04/04/2017 Newsnight


04/04/2017

With Kirsty Wark. Did Assad use chemical weapons? Plus, Ken Livingstone is in the studio, superheroes and diversity and whether people will become slaves to the machine.


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Transcript


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The finger of blame is pointed at Bashir Al Assad for a suspected

:00:00.:00:00.

chemical weapons attack on the Syrian opposition town

:00:00.:00:00.

in Idlib killing more than 50 people.

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With Russia on his side and The White House stating that

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defeating IS, not regime change in Syria, is their aim,

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we'll ask Obama's chemical weapons expert - who can stop Assad?

:00:15.:00:21.

Also tonight, Ken Livingstone is suspended from holding office

:00:22.:00:23.

in the Labour Party for two years for stating that

:00:24.:00:25.

What's he got to say about that and his punnishment tonight?

:00:26.:00:33.

And, are fans of Marvel Comic books resistant to change?

:00:34.:00:40.

It's 1960s Spiderman versus 2011 Spiderman.

:00:41.:00:41.

Western governments seem to be in no doubt that President Bashir Al Assad

:00:42.:01:01.

is responsible for what appears to be a deadly chemical weapons

:01:02.:01:03.

attack in Idlib province which has killed dozens of people including

:01:04.:01:06.

at least eleven children and injured hundreds more.

:01:07.:01:11.

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said if proved

:01:12.:01:14.

The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting tomorrow

:01:15.:01:20.

If Assad is the culprit, something the Syrian regime denies,

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then it is surely evidence that he believes he can act

:01:26.:01:28.

with impunity not least because Russia is his ally,

:01:29.:01:32.

and the White House has recently stated its priority is not removing

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But today The White House pointed the finger of blame at Barak Obama

:01:36.:01:42.

saying that "these heinous actions are a consequence of

:01:43.:01:44.

the last administration's weakness and irresolution.

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President Obama said in 2012 he would establish a red line

:01:49.:01:50.

against the use of chemical weapons and then he did nothing."

:01:51.:01:56.

Before we discuss the next move, if any against Assad,

:01:57.:01:58.

here's John Sweeney on the dreadful events in Idlib.

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And a word of warning: John's film contains some extremely distressing

:02:01.:02:03.

To use chemical weapons is to break the rules of war.

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Did a war crime happen morning in Syria?

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To come to a judgment on that, this is some of

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Much of it filmed by local activists.

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People reported the sound of warplanes shortly after dawn.

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In a village, 30 miles south of Idlib.

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The prime suspect is sarin, a nerve agent, 20 times more

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They foam at the mouth, their faces go bright red

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Surgeon David Knott got in touch with a Syrian

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hospital in Idlib today, 30 miles north of where the attack took

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The Syrian doctor treated ten patients who were struggling to

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We are looking at some photographs that were sent to me

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this morning from this town in Idlib, which shows eight dead

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children some of them are frothing at the mouth, some of them are in

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I can see one boy whose arms are obviously flexed

:03:38.:03:41.

and extended and that is the position that he died in.

:03:42.:03:44.

What actually happens is that when the

:03:45.:03:46.

muscles work, they work in 1 degree and then they do not relax.

:03:47.:03:49.

When you take a deep breath in, you then

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The muscle goes into paralysis, and it stays like

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Are there any of these boys here, did they have frothing at the

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One of them in the middle, you can see, his nose, he is

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obviously cyanose, because he is sort

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definite for at the mouth there and you know, it is a sign of

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bronchospasm that he has been unable to take a deep breath in.

:04:19.:04:20.

This is another photograph from today's

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attack, showing foaming at the mouth.

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One of the things that the nerve agents do is cause massive

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So you get this massive production of

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surfactant, then people are trying to breathe through it, it is a bit

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like trying to breathe through soapy water.

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So you get all of these bubbles formed as they tried to in hell and

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exhale and this is why the foam appears at the mouth. So who did

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this? The Assad regime has denied responsibility. Its supporters

:05:02.:05:06.

suggesting that a rebel chemical factory exploded. Is this likely? I

:05:07.:05:13.

think it is very unlikely. At this stage, much requires answering. We

:05:14.:05:16.

have no idea where the chemicals came from. Syria has signed a treaty

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forbidding the use of chemical weapons. Syria signed this treaty

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and it ought to be respecting the law, but the evidence suggests it is

:05:28.:05:32.

not, so somebody has to be accountable. And after this latest

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incident which if you like is a step change up again from the use of

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chlorine, this suggests that the regime perhaps is feeling emboldened

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in some way that it can use these things with impunity and that should

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not be allowed. The regime has previous four using sarin. The

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village is in territory held by rebels that oppose Assad but not

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Islamic State. Their capital is almost 200 miles away. In 2013, the

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regime used her nerve agent south-east of Damascus killing

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hundreds. How likely is the prospect of an effective international

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action? There has been a recent shift in Syria among activists. Some

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countries like Turkey, they are busy with their own domestic issues,

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other countries like Saudi Arabia are more involved in other countries

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like Yemen. When it comes to international players, there has

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been a shift, the latest one was announced by the US recently when

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they said that Assad is not a priority and changing the regime is

:06:47.:06:51.

not a priority. That made Assad more comfortable. Last week the Trump

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Administration seemed to suggest that regime change was now off the

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table. I think the status and the longer term status of President

:07:03.:07:06.

Assad will be decided by the Syrian people. Faced with compelling

:07:07.:07:13.

evidence of a war crime, local people did their best. They poured

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water on the nerve agent victims. It won't have done much good, but still

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more than the efforts of the international community. John

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Swinney reporting there. Well, we did ask the US

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Administration for an interview Earlier, I interviewed Gary Samore,

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who was President Obama's expert I asked him what he made

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of today's pictures. As best as I can tell

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from the symptoms of the victims, it looks very much like a sarin gas

:07:42.:07:44.

attack, so either they have retained some sarin gas,

:07:45.:07:47.

did not fully declare it and allow it to be destroyed or they have

:07:48.:07:52.

produced some fresh sarin gas since the disarmament agreement

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was implemented in 2014. Now, the White House says that this

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attack is a kind of direct infringement of Barack Obama's red

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line policy, that he instituted and Well it is certainly true that

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President Obama was not prepared to use direct US military force

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in order to hasten the overthrow And it is the survival of the Assad

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regime which leads to these And now the fighting is in Idlib

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province and I think we can expect to see more instances of chemical

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weapons use as the Syrian regime begins to retake

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territory from rebels that So essentially, Bashar al-Assad

:08:47.:08:48.

can act with impunity and you have the White House saying

:08:49.:08:57.

that regime change for them is not on the agenda in Syria,

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their main target is IS. So, there is no stopping

:09:01.:09:07.

Bashar al-Assad, is there? I mean, the Trump Administration

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tried to pass a sanctions resolution in February of this year,

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to punish the Assad government for using chemical weapons,

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but Russia and China vetoed it. So I would expect a pretty similar

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scenario to play out. There will be probably a UN

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investigation of some kind, most likely concluding

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that the Syrian government has once again used chemical weapons,

:09:34.:09:35.

the US and its European allies will try to pass a sanctions

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resolution and it will be blocked The Russians are saying

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that they knew nothing about this. Do you think that actually

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there will come a point where the Kremlin thinks that Assad

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is just too much trouble At this point I think the Russians

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are committed to a peace settlement that would allow Assad to retain

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control for the time being. The Russians might quietly exert

:10:04.:10:08.

pressure to limit the use of chemical weapons,

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because I think it is an embarrassment to Moscow,

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but I think it is pretty clear that Assad must feel that he has license

:10:15.:10:16.

to make limited use of chemical weapons on the battlefield,

:10:17.:10:20.

without much fear of the Russians abandoning him or the US or other

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countries taking military But when these absolutely dreadful

:10:24.:10:26.

pictures are beamed around the world, is there anyone,

:10:27.:10:33.

any way that Assad will ever So there may come a day at some

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point in the future where Assad and people around him are held

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accountable, but at least in the near term, I think

:10:45.:10:46.

it is quite unlikely. The US under Trump, frankly as under

:10:47.:10:49.

Obama are focusing on the battle against Islamic State,

:10:50.:10:53.

to remove them from Raqqa and as I said, the UN is paralysed

:10:54.:10:55.

because of divisions among the permanent members and nobody

:10:56.:11:01.

else is prepared to take action. In fact, the trend seems to be

:11:02.:11:06.

in the direction of not supporting the Syrian rebels,

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including Turkey and others, they I think for the time being,

:11:10.:11:11.

the Assad government Joining me now from Brussels, where

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a conference on the reconstruction of Syria has in fact been taking

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place today, is Assaad Al Achi, a Syrian civil society activist

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and Executive Director of an NGO which tries to promote democratic

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change in the country. Good evening to you. Good evening.

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Who do you think all is the responsibility for what happened?

:11:51.:11:54.

There is only one side in this conflict that has sarin gas and has

:11:55.:11:58.

used it previously and that is the Assad regime, so there is no doubt

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to us, the chemical attack this morning was the responsibility of

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the Assad regime. The US Department of State has issued a statement

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tonight, the Secretary of State says, as a self-proclaimed guarantor

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to this ceasefire negotiated, Russia and Iran also bear a great moral

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responsibility for these deaths. Do you think there is any chance that

:12:23.:12:26.

the Americans might begin to take a more proactive position? Reading the

:12:27.:12:33.

different statements that came from the White House and from the

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Secretary of State, there were strong words of condemnation, but

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that is as far as it got. Even the issue of accountability was not

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addressed properly, so we are slightly disappointed that there was

:12:47.:12:53.

not a strong commitment to holding whomever committed this atrocious

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attack this morning accountable and to ending making sure that these

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attacks did not happen again and I am not sure that playing on the

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morality of Russia or Iran will lead anywhere. You might have heard Gary

:13:07.:13:10.

St.Moritz they're saying that there is really no one who can stop Bashar

:13:11.:13:16.

al-Assad. I would believe, as leaders of the free world, I am sure

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that there is some way they can find a mechanism to stop someone who is

:13:21.:13:27.

perpetrating not only war crimes but also crimes against humanity. The UN

:13:28.:13:33.

Security Council resolution gives them that mechanism and a different

:13:34.:13:42.

resolution, states that if the Syrian government ever uses chemical

:13:43.:13:47.

weapons again, chapter seven sanctions can be imposed

:13:48.:13:50.

automatically, so the only thing we are asking is for the full

:13:51.:13:55.

implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions. You, as a

:13:56.:13:59.

member of the moderate opposition in Syria, you find that you are

:14:00.:14:02.

increasingly being marginalised from the picture, you do not have any

:14:03.:14:09.

purchase? Well, we are still the voice of the victims and the voice

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of the people and that is what we are trying to elevate, protecting

:14:13.:14:16.

the people of Syria from all sides, all the people of Syria, remains our

:14:17.:14:22.

priority and we will do whatever it takes to make sure that that

:14:23.:14:25.

protection will be provided at one point. Thank you for joining us from

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Brussels tonight. In what increasingly appears to be

:14:30.:14:32.

one of the longest sagas of all time, former Mayor

:14:33.:14:34.

of London Ken Livingstone was suspended from holding office

:14:35.:14:37.

within the Labour Party tonight for a further year, after claiming

:14:38.:14:39.

that the Nazi leader supported A meeting of the party's

:14:40.:14:42.

National Consitutional Committee found that he had breached

:14:43.:14:46.

the party's rules - he had engaged in conduct

:14:47.:14:50.

that was detrimental to the party. Many expected him to be

:14:51.:14:53.

kicked out entirely. Our political editor, Nick Watt,

:14:54.:14:55.

is here with the details. As she was saying, Labour's national

:14:56.:15:07.

constitutional committee after long the earnings have made this decision

:15:08.:15:11.

that Ken Livingstone broke Labour Party rules and recharges and he has

:15:12.:15:14.

been suspended from standing for public office as a Labour candidate

:15:15.:15:19.

and standing for office within the party. This is a two year suspension

:15:20.:15:25.

but because he has already faced administrative suspension for a

:15:26.:15:30.

year, this will last until the end of April 2018. Ken Livingstone had

:15:31.:15:35.

expected he would be expelled altogether from the Labour Party,

:15:36.:15:39.

but he is facing the lesser sanction, a suspension from holding

:15:40.:15:42.

office, and he suggested this evening that his barrister Michael

:15:43.:15:46.

Mansfield QC had successfully argued that he had not made anti-Semitic

:15:47.:15:52.

remarks. What is the background to this? It dates back to a BBC radio

:15:53.:15:58.

interview to Vanessa Feltz last year, in which he said the Labour MP

:15:59.:16:04.

Naz Shah had been over the top, but not anti-Semitic, when she shared a

:16:05.:16:08.

Facebook page suggesting that Israel should be moved to the US, and she

:16:09.:16:14.

had written, problem solved. Naz Shah shared this post before she

:16:15.:16:20.

became an MP in 2015. In that interview with Vanessa Feltz, Ken

:16:21.:16:24.

Livingstone went on to suggest that Adolf Hitler had supported Zionism

:16:25.:16:30.

because of the home for an agreement of 1933, although he did not say

:16:31.:16:36.

that in that interview, between the Zionist Federation of Germany and

:16:37.:16:41.

the Nazi Germany. And this allowed thousands of German Jews to migrate

:16:42.:16:45.

to the British mandate of Palestine. And it appears that the central

:16:46.:16:51.

defence of Mr Livingstone today was that he was not saying in that

:16:52.:16:57.

interview that Hitler was a Zionist, he was saying that Hitler supported

:16:58.:17:03.

Zionism, and he says those do not amount to anti-Semitic remarks.

:17:04.:17:04.

Thank you very much. Well, Ken Livingstone

:17:05.:17:06.

is here with me. Also here is Labour MP

:17:07.:17:08.

Wes Streeting, who has been critical of both Mr Livingstone

:17:09.:17:11.

and the Labour Party's Good evening, both. Ken Livingstone,

:17:12.:17:19.

you thought you were going to be expelled and you have had a lucky

:17:20.:17:23.

escape. I think that the Labour Party's barrister and lawyer were

:17:24.:17:28.

probably saying to them, if you expelled Ken Livingstone, he goes to

:17:29.:17:32.

judicial review and you have no chance of winning. You can have all

:17:33.:17:36.

sorts of arguments, but I did not say that Hitler was a Zionist.

:17:37.:17:42.

Labour MPs like John Mann said I said Hitler was Zionist, you had Wes

:17:43.:17:48.

Streeting saying I had a problem with anti-Semitism. On the Jewish

:17:49.:17:54.

Chronicle, it said that I said Jews were like novices, this is

:17:55.:17:57.

outrageous. I know that fake news is the big thing. What is it feel like

:17:58.:18:03.

to be in the same party as Ken Livingstone the night, Wes

:18:04.:18:07.

Streeting? We said the Labour Party will take a zero tolerance approach

:18:08.:18:11.

to anti-Semitism and today was an opportunity to demonstrate the live

:18:12.:18:15.

up to that promise and we have blown it, because the Labour Party's

:18:16.:18:19.

process has conceded that Ken has brought the Labour Party into

:18:20.:18:24.

disrepute. They're in mind that the Labour MP he was defending, the

:18:25.:18:28.

remarks he was defending, were accepted by Naz Shah as

:18:29.:18:32.

anti-Semitic. She is a new model of how to respond when you make remarks

:18:33.:18:37.

where you do not understand the impact of your words and you

:18:38.:18:40.

apologise for them come learn from it. She has undertaken to become a

:18:41.:18:46.

leading campaigner in the fight against anti-Semitism. Ken,

:18:47.:18:51.

uninvited, decided to wade into the debate and defend the remarks that

:18:52.:18:55.

she accepted were anti-Semitic, and has brought the Labour Party into

:18:56.:18:59.

disrepute. And he has since displayed a bizarre fascination with

:19:00.:19:04.

a tiny part of World War II history. There is a website counting the

:19:05.:19:08.

number of days since Ken last mentioned Hitler and it comes up on

:19:09.:19:15.

the Labour Party does not take people like Ken seriously. You are

:19:16.:19:21.

no stranger to controversy, Ken Livingstone, and it has been in the

:19:22.:19:26.

past water off a dog's back. You are tainted now and you will not come

:19:27.:19:30.

back in any meaningful way to the Labour Party in any form of office

:19:31.:19:34.

Comedy Works act? When I lost a Boris Johnson in 2012, I made clear

:19:35.:19:38.

that broadly that was the end of my career. I campaign for the Labour

:19:39.:19:43.

Party, but my wife has become a teacher and I am a househusband. Is

:19:44.:19:48.

that it's the end of your political career? I did not look for a seat at

:19:49.:19:53.

the last election and I did not ask for Ed Miliband but in the House of

:19:54.:19:57.

Lords. You have been supportive of Jeremy Corbyn and apparently you

:19:58.:20:02.

have been damaging on the doorstep so you are damaging Jeremy Corbyn. I

:20:03.:20:07.

am not damaging, when I was suspended, I could not walk down the

:20:08.:20:11.

street 400 saying, virtually the first person said, I am a Jewish

:20:12.:20:17.

woman, do not -- do they not read the history? The problem is if you

:20:18.:20:23.

look at the chairman of the board of British Jews giving evidence to the

:20:24.:20:26.

House of Commons, he said for Ken Livingstone to say Hitler was a

:20:27.:20:31.

Zionist was deeply offensive. There was a series of lies and smears but

:20:32.:20:37.

if I said Hitler was a Zionist, it would not just apologise, Edward

:20:38.:20:40.

basque if this was a sign of dementia. He loathed and feared Jews

:20:41.:20:49.

but he did a deal with the Zionists. If they had not moved to Palestine,

:20:50.:20:53.

they would have died in the gas chambers with us. Would this appear

:20:54.:20:57.

to be the end of the matter or not? We are meant to be launching

:20:58.:21:01.

Labour's campaign for local elections today and instead of

:21:02.:21:05.

talking about the big issues, we are talking about Ken's bizarre

:21:06.:21:09.

fascination with the 1930s and it is damaging the Labour Party and its

:21:10.:21:13.

reputation. Ken has form going back to his second term as Mayor of

:21:14.:21:16.

London, whether it was the offensive remarks made to a Jewish reporter at

:21:17.:21:25.

the Evening Standard or suggesting Jews were not voting Labour any more

:21:26.:21:28.

because they had voted -- because they had become wealthy. He has for

:21:29.:21:31.

making remarks that offend the Jewish community and ten years

:21:32.:21:35.

later, his name comes up on the doorstep of my constituency because

:21:36.:21:38.

he brings the Labour Party into disrepute. If you believe the post

:21:39.:21:43.

on your website, why did you as great a campaign for you in the

:21:44.:21:47.

general election? We were walking round your constituency together.

:21:48.:21:50.

You did not come anywhere near my constituency during the general

:21:51.:21:54.

election and you would never be welcome in my constituency. When I

:21:55.:21:58.

stood as a council candidate in 2010, you campaigned for me then,

:21:59.:22:02.

but you are not welcome in my constituency. He would not be

:22:03.:22:05.

welcomed by Jewish voters in my constituency and I will not be drawn

:22:06.:22:08.

into this vendetta you have against me. The point I am making is that

:22:09.:22:14.

your poor judgment, your crass remarks and a lack of apology brings

:22:15.:22:17.

the Labour Party into disrepute. It is losing is votes hand over fist,

:22:18.:22:27.

it is morally wrong. You continue to go ahead unrepentant. 39 Labour MPs

:22:28.:22:31.

that date were tweeting I was anti-Semitic and I should be

:22:32.:22:36.

suspended, I said Hitler was a map -- a Zionist. You created a storm.

:22:37.:22:44.

Can I dost ask, do you accept that you had poor judgment over the way

:22:45.:22:47.

you dealt with this, in the sense you may talk about the fact Jewish

:22:48.:22:52.

people support you, but you have offended a lot of people? Do you

:22:53.:22:56.

accept that and apologise question but if anybody is upset, of course I

:22:57.:23:00.

am sorry. I am not going to apologise for something I did not

:23:01.:23:04.

say, I did not say Hitler was a Zionist. He said he supported

:23:05.:23:09.

Zionism in the 1930s, do you apologise for saying that? I have a

:23:10.:23:14.

Jewish newspaper with an article confirming what I said was true. You

:23:15.:23:18.

have offended certain members of the Jewish community, do you apologise

:23:19.:23:23.

for the offence you have caused? If anybody is upset, I am sorry, but

:23:24.:23:26.

check what I said because I cannot tell you the number of Jewish people

:23:27.:23:30.

who said, we know what you said was true. People are not stupid, we

:23:31.:23:35.

heard what you said and you are damaging the Labour Party. Thank you

:23:36.:23:36.

very much. No-one is ever alone

:23:37.:23:39.

on the internet. You may be familiar with the idea

:23:40.:23:40.

that tech companies are watching your every click,

:23:41.:23:43.

or that criminal hackers are probing every chance

:23:44.:23:45.

to empty your bank account. Let us add another nefarious cyber

:23:46.:23:47.

sprite to your nightmares - the bot. At the moment, this is a harmless

:23:48.:23:50.

little slave that helps us do drudge work, but perhaps it could be

:23:51.:23:53.

the early precursor of a terrifying new world, where the relationship

:23:54.:23:56.

is reversed and humans become A study of how bots interact

:23:57.:23:59.

with each other has thrown up some Here's our technology

:24:00.:24:09.

editor, David Grossman. And off goes the aluminium tail,

:24:10.:24:13.

and that is absolutely crucial! Robots battling for supremacy

:24:14.:24:19.

makes a great spectacle. But on the internet,

:24:20.:24:22.

other less dramatic battles are taking place between not

:24:23.:24:29.

robots, but bots. These bots don't have a physical

:24:30.:24:31.

form, just a few hundreds These bots don't have a physical

:24:32.:24:42.

form, just a few hundred They are digital minions,

:24:43.:24:45.

set to work to do a specific task. They're used extensively

:24:46.:24:49.

on Wikipedia to do There is a lot of deadly boring work

:24:50.:24:51.

that we don't want to do. You don't want to check

:24:52.:24:55.

the spelling of every word, the URL or the links of every page,

:24:56.:24:57.

say, in Wikipedia. You don't want to make sure that

:24:58.:25:00.

everything is properly formatted, that the copyright of that

:25:01.:25:03.

picture is correct. That someone has updated one

:25:04.:25:19.

page for another page That is really the work

:25:20.:25:22.

of an enslaved individual, if it had to be done by you or me,

:25:23.:25:25.

so I'm very happy to delegate that to little things called

:25:26.:25:30.

bots that do it for me, But all is not peace

:25:31.:25:32.

and harmony in bot-land. At the Oxford Internet Institute,

:25:33.:25:35.

they've studied how these bots interact and found they often come

:25:36.:25:37.

into conflict, escalating petty disputes into all-out wars

:25:38.:25:40.

that can last years. Particularly on Wikipedia,

:25:41.:25:42.

we did not expect to see lots of conflicts and fights

:25:43.:25:44.

between bots because bots are designed based on the same

:25:45.:25:46.

technology, and are designed based And they have the same goal,

:25:47.:25:49.

and that's to improve So all the ingredients

:25:50.:25:53.

are there to have a very peaceful However, what we observed -

:25:54.:25:58.

and it was the most striking and the most surprising result

:25:59.:26:04.

for us - that we see Bots go to war over trivial pedantry

:26:05.:26:06.

like, what is the correct name A pair of Wikipedia bots -

:26:07.:26:17.

one called Darkness Bot, the other called XQ Bot -

:26:18.:26:23.

went to war over whether this is called Aston Villa

:26:24.:26:26.

or Aston Villa Football Club. Now, outside some high-stakes

:26:27.:26:30.

pub-quiz hell, most humans probably would agree to differ,

:26:31.:26:32.

but a bot can't back down. And the pair did and re-did

:26:33.:26:37.

and undid each other's edits thousands of times over

:26:38.:26:40.

a period of years. Personally, the most surprising

:26:41.:26:51.

thing was to realise that one of the American founding fathers,

:26:52.:26:53.

James Madison, was wrong. He thought that we need law

:26:54.:26:59.

because humans are not all angels. Even when bots are friendly

:27:00.:27:05.

and want to build together, they still need rules,

:27:06.:27:12.

to be able to cooperate. So we realised - or,

:27:13.:27:17.

at least, I realised - that without that kind

:27:18.:27:19.

of infrastructure, there's sort of an infra-ethical perspective, er,

:27:20.:27:23.

even the best of all good wills At the moment, this is just simple

:27:24.:27:26.

bots going to war over petty Wikipedia edits,

:27:27.:27:31.

but do they hint at One academic believes it may

:27:32.:27:33.

already be too late. In AI, we've unleashed

:27:34.:27:42.

a Darwinian replicator, like a digital DNA, that can be

:27:43.:27:44.

copied, can be varied and selections made from those variations,

:27:45.:27:47.

all independently of us. Lots of us tend to think

:27:48.:27:52.

of ourselves as, you know, we humans made all this machinery,

:27:53.:27:55.

therefore we're in control of it. But that's simply not true,

:27:56.:27:58.

once you've let loose this It's all getting on

:27:59.:28:01.

for its own purposes. You know, we're not any longer

:28:02.:28:07.

the creators, controllers, Just as a few fluffy rabbits

:28:08.:28:12.

released on a paradise island may seem harmless enough at first,

:28:13.:28:19.

could this new replicator rapidly overtake our ability

:28:20.:28:22.

to control it, ending up We might end up like

:28:23.:28:24.

the mitochondria in our bodies. You know, they were free-living

:28:25.:28:31.

bacteria that got absorbed into other bacteria and became sort

:28:32.:28:34.

of energy-producing slaves, and they gave up most

:28:35.:28:38.

of their own activities and just live inside other cells

:28:39.:28:40.

and produce energy for them. It's a scary analogy but,

:28:41.:28:43.

potentially, if we don't come to understand things better,

:28:44.:28:46.

the whole thing will explode so much that we will

:28:47.:28:49.

literally be doing that - just producing machinery and energy

:28:50.:28:55.

for the cyber world, which will be evolving way out

:28:56.:28:58.

of our knowledge. For humans, the idea

:28:59.:29:02.

of bots arguing is amusing. These chat bots, designed to talk

:29:03.:29:12.

intelligently to humans, were set up to talk to each other

:29:13.:29:15.

by researchers at They rapidly began

:29:16.:29:17.

squabbling about religion Not everything could

:29:18.:29:21.

also be something. For example, not everything

:29:22.:29:30.

could be half of something, which is still something,

:29:31.:29:33.

and therefore not nothing. So laugh, by all means,

:29:34.:29:37.

but remember, they are getting smarter and more powerful,

:29:38.:29:43.

as we get more dependent How do you like your

:29:44.:29:45.

comic book superhero? Are you stuck in the 1960s

:29:46.:30:04.

with Peter Parker, the amazing - and white - Spiderman,

:30:05.:30:07.

or are you in the 2010s with black, hispanic Miles Morales,

:30:08.:30:10.

the Ultimate Spider Man? At the weekend, Marvel Comics' sales

:30:11.:30:11.

boss seemed to admit that when it came to the company's push

:30:12.:30:15.

to reimagine their A List of comic characters with a modern ethnic

:30:16.:30:17.

and gender diversity, the buying public were

:30:18.:30:19.

turning up their noses. And this is a problem that punches

:30:20.:30:24.

far above its weight, because today's hit Marvel comic

:30:25.:30:27.

is next decade's blockbuster movie. Superheroes have enjoyed

:30:28.:30:29.

their greatest popularity Escapism sells, so Marvel owned

:30:30.:30:38.

by Disney has worked hard at changing the men behind the mask

:30:39.:30:43.

to appeal to millennial fans In 2011, the mixed-race teenager

:30:44.:30:46.

Miles Morales became Spiderman and in 2014,

:30:47.:30:55.

Jane Foster became the latest Thor, and Kamala Khan,

:30:56.:30:57.

a Pakistani American In 2016, 16-year-old Riri Williams,

:30:58.:30:58.

took over the Iron Man But are these reboots driving away

:30:59.:31:10.

the core comic book fans? This weekend, a senior Marvel

:31:11.:31:19.

executive David Gabriel appeared We saw the sales of any

:31:20.:31:21.

character that was diverse, any character that was new,

:31:22.:31:28.

our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel

:31:29.:31:30.

character, people were turning

:31:31.:31:32.

their nose up against. He rode back after the furore,

:31:33.:31:36.

but the damage was done. In 2014, nine out of ten bestsellers

:31:37.:31:39.

were Marvel superhero comics, but last year, after the major

:31:40.:31:45.

character revamp, Marvel had just three in the top ten,

:31:46.:31:47.

so clearly something is going on. Perhaps this is just

:31:48.:31:55.

about sheer comic numbers, between October 2015 and February

:31:56.:31:57.

this year, Marvel launched an astonishing 104 new titles,

:31:58.:32:00.

so perhaps it is not surprising that But for Marvel, the real money

:32:01.:32:03.

is not in comics any more, Their Luke Cage series on Netflix

:32:04.:32:15.

is pretty much the only example of diversity

:32:16.:32:20.

in the Marvel live-action stable. The question is, will the movies

:32:21.:32:22.

catch up with the comics We asked Marvel for a statement

:32:23.:32:24.

and while they stated that Mr Gabriel had been taken out

:32:25.:32:34.

of context, they did not give Joining me from New York

:32:35.:32:37.

is comic book critic and freelance writer,

:32:38.:32:41.

J A Micheline. Benny Potter, who hosts a popular

:32:42.:32:45.

YouTube channel on comic books, Good evening. Do you think that

:32:46.:33:00.

Marvel does have a problem with diversity? Marvel does have a

:33:01.:33:06.

problem with diversity but not the problem they think they have. The

:33:07.:33:10.

problem they have is literally that they cannot commit to the audience

:33:11.:33:13.

they are trying to build, even in the rhetoric that you seek Mr

:33:14.:33:17.

Gabriel is using in terms of defining them as the core audience

:33:18.:33:21.

or group, that suggest that the people they are marketing to are

:33:22.:33:25.

actually pretty much straight white men but if you are trying to

:33:26.:33:30.

actually expand your audience and bring them different heroes,

:33:31.:33:37.

different people with people of different genders and ethnic groups

:33:38.:33:39.

but you're still marketing to the same people, then you're not really

:33:40.:33:42.

trying. Benny Potter would you accept that Marvel is not really

:33:43.:33:46.

trying to do diversity in a wave that is meaningful and actually

:33:47.:33:51.

comes into the core of the comics? Benny. I actually agree with that. A

:33:52.:34:01.

lot of the new diverse stories in my opinion are really incredible but

:34:02.:34:04.

they just kind of rushed out trying to catch on to the diversity think

:34:05.:34:08.

instead of easing the characters into the old core fan base and I

:34:09.:34:12.

feel they are just backing out too early. Now that they have done it,

:34:13.:34:16.

they are not letting it go all the way through. What about the first

:34:17.:34:22.

Muslim superhero to have her own name? Do you think that she will be

:34:23.:34:25.

a big seller? It does not appear to be so. She is one of the more

:34:26.:34:34.

popular characters, Kamala Khan. Some of her stories are some of the

:34:35.:34:38.

best ones that have been put out in recent years. In that case, what do

:34:39.:34:44.

you think the right strategy should be, given that, by and large, it is

:34:45.:34:48.

not about the comics, it is about the movies to come. They have to bed

:34:49.:34:52.

these things down and what is the best way to go about it? The best

:34:53.:34:56.

way to go about it is to actually commit to building a broader

:34:57.:34:59.

audience and that would be breaking things down to the very basic level.

:35:00.:35:05.

For example, the way the comics are distributed to something called the

:35:06.:35:08.

direct market and the way that works is basically that the only things

:35:09.:35:11.

that count towards sales are the things that matter are the comics

:35:12.:35:14.

that are pre-ordered three months in advance. To you or to a random

:35:15.:35:19.

person who does not know anything about comics, they will say to

:35:20.:35:24.

themselves, I saw the Black Panther movie, how do I get that book? If

:35:25.:35:27.

they went to Waterstones they could buy it trade but would not matter,

:35:28.:35:31.

the only way for it to matter is for them to go to a comic book shop and

:35:32.:35:35.

pre-order the book three months in advance and then their purchase

:35:36.:35:40.

counts. All of these complications pretty much mean that new readers

:35:41.:35:44.

are alienated from the process in terms of having their voices heard

:35:45.:35:48.

and it requires them to go through a kind of system that is traditionally

:35:49.:35:53.

alienating traditional white males to begin with. Talking about a more

:35:54.:35:59.

traditional view, does it matter if people prefer Captain America, does

:36:00.:36:02.

that matter if they are buying comics in sufficient numbers? I am

:36:03.:36:09.

sorry, I miss the question. On the question of what you might say is

:36:10.:36:13.

the traditional old-fashioned white male audience, does it matter if

:36:14.:36:17.

what they want is captain America if Captain America creates big sales?

:36:18.:36:25.

It does not really matter if they want Captain America, I don't think

:36:26.:36:29.

I understand that as a question. Are you saying the people want to go out

:36:30.:36:33.

and buy it? If you have a white Captain America and people buy that,

:36:34.:36:37.

that does not matter, it is not just about diversity, it is about what

:36:38.:36:43.

sells Marvel Comics? Yes, and that is part of the issue, the books need

:36:44.:36:48.

to sell and in my opinion, they did not ease the audience into a lot of

:36:49.:36:51.

these characters, instead of going through a period with the legacy

:36:52.:36:55.

characters train these new individuals, they just tried to be

:36:56.:37:01.

like, the comic book is coming out in three months. The thing is that

:37:02.:37:10.

Marvel Comics launched 104 comics last year and one quarter failed, it

:37:11.:37:13.

is all about the sale models and of the cell model does not work, then

:37:14.:37:17.

you're not going to have this variety of characters, are you? It

:37:18.:37:23.

is a question of what you mean by if the sales are not working. Charles

:37:24.:37:27.

Paul Hoffman did some great journalism in terms of looking at

:37:28.:37:32.

the actual numbers and he basically found that even out of the top ten

:37:33.:37:36.

selling Marvel Comics, only three of them are what you would actually

:37:37.:37:40.

consider diversity which is really just characters that are

:37:41.:37:44.

marginalised people. The rest of them are your standard white male

:37:45.:37:50.

characters and those are the ones that have seen the lowest sales in

:37:51.:37:53.

terms of the biggest drops. I did both very much indeed.

:37:54.:37:54.

Now, Viewsnight - our regular chance to voice

:37:55.:37:56.

often difficult and - to some - unpalatable thoughts.

:37:57.:37:58.

Tonight, the Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari argues that

:37:59.:38:00.

Fearmongers are more dangerous than terrorists.

:38:01.:38:16.

Since 2000, terrorists have killed fewer than

:38:17.:38:17.

During the same period, obesity-related diseases killed

:38:18.:38:23.

So why do we fear terrorists more than we fear fried bacon?

:38:24.:38:30.

Terrorists stage a frightening spectacle of violence that

:38:31.:38:37.

captures our imagination and turns it against us.

:38:38.:38:42.

Terrorists kill a handful of people and cause millions

:38:43.:38:45.

In order to calm these fears, governments react with a show

:38:46.:38:52.

of security, orchestrating immense displays of force, such

:38:53.:38:54.

as the persecution of entire populations or the invasion

:38:55.:38:58.

Usually it is this overreaction to terrorism that threatens

:38:59.:39:05.

the peace of the world, more than the terrorists themselves.

:39:06.:39:11.

Terrorists are like a fly that tries to destroy a china shop.

:39:12.:39:15.

The fly is so weak, it cannot move even a single teacup.

:39:16.:39:20.

So the fly finds a bull, gets inside its ear and starts buzzing.

:39:21.:39:25.

The bull goes wild, with anger and fear and destroys

:39:26.:39:27.

This is what happened in the Middle East after 9/11.

:39:28.:39:34.

Islamic fundamentalists incited the United States to destroy

:39:35.:39:36.

Now, they flourish in the wreckage and there is no lack of short

:39:37.:39:44.

The success or failure of terrorism really depends on us.

:39:45.:39:51.

If we allow the terrorists to capture our imagination and then

:39:52.:39:55.

react to our own fears, terrorism will succeed.

:39:56.:39:57.

If we free our imagination from the terrorists and react

:39:58.:39:59.

in a balanced and cool way, terrorism will fail.

:40:00.:40:13.

A lot of flashing images follow now, as we leave you at the University

:40:14.:40:17.

of Tokyo, where they know a thing or two about cameras and projectors.

:40:18.:40:20.

A group there have built an image projector that can do

:40:21.:40:23.

a thousand frames per second, with ultra high speed tracking

:40:24.:40:25.

What on earth does that matter or even mean?

:40:26.:40:32.

Well perhaps a demonstration from Japan's Ayabambi dancers will help.

:40:33.:40:34.

Remember, this system is tracking the dancers' faces and projecting

:40:35.:40:37.

images onto them live and in real life - it's not a special effect.

:40:38.:40:40.

Hello there. It looks like it will be a chilly start for southernmost

:40:41.:41:57.

counties but at least we will see some sunshine. Make the most of it,

:41:58.:42:02.

it will cloud over from the north. There will be very little

:42:03.:42:04.

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