Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Newsnight Review, 30 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Mar 07, 07:30 PM

sunshine203.jpgThe panel discuss: the film Sunshine, which is a sci-fi thriller set 50 years in the future; the novel On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan; Surreal Things at the V&A and Channel 4's drama The Mark of Cain. More details of those on the Review website.

Kirsty is joined by PD James, Rowan Pelling, Michael Gove and Anthony Horowitz.

Watch on BBC Two at 2230 after Newsnight and on the Review website from Saturday.

Friday, 30 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Mar 07, 06:18 PM

nathan203.jpgA stand off with Iran over the 15 British military personnel held captive there - this morning Iranian TV broadcast a "confession" by Royal Marine riflemen Nathan Thomas Summers apologising for entering Iranian waters without permission. Peter Marshall reports.

Plus: We'll be discussing what's going on in Zimbabwe; and following death threats famous US blogger Kathy Sierra has called on the blogosphere to combat the culture of abuse online. Should there be any limits in the blogosphere?

Comment on Friday's programme here.

Macavity was here

  • Newsnight
  • 30 Mar 07, 05:30 PM

brownoutline203260.jpgEveryone keeps going on about Gordon Brown having "Macavity the cat-like qualities"; a reference to T.S. Eliot's most elusive of characters. Lord Turnbull did it in a much publicised interview with the Financial Times recently, off the back of which the Guardian reprinted the whole poem. This week it was David Aaronovitch in The Times.

But way back in October last year when there was talk of political subterfuge, efforts to oust Tony Blair and a mass resignation of junior members of government which forced the prime minister to make clear - or clearer - his timetable for leaving office, Newsnight noted the chancellor's absence and made the comparison with Macavity. We even got the actor Bill Paterson to recite a little for us.

Now, we're not ones for saying "pah, we did it first"... we just thought you might all like to enjoy Mr Paterson's mellifluous tones once again. Watch him here.

How ethical is my baby?

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 30 Mar 07, 10:39 AM

elsa203.jpgIn the course of my year of living ethically I’ve tried hard to reduce my family’s impact on the environment yet quite a few readers of this blog and viewers of Ethical Man have written in to claim that my family is responsible for something which will out-weigh all my family’s eco-efforts. She’s called Elsa and very lovely she is too.

You don’t need to be John Nash to do the maths. We managed to cut the family’s carbon footprint by twenty per cent in the last year – that’s about two tons of carbon. But Elsa adds a fifth person to the family. When she’s grown up she – like the rest of us Britons – is likely to burn off some three tons of carbon a year. On that basis we are worse off than when we started.

So what I want to know is whether it is ethical to have had little Elsa at all.

The new orthodoxy seems to be that, when it comes to the environment, people are the problem and it is not hard to see why. Baby Elsa, our third child, is one of about 137 million people born last year. Unfortunately only 56 million people died leaving an 81 million surplus.

In short, there’s a population explosion underway. The UN expects the global population to reach 6.7bn by July this year. That’s almost twice what it was when I was born in the mid-sixties and the boom is set to continue. By the time Elsa is my age the UN reckons another two and a half billion people will be sharing the earth with her.

Many people believe that will lead to global catastrophe: “Without policies to reduce world population, efforts to save our environment cannot succeed,” says the Optimum Population Trust (OPT).

Continue reading "How ethical is my baby?"

Thursday, 29 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 29 Mar 07, 07:01 PM

David Miliband
Will David Miliband challenge Gordon Brown for the leadership of the Labour Party? David Grossman examines the growing pressure on the environment secretary.

Plus: Justin Rowlatt on the possibility of freedom for Briton Bisher Al Rawi, currently held in Guantanamo; Peter Marshall asks who's making the decisions in Iran over what to do with the 15 detained British marines; Humphrey Hawksley reports from the Ivory Coast on evidence of child labour in the cocoa industry; and 40 years years since the creation of the iconic Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band album cover - Madeleine Holt speak to its creator Peter Blake.

Jeremy presents Thursday's programme. Your comments are welcome below.

Guido Fawkes apologises to BBC's Political Editor

  • Newsnight
  • 29 Mar 07, 03:03 PM

fawkes203shadow.jpgOn Wednesday's Newsnight the political blogger Guido Fawke's suggested that the BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson was the source of a story he featured on his blog about Downing Street having a second email system. You can see the film and debate here.

Guido Fawkes has since apologised and retracted his comments.

Nick Robinson noted Guido's apology on his own blog and gave his views on the blogger's original interview with him featured in the film here.

Wednesday, 28 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Mar 07, 05:21 PM

HMS CornwalAmid hopes that one of the 15 sailors held in Iran might be freed Britain freezes bilateral communications with the country. Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban will have the latest and provide his expert analysis.

Plus: as Sainsbury's comes under the gaze of a private equity firm Paul Mason asks if such buyouts are good or bad; political blogger Guido Fawkes accuses the mainstream media of being too close to politicians - watch and comment on his film here - he debates live with the Guardian's Michael White; and how super will the Government's supercasino plan look after tonight’s votes in the Commons and Lords?

Jeremy presents Wednesday's programme - your comments below please.

Political journalism - Guido Fawkes accuses

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Mar 07, 12:35 PM

Guido Fawkes blog imageOn Wednesday's Newsnight controversial political blogger Guido Fawkes explained why he believes political journalists are short changing the public.

He says because he does not interview politicians he does not have to worry about offending them and can therefore tell his readers more than the mainstream media does. He also challenges Jeremy Paxman over the reading of government statements and so-called "empty chairing".

Watch Guido's film and the lively debate afterward with the Guardian's Michael White - here - and having watched it, tell us what you think below...

Tuesday, 27th March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 27 Mar 07, 06:01 PM

childinpoverty.jpgThe number of children living in relative poverty in the UK has increased for the first time in nearly a decade. New stats also show that the overall number of people below the poverty line has risen for the first time since Labour came to power.

Plus, Al Gore is discussing the controversy around his film 'An Inconvenient Truth' and we'll be asking him about his own carbon footprint, Mark Urban has the latest on the British sailors held in Iran and we talk to sculptor Andy Goldsworthy.

Comment on Tuesday's programme here

Monday, 26 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Mar 07, 05:24 PM

Rev Ian Paisley and Gerry AdamsA deal for Northern Ireland power sharing. Gavin is in Belfast to preside over discussion and debate on today's historic agreement between the DUP's Reverend Ian Paisley and Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams.

Leave any questions you might have about the deal below and we'll make sure they get to Gavin.

Also on Monday's programme: we examine the latest developments following the murder of the Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer; and what can Britain do to ensure the safe return of 15 British sailors being held in Iran?

Padre video diaries 2

  • Newsnight
  • 26 Mar 07, 03:43 PM

Padre BarnburyThe second in an occasional series of video diaries from padres stationed with British troops in and around Basra as part of Newsnight's special Iraq coverage.

Padre Banbury is serving at a medical facility in Basra. He gives his thoughts on the difficulties of offering prayers for soldiers killed in the conflict and of trying to find a brighter side to life in Iraq.

Newsnight Review, 23 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Mar 07, 06:39 PM

Amazing GraceThe panel discuss: the film Amazing Grace, which examines MP William Wilberforce's driving through parliament the bill which outlawed the slave trade in Britain 200 years ago; Irvine Welsh's Channel Four comedy Wedding Belles; The Lady From Dubuque currently at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket London; and the novel Two Caravans by Marina Lewycka. More details of those on the Review website.

Kirsty is joined by Kwame Kwei-Armah, Sue Perkins, Tristram Hunt and Natasha Walter.

Watch on BBC Two at 2230 after Newsnight and on the Review website from Saturday.

Friday, 23 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Mar 07, 06:26 PM

HMS Cornwall.jpgIt's Martha's last Newsnight before she reclaims her evenings and becomes the presenter of Radio 4's World at One.

On the programme, we assess the implications of the Royal Navy personnel seized by Iranian forces.

Plus, theories surrounding the murder of Bob Woolmer whose death has shocked the cricketing world and beyond. Could there be links with allegations of match fixing in the game?

And this weekend is the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. We asked you what you thought Europe has done for us - your thoughts and those of our experts tonight.

Your views and comments on Friday's programme are welcome below.

What has Europe ever done for us?

  • Newsnight
  • 23 Mar 07, 12:57 PM

EU flagThis weekend is the 50th Anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. So what has Europe ever done for us?

Tonight on Newsnight two campaigners on European issues go head to head in debate. One thinks the whole venture has been a massive mistake from its beginnings in 1957. The other believes Britain should be part of a completely federal Europe and that the nation state is outdated. Let us know your views and be part of the debate.

Iraq - what went wrong? Mark Urban Q&A

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Mar 07, 07:16 PM

Newsnight's Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban answers your questions on US strategy in Iraq.

Mark UrbanSince the invasion of Iraq four years ago, some 134 British troops and more than 3,200 US service personnel have been killed. It is harder to quantify the number of Iraqi deaths, estimates range from 60,000 to more than 600,000. One thing is certain, the cost in human life of the conflict has been huge. And the killing goes on.

But given this was not a snap conflict and had been planned for months, some say years, how did things go so wrong? To find out our diplomatic editor Mark Urban spoke to some of the senior US military figures who were charged with putting Iraq back together after the invasion.

Mark has agreed to answer any questions you might have about US strategy in Iraq raised by his report. You can watch it by clicking here. He'll respond to as many questions as he can.

Thursday, 22 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 22 Mar 07, 05:44 PM

baghdad203.jpgAs part of our Iraq series our Diplomatic Editor Mark Urban asks what went wrong during the first 18 months of the Iraq war. He'll be answering questions about his report online tomorrow. To put a question to him click here.

The EU estimates 26 million more people will take to the skies over the next five years because of the Open Skies travel agreement.

And it's School Report day at the BBC. We visit two schools in Bradford to find out what they think of each other. Read about the project here.

Wednesday, 21 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Mar 07, 06:13 PM

gb2.jpgGordon Brown's last budget as Chancellor - we analyse, explain and chew over what happened today.

Jeremy assesses with politicians from the main parties, and reflects on Brown's 10 years in the job with a former chancellor, a treasury minister and a Brown ally.

Plus our series on Iraq continues. John Bolton the former US ambassador to the UN tells us his thoughts - 4 years after the invasion. What does he think now?

Comment on Wednesday's programme here.

Things to do in Baghdad when you're a student - Ahmed

  • Newsnight
  • 21 Mar 07, 12:28 PM

As part of Salam Pax's Window on Iraq blogging series for Newsnight - running during and beyond our in depth week of Iraq coverage - Baghdad student Ahmed's second blog entry (read his first) explains the extracurricular activities on offer in the Iraqi capital.

Playing dominoesThere aren't really many things you can do for fun in Baghdad today. Because of the difficult security situations and the curfews you can't go too far away from where you live. So for a month now my friends and I have been going to a tea shop nearby.

It is owned by an Egyptian guy called Mahrous. It is a very simple tea shop with simple chairs and tables and domino sets on each table. That's what we do, we play dominoes from 6 to 8 at night, that and drink tea and smoke nargila - a type of hookah with sweet flavoured tobacco.

Mahrous also offers sandwiches but these can be lethal. The first time you try his kabab you'll get food poisoning but then you are immune and you can have them without worrying.

Continue reading "Things to do in Baghdad when you're a student - Ahmed"

Tuesday, 20 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Mar 07, 05:43 PM

Gordon BrownGordon Brown's last budget as Chancellor before he - more than likely - becomes the next PM. We assess what he might have in store for us all tomorrow.

Plus 10,000 British passports were issued as a result of fraudulent applications - in one year. How? And our second look at Iraq, four years on from the invasion. We meet one resident living at the heart of the conflict in the Baghdad Sunni district of Adamiyah.

Comment on Tuesday's programme below.

Magical thinking and the lost country

  • Salam Pax
  • 20 Mar 07, 08:44 AM

Baghdad blogger Salam Pax is providing regular despatches and thoughts as part of Newsnight's in-depth coverage of Iraq four years after the invasion.

Millions of Iraqis have been forced out of their homes by the conflictOne good thing to come out of George Bush’s reluctant acceptance that the power of Magical Thinking cannot make the situation in Iraq better is that we are now allowed to deal with issues which used to be political blind spots. The US administration is finally out of denial when the plight of about 4 million Iraqi refugees, displaced internally and abroad, is mentioned.

Although this has been going on since the start of the war we only recently learnt that “the international community had been overwhelmed by the problem, and needed to do much more to help”. Dear readers; behold the power of Magical Thinking (and maybe some political arm twisting), it can make millions of people vamoose only to suddenly reappear all over the place looking for refuge.

Before you panic and shout “close the gates, the Iraqis are coming!” you should know that half of those displaced are still within Iraq’s borders and the rest have only made it to neighbouring Arab countries.

Continue reading "Magical thinking and the lost country"

Iraq's failing health - Mayada, the GP

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Mar 07, 03:09 PM

For Newsnight's Window on Iraq - a series of audio, video and text blogs as part of our in-depth Iraq coverage - Mayada, a Baghdad GP, explains how doctors are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver healthcare.

mayada203listen.jpgI am a GP at a health centre in one of Baghdad’s poorer districts. It is not an area you would choose to work in but I hold on to my position for two reasons. The first is I get on very well with my colleagues and the second is because the area is relatively safe – at least during office hours – and this makes all the difference between having to give up your job or being able to continue.

The situation for the staff and patients has deteriorated a lot over the last year and as a result the services we are able to offer have suffered. It was much better when I started work here three years ago.

Continue reading "Iraq's failing health - Mayada, the GP"

Iraq 2020 - Monday, 19 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Mar 07, 02:08 PM

kurdishfighter2020.jpgWhat will Iraq be like in 2020? Here at Newsnight we've dramatised two different futures for the country based on two academics' visions. Watch the films and read the academic assessments here. We also want to know what you think will happen. What must happen in order for things to improve? Will democracy survive? And when will coalition forces leave? Join the debate below.

BBC's Iraq coverage - biased or balanced?

  • Newsnight
  • 19 Mar 07, 10:47 AM

To coincide with the BBC's week-long examination of the situation in Iraq four years after the US-led invasion, Newsnight has invited critics of the BBC's coverage of the conflict and its aftermath to set out their arguments. Here, Media Lens, an online group that monitors mainstream media output, argues that BBC reporting too often follows the establishment lines. We're keen to debate the issue so read the piece and post your views and comments below.

The Bias In BBC 'Balance'

The BBC's claim that it provides balanced news reporting does not stand up to scrutiny.

Saddam's statue is toppled in BaghdadAs Baghdad fell to US tanks on April 9, 2003, Andrew Marr, then the BBC's political editor, hailed the invasion as a great triumph. Of Tony Blair, Marr declared: "tonight he stands as a larger man and a stronger prime minister as a result". (Marr, BBC 1, News At Ten, April 9, 2003)

This is the standard BBC version of objective news reporting. The UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, took a different view of the invasion:

"From our point of view and from the [UN] charter point of view, it was illegal."

Indeed it would be hard to find a better example of the supreme war crime - the waging of a war of aggression.

Before the invasion, Bush and Blair insisted that the pretext was a "single
question": Would Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction? As late as February 2003, Blair affirmed that Saddam could still save his regime:

"I hope, even now, Iraq can be disarmed peacefully, with or without Saddam."

When not a single weapon of mass destruction was found, the story quickly changed and BBC reporting changed with it: the liberation of Iraq, not its disarmament, we were told, was the guiding concern. The BBC's Washington correspondent, Matt Frei, said:

"There's no doubt that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East... is now increasingly tied up with military power." (BBC1, Panorama, April 13, 2003)

Continue reading "BBC's Iraq coverage - biased or balanced?"

Newsnight Review, 16 March 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Mar 07, 07:07 PM

siennaandguy_203.jpgThe panel look at two biopics: Factory Girl, about Warhol muse Edie Sedgwick starring Sienna Miller; and Fur a study of the photographer Diane Arbus, played by Nicole Kidman.

Plus an exhibition of unknown Monets; Channel Five drama Shark; and Blake Morrison's South of the River.

Martha presents this week's Review, your comments and reviews below.

Friday, 16 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Mar 07, 06:17 PM

Party leadersUS pollster Frank Luntz looks the popularity of the party leaders. Other polls suggest David Cameron is out in front - does Luntz draw the same conclusion?

Plus the inquest into the death of Lance Corporal Matty Hull killed in Iraq in 2003 when two American A-10 tank buster planes attacked his tank convoy twice near Basra, records a verdict of " unlawful killing". We'll examine the case. And a prison break in Basra.

Kirsty presents Friday's programme - your thoughts are welcome below.

Thursday, 15 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Mar 07, 06:38 PM

hoodies203.jpgWe look at the case of one 10-year-old with an ASBO who also has a mental health disorder - is this how we should be treating our kids?

Plus the spiralling cost of the Olympics; the data Google keeps about you and how the US government wants to get its hand on it; and just how is Robert Mugabe's government staying afloat?

And what else should we be covering on tonight's programme? Get in quick and tell us below - Thursday's programme starts at 2230GMT.

Padre video diaries - 1

  • Newsnight
  • 15 Mar 07, 04:02 PM

padrecole203watch.jpgAs part of Newsnight's Window on Iraq series, padres stationed with troops in and around Basra are making a series of video diaries about their work and experiences with the British forces.

In this first Newsnight diary, Padre Cole, the joint force senior chaplain in southern Iraq, reflects on a difficult few days prior to the recording.

There are now more chaplains serving with the British armed forces than at any time since World War II. While we are concentrating solely on those in Iraq, former BBC correspondent Martin Bell has been looking at their role across all current conflicts for a BBC Radio Four programme, God and the Gun. One Padre who took part in that programme spoke to the BBC News website.

Wednesday, 14 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Mar 07, 07:14 PM

blair_hoc203.jpgIn the Commons, MP's vote on Trident; in the Lords, peers decide on whether to vote themselves out of existence (in their current form); Mark Pieth (Chair of the anti-bribery committee of the OECD) talks to Peter Marshall; Blue Peter is the latest show in the TV quiz spotlight - we look back at some of the programme's other great TV moments; and will the loos be flushed away in one Norfolk town?

Leave your comments on Wednesday's programme below.

Normal for Iraq?

  • Salam Pax
  • 14 Mar 07, 12:00 PM

Newsnight is following a number of people in Iraq over the coming weeks in order to gain some perspective on the situation across the country. Window on Iraq will feature a series of text, audio and video blogs hosted by Baghdad blogger Salam Pax - who will be posting regular entries himself. In this, his first, he examines claims that the situation in Baghdad is improving.

pax203watch.jpgJust a day before the recent international meeting in Baghdad many news sources published a piece about the Iraqi PM making a surprise appearance on the streets of Baghdad where he told reporters that "the conference is proof that the situation in Baghdad is getting back to normal and that the political process is strong and stable" (emphasis mine). If you ask me the headline to that piece should have read: Iraqi PM moves into his own Reality Distortion Field, finds it a very lonely place.

It seems Mr. Maliki's idea of what "normal" looks like is suffering from a severe case of Green Zone delusional disorder from spending all that time in the little oasis of false calm in that heavily fortified American enclave. Walking in the centre of a tightly closed circle of machine gun wielding bodyguards does seem to stretch any definition of normal you want to choose.

And as another indication of normalcy "his Iraqi bodyguards, armed with submachine guns, parted to allow al-Maliki to stoop down and kiss the foreheads of children huddled up against cement barriers." Now how is that for a "all is normal, folks" campaign poster? We obviously don't see him hurrying back to his armoured car right after the photo op.

The situation, dear Mr. Maliki, is far from normal.

And I will refuse to describe it as normal until I can move back into the home my family and I had to abandon two years ago when the neighbourhood was taken over by insurgents.

I had not been to my old house since we moved out and as the months went by I had less and less reason to do so. One after the other, my uncles and aunts who also lived in the same area, rented homes elsewhere or left the country. But yesterday I did go and now I wish I hadn't, I would rather remember my neighbourhood the way it was than see what it turned to now.

Not a single shop was open in the 1.5km stretch of the main shopping street, and from the amount of rubbish and rubble in front of these shops no one has bothered with opening these shops for a very long time. Cars which have caught fire during an explosion a couple of weeks ago are still there on the side of the road and more inexplicably the twisted and burned remains a huge 40 passenger bus can be seen at the entrance to one of the side streets.
The top of the street is flanked by the rubble of what used to be two flashy five story buildings. One was destroyed by a car bomb about a month ago and the second by two mortar rounds hitting it just last week. The only signs of life were the armed guards of a Sunni political group standing on the roof of a building they have commandeered, it used to be the Baath Party headquarters in the area.

The feeling you get driving down that street is of despair. People who have hope don't leave burned cars at the entrance of the street they live in. Although they would leave it there hoping that whoever has done this will have some mercy the next time and spare them another attack. People who still have hope in Mr. Maliki's political process go to pick the pieces of their shattered stores and repair the broken window panes. I know what having hope feels like because for two years after the war we did that, Baghdadis tried to act as if nothing was going wrong and tried to keep their lives on track. Today despair and hopelessness can be seen around every corner you turn in the west of Baghdad where I used to live. A place Mr. Maliki has obviously never been to.

I didn't make it our house. The empty streets and all the bombed buildings scared me and saddened me more than I expected them to and I decided to turn around and go back. My mother did not want to hear about what I saw, keeping things how you remember them is a much wiser decision.

Crossing Baghdad - Ahmed

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Mar 07, 11:26 AM

As part of Salam Pax's Window on Iraq series of text, audio and video blogs, Baghdad student Ahmed's first audio entry describes the difficulties of student life in Iraq's capital.

traffic203audio.jpgThese days the most difficult thing in my life is going through the streets of Baghdad. Besides the bombs and explosions we have to deal with many other troubles which guarantee a late arrival at university.

I travel to university in a taxi I hire with a couple of friends and while this makes travelling to university cheap as a group of young men in a car it also means that we get stopped at every check point.

There are also many new laws which make it even more difficult. For example there is the odd and even law; on one day only cars with odd numbers are allowed on the roads and only even numbers on the next. The aim was to reduce the number of cars on the streets and to keep the car bombs in check. But for us it means that we must have two cars to really be able to move around daily or use unreliable, crowded buses.

Another law strange law prohibits you from using a mobile phone when in a car. Not while driving but just while sitting in a car within sight of a check point. They are afraid you might trigger a bomb. But how do you call your family to tell them you are late because of road blocks not because you have been kidnapped? Or that the car bomb they just heard about is not near you and you’re still alive? For us mobile phones are our lifelines.

On a good day getting to my university is only a 15 minute drive. On foot it is half hours away. I know because I recently had to walk all the way.

I had an exam on the day the new security plan started and found that no cars were allowed to cross the bridge.

bridge203a.jpgIt was strange but nice to be walking on the streets with no cars. But I am my friends saw a couple of American Humvees on the side of the road we thought that could be trouble. You have to be careful when walking near American Army vehicles. They could be attacked and you end up as a casualty of that or the Americans might panic and shoot you. We found a small side street and quickly got into it.

In the end I had to run as the exam was going to start without me. I was allowed in even though I was five minutes late and I sat for 15 minutes catching my breath before even looking at the questions.

I have not yet received my grades but I have a feeling that my best score is going to be for the test on that day.

Tuesday, 13 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Mar 07, 06:26 PM

Environment Minister David Miliband talks about the government’s radical climate change proposals; the expensive court martial that has produced few answers about the death of Baha Mousa; seeking confidence in government statistics; and ITV Play is sacrificed, but what about the newspaper industry’s involvement with premium rate phone lines?

Comment on Tuesday’s programme here.

Is Baghdad violence a Kurdish problem?

  • Newsnight
  • 13 Mar 07, 10:32 AM

From Irbil in northern Iraq, Kurdish journalist Mohammed A Salih records concerns about local troops being sent to Baghdad.

mohammedarbil203.jpgThe other day, I woke early to go out for my usual reporting job.

The taxi driver tuned the radio to one of the local stations. The main story was about the sending of 1,800 Kurdish troops to Baghdad as part of the new Iraqi-American security plan to stabilise the capital.

This is in addition to a Kurdish brigade that left for Baghdad a few weeks ago. I could see the panic and dissatisfaction on the faces of the other taxi passengers.

"I see no sense whatsoever in sending our [Kurdish] soldiers to Baghdad," said the driver in a very disgruntled voice.

"I swear by God, the same with me," said the passenger in front sitting next to him.

"Just tell me what they can achieve in the chaos over there."

In no time I was in the middle of a heated debate about the general situation in Iraq. Although Kurdistan in the north has been spared much of the bloodshed of other parts of the country, many here are worried that with Kurds fighting in Baghdad, the violence may spill over in to Kurdistan.

"We can't calm down the situation in Baghdad," said someone sitting next to me.

"We would become part of the problem and would start receiving the dead bodies of our fighters everyday."

"It's not our business to get involved in the fighting between Arabs. Let them sort it out themselves," the driver yelled.

Kurds, who are ethnically distinct from Arabs, have very little sense of Iraqi identity these days. The accounts of persecution at the hand of Saddam Hussein's regime are still very fresh in their memories. While feeling deeply sorry about the bloodshed in the rest of the country, they still believe "we must not be involved".

The discussion reflected how unpopular the move to send Kurdish soldiers to Baghdad is with the ordinary people here. The next news item was about a deadly bombing in front of a university in Baghdad. The driver sighed deeply.

"This is brutality. Whose conscience can accept doing this? All these poor innocent students dying. What for?"

Others nodded in agreement.

With sectarian divisions running deep in Iraq today, US and Iraqi officials hope that Kurdish soldiers can keep the peace in Baghdad. The Kurds are neither affiliated with, nor against any of the conflicting Shia and Sunni Arabs there. But most of the people I talked to in Irbil, Iraqi Kurdistan's regional capital, didn't like the idea. They doubt Kurdish soldiers can make any positive contribution to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

Many of them question what Kurdish soldiers can do when tens of thousands of well-equipped Iraqi and American troops cannot change things for better. They feel the presence of Kurdish soldiers can only create more targets and increase the number of dead.

Monday, 12 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Mar 07, 07:40 PM

hmsvanguard203.jpgDo we need to spend £20bn on "independent nuclear deterrent". Government minister Nigel Griffiths resigned over Tony Blair's plans to renew Trident. We'll discuss the issue.

Plus the first broadcast interview with the head of the Serious Fraud Office. Why was its investigation into British Aerospace bribery allegations so controversially dropped? And the dissenting voices in the climate change debate - could all those scientists who believe man's carbon emissions are leading to global warming be wrong?

Gavin is in the chair for Monday's programme. You get your say below.

Not One Of Us by Ali Dizaei

  • Newsnight
  • 12 Mar 07, 01:58 PM

alidizaei203.jpgWith his outspoken campaigning on race relations and reputation for day-to-day crime-fighting, Superintendent Ali Dizaei had been tipped to be Britain's first Asian chief constable.

But the Iranian-born officer was secretly suspected of a series of crimes and in 2000 became the subject of what was to become the most expensive inquiry ever into a single officer.

Three years later he was cleared of perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office and making false expense claims - leading to renewed claims that the Metropolitan Police had failed to stamp out racism.

Not One of Us outlines how he set about clearing his name.

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

Newsnight Review - Friday, 9 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Mar 07, 06:50 PM

goodgerman203index.jpgMartha Kearney and panel discuss: Stephen Soderbergh's painstaking 1940s noir The Good German; ITV's Jane Austen season; Robert Lindsay in The Entertainer; and Tahmima Anam's debut novel A Golden Age.

Details of all those on the Review website and the whole programme will be available to watch on Saturday.

Panellists John Carey, Jonathan Freedland, Julie Myerson and Dotun Adebayo give their verdicts on Friday at 2300 right after Newsnight, BBC Two. You can give your verdict below.

Friday, 9 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 9 Mar 07, 06:20 PM

eu203.jpgEU climate change plan - how realistic are the proposals?

Plus: the new Wembley inches towards being completely ready; are Palestinians being used as human shields by Israeli soldiers? And after one woman awakes briefly from a vegetative state we ask what happens to people in comas.

Gavin hosts Friday's programme - on BBC Two, on the website, then on the blog...

Thursday, 8 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 8 Mar 07, 06:35 PM

patrickmercer203.jpgConservative Homeland Security spokesman Patrick Mercer is forced to resign over an interview about racism in the Army. Was David Cameron right to sack him, or does he stand accused of trying to stifle debate and argument?

Plus: TV phone-ins - as another show is pulled we ask if we can trust anything on tele anymore? Northern Ireland goes to the polls; Science student Steve Smith goes to Colombia; and International Women's Day in Iran... or not.

Join Kirsty at 2230GMT on BBC Two or the website for Thursday's programme - and then join the debate below.

How to test the braking distance of airliners...

  • Stephen Smith
  • 8 Mar 07, 02:44 PM

aircraft203.jpgClick here for details of Science Week
If I didn't know before that physics is a capricious mistress, as likely to dash me to earth as to lift me out of my prosaic daily round, then I certainly found out the day I boarded a flight to Colombia. I was on my way to undertake the latest stage of my scientific education.

My grandfather built and ran railways through the beautiful but implacable South American countryside, where he and other engineers coaxed steam locomotives all the way from the Atlantic coast through bug-loud jungle into the faint-making high sierras of Bogota, the Colombian capital. The country where my grandfather spent so many years of his life now enjoys a well-deserved reputation for kidnapping and violence.

But as I took my seat aboad the jet, I little suspected that physics had hazards of her own to mete out, that my fellow passengers and I were about to find ourselves at the centre of a summary experiment concerning the braking distance of a fully-laden airliner...

Continue reading "How to test the braking distance of airliners..."

Wednesday, 7 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Mar 07, 06:39 PM

lords203100.jpgMPs have voted on Lords reform; voters have been going to the polls to elect new members to the Northern Ireland Assembly; and we profile Nicholas Sarkozy, the man who wants to be the next French president.

All that plus a shocking lead story which, at the time of writing, we can’t reveal details of.

Comment on Wednesday’s programme here.

Is it taxing being a woman?

  • Newsnight
  • 7 Mar 07, 02:57 PM

towels_203.jpgGlancing at the overnight feedback on Wednesday morning, Newsnight was interested to see the following suggestion, presumably prompted by Martha Kearney’s report about Gordon Brown:

"I would like Jeremy Paxman to ask Gordon Brown what his wife thinks of the levy on tampons and panty liners. The 8% VAT is illegal and I wish the BBC to put this question to Gordon Brown."

It’s a question that has had women up in arms for many years – in fact Newsnight’s editor recalls the issue being on the agenda when he was a young lad at university, (of which the web team has yet to be sent any incriminating photos).

We’re very happy to have this discussion on Newsnight’s forum, but first a little recent history; the applicable rate of VAT is not 8%:

From January 2001, the rate of VAT for eligible sanitary protection products was lowered from the full rate of 17.5% to the “reduced rate” of 5%, in line with EU restrictions.

This followed many years of campaigning for sanitary products to be eligible for a “zero rate” of tax.

In 2006, the reduced rate was also applied to condoms and other contraceptives.

More information can be found at HM Revenues and Customs website.

So where does this leave the debate? The fact is that VAT is applied to sanitary products, albeit at the reduced rate. Does this still amount to a tax on being a woman?

Tuesday, 6 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Mar 07, 06:35 PM

levy_203.jpgClaims, denials and injunctions – the latest twists and turns in the Cash for Honours probe; Lewis “Scooter” Libby found guilty of obstructing the course of justice in the Valerie Plame case; Martha Kearney explores what life will be like under Gordon Brown’s leadership; and Ghana celebrates its 50th anniversary.

Comment on Tuesday’s programme here.

Talk about Newsnight - gremlins all gone

  • Newsnight
  • 6 Mar 07, 11:21 AM

Regular contributors to Talk About Newsnight may have noticed that in recent days the site has been, to coin a technical term, a bit "broken".

rubbish1_203.jpgKeen not to deprive our viewers of their forum, we enticed Jeremy Paxman - under the pretence that he was being sent forth among the Newsnight desks to rage against a particularly unsightly area of litter in the vicinity of Martha Kearney's shelves - to clean up any gremlins with the aid of one of those claw things on the end of a stick. The Newsnight mouse, incidentally, managed to avoid being ensnared by Paxman's pincers.

In other words the bugs are, we're told, now fixed and Newsnight viewers are again free to praise, complain, debate, compose verse, tell jokes, or anything else you usually like to use the Newsnight blog for.

Sorry again. But do let us know if it stirs any poetry within you...

Monday, 5 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Mar 07, 06:42 PM

goldsmith203100.jpgThe attorney general holds a Cabinet post as legal advisor to the government but is also there as guardian of the public interest. Isn't it now time to bring an end this dual - some say conflicting - role?

In the second film looking at Blair's Britain, Jeremy goes back to Northern Ireland - where he cut his teeth as a reporter - to see how the province has changed in the last decade. And ITV announce they are to suspend all premium-rate phone-in shows after recent controversy.

Jeremy is in charge at 2230 on BBC Two and the website for Monday's programme - you're in charge below...

Newsnight Review - Friday, 2 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Mar 07, 07:14 PM

equus_index.jpgThe Review panel, chaired by Kirsty Wark, discuss the film Inland Empire, Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, Jed Mercurio’s new book Ascent, and BBC TWO’s The Trap.

Let us know if you agree with the views of Kerry Shale, Natalie Haynes, Paul Morley and Matthew Sweet.

You can read more about each item on the Newsnight Review website.

Friday, 2 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Mar 07, 05:45 PM

child.jpgAre schools in England and Wales "institutionally racist"? Is the education system failing black pupils, and in particular black boys? A government report suggests there is unintentional racism in the education system stemming from long standing social conditioning involving negative images of black people (particularly black men) which stereotypes them as threatening. Paul Mason examines the report ahead of our studio discussion.

Plus, a Newsnight poll on the leadership of the Liberal Democrats' Sir Menzies Campbell. We put the results to him. And the couple accused of killing their child by salt poisoning are acquitted. John Sweeney - who made Newsnight's original report on the case and spoke to Angela and Ian Gay - has the latest.

Kirsty presents Friday's Newsnight - your thoughts on the programme are welcome below.

Thursday, 1 March, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 1 Mar 07, 06:51 PM

gordon_203.jpgGordon Brown announces his plans for Public Sector pay; anxious parents learn of their children’s secondary school placements; Gen Jack Keane, overseer of the so-called “surge” strategy in Iraq talks to Newsnight; and Michael Crick unearths some party leader pics.

Comment on Thursday’s programme here.

Bullingdon and Blair

  • Michael Crick
  • 1 Mar 07, 05:22 PM

Why can the media no longer show that photo of David Cameron in the Bullingdon club?

Tonight Newsnight reveals the painting we've specially commissioned, an artistic alternative to the photo that legally we're no longer permitted to broadcast.


Two and a half weeks ago the Mail on Sunday published the first photo of the Conservative leader David Cameron as a member of the Bullingdon Club, the elitist Oxford University dining club whose public school members have become notorious over the years for vandalising restaurants and trashing students' rooms.

The photo, taken around 1986, showed David Cameron and several other Bullingdon members, including the young Boris Johnson, cockily posing for the camera in their £1,000 uniforms of blue ties, tails and biscuit-coloured waistcoats. The photo was published in several national newspapers two weeks ago, and commentators suggested that the scene of Mr. Cameron and his toffish chums was far more embarrassing to the Tory leader than the recent story about him taking cannabis at Eton.

But last week Gillman and Soame, the Oxford photographers who took the original Bullingdon picture, and who own the copyright, announced they were no longer giving permission for the media to use the photo (or indeed any other of their library of tens of thousands of student and school photos). The firm insists this decision was taken for commercial reasons and that they were not pressurised to withdraw the picture.

The alternative painting commissioned by Newsnight of the same scene as in the Bullingdon photo was produced by the Oxford artist Rona.

tbcrop_203.jpgAnd it's not just David Cameron whose been embarrassed in the past by photos in drunken Oxford University dining clubs dredged up from their undergraduate past. This photo of Tony Blair at a St. John's dinner in the 1970s has been published many times before, but tonight, Newsnight reveals for the first time the lower part of the same picture which until now has always been cropped off. We'll show the extraordinary gesture the future Prime Minister was making below the waist - a picture you'll never forget.


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