Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Giotto, Giolitti, graft, Gramsci....

  • Paul Mason
  • 20 Jul 06, 10:03 PM

As of today the Idle Scraw becomes "lo scarabocchio ozioso", joining the British chattering classes' exodus to the land of the above. I have packed my paints, a pencil, Tolstoy and some Montecristos - but not the means to post regularly here. I am handing over to Stuart and Ian, the Newsnight web team, to do as they will with these pages....

Continue reading "Giotto, Giolitti, graft, Gramsci...."

See the crisis like the relief agencies see it...

  • Paul Mason
  • 19 Jul 06, 05:51 PM

I have discovered Reliefweb, which is currently running a very comprehensive wire service for humanitarian agencies dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon. There is extremely detailed information on where the refugees are going, when, in what numbers etc - though most postings are reliant on the Lebanese governemnt for casualty figures. I would have thought this Red Cross/Crescent posting is useful to any journalist on the ground scrambling to find out what's going on. it's a combination of newswires plus aid agency and government announcements - and you will like it if you like news as it appears before journalsts get hold of it. Pass it on if you find it useful.

World War 3.0 (Beta)?

  • Paul Mason
  • 18 Jul 06, 06:38 PM

gingrich203.jpgNewt Gingrich's pronouncement that we are "in World War III" has to be seen in the context of American politics. See this Seattle Times article for some context: Gingrich has been hammering Republicans for going soft and wants George W (Yo! Blair!) Bush to ratchet up the War on Terror into a full scale official World War III. Watch his Newsnight interview here. But here is how he put it on Fox News:

"When you have bombings in India, you have war going on in Afghanistan, you have war going on in Iraq, you have a war going on in Gaza and South Lebanon, you have Syria and Libya and North Korea actively plotting to defeat the democracies, you have Ahmadinejad, the leader of Iran, saying publicly he wants to defeat the Americans and eliminate Israel from the face of the earth, you have people plotting to blow up New York tunnels, you have Canadians plotting to blow up the Canadian parliament and behead the prime minister... My point is we're in a war!"

When I read that it prompted a few questions...

Continue reading "World War 3.0 (Beta)?"

Bush to Blair: That G8 peace strategy on open mic

  • Paul Mason
  • 17 Jul 06, 12:43 PM

bushblair203.jpgAn open microphone at the G8 photocall picked up the following exchange between President Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair's comments are in brackets:

BUSH: "See the irony is what they need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over...
(BLAIR: yeah yeah...Syria)
BUSH: Right ...Felt like telling Kofi to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.
(BLAIR: right)
BUSH: (words indistinct)..we're not blaming the Lebanese Government...

This is not a spoof! It really happened a couple of hours ago. What puzzles me is that if we are at the "trying to get Syria to do something" stage at the end of the summit, where were they at the beginning of the summit?

What the blogosphere thinks about Lebanon

  • Paul Mason
  • 17 Jul 06, 07:51 AM

lebblog203.jpgA quick trawl through the blogosphere on the Lebanon crisis produces the following. Truthlaidbear has a comprehensive blog-of-blogs, which sorts out those on the ground from those not on the ground, and includes both sides. I will be monitoring this during the conflict and want to know of anything better if you come across it.

Though this is not the first Blogging war, it remains the case that Iraq did not have a fully functioning free media + internet when invaded and therefore you were not able to get virtually realtime postings showing what happens when you bomb civilians. Now you are, and thankfully the images are below the scroll-line here at Letters Apart.

Also, this is turning out to be the first Youtube war. This home video from Haifa brings to life the fear of those caught up in the conflict as vividly as any news report.

Plus, in no particular order:

Canadians getting angry about the death of Lebanese Canadian civilians under Israeli bombardment.

Thomas Friedman's Friday article, linking the rise of pro-Iran Islamist groups in the democratically elected assemblies of Lebanon, Iraq and the Palestinian Authority much debated during the weekend.

Robert Fisk's reporting much copied/pasted, including this. And his revelation of the planning behind Hizbollah's offensive, plus a report that Israeli censors blacked out a Hizbollah attack on the northern military command post.

For the battle technology-heads, there is plenty of stuff, as here.

Occasional whiffs of humour, as here.

On Friday Newsnight covered the way the Lebanese and Israeli media are covering the war. We will go on trying to give you a picture of what people on the ground are hearing and seeing and how it is shaping their response to the war, particulary in Lebanon where the population has been divided over its attitude to Hizbollah. Get in touch if you are an Israeli, Palestinian or Lebanese blogger in the war zone.

More on McDonnell's bid

  • Paul Mason
  • 14 Jul 06, 08:00 AM

mcdonnell203.jpgThe Idle Scrawl's moby has been burning his ear off since the news that John McDonnell MP is to launch a leadership bid today. Let's be clear, it is not exactly yet a "bid" in the sense that it is not designed to spark an election now. I am told McDonnell would get about 20 nominations if he stood today - he needs 72 on Labour Party rules. In addition it is still intended that the question of whether to stand a candidate will be put formally to the LRC on 22 July. There is still some residual support for standing Michael Meacher but the sentiment I have heard expressed from McDonnell backers is as follows: since there is no middle ground between the left and the Brown loyalists, standing a less left wing candidate does not gain you anything but loses you clarity of critique of Blair-Brown. And since the big unions are not going to support anyone but Brown...Ahh, but there is a sting in the tail of this...

Continue reading "More on McDonnell's bid"

Levy affair pushes Labour left into leadership bid?

  • Paul Mason
  • 13 Jul 06, 03:20 PM

John McDonnell, Labour MP and chair of the Socialist Campaign Group has called journos to an "important announcement" tomorrow morning. Unless he is going to replace Steve Mclaren as England manager I think it is safe to assume he is going to announce his candidacy as a leadership challenger to Tony Blair.

This has been on the cards for a little while now but the timing, and the choice of McDonnell, were not a foregone conclusion and seem a little bit early compared to intel received by me previously...I am making calls but here's what I surmise at present...

Continue reading "Levy affair pushes Labour left into leadership bid?"

Australian "soccer" proves it is world class

  • Paul Mason
  • 13 Jul 06, 09:22 AM

tim_cahill203.jpgWhile the world has been glued to the story of one man and his ability to destroy the thing he helped create - I mean of course Zidane and the French footy team - on the other side of the world the Aussie public is coming to terms with football failure. I am indebted to Idle Scrawl reader Lisa, from Melbourne, for this priceless list of valedictory comments from the "Socceroos". It proves that, wherever football goes, Colemanballs goes with it.

"Germany is a very difficult team to play . . . they have 11 internationals out there." - Zeljko Kalac.

"Leeds is a great club and it's been my home for years, even though I live in Middlesborough." - Mark Viduka.

"I'd like to play for an Italian club, like Barcelona." - Vince Grella... (and many, many more: read on)....

Continue reading "Australian "soccer" proves it is world class"

Labour launches corruption, abroad

  • Paul Mason
  • 12 Jul 06, 05:01 PM

Emails have begun to land in my inbox about tomorrow's launch of the Development White Paper by UK aid ministry DFID. The White Paper was flagged up as being due, but not until next week and the paranoiac blogger in me is wondering why it has been rushed forward to tomorrow.

The contents of it are likely to be controversial, signalling as they do a turn away from stimulating "supply of democracy" - i.e. consultancies going in to developing world and redesigning entire legal systems - towards "demand for democracy". This inevitably involves DFID giving money to groups in civil society it believes will demand democracy and fight the horrendous corruption that exists in government in countries less fortunate than the UK.

No doubt this will involve financing newspapers that ask awkward questions about alleged government malfeasance; likewise even bloggers, who have been known to be on the front line of asking questions about, for example, positions in the legislature of these benighted countries being traded for cash.

Meanwhile, here in Britain, while a major department of state gets ready to teach the world about good governance, news has just broken that Lord Levy, the Prime Minister's personal envoy to the Middle East, and the man in charge of Labour fundraising, has been arrested in connection with the 1925 Honours Act and the 2000 PPERA.

More Zizou and nuclear malarkey...

  • Paul Mason
  • 12 Jul 06, 09:02 AM

zidane_ap203.jpgAs the world awaits Zidane's definitive account of the provocation for the headbutt, in a primary school in Salford the headteacher tells me kids spent most of Monday "practising" the Zidane headbutt, despite pleadings to the contrary. It seems to have a similar fascination for amateur video editors who, courtesy of Youtube, have been adding everything from Hollywood style special effects, to Super Mario overlays. Plus this Matrix-style compilation of Materazzi's greatest fouls. Back in the world of warm beer and elderly nuns cycling to church on a Sunday evening, curled ham sandwiches, extradited City businessmen (that's enough England metaphors, Ed.)...we are going nuclear...

Continue reading "More Zizou and nuclear malarkey..."

If Phil Anschutz built power stations…

  • Paul Mason
  • 10 Jul 06, 05:07 PM

sizewell_pa.jpgThe long-awaited Energy Review will be published tomorrow. Nobody I know in the industry claims to have seen it, but there was a selective leak to the Observer Business section which revealed:
- they will build six 1.6mw nuclear power stations
- there will be a hefty bung to the renewables lobby to avoid the charge that renewables will lose out as money is spent on nukes.
The aim, as desired by the generation industry, is to make nuclear “economic” not by subsidising but by raising the price of carbon permits so that it looks cheaper than gas. However there are problems...

Continue reading "If Phil Anschutz built power stations…"

Why, Zizou, why?

  • Paul Mason
  • 10 Jul 06, 09:46 AM

zizou_afp203.jpgAs always Youtube has various illicitly copied bits of the relevant footage of Zidan's head-butt last night, and the provocation. You can see it as French viewers saw it. Or here with the lip-synch blown up courtesty of Austrian TV. I can't make it out clearly but maybe, just maybe, Materazzi is saying something like "chipolata como Prescotto". But it's indistinct. The full truth later, no doubt.

Why I do not diss bloggers, but...

  • Paul Mason
  • 7 Jul 06, 08:38 AM

If you look at the thread attached to the last Prezza article, or plunge into the blogosphere's discussions adjacent to the Prezza issue, you will see a theme emerging whereby the bloggers repeatedly assert that, a) they, in some way are doing better journalism than the journos and b) we are somehow hostile to them.

This is not the case. I want to make clear my attitude to the bloggers who are on Prescott's case...

Continue reading "Why I do not diss bloggers, but..."

Prezza, the bloggers and Paxman

  • Paul Mason
  • 6 Jul 06, 11:41 AM

prescott_pa203300.jpgNot since 7/7 has the UK blogosphere looked like functioning in the same way as its US counterpart - until now. Slipping and sliding around the libel laws, and the custom and practice of us media types refraining from telling the world who is sleeping with whom at Westminster, the British bloggers are at it, right now, on an almost hourly basis, pushing the Prescott story forward almost faster than the Mainstream Media (MSM).

The fact is that, though the anonymous people alleged to have been involved with Prezza may be in the process of suing various newspapers, the names are out there in the blogosphere; and the bloggers are dissecting Prescott's latest interview with a - they claim - even finer toothcomb than we, the objective impartial Beeb. Actually the BBC website points out:

Asked repeatedly whether he had had any other affairs, Mr Prescott refused to answer directly.

The Prescott issue is an ideal topic for a blog feeding frenzy because it is in the objective interest of the Tory bloggers and the anti-Blair Labour bloggers for Prescott to go. It was when this happened in the USA that blogging started to have a real impact on events.

Newsnight last night acknowledged the fact that bloggers are now a factor in events by putting Toryboy Iain Dale live and unleashed (well, pre-recorded and heavily legalled) on the UK's flagship political programme. Watch it here.

If you want to dip into this world of ranching and on any of these links and you will soon get as far as we poor professional journalists have got: to a bunch of infidelity allegations that have not been substantiated but are, as of Today's 8.10 interview with Prezza, the subject of a non-denial; and to the documents at the centre of an argument over whether his decision to go and study the intricacies of farming courtesy of Phil Anschutz amount to a conflict of interest...

Continue reading "Prezza, the bloggers and Paxman"

The handbags are out for Ronaldo

  • Paul Mason
  • 5 Jul 06, 03:59 PM

I received the following chainmail in my inbox today - evidence of a concerted campaign of revenge against Cristiano Ronaldo for his alleged role in getting Rooney sent off (thus sabotaging Newsnight's "Vibe Rooney's Boot" Campaign). I feel obliged to share it with you...

Continue reading "The handbags are out for Ronaldo"

Real aid or phantom aid

  • Paul Mason
  • 4 Jul 06, 11:02 PM

The charity ActionAid tonight issued a report claiming that up to half of all aid money in the world is "phantom" - spent on private consultancy, non-poverty related projects or "tied" to foreign policy objectives and companies from donor countries. We got an exclusive look at it on the programme - and explored the whole issue of highly paid private consultants getting their private school fees paid out of money that most of us think is destined for the kind of schoolteaching that happens under a tree. I'll post a link to the report once it's there on the Actionaid site - but what do you think? Hit the comments button and let's talk about something more important than my misvibing of Wazza's boot.

Gutted: a failure of management, not of bottle...

  • Paul Mason
  • 1 Jul 06, 07:05 PM

sven203pa_martinrickett.jpgThere is a serious moral to England's defeat that makes it no less bitter: the whole campaign was marked by failures of management.

Sven picked too few strikers: incontrovertible. He never found a workable formation - never mind that: there was no philosopy, let alone style - other than the one they found after the 62nd minute, which is the default style Sven encouraged: Italian football circa 1990. He transmitted hesitancy to the entire team, and you could feel that right to the end - I have a hunch that Sven ordered them to put all penalties on the floor, so as not to risk being off target: I saw him for the first time ordering them to do something before the penalties and I bet that is what comes out.

Click here to watch my Newsnight report on Sven

But these were just tactical failures of management. Sven's failure on the bigger picture was threefold...

Continue reading "Gutted: a failure of management, not of bottle..."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites