Using the series at http://www.debian.org/doc/manuals/apt-howto/ch-apt-get.en.html and some redhat rawhide experience I managed to get my debconf family packages high enough so that spamassassin 2.60 would build. I had to de-install "dialog" and "whiptail" and I'm just rebuilding ncurses5.3 do I can install a newer dialog.
Debians "will remove XXXX soon" really throws me, for some reason it got it into its head it was going to remove logrotate, acct, adduser, samba, etc and lots of essential stuff like the bsd* package. I couldn't find an easy way to change its mind apart from go through dselect and select everything that had a star in the left column but not the right.
I installed libhtml-parser-perl-3.28 WITHOUT perl unicode by editing the Makefile.PL and debian/control (so it would run on Perl 5.6), luckily deb's aren't so strict on pristine source so I didn't have to hack & combine the single patch file that debs use with my own changes,though for some reason the build package only included docs and no