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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 March 2006, 16:33 GMT
Feedback - February 2006 (2)

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 your February views from this page.


This month:

Page 1 | Page 2

General comments
Education white paper
Monckton debate
Poultry register
Styal prison
BitTorrent
Ken Livingstone's suspension
George Clooney interview
Civil servants
Kent robbery
Richard Thompson
Haiti
David Irving
Finland's nuclear reactor
UK theme re-recording
Bird flu
Synod decision
Special needs schooling
Abu Ghraib pictures
'Glorifying' terrorism

Write to us

Read January's feedback

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


GENERAL COMMENTS

After spending a stressful day at work, it's so good to check out the preview of that evening's Newsnight. I just love the "jokes fit for an 11 year old". Thanks for lightening my day.
Sheila Hamilton, Addingham

I think us lot wallowing in the backwaters received the wrong edition of Newsnight on Friday night [24 February]. We were subjected to your new "Newsnight London" programme which seems to focus the majority of its time talking about the issues of London, the Mayor of London, the impact on London, the effect of the Olympics in London, the international view of London, any impact on business investment in London. What a fine, broad-minded programme!
James, Not in London

Am very much impressed with the way you cover issues and I wish all media houses worldwide were covering issues the way you do. I am a Malawian, and since I started receiving your newsletters I always feel like reading each and every sentence you write. Please keep it up. However may you PLEASE try to do more stories from this part of Africa - there are a lot of issues taking place.
Tendayi Chabvunguma, Mzuzu

Why, oh why, does BBC America not air Newsnight?! It's criminal. I need my Paxman fix!
Sacha Sedriks, New York City

Just thought I'd write in to quickly commend you on a fantastic show last Monday [20 February]. Three very interesting reports on bird flu, the denial of the holocaust in Austria, and the power plant in Finland. Brilliant and interesting analysis worth the license fee on its own. More of the same please!
Mark Perry, London

I don't get much time to catch up on current affairs - Newsnight is great entertainment and very informative
David Barden
The tone of Newsnight has changed over the past few weeks - it's very distracting and it's making me question the content. The same is true of Newsnight Review; in appealing to a wider audience are you lowering the bar?
Kirstie Moyles, Preston

Being 21, a dad, a part-time student and full time employee, my hours are long and my life is hectic. I don't get much time to catch up on current affairs, so when baby Steph is in bed, Newsnight is great entertainment and very informative. The relaxed but professional conduct of all Newsnight reporters is the perfect way to inform people on such important issues. I would like to add that the Gordaq cracks me up - a bit silly, but congratulations to whoever made that up; extremely funny. Unfortunately, I can't say may partner holds the same views - some of your hard hitting reports give her the impression that humanity will never prevail - and as a result it gives her nightmares.
David Barden, Dagenham

I may not always watch Newsnight but I do always read your e-mails
William A Leitch
I should like to compliment you on the quality of your e-mails showing what will be on Newsnight. They are informative without being "stodgy". In fact some of them are quite funny. I may not always watch Newsnight but I do always read your e-mails.
William A Leitch, Falkirk

Watching tonight's edition of Newsnight [14 February] my wife and I found it terribly difficult to concentrate on the pertinent issues of the day due to your presenter's casual outfit. Punched paisley! Really. While we are used to government ministers such as Patricia Hewitt in ill advised garb, it is most disconcerting to see standards of professionalism slipping so much. You'd never catch Jeremy Paxman wearing anything but his best for the BBC.
Mr A Vandalay, Lincoln

I just love your programme, matey!
Maureen Ramsay, London

I should like to add my congratulations to the Newsnight team for a job well done. Democracy cannot be better served than with a free press whether on air or in print. Your efforts to expose the lies and half truths of our representatives in the mother of parliaments is essential. It is not hard to imagine the problems that would ensue in our society if politicians were not exposed - it's bad enough already. I am old enough to remember when it was possible to be proud to be English - now I am beginning to question this assumption. Finally, thank you BBC for the facility of the programme online. Compared to anything else that I watch either in the US or in Europe there is nothing to touch it.
John V Ball, Lisbon

Jeremy must be devastated to be criticized in the Radio Times by the towering intellect of Armando Iannucci. Of course, it may be another of his alleged jokes.
Chris Smith, Taunton

EDUCATION WHITE PAPER [28 February]

A pan of frying sausages
Justin Rowlatt's sausages - not to everyone's taste
I have just watched and tried very hard to listen to your item on tonight's Newsnight about the White Paper on Education. However, I found it impossible to concentrate on the important issues being discussed because of all those revolting images of sausages, minced meat and blue rubber gloves! No, I am not an extreme vegetarian! I cannot see however how those irrelevant and unnecessary visual images could possibly add to or clarify the serious debate about our education system. This paper marks a, possibly very significant, shift in our education system; we need to listen to the arguments and reflect on the implications of the paper without unpleasant and distracting visual images. I am finding the use of visual imagery is increasingly intruding on many news programmes and current issues discussions.
Irene Knott, Nottingham

I have just switched off your discussion of the education bill in disgust - this is a bill which does not refer to Northern Ireland or Scotland and yet the differences between the systems in the various parts of the UK were neither mentioned nor used in your discussion. Why should I pay a licence fee to listen to a discussion which takes no account of the educational system where my children go to school? Please repay that proportion of my licence fee which funded this entirely anglocentric programme (despite the accent of the presenter). If you are the BBC you are the BBC - all of the time! Otherwise, let's have a Scottish Newsnight for the whole of the programme. Thanks for the early night!
Cairns Craig, Aberdeen

MONCKTON DEBATE [28 February]

I am an ex-prisoner... there should be more places and information for people like me who have paid their dues to society
Trina Bailey
While watching last night's programme I was most upset. You were arguing about whether or not it was the prison's or probation's fault that Monckton's killer reoffended. I am an ex-prisoner; I made a mistake and sold drugs. I was sentenced; now I'm home its like society is against me. I couldn't have done more than I did to rehabilitate. I was a user but have been clean nearly five years. I got well qualified but now I'm home I cannot get a job. I've had two jobs since, but neither with real prospects. I tried college to become a teacher but couldn't get a placement and now after a lot of problems I'm studying computers, but I'm still not sure if I'll get a job. I don't even know if I want to start looking because it is so hard. I think there should be more places and information for people like me who have paid their dues to society and want what everyone else has, especially now that I am bringing up a daughter.
Trina Bailey, Southend-on-Sea

POULTRY REGISTER [28 February]

Chickens

50 chickens? What is the government's line on counting chickens before they hatch? Personally, I'm more interested in eggs of the chocolate kind - no danger of bird flu there.
Katy Voisey, Nottingham

If chickens can be vaccinated against bird flu, why can't humans?
William Few, London

STYAL PRISON [27 February]

Styal prison

Although it is sad to see the results of these prisoners inflicting serious injury, the have been put there because they themselves have broken the law, and a court has seen fit to sentence them to prison. Secondly, during the subsequent interview with Baroness Scotland, there was no mention at all of the victims. It is all well and good giving them the best facilities, and looking after them, with this multi-disciplinary organisation called the prison service, but I feel more should be done for the victim of their crime.
Paul Brough, Wakefield West Yorkshire

BITTORRENT [24 February]

I was quite appalled at the link drawn between BitTorrent and terrorism
Kevin Lake
Your report on the subject of BitTorrent and its security implications was well below the standards and practices required by a serious news programme. To say it was sensationalist, hysterical and ill informed would be a gross understatement. To misrepresent all users of the BitTorrent format (huge numbers as you concede) as supporters of both terrorists and paedophiles because of increasing encryption of this standard was an incredible, not to say hysterical, leap of logic.
Mr HC Hamilton, Ayr, Scotland

Please leave this kind of reporting to the tabloids - I expect a much higher standard from the BBC
David Andrews
I was quite appalled at the link drawn between BitTorrent and terrorism. I was even more upset that you seemed to link the use of encryption with terrorism. This is a subject I have some knowledge of, so seeing it presented in such an amateurish way was a shock. I am left wondering if this slapdash approach is indicative of the journalistic standards applied to your other stories. I watch Newsnight to be informed. Am I being informed, or just entertained?
Kevin Lake, London

Apart from getting the technology wrong, the report insinuated that by using BitTorrent one actually aids terrorists and paedophiles
Jakob Widerberg
I was stunned at the report on BitTorrent. Has the BBC become a propaganda machine for the film industry? P2P technology has nothing to do with the advancement of cryptology, they simply implement existing techniques to provide privacy for their user. If you want to discuss the security services problem with breaking encrypted data then why does that need to involve P2P? Please leave this kind of reporting to the tabloids. I expect a much higher standard from the BBC.
David Andrews, London

The report on BitTorrent was terribly populist and one-eyed. If Newsnight covered technology like you do politics then at least you would spend more than two minutes researching the facts and invite more than one point of view. Apart from getting the technology wrong, the report insinuated that by using BitTorrent one actually aids terrorists and paedophiles - apparently by clogging up the system so much that Echelon and other automatic surveillance systems can't cope. Fabulous logic - by downloading music you put the security of the nation at risk. I would have expected a much higher standard of journalism from the Newsnight team.
Jakob Widerberg, London

Where was the counterpoint emphasising our right to privacy?
Tom Chance
The piece suggesting that BitTorrent file-sharing was aiding terrorists and paedophiles was absolutely the most ludicrous piece of reportage I can recall the BBC ever running. I could go into (and gladly would) the logical non-sequiturs of the piece at length, but to cut it to the quick, it honestly seemed to suggest that the encryption of data being passed over the internet was bad because it made it harder for intelligence agencies to spy on the data. Are we to uninvent digital signatures, etc, for the sake of possibly having the honour of being spied on? And to blame it on BitTorrent users - was this piece bankrolled by the Motion Picture Association of America?
Douglas Greenshields, Windsor

Your item on BitTorrent helping terrorists could only have come from a hysterical film/record industry press release. We are told that encrypting data for potentially legitimate purposes is wrong because we'll distract the intelligence services from terrorist communications. Quick, to Parliament where we can legislate against teenage file sharers. Absurd! Where was the counterpoint emphasising our right to privacy? If MI5 agents are huddled over computers staring at every encrypted bit flying over the internet then I despair of British "intelligence".
Tom Chance, Reading

Read Newsnight's response to your comments

KEN LIVINGSTONE'S SUSPENSION [24 February]

The reporter was making a serious, obnoxious nuisance of himself and Ken reacted - anyone would have done
Peter Ashford
Excellent, well balanced report which included the original recording of the incident. One could easily deduce "Our Ken" had been enjoying the party and his tongue was possibly a little looser than it might have been, leading to an inappropriate metaphor for the journalist's door-stepping.
Iain Scarlett, Rickmansworth

Disgraceful and fundamentally undemocratic to censure Ken L. Why can we criticise any ethnic group except Jews? The reporter was making a serious, obnoxious nuisance of himself and Ken reacted. Anyone would have done.
Peter Ashford, Herat / Afghanistan

I find it strange that Ken can be relieved of his job for 'inappropriate behaviour', yet Tony Blair can 'tough out' taking the country to war
Ian Downing
So Steve Norris thinks this decision to suspend Ken Livingstone as London Mayor is wrong, done by a "quango no one's heard of". As a former candidate for mayor himself, Norris should at least be aware of this body. Certainly any elected representatives, from the humblest parish councillor to the mighty Mayor of London himself, should be aware of this "quango" as it has many powers. The Standards Board is there to clean up local government - perhaps Ken is not keen on this? It's not just a question of voters booting bad politicians out - sometimes we don't have much choice, and no doubt this issue will have been forgotten by the time of the next Mayoral election.
Roger Inkpen, Portsmouth

Whether Mr Livingstone's remarks were illegal or not, as Mayor of London he should set an example purely in terms of respecting people's ethnicity
Sean Robertson
All too often I find that TV news programmes and daily newspapers fail to explain some crucial aspect of a current news story adequately enough. A case in point is the coverage of the recent suspension of Ken Livingstone on Newsnight. It wasn't explained how the quango had the authority to suspend him. Who gave it that authority and why?
James MacRae, Herefordshire

I find it strange that Ken can be relieved of his job for "inappropriate behaviour", yet Tony Blair can "tough out" taking the country to war.
Ian Downing, Surbiton

Good. Four weeks without KL's pronouncements and self-publicism! Pity it is not for longer.
June Gibson, London

Whether Mr Livingstone's remarks were illegal or not, as Mayor of London he should set an example purely in terms of respecting people's ethnicity. After campaigning for ethnic minorities, you would think that Mr Livingstone would regard his comments as insulting and would see the sense in apologising. If any other elected member of parliament had made these comments, Downing Street would have insisted on an apology. If an apology from an elected minister was not forthcoming, I am sure the consequences would be far more damaging than four weeks suspension. So why is Mr Livingstone so utterly untouchable?
Sean Robertson, Sheffield

An unbelievable and unjustified penalty for calling someone names which certainly could not be described as anti-Semitic. I have been called worse in my time and have called other people worse. The world has gone mad!
Barbara Tucker, London

GEORGE CLOONEY INTERVIEW [Review - 24 February]

I loved Kirsty Wark's interview with George Clooney, especially the close-ups!
Daphne Caine
Kirsty's interview with George Clooney was excellent - it confirmed that at least some sections of America are alive and well. But it is a stain on a country that holds itself up as a defender of democracy, freedom of speech and the rights of the individual to then cast someone as a traitor because they dare challenge the ruling elite and their view of how the world should be seen. More power to George.
Gordon Taylor, St Helens

I loved Kirsty Wark's interview with George Clooney, especially the close-ups! I know we should care more about the politics behind his films, and all credit to him for tackling tricky subjects but yes, I drooled over him. What a great interview, covering the serious stuff but also what he has on his iPod and which film he watches every time it comes on. Maybe next time he'll make a film in the Isle of Man and I'll get to meet him. Going to sleep now to dream of him. Mmmmmmm, thanks Newsnight.
Daphne Caine, Isle of Man

I was delighted to see all the women presenters and journalists on Newsnight on Friday. I was also very impressed with Kirsty's interview with George Clooney (where she managed not to drool all over him). What a shame that Martha Kearney couldn't resist the oh-so-predictable "and I got Steven Norris". Sexism is horrible and depressing whatever the gender of the presenter, and for me ruined an otherwise excellent programme.
Seonaid Cooke, Edinburgh

Martha Kearney should be ashamed of her closing comment. For a powerful, well-paid media host to make such a disparaging comparison between her guest, Steve Norris, and Kirsty's guest, George Clooney, was incredibly rude. Steve Norris was generous and apolitical in his comments and deserved better. That sort of sexist remark, which would never be tolerated from a man about women, spoilt what was otherwise an excellent programme.
Sue Organ, Chichester

CIVIL SERVANTS [24 February]

I work for a non-departmental public body (NDPB) - the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). I am not a faceless pen-pusher; I am a national expert in education; and someone who works for a fairly risible salary. I do my best to ensure that educational values inform national policies, rather than the values of powerful commercial organisations. I am not a faceless bureaucrat. The QCA's workforce is being slashed from 630 to 400 - we are not increasing our staffing, we are not all time-serving parasites. Morale is at an all-time low, and the important remits which we are charged with fulfilling are in danger of not being met. To me, a better way of saving public money would be to get rid of a few overpaid, cliché ridden, inaccurate and lazy journalists.
Anon, London

The Newsnight feature tonight on the increasing numbers of civil servants showed cut-out figures of white men in bowler hats. We civil servants are not all white, nor male, and we do not wear bowler hats. Please, Newsnight, try to be a bit more original and up to date with your graphics.
Lorri Dawson, London


Economics Editor Stephanie Flanders responds:

Inevitably, our study of the impact of the Gershon review on the civil service could not do justice to the record of each individual department - let alone the agencies within them. I have no doubt that many parts of the civil service are being greatly affected. Indeed, we mentioned one, the Department of Work and Pensions, which has had very dramatic job cuts and is suffering morale and service quality problems similar to those the correspondent describes at the QCA. The point of the piece was, rather, to contrast the very large claimed job losses in the civil service over the past two years with the much smaller (though still substantial) reduction in the number of people actually working at government departments. Given the impact of even the cuts that have occurred - at the DWP, the QCA and elsewhere - it is no wonder that the government would wish to find ways to finesse the numbers.

The caricature of the faceless, bowler-hatted bureaucrat is hopelessly out-dated and certainly unrepresentative of the gender and racial profile of the modern civil service. We thought it was so out-dated that we could safely use the cardboard figures in a fit of post-modern Newsnight whimsey. (We also thought they were rather cute.) Sorry.


KENT ROBBERY [23 February 2006]

I was appalled at the Kent robbery coverage that involved an interview with a bank robber, and appalled in particular by the interviewer's shocking failure to challenge or even effectively demur from the robber's despicable support for the violent perpetrators of the Kent crime. The BBC was brought into disrepute. Apology imperative.
Peter Bishop, Brighton

It was a mistake to allow a former bank robber to comment on the recent Kent robbery. For him to wish them luck was unforgivable.
Martyn Jones, Pontypridd

Newsnight editor Peter Barron responds:

I am sorry that some viewers found the inclusion on Newsnight of Terry Smith, a former armed robber, objectionable. We invited Mr Smith onto the programme because we felt he offered genuine insights into the modus operandi of the Tonbridge robbers. Mr Smith's comments were balanced by those of Roy Ramm, a former head of organised crime at Scotland Yard. Mr Ramm made it clear in the course of the discussion that "we mustn't lose sight of the brutality of this crime". When at the end of the discussion Mr Smith said that from his point of view he hoped that some of the robbers get away with it, Gavin Esler challenged that by saying "Not everyone will share that point of view".


The contributor added nothing except his own offensive remarks - don't talk about balance, balance isn't the issue
Pamela Johnson
It was bad enough to have an armed robber on Newsnight, bad enough he was ineptly challenged by Gavin Esler, but Peter Barron's statement on the website adds insult to injury. "We invited Mr Smith onto the programme because we felt he offered genuine insights into the modus operandi of the Tonbridge robbers." Really? So, will you be inviting former rapists and mass murderers on to Newsnight for insight into MO? The MO was obvious - they kidnapped a "human key". The contributor added nothing except his own offensive remarks. Don't talk about balance. Balance isn't the issue. Inappropriate contributor, ill judged item, weak response to complaints. Come on, Mr Barron. Newsnight viewers expect more.
Pamela Johnson, London

RICHARD THOMPSON [23 February 2006]

There's a huge number of people still going to folk clubs and appreciating live acoustic music
Peter Tiplady
Very many thanks for tonight's item on Richard Thompson, surely one of the greatest guitarists and songwriters this country has ever produced and a shining example of the enduring nature of folk music in this country? Apart from Radio 2's Folk on Two, the Beeb seems to have no regular features on folk music which has been a part of the UK music scene since the skiffle days of the late '50s. There's a huge number of people still going to folk clubs, appreciating live acoustic music, in atmospheres of shared enjoyment and social discourse.
Peter Tiplady, Woodmancote Henfield

HAITI [21 February 2006]

Is Haiti really the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? - assuming the term to mean anything, it must mean everything west of Greenwich
Marcus Streets
Good to see your reporters getting stuck into the harsher side of Haiti and dicing with kidnappers. I am amazed he managed to avoid a serious scrape.
Thomas Kingston, London

Is Haiti really the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? Assuming the term to mean anything, it must mean everything west of Greenwich and east of 180 degrees. As such it takes in most of Britain - including London but not Cambridge. As far as I can tell from data available online, Burkina Faso is significantly poorer that Haiti and is - mainly - in the Western Hemisphere. 15N 0E being approximately the triple point between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. So while Haiti may well be the poorest nation in the Americas - and as such worthy of your report - it is not the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.
Marcus Streets, Cambridge

DAVID IRVING [20 February 2006]

Paxman was strangely non-combative in his interview with David Irving's lawyer. Rather than playing devil's advocate as he usually does so well, he asked the least probing questions he could think of. The lawyer had no choice but to agree with everything Paxman said. What happened to the challenging journalist we know and admire?
Tom, Reading

Putting a man in prison for his beliefs is wrong even if he seems to be as mad as a hatter
H Djemal
Jeremy Paxman gave David Irving's lawyer a very easy ride tonight: though the tone of his voice was searching, the content of his questions presented nothing challenging, nothing the interviewee could object to. And, when the interview ended, the valedictory thanks were (by Mr Paxman's standards) fulsome. Now, I happen to agree with Mr Paxman's (evident) opinion that the ruling in the Irving case and the law behind it are incompatible with freedom of speech and counterproductive, but I expect Newsnight presenters to be able to step outside their opinions.
Simon Vaughan, Alnwick, Northumberland

With regard to the freedom of speech issue, it is frequently cited by those who would wish to deny us its reality "that one should not shout FIRE in a crowded theatre". Such would be an act of criminal recklessness unconnected to the freedom of speech issue. Freedom of speech is something different entirely.
David Edwards, Ely, Cambs

It's a very sad day for Austria and Europe
Freddy May
What is the position of the European laws on human rights on the issue? Anything? Surely laws like the one was used to imprison Mr Irving should be ILLEGAL under same? It seems that the Austrian law is underpinned by the very mentality that fuelled Nazism (burning/control of books/ideas you detest)? It's a very sad day for Austria and Europe.
Freddy May, London

I think Irving is completely mad for thinking that the holocaust didn't happen. There are graves of soldiers throughout the UK and Europe of men and women who died for our freedom. They gave us freedom, also freedom of thought and expression. Putting a man in prison for his beliefs is wrong even if he seems to be as mad as a hatter. Just because a person disagrees with the holocaust it doesn't necessarily mean he is anti-Semitic. The European Union seems to be losing its meaning when the laws are no better than fascism. I felt that Europe was supposed to be liberal, obviously I was wrong.
H Djemal, Jyväskylä Finland

FINLAND'S NUCLEAR REACTOR [20 February 2006]

An image from Newsnight's report on Finland's new nuclear plant

A moan about dismal BBC coverage of anything vaguely to do with science or engineering. The report about nuclear power in Finland suggested the reactor being built was big. Great. How big? 400 yards or 1300MW? If around 1300MW it was probably based on the Framatome design built already at Chooz on the Franco-Belgian border and operating since around 1998. Also broadly similar to Sizewell B - a 4 steam generator PWR. If not, then something different and therefore important, as the Finns have usually built Boiling Water Reactors rather than PWRs. Couldn't someone have said? It does matter. The cost is also highly important. If the Framatome consortium are building a (single?) reactor for £2 billion at today's money, somebody could have found out that a 1200MW at Sizewell cost £3 billion at 1995 prices. In view of the policy issues being discussed, the money being splashed about is highly important, particularly if it is funny money and a loss leader for a growing nuclear market in Europe, as Greenpeace have asserted.
Phil Saunders, Bungay

UK THEME RE-RECORDING [20 February 2006]

I usually wake up to this theme, then go back to sleep and reawaken later to the dulcet tones of the Today presenters
Veronica Cuthbert
Your reporter mentioned "anglers and postmen" as those who may listen in - I didn't think Newsnight went in for stereotyping; shame on you! I usually wake up to this theme, then go back to sleep and reawaken later to the dulcet tones of the Today presenters. I'm sure I'm not the only person who does this!
Veronica Cuthbert, Merseyside

BIRD FLU [20 February 2006]

What a pointlessly aggressive interview Jeremy Paxman conducted with Ben Bradshaw
Derek Kerr
What a pointlessly aggressive interview Jeremy Paxman conducted with Ben Bradshaw this evening. We're at a stage of this story where the public wants to LEARN about bird flu. Instead, we were treated to an exhibition of inane cross-examination which required the Minister to say (three times) that there is no evidence of bird flu in Britain. Disbelieved at each turn, he was treated like some recalcitrant school-boy who had just told a whopping lie. I'm a huge fan of Jeremy, but tonight's performance was way below par - and way below the belt. Could do better!
Derek Kerr, London

Are we about to see the entire chicken population annihilated in order to avoid another potential risk of disease?
Tony Malcolm
I only heard from my friend in Northern Germany this evening that they have found a dead infected swan on a northern island. Why are we not following up reports of dead ducks etc, only swans? The lovely ducks (mallards) who live outside his kitchen window have been covered up since the end of January.
Susan Scott, Edinburgh

This bird flu thing - are we about to see the entire chicken population annihilated in order to avoid another potential risk of disease?
Tony Malcolm, London

SYNOD DECISION [16 February 2006]

Any time Israel is criticised for breach of human rights and war crimes the stock excuse is to roll out the bogus weapon of anti-Semitism
Abdul Rupani
So the Synod thinks that companies who provide goods or services to Israel should be boycotted? Crazy idea. I bet they produced their document on a PC running Windows on a Microsoft network. Both Intel and Microsoft carry out a huge amount of development and manufacture in Israel, and I bet the government there uses those products, so will the Synod be moving to Macs and Linux in the immediate future?
Jon, London

Some Jews - including me - think that anti-Semitism is fuelled by Israeli occupation of Arab land, demolition of Arab houses, uprooting of olive trees and the Wall. So some of us would like to make it clear we agree with the Synod's decision to consider the ethics of Caterpillar.
Hilda Meers, Whitehills

I think the Synod's position is perfectly justifiable and is in no way an attack on Judaism or Jews
David Freedman
How mealy-mouthed your introduction was about this subject. The minute you fear that you will be labelled anti-Semitic you draw your horns. Any time Israel is criticised for breach of human rights and war crimes the stock excuse is to roll out the bogus weapon of anti-Semitism.
Abdul Rupani, Luton

I watched with great interest the presentation and discussion on the General Synod of the Church of England supporting a motion to sell its shares in Caterpillar. As a secular Jew with most of my relatives in Israel, I think the Church of England has made a legitimate stand against the abominable rightwing government of Israel and its continued unacceptable treatment of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Further, it has always seemed to me crucial to distinguish between Jewish issues and Israeli government policies and actions, as anti-Semites are always blurring this crucial distinction. I think the Synod's position is perfectly justifiable and is in no way an attack on Judaism or Jews.
David Freedman, London

We can be for Israel's right to exist within secure borders without being anti-Arab, and against Israel's betrayal of its founding ideals without being anti-Semitic
Geoffrey Salkeld
What idiocy. As the church can in no way be responsible for what a particular machine is going to be used for, reviewing investments in Caterpillar is a nonsense. The Synod would do better devoting its time to recognising that men and women are exactly equal and therefore giving them both total equality within the church. Sooner rather than later too.
Joseph Wilson, Satfford

As a British aid worker I have witnessed at first hand the destructive impact of land clearances and house demolitions by the Israelis in Palestine. We can be for Israel's right to exist within secure borders without being anti-Arab, and against Israel's betrayal of its founding ideals without being anti-Semitic.
Geoffrey Salkeld, Genis, France

Bulldozers and anti-Semetic semantics - why would you take such nonsense seriously enough to give it air time?
Ceilidah
The Synod's very mild action for divestment over the monstrous destruction caused by Caterpillar, should be only the beginning. The Church should stand firm as it did in South Africa, and not be blackmailed or intimidated by the hackneyed accusations of anti-Semitism. As a Jew, I feel that it is vital that we should be pressuring Israel to change and abide by international law and moral ethics. It is the Jewish Establishment's blind tribal loyalty overriding concern for human rights that is really damaging interfaith relations.
Abe Hayeem, Canons Park

The church? Bulldozers? I doubt the church knows what it is investing in - secular or non-secular - from moment to moment. Bulldozers and anti-Semitic semantics? Why would you take such nonsense seriously enough to give it air time?
Ceilidah, Minnis Bay

SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOOLING [16 February 2006]

Toby Hewson

Your item about education for children with Special Needs was very good, especially the highlighting of the true costs of "including" a child with special needs into mainstream school. However, I was very disappointed that none of the children featured had a learning disability as these children are the hardest to include and the least able to represent themselves. I think it would be interesting to your viewers to see the reality of caring for, parenting and providing for a child with learning disability, especially in the context of education.
Deirdre Yager, London

I have just read with interest your article on special needs education. As a parent of a special needs daughter whose chosen school is 14 miles away, can I highlight that one of the main issues with getting a child to their chosen school is transport. Quite often parents exhausted by the education battle then have to fight for transport. There is no duty for LEAs to provide transport for special needs and in many cases by simply refusing transport, access to the best school is denied. Unlike many special needs children our daughter is lucky she is going to the best school for her needs and has transport.
Jeanine Blamires, Keighley

ABU GHRAIB PICTURES [15 February 2006]

I am concerned that you saw fit to give so much time to the pictures of prisoners in Iraq being abused
E M Stevenson
It seems to me that there is another cover-up on the Abu Ghraib issue. The first photos only gave the impression of some of the curious sexual perversions of US soldiers and they were punished for it, but the 2nd batch of photos were of murder and they were covered-up. The perpetrators were also protected and never punished. This seems to negate the claims of the US that wrong-doers are held accountable in the US. This being the case, what difference is there between Saddam's thugs and the US military?
LL Lai, Penang, Malaysia

I am concerned that you saw fit to give so much time to the pictures of prisoners in Iraq being abused. Yes, it is bad that this has happened, but it is old news and we have had our fill of the disgusting pictures you showed. Also it will not help our soldiers out there to inflame the situation as you have done. Leave such disgraceful things to the mindless gutter press!
E M Stevenson, Derby

'GLORIFYING' TERRORISM

After careful consideration, I am coming to the conclusion Tony Blair is right to insist on the word "glorification" in the new terror bill. The word "glorification" has no legal meaning in our law, therefore it cannot be cited as grounds for prosecution. However, if the word "glorification" was included in the new terror bill it would then need to be afforded a meaning in law. Once glorification has a legal meaning then it can be used across all our laws; even those concerning attaining British citizenship. Immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, etc, will be subject to all laws that will include the misuse of "glorification", and thus provide legal boundaries to which afore-mentioned people must abide, regardless of their religion, faith, culture.
Alvim Bennett, Colchester

I am pleased that the offence of glorifying terrorism has finally been recognised. This is especially true as I consider the US/British invasion of Iraq to be terrorism. It would be impossible to otherwise define the pre-invasion bombing designated "shock and horror" or the use of weapons of mass destruction such as spent uranium cartridges. I will be pleased therefore that Mr Blair will no longer be able to justify the war without fear of being arrested for glorifying terrorism.
Peter Lees, Radstock




SEE ALSO
Feedback - January 2006
01 Feb 06 |  Newsnight Home
Feedback - December 2005
04 Jan 06 |  Newsnight Home
Feedback - November 2005 (page 2)
25 Nov 05 |  Newsnight Home
Feedback - October 2005
05 Oct 05 |  Newsnight Home
Feedback - September 2005
06 Sep 05 |  Newsnight Home

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