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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 10:59 GMT
Feedback - January 2006

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
Cannabis classification decision
Sex offenders laws
Regrading cannabis
Colin Powell interview
Bill Clinton interview
Sex offenders row
Saddam's ear amputees
List 99
Tsunami relief
Blair on respect
The GorDaq
Hwang Woo-Suk
The Liberal Democrats
Gavin Esler's joke of the day
Gavin Esler's quote of the day
Charles Kennedy coverage
Ariel Sharon coverage

Your views: Geek Week
Your views: Editor's column

Write to us

Click here to read December's feedback

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


I find this programme very interesting because it keeps me well-informed on a regular basis. As a mass communication student, regular news update helps me greatly.
Peter Pablo Bainda, Freetown, Sierra Leone

I love Gavin Esler's emails - he always makes me chuckle at the end of a mad bad day in adland. I quite like the mix of news with contemporary culture although remember being surprised seeing Pete Doherty interviewed by Kirsty Wark. Although I think the popular culture element needs to be chosen carefully - Chris martin would have been better - I do think the mix broadens the appeal of Newsnight to a wider audience by essentially broadening the definition of news - which many people still blindly switch off. So I say stick with it.
Imogen Stott, London


Charles Clarke

Oh God, would someone ever roll Jeremy Paxman up a fat one swiftly? He could benefit from a regular toke. Completely ridiculous to hear him laying into the home secretary over declassifying pot. I cannot understand this pious position in relation to pot smoking and mental illness. Many mentally ill people have not touched a puff and are wandering the streets in abject despair. I don't see any advocacy for their needs. Look at the countries where decriminalisation has had positive effects, look at the relief medicinal pot has and is giving to people with long term chronic illnesses. Yes, there are links to mental illness but some people have a far more life threatening reaction to peanuts. Explore the full picture. Stop banging on the same old note. Last week there was a study that suggested pregnant women could benefit from smoking pot in early pregnancy to treat nausea. It wasn't exactly recommending it - but it's a stark contrast to your line of questioning.
A Schofield, Canada

Why, when there has been a year on year rise in the use of cannabis, has there has been no corresponding rise in schizophrenia? I've looked for the evidence and can't find it.
Alasdair Whyte, East Kilbride


I've just got back from New Zealand, where a new law aimed to stop sex offenders working as taxi or bus drivers has had some unintended side effects. Drivers who've been working for 30 or more years with nothing more than a parking ticket have faced losing their jobs because of very minor old convictions, such has staying out late with an underage girlfriend of 15, while only 16 themselves (the girl's parents complained to police), which are covered by the new act. How many of these stories will we be hearing in a few months once the law is passed?
Mark Broadmore, London

I work with children on a daily basis and am highly concerned about the new laws on sex offenders not being allowed to work in schools. If an allegation is made against myself or a colleague and we are charged, but ultimately found innocent because of a child lying, would we still be subject to the changes in the law?
Andrew, Leeds

Hypocrisy? Such an outcry over the threat to children in schools! Our children are, of course precious and must be protected but only after they are born. Where is the storm of protest over the killing of the unborn child? Hundreds of thousands are now dead without any chance of safe schooling. Hypocrisy?
John, Manchester


If cannabis were to be upgraded to a class B drug on the grounds that there are health risks, then surely tobacco should be upgraded at least to a class C drug.
Richard Porter, Maidenhead

Watched tonight's item on cannabis with interest. As a person who hears appeals against sectioning under the mental health act, I have been struck by the number of cases where mental health problems have been linked (by psychiatrists giving evidence) with the use of this drug. Perhaps in future coverage, Newsnight should seek the views of psychiatrists working at the "sharp end". My view is that there is enough evidence to re-classify. The Government should consult with people on the ground. All best wishes
B Kiernan, Blackburn


Colin Powell

I thought that the Paxman interview with Colin Powell was brilliant; it's not often that politicians get the upper hand, but I thought the former General gave as good as he got. Maybe Jeremy was worried he might be renditioned to some distant land!
Alex Heslop, London

Jeremy might have mentioned to Powell that the Saddam regime he so abhorred was supported by Washington for almost two decades prior to the invasion of Kuwait. He might also have mentioned Bush Senior's walking away after the first Gulf war, leaving the Shias to be butchered by Saddam with impunity. Powell was given an easy ride.
Ben Field, London

If a 'mistake' was made, what should the repercussions be?
Riaz Bhatti
You managed to get the General to admit that he was wrong on the WMD issue, but I feel you should have pressed him further. If a "mistake" was made, what should the repercussions be? Should the invading countries admit their error and pay reparations to Iraq?
Riaz Bhatti, London

Colin Powell and his dreadful government did take us to war and all for their own benefit. We now live in a world of terror thanks to their greed and gross mismanagement. It's disgusting and so is Blair for going along with it.
R Kinghamq, London


Jeremy Paxman with Bill Clinton

That was a fascinating and well-presented interview with Bill Clinton. I was hooked. Politically, I am conservative but Mr Clinton spoke well, putting his valid points across genuinely and clearly. It was a pity that Jeremy Paxman only had a short time to interview the former President - perhaps there might be another such interview in the near future to get his opinions on a range of issues.
Scott McCall, Prudhoe


The problems that have been identified are serious and require investigation
David Powelle
I should like to comment on the way your programme, and Gavin Esler in particular, handled the item on failings in the sex offenders list. In my experience you usually approach all issues in a measured and responsible manner, but tonight Gavin Esler gave a passable impression of a Sun journalist on speed. The problems that have been identified are serious and require investigation - this will not happen if Gavin Esler and others continue to act in a hysterical manner.
David Powell, Orpington

WITCHCRAFT [12 January 2006]


Angus Stickler

I feel Angus Stickler's report should be broadcast again, or could the BBC make a programme about this issue? Yes, it is too late for the little boy (I cannot begin to imagine what went on in his little head) but the problem is ongoing. I find it hard to believe this issue is not being aired internationally. Where is UNICEF? There are many ordinary people who want to help but feel helpless as we are told not to interfere with people's faith. Beliefs are difficult to change and it takes time but it must start. Thanks to Angus and his team maybe some change will come from this.
Christine Gibson, Larne

On your item about witches last night the reporter witnessed the death of a baby which he said he was powerless to prevent. Both my daughter and I immediately asked ourselves "why" was he powerless to prevent it?
Tara Watson, Southampton

Working in London as a Consultant Psychiatrist I have seen my fair share of suffering as the result of child abuse. However, that still did not prepare me for the horrific images of that small child being tortured in the Congo as a witch, which I found deeply, deeply distressing. Surely I misheard the reporter stating that he stood by helpless as the child died?
Nuala Mullan, London

I think Angus Stickler's journalism has been superb on the abuse of children in African faith communities
Lee Waters
I think Angus Stickler's journalism has been superb on the abuse of children in African faith communities. He really should be commended. However, I was deeply distressed by the shot of an African boy being mistreated and who subsequently died. I believe the shot in tonight's Newsnight was unnecessary to the report and came without warning. As a father of a young child I found it very, very upsetting.
Lee Waters, Angus Stickler report

My wife and I have been extremely disturbed by the report you've just broadcast. The image of that child in Africa being, in effect, tortured, followed by the news that the film crew witnessed a child being murdered but were powerless to intervene, was especially haunting. Was it the child shown in that segment of the report? As parents ourselves, we're quite sensitive about the notion of child cruelty and my wife is extremely distraught.
Lee Kelly, Bristol

Angus Stickler responds:

I was the reporter that led the BBC team on the Angola assignment, and have been asked to respond to viewers' requests for an explanation of why we were unable to intervene.

The pictures came from an earlier film that was broadcast last summer and for that reason we did not this time set out the full context of how we came to film the young boy. With the benefit of hindsight - because the pictures were so distressing - we should have explained things more clearly.

This is the action we took and the reasons why:

1. There was no action we could have taken in the compound. We were in a volatile situation - surrounded by upwards of a dozen of Papa Kitoko's staff, some of whom were armed with machetes. We verbally asked him to stop and asked for the child to be taken to hospital - he refused. To physically intervene would have put our own lives in danger.

2. Upon leaving the compound we contacted the appropriate Angolan authorities. We were assured that they would act immediately - they did not. We also contacted the appropriate United Nations representative informing them that a child was in dire need. Their response was that it was a matter for the Angolan Authorities. We offered to drive Angolan officials/UN representatives/medical staff to the compound to try and help the child. All offers were refused.

3. In excess of 20 phone calls were made to the Angolan authorities/UN. We visited the child on two occasions - pleading for the child to be taken to hospital. These pleas were ignored.

The only other course of action was for us to physically remove the child ourselves. It was my decision that we should not do so. I made that decision on the following grounds:

  • To enter the compound and physically remove the child would put the team at risk.
  • Without parental consent we would be open to charges of kidnapping.
  • The child was seriously ill - if he were to die in our care - we would be open to charges of murder.

    I felt that it would be irresponsible to put the BBC team in this position - it was a decision I made. I personally believe that we did everything within our power, and made every effort to take the child to a place of safety. It was our intention that the boy should receive proper medical treatment or at the very least pass away with some dignity. In this we failed.

    I hope this answers some of our viewers' concerns.

    Angus Stickler

    SADDAM'S EAR AMPUTEES [11 January 2006]


    A side image of Khalid shows how his ear was amputated

    I have genuinely been moved to tears of happiness by your report about the restorative surgery being undertaken on the Iraqi men who had had their ears amputated during the Saddam era for non-participation in his armed forces. A fantastic piece of journalism - the BBC at its unparalleled best!
    Derek Johnson, Birmingham

    LIST 99 [11 January 2006]

    I asked for a CRB check on a teacher last March and despite several requests it still has not come through
    Miriam Stanton
    With reference to the coverage regarding the fact that someone can be registered on the sex offenders register and not on List 99. I am sure that professionals working in the child protection field as well as parents are shocked to find that this is the case. However I do think that it is important to point out that whilst the Minister Ruth Kelly clearly needs to put this aspect right, she is not solely responsible. It is not Ruth Kelly or the Local Education Authority who appoint teachers, it is the individual school. Schools have been given very clear advice ever since the Bichard Inquiry, that they should always secure an enhanced CRB check before appointing anyone to work in their schools. Had the school followed this advice, the CRB enhanced disclosure would have revealed the fact of this man's offence and the fact that he was on the sex offenders register. The very fact that this man presented the letter to the school should have alerted them to undertake a CRB enhanced check. If the Victoria Climbie Inquiry has taught us anything, it must be that Safeguarding Children is everybody's responsibility but unfortunately it is much easier for all of us to look for scapegoats in child protection.
    Kathy Rowe, Hull

    I am a principal of a college and I did not have to make retrospective checks on staff already employed before the CRB process came into force. I asked for a CRB check on a teacher last March and despite several requests it still has not come through.
    Miriam Stanton, Billingham

    Ruth Kelly should resign. She is ultimately responsible and should act accordingly. As someone who not only has to pay to practice as a registered nurse, but in addition has to pay for CRB clearance I feel she should take the blame. If I or the staff working on my shift make mistakes, then I take the blame, and could loose the right to practice. I have to take responsibility and Ruth Kelly should have to do the same. After all she is paid rather more than I am, and if she lost her present job she would still have a job on the back benches, whereas I and many other people in this country would not have a job if our mistake meant our nursing registration was removed.
    Name withheld on request, Camelford, Cornwall

    TSUNAMI RELIEF [11 January 2006]

    The last thing we need is donors losing confidence in the NGOs just because Newsnight needs a headline
    Andrew McCullough
    I have completed eight humanitarian aid missions in Sri Lanka, helping over 2400 refugees and 500 schoolchildren. I was on the ground in Sri Lanka as early as the 5th of January addressing immediate humanitarian and dignity needs for women and children in the East coast refugee camps. We in the UK have unwittingly created a "superpower monster" called the DEC. It is elitist, operates top down and excludes ALL small NGOs. For myself, I use a small Sri Lankan tourism outfit to do my humanitarian aid needs assessments, procurements and logistics. It works like magic in terms of speed of response, appropriateness and value for money. We do not need large cumbersome DEC type outfits who are as guilty as the corporate tourism outfits in terms of waste, self interest, and exclusivity.
    Graham Kettles, Romsey

    I thought the interview with the Red Cross guy about the NGO's handling of the Tsunami was unbalanced and a little irresponsible. Martha hardly gave him a chance to defend himself. Talk about spinning a story. The last thing we need is donors losing confidence in the NGOs just because Newsnight needs a headline. You can do better than that.
    Andrew McCullough, Cambridge

    Martha Kearney was unusually impatient and ill-mannered tonight [11 January]. Perhaps the editor has some crude notion that cutting the reply by the British Red Cross chief to her last question gave the impression of some strong line of investigation. It didn't. In fact on each issue the "show" merely heightened my sense of its sensation mongering and shallow bullying. Obviously BOTH Peter Barron and Martha Kearney need a holiday.
    David Bateman, Oundle



    Prime Minister Tony Blair

    Just watched your programme and are very impressed by the seriousness of discussion and open remarks by Tony Blair and the respondents. A very honest and satisfying look at a complicated current set of issues. Thank you!
    Ivor and Stella Lightman, Cardiff

    I am not normally a supporter of Tony Blair or his government's policies, but I am always interested to hear issues discussed freely, with all points of view represented, so that I can make up my own mind where I stand. Your interview with Tony Blair was appalling for its bias, in the way Kirsty Wark attacked Tony Blair, constantly interrupting him; the audience was obviously handpicked for its negative views, and no-one was allowed to say anything positive. It saddened me to hear so may people blame the government for all wrongs, and no-one seemed to accept personal responsibility for their lives. I would have liked to hear a balanced, informed discussion, but this was a mockery and I think Tony Blair came out of it extremely well. I don't blame him for not even attempting to answer the moronic comments.
    Sally Patterson, St Albans

    There was no real representation of the youth of Swindon at all, just older people moaning about us
    I have to say, living in Swindon, that everyone there seemed out of touch. There was no real representation of the youth of Swindon at all, just older people moaning about us. The kids have nothing to do, nowhere to go, they do resort to alcohol, drugs or anti-social behaviour. The disposal orders don't work, and aren't implemented in the way it was described in the programme; you don't actually have to be doing anything wrong. The kids feel victimised by the police more than anything else.
    John, Swindon

    The programme was another example of the BBC attempting to 'create' controversy
    Peter Hedge
    I think that what Tony Blair is trying to do with regard to the respect policy is excellent. Parental influence is extremely important in the development of a child and should not be underestimated. On Newsnight he discussed the proposed procedures to help people in difficult situations whilst also protecting the dignity of others who find themselves abused by anti-social behaviours. His interview was open and honest and I am sure this work will have a positive impact on British society.
    Elizabeth White, Cumbernauld

    What I found appalling was the regularity with which Tony Blair sneered at the audience's comments
    The Newsnight Special from Swindon lacked balance and therefore credibility. The audience appeared to be handpicked to ensure constant negativity. Many of the questions thrown at Mr Blair should have been answered either by the Chief Constable or by somebody from the Local Authority. The former was present but Kirsty Wark did not involve him until five minutes before the end of the programme. There seemed to be no-one from the Local Authority and nobody could confirm, as Mr Blair suggested, if a new school is on the cards for that area of Swindon. The programme was another example of the BBC attempting to "create" controversy.
    Peter Hedge, Doncaster

    What I found appalling was the regularity with which Tony Blair sneered at the audience's comments - for example, the gentleman who commented on obtaining ASBO's from the internet (see ebay for the proof!) At the last election Blair promised to listen to the electorate more as he was out of touch - how soon he forgets.
    David, Dunmow

    I was appalled by the lack of intelligent questions directed by the audience
    Lee Cooper
    It made compelling viewing. The Swindon audience's questions and concerns were answered by a Prime Minister unfettered by slick, prepared responses and as a result we saw the political process working as it should. His honesty and answers impressed.
    Andrew Barnett, Poulton-le-Fylde

    I thought Mr Blair kept his cool extremely well and in my eyes came out very much the winner
    Brian Brooker
    I was appalled by the lack of intelligent questions directed by both the audience and the reporter. If we're honest, we're indulging people's fantasies if we suggest that the PM is to have all the answers and even more so if we expect the audience to be able to hold a discussion on a subject without straying completely off the point or making an emotional or pathetic comment. I was frustrated at the lack of time Mr Blair was given to explain his answers and annoyed by the way the BBC could just allow "ridiculous" questions to be asked in what is a very serious issue. The fact that we are allowing these types of shows to be "wasted" is just an example of the "blameless" society which we are creating. I'm suprised that you guys didn't make the programme differently!
    Lee Cooper, Wareham

    I thought Mr Blair kept his cool extremely well and in my eyes came out very much the winner.
    Brian Brooker, Norwich

    In my opinion Kirsty Wark was quite rude to Mr Blair, hardly letting him finish speaking on most occasions
    Martin Pierson
    The respect discussion with Tony Blair was spoiled by a "get Blair" tone. Many subtle issues underlying anti-social behaviour and ways of tackling them were not aired. A pity because this is a crucial issue, and Newsnight must have gone to much trouble and expense to set it up.
    David Cheeseman, London

    In my opinion Kirsty Wark was quite rude to Mr Blair, hardly letting him finish speaking on most occasions. The audience was not a fair cross section of cases either and at times it seemed as if the Prime Minister had been put before a firing squad. I can't see many politicians volunteering to appear on these kinds of programmes when they are conducted in this fashion - which is a real shame.
    Martin Pierson, London

    Kirsty's handling of the Debate with Tony Blair and the public last night was excellent.
    Patrick Hargreaves, Brighton

    Last night's Newsnight with Tony Blair from Swindon was one of the most brilliant programmes ever. I was sitting on the edge of my chair all the way through. 50 minutes were not nearly enough. The programme highlighted just how much Blair is out of touch with the real world, and Martha Kearney's stoning at the hands of yobs in a street scene that was subject to a dispersal order admirably emphasised the extreme problems that Blair's nine years in government have brought to this country. Only he has been in charge, and look where it's got us. I felt that the entire audience was pretty hostile to Blair and Blair hopefully went away with a whole list of points to raise with the police, the civil service, schools, and local authorities. Excellent programme! Should be a regular occurrence.
    Mike Mitchell, Spalding

    The way they all expect the Prime Minister to sort every problem out is just depressing
    I thought the debate with the Prime Minister last night tells it all, about the failure of Britain since the war to make our people stand on their own two feet. The way they all expect the Prime Minister to sort every problem out is just depressing. We need less government and more law enforcement to sort these yobs out. It's not difficult, it just needs zero tolerance.
    John, Dersingham

    Why was there never a challenge to any audience members about taking responsibility themselves? Why did one person speak twice while others not once? Let's have discussions which help people to solve their problems rather than griping, buck passing and blaming. Tony Blair came out of it pretty well.
    Ampersand, Cheltenham

    Newsnight mugged Mr Blair on tonight's special from Swindon regarding the 'respect' issue
    Liam Coughlan
    The Blair on respect programme was ludicrous. The government has totally failed to clamp down on yob culture because it's too soft. What is an ASBO? It's a slap on the wrist that means you've been naughty, don't do it again. We can't catch all the yobs at once so selected yobs should be made an example of with heavy sentences to scare the rest.
    Ian Mutch, London

    My son was beaten up by a gang of teenagers on Friday the 6th when he went to a local shop in the evening. He suffered a head injury and multiple bruises all over his body. They also chanted racist remarks. Police informed me that they are unable to do anything with this group of children because the law does not let them. They feel that there should be curfew imposed on these children. I would like local the authority and police to take serious action against this antisocial violent behaviour.
    Mrs Raj, Bexleyheath

    I felt the brief time given to the discussion of drugs was totally inadequate
    Barry Johnson
    Newsnight mugged Mr Blair on tonight's special from Swindon regarding the "respect" issue. Ms Wark continually interrupted him, cut him off, and put leading questions to the audience in the straw polls that invited a negative response every time. Usually supremely professional and objective, I thought she was cranky, and appeared angry with the PM. No doubt Mr Blair's admission that he spanked his eldest son will be the only part of this programme the print media will pick up on. I am not a supporter of Mr Blair or his preferred successor.
    Liam Coughlan, St Helens

    Tony Blair does not appear to realise that the lack of respect and bad behaviour is the product of his government's legislation
    Rose Howard
    I enjoyed tonight's special edition, and thought it mainly balanced. However, I felt the brief time given to the discussion of drugs was totally inadequate. I live in an area where there is a lot of drug dealing. This is entwined with the problem of anti-social behaviour (perceived and real). I think if drugs were legalised then a lot of the problems that inner city areas suffer from would be removed. The irony is that people on drugs cause very little aggravation to other people. It is because its illegality generates criminal activities that it is a problem to the rest of us. Conversely, people who misuse alcohol cause a lot of aggravation to the rest of us yet it is perfectly legal to sell and consume alcohol. I think it is dishonest to discuss drugs and alcohol as if they are completely different.
    Barry Johnson, Manchester

    What has happened to the BBC's famed reputation for balanced and impartial broadcasting?
    Mark Williams
    Tony Blair does not appear to realise that the lack of respect and bad behaviour is the product of his government's legislation. Disciplining children has been taken away from parents, teachers and police and, together with the 24 hour drinking, it has all created the problems that we are experiencing. Children can threaten anyone who tries to discipline them with legal action, even their parents. All the gimmicky ideas will not turn the tide unless some of the ill conceived laws are revoked - had they been good laws we wouldn't be in the trouble that we are in now.
    Rose Howard, Milton Keynes

    What has happened to the BBC's famed reputation for balanced and impartial broadcasting? Tonight's Newsnight was a disgrace. Kirsty Wark was almost venomous in her comments to Blair. The audience seemed to be handpicked anti-Blair and prominence was given to those who only had negative things to say about ASBOs or about Blair personally. There were also several references to the fact that Blair has had nine years to do this and has failed - well, Blair has just been re-elected by the British people for the third time, so he must be doing something right! Blair and Labour are not everybody's cup of tea and are not doing everything right, but I do not pay my licence fee to watch such unbalanced broadcasting. I want to hear and see both sides of the argument please.
    Mark Williams, Dartford

    The idea that the government can change behaviours on its own is plainly rubbish
    David Richards
    The Blair appearance on the respect agenda was something of a tour de force. There was nothing significant he failed to answer and he certainly managed to avoid any hint of exciting the usual cynicism of the tabloid-inspired mob. The truth is that most of those present (and I dare say most viewers) agreed with what he said. Not because they love Blair - he is no candidate for a personality cult - but because they knew that what he was saying was indisputably true. We can't re-create the 1950s - but we can demand (through both incentives and penalties) better behaviour from individuals. And he is right. The idea that the government can change behaviours on its own is plainly rubbish. In the end a good society is built by good members of society. It cannot be created by governmental measures alone.
    David Richards, Uckfield, East Sussex

    Newsnight's deputy editor, Daniel Pearl, responds:

    A number of people thought that Tuesday's debate with the Prime Minister was unbalanced and that the audience was slanted. I hope I can reassure everyone that we did our utmost to invite a balanced audience to Tuesday's debate. We drew most of the people from the local area, indeed I think over half actually lived on the Pinehurst estate itself. We were helped in the recruitment process throughout by the local Swindon Anti-social behaviour co-ordinator. She provided us with a list of people either directly affected or involved in local anti-social behaviour schemes. Most, though not all, of the audience were on the list of names she gave us, for example Conor and Liam Walsh (whose Asbo was rescinded last week as a result of good behaviour). The programme covered many positive elements of the "respect" agenda, for example a number of parenting schemes (two people during the debate told the Prime Minister how positive their experiences had been at these classes). There were other positive experiences, in particular two women who'd successfully campaigned to get an Asbo placed on their neighbour - although I'd accept that the two women didn't really get their story across very well. The aim of the debate was always to allow local residents and professionals to speak directly to the Prime Minister and I believe that we achieved this. As we mentioned at the end of the programme, we are hoping to return to the area in the near future to reassess the progress of the government's "Respect" agenda - and we are very keen that people contact us with their experiences both positive and negative.

    THE GORDAQ [9 January]

    Gordon Brown

    I think the "GorDaq index" piece was childish and vindictive. It will be tedious as a running story, and amounts to persecution of someone who is only pursuing his legitimate interests. Why have you got it in for Gordie? He may be boring but doesn't deserve to be hounded in this way. This is unworthy of Newsnight, a programme I otherwise rate pretty highly and always watch.
    Phil Barber, Manchester

    The GorDaq is a very good way for the tax payer to pay yet again for Labour Party research. Why are you doing this for Gordon Brown?
    J Copleston, UK

    HWANG WOOK-SUK [9 January]

    Science is one of the few areas of human endeavour where 'cheats' cannot prosper
    Duncan Hayes
    Whilst the revelation that Dr Hwang's results seem to have been somewhat "optimistic", the point should surely be that science is one of the few areas of human endeavour where "cheats" cannot prosper. Peer review and scientific method will inevitably catch you out. Not a crisis, but a vindication of the system.
    Duncan Hayes, Menai Bridge


    Why doesn't Newsnight ask people like Nick Clegg, Simon Hughes, Mark Oaten to give their views on where the future lies? I like Menzies Campbell. He is a solid elder statesman. But he is near the end of his career. When Paddy was elected he was virtually unknown. Let's see what's on offer now.
    George Flaxman, Bedford

    GAVIN'S JOKE OF THE DAY [6 January]

    A couple go for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and order the "Chicken Surprise." The waiter brings the meal, served in a lidded cast iron pot.

    Just as the wife is about to serve herself, the lid of the pot rises slightly and she briefly sees two little eyes looking around before the lid slams back down.

    "Good grief, did you see that?" she asks her husband.

    He hasn't, so she asks him to look in the pot. He reaches for it and again the lid rises, and he sees two little eyes looking around before it slams down.

    Rather perturbed, he calls the waiter over, explains what is happening, and demands an explanation.

    "Please sir," says the waiter, "what did you order?"

    The husband replies, "Chicken Surprise."

    The waiter replies, "Ah... sorry, I brought you Peeking Duck."

    There's nothing wrong with that joke about the Peking Duck and it deserves a better response - it maybe my early morning humour but I enjoyed it.
    Dave Langcake, Antipolo City, Philippines

    The joke you have put today is one of the best. I like having such humour daily in your reports for they are much helpful understanding society more closely.
    Nissanka Nanayakkara, Beruwala-Sri Lanka

    I'm a bit worried - I liked the "Peeking Duck" joke!
    VW, Canada


    GAVIN'S QUOTE OF THE DAY [6 January]

    "Stop getting your PR people to say how gorgeous Camilla's looking. She's not. She looks exactly the same as before the wedding - ropey. We're not blind."

    Here in America, ladies in their 50s and older have permed, puff-ball hair-dos and wear track suits with sequins or blue jeans and white trainers
    Christopher Chamberlain
    I've no idea who Vanessa Feltz is, but I'm a bit tired of people knocking Camilla about her looks. She is a nice looking lady in her 50s, and at least she tries. Here in America, ladies in their 50s and older have permed, puff-ball hair-dos and wear track suits with sequins or blue jeans and white trainers and really believe they've done all they can. No make-up except lipstick. Compared to them, Camilla is gorgeous. Like I said, at least she tries.
    Christopher Chamberlain, Great Falls, Montana, USA



    Charles Kennedy
    Tonight Jeremy Paxman went too far. By pointing his finger at Charles Kennedy and crowing "Liar" he has shown the ignorance of the entire Newsnight team. I am shocked - as one who worked in Fleet Street for many years and knew many, many colleagues who suffered from alcoholism I would have thought that journalists above all people would have had the basic humanity not to point fingers and cry names for sufferers of this illness. Addiction disease is terribly hard to fight for both the sufferer and their family, friends and colleagues - harder still to confront for the person suffering from it surrounded by ignorant morons. Even more difficult when your job is in the public eye. By showing their ignorance and inhumanity over this illness of Charles Kennedy's I would say the Newsnight team has shown up the entire BBC. Not a good day for an institution that holds itself up as the impartial voice for news across the world.
    Jamie Taylor, London


    Ariel Sharon
    I thought your package on Ariel Sharon was excellent. Well put together, informative and seemingly impartial. Well done.
    Laura Hampton, Norwich

    Your coverage of Ariel Sharon's illness and impact on Israel and world politics was very fair.
    Bernard Kissen, London

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