Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Crikey, Michael Crick is in Sven's reception

  • Paul Mason
  • 30 Jun 06, 06:14 PM

The words "Michael Crick is in reception" strike fear into the heart of many a politician. Today, fired up by the response of Newsnight viewers to the Swede's sang froid and England's poor performance, Cricky got into an England press conference and gave it both barrels. Echoing Gareth Southgate's famous quote, he asked Svennis whether - at half time tomorrow - he expected to be sounding more like Winston Churchill than Iain Duncan Smith...

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That Guantanamo decision in full...

  • Paul Mason
  • 29 Jun 06, 11:02 PM

Never say that Newsnight stands between you and the actual news, mediating and imposing its own interpretation. I know there are thousands of you legal bods out there just gagging to write exam papers or show off your detailed knowledge in the pubs around the Inns of Court on the basis of having read the Supreme Court judgment - of which an eminent American has just assured Newsnight viewers will be the last of its kind once all the liberal judges die. So, here it is: Hamdan vs Rumsfeld.

Join Newsnight's "Vibe Rooney's Boot" campaign!

  • Paul Mason
  • 29 Jun 06, 02:05 PM

rooneyboot_getty203.jpgThe England camp have notably stopped denying they've been bad, or going on about the virtues of ugly football, and made a concerted PR attempt to convince us the have got the message from the fans and they are fired up for Saturday. That will have to be good enough...

So in the spirit of mutual respect I am starting a global "Vibe Rooney's Boot" campaign.

The concept is simple: every England supporter on earth needs to focus their cosmic energy on Wayne Rooney's boot at the same time. You have to will Rooney to score. You have to focus not on any other part of his anatomy than his booted right foot. You have to do it at two set times:

1) Exactly at the end of the English national anthem, beginnign at the last note. You have to do it for a full minute.
2) If he is still on after half time, a 30 second refresh of the cosmic energy must be done exactly on the moment the whistle goes for 2H kick off.

If you are watching in a pub, club or public screen you must instigate the vibing by holding your arms out in the direction of Gelsenkirchen and wiggling your fingers.
You must imagine Rooney scoring: visualise it in your mind.
If it helps, do the low hum that has become popular at corner kicks, or even better start a chant - "Rooney's boot must score!"

Come on. As many commenters have pointed out, it is time to "get behind the lads". Let's do what the thanatoid manager has failed to do - some karmic adjustment on the England team.

Let's make this a global mass movement on the scale of MPH! (Except of course for Newsnight Scotland)

Send this link to your friends and get your karma ready for release.

If Sven quit this morning...

  • Paul Mason
  • 26 Jun 06, 11:26 AM

sven203associatedpress.jpgThere is so much negative analysis of England’s shambolic performance against Ecuador that I am put in mind of all the books on “Sven and the art of management” that must now, surely, be good for pulping. Here’s a challenge for fellow Idle Scrawlers – Sven resigns today and, Roy of the Rovers style, you are catapulted into the management role, jetting out the Germany right now. The team is assembled in a hotel meeting room; you have 30 minutes to prepare your strategy to beat Portugal. What do you say? Here’s what I would say:

“Lads – there’s only two possibilities: either you are a bunch of lazy, overpaid carthorses, or Sven was doing something wrong. I think the latter. That is why I have asked Mr Mclaren also to sling his hook. Look on it as a liberation – you’ve got a week to get it right and we are going to start the moment we leave this room. For now – a ten point plan...

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Who's showing the next match? YouTube...

  • Paul Mason
  • 25 Jun 06, 01:50 PM

(Don't stop commenting on my previous post. It is now getting vitriolic down there in the 90+ region of the comments. More to follow on Sven - but..)

youtube.jpgMeanwhile, back at the business end of the World Cup, the BBC/ITV have announced how their coverage of the QFs will be divvied up. The good news (bad news if you hate the Beeb) is that we have got the England-Portugal match. However, it is all becoming academic if you watch what's happening on the web: enterprising fans have been taking DV cameras, or using mobiles, of the match action. This being the "me" generation, most of the footage is of them gurning into the camera - but occasionally you get match action. Another popular thing going on is people videoing the TV screen during games and then posting it so that we can all share what it is like to be in Ghana and see them score.

Other spin-off coverage is the rise of the montage-to-music genre of football imagery to make a point. This excellent lament by a S Korea fan of their trouncing by Switzerland is a case in point....though because it is composed of copyright images you will have to click thru to it rather than running it on this site...

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Martin Adler: superb, brave journalist. Realist.

  • Paul Mason
  • 23 Jun 06, 05:27 PM

Martin Adler, an award winning freelance journalist, was shot and killed in Mogadishu earlier today. I worked with Martin on a report on the revolt by the people of the Niger Delta against the oil companies whose wealth has so conspicuously not trickled down. The Newsnight team's visas had been sat on by the Nigerian government but Martin went in on a tourist visa and shot an incredible 12 minute film. We bought the rights to it and he and I worked on the script of the film together. I learned a lot from Martin: he had just won the Rory Peck Award for Charlie Company - an embed film with the US military.

Martin's approach to video journalism is the opposite to the way most mainstream media works: you go there, get the footage using little battered video cameras, you don't shoot "sequences" - you shoot the truth. He went on and on at me in the edit about the film director Lars von Trier and his philopsophy of Dogma, Rule Three of which says:

The camera must be hand-held. Any movement or immobility attainable in the hand is permitted. (The film must not take place where the camera is standing; shooting must take place where the film takes place).

Initial reports say that it was with camera in hand that Martin was shot by an assailant in the midst of an otherwise peaceful demonstration today. Martin worked freelance - going to the places corporate media are wary of, then selling the story to the highest bidder. He is one of a small clan of elite world affairs journalists who can shoot, write, produce, edit. Because of Martin, and people like him, we know a bit of the truth about what conflict does: it senselessly kills people, degrades them

I will remember him not just for the stories he got but for the way he told them - every work was an act of authorship. Of that clan he was the least scarred and cynical.

I can see him now, sitting in an edit suite, spinning through his own footage, debating with me whether we had been "true" to one of the subjects in the piece. Making calls about the next dangerous trip he was about to make. Going on about Lars Von Trier, truth and reality.

He put himself, his hand-held camera, his intellect and sense of humour in the way of the world's meanest people and horrible situations.

A senseless gesture by a man with a gun in a lawless, poverty stricken country has killed him. Thanks to Martin, millions of people understand why such senseless gestures are made, why countries are poverty stricken, and who supplies the guns.

The real big idea in Gordon's speech

  • Paul Mason
  • 22 Jun 06, 11:46 AM

trident203.jpgPity the spinner and the spun to. For 24 of the 36 hours before Gordon Brown made his latest Mansion House speech (read it here or watch it here) I was supposed to be covering it: I had even dug my black tie out of the back of the wardrobe. Then the editors of Newsnight decided Thames Water was a less boring story than Gordon on Globalisation. But in the middle of a reed clump in the Welsh Harp reservoir, Brent, I got a call from Gordon’s people alerting me that – like a well aimed outswinger on a humid day at Trent Bridge – the message of the great man’s speech had curved, late in its trajectory, away from globalisation and towards nuclear annihilation.

Was I aware, the “sources close”, asked me, that the nuclear issue was the “last of the big issues to be sorted out in the next six to eighteen months”? And that this was Gordon speaking “as himself” and “outside his remit as Chancellor”?

Actually yes I was – and having heard the full speech I wish that Gordon Brown’s spinmeisters had actually stuck to the original top line, namely Britain’s role in a globalised economy, because it is on getting that right – rather than maintaining the theoretical ability to outnuke Vladimir Putin – that the UK’s future probably depends...

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China goes to the Moon for Helium 3 by 2024

  • Paul Mason
  • 19 Jun 06, 07:04 PM

moonchina20320.jpgChina's moon project leader Long Lehao told reporters that the PRC will put a man on the moon by 2024, with an unmanned lunar probe set to launch next year. Unlike the USA in the 1960s, the Chinese are not going moonside just to wind up conspiracy theorists and inspire rock bands: there is a serious economic purpose: Helium-3...

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Bill Gates did not invent PC, shock...

  • Paul Mason
  • 19 Jun 06, 12:57 PM

On Friday Newsnight covered the statement by Bill Gates that he would step back from his role at Microsoft. My old mate Andrew Orlowski, from The Register, has pointed out that Gavin Esler inadvertantly said Gates invented the PC. As you all know he invented the software monopoly, kind of. And the geek-as-hero, for definite. Anyway if you want to read Andrew's pithy rejoinder to my alleged "canonisation" of St Bill, it is on the Reg. The piece itself can be viewed by clicking here, replete with the Leni Reifenstahl pastiche, the Linux penguin shooting Bill and a pro-Linux IT guy saying Microsoft is finished.

An insider's view of the Gorby era

  • Paul Mason
  • 16 Jun 06, 07:55 AM

The diary of Gorbachev's foreign policy adviser, Anatoly Chernyaev, has been published in English by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. It makes compelling reading for anybody involved in, or studying, the labour movement and the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Chernayaev is in the Kremlin just as Gorby begins to transform the bureaucracy, and describes the beginnings of perestroika in first hand detail.

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Flockin' all over the world

  • Paul Mason
  • 15 Jun 06, 01:40 PM

flock.jpgSome months ago I wrote about, and filmed, the team developing a new web browser called Flock. I have been systematically beaten up by techno-geeks ever since, for being so naive as to report on a "son of Firefox" without reporting Firefox first; or, for buying too much of the hype around Web 2.0. Well today Flock is the number one search item on Technorati: reason being they have just announced the "public beta" release of it...

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Exclusive: Ken calls for illegal migrant amnesty

  • Paul Mason
  • 14 Jun 06, 10:00 PM

London's mayor Ken Livingstone has tonight become the most senior Labour politician to call for an amnesty for Britain's estimated 1/2 million illegal migrants. He issued this statement to Newsnight:

"It was clear after the 1997 election that the disastrous state of the immigration service inherited from the previous government was leading to massive problems in the immigration system including an appalling backlog in dealing with cases. Having spent nine years trying to improve this failing system, and considering the overwhelmingly positive contribution of immigration to the economy and cultural life of the UK, there is now a compelling case for starting from scratch, and clearing all pending cases with an amnesty. Of course the government would first have to decide how it wanted to run the system from the point at which a new regime started and there would be nothing to be gained from giving clear commitments until the government was ready to act."

The move comes after Labour immigration minister Liam Byrne refused to rule out an amnesty. I understand community groups representing London's vast army of migrant cleaners and security guards are in discussion with churches with a view to a hearts and minds campaign among politicians to present this as the only practical option versus the cost of finding and deporting half a million people (ie nearly one in every hundred of the UK population).

MoD confirms "black" military aviation projects exist, sort of

  • Paul Mason
  • 14 Jun 06, 03:33 PM

My colleagues, Meirion Jones and Liz McKean, have been digging through old MOD documents about UFOs - contrary to what you might think the military are still very interested in the concept of alien invaders from outer space and as late as 2000 produced a comprehensive document rubbishing the idea of UFOs. One of the reasons people keep seeing them (apart from magic mushrooms) is the rumoured existence of US military aviation projects, in particular the Aurora project. Anyway some poor soul in the MOD had to go through the report when it was declassified and physically insert little crosses in biro where all reference to US military projects is "redacted" You can read the full thing on the Newsnight website or stay here and read the cut-n-paste summary below...

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Now that's what I call nationalism...Vol.1

  • Paul Mason
  • 14 Jun 06, 09:34 AM

The problem with nationalism is: it is a febrile emotion; even fragile. Like the stock market, it can go up and down in a volatile manner. You can see this from my anecdotal England flag count: it is down.

I have just wallked past a whole hundred yards of rush hour traffic jam, and not a flag in sight - even on the numerous white vans. The reason for this, I surmise, is the growing realisation that of the seeded teams England gave possibly the worst performance; that Trinidad and Tobago made the Swedes look ordinary; that England may have to face Ecuador, who made the Poles look ordinary - plus the fact that several other teams look like they are playing a totally different game to ours, in particular Argentina.

Maybe the white van driving community is simply reflecting the mood of the TV pundits, which has been hangdog since the 55th minute of the England-Paraguay match, when Sven revealed the full extent of his commitment to tactical surrealism. I would imagine Sven's televised interview last night, in which he saidhe had not told Michael Owen why he was taken off, has done its bit to reduce the flag count as well...

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Bolivia, footy, computers...

  • Paul Mason
  • 12 Jun 06, 03:33 PM

One of the best things about blogging is that you find kind of "separated at birth" people: if you like my blog's mixture of subjects then Oscar's blog - about Evo Morales, soccer tactics and PHP programming could be for you! (He just posted a critical dissection of my explanation of the offside rule under Saturday's posting).

Nuclear - now it's "how" not "if"...

  • Paul Mason
  • 12 Jun 06, 12:03 PM

sizewellb203.jpgGordon Brown's most recent statement flagging up a change in energy policy; plus the thin smidgeon of a revelation present in today's FT lead story are further evidence that the government Energy Review will propose the rebuilding of old nuclear power stations with new ones. The green lobby, which had tactically retreated from waste disposal and safety arguments to the high ground of "it's uneconomic" now finds that ground giving way. I take no view for or against new nukes, but here is how I am being briefed that the economic argument has been won...(by the way, it is said the review will appear in the last week before the parliamentary recess, yet I am told the policy document has been written already)...

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Last minute BS lesson... the too-high offside trap

  • Paul Mason
  • 10 Jun 06, 12:29 PM

With just 90 minutes to go until the England game kicks off there is little time to lose. Here is a quick second lesson in the art of talking confidently about football without talking complete rubbish (aka: HTBSAFWTB - an occasional series).

Part II: The high offside line
1. Last night both Poland and Germany suffered due to their back four playing too "high" - that is, too far away from their own goal. Germany in particular let in two from Paulo Wanchope because of this. So how does it work...

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What colour is your England flag?

  • Paul Mason
  • 9 Jun 06, 01:06 PM

flags203.jpgLast Sunday I saw a man stop his car, leave it parked with hazard lights flashing and his mother sitting in the back seat, walk to the middle of a busy road and pick something up off the tarmac. It was an England flag; he was asian; his mother was dressed in an elaborate traditional silk. The flag had dropped off his car aerial. Later I noticed that my local pub had decked its windows out with St George Crosses...

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World Exclusive! England on song, on Newsnight

  • Paul Mason
  • 7 Jun 06, 09:37 PM

Stand by for a genuine world exclusive on Newsnight (Wed 2230GMT). Never mind our 24 hour news colleagues who have been hanging around a hospital worrying about some bloke and his metatarsal - we have vintage footage, never seen before, of the classic 1966 England Cup Winning Team singing a, characteristically awful, football song. Plus we have decided to have a go at the West Lothian question - our colleagues on Newsnight Scotland are threatening to come and dig up our turf and swing from our goalposts. And I'll be number crunching the NHS deficit (or as the Audit Commission calls it, the NHS England).

Fiction, opera, cricket, church... spot the odd one out

  • Paul Mason
  • 7 Jun 06, 08:33 AM

zadiesmith203.jpgI was at the Orange Prize ceremony last night to see Zadie Smith win for her new book "On Beauty". The crowd was young, trendy, not particularly metropolitan and - this being a women's fiction prize - mainly female. It struck me, and some of my acquaintances in the book trade, that fiction has managed to do what so much in high culture has failed to do: revitalise its audience.

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Is Russia fighting an energy cold war?

  • Paul Mason
  • 2 Jun 06, 08:49 PM

Vladimir Putin met foreign journalists this afternoon to talk about energy politics and the forthcoming G8 summit. The EU has been pushing for Russia to open the gas export market to competition - at present the 50% state owned Gazprom has a monopoly. Putin said firmly this was not in Russia's interest. And he linked his intransigence, overtly, to the West's support for the so called Orange Revolution in the Ukraine.

"Our friends [in the West] actively supported the Orange events in Ukraine. If you want to further support developments there, you pay for that," he said with, as the AP newswire reporter put it, "the color rising in his face".

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More on that EZLN formation

  • Paul Mason
  • 1 Jun 06, 12:33 PM

mason_marcos203.jpgThe blog yesterday generated a flurry of interest in the EZLN and a flurry of speculation among readers that I actually know something about football. I can categorically deny the latter, but for those interested in seeing the legendary correspondence between Subcomandante Marcos and the boss of Inter Milan, it's here....

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