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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Feedback - October 2005

What do you think of the stories we have covered? Do you have anything to say about the programme or the issues of the day? You can read and send us your views from this page.

This month:

General comments
George Michael interview
Iran's PM on Israel
Paul Mason's Flock report
Smoking ban comments
Possible White House indictments
Interview with Peter Mandelson
George Galloway coverage
Smoking ban proposal
Sofa body language
Sweden's biogas train
Mark Thomas report
Baghdad Blogger - 18 October
Newsnight Scotland / Salam Pax
Baghdad Blogger - 11 October
Interview with Mikhail Gorbachev
Tory leadership - first round
Zardeh's chemical attack victims
John Bolton interview
Have your say: Iraq debate
Bird flu
Tory leadership
Environment refugees
Global warming
David Cameron profile
'Human Beings'
Conservative leadership
Empty houses
Martha Kearney's interview with David Cameron
Write to us

Click here to read September's feedback

The e-mails published reflect the balance of opinion received.


I was very impressed with Emily Maitlis the other night. Could we see more of her on Newsnight please?
E D M Landman MD, Thetford

It was a very pleasant surprise to see Stephanie Flanders reporting from in front of the White House on politics, not just economics. I hope this is going to be a regular feature, given that the US deficit is intimately tied to Dubya's disastrous foreign policy.
William Dawson, Peterborough

I just wanted to say that the guy [Carne Ross] you had on tonight [28 October 2005] talking about the failure of the UN Oil for Aid policy in Iraq was really great. Such a clear analysis of what was going on, who was responsible, etc., is unusual. Use him again.
Christine Ruth, Liverpool

Newsnight responds:

It's a live camera position. The men on the roof are likely to be a part of the White House's security arrangements.

What is happening on the White House roof? Twice this week I have seen men on the roof whilst Stephanie Flanders has been reporting. Is the backdrop live or recorded? I can't tell whether they're the same men!
Carole Humphrey, London

Newsnight editor Peter Barron responds:

Newsnight's report on the Ramadi killings was brief, but it didn't make biased claims. We reported the claims of the US officials that they had killed 70 "militants" and also those of local doctors that there were civilian victims. Information about the recent spate of US assaults against alleged insurgents is difficult to come by and verify, but we are actively trying to piece together what happened in this and other attacks.

Can you possibly explain to me why Newsnight made such biased claims in its very brief report on the killings in Ramadi [17 October 2005]? The statement that 70 Iraqi "insurgents" were killed is lifted straight from US military dispatches on the event and furthermore is contradicted by testimony from doctors and witnesses who stated that most of the victims were civilians. Is it now impossible for the BBC to make an attempt at serious journalism in one of its flagship news programmes, by investigating more than one side of a particular claim? It seems to be just another lamentable attempt at the reporting of the conditions that the Iraqi people have to live with day in, day out.
Darren McKie, Edinburgh

I wept tears of joy this evening after watching Newsnight on the internet
Dreena Lindstrom
This site is brilliant. Due to silly working hours I can't watch in real time. Thanks to you all from the likes of us we can enjoy the best in-depth news programme on telly.
Pete Logan, Blackburn

After eight years of access to the BBC and my daily fix of Newsnight, I returned to Canada this summer to discover that CBC is on strike. All the other news networks are even more appalling than you can possibly imagine. I wept tears of joy this evening after watching Newsnight on the internet. At last, a show that wasn't about George Bush rehearsing his interview with 15 or so US Iraq troops (oh please tell me you didn't waste time on this story too). Thank you for this terrific service. Now if there was just some way to get the North American public to watch it.
Dreena Lindstrom, Vancouver, BC Canada

I just saw Newsnight for the first time. Absolutely brilliant! However, whatever Jack Straw is on, it has certainly distorted his connection with reality.
Austin Agho, Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago.

What Newsnight needs more than anything is... more Scots on it.
Steve Gash, Carlisle

To have Newsnight repeated on this site is just the most fantastic idea
B Jawo
I may have missed it, but has anyone asked the politicians why we suddenly need all the new anti-terrorism powers? It always seemed to me that we were subject to a deadly serious terror threat from the IRA for 30 odd years. Manchester, Birmingham, Brighton, Omagh. Internment was counter-productive and on the mainland the police never pressed for three months of interrogation time. So, why now? The politicians often tell us that the difference is that these are suicide bombers. However, that difference only matters in the very last phase of an attack and if you don't know about the attack before that stage, it's likely to be too late. Perhaps you could ask the Home Secretary why the IRA were considered a soft touch next time you see him?
Rob, Dorset

How about a nice report about an Englishman that Arabic people admired - TE Lawrence of Arabia, for example? This man alone shows the type of England I am proud of. A man who stood up for his beliefs but who really bothered to learn about another culture and understand it. Why can't we have a minister for interracial relations or Arabic affairs? This would show that we are not just ignoring the Muslim community.
Hugh Waldock, Cologne

Congratulations to the Newsnight Team. I hardly miss any of the 10:30pm programme but to have it repeated on this site is just the most fantastic idea. Keep up the good work. Hurrah!
B Jawo, Birmingham


The recent Newsnight poll to find viewers' favourite albums showed no George Michael in the top five
Paul Squire
Why did Newsnight dedicate a good chunk of the programme to an interview with George Michael? He's a "musician" who has shown little political conscience in the past, but all of a sudden we are meant to take his views on terrorism, Islam, etc. seriously on a programme of the stature of Newsnight? Maybe one of the producers, presenters or editors is a big fan and felt it worthy to speak to the man who brought the world "Club Tropicana" and was arrested in a Los Angeles public toilet. However, the recent Newsnight poll to find viewers' favourite albums showed no George Michael in the top five and I'm sure none would have been near the top 30.
Paul Squire, Cardiff

Why on earth do you think anyone other than his family and very close friends might be interested in George Michael's views on the "war on terror" and the Iraqi draft declaration, let alone nearly 20 minutes worth of them? Surely there is enough going on in the world that Kirsty Wark's BBC4 programmes do not need to previewed during almost half of Newsnight?
Alastair Reeves, London

IRAN'S PM ON ISRAEL [28 October 2005]

Newsnight tonight gave us a brief glimpse of the Iranian Prime minister explaining the current hostility to Israel. He said: Israel has for decades ignored with impunity the many UN resolutions against its actions; Israel has built an obscene wall to keep out Palestinians. All this was totally ignored by Paxman and reporter Mark Urban. Their interest was only in the West's outrage at the Iranian leadership's remarks, the likelihood of UN Security Council response - particularly sanctions. We could claim the moral high ground and condemn Iran as a deviant. This is opinionated journalistic arrogance, and an insult to those who actually want to understand how and why the world operates as it does.
Ed Fredenburgh, London


The Flock logo

  • Read Paul Mason's article

    Paul Mason responds:

    My piece on the web browser Flock has created what is known among computer people as a "flame war". Here's the best of the invective and my reply: keep it coming though, because there's nothing we like better on Newsnight than to get away from politicians and their meaningless phrases...

    1) "Flock is 85% Firefox". Agreed - but Firefox has been around for a year and is, as you say, already on 10% of desktops. By the way they are not "simplifying other people's work": some of the Flock team worked on Firefox. Firefox is an open source browser that does not, yet, attempt to pull in "social browsing" functionality. The idea of this piece was to show somebody challenging Microsoft by inventing a browser that does something different. The problem with a piece like this is to get the general audience to first base - so I decided not to complicate matters by telling the year-old story of Firefox as well.

    2) "What about Amaya?" First rule of TV: do not try to tell two stories at once. Amaya does indeed try to take the web back to how it was supposed to be. My view on it, though, is that it is very much a web purist's tool. You can use Amaya to do mathematical HTML: the Web 2.0 approach is to reintroduce "read-write" features without going back to the web's origins as an academic tool.

    3) "Web 2.0 is hype, the BBC loves hype (and Apple), the piece bordered on advertising, it's the same as in the dotcom boom". It may well be hype - see my article on the Newsnight website about the amount of dot-commery that's going on around it. However, I am not sure the unique business models of Google, Amazon and E-bay are hype and therefore I am prepared to explore the Web 2.0 concept critically. To allow Newsnight's 1.2m viewers to take part in that discussion you have to show them what it is - so we decided not to try doing a whole critique of the idea in the same piece. Just bear with us... As for Apple, I refer you to my piece for Newsnight on the day iTunes was launched in the UK: Steve Jobs would not answer my impromptu question about staking the future of the company on a gadget - but his security guard did, by shoving me out of the way.

    4) "Everything you said was utter bollocks". On the point about business and the public sector "wasting money" on proprietary software, and why don't we do a story on that: it's a fair point but a different story. Second - "interactivity already exists". I thought we made that point in the piece - the difference is that Flock claims to be trying to build it into the browser. Finally, I think you have to consider the possibility that the web will end up being used to get four million people to write their own episode of EastEnders and getting Marconi and Logie Baird to dance around it. In fact there will probably be a BBC creative type right now pitching this whole idea as a series.

    5) In summary: During the dotcom boom I remember a lot of corporate IT types saying the Internet would never take off, it was all hype, Linux is just a rip-off of Unix etc. However there are now major real-world businesses in a state of implosion simply because "Web 1.x" has changed the business model of their sector. Six years on from that mad period in 1999/2000, there is a difference between then and the hype around Web 2.0 - namely that the hype is largely technology-centred instead of money centred. Broadband, convergence and open source are mainstream concepts in business now, let alone business IT. Anyway, when we look back on the great ideological schism over Web 2.0 I will be very proud to say that (in mass media terms) it started on Newsnight!

    To read more comments on this subject, visit Paul's Blog: Click here

    John Logie Baird, August 1932
    It's getting four million people to write their own episode of EastEnders and asking Marconi and Logie Baird to get up and dance around it
    Dave Haynes
    I just read the feedback on the Newsnight website about your Flock item, which appears to be overwhelmingly negative. I don't watch Newsnight very often, but I happened to be tuned in by chance when your piece was on, and was overjoyed to find coverage of these sorts of developments in the mass media - especially on a programme as respected and popular as Newsnight.

    I'll grant your detractors that Flock is only a small part of the overall picture of a growing trend in favour of informal collaboration and the "de-proprietisation" of information, but it seems to be to be as good a starting point as any. Mentioning Firefox or Amaya in the same piece would have overcomplicated it. The nature of the broad and vague free software / open source / Creative Commons / etc movement is one that is difficult to communicate, yet I think you did a good job of giving the average viewer a sense of what is going on.

    I suspect some viewers will have been motivated to find out more and may well have installed Firefox as a result of watching the programme.

    I look forward to seeing the profile of free software and related causes rising further in the popular media.

    I think Paul Mason's article on Web 2.0 was badly misleading. Web 2.0 is not about integrating 'Internet Explorer add-ons' (whatever they are) into the browser properly. It is about removing services on the internet from the HTML framework, which mixes information and content with structure and presentation, and bringing them into an XML framework where applications can access content directly without relying on an internet browser. In effect, it could potentially remove functionality from the web browser and farm it off to standalone applications - the exact opposite of what was claimed in the article. I believe the author was misled by the fact that Flock's developers are integrating these standalone applications (and it would be nice if he'd named a few) into their browser.
    Chris Walker, Aberdeen

    I cannot believe Paul Mason's report made it onto the BBC site with the quote "You can read webpages but only if there are special add-ons can you interact with them", when on the right hand side of this very page is a link to interact - which I am using right now! My interaction requires no special add-ons or specific browser, nor is it something new to the BBC site or to the web. HTTP forms are an inherent and basic part of every browser and I'm very concerned at how a report like this distorts the picture. I can only imagine Paul has never used a forum - is that not "writing to the web" and "interacting" in a way that has been possible for more than a decade? Flock's new features may be exciting but it appears Paul may have missed the point about why they are new and different - as such this report was unhelpful and misleading.
    Andrew White, Salisbury

    Oh my God. Paul. No way. I've always respected your commentary in the past, but it was always on subjects I knew nothing about. So I took your word. This piece tonight concerned an area I do understand. And everything you said was utter bollocks. Here's my main point, and I'll keep it short. You want communication? Email. Exists already. Content? The Web 1.x is well understood. Interactivity? IRC and Instant Messenger has been going for donkey's years. Web 2.0 is regurgitation formalised. It's getting four million people to write their own episode of EastEnders and asking Marconi and Logie Baird to get up and dance around it. Next time you make a foray into the world of IT, please inform people how they can (for no money) protect themselves from intrusion by installing an Open Source Web Browser. Try and find out how much Schools spend on Microsoft Office each year, when alternatives are there for free. Help energise business by promoting powerful tools like Linux (Windows alternative), Python (VB alternative), Matplotlib (MatLab alternative). Right there you've saved the automotive industry about 50 million quid. You have an intelligent and discerning audience. Don't let us down again.
    Dave Haynes, Walsall

    The report was a waste of broadcasting time and rubbish
    I've just read Paul Mason's article on the new web browser, Flock, which allows editing as well as browsing. While this is interesting, it is not entirely new. Tim Berners Lee envisaged the web as a two-way medium right from the start. Indeed the World Wide Web Consortium has been developing a free web browser/editor called Amaya for years - it is currently on version 9.2.2.
    Dan Booth, Sheffield

    With reference to your recent item about "Flock" - this concept is not as new as you seem to be reporting. Tim Berners-Lee and the W3C have been pursing this idea for sometime, and have a similar project called Amaya.
    Bill Westhead, Preston

    I was not impressed with your presentation on Flock as the alternative web browser to Internet Explorer. There is already a widely used "open source" browser out there called Firefox. It's had 100+ million downloads.
    David Burdon, Ashford, Kent

    It's not innovation, its simplification of other people's work
    Mark James
    This item was perhaps somewhat misleading in that it gave the impression that Flock was somehow the first serious challenger to Internet Explorer. This is not so. I converted to the Linux operating system and open source software some time ago and have been using the Firefox browser (which has been downloaded more that one hundred million times. The rendering engine of Flock is based on Firefox and I have no doubt that the features currently unique to Flock will soon be added as "extensions" to Firefox in the near future. For stability, security and configurability Open source browsers like Firefox, Flock and Konqueror leave Internet Explorer in the shade. Flock is just one example of the new interactive push-pull internet and Google is rumoured to be working on the concept of the executable internet - but, guess what, Linux is already there! It's called Klik and a small script can be installed in conjunction with a live Linux CD and software can be downloaded and run without actually being installed. Furthermore, these programmes can be saved to external or internal storage media and run again later.
    Gary Richmond, Belfast

    The report regarding Flock and Web 2.0, to me, was a waste of broadcasting time and rubbish. There is no web 2.0 standard or new technology in Flock. It is simply a software product based on the free open source browser (Mozilla Firefox) with some add-ons which are readily available for Firefox. There is nothing new, exciting or revolutionary about Flock.
    Amjad, Bradford

    While I appreciate the effort gone into improving the experience for web-users, Flock does little more than provide shortcuts for popular existing geek activities based on an existing open source web-browser: the more stable, more secure, Mozilla Firefox. It's not innovation, its simplification of other people's work.
    Mark James, Birmingham

    I read with dismay Paul Mason's recent article about Flock. It's just the same old uncritical rehash of blogging and Wiki that the current set of internet start-ups are determined to turn into Internet Bubble II. Hardly new, newsworthy or interesting, and verging on advertising.
    Richard Read, London, UK

    RSPCA [26 October 2005]

    RSPCA logo

    I watched your report on the RSPCA - It's about time someone did a report. They go about giving the impression they have the powers of the police and can enter your property and remove your property without warning. It has been done many times. People are forgetting this is just a charity, with staff dressing like police officers to deceive the public of their powers.
    Dave Owens, North East

    I feel I must comment about the appalling BBC Newsnight report on the RSPCA. The report was heavily negative towards the RSPCA and the work they do. The reporter Katherine Quarmby gave a poor, unprofessional presentation and there were far too many vox's from people the RSPCA had tried to prosecute, some successfully, some not. The RSPCA were not given a fair voice in this report. Also the report compared the training of Police officers to RSPCA Inspectors. It is unfair to compare one to the other given that police officers deal with a far wider variety of challenges and circumstances day to day.
    Steven Bradshaw, York

    I have just watched your report on RSPCA prosecutions and whole-heartedly agree with those who think that prosecution work should be passed over to the Crown Prosecution Service. One of my friends and I have been involved with cat rescue for over 25 years. We pick up the pieces where RSPCA and Cats Protection stop - feral cat colonies, elderly cats, those neglected mainly because the owners don't have the money or where-with-all to know what they are supposed to do. Both of us have had first-hand experience of people who simply need help and guidance with their animals - not prosecuting. When things get out of hand these people go into a state of denial about the problems, and are too frightened to ask for help - mainly because of the expense of veterinary bills. They don't need "a uniform" telling them off and threatening them - just someone to (literally, sometimes) muck-in, help them clean up, and get the animals neutered, treated cheaply and re-homed. This is the very thing RSPCA doesn't do - they don't help. They are too busy fault-finding to look at the problem any other way.
    Gill, Doncaster

    They don't need 'a uniform' telling them off and threatening them
    I thought that it was irresponsible of Newsnight to report on the RSPCA so negatively. There probably need to be more prosecutions against animal cruelty. Other establishments would unfortunately be short of resources or just not bothered enough to pursue prosecutions effectively. Thank god that we do have an active animal charity that believes in doing its best for our animals.
    Helena, Amsterdam

    We feel that it was well overdue that issues that directly related to the RSPCA were raised. Sadly, there are too many serious issues left unanswered and this will lead to more conflict and suffering in the area of rehabilitation. Time for the RSPCA to be put under the media spotlight.
    Safewings Wildlife Conservation Projects, Kettering


    The ban only affects England and should have been debated and voted on by English MPs
    Stuart Parr
    I don't know what smoking in England has to do with an MP for a Scottish seat, but John Reid's view is right in not wanting a total ban on smoking in pubs.
    Robert Kibblewhite, Witney, Oxfordshire

    Why is a Scottish MP from a Scottish constituency allowed to influence the English smoking ban to the extent that it is a mere shadow of the protection his own non-smoking constituents are getting under the Scottish Executive's smoking ban? The ban only affects England and should have been debated and voted on by English MPs without the interference of MPs from constituencies unaffected by the bill.
    Stuart Parr, Telford

    There is nothing more refreshing than coming home... not covered with second hand smoke
    Andrew Dudley
    Well done Newsnight on managing to get two people on your programme tonight [26 October] who want to attack the government's decision to allow some smoking in pubs and clubs in England. Where was the opposing view? It was just a one-sided debate, or should I say comfortable agreement?
    Geoff Sleight, Aylesbury

    I spend a great deal of time in San Francisco and can tell you that there is nothing more refreshing than coming home with skin, lungs and clothes that are not covered/filled with second hand smoke... smoking should be banned in ALL public places!
    Andrew Dudley, Liverpool


    I was particularly interested to see the report on Newsnight last night [26 October] about the investigation into Karl Rove and "Scooter" Libby but have to admit my disappointment at the depth of the story. I was expecting your correspondent to have, at least, included the most up-to-date information, including the emerging situation regarding the FBI questioning of the neighbours of Valerie Plame. I realise it is a complex situation and perhaps there was not enough time allowed by the programme's producer. If the indictments are filed then this could well be the biggest political scandal of the Bush Presidency.
    Jeff Bronstein, London


    The role of an interviewer is surely to elicit the ideas and views of the interviewee
    Mike Posner
    Kirsty Wark's interview of Peter Mandelson was appalling - insulting, unnecessarily rude and disrespectful. The role of an interviewer is surely to elicit the ideas and views of the interviewee, not berate and insult them. Mandelson handled it with dignified composure - a pity she wasn't interviewing Joan Rivers who can give as good as she gets!
    Mike Posner, London

    GEORGE GALLOWAY COVERAGE [25 October 2005]

    This evening on Newsnight you interviewed Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation on the George Galloway affair. Should you not have told us that the Heritage Foundation is a well-known right-wing organisation closely linked to the neo-cons in Washington? According to its own website, its mission "is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense." Surely you should at least label it as "conservative" (which is putting it very mildly)?
    John Gittings, Shipton-Under-Wychwood

    Do you believe the senate committee? Or Tony Blair and his cabinet? I believe George Galloway.
    Suresh Pai, Bath

    SMOKING BAN PROPOSAL [25 October 2005]

    Cigarette butts

    Not having the money (or any friends there) to join elitist golf clubs, city clubs or 30 a month gym clubs, I'm curious as to what magical wonder they have inside these expensive social buildings that makes smoking in public an acceptable heath risk, unlike down my local boozer which I visit a couple of times a week. If they want to ban it, then it should be a ban for all the community and not allow for the elite few who can afford these clubs.
    Steve Kane, Peterborough

    SOFA BODY LANGUAGE [25 October 2005]

    Apart from it being a completely fatuous piece of roller-skating-duck filler (have you run out of editorial budget for this year or something?), the idea of Andrew Lansley MP, of all people, as an "alpha male" is so utterly ludicrous that I have now retuned to Delia on the UKTV cookery channel. If I want to watch Richard and Judy, I'll watch Richard and Judy, thanks.
    Andrew Manley, Newcastle

    SWEDEN'S BIOGAS TRAIN [24 October 2005]

    Sweden's first biogas-powered passenger train, 'Amanda'

    Unfortunately, this otherwise good feature continued into the sphere of biogas from plants. This just isn't a realistic option for the future. All our fossil fuels, oil, gas, coal, are effectively "bio". They all yield their energy by burning old plant material and so release the same abundance of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. Worse still, to power Britain's road vehicles with plant-derived fuels would require five times our total growing land. Biogas joins wind, wave, small-scale hydro, geothermal, etc., as just another tiny fringe contributor, not a solution. Only nuclear power and the hydrogen economy can offer that at present.
    Tony Flecchia, Croydon


    Newsnight editor Peter Barron responds:

    Newsnight's investigation into the Sudan trucks deal was scheduled to run on Thursday 20 October. Late in the day, representatives of the Hinduja family made new material available to the BBC and it is right that we consider that before proceeding.

    What happened to the Mark Thomas item from 20th October? It was there in black and white in the daily newsletter and I alerted lots of folks to this. This would have been far more in the public interest than singing grannies.
    Nell Kimberley, Manchester

    I was looking forward to watching Mark Thomas' report on the UK's arms embargo to Sudan. The item was pulled from the show at the last minute and replaced with an item on an ageing troupe of American singers - cutting edge news? I think not. Will Mark Thomas's report be shown on a future programme, or a reason given for its removal?
    Steve Wilson, Newcastle Upon Tyne

    SALAM PAX [18 October 2005]

    Salam Pax

    Thank you for showing the report of Salam Pax in Baghdad. If Salam's view is truly representative of today's secular Iraq, then there is hope alive. The report showed the human face that we could all understand. This was an excellent piece of television. Congratulations to him for his bravery and to yourselves for airing the human side of this bloody mess.
    Ted Matthews, Preston

    Salam Pax's reports unfortunately lack depth in terms of content and are badly shot. It's too bad that Newsnight relies on him for reports from Iraq. Much of what you had in his reports had been covered by Channel4 News in a much more filmic and coherent way. We expect more from Newsnight.
    Valerie Turain, London

    I've not always enjoyed the Baghdad Blogger series, but the last two have been brilliant. Informative, realistic, rational and - tonight - moving. Thanks.
    John McIntyre, Runcorn

    NEWSNIGHT SCOTLAND / SALAM PAX [18 October 2005]

    Newsnight editor Peter Barron responds:

    The Scottish version of last night's programme did involve an edit within the Baghdad Blogger film. This was done because the Scottish opt-out needs to happen within an agreed window around 25 minutes into the programme. If Scotland had run the full length version of the film they wouldn't have been able to make the opt in time. We therefore agreed to send a shorter version of the film, and the edit was handled in London. This happens rarely in order to deal with awkward timings. Nothing sinister going on here.

    You showed a report by the "Baghdad Blogger" and at 11pm - right in the middle of the report - BBC Scotland broke in to show their opt out programme. I immediately transferred to BBC London and whilst the report of the Blogger was being shown, I noticed I had already seen the part being broadcast by London at that time. I continued to watch carefully and I saw parts that had not been broadcast in Scotland and then it continued with the report I had already seen. This would indicate that BBC Scotland are in some way editing your programme's output before the opt-out. I find the episode quite sinister.
    Roger Scott, Peebles

    BAGHDAD BLOGGER - 11 October 2005

    Salem Pax

    Salam Pax's report from Baghdad was quite brilliant, what a wonderful man. That was the first time I really felt I understood the issue properly - and his warmth and humanity really made me feel like I could connect with the Iraqi situation properly from a western perspective. More from him soon, please!
    Martin Jacobs, Manchester

    I just saw your Salam Pax report on the Iraqi constitution on the internet. Unlike your brilliant and complex programme in the summer about al Sadr, this report was shallow and superficial. It reminded me more of MTV news reports than a Newsnight film. Is this a desperate attempt to attract younger viewers? We expect much more from the BBC and Newsnight.
    Charles Ferguson, Edinburgh


    Mikhail Gorbachev

    OK. Hope you dig a bit of constructive criticism. I really wanted to hear Mikhail Gorbachev tonight on Newsnight. To really listen to him - to his tone of voice and the way that he spoke - but you dubbed over the dude! Subtitles please. I can read.
    Nick Tallentire, Newcastle

    Your interview with Mikhail Gorbachev was too short and definitely not in-depth. Please commit your programme to more serious discussions.
    R Azadi, Coventry


    I find it quite amazing that there has been no assessment of actual leadership qualities
    Brian Adams
    With the elimination of Ken Clarke I think the Tories have shot themselves in the foot once again! David Cameron is too smart and smarmy to win over any voters - who wants a Tony Blair clone anyway? And I really wouldn't want a boy in charge of the country. David Davis is like a record stuck in a groove over his upbringing. The only one with a slight chance now is Liam Fox, but he won't be selected. So it looks to me like another eight years of Labour, unless people can somehow be convinced that it really is worth voting Lib Dem.
    Rita Kitto, Geneva, Switzerland

    I find it quite amazing that there has been no assessment of actual leadership qualities. It all seems to be about how well each candidate performed at the conference, and not how they would out in front, leading.
    Brian Adams, Budleigh Salterton

    If Liam Fox wins the Tory leadership battle, English voters will have the choice of a Scotsman, a Scotsman or a Scotsman at the next General Election.
    Tony Flecchia, Croydon



    How you can help
    If viewers would like to donate money or find out how they can help the victims of Zardeh, they can e-mail the Society for Chemical Weapons Victims Survivors at khateri@scwvs.org.

    Frances Harrison's report on the plight of the villagers of Zardeh was one of the most moving and disturbing pieces of television I have seen in a long time. I was in tears at the end. Yes, the issue of WMD was a red-herring; true, the second UN resolution was not passed; indeed, Rumsfeld and his mates armed Saddam in the first place and stood by and let Zardeh, Halabja and goodness knows what else happen, but this report only served to strengthen my conviction that the removal of one of the 20th century's worst tyrants was justification in itself for the war.
    John Blance, London

    A very moving piece of reporting. Perhaps some of the do-gooders in the West will now see why it was so necessary to get rid of Saddam even at a high price. Shame on the Iranian Government too which, despite all the oil revenue, has not looked after these victims.
    Potkin Azarmehr

    As an Iranian, I want to truly thank Frances Harrison for this report. After all, there should be someone in the world who reveals the facts and truth of that war and what is really happening now. Saddam's trial will only be a puppet show. I am sure if Saddam is tried fairly, he will give valuable information about many of the world's leaders that Frances did not mention in her report. Of course, that will not happen.
    Borzoo Bonakdarpour, Michigan, USA

    Thank you for covering this heart wrenching story about the continued suffering of Zardeh's chemical attack victims. Please follow-up this article, and other such coverage, with ways individuals can help.
    Heather, Reisterstown, Maryland

    I would like to know how I can donate money for Zardeh's chemical attack victims. Many thanks.
    Uzma Houston-Ahmed, London

    I was very upset to see the suffering of the victims of the chemical attack in the village of Zardeh. Is there any way to donate money to these innocents?
    Nasser Malik, London

    I was extremely moved by the feature on the "forgotten" Iranian victims of the Hussein regime. Do you have a charitable contact for the Chemical Warfare Victim Society? An internet search proved fruitless, and I would like to offer even some small aid in their cause.
    Dr S Murray, Guisborough

    I saw your programme about a forgotten village in a remote area of Iran which was attacked by Iraqi chemical weapons. You showed every image of people in pain, wounded and surviving to be alive but what you did not cover was the name of the governments and countries who gave these lethal weapons to Saddam in the first place.
    Martin, Norwich

    Thanks very much for broadcasting that very moving account by Frances Harrison about the continuing impact of Saddam Hussein's chemical attacks on Iranian civilians.
    Owen Beith, London

    JOHN BOLTON INTERVIEW [14 October 2005]

    John Bolton

    Gavin's interview with John Bolton was very disappointing - he didn't interview, but merely asked a (possibly pre-arranged) list of questions. He seemed to have no interest in challenging the claims his interviewee made. For example, Bolton made the inference that a "martyrdom operation" is synonymous with a terrorist attack on civilians, yet this was not even challenged. I expect better from BBC, especially from Newsnight.
    Alexander, London


    Every year bird flu comes over... this has been going on for millions of years
    Stephen Gash
    Why doesn't the World Health Organisation overcome its own political correctness and deal with a real and present threat, namely AIDS? Instead, they prefer to manufacture a threat from a virus that has been around since birds have existed. Every year bird flu comes over, yes some strains are more virulent, but this has been going on for millions of years. If this flu strain got into the human population some might die, probably hundreds even, but most would not. Flu kills people every year.
    Stephen Gash, Carlisle


    Watching the relentless hounding of David Cameron by the media over his refusal to answer questions on his student history, I may be forced to change my allegiance to the Labour Party. Why the obsession? Whether or not David Cameron used drugs 20 years ago is irrelevant.
    James Gibson, Stourbridge

    ENVIRONMENTAL REFUGEES - 11 October 2005

    Your story that the planet can expect millions of environmental refugees is more serious than even you supposed. In fact the planet is giving mankind notice to quit! We've so abused its resources that the earth is acting like a horse trying to displace an unwelcome rider. Refugees? Perhaps global warming has made the vast expanse of Greenland more inhabitable but we are still under notice. I'm glad I am not young today!
    Martin Tapsell, Canterbury

    GLOBAL WARMING - 11 October 2005

    PLEASE can Newsnight presenters stop saying things like "there can be arguments about whether climate change is man-made" (Kirsty Wark, 11 October, 2005). No, there is no longer an argument - the overwhelming scientific consensus is that climate change is happening, and caused by our CO2 emissions. Casting doubt on that consensus simply makes it harder to mobilise the necessary action to deal with the problem!
    Matt Sellwood, Oxford


    Can we please not have these horrendously ugly close ups of someone's eye balls (Cameron feature) when you need a cutaway. You wouldn't believe how unpleasant it is to watch on a 42" screen! Surely you can find something more imaginative and visually appealing to cutaway to!
    Tel, London

    'HUMAN BEINGS' [read on 05.10.05]

    The poem - excellent! Please include more. Once a week?
    Chenab Mangat, London

    The poem "Human" nicely highlighted the fact that our divisions are engineered by vested interest politics, both geographical and religious. Maybe we should rethink our borders and religious beliefs and become humans instead. Reinvent ourselves for the 21st century rather than hang on to stories that are thousands of years out of date. There'd be no reasons left to hate each other, would there.
    Leigh fowler, Teddington

    Congratulations on the content and rendition of "Human". It expressed exactly what I believe in.
    Rosemary Butt, London

    Enjoyed the inclusion of a poem. Lovely if made a habit. Is there a copy of tonight's poem anywhere? Let's catch some culture.
    E Townley, Bedlington

    National Poetry Day 2005

    Human Beings
    Adrian Mitchell

    for the company of the truthful and beautiful Red Red Shoes by Charles Way, staged by the Unicorn Theatre for Children

          look at your hands
    your beautiful useful hands
          you're not an ape
       you're not a parrot
    you're not a slow loris
       or a smart missile
          you're human

          not british
       not american
          not israeli
    not palestinian
       you're human

          not catholic
    not protestant
       not muslim
          not hindu
    you're human

    we all start human
       we end up human
          human first
             human last
          we're human
       or we're nothing

    nothing but bombs
       and poison gas
    nothing but guns
       and torturers
    nothing but slaves
    of Greed and War
    if we're not human

             look at your body
    with its amazing systems
    of nerve-wires and blood canals
       think about your mind
    which can think about itself
       and the whole universe

          look at your face
    which can freeze into horror
          or melt into love
       look at all that life
          all that beauty
          you're human
       they are human
       we are human
    let's try to be human


    With thanks to the author and Bloodaxe Books for permission to use 'Human Beings' from The Shadow Knows.


    If the Conservatives give the public more of the same (ie the old brigade) they are more than likely to get more of the same back from the public (ie the public won't vote for them). Blair was picked for his "electibility", the Conservatives need to face reality and do the same - David Cameron is the only candidate who has a chance of doing this (amongst the candidates on offer). PS Why isn't there a female candidate?
    Bernadette Adams, Kirkby in Furness

    EMPTY HOUSES [04.10.05]

    As Jeremy Paxman's parting shot said, 'You've had eight years'
    George Skelly, Liverpool
    Yvette Cooper spelled out in detail what the empty housing problem is, and what the government is doing about it, and has been doing so since they came to power. The real answers are always too complicated for some people and real-life problems take time to solve - yes, even eight years sometimes. I am very far from being New Labour's best friend, but I'm glad we have someone like Yvette Cooper handling these problems instead of the other two participants in the discussion. I have mercifully forgotten the name of the architect concerned, but it's worth remembering that his main purpose, and that of the whole item, was to plug an upcoming BBC series in which he is appearing.
    John Baxendale, Sheffield

    The architect on tonight's Newsnight made eminent good sense when advocating the renewal rather than demolition of good quality, well built Georgian and Victorian housing. Housing Minister Yvette Cooper was actually talking a load of ill-informed rubbish. I am sick of Cabinet ministers - whenever challenged with issues which they have done nothing about - simply saying, "yes, I agree - we need/have to do something about the problem", but never doing so. As Jeremy Paxman's parting shot said, "You've had eight years". On a factual note, however, the reason she was talking deceptive and misleading rubbish is that when she was on about how much investment is being put into local authorities re housing stock, etc., is that virtually every local authority in the North West (if not the rest of England) has already sold all of their housing stock to Housing Associations.
    George Skelly, Liverpool


    David Cameron

    Good try to get Cameron to accept that more than 50% of children are brought up in unmarried relationships, and that married persons' tax breaks are so last century, but I think you've proved the point that he's no moderniser. For that reason alone I've switched my allegiance to Liam Fox. Good try.
    Graham Tuer, Leicester

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