Talk about Newsnight

A blog and forum.

Wednesday, 20 February, 2008

  • Emily Maitlis
  • 20 Feb 08, 05:14 PM

Arrivals at Luton airportA funny thing is happening, these days. The immigration debate is as hot as ever - but now no-one is talking about race. They're talking about speed of change - squeezed public resources and overcrowding. But the 'colour card' as such, is gone. Tonight, as the Home Secretary asks new immigrants to 'prove their worth', we ask whether it's just the language that's changed, whether the debate has become more 'grown up' or whether the two HAVE become decoupled. The immigration issue has often got political parties in trouble in the past - but right now, politicians know they cant afford to ignore it.

Spy Satellites? Calling Bruce Willis
Life, as Woody Allen once put it, often imitates art. And today the Pentagon's concerns appear to come straight out of the action movie Armageddon.
The US is standing by to shoot down a satellite which they say could cause great damage if it crashed to earth. They got rather upset when China tried something similar last year. Indeed those actions prompted fears of a space arms race. Except this time, they tell us, it's very different. All well and good. But the Russian's simply don't believe them and have branded it a cover for weapon testing.
Anyway, the testosterone is flying, as it were. We'll be gathering Russia and US watchers to tell us where this is heading.

When Germany recognised Croatian independence in 1991 it was explosive and led to the Balkan conflict. Today, it has formally recognized Kosovo's independence, but only after France, the US and Britain did so earlier in the week. The circumstances are different but there are historical resonances. So can war be avoided this time around?

Sovereign Wealth Funds
These massive state owned investment funds have nearly three trillion dollars to invest - slightly more than Britain's entire GDP. They can come to the rescue of troubled enterprises - and banks that need a bail out. But what do we actually know about these naturally secretive organizations - rising, as so many do, from the deserts of the Middle East? Stephanie Flanders is on the case – and you can read her analysis of the cash and controversy surrounding sovereign wealth funds here.

Prospects - Wednesday, 20 February, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 20 Feb 08, 10:21 AM

Today's programme producer is Carol Rubra - here is her early email to the team.

Good morning,

There are a few interesting stories around today but there's lots of space for other things, or a different lead? Please come with your own ideas.

Certificate of naturalisationImmigration and citizenship. We'll find out more about what the green paper is proposing this morning. The DNA disc which sat in a drawer for a year, reforms of incapacity benefit, reforms to rules for long term unemployed.

I'd like us to look at the spy satellite story - the US have said they will shoot down a spy satellite which will otherwise crash into earth sometime in the next 24 hours. China and Russia have complained. Is this the next step in the space arms race or a necessary act to protect the earth?

Our film today: Stephanie has a film about the secretive world of Sovereign Wealth Funds, massive state owned investment funds that have risen out of the oil economies and now have trillions of dollars to invest around the world.

And there is space for another story so please come with ideas on what we should do and how. Perhaps something light for the end of the programme?

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