and Max Keiser and Alex Jones Biased BBC seems to be the work of right wingers on Wall Street and in Tel Aviv. They appear to seriously believe that the BBC is anti-Israeli? Does that square with other`s perceptions?

  • Comment number 30.

    @27 I imagine it is symptomatic rather than causative Mr Singleton.

    You might consider whether politicians in any society are free to challenge the elite and the interests of the powerful in that society.

    If you wanted to become an MP or Lord then you would have to bow down to powerful interests like Washington and Wall Street and the Vatican as a pre-condition to "serving" the British electorate.

  • Comment number 31.

    '14. At 19:09 30th Aug 2011, nautonier wrote:
    Why does most of the BBC shut down for the same holiday periods as the nigh useless Westminster whittol politicians'

    Well, nothing is happening during the school hols. Apparently. Shame no one told many out there in or making the news, especially globally.

    Still, it makes surfing the blogs quicker. This one was a hoot:

    All of 22 folk got to chip in, on the 22nd. There must be some symbolic aspect.

    Not sure if it helps the BBC 'speaking for the nation' claim, mind. But so long as the rest stump up the licence fee can be well directed one is sure.

    Wonder when in September he gets back?

    Meanwhile, in a small backwater of exchange nearby...

    And 'the facts' are... it's the ratings, stupid. Never mind the quality, feel the market rate bonusses.

    Great to see so little has changed at the top.

    'Anna Adams examines the row over independent abortion counselling and who should do it.'

    Such is the state of news these days, I initially read that as who was gunning for top cheese on 'doing' the row aspect, which is clearly the edgy media's job. Even if there is not a row, one tends to find one can be created to order to suit.

  • Comment number 32.

    A BRITAIN OF INTEGRITY (off topic response to #29 and #28)

    You make a timely observation BBBBC. And your comment that America has its high profile dissenters, while we only have timid fawners, raises my question of recent date:


    Lizzy #28: I think you need to add the millions who slip in under the (non existent) Radar, to meld into the black-economy, WHO ARE UNCOUNTABLE.

    I wonder if Heather Brooke might take a look?

  • Comment number 33.

    WILLING TO DEBATE THAT ONE BBBBC (off topic response to #30)

    Meanwhile: may I respectfully ask where you are on the 'GOOD MEN DOING NOTHING' scale? Do you have a plan? A practical strategy? Have you put your MP on notice?

    With genuine respect.

  • Comment number 34.

    End Piece
    I voted Green last time (to oust the Big 3 and there was no UKIP candidate) so I suppose I should think again about cremation. Of course it won’t make much difference to me how I go, but whilst I’m still around I’m concerned about:
    ‘Body tissue is dissolved in heated alkaline water and the liquid poured into the municipal water system.’ (Resomation)

    I happen to like swimming in rivers and the sea and I don’t fancy swimming in somebody else’s used bathwater. Promession sounds better:

    'The body is treated with liquid nitrogen, vibrated, dried and refined further, then passed through filters, and poured into a square biodegradable coffin for shallow burial.'

    As a keen veggie gardener I spend much of my time ‘digging in dead Earnest’ and realise that my soil and any purchased compost includes some billions of recycled people. I don’t wear gloves and (so) I don’t get allergies.

    So my vote goes to Promession (and UKIP)

  • Comment number 35.

    29. At 08:49 31st Aug 2011, BiasedbiasedBBC - Does that square with other`s perceptions?

    There is an (expensive, to some kind contributors) report that might help in this regard.

    Sadly, in an era when the phrase 'questions need to be asked' is deployed a lot by some until the spotlight turns and the demand for answers from those paid well in public service is no longer a given, this remains a secret.

    So many standards, such selective memories.

  • Comment number 36.


    Absolutely with you Mr S. on TRYING to do "something" effective, but endlessly aware that since 1964 (when I joined the Young Socialists) I have been tilting at Westminster Windmills to absolutely no effect at all.

    I think we need a more credible Plan B,which finally acknowledges that if you placed our current crop of politicians and journalists on a waterboard you would find many of them really hold views not dissimilar from the supposedly heretical stuff you and the other regulars produce here.

    But we all know that their kid`s private education and their cosy Hampstead lifestyles are at stake,so they don`t dare say so!

    Now think on!

  • Comment number 37.


    Thanks JunkkMale but if the BBC is anti-Israeli I will eat my hat!The Israeli Zionist grip on the global media is legendary.

  • Comment number 38.

    Perhaps it would be more fruitful if we considered to what extent the BBC is pro-British?

  • Comment number 39.

    How does Tony Blair -the middle east peace merchant -cope with having a sister-in-law like Lauren - a hard line Muslim convert:

  • Comment number 40.

    thank goodness for iplayer and the fast forward.

  • Comment number 41.

    I Have a Syrian Dream

    By Michael Luther King

    I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the modern history of Syria.
    Three score years ago, a new constitution was established. It came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Syrians who had been longing for independence.
    But a score years later, the same Syrians lost their freedom to a military junta. Today, the life of a Syrian is sadly crippled by the manacles of tyranny, the chains of corruption and the despot’s sovereign right to exercise butchery. Men and boys are tortured to death. Women are raped and killed. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
    When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the constitution, they were signing a promissory note to which every Syrian was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, regardless of their sect and political views, would be guaranteed equal rights.
    We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind the world of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of false promises of ill-defined reforms. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of despotism to the sunlit path of democracy. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of a police state to the solid rock of a welfare state. Now is the time to finish an orgy of wholesale murder.
    And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the Syrian dream.
    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its old constitution: "In front of the law, all citizens are equal in obligations, rights, dignity and social status."
    I have a dream that one day on the red plains of Deraa, people can peacefully demonstrate without being shot at or beaten to death.
    I have a dream that one day the Assads realize that Syria is not a personal property of theirs and they share its wealth with its people.
    I have a dream that one day the Assads and their regime thugs are brought to justice.
    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their sect and loyalty to the regime but by the content of their character.
    I have a dream that one day the Syrian people can live a life free of intimidation and exploitation.
    I have a dream today!
    I have a dream that one day the champions of freedom, democracy and human rights can do something other than watching the carnage and condemning it.
    I have a dream that one day those who on false grounds threatened to veto a resolution condemning a government for slaughtering its own people will be tried by their own people.
    I have a dream today!
    I have a dream that one day the free people of the world realize that this not an internal affair but a global human rights issue of concern to everybody reading or listening to this.
    I have a dream that one day my fellow human beings realize that they can save a nation by jut saying they want freedom for Syrians. Yes, they can. All human beings must speak out to say “stop killing”; it is the responsibility of all of us.

  • Comment number 42.

  • Comment number 43.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 44.


    I sincerely wish we could find some infallible magic formula to "stop the killing",but evidence from our experiences of being part of an American Empire (with its endless Media,CIA and Big Business interference in the domestic affairs of other nations) suggests that we cannot do it.

    In our "democracy" few foreign affairs matters are allowed to become the subject of public debate and scrutiny,and it`s clear we are simply not told enough facts about situations like the present one in Syria to make informed decisions anyway.

    "Our" government`s policies are heavily influenced by economic and political decisions made in Washington,Wall Street and increasingly in China and India.We are not participants in a democracy.Let`s face facts!

  • Comment number 45.


    Follow Brossen99 link #42.

    We really are caught up in Blair's battle of Good v Evil.
    But the true horror is that Tony never realised he had been 'annexed' by Screwtape.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 47.

    As the new mod regime seems to have been notched up a tad, one presumes simply sharing these two URLS (in house and house paper) are acceptable, sans non-newspeak commentary?

    Keep referring and I'll keep posting. See who prevails.

    And whose integrity ends up looking... questionable for the attempts to shut things down.

  • Comment number 48.

    Final edit attempt. Failing which, I cancel my licence DD and write to my MP to explain why I will need support when Capita comes calling.

  • Comment number 49.

    'alternatives to burial'

    Speaking of which...

    'a film for us about nation building'

    Hope it's just the facts, ma'am.

    Go on, refer this too.

    Even the new regime can't ban a BBC URL, surely?


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