Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Wednesday, 28 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Feb 07, 06:18 PM

milburnclarke203.jpgLabour's Alan Milburn and Charles Clarke attempt to kick-start a debate about the party's future policies. But are they really trying to kick-start a debate about the party's next leader? Jeremy speaks to them.

Plus: Carrie Gracie returns to White Horse Village to witness urban planning Chinese-style; Paul Mason is inspired to put quill to vellum over the latest market slumps; and if it wasn't Jimi Hendrix playing the Welsh national anthem, who was it?

Jeremy will wend his merry way through Wednesday's programme - watch it on BBC Two or on the website at 2230GMT. And pen your own response below.

Markets: from bad to verse

  • Paul Mason
  • 28 Feb 07, 05:02 PM

To mark the opening of a 'poetic space' for city types in London I am doing tonight's market anaylsis in verse...(You can also watch the piece here.)

When Shanghai falls by 9 per cent per night
And Greenspan speaks of doom, maybe this year
Big swinging London stock brokers take fright
Yet fundamentals say: irrational fear
For global growth's crescendo has not peaked
Nor is the cycle broke at fundament
The carnage panicked traders swiftly wreaked
Sparked from that crashing comet, sentiment

Six figure bonuses in wallets stashed,
The city guys and girls attempt sang froid
Hedged to the hilt, what if the market's crashed
Short selling leaves bank's money unalloyed
If this be worry then its cheek' unflushed
Speak but US credit, tones are hushed

Why can the screens go red if times are fine?
With too much cash in search of high returns
Some will buy plonk at prices of good wine
And when the cork is pulled their money burns...

To justify the money paid for shares
Even Chinese growth of 9 per cent
Is not enough. So traders dump their wares
We find what's been legit, and what been bent...
So do we face correction or a crash
Ask not the men who live by graphs and curves

For me I think this fallback will unwind
Corporate profits down but not yet
If you are one of the worrying kind
Worry about the big unanswered query
- Can China's ceaseless growth remain full steam
- To finance US debt, the biggest ever seen?

All forward looking statements in this rhyme
Involve risks and are only true at this time

Newsnight solves Hendrix Welsh national anthem mystery

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Feb 07, 10:49 AM

Tonight on the eve of St David's Day Newsnight will reveal the identity of the mystery guitarist.

On January 2 2007 we broadcast a distorted version of the Welsh anthem played in the style of Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner. Apparently the tape had been discovered in an abandoned recording studio. One of the other artists on the tape was a Welsh friend of Jimi Hendrix called Viv Williams. Tantalisingly they had been seen together in a pub next to the studio the week before Hendrix died. Could this be Jimi's lost last recording or perhaps Viv Williams paying homage to his friend? Newsnight viewers were sceptical.


Some claimed that the whole episode was a hoax and that the real guitarist would turn out to be the late Tich Gwilym or any of the Welsh bands who have been known to play distorted versions of "Mae'n Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau". We have found the real Viv Williams and can reveal what happened the night the track was recorded.

In the meantime here's a list of likely candidates - who do you think it was?

Continue reading "Newsnight solves Hendrix Welsh national anthem mystery"

Tuesday, 27 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 27 Feb 07, 06:11 PM

nhs203100.jpgIs it time for an independent board to run the NHS - some 80% of NHS bosses seem to think so. We debate the pros and cons of an independent health service.

Plus: Nato's Afghanistan plan; myths of the single parent; fashion, Iranian style; and trustworthiness.

It's Tuesday and Emily is on at 2230GMT, BBC Two and the website - you're on below.

Monday, 26 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Feb 07, 06:17 PM

Private equity has been funding the Labour Party - we look at the details; we examine the fallout from the report on the Cumbria rail crash; and discuss whether there's any choice but to deport Abu Qatada? Plus, a special report on The Bedouin Arabs of the Negev.

Comment on Monday's programme here.

Cathay Craftz - 22 February

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Feb 07, 12:48 PM

In a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Newsnight is following one scheme, Cathay Craftz, and its entrepreneurs are blogging their progress here on Talk About Newsnight.

olli_203.jpgWe've had Newsnight in today! And Olli Barratt who organised the Make Your Mark With a Tenner challenge. It was great. Stephanie Flanders, the Economics Editor, interviewed us and all our team of volunteers. You can see from the picture what a good team we have got!

It was great meeting Olli. He wasn't what we expected at all. Sometimes it is easy to think business people will be boring and not very interesting. Olli was really down to earth and took time to chat to all of the team as well as the four of us Directors. We're pleased he got a chance to see our school too.

It has been a busy week. We've had lots of orders to complete for teachers and also we are still completing our orders for the United Learning Trust conference and for the Manchester Science Park. People have definitely got quicker making the origami now. After all the practice we've had though, it's not surprising!

Prabhjot delivered the order to our catering company Eurest on Thursday. We made Chinese New Year decorations for the Academy dining room because the catering team were having a special themed lunch and serving Chinese food. Lisa Flowers, the Catering Team Leader was very pleased. We made posters with traditional New Year's wishes and also lots of golden pigs to show that it is the Year of the Pig this year.

We've done a raffle as a last chance to make some more money. One of our team, Ka Yan in year 7, has made a beautiful origami box and we've filled it with chocolates. We're selling the tickets in school for 10p.

So far, we think we've raised about £900. Of that, we are paying all our volunteers a £25 gift voucher as a way of saying thank you for all their hard work. That takes £225 out of our profit but it is worth it. Cathay Craftz may have been run by the four of us but it has been a real team effort.

With our profits we are going to sponsor five students at our partner school, Toli Secondary School in South Africa. By sending them £430 we can sponsor five students for three years. We are really pleased that our business has been able to make such a difference. For something that started so small, it's going to go on to have a big impact.

Thanks for reading our blog.

Friday, 23 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Feb 07, 06:03 PM

tbfri_203.jpgTony Blair’s support for America’s “Son of Star Wars” missile defence system; psychics at the MOD; and Make Your Mark with a Tenner concludes.

Comment on Friday’s programme here.

Thursday, 22 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Feb 07, 07:10 PM

gun203.jpgOn the day Tony Blair outlines new measures to tackle gun crime we examine the government's record on the issue.

Plus, protecting Prince Harry in Iraq; Michael Meacher's pitch for PM; and what now after Iran's failure to comply with an IAEA deadline for suspending uranium enrichment?

Kirsty is your host for Thursday's programme - BBC Two and online at 2230GMT. Join in below...

Wednesday, 21 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Feb 07, 06:11 PM

basra203.jpgIs the UK's plan to begin drawing down troops currently in Basra the result of 'Mission Accomplished' or has the timing got more to do with politics on the domestic front? We speak to Defence Secretary Des Browne.

Plus, a new bronze statue of Mrs Thatcher is unveiled at parliament - we reasses her legacy; and Peter Marshall investigates why the CIA's former boss Porter Goss resigned after just two years in the post.

Emily present's Wednesday's programme on BBC Two and live on the website (2230GMT), leave us your thoughts below.

Cathay Craftz - 19 February

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Feb 07, 04:50 PM

In a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Newsnight is following one scheme, Cathay Craftz, and its entrepreneurs are blogging their progress here on Talk About Newsnight.

team203.jpgWell... what an end to our half term! We went to the Chinese New Year festival in Chinatown and had a stall to sell all our origami products. It was a great success.

We had to meet Miss Miller and Miss Sarson at the Academy at 10:30am on Sunday morning and then we packed everything up and off we went. Setting up the stall was fun. We had lots of debates about how best to display the products, and how we should attract our customers. We were all a bit nervous at first, but we soon got into the spirit of things. Prabhjot and Marcelle did a great job of stopping people as they walked past and showing off our best-selling products. Yahui and Yidan were at the stall selling away and doing a roaring trade in Chinese calligraphy!

Once the festival got underway lots of people came to Chinatown. There were Lion and Dragon dancers and lots of firecrackers going off. Luckily the weather was dry... but a bit cold! It was interesting to see what items sold well. Our "Wishing Pots" and origami flowers sold very well and people bought lots of calligraphy too. We did "Happy New Year" messages with people's names on.

The Cathay Craftz team sell their waresOne of the highlights of the day was when some people actually recognised us after our appearance on Newsnight! We felt a bit like celebrities. It was nice that they were genuinely interested in how our business was coming on. We also got lots of positive feedback when we told people about the 'Make Your Mark with a Tenner' competition. People were impressed with what we'd done on only a budget of £40 between us. Some of them seemed surprised that you can achieve so much if you just put your mind to it. It just shows that setting up a business and being an entrepreneur is possible, even if you are still at school!

It was good to be representing not just Cathay Craftz but our school Manchester Academy and we are proud of ourselves. So thank you to all our customers on the day and to Manchester Science Park for underwriting the cost of the stall. We've just got to count up how much we made, but we think it is around £200. 7% of that is going back to the Science Park as interest on the stall loan, but even with that deduction it was a very profitable day.

Yidan, Marcelle, Prabhjot and Yahui

Tuesday, 20 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Feb 07, 05:26 PM

flatswindows203.jpgDo we need more social housing? Ruth Kelly thinks so and wants a national debate on the subject. We'll examine what "social housing" might mean in the 21st century.

Plus, what you get for your Yen these days, Ethical Wife Bee Rowlatt takes charge of the family's investments, and Tony Blair's email to angry motorists - we've got a Dead Ringer to muse on how it might read.

Emily presents on Tuesday - BBC Two/website as per - your thoughts below - many thanks.

Ethical Wife in cash giveaway shock

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Feb 07, 03:30 PM

By Bee Rowlatt, Ethical Woman

bee203quida.jpgI’ll admit that when it comes to money, like most of us, I have no idea what it’s doing when it’s not actually in my pocket. So I was more than a little nervous when Newsnight asked me to give my husband’s finances the ethical once-over.

This all came about as a result of my revelation, seven month’s into Justin’s stint as Newsnight’s Ethical Man, that he had quietly held onto a small but profitable shareholding in an oil company.

So I’d got my hands on his filthy lucre. My first instinct was to sell the shares and give all the money to charity – not something Justin does very often. But this is supposed to be an exercise in ethical finance. So here’s the question: is it ok for an ethical man to hold shares in an oil company?

Justin’s shares - as a portion of the oil company – equate to over four tonnes of carbon. Add that to our family’s carbon footprint and it would increase it by a whopping 40% - from 10 to 14 tonnes. As Justin’s wife, this is my footprint too: I was ready to flog the shares there and then.

Then our carbon guru, Professor Tim Jackson, pointed out that it’s the people who pump Justin’s company’s product into their cars and factories who end up “owning” the carbon cost.

But surely by making a profit from the oil industry you must be held at least partially responsible for its consequences?

Justin argues that there is nothing inherently wrong with investing in an oil company. He pointed out that we all use oil in one form or another, and it has to come from somewhere. But I suspected that not all oil companies are the same.

My job was made more difficult because the oil company in question refused to participate. So I tried several other British oil companies instead. They wouldn’t take part either. Were they all feeling a little vulnerable about their activities?

This wasn’t to be the only rebuff I encountered. I went to a glamorous City event celebrating five years of the FTSE4Good, an index that encourages corporate social responsibility. And even here - despite the flowing champagne - the big business leaders refused to discuss their ethical credentials with me.

Naturally the anti-oil industry campaigners were all too happy to talk, and I also got some help from ethical fund managers and other city sources. Even the Environment Secretary, a man tipped to be the future prime minister, stepped into the fray to advise on what Justin should do.

Here’s what I told them: the company Justin has invested his money in shares in is a relatively small company specialising in oil exploration. As oil companies go it isn’t remarkably bad, but then it isn’t especially good either. (I found no records of the company even hinting at green technologies like carbon sequestration or bio-fuels.)

So should I keep the shares, or should I sell them? And if I sell them, what should I do with the profits...?

bee203reva.jpgI turned to a very ethical man indeed - a Canon, no less. Canon Christopher Hall is a life-long environmental campaigner. He also has shares in Shell Oil. His advice was that the best way to deal with the ethical conundrums posed by the shares was… to keep them!

He argues that the best way to change companies is from within. At last year’s AGM, he lobbied Shell to change their corporate behaviour, and persuaded another £10-billion-worth of shareholders to defy the board.

I find this compelling, but would the shareholder in question, my husband Justin, feel the same? Justin is no campaigner. He didn’t seem to know much his company’s activities, and by his own admission he has never so much as been to an AGM.

My mind was made up – the shares had to go. Now I needed to find something ethical to do with the profits.

Ethical finance is a subjective business. There are some things you simply don’t do: nukes, tobacco and arms. But after that, it is a bit of a pick ‘n’ mix. You choose what matters to you – be it animal rights, religion, human rights, the environment – and then you select your investments accordingly.

I was told that as well as excluding companies that “behave badly”, I could also use my investment to encourage good: to put pressure on companies and keep them under scrutiny.

Not only that, you’ve got to decide how “good” you want the companies you invest in to be. Ethical investment indices for environmental investments range from so-called dark green (very ethical!) to light green (more mainstream).

Given that Justin has the weighty title of Ethical Man to live up to, I didn’t mess around. Only a dark green fund was good enough for us. I knew his first question would be “But will it make money?” but reassuringly the fund has consistently out-performed the FTSE average.

But I also held some money back. Because I’m with all the people who have written in to Ethical Man to say that being ethical isn’t just about being green – it’s about being good. I still wanted to give some of that oil money to charity.

justin_effect_203.gifGiving to charity is a private matter, but I was surprised to find out that around a third of the British public rarely or never gives at all. Sadly Ethical Man falls into this category, the extent of his charitable giving is limited to a direct debit to Oxfam for the princely sum of £2 a month (and I’m sorry to add that it was me who set this up for him).

Just for fun I let Justin believe that I was going to give away the whole lot. But ultimately it is his money. Realistically 20% of it struck me as a figure I thought he’d find hard to argue against. I chose to target somewhere I felt the money would have the best impact, and so have chosen two small charities in which I have a personal interest:

Friends of Colombia and Elizabeth Blunt School.

Not everyone has a share portfolio of course. But many of us have some savings or perhaps a baby bond to invest. So why let it languish in a bank when it could be out there doing some good, and maybe making you some money too!

Bee Rowlatt's film on Ethical investments will be shown on Newsnight at 2230GMT on BBC Two and on the Newsnight website on Tuesday 20 Feb.

Cathay Craftz - Half Term blog

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Feb 07, 01:51 PM

In a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Newsnight is following one scheme, Cathay Craftz, and its entrepreneurs are blogging their progress here on Talk About Newsnight.

We've had a quiet but busy half term. A number of the team are revising for GCSEs so studying had to take priority for a few days - but we've still managed to make some money all the same!

Our delivery to Croma went well. They liked the Valentines mobiles we had made and were going to use them to highlight a beautiful water feature they have in the restaurant. They were very impressed with the quality of our work.

Then it was preparation for the Chinese New Year stall - we got our license and the plot for the stall through the post on Thursday. We'd got lots of products ready to sell and we were quietly confident... fingers crossed for the weather though!

Monday, 19 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Feb 07, 06:03 PM

congestion_203.jpgIs the government effectively at war with the motorist? We begin a new series examining Blair’s legacy in Britain; and it’s make or break time for Segolene Royal.

Comment on Monday’s programme here.

Is motoring the new smoking?

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Feb 07, 01:20 PM

car_203.jpgLondon’s congestion charge zone has roughly doubled in size. This comes at a time of great debate over the issue of road pricing, prompted by the petition against such measures on Downing Street’s own website, which now has more than 1.5 million supporters.

In Monday’s programme, Newsnight will gather together the various aspects of the debate – congestion charging, speed cameras, road taxes – and ask whether the government is effectively at war with the motorist.

You can leave your own views below – perhaps in answer to the question: “is motoring the new smoking?”

Also being debated today – Blair’s Britain: click here for more.

Blair's Britain

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Feb 07, 12:29 PM

In Monday’s programme, Jeremy Paxman begins a new series for Newsnight on how Britain has changed during Tony Blair’s tenure as Prime Minister.

Comment on this subject below, and click here to read Jeremy Paxman’s article.

Friday, 16 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Feb 07, 06:02 PM

male_203_100.jpgShould dads be compelled to help bring up a child? Climate change in China and India, and road pricing in Colombia.

Comment on Friday’s programme here.

Newsnight Review - Friday 16 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Feb 07, 05:53 PM

fuzz_203.jpgThe panel review the film Hot Fuzz, the Gilbert and George exhibition at Tate Modern, the new TV import Heroes, and Underneath the Lintel at the Duchess Theatre.

You can watch the programme back on the Review website and leave your comments here.

Feckless fathers

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Feb 07, 12:24 PM

camerongetty_203.jpgDavid Cameron thinks feckless fathers should be "compelled" to stay with their families. He's committed to making marriage financially beneficial but admits that money is not enough to change the attitude of dads who don't spend time with their kids.

But is there anything that governments can and should do to keep fathers in families? Tag them, tax them, or tie them down? In fact, should we be "compelling" dads to stay with their kids at all? We'll discuss all that tonight but what ideas should we look into?

Start the debate here.

Thursday, 15 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Feb 07, 07:26 PM

gun203100b.jpgAnother gun killing in south London - have we developed our own style of gun culture and what if anything can stop the carnage?

Has your life been touched by gun crime? Share your experiences.

The high court brands the government's nuclear consultation process "unfair" and "unlawful" - is this the product of a "sofa style" approach to policy making.

And the continuing struggle to bring the Khmer Rouge to justice more than 30 years after Year Zero in Cambodia.

Gavin is your host for Thursday's programme at 2230GMT on BBC Two and the web. Leave us you comments below.

Has gun crime touched your life?

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Feb 07, 12:21 PM

gun_203.jpgThe Metropolitan Police commissioner, Sir Ian Blair, has held an emergency meeting after the third fatal shooting of a teenager in south London in less than two weeks.

In tonight’s programme, we’ll be asking how youngsters are getting hold of guns. Do you have experience of gun crime? Have you or someone you know been affected by it? Do you know someone who owns a gun?

Let us know what you think about this issue below.

Wednesday, 14th February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Feb 07, 09:32 PM

zambiachild203100.jpgGreg Palast investigates the vulture fund companies taking third world countries to court to recover debts.We ask what happened to debt write offs and Make Poverty History? Read producer Meirion Jones's article.

Plus, the future of courts martial for soldiers serving in Iraq; how a lack of cosmic rays may be causing global warming - we talk to the author of a new book proposing the theory (read an extract here); and Oasis songwriter Noel Gallagher celebrates his band's Brit Award for lifetime acheivement by talking to Newsnight. You can watch an full version of the interview after the programme here.

Jeremy presents Wednesday's programme on BBC Two and the web at the usual time - your comments are appreciated...

The Chilling Stars by Calder and Svensmark

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Feb 07, 04:54 PM

chillingstars203.jpgThe Chilling Stars by science writer Nigel Calder and climate physicist Henrik Svensmark outlines a controversial new theory on the origins of global warming.

The book sets out to prove that a combination of clouds, the Sun and cosmic rays - sub-atomic particles from exploding stars - have altered our climate far more than human carbon emissions.

Svensmark's research at the Danish National Space Center suggests cosmic rays play a role in making clouds in our atmosphere. A reduction in cosmic rays in the last 100 years - due to the activity of our Sun - has meant fewer clouds and a warmer Earth.

Read an extract here and leave your comments and reviews below.

Tuesday, 13 Feb, 2007 - Making children happy

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Feb 07, 01:32 PM

kids203a.jpgWhat is the most important thing that makes a child happy?

UNICEF have mounted a major study into how happy young people are in the rich countries of the world, and we'll be outlining and analysing their results on a special edition of Newsnight tonight.

Is it having a loving family? Getting a good education? Access to healthcare?

Let us know the ONE thing you think is essential for the well-being of our kids, and join Jeremy tonight at 2230GMT to find out how UNICEF thinks the UK does in looking after its young people.

Monday, 12th February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Feb 07, 04:50 PM

ahmadinejad_203.jpgWhat should the US and Britain do about the Iran problem? Also, Stephanie Flanders on inflation; and we discuss whether or not petitions are actually a good indicator of public opinion.

Comment on Monday's programme here.

Online petitions...

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Feb 07, 01:05 PM

petitions_203.jpgMore than a million people have signed the online petition, hosted by Downing Street’s website, against plans to introduce road pricing in the UK.

But are these “unprecedented” numbers not quite as remarkable as they appear? In Monday’s programme Newsnight will be asking how good an indicator of public opinion such petitions really are.

And by way of illustration, we’re giving you the chance to support a petition that was reportedly rejected by the Downing Street website because it was outside the remit of the Government. Click here for more.

You can let us know what you think of these issues here. Can petitions truly reflect public opinion?

Friday, 9 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Feb 07, 05:27 PM

two_turkeys_203.jpgIs bird flu in the food chain? Evidence on who may have been behind Litvinenko murder; and more information on the controversial King Fahad School.

Comment on Friday's programme.

Newsnight Review, 9 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Feb 07, 05:04 PM

review_consider_203i.jpgIn this week's programme: For Your Consideration; Hogarth, Tate Britain; The Verdict, and The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer.

Sarah Churchwell, Johann Hari, David Aaronovitch and Rosie Boycott join Martha 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.

Cathay Craftz diary – 8 February

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Feb 07, 10:43 AM

We've been trying to make the most of Valentines Day next week by selling origami hearts before we break up. So far we've done ok. Some classes aren't very romantic though... but we won't name and shame them! We've had a bit of competition today from a group of Year 10 boys who are taking part in the Young Enterprise scheme. They are selling red roses for Valentines Day. Our products are cheaper and will last longer though... so that's our new sales pitch! It's good to have competition, it made us work harder.

Teachers are putting in orders now so we've got a lot of things to get done.

We went to Manchester Science Park and met with Rachel Williams from Tenant Services and Mary Flanagan who runs the Park's cafe. The photo is us making our pitch. We told them all about Cathay Craftz and then we were asked to sit and come up with an idea for origami in the cafe. We've decided to decorate a pillar that they have in the cafe and turn it into an eye-catching feature. We've got to put a quote in writing to them when we've come up with the costs etc. The Science Park are giving us the money to pay for a stall in China Town during the New Year festival. They want a return on their investment though, so we had to negotiate that with them. Having done some research, we decided on 7% as an average of the interest costs that some banks offer small businesses on start-up loans. They have agreed to this, which is great.

Our order for Croma is ready and the restaurant want it delivered next week. At least that is one job crossed off our 'to do' list!

We'll be selling more things in school tomorrow, so our bank balance is getting bigger. Then we've got half term. Time for a rest and revision.... and some origami making too of course!

Yidan, Marcelle, Prabhjot and Yahui

Thursday, 8 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Feb 07, 06:11 PM

clarke203.jpgCharles Clarke: time to pay for health and education? China's munificence in Africa; and John Simpson on Jo'burg violence.

Comment on Thursday's programme.

Cathay Craftz diary – 7 February

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Feb 07, 02:14 PM

cathay_203c.jpgThe positive news today is that Prabhjot and Marcelle got an order from our catering company, Eurest, to supply decorations for two themed events they are doing in school. They're having themed lunches for Chinese New Year and St Patrick' Day and we're going to decorate the dining room. Yes, it is possible to make origami shamrocks!

We've discussed our pitch for Manchester Science Park. We've looked at business loans on the internet and we are going to try and negotiate the same kind of percentage return with the Science Park tomorrow. We're also taking with them examples of our work and hoping they'll commission a mobile for their cafe.

We start our Valentine's sales drive tomorrow. We're selling hearts and messages in Chinese calligraphy. Definitely nicer than a normal card!

We've also nearly finished our order for Croma so we'll definitely be delivering ahead of schedule on that one.

Our team are getting lots quicker at making the items so productivity is up. They're all helping out with the selling during registration tomorrow too, so we should get at least three years covered tomorrow and then years 10, 11 and Sixth Form on Friday.

We're still having to juggle lessons, homework, coursework and interviews for sixth form around all this so our time management skills are getting better!

Yidan, Marcelle, Yahui and Prabhjot

Wednesday, 7 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Feb 07, 05:35 PM

dvla_203.jpgIs motorist anger growing? How the Russian Secret Service operates; the tale of Labour MP Colin Challen; and in the wake of the damaging cash for peerages row, why is patronage still in fashion?

Comment on Wednesday's programme.

Are you an angry motorist?

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Feb 07, 12:49 PM

speedcam1-203.jpgA woman has been injured by a letter bomb which exploded at the main DVLA centre in Swansea. The attack is the third of its kind on motoring-related companies this week.

Are you an angry motorist? Do you feel that drivers are under legislative attack? How have you been tempted to express your frustration? Have you felt tempted to break the law? Let us know.

Click here to watch Michael Crick’s report.

Cathay Craftz diary – Feb 6th

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Feb 07, 05:55 PM

cathy_203a.jpgWe’re certainly learning that running a business has highs and lows. We’ve got good and bad news today.

Good news first though! Manchester Science Park, who is one of the sponsors of our Academy, has agreed to underwrite the £80 cost of leasing a stall at the Chinese New Year celebrations in Manchester. This is great news, as the £80 was a big investment for us when we are not sure of our return. However, we’ve got to go and meet a representative from Manchester Science Park to negotiate the terms of the loan. They want a return on their investment so have asked for a percentage of our profits from the stall. It’s tough but then business is tough. We’ll keep you updated with how the negotiations go.

We’ve also been given an order by another restaurant in Manchester. Croma, a restaurant in the city centre is paying us to make them a Valentine’s window display. We’ve got to deliver it to them by the 13th February, but that’s half term, so we’re trying to get ahead of schedule and get it done by this Friday. Although we are trying to use donated paper and gift wrap, an order like this means that we have to buy paper to ensure quality. It eats into our profits a bit, but we make sure that we factor that into our prices!

Production is underway for the contents of our stall at the Chinese New Year celebrations. We’ve even learnt to make origami pigs to capitalise on the fact that it will be the year of the Pig. We’re also hoping that our origami hearts will sell well this week in school as Valentines gifts.

Now for our bad news. One of our directors, Jamie, has decided to resign his post on the Cathay Craftz board. Unfortunately he was finding it difficult to juggle the competition and his school work. We’re sad that he feels he has to leave, but we respect his decision. We are going to have a meeting later today to decide on how we fill his vacant post.

It’s not all easy, that’s definitely something we’ve learned so far!

Tuesday afternoon: We’ve just had a meeting and decided who our new director is. Prabhjot has been a key part of the team so far and has also been involved last year in Young Enterprise. It was hard, because we had a number of people we could’ve asked, but we feel that Prabhjot will make an impact in the short time we have left.

Yahui, Marcelle and Yidan…. and Prabhjot!

Tuesday, 6 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Feb 07, 05:44 PM

Racist school teaching materials; US friendly fire killing; letter bomb links; and size zero as an experiment.

Comment on Tuesday's programme here.

Monday, 5 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Feb 07, 05:17 PM

flu3_203_100.jpgBird flu in Britain; Litvinenko's friend speaks out; Iraq's last chance; and debating with a new Jewish splinter group.

Comment on Monday's programme here.

Cathay Craftz diary – 5 February

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Feb 07, 04:41 PM

kathy_203.jpgAs Principal of Manchester Academy, I’m no pushover for an easy sell. Cathay Craftz made their pitch to me last Friday. It was witnessed by two visitors from the BBC who are working with some Year 8 students on a project called “School Report Broadcast Day”.

I got the feeling that colleagues from the BBC thought I was a bit hard but I’ve watched Dragon’s Den and The Apprentice so I think my interrogation of the Cathay Craftz directors was entirely fair and reasonable! They did such a good job with their pitch that I placed an order for table decorations for the United Learning Trust Annual Conference.

The Make Your Mark with a Tenner challenge has been embarked upon as part of the Academy’s “Enterprise for Employability” strategy better known as E4E@MA. This strategy aims to develop the enterprise skills needed for the future. The success of previous E4E projects such as “Enterprise Week”, “Hospitality and Catering Competition”, “Armed Forces Skills Challenge Days” and the “Sport and Leisure Enterprise Competition” have resulted in the focused entrepreneurship which everybody has seen in our Cathay Craftz directors.

The E4E activities range across every year group and ability as good academic results on their own are not enough for the future.

One of our business supporters, Tom Bloxham, CEO of Urban Splash, wrote “Manchester Academy has budding entrepreneurs amongst its students and the introduction of E4E enables them to nurture their aspirations and turn their dreams into a reality.”

It would be wonderful if Cathay Craftz were to win the Make Your Mark with a Tenner challenge but it is the learning journey rather than the destination which will help them the most.

Trouble and strife

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Feb 07, 04:07 PM

beemoney_203.jpgBy Bee Rowlatt, Ethical Wife

Back in November I invaded Justin’s blog with the news that he has a small share-holding in an oil company.

He said I should sort it out myself. So here I am in the heart of Newsnight, on a mission to do just that.

For the last week Rachel the producer and I have been out filming and interviewing people, on a voyage of discovery about ethical finance.

Basically we’re trying to figure out what to do with these shares. Justin has no idea what we’re up to – only that we are indeed up to something. (Poor Justin – not only being hounded at home but now in his very own office…)

Keeping the project secret is proving rather tricky – I’ve had to cover up my notes, hide my phone, and maintain a look of bland innocence every time he asks me about it.

Matt the cameraman has been sworn to secrecy, as he works for both “sides”. I’ve also subjected him to a few home-filming attacks posing awkward questions, when he least expected it.

To find out what happens to Justin’s shares tune in to see the film next week, and if you have any suggestions meanwhile then please share them here…

Major union backs outsider for Labour deputy

  • Paul Mason
  • 5 Feb 07, 12:15 PM

According to the Electoral Commission website, which will be monitoring these things, the first big donation has been made to a Labour deputy leadership candidate by an affiliated union. The donor: Amicus, whose 800,000 members affiliated to the party will form a major part of the electoral college. The recipient: Jon Cruddas MP, to the tune of 15,000.

Amicus' press office tell me that it was a decision made by the union's political committee in December, and that it does not indicate they are actually supporting him for leader. The donation, it seems, has been made in order to create a "level playing field" with the other candidates. One of whom, Hilary Benn, is an Amicus sponsored MP, unlike Jon Cruddas...

[UPDATE! Within seconds of posting this I was informed that Peter Hain's campaign has now also received 15k. This time from businessman and longtime Labour donor Bill Bottriell.]

Continue reading "Major union backs outsider for Labour deputy"

Friday, 2 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Feb 07, 06:36 PM

chimneys_sunset203.jpgIPCC report analysis; and Ethical Man reveals the main culprit of greenhouse gas emissions.

Comment on Friday’s programme here.

Newsnight Review, 2 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Feb 07, 05:41 PM

review_notes203.jpgOn this week's programme: Notes on A Scandal; Pinter's People, David Golder by Irene Nemirovsky; Citizens and Kings exhibition.

Charles Saumarez Smith, Stephanie Merritt, Sarfraz Manzoor and Michael Gove join Martha 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.

Meet Daisy the cow – global climate’s enemy number one.

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Feb 07, 03:52 PM

justin_cow_203.jpgWhen I started to investigate the impact of food on the environment a month ago I thought I would find myself fretting over food miles. In fact transport is a tiny component of agriculture’s worldwide contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

No, the main culprit is out there in the fields, chewing her cud. It turns out that livestock – predominantly cattle – are responsible for an astonishing proportion of global warming gases - 18 per cent of the total, to be precise.

That’s right, almost a fifth of all emissions which is more greenhouse gas emissions than all the transport on earth – planes, trains, cars, skidoos the lot.

You’ll be wondering how I reach that staggering conclusion. Indeed, regular readers of this blog may be worried that my decision forgo flesh and become a vegan during January has fostered an irrational hatred of animals.

Not so. The research implicating Daisy and her bovine brothers and sisters in global warming is very well sourced. A good start is “Livestock’s Long Shadow”, a report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation.

So why is the meat we eat so polluting?

Continue reading "Meet Daisy the cow – global climate’s enemy number one."

Cathay Craftz diary - 2 February

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Feb 07, 01:36 PM

mobiles_203.jpgHighlights of 1st February - we made our first sale! We delivered our first commission to Lisa Tse at Sweet Mandarin. It took a lot of hard work but it paid off because she was very impressed with the work. Lisa said she had told some of her contacts about us from as far away as Canada, New York and China! So, that's a £50 sale by our fourth day! It was good to be able to come back to the Academy and pay the money in to the Cathay Craftz account set up by the Finance Manager.

Things we've learned so far: Organisation is most important! We started off really enthusiastic about everything, and we probably weren't as focused as we could be. But to avoid last minute panics in future, we know we've got to change the way we organise the production of the products. Our workshop can look a bit chaotic, but everyone is working hard now. Mrs Delfino still hasn't let us get off lessons either, so we're doing most of this before and after school.

We've got a great team of volunteers (Prabhjot, Zhi Wen, Liam, Charlotte, Lauren, Jessica, Belinda, Kanwal, Firuza, Ka Yan and Catherine) and everyone is now trained in making at least one type of origami. This is turning into a real team effort and our team are from all different years in the Academy. The majority of the volunteers had never even made origami before so they're having to learn quickly as we go.

Friday's to do list includes meeting with our Principal to present prototypes of our range. She is thinking of giving us a big order to give as gifts at a conference that United Learning Trust (who sponsor our Academy) are hosting in March. She's hard to sell to though and we know we have to impress her. We're also trying to get our production team working quicker because one week of the challenge month is half term holiday, so we've got to make the most of the time we've got. We've also put a display in our staffroom and so we're waiting for the teachers' orders to (hopefully!) start rolling in.

Jamie, Marcelle, Yahui and Yidan

Cathay Craftz diary - 1 February

  • Newsnight
  • 1 Feb 07, 08:51 PM

cathay_203.jpgIn a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Welcome to the Cathay Craftz blog on the Newsnight website. Jamie Barker speaking! Everyday a different director will contribute to this blog.

Today we are delivering our very first commission to Lisa Tse at Sweet Mandarin. It’s been hectic but we’ve done it!

We are also en route to completing our prototypes for Mrs August, our principal, our deadline being tomorrow! She has requested specialised pieces for a very important dinner with members of the United Learning Trust, the people who sponsor our Academy and other academies up and down the country.

We now have a whole team of students working with us. We are up to our knees in paper!

Manchester Confidential is giving us advertising space on their website, so this should help us.

Cathay Craftz, Manchester Academy

  • Newsnight
  • 1 Feb 07, 08:41 PM

cathay_203300.jpgIn a scheme that hopes to encourage a generation of new young entrepreneurs, 10,000 school children were given £10 for a month to see if they could make a profit.

Cathay Craftz tells Newsnight how it plans to turn its pool of ten pound notes into a healthy profit...

We've got ten pounds each, one month and our challenge is to make a profit in the month! We've chosen to make origami and are selling this to staff, students and businesses.

Cathay Craftz comprises of four students from Manchester Academy; Yahui Zhang, Marcelle Tompkins, Yidan Liu and Jamie Barker. We are the directors of Cathay Craftz, and we have set up our business to take part in the Make Your Mark with a Tenner competition.

One of our directors, Yahui, had the idea for the business and the Make Your Mark Challenge was an ideal opportunity to get some funds - and some motivation! Yahui chose to bring Marcelle on board, having worked with him before in Young Enterprise and then they invited Jamie and Yidan to join them.

Our products are simple. Origami pieces made, wherever possible, from recycled paper and donations of gift-wrap from the staff and students. We've come up with a list of prices, and we've rounded up some (willing!) volunteers...

We were really lucky that we got chosen to take part in some filming for Newsnight. They came to the Academy and interviewed us all, watched our first board meeting, Stephanie the Economics editor even had school dinner with us! During the day we went up to Sweet Mandarin (a restaurant in Manchester's hip Northern Quarter) and we pitched our idea to one of the owners, Lisa Tse. Lisa was good enough to give us our first order. She wants four big mobiles to hang in the restaurant for Valentines Day - so the clock is already ticking!

Our aim is to make £500. Part of the profits will pay for staff and materials. But as well, we're trying to raise money to sponsor students from our partner school, Toli Secondary School in South Africa. At Toli it costs £86 to pay for a student to complete three years of their education. One of our teachers has visited them and since she returned we've been thinking of ways to raise money for the students there.

Just think, our month-long challenge could make a real difference to the futures of students all the way in South Africa!

Thursday, 1 February, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 1 Feb 07, 05:15 PM

blair_203.jpgNews that Tony Blair has again been questioned by detectives in the cash for honours investigation suggests to many in Westminster that we are already in the twilight of the Blair era. We’ll be considering the enormous political fall-out.

Also: BAE-Saudi royal family financial links claims; and Gen Richards' battle against the Taleban.

Comment on Thursday’s programme here.

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