Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Wednesday, 31 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 31 Jan 07, 04:37 PM

terror_arrests_203.jpgAnti-terror arrests latest: Has the war on terror entered a new phase? Or could this be another mistake by the authorities like that in Forest Gate?

Last summer Susan Watts revealed how a firm ACT was charging tens of thousands of pounds for treatments using stem cells which were not intended for human use. More revelations tonight.
Also: Democratic presidential candidates interviewed; and how should women operate in business?

Comment on Wednesday’s programme here.

Tuesday, 30 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Jan 07, 04:50 PM

rwanda_203use.jpgFergal Keane has produced a harrowing tale, searching for the truth behind the incident which sparked the killings of hundreds of thousands of people in Rwanda.

Also, was Greenwich's super casino bid stymied by revelations that John Prescott stayed at the US ranch of the millionaire owner of the Dome - Philip Anschutz?

And the latest on the re-arrest of Lord Levy.

Comment on Tuesday's programme here.

Can pop take on global warming?

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Jan 07, 01:58 PM

kt_203.jpgNewsnight is launching a series of pieces about climate change, in the run-up to the release of a crucial report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Friday.

Newsnight's "Ethical Man", Justin Rowlatt will be talking to the singer KT Tunstall this week. She, along with other artists such as Coldplay and Scissor Sisters, and Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom, are fronting a bold scheme to step up the fight against global warming.

They aim to influence the carbon trading market by purchasing and retiring carbon credits to push up the price of CO2.

By refusing to re-sell carbon credits they hope to increase the price of carbon, and financially penalise firms which fail to meet targets.

Do you think this plan really could help to slow down global warming? And does the involvement of stars in campaigns like this encourage you to take part in them, or does it put you off?

Tell us what you think.

Monday, 29 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 29 Jan 07, 05:32 PM

cameron_203_9.jpgAre young British Muslims more radicalised than ever? Day 1,411 of the Iraq War; lie detecting at the Home Office; US-style attacks ads; and the 10 pound challenge.

Comment on Monday's programme here.

Friday, 26 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Jan 07, 06:27 PM

john_reid_203.jpgHome Secretary John Reid is under fire on several fronts as the Conservatives accused his department of descending into "anarchy". First the head of the Youth Justice Board of England and Wales, Rod Morgan, quit in protest at prison overcrowding. A second judge then said he released a sex offender because Mr Reid had urged judges to avoid jailing people. And Mr Reid admitted the government acted "unlawfully" in relation to the detention young asylum seekers. Newsnight has an interview with Professor Rod Morgan.

Also: We hope to have an interview with a Roman Catholic Archbishop responding a gay adoption poll; and the Daily Mail editor's BBC criticisms.

Join Kirsty at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the website for Friday's programme and leave your thoughts below.

Newsnight Review, 26 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Jan 07, 06:15 PM

On this week's programme: Venus; The Seagull at Royal Court; Party Animals; and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday.

Mark Kermode, Julie Myerson, Natalie Haynes and Hari Kunzru join Kirsty on tonight's Newsnight Review.

You can watch the programme back on the Review website and you can leave your comments on the work covered below.

Thursday, 25 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Jan 07, 05:22 PM

scotland_bbc_203.jpgYou may remember our reporter Angus Stickler's film which exposed the behaviour of Pastor Dieudonne Tukala who accuses children at his church of witchcraft. Tukala preaches his self styled gospel - and in his own words - it's a gospel of brutality. One boy whom he diagnosed as a witch was later branded with an iron by his father because he believed his son was a witch. But after a ten month investigation, the police said they are unable to charge the pastor. Campaigners are calling for new laws to make it a criminal offence to demonise children.

Also, should TV phone-in quizzes be better regulated? And would scrapping GMT cut carbon emissions?

Join Kirsty at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the website for Thursday's programme and leave your thoughts below.

TV phone-in quizzes

  • Newsnight
  • 25 Jan 07, 02:17 PM

tvquiz_phone203i.jpgTonight we'll be looking at call in quiz television shows that offer big cash prizes. A parliamentary committee has said some of the shows are "misleading viewers", and some contestants are at risk of being "ripped off" by unfair questions and premium rate fees. Do you think the industry should be better regulated? What are your personal experiences? Do you think people should just take responsibility for their actions.

Join the debate here.

Wednesday, 24 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 24 Jan 07, 04:35 PM

troops_203.jpgToday's Iraq debate here in Westminster and the continuing debate in the US over strategy points to the obvious problems for opposition parties on both sides of the Atlantic. How do the Tories (or Lib Dems) here and the Democrats in the US argue against current Iraq policy without seeming opportunistic or unpatriotic? Also, how to avoid the perennial "prison crisis"; and what makes a hero?

Gavin is your host for Wednesday's programme on BBC Two and the website at 2230GMT. Please leave your comments below.

Tuesday, 23 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Jan 07, 05:17 PM

bush_203.jpgIt's just hours before President Bush delivers his State of the Union speech. But having seriously considered a u-turn on his previous opposition to compulsory carbon caps the president is reported to have changed his mind. But is he in danger of being wrong-footed on the green issue? Also: Catholics and gay adoption; alleged tube bombing attempt - the latest from the trial; and Chinese architecture.

Join Jeremy at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the website and comment on Tuesday's programme below.

Myths and Fables

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Jan 07, 12:20 PM

Newsnight's "Übergeek" Adam Livingstone on the things we think we know.

howard203.jpgAsk yourself this. Which government minister did Jeremy Paxman famously ask the same question of 14 times? If your answer is Michael Howard, the then Home Secretary, then you, in common with most people, are entirely wrong. But you'd be pretty well justified in thinking it as you've probably read that version of reality in every paper in the land at one time or another, possibly even this week. Plenty of people at Newsnight seem to believe it's true too.

Journalists are busy people. You can't expect us to check ALL the facts. Especially the ones we already know. I don't check that Tony Blair is Prime Minister before I put it in a script. And likewise no-one ever checks that Michael Howard was Home Secretary when Jeremy asked him THAT question 14 times back in the 1990's (watch it here). Except of course he wasn't. It's an urban myth. A quick google reveals that the date of the interview, 13 May 1997, was after the election. If Howard HAD still been Home Secretary rather than a flagging party leadership candidate, it's hard to imagine he would have put himself in such a horrendous position in the first place. But one shouldn't let the facts get in the way of a better story. And by the way, it was 12 times and not 14.

Continue reading "Myths and Fables"

Not on the label

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 23 Jan 07, 11:26 AM

justin_veg300.jpgEthical Man has discovered a whole range of food additives don’t even get listed on the ingredients.

I’m spending a month as vegan to see how cutting animal products out of my diet will affect my environmental footprint. It is surpisingly difficult to avoid animals; you'd be amazed how many foods contain animal products in some form or other.

There was a huge response when I wrote about my concerns that an amino acid used as an additive in bread is sometimes manufactured from human hair. I was reassured to discover that it is possible to avoid the substance – called L-Cysteine or E920 – because it is listed on the ingredients.

Then last week Britain’s leading organic baker, Andrew Whitely, wrote to me to warn of what he calls of “baking’s big secret” – the use of enzymes.

Continue reading "Not on the label"

Monday, 22 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Jan 07, 06:00 PM

Veteran Denzil ConnickAre our medically discharged soldiers getting the care they deserve? Share your experiences here.

Plus: Special Branch collusion with paramilitaries in Northern Ireland; loans for honours latest; acting legend Peter O'Toole; and Blue Monday.

Join Jeremy at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the website for Monday's programme and leave your thoughts below.

Soldiering on?

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Jan 07, 01:49 PM

statue203cap.jpgTonight on Newsnight we are looking into the circumstances of soldiers who have been medically discharged.

Watch the report and Gen Sir Mike Jackson and Veterans Minister Derek Twigg responses here.

What have been your experiences - have you had to use the NHS, if so how would you rate your treatment? Should the army continue to care for you once you have been discharged? What kind of financial provisions were you given?

Join the debate here.

Newsnight Review, 19 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Jan 07, 06:42 PM

review_blkbook_203.jpgPaul Verhoeven's latest film Black Book, Ricky Gervais on fame, Celebrity Big Brother, and the poetry of immigration with Daljit Nagra's Look We Have Coming To Dover.

Paul Morley, Denise Mina, Sarah Churchwell and Ian McMillan join Hardeep on tonight's Newsnight Review.

You can watch the programme back on the Review website and you can leave your comments on the work covered below.

Friday, 19 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Jan 07, 06:07 PM

cameron_203.jpgMichael Crick is out and about wondering how the Tories can win the Northern vote. He also has the latest on the loans for peerages investigation. Plus China enters Star Wars and Science Student Steve Smith goes skating - find out why tonight - or read his blog here. Or why not do both.

Emily's your host for Friday's programme on BBC Two and the website at 2230GMT. Your views below please.

Spangles, sequins and skates

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Jan 07, 05:08 PM

Is it the figure of eight? Or perhaps the triple axel? I can never quite decide which is my favourite discipline in the repertoire of ice dance. But I do know that I'm never more alive, more free, than when I'm shimmering across a rink in a spangled catsuit. Some good judges of the terpsichorean arts have been kind enough to describe it as a human glissando.

To date, the medals and sashes that I've been lucky enough to garner must in candour be put down to nothing more than instinct, to flair - to sheer natural talent, if you want to press the point. It's only now, in the light of my Physics AS level studies, that I realise I could have saved myself many a gash and a lost sequin as a prentice skater if I had but paid attention to Isaac Newton!

Continue reading "Spangles, sequins and skates"

Thursday, 18 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Jan 07, 05:42 PM

markthompson_203.jpgHow will the licence fee settlement affect the BBC's programming? Big Brother racism row latest; we follow the cocaine trail from leaf to nostril; how green can blue chip companies ever be? And as Peter Hain makes a punt for the job of Deputy Prime Minister, David Grossman assesses the other runners and riders.

Wednesday, 17 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Jan 07, 06:19 PM

iranflag_203.jpgThe People's Mujahadeen and why they may be a bargaining chip in any current negotiations between Iran and Washington. Also: EU constitution comeback; and Bullywood.

Comment on Wednesday's programme.

The Constitution's Comeback

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Jan 07, 12:33 PM

merkel_203b.jpgGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel is a brave woman. Germany has just assumed the presidency of the European Union and she's announced that its main aim will be the resurrection of the EU constitution. The same European Constitution that was so unceremoniously dumped a year ago when France and the Netherlands voted against it.

So what does she think has changed? Will she have more luck this time round? And if she does get it through, will it be a watered down version? What do you think?

Newsnight Review, 12 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Jan 07, 04:29 PM

John Harris, Sue Perkins, Bidisha, Kwame Kwei-Armah discuss The Good, The Bad & The Queen; The Last King of Scotland; Doris Lessing - The Cleft; and Ugly Betty.

You can watch the programme back on the Review website.

Tuesday, 16 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Jan 07, 02:33 PM

flags203100a.jpgIt's rather a special edition of Newsnight tonight. 300 years after the Scottish parliament voted for the Act of Union we're being allowed into the Hall where the vote took place to have a debate of our own.

We're devoting the whole programme to discussing the future of the Union - will England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland see another century, let alone three, as United countries? Our opinion poll for the programme would seem to suggest that a majority don't think it will.

What do you think? Post your comments here.

Monday, 15 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Jan 07, 06:01 PM

msbag203100.jpgMarks and Spencer aims to become completely environmentally friendly by 2012 - Ethical Man asks if the company can achieve it.

Plus: David Grossman looks at Dr John Reid's progress at the Home Office in light of the recent foreign offenders fiasco; Iraq executions and the US troop surge plan explained; and Will Hutton on China (our latest book club tome).

Jeremy will be hosting all of that at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the Newsnight website - leave your thoughts below.

The Writing on the Wall - Will Hutton

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Jan 07, 04:49 PM

hutton203bookclub.jpgIn The Writing on the Wall, Will Hutton looks at the uneasy relationship between China and the West in light of the former's phenomenal economic growth - seen by many Western analysts as a threat.

Hutton argues that the West should embrace China and seek to promote better governance within the country by adhering to fundamental principles such as the rule of law as an example of progress.

Read extracts here and leave your comments below.

Friday, 12th January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Jan 07, 05:13 PM

Today Tony Blair said he wanted to launch a national debate on our defence policy in a speech made on HMS Albion in Plymouth dockyards. Should Britain be a nation of war fighters as well as peacemakers?

Also, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes will be reporting on the Great Firewall of China and how many people are now managing to get round the censorship.

Comment on Friday's programme.

Who remembers winter?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 12 Jan 07, 11:07 AM

snowman_203.jpgDo you remember snow? It’s that cold wet stuff you used to trudge through in the olden days.

I was reminded of the stuff – not by the weather of course – but as I looked through some super-8 footage of my family that my dad shot. It’s been collecting dust at my parent’s house for years. I dug it out because we were looking for images to use in the Ethical Man series.

I built the snowman with my sisters in January 1968. The shots of us sledging are from January 1971. It is beginning to look like my kids will be lucky to ever build a snowman in our garden.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that we used get great drifts of snow every year but we’d certainly get enough to sledge down Parliament Hill on every few years. You haven’t been able to do that for a while.

This year there’s barely been a decent frost. The country may have been battered by some powerful storms over the last couple of days but one thing has stayed steady, the temperature - this winter remains resolutely warm. Average temperatures in December were 1.7 degrees centigrade above average and the Met Office is already predicting that 2007 will be the hottest year on record.

You don’t need to be a meteorologist to discern the changes. Instead of frost and snow we’ve got bulbs sprouting in the garden and the neighbour’s cherry tree is already in blossom.

The weathermen say that the clement weather is down to a combination of global warming and El Nino and are saying that it may not last. (According to David Parker of the Met Office: “El Nino has a tendency to make cold snaps more likely in the second half of winter.”)

Here at Newsnight we’ve devised a plan that is guaranteed to bring on that chilly weather. We want you to give us your images of how winter used to be. Send your clips, pictures and assorted snowy ephemera to with "Winter Wonderland" in the subject heading. And try not to make the files too big...

A couple of days ago my colleague Paul Mason described Jeremy Paxman’s “famously quizzical eyebrows” as resembling a pair of squirrels. At the very least the prospect of more of your footage on the programme should keep them out of hibernation.

Thursday, 11th January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 11 Jan 07, 05:58 PM

Yesterday afternoon, newsrooms up and down the land received a Ryanair press release from proudly trumpeting its green credentials and claiming to have reduced its CO2 emissions by a wopping 50%. Oh really? An earlier version of the same press release, sent to Newsnight by mistake, tells a rather different story. We'll have the details.

But, it isn't just Ryanair that has been playing fast and loose with statistics.We'll be asking the education minister what's going on with the GCSE league tables.

Also, will the US Iraq troops surge make a difference? And more from Geek Week.

Comment on Thursday's programme here.

Wednesday, 10 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Jan 07, 05:56 PM

Tonight President Bush will outline his new policy on Iraq and it will involve sending at least 20,000 new troops. With American public support for the war ebbing away and the Democrats WINNING THE Mid Terms this must be one of the biggest political gambles of Bush's presidency. How will history judge Bush's new Iraq policy? Also: NHS waiting list showdown; are Ryanair as green as they claim? And Geek Week: who are we in cyberspace?

Comment on Wednesday's programme.

Does your daily bread contain human hair?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 10 Jan 07, 02:50 PM

justin_turkeydinner_211.jpgI don’t mean one of your stray locks that fell into the butter. What I want to know is whether amino acids produced from human hair were used to process the flour that went to make that piece of toast you wolfed down on the way to the bus stop.

It sounds unthinkable doesn’t it? But since I became a vegan on New Year’s day I’ve developed a keen interest in what goes into the food I eat and I’ve discovered that a food additive which is sometimes produced from human hair can be used as an additive in some baked goods.

But first, the veganism. I am not becoming a vegan out of high principle. The idea is to test the claim made by a number of people who have emailed in to insist that becoming a vegan significantly reduces one’s impact on the environment.

I will be vegan for all of January. So my new diet did not preclude me eating Ned the Newsnight turkey

I am happy to report that Ned was as tasty as he was ethical. My family gnawed our way through his ample carcass over the course of a full week. We ate Ned roast on the big day, then sandwiched, curried, as a supreme and finally in a tasty soup. Then, as the last few slices of Ned grew an extravagant mould in the bottom of our fridge, the New Year turned and my diet became completely meat and dairy free.

It is not easy. I’m not just cutting meat and fish out of my diet. Vegans don’t eat any animal products including milk, eggs and honey. So will cutting out all animal products reduce my carbon footprint?

I need a bit of persuading about the bees but cows certainly produce an impressive quantity of greenhouse gases. I cited the extraordinary figure of up to 500 litres of methane a day per animal when I announced this project in December.

At a conference last week the environment secretary David Milliband pointed out that "the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions than transport". Agriculture is reckoned to account for 7% of all greenhouse gas emissions, about the same as aviation.

And methane isn’t the only issue. It is claimed that one acre of arable crops can produce enough food for up to 20 people. Turn that field over to beef production and it will feed just one person.

Not only that, raising animals is a lot more carbon intensive than growing vegetables. David Pimentel, an ecologist from Cornell University, has calculated that animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than plant protein yet yields proteins only 1.4 times as nutritious for humans.

That’s the average. When you look at individual sectors the figures are even more startling. Take beef, for example. Using US Department of Agriculture figures he found that beef production requires an energy input to protein output of 54:1 (as well as 100,000 litres of water per kilogram of meat).

Vegetarians shouldn’t feel too smug, though. Milk protein has a ratio of 17:1. In fact, rather depressingly the most efficient form of animal production – perhaps not surprisingly – is battery chickens. Pimentel finds that broiler chickens have a ratio of energy input to protein output of just 4:1.
My problem has been eradicating all these inefficient animal proteins from my diet. Take my very first day of vegan living, New Year’s Day.

I hadn’t prepared very well and hadn’t got any margarine in. The local corner shop, a Londis, was open and they stock a good range so I wasn’t too worried. But as I worked my way through the eight or so different varieties of margarine I was amazed to find that every single one contained milk or dairy products in some form.

justin_lunch211.jpgIt makes you realise just how common the use of animal products in food is. Before I became a vegan I would eat animal products in every single meal. Indeed the Vegan Society points out that some vegans consider tap water unacceptable because it contains chemicals that have been tested on animals.

I am not going that far but I have certainly developed a mania for reading food labels and there are all sorts of unexpected animal additives.

Most people know that gelatine is produced from animal skin and bones and that the rennet used in some cheeses comes from calves stomachs. But did you know that bone char (from cow bones) is still occasionally used to whiten some sugars or that some wines and many beers (particularly real ales) include isinglass – a substance obtained from the swim bladders of fish?

Which brings me back to the possibility that human hair may be used in bread. A vegetarian friend alerted me to the existence of an animal-based flour additive called L-Cysteine. It is an amino acid which is used as a flour improver. It is known as E920 and is permitted for use in all biscuits, breads and cakes except those that claim to be wholemeal.

The problem for a would-be vegan like me is that traditionally L-Cysteine is produced from feathers, pig bristles and sometimes even human hair. These days L-Cysteine can also be produced synthetically but apparently human hair remains one of the richest sources of this amino acid – it makes up about 14% of your hair - and there is a small industry in China making the additive from hair clippings.

There’s even a paper on the web written by a Rabbi about whether L-Cysteine from human hair is kosher. Apparently it is – so long as the hair in question was not harvested from dead bodies.

So how commonly is L-Cysteine used? My vegetarian friend claims that the problem with E920 is that – even when it is used – it doesn’t have to be listed in the ingredients. She says that’s because it is broken down in the baking process so the manufacturers argue that doesn’t constitute an ingredient.

That is something the Food Standards Agency flatly denies. It says that L-Cysteine must always be labelled. Indeed, the industry says the reason you so rarely see E920 on labels is that these days it is very rarely used (apparently it was much more common fifteen years ago). The industry also says that the only L-Cysteine their members would use is the synthetic variety.

That is a little odd because according to the Food Standards Agency the European regulation specifies that only L-Cysteine produced from duck and chicken feathers or from pig bristles can be used. That means that, so long as your daily bread was baked in Europe, it almost certainly does not include human hair.

But it leaves me a little confused. If British bakers are using synthetic L-Cysteine are they breaking EU guidelines? It is hard to get a straight answer because the biscuit makers told me it would be added when the flour is milled and the millers say it something the bakers would add.

So if anyone can put this hairy issue to bed once and for all I’d be very grateful. And while I am on the subject, if anyone knows of any other animal-based (or human-based) food ingredients an embryonic vegan like myself needs to steer clear of please do tell me.

Tuesday, 9 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Jan 07, 08:01 PM

ac130_203.jpgTwo big issues of the day: the so-called war on terror and climate change

First, US air strikes in Somalia aimed at al-Qaeda leaders in the region and Washington's plans for more troops in Iraq.

Then, we look at climate change and Nicholas Stern discusses the aftermath of his report and the government's response so far.

And for Geek Week 2.0 Roger Harrabin reports on the technologies that might save the planet. Be ahead of the pack and watch it here first.

Jeremy's on at 2230GMT - your thoughts below please.

Send us your experiences

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Jan 07, 01:08 PM

gayrights_203_blog.jpgReligious groups are outside Parliament protesting against gay rights legislation due to be debated by the Lords today. Christians, Jews and Muslims are taking part. They're calling for a halt to laws banning discrimination against gay people in the provision of goods and services.

The Sexual Orientation Regulations, already at work in Northern Ireland, are to come into force in England and Wales under current government plans, but protestors say the regulations would limit their right to live according to their religious beliefs.

Is this just scaremongering or a justifiable concern about religious freedom of expression? The BBC's Have Your Say forum is open to your views, but Newsnight would also like to hear from you. Have you experienced gay discrimination in the goods and services industry? Have you and your partner, for instance, been refused accommodation because you're a same sex couple? Were you turned down outright, or did you meet with unconvincing excuses?

Alternatively, have you tried to book a gay venue but been turned down because you're straight?

Comment here.

Monday, 8th January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Jan 07, 07:58 PM

Kenya woman with mobileGeek Week 2.0 kicks off with Paul Mason's film from Kenya on the revolutionary impact mobile phones are having for rich and poor alike. Read about Paul's journey across Kenya here or watch the film - available, like all the Geek Week reports, on the web first - here.

Former Education Secretary Ruth Kelly sends her son, who has "substantial learning difficulties", to a specialist private school - does this reflect badly on her or on the government's provision of special needs schooling?

Serious fraud interview; and is the last acceptable form of bigotry "gingerism"?

Gavin is on at 2230, BBC Two and the website, you're on below...

Friday, 5 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Jan 07, 07:10 PM

PlaneEnvironment Minister calls Ryanair the irresponsible face of capitalism. What is the real cost of cheap flights?

George Bush shuffles his security team; and Salam Pax gives his reaction to the manner of Saddam Hussein's execution and looks back at life under the dictator.

Martha's on at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the website - your comments, as ever, are welcome below...

Thursday, 4 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Jan 07, 05:52 PM

iraq203.jpgWe've an exclusive report on the arrests in Iraq of individuals believed to be connected to Iranian intelligence. Also, we investigate the battle over food labelling; and the Sierra Leone health crisis.
Comment on Thursday's programme here.

A healthy career?

  • Newsnight
  • 4 Jan 07, 12:06 PM

DoctorsA leaked draft government document predicts that the NHS will experience a surplus of hospital consultants by 2010-11 and a shortage of GPs, nurses and junior doctors.

The draft, which was leaked to the Health Service Journal forecasts that there will be 3,200 extra consultants the NHS can't afford to employ. We'd like to hear from Hospital Consultants and health professionals about your own experiences.

Are consultants already finding it difficult to get jobs? Will hospitals need fewer consultants by 2011? What are your views about creating a sub-consultant grade, and payment by performance?

Please let us know what you think below. You can also email us here here.


There's a rat in me compost...

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 3 Jan 07, 05:36 PM

rat203.jpgThey say you can go anywhere in Britain's cities, and you'll never be more than six feet from a rat. I've even seen reports that claim that rats are now as numerous as people.

I've always been a bit sceptical of these stories. The last time I came face-to-face with a rat was a couple of years ago outside the BBC. I know what you are thinking but this one was of the rodent variety and ducked into the bushes as I passed. I fear I may very soon establish a much more intimate acquaintance with our burrowing buddies.

When I went out to deposit the peelings and parings of the season in the compost I discovered evidence of what appears to be an assault on our bin.

I would insert a picture of the three inch diameter hole dug in the earth beneath the bin and the foot or so of debris sprayed out behind it but I am staying with Bee's mum for a couple of days and don't have the technical capability to do so. I know that will make diagnosis difficult but please do your best. What I want to know is whether this is indeed the work of a rat? And if so, what can I do about it?

I was rather hoping that some keen-eyed zoologist would tell me that this is unmistakably the work of a fox. It wouldn't surprise me, there are no shortage of foxes locally.

In fact our foxes have all the urban swagger of hip hop artists. You see them by and night, and they happily pass within feet of pedestrians with little more than a snarl and a glare. But are they really likely to raid my compost?

I think the evidence suggests a smaller animal. I've tried to flush whatever it is out. I've given the in a good kick and even prodded around with a garden fork (admittedly rather gingerly) in the compost itself. The huge snarling rodent I was expecting did not materialise.

Before you ask I have been very scrupulous about not composting cooked food. Our bin holds only garden waste, raw vegetable peelings, some shredded newspaper and the occasional eggshell or teabag.

I'm hoping that this was a single foray and that whatever invaded the bin was disappointed by what it found and will not return but I know that is probably optimistic. So, to misquote UB40, there's a rat in me compost, what me gonna do?

Welsh Haze

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jan 07, 04:57 PM

Tich GwilymSo if it wasn't Jimi Hendrix jammin' the Welsh national anthem who was it?

Yesterday you were all very sceptical that the man hailed by many as the greatest rock guitarist ever to have lifted a plectrum was behind this - a kind of Electric Ladyland of My Fathers if you will.

Many suggested
that it is actually by Wales' own guitar legend Tich Gwilym (pictured), who died in a house fire in 2005. Others strenuously refute this - not least our own Jones - producer Meirion.

So is it Tich? Does anyone out there know?

Wednesday, 3 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jan 07, 04:46 PM

Home Office websiteDoes immigration really benefit Britain? In what way? We ask those on both sides of the argument to make a film outlining their views and then discuss.

In her only British TV interview we speak to Oprah Winfrey about her $40m school for leadership among girls in South Africa. Watch a preview here.

Plus, our Celtic heritage and Jimi Hendrix (Slight Return).

Gavin's on at 2230GMT - you can comment below.

Tuesday, 2 January, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jan 07, 12:21 PM

blair_maliki203100.jpgWe're a bit short of clairvoyants here on Newsnight - otherwise some of us would already have won the lottery and would no doubt be spending January living next to a retired Bee Gee somewhere in Florida.

But it does not take much of a crystal ball to predict that two of the biggest stories of the year ahead will be how the United States tries to disentangle itself from Iraq, and how the British political system reacts to the end of the Blair era.

We devote most of tonight's programme to these two enormous issues which affect all of us.

Also: dangerous dogs; Asian corner shops; and Jimi Hendrix... or not.

Comment on Tuesday's programme here.

Genuine Jimi?

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jan 07, 01:01 PM

jimi203.jpgA cassette tape thought to contain Jimi Hendrix playing a distorted electric guitar one night shortly before he died has been discovered in an old London recording studio.

We will play out with this evocative and effervescent recording of the Welsh National anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau on tonight's show. The track can also be heard here.

But do you think this is a genuine or fake Jimi recording? The debate begins here.

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