In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark. Stories include new US sanctions on Iran and an interview with Margrethe Vestager.
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President Trump has put Iran on notice after its
missile test with limited sanctions, so who is testing who?
And is this the beginning of the unravelling of President Obama's
I'll be speaking to a former Deputy Prime Minister of Iran.
We are able to manipulate YouTube videos in real-time.
Here we demonstrate our method in a live
Is new technology, which can put the wrong words in your mouth,
a giant leap for fake news and alternative facts?
How do we sort out the truth, half-truth, and lies?
Africa is no longer the colonial subject.
President Trump today announced his first sanctions
against Iran over its ballistic missile test on Sunday.
The new president has been a long-time critic
Trump tweeted that Iran is playing with fire.
They don't appreciate how "kind" President Obama was to them.
The US National Security Advisor said the administration
was putting Iran on notice, and then the Treasury department
announced sanctions against thirteen people and a dozen "entities".
Iran's Foreign Minister responded, also on Twitter, saying "Iran
unmoved by threats as we derive security from our people.
We will never initiate war, but we can only reply
Is this a harbinger of much worse to come like a handbrake turn on Iran
policy? In a sense it is unfinished business from the last months of the
Obama administration, these missiles, over 1000 mile range, not
very accurate, the general view of intelligence experts is that they
are being tested as nuclear delivery systems, that is counter to United
Nations agreements. Another problem is that some people connected with
these, the firing of warships by rebels in recent months, another
issue is that basically apart from one counterstrike against those
batteries President Obama kicked the can down the road. So emphasis
tonight from US officials is that this doesn't mean the end of the
nuclear agreement, it is a separate issue but we have to do something.
The Trump rhetoric is heavy but these are not, as you say,
heavy-duty sanctions. Well, here's the problem which is that President
Trump and his national security adviser Mike Flynn are very hard
line on Iran. So these aspects of sanctions about these two separate
issues which you might see is business as usual for the National
Security system in Washington are coming at a time when President
Trump has said all options are on the table now for Iran, Mike Flynn
has said they are on notice. The dangers of misperception, the
Iranians have said that they will carry on testing and President Trump
feeling he has drawn a red line, remember how he criticised President
Obama for not enforcing the red line of Assyria, he may feel he has to
defend it, the scope for sliding into conflict now is considerable, I
would say. Thank you very much. Mohsen Sazegara was the Iranians
Deputy Prime Minister in his late dash in the late 80s but became
disillusioned with the resume and is now a political activist based in
Washington, DC. These 25 persons and institutions, I
expected it because of an escalation of tensions between these countries.
It started from the White House three nights ago by Flynn and Trump,
both of them. Do you sense the Iranians pushing a little, nibbling
away at Donald Trump with this test on Sunday? I think that right now,
the top officials in Iran, the leader, I mean, and the
revolutionary guard, they are very cautious and they prefer not to
escalate the tension, and more than that, I think, they are waiting for
the results of the President's trip to Moscow to see what President
Putin can do for them, because they expect that President Putin can
reduce the tensions between Washington and Iran. It is not
necessarily to the advantage of Tehran to have Putin and Trump
close, is it? It is not to the benefit of one side, and to the
other side, if there are new sanctions against Putin and Russia,
if these are passed by the Congress, it shows that Putin can't solve his
own problem. So both sides are not good signals for Iran. Let's look
separately at the sanctions and also the visa restrictions, two separate
things. Your reaction to the Visa restrictions? Visa restrictions
definitely harms a big group of Iranians who live in the USA and
their families, relatives, travel, and helps the regime of Iran for its
own propaganda and mobilises people to support the regime. But the
sanctions against the Revolutionary guard, or the leader, and the
institutions, most of them are corrupt in Iran as well, I think
this is something else that the people of Iran may like. It is
interesting what you say because there is a strong entrepreneurial
community of American Iranians who do not like what is happening with
this visa. It looks as if President Trump is prepared to put up with
that in order to pursue this heavy policy on visas. He doesn't actually
care about the impact that will have on the attitudes of American
Iranians. By the way I am definitely against such type of restrictions
for Iranian citizens, or any sanction which harms all the people
of Iran. But I support the sanctions which are targeted and are smart
against the top officials and the people who abuse and violate human
rights. Is it your sense that President Trump is ad hoc or just
sounding like a hawk. -- hawk, or just sounding like a hawk? I feel
that sometimes he is unstable and I cannot rely on his stances, but the
guys that he has picked for his administration, they are hawks.
Especially with respect to Iran, they are too tough. Mohsen Sazegara,
thank you for joining us tonight. Should we trust our leaders to tell
the truth, and is there something materially different about truth
in the technological age? How do we gauge what's true,
half true, or false? In the past month, new phrases have
entered the political lexicon, in particular, "fake news"
and "alternative facts". But what if there's another,
explosive ingredient in this febrile mix - the ability,
literally, to manipulate the words Here's our technology
editor, David Grossman. How do we know that
something happened? That we are not being
fooled by fakes? Some TV trickery is
pretty familiar to us. This technology, green screen
or colour separation overlay, has been around in some
form for decades. It allows us to convincingly give
real people backdrops of virtual However, we are about to cross
the threshold into a new world where it is possible to convincingly
recreate known real people - famous people like politicians -
and have them say or do more We're a few years, but not many
years, away from a situation now where we can not only create
a pretty sort of realistic environment for people,
but we can also do things like manipulate their voices
and manipulate their facial expressions and modulate
their speech in real-time. Here we demonstrate our
method in a live setup. This is the Face 2 Face
Project, a collaboration between Stanford University,
the Max Planck Institute and the University
of Erlangen-Nuremberg. As we can see, we are able
to generate a realistic They can take the facial expressions
of one person and match them onto the features
of another in real-time. The results are already
amazing and only going It seems like they are being
developed out with a specific ethical framework that helped them
to actually assess before technologies are developed,
the actual implications The perfect environments for fake
news, for a widespread This hugely damaging image
of John Kerry supposedly sharing a stage with Vietnam protester
Jane Fonda was actually Now the company that
invented Photoshop, Adobe, has unveiled a new,
potentially game changing At this event in November,
Adobe demonstrated Voco, which, loaded with 20 minutes
of real sample voice, can then make someone
say anything just by typing it in. Adobe said the auyo audio will be
watermarked so that fakes are easy to spot but that may not
stop them spreading. Often the things we see as fake news
or false stories are actually very easily debunked
in a matter of seconds. But it doesn't necessarily stop
them from spreading, partly because I think
the mechanisms now are so quick in terms of how virality is created
online but also because people But is there a flip side
to this technology? If it makes the fake seem real,
what does it do to our perception Will it allow those
intent on deceiving us to dismiss cold, solid, hard video
evidence as mere trickery? It becomes a term that can be used
by anyone who wants to call out something that they don't
like, and spread doubt And when you have a high level
of distrust in stories, and you have a high level
of distrust in institutions, which we do at the moment,
then a term like fake news becomes almost meaningless, because it's
deployed in so many ways which actually describe
things that are perfectly We've grown more sophisticated
in our ability to discern However, accelerating technological
change means we'll need to quickly refine how we weigh the evidence
of our senses. We're joined now by Claire Wardle,
Research Director at First Draft News, which aims
to improve the standard of online reporting and the philosopher,
Simon Blackburn, who wrote Truth - Good evening to you both in London
and New York. Simon, is truth just about the most important thing? It
is very important in our day-to-day lives, our sensors are adapted to
telling us how the world around us is and if we don't know how the
world around us is we will not behave well in it. Give an example
of how senses are adapted. I'm pretty good at knowing of the bus is
bearing down on me and pretty good at not crossing the road if I can
see one bearing down on me. I would be much worse in life if I could not
see that was a bus bearing down on me so I need the truth about that
kind of thing and that is true of all kinds of ways I behave in my
environment. I need to know whether the food I am looking at is
poisonous, I need to be able to rely on various deliveries of sense,
sound, and of course trust in things that people tell me. But it was ever
thus. Is there a difference now as technology change things?
Communication has exploded so we get communications from very different
parts of the world, not just from our neighbours, our parents. Big
communications from media outlets, fake media outlets and so one.
Sifting what we are told, whether it is trustworthy, becomes much harder.
We cannot go behind the scenes. I cannot see what the truth is about
what Bush is saying if someone else shows me some bizarre things. In a
way, you make it your mission not to be a single sister but to find a way
in which we can engage the truth. Do you think the technology that has
just been explained in that film will make a huge difference? People
look at people's bases and think they can trust their eyes, trust
what they see, and it is false. Absolutely. In the same way that
photo editing software and video editing software is on a laptop,
anyone in the world can create visuals. Because of technology they
move at huge speed across the world. Our brains are adapted to trust
visuals more. As technology becomes easier and cheaper that is why we
have at this explosion of false information. I suppose the more
people there are checking to find out it is false. How do you get at
the truth? We are having lots of people talking about news literacy
projects and educating people to stop and check. We're looking at our
phones and scrolling quickly. Although we might know to be
critical, sometimes things that are too good to be true, it is very easy
to click share. We do not stop and check when we should do. Politicians
particularly through the centuries have all tried to manipulate the
truth one way or another at different times. In a sense, is it
not easy because you can sift through and make decisions yourself?
Is it not easier to get information to the access? As human beings, we
want information to make us feel better. We are in a polarised world.
You sit in groups of people you'd think are the same as you and you
want information to make you feel better. It is easier to double check
and Google something that does not necessarily mean we are doing that.
What will it do to us? I find it destabilising sometimes if I do not
know what is true and what is false. It is difficult to predict. If
technologies do proliferate in the way described and they become very
popular and everyone is using them, I should have thought one possible
reaction, my own reaction for example, would be in a sense to
retreat. That is very bad for democracy. If I say I am not going
to believe anything about President Trump, I do not believe anything
about Theresa May, that means I am retreating from my historic duties
as a citizen, which is to inform myself about policy and what these
people are offering. The advent of global communication could actually
signal a retreat. It could indeed. It is a rational response to a world
in which nothing is trustworthy. If you cannot trust anything, do not
believe anything. Do not act. That basis for action, does that come
from early education? Had you get a basis for action? Our senses tell us
how the world is. We are very good at using them put up relying on
other people, that is something you learn when they are trustworthy and
when they are not. Unless you can get some experience in both sides of
it, you're not going to be a fully performing, fully active adult. Does
that fill you with dread? I have to say, it is a pretty troubling time
over here in the US. We are seeing people retreat and say they are not
looking at the news. People are already starting to say I am
confused, worried and scared and I do worry about what that means. Is
this now about the loss of control? There are so much of people's lives
which are not in their control. It is another worrying aspect of modern
life. I think certainly people feel overwhelmed by technology does it
comes to them even when they are not ready for it. You see an update on
your phone about something you did not expect. People feel out of
control and overwhelmed. There is a huge proliferation. There used to be
big blocks of media you could do to four different things. You knew what
they did. There is a preferential of all sorts of websites. A lot of them
are in high resolution, high technology sites. They look very
ill. How you meant to know if they are real or false? You're not meant
to know. That is the point. There are very systematic campaign is now
to ensure people see the same messages. Over time we are seeing
networks of information and systematic campaign to try to
persuade people. It is very sophisticated. As much as we try to
teach people to be critical, a lot of these things are really easy to
fullback on. The people who benefit are dictators, people who manipulate
the news for their own ends. Absolutely. We can see, even within
Europe and the elections that are coming up with France, Germany and
the Netherlands without huge concerns about systematic campaigns
quit using social networks to change public opinion. That is definitely
what is on the cards. How do you counter that? Thank God for the BBC.
You looked at gold standard. Touch wood, we have the Times, the BBC.
ITV and our colleagues. Now, of course, how long that will remain
and whether indeed the BBC will, for example, remain Independent in the
way that Donald Trump has ensured virtually no State Department can be
Independent in the USA. That kind of dictatorship, that kind of change in
Democratic politics is very worrying. Then we really do lose our
morals. She told EU leaders she wanted
to build a "strong partnership" with the EU and pledged the UK
would be a "good friend This went down well
with Chancellor Merkel. Better than her relationship
with Donald Trump, After publishing the Brexit White
Paper this week, we have a decent idea of what the government wants
to get out if its negotiation. But what about those
on the other side? Or policy editor, Chris Cook, has
been speaking to the EU Competition Trying to find out why we still know
so little. I think it is important
that we leave some things for the people who will be
in the room. The EU negotiator, the UK,
and negotiating team because they will have to put
together a new puzzle because some of the obvious signals from the UK
Government is that they want a new relationship, not
the Norwegian, not the Swiss, Therefore I am very careful not
to prejudge things because I think the people in the room,
they will have a task which is sufficiently difficult
without the rest of us trying to... You have an insight
into what Britain is planning which lots of people don't have
because you've actually seen the undertakings they gave
to Nissan and you've judged Well, of course we stay in touch
with the UK Government on issues of this kind,
just as well with a number The letter in itself,
we don't have concerns of state You don't think that while we're EU
members at the British Government is committing funds to Nissan
which wouldn't be available That would be a very
broad thing to answer. In the letter and the debates
we have no concerns. Is there any public
spending involved in this? Well, I think, eventually,
probably you will know. But, for us, having seen
the letter, we have no concern That is as well as we stay in touch
with the number of other Is your understanding
still that the commission's intention is that we'll have
like the divorce proceeding and then in Brexit terms and then
a trade negotiation? That is the most simple approach.
The figure out where you stand and how you move on foot of it is a
complex thing to be divorced and having some kind of partnership at
the same time. Isn't part of the problem with this that the two
things are not going to lie one to the other? Nothing will be decided
until everything is decided. There will be things we want in the
subsequent relationship but you might want to serve early. It seems
very hard to disentangle these two things. These negotiations will be
extremely complicated. Maybe you get something in between. To some
degree, you can say this will happen to be solved also in a future
relationship. This is definitely something where we will have a clean
divide commits this can be done now. I think all of these details, they
will have to be solved in the room. Not because discussions around the
room. But because the responsibility of getting it right is exactly for
the people who will be asked to do the deal.
Time now for Viewsnight, a new feature of Newsnight.
All week we've been bringing you new thoughts
and ideas from a range of opinionated people.
You might agree with them, disagree, or think again.
Tonight, the British Senegalese activist and business
The widely respected head of the American organisation
Human Rights Watch, Ken Roth, expressed his surprise this
week at the appointment of the new deputy head of the CIA.
As you might have noticed, we follow Trump's moves closely on this
programme, and at the risk of breaking BBC rules on bias, we can
Mr Roth was concerned that the new deputy had previously
been connected to running a CIA black site for torture.
We were more concerned at the double identity of those
Emily has issued a kind of denial, but whatever
the truth of the allegations, we here at Newsnight fully support
Before we go, you may have read in the papers
Storms in the Med have left us without fancy foreign
imports like lettuce, broccoli and aubergines.
This sceptred isle has weathered fiercer storms than this.
There was once even a time when, yes, we had no bananas.
We've ransacked the archive to find some advice
So, here are some useful pointers when attempting
to cook that decent, honest, British vegetable that never
goes out of season or fashion - the humble cabbage.
Sally's cabbage has been cooked in little water with the lid on,
retaining the full value of the vegetable.
Sally carefully pours the water into a cup.
Jane, on the other hand, has drowned her cabbage in water and
apart from losing the goodness, that cabbage is a wet soggy mess with no
Now, never put so much water in the cabbage again, it makes it
But you'll do it quite all right tomorrow.
Good evening. Still some unpleasant weather out there if you are
travelling. It could well be icy ones rain, sleet and snow meanders
northwards. More rain in the South later. Let's take a
In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Kirsty Wark. Stories include new US sanctions on Iran, an interview with Margrethe Vestager, and the new video tech that could make fake news easier. Also, should the UK invest more in Africa?