Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 5 June, 2007

  • Newsnight
  • 5 Jun 07, 04:41 PM

From tonight's presenter, Gavin Esler

g8_203.jpgRobin Hood in Reverse

Vulture funds rob the poor to fatten the rich.

As we revealed on Newsnight earlier this year, they are a crafty mechanism which allows the buying up of the debts of developing countries rather cheaply - and then the new debt owner takes his money back, at a huge profit.

The poor lose. As the G8 leaders assemble tomorrow in Germany, Gordon Brown and President Bush are taking an interest.

I'll be asking the British Government minister responsible whether, realistically, anything can be done to stop the vultures preying on the poor.

The Cameron Clan

The row within the Conservatives over grammar schools rumbles on, with some Conservatives (quietly) suggesting it has undermined David Cameron's authority.

Michael Crick is on the trail - and we hope to hear from both sides.

Web 2.0

The stuff you read on the internet. Do you believe it? Seriously? Why?

We'll be hearing from the author of a new book about why much of what you may be reading has all the editorial authority of graffiti on a lavatory wall, and a Web defender will explain why the democratisation of the web is so important.

You can read extracts from the book, The Cult of the Amateur, and join the debate by clicking here.


The government wants to clamp down on middle class binge drinking. Our Science Editor Susan Watts will tell you how much wine you can safely drink each day.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:10 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Maurice - Northumberland wrote:

YES, Cameron is well and truly damaged goods.
If I vote Blue I don't want Green, he needs to turn Blue or accept he is in the wrong party, and move on!
Spending more time with the family is normally the opt-out clause, he should do it!

  • 2.
  • At 07:26 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Hugh McFadden wrote:

TV/Radio Presenters & journalists should be aware that there are many, many people in society for whom the safe limit of alcohol consumption is zero units, nil amount. There are at least several million people in Britain who should never drink alcohol in any quantity whatsoever: these people include all those who are alcoholic (perhaps as many as one-in-six of the population); together with hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from serious ilnesses, both physical (such as advanced diabetes) and psychological/psychiatic such as depression, bi-polar illness etc. So presenters/journalist should bear this in mind when dispensing advioce about so-called "safe" amounts of alcohol. Yours, Hugh (Mc)

  • 3.
  • At 11:23 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

On alcohol consumption I never know quite what to think. I think the government vastly underestimates what an "average" person of just about any age drinks, they only just about realise that some young people drink quite large quanities - on middle aged and elderly people they don't seem to have a clue. My Grandfather died of liver disease (he still lived a very long time). Unfortunately the quantities a large minority of people drink thesedays don't make the amounts he used to drink look that ridiculous. If people were to come to agreement of what the weekly limit should be I think it would be more like 40 units, that might be safe for some people but probably not for many.

  • 4.
  • At 11:30 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Mike Jones wrote:

Regarding vulture funds: I see the minister skirted deftly around the issue without actually saying the government would actively seek to change the law to put these 'low lifes' out of business. That was typical, but none the less disappointing :-(

  • 5.
  • At 11:37 PM on 05 Jun 2007,
  • Roland Baker wrote:

The Government's main response to alcohol abuse should focus in priority on the extent to which it disturbs society as a whole. Most people who drink half a bottle of wine per day probably don't commit much assault and criminal damage - although they may like to ponder who should pay for their health care if it makes them ill.

Binge drinking in urban centres, especially among the young, is a major social problem. Drunken driving also has serious consequences. The behavioural aspects need to be addressed and alcohol consumption advice can follow.

Cameron. Boris used to back him. The latter young Turk has been spiffingly silent of late. Well, not spiffingly. He is highly intelligent, erudite, and does brighten up the confused thickets of British politics. But he will have to find a new captain to promote. Cameron is, indeed, damaged goods, as was opined above.

The G8. "Oh dear", as John Gielgud said in his role in Brideshead, while eating unsalted fish. If people actually read the Russian press (What, learn Rooskiy? Kamm-awn!); if people would harken unto the Estonians and Germans who know a thing or two about Russian rule, they would realise that the Russian establishment is already being shepherded, from several quarters, even within Russia itself, into the corral marked "For goodness' sake shut up about rockets, and do some constructive trade with Europe and the U.S." But the monolingual Brits keep wittering on about the threat in the East, without actually fully understanding what Russia is all about. Never mind Churchill's swathed mysteries and cling-wrapped enigmas - start getting to know the Russians. Learn about the greatness, and the paranoia. Learn about the ineptitude and the beauty of the churches. Learn.

The Wickedpedia. Another non-issue. Newsnight has been tackling far too many, lately.) Brits&Yanks live in a fantasy world where they cannot read French, Russian, German, Italian, Spanish, or anyone else's language. Then they moan incessantly that Wikipedia entries are biased. If they were intelligent enough to learn but two foreign languages, they would have masses more websites to look at. This would mean that they could compare, contrast and discard the nonsense.

  • 7.
  • At 12:18 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Maurice, Oxfordshire wrote:

Where did Susan Watts get her typical wine bottle holding 700ml? I haven't seen one for about 25 years, not since German producers were forced to join the rest of the world and phase out that size as well as 730ml.

  • 8.
  • At 12:20 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • John, Stockport wrote:

A couple of factual errors:

The UK government's advice changed a few years ago from 21/14 units per week to 3-4/2-3 units per day.

You misuse the word 'proof' - your (at the strong end of wines) bottle of wine is not 14% proof, it's 14% Alcohol By Volume (ABV), slightly under 25 degrees proof.

Maybe pedantic, but in the same programme, you questioned reliability of information available from other sources (The Web).

(With much respect for Robert Southey)

The Global Warming lulled him
No work had Tony done
And he before his plastic door
Scanned page three of the Sun
And by him fiddling with some junk
His little grandchild Kevin-Punk

He saw his sister Tracy-Cher
Roll something small and round
Which she beside the wheelie-bin
In playing there had found
She came to ask what sloshed around
Inside this thing so smooth and round

Then Tony snatched it from the girl
Who stood expectant by
He said: "Give me the effin can"
And made poor Tracy cry
In reverence the stuff he swirled
Declared: "This runs the Civilised World

You’ll find cans in the garden
Where I chuck ‘em when I’m pissed
I slung this at some stupid cat
But being pissed I missed"
He said that thousands more are hurled
To celebrate the Civilised World

"But tell us what you drink it for"
Young Tracy-Cher she cries
And little Kevin-Punk looks up
From making sump oil pies
"Now tell us of this sloshing stuff
Which makes your chucking quite so duff"

"It is the British Tony cries"
With rare lucidity
"Blokes have to do it - it’s required
It makes the Man you see"
His xenophobic lip then curled
We British civilised the World

My father lived in Shepherd’s Bush
Above the Blenheim Arms
And there he bought me that first beer
Extolling all its charms
While blokes whose wives denied them bed
Bragged of where they’d lay their head"

Each beer or alco-pop consumed
Sees reason quite defied
By absent dad and single mum
With farmed-out kids denied.
Yet alcohol needs must flow free
While Britain guards civility

And Saturday’s a shocking sight
After we’ve all consumed
Smart suits to cheats on benefit
The liquor has us doomed
Yet we march proud with flag unfurled
Resides in US the Civilised World

Enobled names span brewing halls
They serve the nation true
What Parliament can’t drink they tax
A Right Royal National Brew
"But doesn’t it make their conscience curl?"
"It’s CIVILISATION you silly girl"

On every side blind eyes are turned
To the cost of drink and drunk
"So Grandpa - whats the point of it?"
Asked little Kevin-Punk
Lord of his pigsty Tony pearled:
"It helps us forget we’re the Civilised World."

  • 10.
  • At 03:52 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Mr Wallace wrote:

Vulture funds rob the poor to fatten the rich. Nothing new in this, banks have been doing something similar for years. We take our banking system for granted but all banks are no different to vulture funds in its corrupt operations, look up the term "fractional banking" on google and discover an excepted universal system of banking; its fraud on a vast scale and has been going on for hundreds of years; Banks lend money to poor countries in Africa, and other failing countries knowing full well they will default on loans given, and conditions attached to loans means banks get their grubby evil satanic hands on lands and resources, vast fortunes equal vast crimes blah blah. The biggest bent and corrupt banks are the world bank, IMF, privately owned federal reserve, to many to mention, right down to the little high street banks that we visit in our home towns; all corrupt and we somehow accept it, duh.
Good to see Greg Palast with his trade-mark hat and his usual high quality investigative report with these vultures funds, its just a pity he did not link the bent practices of the IMF, other international banking houses and all the other loan sharks and other debt collectors that are all interconnected and did i say 'bent and corrupt' already? i think i did.

Whining professional writers, columnist, reviewers and other pen/keystroke wordsmiths who's livelihoods are apparently threatened by amateur web bloggers and such like. Me thinks this authours head may have got stuck a little too deep up his own arssee( did i spell that wrong?; is it arsh or is it arse)
my brain hurts, so Im off to play with my etch-a-scetch...

  • 11.
  • At 09:08 AM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • Julio Dinis wrote:

I agree with Mr. Wallace. I also think Newsnight not only should have pressed the issue against the banks, but also western companies, that have no hesitations in bribing and corrupting whoever it takes. I believe it was Newsnight that broke the story about suspicious weapons sales to Tanzania (a recipient of aid), how Shell and other oil giants support the ruthless Liberian dictator, etc. unfortunately the list is endless. These vultures have been eating from the poorest for the last 500 years!

Have I missed something? Surely the vultures can only operate if the original lender - the creditor - is willing to sell the debt to the vulture? Assuming the lenders are vaguely principled entities (countries, banks etc) is it not to these that representations should be made and with whom deals might be done?


Oops... in my report last night on alcohol consumption I talked about a bottle of wine of "14% proof".

As has been pointed out to me by astute viewers clearly drinking only within sensible limits last night, I should have said "14% Alcohol By Volume (ABV)".


Susan Watts

  • 14.
  • At 12:47 PM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • csharp wrote:

The Newsnight Drink Problem

if you drink at home and do not go to the bar
to whom do you say, 'you're my best mate you are'?

Thank you Susan Watts.

granny said 'no more wine, i've been such a clot',
'i'm gonna give it up and take up pot'.

  • 15.
  • At 06:46 PM on 06 Jun 2007,
  • alexis wrote:

There was high hopes riding on Cameron after the wonderful speech he gave to the Party, unfortunately it has all gone pear shaped.
I have reached the conclusion that like Hague and Clarke, Cameron will do his stint on the front line, loose the GE and then take up the lucrative outside interest work that will be on offer.
I have long been under the impression that a Tory win would hamper Hague's earning capacity and harm his bank balance which I think he is more interested in, that is the reason he is going along with DC and his mad-cap ideas which is upsetting the rank and file.
I feel terribly sorry for those Tories who are still pinning their hopes on him,he is a conman, he would be better employed selling used cars or double glazing than he is leading such an honourable party which he is pulling down to his level.
His bread is going to be buttered I wonder how much longer it will be before people realise that he no longer has a snowballs chance in hell of winning at a general election and he should step aside for a real Tory, before it is too late.

  • 16.
  • At 08:41 PM on 07 Jun 2007,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Susan #13, I suggest you and the rest of the team might take a long hard look at the larger picture. Middle class boozing is merely one self-medicating response to this diabolical 'cafateria free-choice' culture.

We know from all of the research that people are no more 'free to choose' than any other animals, and the assertion to the contrary just preys on poorly educated people's hubrism. Look into the 'hyperbolic discounting function'.

#19, #23, #26, #29, #30 and further comments off the linked blog at the end, as there's more going on than meets the eye I suggest.

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