13/04/2017 Newsnight


13/04/2017

Analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis. The US drops biggest-ever conventional bomb, and people who are Just About Managing are defined.


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10,000 kilograms of bomb, the biggest no-nuke ever deployed,

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dropped onto the tunnels used by Isis in Afghanistan.

:00:11.:00:12.

Is America trying to tell us something?

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We are so proud of our military and it was another successful event.

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Uh, everybody knows exactly what happened, so what

:00:22.:00:28.

The US military made the decision to use it.

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We'll ask if it's a sign of a military more willing

:00:36.:00:37.

We've been hearing for ages about the squeezed middles

:00:38.:00:45.

and the just about managing, but now the Government is helpfully

:00:46.:00:48.

We now know that Enceladus has almost all of the ingredients

:00:49.:01:01.

to support life as we know it on Earth.

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But should we even be looking for extra-terrestrials?

:01:06.:01:17.

GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB.

:01:18.:01:22.

And it was dropped in Afghanistan earlier today, aimed at the tunnels

:01:23.:01:27.

used by the Afghan branch of so-called Islamic State.

:01:28.:01:31.

The Americans have never used a conventional weapon

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this powerful in combat, and given everything that has been

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happening in US foreign policy, it is no wonder that everybody

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Now, don't fall for some of the hyperbole - it's huge,

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but it would take more than a thousand of these

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But does it tell us something about the willingness of the US

:01:52.:01:55.

military to flex its muscle in the world?

:01:56.:01:57.

I'm joined by our diplomatic editor Mark Urban.

:01:58.:02:03.

As a bomb, is this a big threshold through which the world has passed

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today? I'm not sure. The RAF's Grand Slam that was dropped in World War

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II was just slightly below this in size. These sort of super bombs are

:02:18.:02:22.

clearly meant to have some kind of propaganda or psychological

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operations effect. But if you go back in Afghanistan to the early

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days of American operations after 9/11 in 2001-2, they dropped several

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examples of a thing called the BLU82 daisy cutter which is only slightly

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smaller than this. So this mega- bomb theory has been tried before.

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You could argue that they were doing it in 2001 and they are still doing

:02:45.:02:49.

it, so the effect can't be that great. Do you think it is political

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signalling, or is it a political tactic or that someone has tried? It

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was characterised today by the White House as a thing that came from the

:03:01.:03:06.

military. It was mentioned that the commander in Afghanistan wanted this

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to deal with this cave system. And I think it is an iPod with other

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things we have been seeing. You have a military which under President

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Obama, there were often chafing at the bit and would be complaining to

:03:20.:03:22.

us that they felt restricted in what they could do. Now under President

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Trump, far less so. It seems general Matias is fully empowered to take

:03:29.:03:32.

all kinds of decisions and we are seeing the consequences of that in

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many different places. The announcement was certainly

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headline-grabbing - the use of a huge munition to attack

:03:37.:03:37.

a cave complex in Afghanistan. The so-called mother of all bombs

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is so big that it drops from the tail ramp of a Hercules

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transport aircraft. When it detonates, it creates

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a one-mile-radius shock wave. The White House characterised it

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as a military decision. The United States takes the fight

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against Isis very seriously. In order to defeat the group,

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we must deny them operational The United States took

:04:08.:04:10.

all precautions necessary to prevent civilian casualties and collateral

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damage as a result of the operation. A little later, President Trump

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was asked about it. We're very, very proud

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of our military. Just like we're proud

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of the folks in this room, we are so proud of our military,

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and it was another successful event. Everybody knows

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exactly what happened. What I do is,

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I authorise my military. We have the greatest military

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in the world, and they have So we have given them

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total authorisation. The new administration launched

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a special operations raid It stepped up activities in Libya

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and Newsnight understands that it has also deployed US special

:04:51.:04:57.

operators in Mogadishu, Somalia, But the biggest operational change

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has come in the campaign against the IS group

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in Iraq and Syria. There, raids have been stepped up

:05:09.:05:12.

and the rules of engagement relaxed, leading to claims that civilian

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casualties have In fact, the number of actions in

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Syria for March were down slightly. The number of targets hit

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by the Americans was down. But the number of civilian deaths

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we think likely went up sixfold. We think more than 300

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civilians died in March We've never seen numbers

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like that before. I think that is the clearest

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indication yet that and civilians are at greater risk

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of harm because of that. Early reports suggest

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that it was a military decision to drop such a big weapon

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in Afghanistan, and that seems to be the pattern of a president who has

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devolved considerable powers to the Pentagon to prosecute

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a more aggressive campaign Kurt Volker is the former

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US Ambassador to Nato Do you think this is a significant

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change in the relationship between the government of the US and the

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military? Have they unleashed the military to do what they will? I

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would phrase that differently. There is a change, but the change is to

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give the military a clearer and more ambitious mission and to then give

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them the authorisation to carry that out, not to act without any

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constraint of law, not to act in ways that would have the US

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committing war crimes, but to say the mission is to destroy Isis. The

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mission is to stabilise Afghanistan. Go and do that. What we had

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previously was a lot of micromanagement of decisions. What

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ordnance will we use? How much free reign with the military have? The

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mission for Isis was to degrade rather than destroy it? This is

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giving the military a clear mission and giving them authority to carry

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that out. Do you welcome that? I certainly do. It is important not

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only for the military to be effective, it is an important signal

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to adversaries, whether it is Isis or the Taliban, that they will now

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face an American and a coalition force that is prepared to do what is

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necessary to do the job. That will have an effect on their morale,

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psychology and operations. It will give momentum back to the

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international effort. You have used the word I was going to put in my

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next question, which is signalling. Do you think that is an important

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part of a military strategy? You mentioned Syria and Isis. The one a

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lot of people are thinking about is Kim Jong-Un and North Korea. Do you

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think there is any element of deciding on these things in order to

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say to someone like him, watch out? It does start as an operational and

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effectiveness question. What does it take to be effective? Here, it is

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targeting the mission in Afghanistan, targeting Isis and the

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Taliban. That is the starting point. That said, when you are conveying to

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the world that the United States is willing to take decisions and act

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and will be effective, that is a signal that will be picked up by

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people around the world, probably in a fortuitous way. Someone like Kim

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Jong-Un in North Korea will be thinking twice about the seriousness

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and effectiveness of the US. What do we think about the civilian deaths?

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We have been hearing more of them in Syria. One of the things Obama

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wanted to do was to improve the reputation and image of the US

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around the world. It seemed that every civilian death paying him

:08:56.:08:59.

personally. I wonder whether that pendulum is going to swing back the

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other way and the US will take some brand damage if it is shown to be

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more willing to have collateral damage. Actually, it speaks well of

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President Obama that he was so pained at civilian deaths. We should

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do everything possible to minimise that. We have to balance this in

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terms of proportionality and achieving the mission. The reason we

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are in Afghanistan, the reason we are in Syria is because of Isis Arma

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because of the Assad regime, because of the chemical weapons used in

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Syria, what they have done to their own populations. Without US

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involvement, there are already 11 million refugees that have spilled

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out of Syria fleeing the conflict, 500,000 people killed. So I agree

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with the sentiment that we need to do what we can to minimise civilian

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casualties, but we can't minimise to the extent that we are not having an

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impact on the conflict. Do you think the president knew this was about to

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happen this afternoon, or do you think he has delegated so much that

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he is told afterwards or sees it on CNN? I don't have a window into the

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way the briefings work inside the White House. I do believe he is

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someone who is going to give the military and General Mattis in

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mission and say, go do it. I also believe General Mattis and others

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will be briefing constantly. They will be letting the president know

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the status of operations. So in normal circumstances, I think he

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would have been briefed. Ambassador, thanks very much.

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The Oxford Dictionary's word of the year for 2011

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It was the group identified by Ed Miliband as needing a bit

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of tender loving care, working people, often

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Mr Miliband famously struggled to define the group.

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It was around average income, he said, not on six-figure salaries.

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Well, hard-working families have long been politically appealing.

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Then Theresa May famously talked of JAMs - the just about managing.

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Then JAMs became OWFs - ordinary working families.

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But it is only now that any government has tried

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As part of its thinking on grammar schools, the Government has tied

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itself to a definition of who they are.

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It's the group of working families on below average income,

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Is it useful to think about this group as a defined tribe?

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We'll discuss that shortly, but first here's Chris Cook.

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Today, we got some clarity about an important question. Who exactly are

:11:34.:11:40.

these ordinary working families that the Government keeps going on about?

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We want to provide a clear analysis of the situation of how these

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children of ordinary working families are faring in our education

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system and for measuring how our wider reforms can do better for

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these families and so better for the country. This group, the OWFs, our

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success soars to a previous favourite of Theresa May's, the just

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about managings, or Jams. Let's think about who we are talking about

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when I talk about the just about managing. These are people who have

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a job but worry about their job security or have a home but worry

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about paying the mortgage. Who, then, goes in the jamjar? Who it is

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and General Mattis? -- who is and OWF? Below median income, but not on

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free school meals is an OWF. What is median income? The median income for

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up two parent family with two teenage children is ?33,000. For a

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lone parent with one young child, it is ?70,000. The amount varies with

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your family type. Education purists have been puzzling today about why

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the Government is so interested in these so-called OWFs. That is

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because the research that ministers have published doesn't really make

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the case that the OWFs have been particularly overlooked. For

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example, the OWFs, unlike the poorest children, don't seem to have

:13:21.:13:24.

particular trouble getting into good schools, be they comprehensive or

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selective. And while it is true that across England, the richer you are,

:13:31.:13:34.

the better your grades seem to be, and that is a particular problem for

:13:35.:13:38.

the OWFs. It is not unique to them, it is a problem for the whole

:13:39.:13:44.

education system. But the OWF analysis helps the Government Selt

:13:45.:13:50.

grammar schools. A lot more OWFs schools getting to selective schools

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than the poorest. But many remain sceptical. We have looked at the

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outcome of all of those living in selected areas and factored in the

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losers as well as winners. Where you have an area with a concentration of

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grammar schools, the children who don't get into those schools suffer

:14:08.:14:11.

a GCSE penalty by comparison with similar children who live in a

:14:12.:14:15.

comprehensive area. What we see from this new ordinary working families

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group is that while they may have their access to grammar schools,

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actually, the majority of them would expect not to get a place in a

:14:23.:14:26.

grammar school. That means that they would not be benefiting. They would

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be in the group that are missing out. Ms Greening today hinted at

:14:30.:14:34.

measures to address the fact that grammars do take disproportionate

:14:35.:14:37.

numbers of wealthier children. But the politics get a little muddy

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here. Some of her supporters don't want her to push too hard there. I

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certainly don't think quotas are a good idea and I would be concerned

:14:48.:14:51.

to see a dramatic reduction in the pass mark. I think we should be put

:14:52.:14:55.

back -- pragmatic about how we do this, but it would be reasonable to

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say to existing grammar schools and to new ones, let's try our hardest

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to make this system is fair as it can be. We want to make sure that

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opportunities are open to everybody who can benefit from them. There is

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another reason to focus on the Jams, though, or the OWFs, - politics. In

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focus groups all the time, people talk and define themselves as the

:15:21.:15:24.

people stuck in the middle who are too well off to get the support that

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poor people get and not well enough to manage without it. They feel

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neglected by politicians. It is certainly helpful for this Prime

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Minister to pitch to people in the middle. There may be a more coherent

:15:36.:15:40.

group at the ballot box and they are in the classroom. Chris Cook, there.

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Phillip Blond is director of the ResPublica think tank,

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and one of the brains behind the Conservative's

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Polly Billington was special advisor to Ed Miliband,

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who as Labour leader promised to stand up for the

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Jams, and Alfs we are using them interchangeably, we prefer Jams

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because they make better graphics, but there was a shift? As I

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understand that there was a shift when the mandarins, now not popular

:16:17.:16:20.

with Theresa May, looked at what just about managing looked like,

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firstly there was not enough of them and secondly they looked too poor to

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switch to voting Tory anyway. Out is a slightly broader... A broader

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term, includes more people and does go further up the income scale. Big

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question, is it useful to focus on this group because we are talking

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about one third of families. I think it is worth asking who has politics

:16:47.:16:51.

been about since the times of Mrs Thatcher? I would argue

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predominantly for the most part it has only been about the top 10% and

:16:55.:17:00.

the bottom 10%. And arguably all policy and politics has really been

:17:01.:17:04.

in the interests of the top 10% and the concern for the bottom 10% is

:17:05.:17:10.

done so to justify that settlement. So I think the concern with

:17:11.:17:15.

something else is more than welcome and is desperately and urgently

:17:16.:17:19.

needed because if unless you can eat actually speak to those who haven't

:17:20.:17:26.

spoken to before, things like Brexit, Trump, going beyond button

:17:27.:17:31.

or become explainable. What is clear is that we have significant groups

:17:32.:17:35.

in this country who feel something and fair is being done to them, who

:17:36.:17:39.

feel they are being ignored so it is not wrong to try to centre policy

:17:40.:17:45.

around them, and I think in part, you know, this is to be welcomed. Is

:17:46.:17:50.

that what your former boss tried to do, Polly? What I think you have a

:17:51.:17:59.

problem with here, is you will come unstuck of your politics and policy

:18:00.:18:03.

are not aligned. So pretty much everyone will think of themselves as

:18:04.:18:07.

being part of the squeezed middle, that is part of their campaigning

:18:08.:18:11.

allure, the same with the just about managing. People think they are

:18:12.:18:14.

ordinary then they are extraordinary, they think they are

:18:15.:18:18.

ordinary working people are not working, they think they are a

:18:19.:18:22.

family when they are not family. So you can include everybody. If your

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policy only affects a small number of people, and everyone else will

:18:28.:18:31.

think, wait a minute, I thought this was for the many, not the few, and I

:18:32.:18:36.

am not entitled to it. That is where things get unstuck. What you have

:18:37.:18:39.

you with this grammar school policy which in principle I would be

:18:40.:18:44.

against anyway, you have one where only one third of places are

:18:45.:18:48.

available for this 50% core of people. How can that be seen as a

:18:49.:18:52.

progressive their policy when two thirds of the places will be kept

:18:53.:18:59.

for the 50% that are the richest? But the basic question is, why would

:19:00.:19:06.

you focus on the people who are between half and 20% rather than the

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bottom 20%. What is the effective argument that says, I should be more

:19:11.:19:16.

worried about the person who is 60th in the list of poor people rather

:19:17.:19:22.

than the person who is... You can deploy a range of arguments to make

:19:23.:19:26.

this point. I repeat, these other people who have been ignored over

:19:27.:19:32.

the past goodness knows how long. I thought Ed Miliband, who's made some

:19:33.:19:37.

great contributions to Conservative thinking, really hit it right with

:19:38.:19:41.

the squeeze medal. But where Labour went wrong was that they came with a

:19:42.:19:48.

small-bore offer, only speaking to those on limited incomes, or those

:19:49.:19:54.

on benefits, let's go mad, look at the now famous elephant graph which

:19:55.:19:57.

shows basically over the last 30 years that globalisation has not

:19:58.:20:05.

benefited middle or working-class people only super rich people and

:20:06.:20:09.

the poor in the third World. So he makes the argument quite

:20:10.:20:13.

convincingly that these people haven't experienced any real

:20:14.:20:18.

increase in incomes for long time. That's why it makes sense to speak

:20:19.:20:23.

to them. Not only that but if you look at modern Britain today it is

:20:24.:20:27.

like a ladder where the runs on the ladder of further and further apart.

:20:28.:20:33.

And unless you are at the very top, you are experiencing relative

:20:34.:20:36.

decline or relative stagnation almost anywhere on that ladder so

:20:37.:20:40.

people feel, wherever they are, the middle is by definition... People

:20:41.:20:46.

are feeling penalised so I think it is good politics and if the

:20:47.:20:52.

Conservatives come up with a... Which I would encourage them to do

:20:53.:20:56.

so they don't sacrifice policy... I don't think this is that and that is

:20:57.:21:00.

part of the problem. If you talk about something everyone identifies

:21:01.:21:02.

with India to offer doesn't meet that, you won't get anything out of

:21:03.:21:09.

it. The only way you can persuade everyone else to consider giving

:21:10.:21:12.

money to a certain group of people is that it is somewhere in the

:21:13.:21:18.

national interest. I want an example apart from grammar schools, what's

:21:19.:21:21.

an example of something you would do we would say, this is not about

:21:22.:21:25.

people in the top half and not about people in the bottom, it's about the

:21:26.:21:30.

people in between. Just one example of policy. Massively expanded

:21:31.:21:34.

maternity and career rights for women. Women, when they leave a job,

:21:35.:21:40.

they want to look after their children, as many do, they often go

:21:41.:21:46.

back part Time low wage, no longer on a career path. Set of victory and

:21:47.:21:54.

a massively expanded career -- so if we expand massively career path that

:21:55.:22:01.

would help all women in that area. Polly, can you think of an area?

:22:02.:22:08.

Financial security more generally, Phillip makes a good point but if

:22:09.:22:12.

you think of accessing work that is more secure, because work is

:22:13.:22:15.

becoming more flexible that means people spend more time feeling a bit

:22:16.:22:20.

on the edge, and making sure that people have something they could

:22:21.:22:25.

fall back on, not for ever but while they are flexing between jobs, the

:22:26.:22:29.

fact that more people are experiencing that flexibility, not

:22:30.:22:33.

just hipsters on their laptop but the people on the street corner

:22:34.:22:39.

waiting... We have no through life education option for people. We

:22:40.:22:46.

educate ourselves intensely at 221 and then nothing. What we have to

:22:47.:22:51.

develop, and this will be another Jams policy is a 2- life education

:22:52.:22:57.

officer so anyone can retrain at any point in their lives. With robotics

:22:58.:23:05.

and AI, everyone will suffer. Lots to say about the Jams and the Alfs.

:23:06.:23:09.

It's going to be hugely important weekend in Turkey, a referendum on

:23:10.:23:19.

the weekend could transform the country from a slightly

:23:20.:23:20.

dysfunctional parliamentary democracy to a full on presidential

:23:21.:23:25.

system. The man who stands to reign supreme is President Erdogan, very

:23:26.:23:30.

much to the concern of civil libertarians and liberal

:23:31.:23:32.

secularists. He has dominated Turkish politics for 14 years, an

:23:33.:23:36.

authoritarian rationalist seeking the backing of the nation to

:23:37.:23:43.

potentially put more emphasis on the authoritarian. Practically, there

:23:44.:23:47.

will be no Prime Minister, he will be the leader of his party and the

:23:48.:23:51.

president so there will be no one who can limit his powers. In the

:23:52.:23:56.

dying days of the Ottoman empire through the new Republic of, or

:23:57.:24:02.

Ataturk or the later years, the Turkish people have repeatedly found

:24:03.:24:04.

themselves with strong leaders, or that aspire to be, President Erdogan

:24:05.:24:11.

fits that bill. It does not like opposition and has cracked down on

:24:12.:24:15.

the press. This former editor of an opposition newspaper is now exiled

:24:16.:24:20.

in Berlin. Politically he is the kind of leader, like Putin or Trump,

:24:21.:24:29.

who hates criticism, and takes every kind of criticism as an insult to

:24:30.:24:35.

himself. Last summer's attempted coup briefly raised the prospect of

:24:36.:24:40.

turmoil in Turkey, a violent Kurdish insurgency and attacks by the

:24:41.:24:43.

Islamic State group have all been used to justify a state of emergency

:24:44.:24:48.

so would a newly empowered president be better equipped to face these

:24:49.:24:49.

challenges? And would it bolster Turkey's

:24:50.:24:55.

power in the Middle East? If Turkey is able to play

:24:56.:24:57.

a stronger, assertive role in those countries in the multiple conflicts

:24:58.:25:00.

engulfing the region, then that is a good thing

:25:01.:25:02.

for the region. But only if a stronger Erdogan

:25:03.:25:04.

means a more stable, I spoke earlier to Ilnur Cevik,

:25:05.:25:07.

chief adviser to President Erdogan. Started by asking him if we should

:25:08.:25:18.

be worried the proposed constitutional changes will give

:25:19.:25:20.

President Erdogan much power. Not really, because actually

:25:21.:25:23.

what he is doing is, the president at the moment

:25:24.:25:25.

has dictatorial powers. He has the powers of a junta leader

:25:26.:25:39.

because the presidential powers were given, designed for a junta

:25:40.:25:44.

leader after the 1980 coup. But let's just be clear,

:25:45.:25:51.

does President Erdogan, after the referendum,

:25:52.:25:53.

if he gets his way, he will have power to appoint

:25:54.:25:55.

half the senior judges, his own vice presidents,

:25:56.:25:57.

he will be able to make law? He can only appoint only four

:25:58.:26:00.

of the judges and seven judges are being appointed

:26:01.:26:06.

by the Parliament. By the Parliament,

:26:07.:26:08.

of the senior judges, yes, He can hire and fire civil servants

:26:09.:26:10.

and of course he can make The reason why constitutional

:26:11.:26:17.

experts are worried about it is precisely because it

:26:18.:26:22.

gives them so much power. The presidential executive orders

:26:23.:26:27.

can be overruled by the Parliament. If there is any law that clashes

:26:28.:26:35.

with the executive orders, then, the law overrides

:26:36.:26:40.

the executive order. Why do you think so many

:26:41.:26:43.

constitutional experts and others are worried as hell

:26:44.:26:48.

about what Turkey looks like it's Truly, it's hard to understand

:26:49.:26:51.

why, because we wanted To bring a new system, scrap

:26:52.:26:56.

the military drafted constitution, But we didn't have the

:26:57.:27:06.

majority to do that, so all we could do is suffice

:27:07.:27:12.

with the changes that will just bring a clear-cut distinction

:27:13.:27:18.

between separation of power and allow the president to run

:27:19.:27:23.

the country while the legislative And was the president wrong

:27:24.:27:27.

when he said on February 12th that the referendum would be

:27:28.:27:37.

an answer to the coup and that those who vote No,

:27:38.:27:40.

vote against him in the referendum, will be siding with the coup

:27:41.:27:43.

and siding with terrorists, as some of the AKP party leaders

:27:44.:27:46.

have been saying? The coup was a stark reminder

:27:47.:27:49.

of what is in store for Turkey The coup was a kind of,

:27:50.:27:58.

unfortunately, referendum by the people who flocked

:27:59.:28:05.

into the streets and They braved tanks, they braved F-16

:28:06.:28:07.

fighters, and the people of Turkey And now we are saying that we're

:28:08.:28:15.

switching to a new system Would you be happy if President

:28:16.:28:21.

Erdogan saw out another full two terms under the new constitution

:28:22.:28:30.

and would thus have been Does that strike you as good

:28:31.:28:32.

governance, good leadership Well, if the people vote for it,

:28:33.:28:38.

if they are satisfied with the way he runs

:28:39.:28:45.

the country, why not? They may get fed up with him

:28:46.:28:48.

in the next two years, nobody knows. And if Erdogan shows bad leadership,

:28:49.:28:51.

let's put it this way, if people are unhappy with the way he's

:28:52.:29:10.

running the country, the Parliament can easily take

:29:11.:29:12.

the country to early elections. The EU does not seem very

:29:13.:29:14.

enthusiastic about these constitutional changes,

:29:15.:29:16.

to say the least. Does it bother

:29:17.:29:18.

you that the EU and your prospect of EU membership is receding

:29:19.:29:25.

further into the distant, Not really, because we're not sure

:29:26.:29:27.

where the EU is going anyway. We are trying to get

:29:28.:29:31.

into the EU, while you guys The irony is, we have been pushing

:29:32.:29:33.

and pushing and pushing and they haven't accepted us

:29:34.:29:43.

for the past 54 years. We've been at the doorstep,

:29:44.:29:46.

being treated like beggars. And our people are very,

:29:47.:29:48.

very unhappy about that and we see our friends back

:29:49.:29:54.

in Britain with Brexit coming out of the EU, and we are saying,

:29:55.:29:59.

is it really worth all the effort? But we will see after

:30:00.:30:03.

the referendum, the president will sit down with the EU leaders,

:30:04.:30:10.

and I think we will really ask for an account of what has

:30:11.:30:14.

happened until now. Ilnur Cevik, very nice to talk

:30:15.:30:16.

to you, thank you very much. A pause for thought now,

:30:17.:30:21.

because it's time for Viewsnight. Tonight, heart surgeon

:30:22.:30:23.

Stephen Westaby wonders whether we are unwittingly

:30:24.:30:26.

pushing his profession into a culture that

:30:27.:30:30.

runs away from risk. Politics is destroying

:30:31.:30:33.

British heart surgery. British heart surgery used to be

:30:34.:30:39.

the best in the world. We were at the centre

:30:40.:30:50.

of research and innovation. Over the past 35 years,

:30:51.:30:55.

I've performed almost 12,000 But now heart surgery has been

:30:56.:30:57.

suffocated by a culture of blame. British heart surgeons

:30:58.:31:07.

are becoming a rare breed. After the Bristol children's

:31:08.:31:14.

heart inquiry and the hospitals scandal, NHS

:31:15.:31:16.

England decided to publish surgeons' death rates

:31:17.:31:27.

under the banner of Mortality rates were published

:31:28.:31:28.

hastily, newspapers named The implication was that surgeons

:31:29.:31:32.

have responsibility for every death. Most deaths actually occur

:31:33.:31:39.

when a common post-operative This happens most at nights

:31:40.:31:41.

and weekends in the presence Surely the best surgeon should

:31:42.:31:44.

have the highest death rates Now we have an elephant

:31:45.:31:55.

in the consulting room. Surgeons are becoming risk

:31:56.:31:59.

averse and the sickest Prospective surgeons are now

:32:00.:32:01.

discouraged from entering such In 2000, 70% of heart

:32:02.:32:04.

surgery trainees came So the NHS now relies

:32:05.:32:07.

on heart surgeons who have He has recently written his memoir -

:32:08.:32:12.

Fragile Lives - about his work Now, this next story

:32:13.:32:50.

should probably have been the lead on this programme,

:32:51.:32:55.

but it is just possible that it is a lot of hype

:32:56.:32:59.

and one to be ignored. The news is that Nasa has made

:33:00.:33:04.

a pretty dramatic statement about the possibility of life

:33:05.:33:06.

existing inside one Nasa tells us that its Cassini

:33:07.:33:08.

spacecraft has flown within 120 kilometres of the moon Enceladus,

:33:09.:33:12.

where they use metric measurements, and they have found hydrogen

:33:13.:33:18.

molecules, which was the last piece of evidence they were looking

:33:19.:33:21.

for that microbial life may exist. In a moment, we'll discuss

:33:22.:33:24.

whether humans should be looking for alien life at all -

:33:25.:33:26.

but first, we are joined from Washington by Dr

:33:27.:33:32.

Mary Voytek, the head How big a moment is this? This is an

:33:33.:33:43.

incredible moment. We have been waiting for evidence just like this

:33:44.:33:47.

since we first discovered that there were oche world outside of our own

:33:48.:33:53.

Earth -- ocean worlds. The mantra of Nasa has been, follow the water. If

:33:54.:33:58.

we find lots of water in these oceans, we find evidence of the

:33:59.:34:01.

building blocks of life and now we have found a source of energy. What

:34:02.:34:06.

is the terrain we are talking about and how similar is it to anything

:34:07.:34:14.

you might find on this planet? The hydrogen is being produced because

:34:15.:34:16.

the core of Enceladus is very porous. So ocean water can move

:34:17.:34:25.

through it, get heated by energy from the core, interact with the

:34:26.:34:30.

rocks and then vent in some fashion into the overlying ocean water. A

:34:31.:34:38.

good example of this is what we find in our deep oceans, known as

:34:39.:34:41.

hydrothermal vents. We are not sure that we have these tall structures,

:34:42.:34:47.

but it's the same kind of chemistry. As you may know, when we discovered

:34:48.:34:51.

these 40 years ago, we found them because they were surrounded by

:34:52.:34:57.

incredibly complex and beautiful ecosystems, giant worms, shrimp,

:34:58.:35:01.

fish, basically supported by energy coming out of these fluids from

:35:02.:35:07.

beneath the surface. I am not going to ask you to put a percentage

:35:08.:35:12.

chance on it, but when we say life is possible, does that mean we can't

:35:13.:35:18.

rule it out, or does it mean we are talking 50-50? Give us a sense of

:35:19.:35:25.

how likely it would be. Well, this is the first step in knowing that

:35:26.:35:30.

this environment could support life. Whether or not life emerged, it is

:35:31.:35:38.

probably likely that it has emerged somewhere. I am not sure if it is on

:35:39.:35:42.

this particular moon or if this moon has had enough time. On our own

:35:43.:35:46.

planet, recent results suggest that life emerged maybe within 400

:35:47.:35:50.

million years of the formation of our planet. We think that this moon

:35:51.:35:56.

might be as young as 100 million years, we are not sure of its age.

:35:57.:36:00.

So we have all the ingredients, we are just not sure if there has been

:36:01.:36:04.

enough time for life to have emerged and started to take advantage of

:36:05.:36:08.

this food source. Where would this life come from? This hasn't come

:36:09.:36:15.

from a meteorite flying around the solar system and planting life, this

:36:16.:36:19.

is life evolving out of the chemistry of the soup it sits in?

:36:20.:36:24.

Absolutely. The idea of panspermia is something we talk about, which is

:36:25.:36:30.

sharing a Genesis on one body by ceding the second one. That is

:36:31.:36:36.

something that could happen between the Earth and Mars where there has

:36:37.:36:41.

been a significant amount of material exchanged. This is very far

:36:42.:36:46.

from us. Enceladus is a billion kilometres away, so the likelihood

:36:47.:36:53.

that there would be seeding from Earth out there is almost nil. So we

:36:54.:36:59.

would be talking about a second Genesis. Mary, thanks for joining

:37:00.:37:01.

us. Professor Nick Bostrom,

:37:02.:37:07.

director and founder of the Future of Humanity Institute,

:37:08.:37:09.

at Oxford University where he looks at understudied existential threats

:37:10.:37:14.

to the future of humanity. He wrote: "Where are they -

:37:15.:37:19.

why I hope the search for extraterrestrial

:37:20.:37:22.

life finds nothing". Do you really feel that you don't

:37:23.:37:36.

want us to find it? I think no news is good news as far as the search

:37:37.:37:39.

for extraterrestrial life is concerned. It would be tremendously

:37:40.:37:42.

exciting and scientifically interesting, but I think it would be

:37:43.:37:48.

a bad omen for our own future. Explain this to us, because it is

:37:49.:37:51.

quite a complicated argument. Why would it be bad to discover worms on

:37:52.:37:57.

another planet? In a nutshell, the idea is that we look out at the

:37:58.:38:01.

universe and we see a grand total of zero advanced to extraterrestrial

:38:02.:38:07.

civilisations. As far as we know, it looks empty out there. We know there

:38:08.:38:12.

are a lot of planets and moons. So there has got to be some great

:38:13.:38:15.

filter or something that takes these billions of planets and moons a hard

:38:16.:38:23.

that for life that then produces zero space colonising civilisations

:38:24.:38:27.

that we would have seen. There are two possibilities. This great filter

:38:28.:38:30.

could be behind us in our evolutionary past. Maybe it is just

:38:31.:38:34.

really hard for life to produce even the simplest organisms or to evolve

:38:35.:38:39.

more compact life. Or it could be in our future. Maybe all this

:38:40.:38:43.

sufficiently advanced civilisations destroyed themselves before they can

:38:44.:38:47.

colonise the universe. So if we do find life, it might be a sign that

:38:48.:38:55.

they are poised to destroy us? Which would be bad news. The other

:38:56.:39:00.

argument, maybe inspired by films we have seen, is that we become

:39:01.:39:07.

infected. If we find a little thing there and bring it back here, is

:39:08.:39:12.

that a plausible risk? It is a small risk, but a risk. On the one hand,

:39:13.:39:18.

we might discover a lot of useful stuff by investigating the different

:39:19.:39:22.

biochemistry. Maybe we could find new drugs or organisms that would be

:39:23.:39:27.

useful. But you can't rule out the possibility that this life would

:39:28.:39:30.

have discovered some different metabolic pathway that is more

:39:31.:39:33.

efficient than Earth's so if you brought it back, it could outcompete

:39:34.:39:39.

our microorganisms. As somebody who thinks about the future of humanity

:39:40.:39:45.

in quite a deep way, how likely is it, do you think, that we will

:39:46.:39:49.

encounter intelligent life at any point? A lot of people speculate on

:39:50.:39:53.

UFOs. Is that tiny? It is very small. Of course, a lot of

:39:54.:39:59.

cosmologists think the universe is literally infinite, in which case we

:40:00.:40:02.

can be pretty sure that there is intelligent life out there, but it

:40:03.:40:05.

might be so far away that we will never come into contact. But isn't

:40:06.:40:09.

that why we haven't encountered these intelligent species, it is

:40:10.:40:13.

because it takes too long to get around? But we know that even within

:40:14.:40:22.

a reasonable sea, and remember that the timescales are very large

:40:23.:40:25.

because the universe has been around for billions of years, so that would

:40:26.:40:28.

be a long time to cover quite far. Even within the radius that we know

:40:29.:40:33.

a civilisation could have travelled, there are billions of planets and

:40:34.:40:36.

none of those has produced any space-faring civilisation so far as

:40:37.:40:38.

we can tell. Mick, thanks very much. Now, before we go, all of that data

:40:39.:40:44.

about life on Enceladus came Cassini was launched in 1997,

:40:45.:40:47.

and has been sending back astonishing information and images

:40:48.:40:50.

ever since it reached It will run out of fuel this autumn,

:40:51.:40:52.

and for its final, doomed, mission, it has been programmed to plunge

:40:53.:40:59.

through Saturn's rings and burn out as it enters

:41:00.:41:02.

the planet's atmosphere. This is what Nasa thinks

:41:03.:41:05.

the mission will look like. Some of us may end up being a little

:41:06.:42:01.

disappointed with the weather on Good Friday. It is looking pretty

:42:02.:42:05.

overcast and there is some rain on the way, but most of it should be

:42:06.:42:08.

light and it will not last all

:42:09.:42:10.

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis.

The US drops biggest-ever conventional bomb; people who are Just About Managing defined; Turkish referendum; is heart surgery in trouble?; life on Saturn's moon?


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