31/03/2017 Newsnight


31/03/2017

A BBC journalist returns to his family in Mosul. Plus Brexit and will we all be cyborgs anytime soon?


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Transcript


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We are with the BBC journalist as he visits his shattered home

:00:00.:00:08.

city for the first time since IS swept in.

:00:09.:00:22.

But the fight with IS continues in Western Mosul, where hundreds

:00:23.:00:26.

of thousands of civilians are caught between the murderous terrorists

:00:27.:00:28.

I will ask an Iraqi brigadier if many more civilian casualties in

:00:29.:00:41.

Mosul are inevitable. The talks which are about to start

:00:42.:00:52.

will be difficult, complex and sometimes even confrontational.

:00:53.:00:54.

On the day that Donald Tusk laid out the EU's negotiating guidelines,

:00:55.:00:57.

we look at the the road ahead for Brexit.

:00:58.:01:02.

And will we all by cyborgs any century soon?

:01:03.:01:05.

The answer is yes, if the tranhumanists have their way.

:01:06.:01:21.

IS - or Daesh's - tentacles have spread across the globe,

:01:22.:01:26.

but tonight we focus our attention on where it all began.

:01:27.:01:29.

Iraq's second city, Mosul, has, for the past three years,

:01:30.:01:33.

been under the vicious heel of IS, who visited unimaginable horror

:01:34.:01:36.

It was in Mosul where the IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi,

:01:37.:01:43.

declared an Islamic Caliphate, but now the Iraqi army,

:01:44.:01:45.

aided by coalition forces, have liberated much of the city

:01:46.:01:50.

and backed IS fighters into neighbourhoods

:01:51.:01:53.

in West Mosul's Old City, along with around

:01:54.:01:55.

There is little doubt IS will eventually be routed in Mosul,

:01:56.:02:06.

but the human cost of the liberation is high, with accusations that

:02:07.:02:09.

coalition strikes involving UK and US jets called in by the Iraqis

:02:10.:02:12.

In a moment we have a film from inside Mosul.

:02:13.:02:18.

But first, this primer from John Sweeney.

:02:19.:02:24.

To defeat this man, al-Baghdadi, are the Iraqi army and the Americans

:02:25.:02:30.

- and British backing them - killing too many innocent

:02:31.:02:33.

Last summer, Isis was in full control of Mosul.

:02:34.:02:39.

In October, the Iraqi army, mostly Shia, launched its offensive,

:02:40.:02:43.

trying to win back the country's second city, mostly Sunni.

:02:44.:02:48.

This battle is being fought along the fault line

:02:49.:02:50.

East Mosul fell relatively swiftly but Isis fighters,

:02:51.:02:58.

who have nowhere to go, were reportedly using human shields

:02:59.:03:01.

and have been shooting civilians in the back

:03:02.:03:03.

But West Mosul is believed to be home to 300,000 people.

:03:04.:03:16.

You cannot bomb or shell a packed city centre

:03:17.:03:18.

In the last six weeks, 700 civilians have been killed

:03:19.:03:25.

and the Pentagon says that within the last week it has dropped

:03:26.:03:28.

The Americans and the British are confident the rules

:03:29.:03:37.

of engagement have not been changed, but as casualties mount,

:03:38.:03:39.

is the human cost of this liberation becoming too high?

:03:40.:03:47.

BBC journalist Basheer Al Zaidi grew up in East Mosul -

:03:48.:03:51.

the part of the city that has been liberated from IS control.

:03:52.:03:54.

He returned recently to meet his old friends and see how

:03:55.:03:57.

This is his film from his shattered home city.

:03:58.:04:07.

It's been over ten years since my last visit.

:04:08.:04:13.

I grew up on these streets with my 11 brothers and sisters.

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It's a weird feeling, to come back here, after all these years.

:04:20.:04:24.

My hometown is now effectively split into two.

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I'm in the East, which was recaptured a few months ago,

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but just across the river, in the West, fighting continues.

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It's quite different, quite difficult, to be honest.

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Most of the buildings in the centre of the city are damaged.

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It's clear that anybody who still lives here doesn't feel

:05:05.:05:07.

This is me, on the left, with my oldest friend, Karim.

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Growing up, we were inseparable, but staying in touch whilst he lived

:05:18.:05:21.

I am here to pay him a surprise visit.

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For the first time, I meet his kids, and it soon becomes clear his family

:05:55.:05:58.

My best friend tells me he initially welcomed the idea

:05:59.:06:30.

It's a real shock, but his support was short lived.

:06:31.:07:25.

Karim's attitude towards IS is echoed across the city.

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There was deep anger aimed at the government before IS arrived.

:07:33.:07:41.

Protesters came out on the streets, and the army and the police force

:07:42.:07:45.

were accused of widespread corruption, sectarianism and abuse.

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The Sunni city had come to hate the practices

:07:51.:08:02.

By the time IS entered Mosul the anger had reached its peak.

:08:03.:08:14.

Today, the big challenge is to restore security without

:08:15.:08:16.

We have joined these agents from the Iraqi National Security Service.

:08:17.:08:24.

They are about to raid addresses all across Mosul.

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Their aim is to move out IS sleeper cells that have launched

:08:32.:08:34.

Three suspects are rounded up at this address,

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It seems in this area everyone is treated with suspicion.

:09:04.:09:22.

Today, the agents arrested six men, but in total they've detained over

:09:23.:09:27.

It's difficult for me to see the people of Mosul become used

:09:28.:09:36.

Today the army is all too aware of its past reputation.

:09:37.:09:46.

I am taking a tour of the city with a Field Marshal.

:09:47.:09:50.

He says the operation in Mosul has already restored

:09:51.:09:55.

A lot is riding on this new-found goodwill towards the army

:09:56.:10:31.

and police, but I wonder how long it will last.

:10:32.:10:39.

Many people across the city are too scared to talk openly

:10:40.:10:43.

One family who want to speak out are friends from my time at university.

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Omar and his mother have invited me for breakfast.

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Omar might be concerned about the future, but there is one

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We are on our way to pick up his two daughters from school.

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Like so many parents, he refused to allow IS to educate his children.

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So this is the girls' first week back at school,

:12:27.:12:29.

and they are pretty excited about it.

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This is overwhelming, this is really overwhelming,

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It's a special moment for their kids because normal life is maybe

:12:38.:12:46.

back again for them, kind of a quietness.

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It is something new for them, a new start.

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My friends Omar and Karim might be certain about what's ahead,

:12:54.:12:58.

but seeing these young girls back in school, I know there is at least

:12:59.:13:01.

And you can see a longer version of that film on Our World on the BBC

:13:02.:13:14.

News Channel at 9.30pm tomorrow night or Sunday.

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Now, one of the biggest problems for Iraqi commanders calling

:13:22.:13:23.

in coalition air strikes in Western Mosul -

:13:24.:13:25.

where the fighting is still raging - is described as "the most

:13:26.:13:28.

significant urban combat to take place since World War II"

:13:29.:13:30.

is that IS fighters are threaded in among hundreds of

:13:31.:13:33.

Last week, one strike is thought to have destroyed a building,

:13:34.:13:36.

The US military has launched an inquiry into what happened.

:13:37.:13:42.

Earlier this evening I spoke to Brigadier Tahseen Ibrahim

:13:43.:13:44.

in Baghdad, spokesman for the Iraqi military.

:13:45.:13:54.

The crisis in Mosul right now it is severe, Isis, they use civilians in

:13:55.:14:10.

the front of the fighters, the problem is, those fighters and

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terrorists do not care about any human material, they used to

:14:18.:14:19.

civilians in front of them, sometimes they put those civilians

:14:20.:14:26.

inside the houses and put one or two snipers on the roof as they start

:14:27.:14:34.

shooting our troops and we saw them, we have drones watching everything,

:14:35.:14:40.

they also saw them. There was a particular incident last week where

:14:41.:14:47.

there was a series of coalition air strikes in a particular

:14:48.:14:53.

neighbourhood and it is estimated that in that air strike,

:14:54.:14:55.

coincidental but that air strike, more than 100 people died. What is

:14:56.:15:01.

your response? There is a formal investigation. The coalition forces

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said that we were responsible for that and we hit that target, they

:15:10.:15:15.

did hit that target according to our request, the coalition forces took

:15:16.:15:19.

the request from the Iraqi troops and after that, they shot any

:15:20.:15:26.

target. The problem is, when the coalition forces set out in front,

:15:27.:15:34.

they said, we hit that neighbourhood and there is a target for Isis in

:15:35.:15:38.

that neighbourhood and we hit that but they never said, we hit that

:15:39.:15:46.

house, they said we hit or killed those civilians because they said we

:15:47.:15:53.

hate maybe one or two houses around that, they started to open a big

:15:54.:15:58.

investigation from their side. Also, the MoD and the Prime Minister and

:15:59.:16:06.

also my ministry, immediately opened a big investigation to give the

:16:07.:16:09.

result about that. Our responsibility is to take care of

:16:10.:16:16.

the civilians, everything is maybe during three days, and we clear that

:16:17.:16:22.

in front of the media. This neighbourhood was very tight with

:16:23.:16:25.

narrow streets, we know that civilians are there in their houses.

:16:26.:16:31.

It is perfectly possible that the air strike hit civilians?

:16:32.:16:36.

If you see and checked that neighbourhood, you would see how it

:16:37.:16:43.

is destroyed, the houses. You would think one or two bombs destroyed

:16:44.:16:49.

maybe ten or 15 houses. Amnesty International says the Iraqi army

:16:50.:16:53.

are telling people not to leave their houses in western Mosul. Is

:16:54.:17:00.

that true? All the houses on the right side, it's old and small.

:17:01.:17:07.

There are more people in those houses. For that, any air strike or

:17:08.:17:16.

any missiles or sometimes any car bombs, they take more damage, that

:17:17.:17:23.

neighbourhood. For that we also changed our rules of engagement for

:17:24.:17:28.

the humanitarian. Are your local commanders on the ground, they call

:17:29.:17:34.

in a coalition air strike becomes very quickly. Is it possible your

:17:35.:17:39.

commanders don't always know how many civilians are in the houses

:17:40.:17:46.

around about? That depends about our information, the intelligence of our

:17:47.:17:49.

information. We never shoot any houses. Without any information

:17:50.:17:58.

coming from our guys. Some guys they work between the Isis fighters.

:17:59.:18:05.

They're mainly Sunni population is concerned about the level of care

:18:06.:18:10.

that an army led by Shia is going to give them. It's important for the

:18:11.:18:16.

kind of piece that the city has, the way you win Mosul. Isis defeat. We

:18:17.:18:24.

don't need any inside Mosul. The people who live in Mosul, they were

:18:25.:18:28.

responsible, it's their responsibility to take care about

:18:29.:18:33.

their cities. No militia, no Shia inside the city of Mosul. They take

:18:34.:18:42.

care of city of Mosul police, Iraqi police, Iraqi army and, by the way,

:18:43.:18:48.

Iraqi army when deliberate Mosul, will leave outside Mosul. Brigadier

:18:49.:18:52.

Tahseen Ibrahim, thank you for joining us.

:18:53.:18:54.

It feels as if we have come through the opening thundering

:18:55.:18:57.

salvos of Brexit and we are now, really and truly,

:18:58.:18:59.

But what does the route to that exit actually look like?

:19:00.:19:03.

Today Donald Tusk issued guidelines at the EU summit in Malta,

:19:04.:19:06.

and there was an early change in the mood music, indications that

:19:07.:19:09.

after all, if sufficient progress is made towards the divorce,

:19:10.:19:11.

Both sides have started laying out their stalls.

:19:12.:19:29.

Today, Donald Tusk, the EU Council President,

:19:30.:19:31.

set out the EU 27's draft guidance on what happens now.

:19:32.:19:36.

The talks which are about to start will be difficult, complex

:19:37.:19:39.

The EU 27 does not and will not pursue a punitive approach.

:19:40.:19:53.

Brexit in itself is already punitive enough.

:19:54.:19:58.

The most significant part of Donald Tusk's statement today

:19:59.:20:01.

was about sequencing of the forthcoming talks.

:20:02.:20:06.

Specifically, he said we'd have to make significant headway

:20:07.:20:09.

on our divorce arrangements from the EU, before we are allowed

:20:10.:20:11.

to start talking about our future trading relationship with it.

:20:12.:20:14.

And that really matters, because the order in which we talk

:20:15.:20:17.

about these things is likely to change the outcome.

:20:18.:20:25.

This means, first of all, we could get an arrangements

:20:26.:20:28.

on rights for EU citizens in the UK, for example, very fast.

:20:29.:20:31.

They're also be principles around what will happen to EU 27 companies

:20:32.:20:35.

dealing with the UK, and the fate of the Irish border.

:20:36.:20:38.

It also means discussion of any exit bills will move up the ticket.

:20:39.:20:45.

An eminent Brussels think tank thinks the bill could be as low

:20:46.:20:50.

as low as ?27 billion, or as much as ?65 billion.

:20:51.:20:56.

As soon as the UK leaves, let's say it's the 1st of April 2019,

:20:57.:20:59.

legally the UK is not bound to pay anything.

:21:00.:21:01.

Up until then it is legally bound, and I am expecting the UK

:21:02.:21:05.

is going to honour this, but there have been things that have

:21:06.:21:08.

been preagreed upon, and the UK has agreed upon,

:21:09.:21:10.

for a number of bills that will come after that.

:21:11.:21:12.

The question is, how far can these bills extend?

:21:13.:21:16.

So payment is a political question about our willingness to pay

:21:17.:21:20.

Brussels for goodwill from the member states.

:21:21.:21:24.

The sequencing means it will be an early hurdle for us to clear.

:21:25.:21:29.

Sequencing, though, also affects the balance of power.

:21:30.:21:32.

The sequencing decision matters because if Britain could just do

:21:33.:21:35.

it all in its own way, it would put all the issues

:21:36.:21:37.

on the table and start linking them and doing deals across Europe,

:21:38.:21:41.

which match specific interests with different

:21:42.:21:44.

European states interests', and try and minimise

:21:45.:21:48.

But Britain hasn't got the luxury of doing that.

:21:49.:21:52.

It's launched the Article 50 process, the European Union

:21:53.:21:54.

now gets to determine, as it did this morning,

:21:55.:21:57.

that it wants real progress on the divorce agreement first.

:21:58.:22:03.

It's important to stress that the negotiation will quickly turn

:22:04.:22:05.

to very big questions, like what kind of country

:22:06.:22:07.

We'll probably end up keeping some EU regulation at the very least.

:22:08.:22:14.

The thing to remember is in the modern and trading world,

:22:15.:22:16.

rules and regulations matter far more than tariffs.

:22:17.:22:19.

So at the moment, we have the same rules and regulations as every

:22:20.:22:22.

to checkout the border, we can just assume that our

:22:23.:22:27.

However, after we leave, we're going to have a choice to make.

:22:28.:22:39.

Do we continue to converge with European standards

:22:40.:22:40.

now I'm going forwards, as to facilitate trade between both

:22:41.:22:43.

us and the EU, or do we diverged, in the knowledge that divergences

:22:44.:22:46.

will lead to more checks at ports, increase compliance issues

:22:47.:22:48.

There are some very thorny issues that, until now, have received

:22:49.:22:53.

Like the specification that we need to agree with Spain on Gibraltar.

:22:54.:22:57.

A really major problem, though, is time.

:22:58.:23:02.

I think in two years Britain can expect to have a clear

:23:03.:23:05.

It's probably going to have to be generous in that agreement,

:23:06.:23:09.

in order to have willing European partners putting in place transition

:23:10.:23:14.

arrangements, and talking about a subsequent trade deal.

:23:15.:23:18.

I think the final arrangement, it took Switzerland 14 years

:23:19.:23:21.

to do its arrangements with the European Union.

:23:22.:23:23.

There is strong political pressure to pay nothing

:23:24.:23:31.

and accept few EU rules, so trust no one who says they can

:23:32.:23:34.

Now, people have been trying to battle the human condition for

:23:35.:23:43.

thousands of years. Since 1200BC when legend has it

:23:44.:23:49.

that the Sumarian King, Gilgamesh, travelled to the edge of the world

:23:50.:23:52.

in search of immortality. It's the stuff of literature,

:23:53.:23:54.

sci fi movies, and scientific research but might it

:23:55.:23:57.

become a reality? Could we really use technology

:23:58.:23:58.

to control the future The use of technology to prolong

:23:59.:24:02.

and enhance life has a name. It's called Transhumanism and I'll

:24:03.:24:06.

be talking to the human author of a book on the "transhumanism

:24:07.:24:09.

movement" in a moment. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him,

:24:10.:24:15.

we have the technology. We have the capability to make

:24:16.:24:17.

the world's first bionic man. Writers and cinematographers have

:24:18.:24:27.

been obsessed with creating life, transcending death, and now,

:24:28.:24:29.

more than ever, merging In his book, Mark O'Connell

:24:30.:24:31.

examines transhumanism. He examines a future where we no

:24:32.:24:41.

longer agree to live under the fear of ageing,

:24:42.:24:43.

infirmity and death. Where technological

:24:44.:24:50.

enhancements augment our powers Where we don't accept

:24:51.:24:52.

the limitations of evolution, and choose our bodily form

:24:53.:24:57.

and function, and where we are no longer limited to the confines

:24:58.:25:00.

of our carbon-based biology. What was once the stuff

:25:01.:25:04.

of sci-fi and legend, is becoming more believable

:25:05.:25:07.

with every technological advance. In times of three parent babies,

:25:08.:25:12.

bionic arms and facial transplants, is it really sensible to rule out

:25:13.:25:17.

a future where our minds are uploaded to a cloud

:25:18.:25:21.

and we finally conquered death? Mark O'Connell has travelled widely

:25:22.:25:26.

to meet aspiring transhumanists for his new book on the subject

:25:27.:25:30.

and he joins me now. It has been an eternal obsession,

:25:31.:25:42.

why is that? It goes back to, as you say, at least as far as Gilgamesh. I

:25:43.:25:50.

think transhumanism comes from the same place as many religions, this

:25:51.:25:54.

dissatisfaction we are in these fleshy human body and we die. We

:25:55.:25:58.

say, why is that? It's difficult to accept the fact we die. We've always

:25:59.:26:03.

been uncomfortable with it, understandably. Do you think in the

:26:04.:26:07.

next century or two it will be enough to be humans or will humans

:26:08.:26:12.

be second-class citizens? This is one of the ideas of the

:26:13.:26:15.

transhumanist movement, the idea we have to merge with technology or

:26:16.:26:20.

become obsolete. I think part of this thinking of the movement comes

:26:21.:26:26.

from, I think, and over identification with machines. This

:26:27.:26:29.

sort of idea that we are already machines and we have to become more

:26:30.:26:33.

sophisticated machines. Now it's been taken one stage further,

:26:34.:26:39.

because in a way fiction and sci-fi lead to a lot of scientific

:26:40.:26:42.

research. There are now organisations trying to cheat

:26:43.:26:50.

mortality, were you surprised to the extent of that? Yes, I knew this

:26:51.:26:53.

stuff was there and then I investigated it. I kept seeing Peter

:26:54.:26:58.

Teal again and again, he's involved in a lot of this stuff. And this

:26:59.:27:06.

announcement during the week. What kind of experimentation did you come

:27:07.:27:10.

across? I spent some time with a guy called Randall:. His entire life's

:27:11.:27:16.

work has been trying to figure out how to upload minds to machines.

:27:17.:27:20.

We're talking about sort of mapping the neurons, mapping the brain to

:27:21.:27:26.

such a degree of detail and granularity that it can be

:27:27.:27:30.

transferred to another substrate. The idea is this body, although this

:27:31.:27:35.

is how we live under what we live in right now, our minds can

:27:36.:27:38.

theoretically at least be transferred to a different substrate

:27:39.:27:41.

and we could live as robots or disembodied beings. Calling our

:27:42.:27:50.

minds down from the clouds. That sounds like what you are writing

:27:51.:27:55.

about in your book, this idea that we can... How would our brains

:27:56.:27:59.

continue to develop and grow? They would just be uploaded every so

:28:00.:28:04.

often? The idea is we would merge with artificial intelligence. Reach

:28:05.:28:09.

another evolutionary leap by merging with super intelligent AI. The other

:28:10.:28:15.

one I thought, another one that is quite advanced is bio hacking. I

:28:16.:28:22.

didn't realise to the extent people did their own bio hacking. This is

:28:23.:28:27.

an element of the transhumanist movement, practical transhumanists.

:28:28.:28:32.

They're doing this stuff already. Designing technologies for

:28:33.:28:35.

implanting under the skin. I spent a while Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with

:28:36.:28:43.

some guys who called some self cyborgs and build large implants and

:28:44.:28:48.

put them in themselves. These implants that go in... They can

:28:49.:28:54.

trigger an extreme movement or do something? The capabilities right

:28:55.:28:59.

now are fairly primitive, in that they would allow them to do things

:29:00.:29:06.

like cents magnetic North or open a door of a laboratory. It's stuff you

:29:07.:29:10.

could quite easily do with technology, that you wouldn't have

:29:11.:29:14.

to have surgery for, but it's a gesture towards the post-human

:29:15.:29:20.

future, the cyborg future. At the moment it's a rich man's game and

:29:21.:29:24.

you wonder if it does develop, if there are progressions that do mean

:29:25.:29:26.

that people can live in different ways and live longer, then it's

:29:27.:29:31.

going to be a societal imbalance in favour of the people who can afford

:29:32.:29:35.

to do it. This is one of the major dimensions of my book. I see

:29:36.:29:40.

transhumanism as a very extreme intensification of tendencies that

:29:41.:29:44.

are already there in terms of capitalism, like wealth and

:29:45.:29:48.

equality. If you look at the research into life extension

:29:49.:29:52.

technologies come at the people who are going to benefit from it are

:29:53.:29:56.

clearly the super-rich. So you're looking at some pretty radical

:29:57.:30:01.

socioeconomic implications. You are also looking at the idea we won't

:30:02.:30:06.

die when we are meant to die. There are people that think they could

:30:07.:30:09.

live for thousands of years. We will have an overpopulation of the

:30:10.:30:13.

planet, more than the moment. Not if we are all uploaded to the cloud. We

:30:14.:30:19.

won't all be physically present. In the future, is it something you'd be

:30:20.:30:23.

interested in, uploaded to the cloud? Not right now, maybe at 85!

:30:24.:30:26.

Thank you very much indeed. That is about all we have time for

:30:27.:30:29.

this evening. But before we go, commercial space

:30:30.:30:32.

companies have long wanted to make space travel cheap enough for anyone

:30:33.:30:35.

with a few tens of millions of dollars hanging around,

:30:36.:30:38.

and that's pretty difficult if you have to build a whole

:30:39.:30:41.

new rocket every time SpaceX have just made a big

:30:42.:30:43.

step forward to that. Here's the first ever

:30:44.:30:47.

relaunch and landing Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five,

:30:48.:30:49.

four, three two, one... Hello. Improvements on the way for

:30:50.:32:13.

Sunday but starting the weekend with sunshine and April showers. Perhaps

:32:14.:32:17.

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