Talk about Newsnight

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Tuesday, 27 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 27 May 08, 05:11 PM

From tonight's presenter, Kirsty Wark:

Are green taxes dead?

lorries_nn_203100.jpgAre green taxes a luxury we can no longer afford? In the face of an economic downturn, should society be ditching the green agenda or sticking with it?

Lines of lorries are clogging the country's main arteries today in protest over the rising cost of fuel, their drivers demanding the government scrap the planned 2p rise in fuel tax.

At the same time the Chancellor Alistair Darling is facing the fury of Labour MPs over his plans to increase road taxes on older, more polluting vehicles. He'll be addressing their concerns in a meeting next week.

With the cost of fuel, travel and food rising - and house prices falling - people are feeling a big squeeze. So, should the government ease the pain in the short-term by scrapping the green agenda, or is it more important to protect the planet for our grandchildren?

Comment on this issue here.


We have an exclusive and deeply disturbing report from Afghanistan about the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among troops and the US military's efforts to deal with this rapidly growing problem.

Since the war on terror began 60,000 US troops have received an initial diagnosis of PTSD, and the US is waking up to the fact that the level of the illness amongst returning veterans is becoming a social ill. Two hundred murders have been committed by veterans - and most victims are their own family members. Newsnight has been given exclusive access to the taskforces now on the frontline trying to prevent post-traumatic stress disorder.

MPs' expenses

Did Tony Blair display some fancy footwork over his expenses? Following a High Court ruling that MPs' Additional Costs Allowance - in other words, expenses for second homes - would not be exempted from FOI requirements, some receipts and invoices are causing a stir.

Have we a right to know exactly what MPs are spending - or should they get a £23,000 lump sum for the second home and spend it any way they want, as is expected to be recommended by a Commons committee?

Pollack playback

And we'll be revisiting some of Sydney Pollack's finest moments. The director, actor, and producer has died at the age of 73, leaving behind a string of great films - among them, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, Tootsie, The Electric Horseman, Three Days of the Condor and Out of Africa - which took seven Oscars in all.

His most recent big screen appearance was in Michael Clayton opposite George Clooney, but on occasion he made appearances in popular TV shows, from Will and Grace to The Sopranos.

Are green taxes dead?

  • Newsnight
  • 27 May 08, 12:44 PM

lorries1_nn_203.jpgLorry drivers have taken to the road in protest today over the rising cost of fuel - they have the government's planned two pence rise in fuel tax in their sights. Meanwhile, the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, is preparing to meet Labour MPs next week to discuss their concerns about his plans to increase road tax on older, more polluting vehicles.

The economic downturn combined with the rising cost of living make it of little surprise that drivers are up in arms about the additional squeeze on their finances. But if the government capitulates, what will this say about the country's stance on green taxes?

If green taxes are levied as a point of principle, should they weather any crisis in the economy? Or should the credit crunch see such penalties as higher road tax on the worst polluters well and truly parked?

In the current climate, are green taxes - by necessity - dead?

Prospects for Tuesday, 27 May, 2008

  • Newsnight
  • 27 May 08, 10:29 AM

From today's output editor, Robert Morgan:

Good morning everyone,

Quite a bit around today. There are the fuel tax demos, MPs' expenses and Burma for starters. Sydney Pollack has also just died.

We've also got a very powerful film on PTSD:

The US military says 45 percent of its soldiers who have served in the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will eventually suffer some form of stress syndrome. Since the War on Terror began, 60,000 troops have received an initial diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans are returning home to a country that cannot cope with the scale of PTSD, which is no longer a medical problem but now a new social ill in America. Some 200 murders have been committed by soldiers who have recently returned. Most victims are their own family members. Now the Americas are trying several experimental therapies - both on the battlefield and off - to tackle the rapid rise of combat-related stress. Newsnight has been given exclusive access to the taskforces sent out to the frontline to try and prevent PTSD. Dominic Di-Natale reports from Afghanistan.

Playout thoughts welcome. See you in a minute,


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