09/08/2013 Newsnight


09/08/2013

Where can savers put their money except into property? The cancer cells that live for ever. The mobsters hiding out in Uxbridge. Pregnant pandas - why do we care? With Gavin Esler.


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Transcript


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mattress - should you put your money? With the Bank of England this

:00:08.:00:11.

week indicating it's likely to keep interest rates low for years and

:00:12.:00:14.

volatility on the stock market, figures today suggest savers are

:00:14.:00:23.

increasingly trying to buy one of these. What's the impact on a

:00:23.:00:26.

debt-riddled economy when savers can't save?

:00:26.:00:29.

The extraordinary story of the woman who died in the 1950s and whose

:00:29.:00:32.

apparently immortal cancer cells made billions for the drug

:00:32.:00:38.

companies. The families claim for recognition

:00:38.:00:42.

ends in a deal. Why has it taken more than half a century?

:00:42.:00:45.

Plus New Jersey, Chicago, Brooklyn, and Uxbridge? When did our quietest

:00:45.:00:49.

suburbs become the hideout of choice for mafia dons?

:00:49.:00:53.

And who's the daddy? Why the extraordinary fascination with giant

:00:53.:01:03.
:01:03.:01:06.

pandas? We're looking in on Good evening. The forward guidance,

:01:06.:01:10.

as they say in the jargon, coming from the Bank of England this week

:01:10.:01:13.

is that UK interest rates are likely to stay very low for some time,

:01:13.:01:17.

possibly until 2016, unless inflation begins to take off. That

:01:17.:01:20.

is great news for borrowers especially those with large

:01:20.:01:23.

mortgages but not good news for savers, the people whose thrift, the

:01:23.:01:28.

Government says, we require for a healthy economy. So are there any

:01:28.:01:32.

good choices for savers right now? And are the thrifty among us being

:01:32.:01:42.
:01:42.:01:42.

penalised for their virtue? Robin Denselow reports.

:01:42.:01:48.

It is the end of the week. Friday evening at the historic golf club in

:01:48.:01:53.

Essex. A group of friends get together for a game and a little

:01:53.:01:57.

parting practice. Three of them are retired. They have paid off their

:01:57.:02:01.

mortgages and have savings. But what to do with them in a week when the

:02:01.:02:04.

new governor of the Bank of England gave a clear signal that interest

:02:04.:02:11.

rates will remain at a mere 0.5% for some time? Jack used to run a fish

:02:11.:02:15.

restaurant and has money in the bag. But the letters premium Bonds

:02:15.:02:25.
:02:25.:02:33.

succeed, his savings are not likely to match the rate of inflation.

:02:33.:02:36.

have them if anything does go wrong but at the present time it does not

:02:36.:02:38.

give you encouragement to invest anywhere. This is the embodiment of

:02:38.:02:40.

the Thatcherite dream of a property owning democracy. 80% of homes here

:02:40.:02:44.

are owner occupied, the highest rate anywhere in England. The news from

:02:44.:02:47.

the Bank of England might be good for borrowers and those with

:02:47.:02:50.

mortgages, but it is not good for those who have worked all their

:02:50.:02:56.

lives and built up their savings. have a lot of people in this country

:02:56.:02:59.

who have put money aside over the past few years so that they will

:02:59.:03:06.

have an estate, something to live on, in their later life. They were

:03:06.:03:11.

trying to be sensible and prudent, as they were encouraged to be, and

:03:11.:03:15.

they were hoping to have an income from their savings. They have found

:03:15.:03:19.

the income has virtually disappeared and what we heard this week is that

:03:19.:03:24.

even over the next three years it is not likely that they will get any

:03:24.:03:27.

income at all. But if you have enough money it is argued he can

:03:27.:03:37.

still make money to put into property to rent out. Buy to let

:03:37.:03:44.

mortgages made up just 5% in 2002 of all new mortgages. It rose to 12% in

:03:44.:03:48.

2007 and then fell dramatically when the property market crashed. But it

:03:48.:03:55.

is now back to the 2007 levels. Would the golfers consider that?

:03:55.:03:59.

I was younger I would go into it in a big way but it is the young man's

:03:59.:04:04.

sport. You have to have quite a bit of money because for five years you

:04:04.:04:14.
:04:14.:04:41.

the property market is very different. Not so many owner

:04:41.:04:44.

occupiers. This is buy to let territory. It is argued that if you

:04:44.:04:47.

have the money to buy a property to let it out, your returns will be far

:04:47.:04:49.

greater than putting the money in the bank. People with money in the

:04:50.:04:52.

bank are then getting capital growth at a later date if the markets start

:04:52.:04:55.

to recover, which they seem to be doing.

:04:55.:04:59.

There are a large number of properties available for rent here.

:04:59.:05:06.

An average house costs �152,000 and the average rent �7,800 a year. The

:05:06.:05:12.

result is a return on that rent of 5.13%, significantly above any thing

:05:12.:05:16.

a bank can provide. But in order to buy to read, you need enough money

:05:16.:05:22.

of course. That is no help for savers with modest means. As far as

:05:22.:05:32.
:05:32.:05:35.

I can see, policy makers simply do not care about savers helped by the

:05:36.:05:38.

funding for lending schemes, the help to buy schemes, are actually

:05:38.:05:40.

going to be those with quite a bit of money. This is about helping

:05:41.:05:43.

those with lots of money to invest in another property. It is not about

:05:43.:05:49.

the ordinary average saver. So the message from ethics is this. If you

:05:49.:05:54.

saved a lot of money, you can make a lot more. If you saved a little, it

:05:54.:06:03.

will be different. Simon Rose from Save Our Savers is

:06:03.:06:06.

here along with the former banker and now financial writer Frances

:06:06.:06:09.

Coppola and Henry Pryor who is a property market analyst and writer.

:06:09.:06:12.

How tough things for savers? Impossible. It is impossible to

:06:12.:06:16.

preserve the value of your capital. People have been lamenting that they

:06:16.:06:20.

have put money buy for all their lives, hoping to eke out their

:06:20.:06:25.

retirement, and having terrible trouble. It is not as though savers

:06:25.:06:32.

are the only people missing out. Anyone with a wage is in that

:06:32.:06:37.

position. Yes, wages are back to the level of ten years ago. Anyone on a

:06:37.:06:44.

fixed income is even worse. What would happen to the housing market

:06:44.:06:49.

in this hypothesis? It would come under pressure. Those that have

:06:49.:06:51.

overextended themselves, and been taken in by the Government and

:06:51.:06:56.

powers that be, and been encouraged to invest in property, could be left

:06:56.:07:02.

as many people have a Northern Ireland nursing considerable losses.

:07:02.:07:05.

They are still looking at losses of 50% or thereabouts in the province

:07:05.:07:13.

since the crash of 2007. What would the political consequences of that

:07:13.:07:17.

be, horrendous? Armageddon. That is why regardless of whether the

:07:17.:07:21.

Government is right or wrong to be doing this, the Government is

:07:21.:07:24.

determined to put a floor under house prices and make sure they

:07:24.:07:31.

steadily increase, up to the 20 15th general election. Why does anybody

:07:31.:07:36.

saving this kind of market? You might as well spend it. I understand

:07:36.:07:39.

that people might want to spend their money rather than save it.

:07:39.:07:44.

There are two kinds of savings, what you put away for a rainy day to

:07:44.:07:47.

cover the washing machine breaking or something like that. I don't

:07:47.:07:50.

think most people would expect to get much return on that anyway, it

:07:50.:07:55.

is just a rainy day fund. We are talking about long-term savings, the

:07:55.:08:05.
:08:05.:08:15.

kind of money people put away for retirement. People have got used to

:08:15.:08:18.

having high returns on savings because we have had strongly growing

:08:18.:08:20.

economy. That is not the case any more. So savers finding the economy

:08:20.:08:23.

cannot support the kind of income level they have got used to.

:08:23.:08:25.

Successive governments have always said savers are so marvellous. It is

:08:25.:08:27.

great to have them. We must rebalance the economy in favour of

:08:27.:08:30.

saving rather than consumption. But it does not happen. It does not. In

:08:30.:08:32.

order to get the recovery you need people to spend more, more economic

:08:32.:08:36.

activity. The value of saving to the economy, quite apart from helping

:08:36.:08:40.

people to prepare for their futures and so forth, to support themselves

:08:40.:08:44.

in their retirement, is also so we can get some investment into the

:08:44.:08:49.

economy, into small businesses, into productive investment. That is

:08:49.:08:53.

really what we need capital for. But to do that, savers must be prepared

:08:54.:09:00.

to take some risk. Do you take that point? The problem is we are

:09:00.:09:06.

undermining savings. Savers have contributed �285 billion, they are

:09:06.:09:10.

that much worse off, and they are propping up an alien economy that

:09:10.:09:15.

they are not responsible for. If we have three years more, then savers

:09:15.:09:19.

will have contributed �500 billion, four times the annual deficit of the

:09:19.:09:24.

Government. But what about Henry's point, that if things were done to

:09:24.:09:30.

make you happy, there could possibly be a housing crash? We got into this

:09:30.:09:34.

crisis because of that and we have continued to stay in debt. We are

:09:34.:09:44.
:09:44.:10:13.

now being encouraged to take on even more debt. We are becoming ever more

:10:13.:10:16.

dependent on this sort of pain relief of low interest rates. We

:10:16.:10:19.

have now got to the stage where the patient is not being treated. It is

:10:19.:10:21.

kept on pain relief until it is totally dependent on it. What do you

:10:21.:10:24.

make of that? I have sympathy for that point of view. Ramping up

:10:24.:10:27.

consumer debt again is not the way to recover from this. We need

:10:27.:10:29.

investments and for that we do need people to be putting money aside,

:10:29.:10:32.

into the economy, investing in business. We need people to be doing

:10:32.:10:34.

that. Where does buy to let come into this? You cannot just take

:10:34.:10:37.

savings and buy a house. We are taking people from being savers and

:10:37.:10:39.

turning them into speculators. The housing market might have a

:10:39.:10:41.

reasonably rosy short-term view. We respect has prices, especially when

:10:41.:10:43.

stage two of the controversial help to buy scheme from the Government

:10:43.:10:46.

kicks in, whereby people can borrow money to buy houses up to �600,000

:10:46.:10:48.

that are second hand, not just new build as the scheme works at

:10:48.:10:51.

present, which will add further stimulus to the frothy housing

:10:51.:10:55.

market and will drive up prices. That is attracting speculators,

:10:56.:11:02.

people looking at buy to let. It is an alternative to 0.5% returns at

:11:02.:11:12.
:11:12.:11:23.

the bank. That is all as it is great and one day it will not be. As long

:11:23.:11:25.

as the music keeps going, we're happy, but it. . All bubbles

:11:25.:11:28.

eventually burst. So what should savers do? You want the Bank of

:11:28.:11:30.

England to do something but what are the alternatives for savers now?

:11:30.:11:32.

individual savers should get the best possible savings rate. They are

:11:32.:11:35.

all terrible but some are even worse. Some people took a bonus on

:11:35.:11:37.

the account, it has gone and they have not realised they are getting

:11:38.:11:40.

next to nothing. If you want cash savings, not speculation, you are

:11:40.:11:43.

going to be losing money. Do you see the argument for going into

:11:43.:11:47.

speculation? I can see why it happens. Savers are getting

:11:47.:11:50.

increasingly desperate. But inflation, everybody is losing the

:11:50.:12:00.
:12:00.:12:10.

value of their money. The pound has depreciated in value one third over

:12:10.:12:13.

the last ten years. If this carries on, we will get to the stage where

:12:13.:12:16.

people understand it is not worth hanging on to money at all, and then

:12:16.:12:18.

we have really serious problems. What can savers do? It depends what

:12:18.:12:21.

they want to do. If they are saving for the long-term, to my mind money

:12:21.:12:24.

is not the thing to invest in for the long term anyway. You need to

:12:24.:12:27.

look at financial and hard assets and things like that. I don't think

:12:27.:12:29.

buy to let is a particularly good strategy for people that are iffy

:12:29.:12:32.

about risk, simply because we should not forget the crash in 2008.

:12:32.:12:35.

Bradley and Bingley actually failed because the bottom fell out of the

:12:35.:12:40.

buy to let market. It happened before and it can happen again. This

:12:40.:12:50.
:12:50.:12:58.

looks like an overheating bubble to me. It needs some care that people

:12:58.:13:00.

should not be expected to put large amount of money in a bank account

:13:00.:13:03.

and leave it there by way of long-term savings. It is not a good

:13:03.:13:05.

use of bank accounts. It is interesting listening to the three

:13:05.:13:08.

of you, the human capacity for making mistakes over and over again

:13:08.:13:11.

is enormous. It is bad enough when we do not learn from history but

:13:11.:13:14.

when it is only six years old, it is really scary. There is no doubt that

:13:14.:13:16.

this Government is intent on feeding the house price inflation that we

:13:16.:13:19.

can see coming down over the next three to five years. Commentators

:13:19.:13:21.

are talking about steady if not reasonably spectacular house price

:13:21.:13:26.

inflation. Investors, speculators, those looking at buy to let, they

:13:26.:13:29.

are looking at possible return is not just the yield, which is very

:13:29.:13:38.

marginal in some parts of the country, they are just investing

:13:38.:13:44.

purely for capital gain. That is what they are hoping for. Thank you.

:13:44.:13:47.

Now an extraordinary story about a woman who died in the United States

:13:47.:13:50.

in the 1950s and whose cells are still being used for medical

:13:50.:13:54.

research. An agreement has finally been reached in a long running row

:13:54.:14:01.

about how her cells may be used. The tobacco farmer and mother of five

:14:01.:14:05.

was just 31 years old when two died of cervical cancer. During

:14:05.:14:10.

treatment, some of her cancerous cells were removed without her

:14:10.:14:15.

consent, not unusual for the time. What was unusual was that the cells

:14:15.:14:18.

from that biopsy did something that scientists had never seen before.

:14:18.:14:26.

They continued to live and grow indefinitely. The cells seemed to be

:14:26.:14:30.

immortal. Over the last six decades, these cells have been used

:14:30.:14:33.

in nearly 75,000 studies to develop treatments for conditions including

:14:33.:14:42.

polio, leukaemia, haemophilia and Parkinson's. Making healthy profits

:14:42.:14:47.

for pharmaceuticals companies. But Henrietta's family had no idea of

:14:47.:14:50.

her legacy until 20 years after her death when they were contacted by

:14:50.:14:54.

scientists looking for a blood sample. Earlier this year,

:14:54.:14:59.

researchers in Germany decided to publish the full DNA code. The

:14:59.:15:04.

family, worried that this could violate their own medical privacy,

:15:04.:15:07.

took her concerns to the National Institutes of Health, the US

:15:07.:15:13.

Government agency that oversees medical research. The family asked

:15:13.:15:19.

not for money, but for some control over scientist access to the DNA

:15:19.:15:24.

code, which was granted this week. Finally, more than 60 years after

:15:24.:15:27.

Henrietta's death, it seems her contribution will finally be at

:15:27.:15:37.
:15:37.:15:40.

Joining me now from Chicago is Rebecca Skloot who has written a

:15:40.:15:43.

book about Henrietta Lacks and her family, and was involved in the

:15:43.:15:53.

negotiations which led to this settlement. This is an amazing

:15:53.:16:02.

story. How important has this been for medical research, do you think?

:16:02.:16:07.

Oh, you can't overestimate how important the cells have been for

:16:07.:16:11.

science. They laid the foundation for so much of what we rely on now.

:16:11.:16:15.

Her cells were the first ever cloned, her jeans with a first-ever

:16:15.:16:19.

mapped. Some of the most important cancer medications... The list goes

:16:19.:16:24.

on and on. They also laid the foundation for lots of basic

:16:24.:16:28.

science. It is interesting that all of these good things are based on

:16:28.:16:32.

something which sounds very brutal nowadays, taking the cells from

:16:32.:16:40.

someone dying of cancer and using them without her permission. Yes, it

:16:40.:16:43.

was absolutely standard at the time to take samples from people without

:16:43.:16:48.

their permission. Sometimes much worse. We did not have the concept

:16:48.:16:52.

of informed consent in the 50s. While it does sound shocking by

:16:52.:16:56.

today's standards, a lot of what happened was pretty standard for the

:16:56.:16:59.

day. What was different was when they went back to her children in

:16:59.:17:04.

the 70s and did research on them without their consent. We did have

:17:04.:17:07.

consent practices back then. In the 80s, their medical records were

:17:07.:17:12.

released to the press and published without consent. His latest chapter

:17:12.:17:17.

of the gene only in released without their consent is just one in a long

:17:17.:17:27.
:17:27.:17:28.

line of things that have happened to the family. So what managed to get

:17:28.:17:32.

them to this agreement? There were several things. The first question

:17:32.:17:37.

when they found out that this gene had been published, what does it

:17:38.:17:41.

mean for us? What information is in there? They knew there was

:17:41.:17:46.

information about Henrietta in there. Her children inherited half

:17:46.:17:51.

of her jeans and her grandchildren half of those. They wanted to know

:17:51.:17:55.

what the public could learn about them, what science could learn about

:17:55.:18:03.

them from looking at the cells. Disease, things like that. But what

:18:03.:18:08.

we know from history, every few decades something big happens with

:18:08.:18:12.

these cells. Scientists and up going back and involving Henrietta

:18:12.:18:17.

Lacks's family, usually without consent. The research has been

:18:17.:18:21.

looked at over and over. They were also saying, enough. This is the

:18:21.:18:29.

last time our generation should be the ones that this happens too. So

:18:29.:18:34.

that our grandchildren are not shocked down the road when it

:18:34.:18:39.

involves us. Why is that? I know that attitudes have changed, the way

:18:39.:18:44.

that patients have been treated has changed, but is it basically because

:18:44.:18:47.

she happened to be an impoverished African-American woman in the 50s

:18:47.:18:54.

and people thought they could do what they like? In some ways that is

:18:54.:18:59.

certainly part of it. She was seen in what they called the public

:18:59.:19:03.

ward. That is where people went if they did not have money or they were

:19:03.:19:06.

black because this was during segregation. She could not be

:19:06.:19:10.

treated anywhere else. More research was definitely done in those places

:19:10.:19:15.

than in the institutions where white patients with money ended up. In the

:19:15.:19:19.

70s when they did the research on her children, I think race played a

:19:19.:19:23.

more significant role in some ways. In the 50s they were taking cells

:19:23.:19:27.

from anyone they could get their hands on and trying to grow them. In

:19:27.:19:32.

the 70s, had her family been white, not being a black family who did not

:19:32.:19:35.

have much money, and think the chances are things would have been

:19:35.:19:39.

pretty different for them. Thank you very much for joining us from

:19:39.:19:45.

Chicago and telling us that extraordinary story.

:19:46.:19:49.

News that one of Italy's most wanted Mafiosi has been holed up in

:19:49.:19:52.

Uxbridge sent us wondering whether the London suburbs really are a good

:19:52.:19:55.

place for Cosa Nostra. Domenico Rancadore was sentenced to seven

:19:55.:19:59.

years in prison in Italy and the Italian authorities want him back. A

:19:59.:20:02.

court today heard that Mr Rancadore used the name Marc Skinner and did

:20:02.:20:06.

not go out much. Stephen Smith has been to Uxbridge to see how they are

:20:06.:20:16.
:20:16.:20:35.

-land, at the end of John Betjeman's beloveds Metropolitan

:20:35.:20:42.

line. A slumbering dormitory at the western extremity of Western London.

:20:42.:20:45.

Christine Keeler was the most notorious person to come out of

:20:45.:20:51.

Uxbridge until now. But it has emerged that the retired

:20:51.:20:57.

schoolteacher who lived behind his head had been hiding for 20 odd

:20:57.:21:03.

years. The man the neighbours knew as Marc Skinner was really Dominica

:21:03.:21:07.

Rancadore, alleged Sicilian Mafia boss. Do you feel that you are

:21:07.:21:15.

living in an episode of the Sopranos? Not really. He is the last

:21:15.:21:20.

person that you would suspect. He certainly did not appear to be a

:21:20.:21:26.

wise guy. People, some say unkind people, have said that Uxbridge is

:21:26.:21:33.

just about the dullest place in London. So good camouflage? I would

:21:33.:21:39.

dispute that. Why did think it is that dull here. But you never know,

:21:39.:21:46.

do you? -- I don't think. He built up the conifer trees and put the big

:21:46.:21:49.

gate on the front but we always thought he was Spanish and was

:21:49.:21:59.
:21:59.:22:09.

trying to produce a little courtyard community around Uxbridge. This chef

:22:09.:22:15.

is from Elan himself and patrons at this restaurant have been digesting

:22:15.:22:20.

the news. -- from Milan. Is it semi-glamorous to have someone from

:22:20.:22:26.

the Mafia living amongst you? Or is it awful and terrible for the

:22:26.:22:30.

neighbourhood? American culture has probably had a great influence on

:22:30.:22:35.

how British people see things. The Sopranos, everyone thinks it is sexy

:22:35.:22:40.

and glamorous to lead a crime boss life. Maybe if they come back and

:22:40.:22:44.

think about that, they will think it is quite scary to have someone

:22:45.:22:49.

involved in these very serious things, allegedly, lives round the

:22:49.:22:53.

corner. The obvious thing is that we do not know our neighbours and that

:22:53.:22:57.

is the key thing here. I am not saying that people should be careful

:22:57.:23:02.

and paranoid. I am just impressed, a little, that he has managed to evade

:23:02.:23:12.

the authorities for such a long time. Marc Skinner, or Rancadore,

:23:12.:23:14.

was a model citizen as far as his fellow townsfolk new, frequenting

:23:14.:23:18.

coffee shops, buying flowers at the stall outside the station. He is not

:23:18.:23:25.

the first person to live a double life you. In 1922, under an assumed

:23:25.:23:31.

name, someone was living just 100 metres from somewhere near where

:23:31.:23:36.

Rancadore was living, at RAF Uxbridge. That person was actually

:23:36.:23:41.

Lawrence of Arabia. If you want to be anonymous, it is a quiet in place

:23:41.:23:46.

to fade into the background. Westminster Magistrates Court,

:23:46.:23:50.

Rancadore was served a warrant for extradition to Italy where he has a

:23:50.:23:53.

conviction for belonging to the Mafia. His wife and daughter heard

:23:53.:23:57.

that he will be remanded in custody following a full extradition hearing

:23:57.:24:03.

in November. Uxbridge is in the spotlight now, deservedly so, some

:24:03.:24:09.

might say. What do we need to know about your town? If there are any

:24:09.:24:19.

more fugitive Mafia dons out there, please get in touch.

:24:19.:24:23.

Now here's one for the Jeremy Kyle Show. The father is either the

:24:23.:24:26.

live-in lover in Edinburgh, who doesn't seem to want to make much

:24:26.:24:30.

love. Or he is a dead German whose sperm was flown in. Nobody is even

:24:30.:24:33.

sure if the mother is pregnant. We're talking giant pandas here and

:24:33.:24:37.

the news that the female Tian Tian in Edinburgh Zoo may be preparing

:24:37.:24:41.

for the patter of tiny claws. We can go over almost live by panda cam to

:24:41.:24:45.

her mate in Edinburgh who may or may not be the father. It's not quite

:24:45.:24:49.

Royal Baby Watch but there's no doubt that pandas are among the most

:24:49.:24:53.

photogenic zoo stars. But is that a bit unfair to some of nature's more

:24:53.:24:56.

aesthetically challenged creatures? Helen Arney is a member of the Ugly

:24:56.:24:58.

Animal Preservation Society, a comedy night with a conservation

:24:58.:25:02.

twist where she argues that pandas get too much attention and that more

:25:02.:25:05.

help should be given to some of the less cuddly but equally endangered

:25:05.:25:08.

species. She joins us now from Edinburgh where she is playing at

:25:08.:25:13.

the Fringe. This is the biggest news about pregnancy since the Duchess of

:25:13.:25:19.

Cambridge. But do we care too much about pandas, is that what you are

:25:19.:25:22.

saying? With no offence to Edinburgh Zoo and the great work they are

:25:22.:25:27.

doing with pandas, there is much more to the animal kingdom than

:25:27.:25:30.

black and white bears. I have been watching the band camera for most of

:25:30.:25:34.

the afternoon and frankly I would rather watch black and white paint

:25:34.:25:38.

drying. There are much more fascinating animals out there that

:25:38.:25:43.

are not beautiful. They are creepy, Crawley, ugly, grey, weird, but much

:25:43.:25:48.

more interesting than the standard panda. You have made the case for

:25:48.:25:56.

the purple pig nosed frock. We are looking at that now. You would not

:25:56.:26:01.

buy your children are stuffed one of those four are present. You would

:26:01.:26:10.

buy a panda. Pandas used to be the underdog. He used to sit around

:26:10.:26:18.

eating bamboo, unable to do its business with its mate. But it is

:26:18.:26:23.

not about what they look like, it is what they do. They do very little.

:26:23.:26:28.

The axolotl is my favourite animal, fascinating. It lives in a single

:26:28.:26:34.

lake in Mexico and is so endangered. It actually regenerates itself. If

:26:34.:26:40.

you chop a little bit off, but don't do this at home, it will rebuild it

:26:40.:26:44.

perfectly. If its skull gets crushed, it will rebuild it

:26:44.:26:48.

perfectly. Scientists could use this to cure cancer and find out about

:26:48.:26:53.

ageing. Fascinating stuff. We are looking at a picture of one of them

:26:53.:27:03.
:27:03.:27:04.

now. It is one of the most handsome ones I have seen in a long time!

:27:04.:27:11.

That is actually logistic. Normal ones look like a block of concrete.

:27:11.:27:15.

But are we missing out on these great animals that are much more

:27:15.:27:19.

interesting by looking at the cuddly ones? Pandas is the only thing you

:27:19.:27:24.

think of when you think of conservation, it is like URA DJ who

:27:24.:27:34.

loves music but only plays Justin Bieber. -- like you are a DJ.

:27:34.:27:37.

Conservation is not exotic. It is not something that comes from

:27:37.:27:42.

far-flung countries. The European eel is one of the animals that has

:27:42.:27:46.

lost 90% of its population in the last 40 years. Its travels 5000

:27:46.:27:53.

miles. It migrates a huge journey. That is in the Thames. It is not

:27:53.:27:57.

endangered because people have been serving it up in jelly in East and

:27:57.:28:01.

restaurants. It is endangered because its habitat is being

:28:01.:28:05.

destroyed. There is so much more interesting stuff out there than the

:28:05.:28:09.

panda. The panda has been amazing for bringing attention to

:28:09.:28:13.

conservation. Of course it is the logo for the WWF. Mostly because it

:28:13.:28:20.

is black and white and very cheap to photocopy. Indeed! We have an animal

:28:20.:28:25.

where we spent a lot of money trying to get them to conceive. They don't

:28:25.:28:30.

seem to be willing or able to do it by themselves. In the end, there is

:28:30.:28:37.

not much hope for them, is there? be absolutely honest, I think anyone

:28:37.:28:42.

would have trouble having a full relationship with their partner, who

:28:42.:28:47.

they have only met recently, when there were cameras on them and they

:28:47.:28:50.

were living in somewhere completely different to their normal habitat.

:28:50.:28:57.

You or I would have exactly the same problem. Right, we will avoid the

:28:57.:29:03.

panda camera. Thank you very much. Let's look at the front pages. The

:29:03.:29:09.

Times has Robert Mugabe selling uranium to Tehran in a secret deal.

:29:09.:29:16.

The Telegraph has fetching picture, not of an axolotl but the panda on

:29:16.:29:21.

the front page. And the panda is also on the front page of the

:29:21.:29:27.

Guardian. And police investigating 169 sex abuse investigations. A move

:29:27.:29:37.
:29:37.:29:38.

to tackle predatory offices. A royal exclusive with the new father

:29:38.:29:43.

allowed on a stag weekend. And the Daily Mail, the European flag to be

:29:43.:29:47.

stamped on the UK birth certificate. All babies born in Britain could

:29:47.:29:51.

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