26/08/2016 Newsnight


With Naga Munchetty. President Bashar al-Assad's forces retake Darayya after 5 years of conflict in Syria. Plus tiger parenting and Clive James on not being dead.

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Five years on since the start of the Syrian uprising,


Darayya surrenders after its near total-devastation.


Assad's soldiers chant their victory.


Thousands of civilians and hundreds of rebel soldiers are bussed out


of one of the first towns to rise up against their government.


Here in Geneva, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry,


has finished his talks with Russia's Sergei Lavrov.


Both leaders talked about narrowing their differences -


can they really make a difference


when it comes to ending the war in Syria?


We'll be asking a former Obama advisor


if the US has any leverage left in Syria.


Is the billion-pound parenting industry a waste of time?


We talk to the woman who's telling parents to ditch the books


and let their kids' brains do all the work.


The legendary tv critic Clive James on boxed sets, reality TV -


There was a wave of obituaries, of fond goodbyes, tears in eye,


And there I was, alive and reading it!


And our final Proms playout, Rick Astley.


The UN says that the world is watching,


this as hundreds of rebel fighters and thousands of civilians


begin to evacuate the besieged Damascus suburb of Darayya -


the longest stand-off between government-led forces


and rebels in Syria's five-year war is ending.


And as the US Secretary of State, John Kerry,


meets his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in Geneva today


for further talks to try to bring peace,


they might do well to reflect on the story of Daraya,


that some of the first protests against Assad began.


committed one of the war's biggest massacres to date.


And after years of inaction from the international community,


it is here where the government forces are now resurgent


Four years of resistance against all the odds came to an end in Darayya


today. Besieged, starved and bombed by the Assad regime, residents are


being bussed out of this suburb and the army is moving in. Regime


soldiers chanted pro-government slogans at them as they left, some


in tears. Civilians heading for government-controlled areas, rebels


for opposition held it live province. -- Idlib. This man worked


as a media activist in the local council. He leaves tomorrow.


TRANSLATION: People are feeling profoundly bitter, is days the agony


of being sent from their homeland. These are the people who sacrificed


their lives to stand for the city, it is a very tough situation for


civilians because this is the very same regime that has been bombarding


them with napalm, barrel bombs, rockets and chemical attacks. It is


the very regime that has been besieging them and preventing food


from reaching them. If people had another choice, they would have


opted for it, but people have no choice. The story of Darayya is, in


many ways, the story of the Syrian uprising. It was one of the first


areas to break out in peaceful protests against the regime five


years ago. Demonstrated carried roses towards government soldiers,


and the activist behind these protests was arrested, tortured and


killed. When the Free Syrian Army began to take control in 2012, the


response was brutal. A massacre of hundreds of people, blamed on Assad


loyalists, one of the worst the conflict had scene at that stage.


But over the years, more was to come.


After rebel forces took full control of the district, Darayya, like other


opposition held areas, was the target of the regime's air force,


blamed for the majority of deaths in Syria during the conflict. Darayya


is just a few minutes from the centre of Damascus and the heart of


the regime. It and other rebel held suburbs were besieged by government


forces. Food and medicine began to run out,


with residents reduced to boiling herbs. Despite pleas for help, the


UN managed to deliver aid only once in four years. The failure to break


the siege has angered many. Darayya was a symbol of everything that


revolutionary Syrians wanted for their country. It produced a


democratic local council, its self organised in a democracy. The


militias defending the town were under civilian control, unlike


elsewhere in Syria, they certainly were not jihadists, they were three


army fighters. It is a place which preserved its values of intelligent,


nonsectarian, revolutionary resistance. Today, unfortunately, it


is become a symbol of the slow annihilation of these democratic


hopes by the Assad regime and the collaboration of the rest of the


world. The regime accuses rebels of having helped people hostage in


Darayya, but others worried today's Benz will encourage Assad to


continue his siege tactics elsewhere. What lies ahead for


Darayya and the Syrian revolution? is our chief international


correspondent, Lyse Doucet. We saw rebels fleeing the town of


Darayya in that report, how much of a blow is this to the rebels? This


is a huge development, it is a symbol both in terms of the


symbolism but also the strategic value. For the Syrian government,


Darayya is the gateway to Damascus, there was no way they were going to


let Darayya fall, and that is what we have seen over the past four


years, every time we went to Damascus, we could see bombs topping


on Darayya. As the report said, the UN only managed once in four years


to distribute aid in the town. But the opposition, as we have been


hearing, it was a symbol of their resistance, and what was supposed to


be an icon of what the rebels wanted to achieve a cross Syria. And now


today it is a symbol of defeat. The Syrian government wants to send a


message to say to those who have been meeting in Geneva that they do


not need world powers to bring about peace in Syria, the Syrians will do


it themselves. But of course for the Syrian government, that is on its


own terms. Where you are, John Kerry, Sergei Lavrov have met today,


you have been at negotiations like this before, what sense are you


getting of any possible deal? John Kerry has always been described as


an optimist, his aides tell us that he is going to work to the very last


day of President Obama's presidency in January to try to make a


difference in Syria, to try to fight against the so-called Islamic State,


which tilt controls large swathes of Syrian territory, but also to try to


bring about a truce. More than 12 hours ago, when he went into talks


with Sergei Lavrov, some of the negotiators said they had made


progress over the past several weeks in trying to narrow the differences.


It will be up to the foreign ministers to close the gaps, but


when they came out, they said, we made progress, we narrowed the


difference. Sergei Lavrov talked about dots separating them, John


Kerry said there was greater clarity on what it would achieve to take a


truce, and also strengthened cooperation between Moscow and


Washington. But they are not there, and Kerry said, we do not want to


announce a deal unless we are sure there is a deal. The big question


is, when can they achieve that? As always - Lyse Doucet, thank you very


much. Earlier I spoke to a form of foreign policy adviser to the Obama


administrations, Vali Nasr sits on the foreign policy advisory board to


the State Department. I began by asking him how much power the US


Government has when it comes to the situation in Syria today. The US is


negotiating without any leveraged, and without any ability to offer


anything concrete. So it is at a disadvantage. It is understood that


it can play a very important role, but not without much more engagement


in Syria. So what is the incentive from Sergei Lavrov to offer any


compromise? So it doesn't serve Russian interests to be seen as the


ones who are rejecting talks. They are always ready to talk, they


always give the positive signal, they always try to encourage the


process going forward. But without any US ability to cajole and


persuade, it is not going to go very far. And I would also say that the


Russians are every bit as interested in engaging the US, because they


think it moves the US somewhat more towards the middle and towards them,


and away from the opposition and its backers in the region. So for them,


the diplomatic process is part of the management of the situation in


Syria to their own advantage. How much is the position of John Kerry,


facing talks with Sergei Lavrov, how much is it the fault of President


Obama being ineffective when it comes to Syria? I think to a good


extent, because Secretary Kerry is trying very hard to find a


diplomatic opening, but diplomacy only works if the other side takes


you seriously, that they think there is a cost to not engaging, or a cost


to not doing the right thing. Right now, the only pressure that comes on


Russia and on Iran is coming from extremists on the ground, which is


not very good news, and they know it, that ultimately the West would


be very worried about that. But there was no clear that the United


States may bomb targets or may get involved or may change the shape of


the conflict to their disadvantage. The US is simply trying to persuade


them to do the right thing, and that doesn't really go very far. Should


President Obama have pursued the idea of bombing in Syria in 2013?


Yes, I do think that diplomacy in a case like Syria would work if the


other side would have thought that the United States is willing and


able to get involved in a way that will change the facts on the ground


to their disadvantage. So they would be really incentivised to prevent


the United States from getting involved. If they think that the


United States is not going to get involved, there is no real downside


for them to continue the course that they are at. So the US lost


credibility, essentially, over the red line in Syria when it threatened


that it was going to use force and then it didn't, and since then it


hasn't even threatened to use force, and as a result the Russians and


Iranians do not see any threat to losing their position on the ground


in the war in Syria. So who could bring that threat? We are looking to


the next administration now, hypothetically, Hillary Clinton is


in power, a former Secretary of State, is she the person to bring


the threat? Is she the person to assert United States power when it


comes to negotiating over Syria? I think both the Russians and the


Iranians take her very seriously, they think that she is somebody who


believes in America's role in the world, its leadership role, and it


is willing to use force, and definitely even her track record at


the State Department on Syria, while she was in office, suggested that


she was much more willing to lend American power to support the


opposition, to provide no-fly space, to support forces on the ground


militarily in a way that would have changed the dynamics of fighting on


the ground. So I think, yes, but the Iranians and the Russians would


think that a Clinton Administration is likely to get a lot tougher, and


be willing to actually use hard power to force a change of opinion


in Moscow and Tehran. Does the United States have to accept that


Assad is going nowhere, he is firmly in place? I think it has accepted


that, although it cannot say it in public, because so early on it


associated itself with the need of Assad to leave power. The US has


done nothing other than rhetorical exhortation is about him leaving,


and the more powerful ices became, and the more American policy was


focused on Isis, the more the US sort of washed its hands of any


serious effort to remove Assad from power. Go by is Vali Nasr, thank you


for your time. Thank you. It's not uncommon for a new parent


to seek advice when it comes to raising a child, be it


from relatives, friends But a new book says


that books are not the answer. and allow our offspring


to develop naturally and forget


the traditional guidelines. People take classes,


visit online forums and read books. Doctor Spock's common-sense book


of baby and child care It was published in 1946


and since then it has As the extended family went


into decline in the 1950s, parenting guides became


increasingly in demand. Raising a child became a skill


you could learn, with dos and don'ts that promised


to help anxious new parents raise Fashions came and went,


parents bought books advising them to leave their child to cry


and books recommending sharing They read about the benefits


of pushing your children to succeed Alison Gopnik, a developmental


psychologist at Berkeley, 30 years of scientific research


into child development, she says, has revealed how


remarkably sensitive Babies are naturals at learning


and they learn by playing, Parenting is going the wrong


way, says Gopnik. We shouldn't be using prescriptive


techniques to raise our kids. Just provide a rich,


nurturing environment and children's Well, Professor Alison Gopnik


is here to explain all. Thank you for joining me. So, the


book, it looks at the carpenter and the gardener, explain the


difference? OK, the idea about being a parent that comes from these


parenting books is that you can take a child and you can shape them into


a particular kind of adult if you have the right kind of techniques


and expertise, the way a carpenter can take a piece of wood and turn


that into a chair. I think that is not the view that comes from the


science, when you look at the science, the core thing in this


book, a better picture is a picture of a gardener, a picture of


creating, a rich, stable environment in which all sorts of Flowers can


blame and also has a surprising variable unpredictable things can


happen and it is not that gardening is not hard work, it is, but the


picture is not that you are bringing about a particular result, you are


trying to present a framework and an environment in which children can


develop themselves. You mention the science, give me a brief example of


the science behind this. If you look even at the very youngest children,


they have incredibly powerful learning mechanisms and they learn


best by observing the people around them in tremendously subtle and


sophisticated ways and be going into the world and playing. Those kinds


of learning, especially for young children, below the age of five, are


much more powerful than any of the kinds of variants that parents


self-consciously try to do based on things like the parenting books. So


the children, we don't have to make children learn, we just have to let


them learn. Is this book focused on children in the younger years? The


formative years? A lot of the research has been on children in the


first years and they know a tremendous amount of learning and


development goes on in those first years but I think the general point


applies also to school age children and adolescents and even


undergraduates, that we have a model that somehow there is a set of


self-conscious techniques we can use and we can guarantee we will get a


particular outcome. And a better way of thinking about this is a


children, by their very evolutionary nature, are designed to pick up the


material that is in the culture around them, the values, and change


them and shape them and advise them and turn them into something new.


Our job is to provide a framework in which that revision and change and


shaping and discovery and variability and exploration can take


place, not to bring about a particular result. Part of the


nature of a parent is to give a child all the tools they can


possibly give to succeed in an ever increasingly competitive world. Why


shouldn't parents actively teach children? It is very difficult, I


imagine, to be able to step back and say, developed at your own pace? It


is ironic because in the post-industrial world that we live


in, the tools you really need to succeed aren't any particular set of


skills or knowledge, the tools you need are the ability to be in a new


situation and in a new environment and create something create


something new, something that has never been before. That is what a


place like Silicon Valley thrives on and it is interesting that in that


context people realise that play is the best mechanism for doing that.


The irony is that by trying so hard to teach children to succeed, we may


not actually be giving them the tools that they need to succeed in


the real change in future that they face. The thought that comes from


the science is from an evolutionary perspective, the thing that makes


human beings so special was our very long extended immature childhood and


it is a puzzle about why our baby is dependent on us for so very long,


why does it take so much energy? A whole village and not just parents


but grandparents and cousins and friends to just raise a child? And


the answer seems to be that that protective period of immaturity


gives children a chance both as individual children and as a


generation of children to come out exactly the


way we want, it would be self-defeating, we will be defeating


the whole point of childhood. You are suggesting to a lot of people


that they go against their instincts and don't parent and that parenting


is a concept we should not adopt any more? What should we be doing as


parents? I think our instincts are good. I think people's instincts are


to love their children, articulate the values that are important to


them, can be the things that we think are important, care for them,


no matter who they are, unconditional, those instincts are


the right instance, they are exactly the gardener instincts that will


give children a good environment and the parenting idea is not something


that is instinctive, it is something that developed very late in the 20th


century, it is pretty strange, this way of thinking about being a parent


compare to what we have done for most of human history. It is a


special thing that came with industrial schooling and a thing


that came with the fact that for the first time, people were


having children who had not actually experienced much raising of children


before but who had done things like work and go to school and therefore


thought that raising children are caring for children was a kind of


variant of working and going to school. That is not our natural


instinct, that is something that is quite unusual and historical, it is


only just becoming dominant in the last little while. Alison Gopnik,


thank you for joining us this evening.


It's a black joke in showbusiness that death is a great career move.


One person in a position to bear out the double-edged truth


of this is Clive James, the TV critic, memoirist,


He was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2010.


Soon after he went through a very public estrangement from his wife


after revelations about a long affair of his.


In wry observation, he says he was willing to accept


He spent much time binge-watching television series and used


the little energy he had to read and write.


Out of the crisis came some of James's most admired work.


With the help of groundbreaking drugs he is still here and is taking


what some might see as a morbid pleasure in what he calls


Stephen Smith went to see him at his home in Cambridge,


where he's just written a book about his passion for TV boxsets.


If I look like a heap of sh*t or a wreck, let's just


I'll write it into the show for you, I promise.


The methylamine keeps flowing, no matter what.


Breaking Bad, an acclaimed drama about a man who is buying himself


some time through drugs, has been entertaining Clive James,


a man who is buying himself some time through drugs.


I must say that, straight away, I have been useful, haven't I?


Because I have brought you into a new field.


The appeal is you can't stop watching.


It is like getting on a train and never stops.


I used to be in the TV criticism business years


ago and when I left it, the wind-up piece that


I wrote in my last week, I predicted that American TV


I made a slow start with Game of Thrones.


I didn't really want to start, actually, because it's got dragons.


And I saw five minutes of the first episode.


I didn't even want to see them hatch!


I was talked into it by my younger daughter.


And I found myself, against my expectations,


If you look at what the terrestrial channels here still provide,


recently we have had things like The Night Manager,


War and Peace, Peaky Blinders, even dear old Downton Abbey.


No, no, the ones you name, you just happened to chance upon


the shows that I think are nowhere beside the American ones.


What was the one that was set in Egypt?


I thought it was pretty close to being nonsense, that one.


And if I were still in the TV criticism business,


Are you to blame for reality television, Clive?


People sometimes say so and I am very flattered but


The truth is, I put the reality shows that were being made elsewhere


Some of them extremely improbable, like the Japanese game show,


If you are worried that there is such a thing as a television


producer who wants to roast people in a plastic box,


bomb them with pepper, dress them as bats and hang them


upside down with their pants full of cockroaches,


ask yourself what you would rather he was doing instead?


What happened next wasn't funny at all.


They all became believable and we started to do them.


I may have been a participant in the biggest deterioration


What an ironic end thought for such a high mind?


Some of the reality TV shows don't work.


One of the channels not long ago tried one about ski jumping.


Yeah, but that was the problem, wasn't it?


Because there are not that many actual celebrities.


You can't really send Helen Mirren over a cliff!


Now, you have described this time as your posthumous years.


Because I was really on the way out, then.


I picked the exact moment in history where preventative medicine


for the thing that I have got, which is leukaemia,


It has got a wonderful name, it's called ibrutinib.


And as I have said in my new book, it sounds like a piece of film


dialogue, doesn't it?


You can see Russell Crowe playing it!


It has got an overdeveloped neck, hasn't it?


The granddaughter of the Girl from Ipanema is the princess of that


The former prime-time host has had time to read his obituaries and,


with a book of poems, to write a few of them, too.


I was rather embarrassed because I did almost die in 2010


and 2011 and I think it was the second time,


Please don't take this the wrong way.


The only sensible thing to do would be...


You have become the Julian Assange of leukaemia, in a way, haven't you?


Everyone is waiting for the next development.


Everyone is waiting for Julian Assange to starve


I'm not so sure he was very wise to go in there.


Well, I suppose if one might be harsh and personal,


one might say you should have faced the music a bit earlier


You could try that but you're not going to get far.


You wrote that lovely poem about a maple tree in your garden.


All about, essentially, how it would outlive you.


I may have to write another poem about that but at the moment I am


A replacement tree, much smaller, but I like to think sturdier,


All week we've been giving you a taster of the BBC Proms


and tonight we've got a very special guest.


He performs at Proms in the Park in Hyde Park on Saturday 10th


September in the finale of the festival,


But here with us, singing us out with his current single


from his new album "50", is Rick Astley.


# Sometimes I just don't feel like waking up.


# Sometimes I feel like I am breaking up.


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