welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: the us congress announces a vote to repeal obamacare as republican politicians say they have enough support to win it. the fbi director defends his handling of the hillary clinton e—mail investigation. look, this was terrible. it makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. but, honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. the candidate of the elite, or the spirit of defeat? rivals for the french presidency trade insults in their televised debate. and we visit the american town where one in ten are addicted to opioids and where pharmaceutical companies are getting the blame. after months of wrangling, the us house of representatives has
scheduled a vote to repeal and replace president obama's signature piece of legislation, the affordable care act. it guarantees health insurance for millions of americans, and republicans have struggled to agree on how to change it. but now it seems they believe they have the votes to get the bill through the house. it looks like they have the vote to get it through the house. remember, this was a key campaign pledge from republicans. how many times did we hear from the platform from donald trump — his pledge to repeal and replace obamacare? it was easier said than done because when they first tried it republicans simply couldn't agree. they say the problem with the affordable care act is that too many people are paying far too much for health—insurance, subsidising the cost for others. and they don't believe that
republicans or government should be involved in providing healthcare. that is something that is so personal. when it comes down to it, when they first voted a draft of the bill it was estimated 2a million americans would come under that draft and would lose healthcare coverage. some republicans could not stomach it. others felt that the bill didn't go far enough. they found some compromise, we understand. it does seem that when they hold the vote tomorrow it will pass the house. but when it goes to the senate, well, that's another matter. it still seems unclear, laura, how much it will cost, how many will be covered, whether pre—existing conditions will be covered. this is the real sticking point, because these are people with pre—existing conditions such as cancer, diabetes, heart complaints, asthma, the most expensive people to insure. many health insurance companies, although they are obliged under
obamacare to cover this, that's one of the reasons many insurance companies are pulling away from obamaca re. many people would lose health insurance if obamaca re is repealed and replaced. they have come up with some halfway solution where they will provide an $8 billion fund but it is only for five years. you are right, they haven't told us how much all of this is going to cost and they haven't done an impact study on how many people may lose their health insurance under this draft. the leading democrat in the house, nancy pelosi, has issued a statement, she says house republicans will have this moral monstrosity on their foreheads and the people will hold them accountable, so the democrats worried about this going through tomorrow. the director of the fbi has told a senate committee he has no regrets about his decision, just before last year's presidential election, to re—open his inquiry
into hillary clinton's e—mails. he didn't reveal then that dealings between the trump campaign and russia were being investigated. mr comey said be felt mildly nauseous at the thought that he influenced the result, as mrs clinton alleges. this from our north america editorjon sopel. history is likely to judge that this law enforcement officer played a decisive role in determining the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. just days before polling, james comey revealed the fbi had reopened its inquiry into hillary clinton's e—mails from when she was secretary of state. he said he had no good options. so i stared at speak and conceal. speak would be really bad, there's an election in 11 days. lordy, that would be really bad. concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic, notjust to the fbi, but well beyond. and honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, i said to my team, we've got to walk into the world of really bad. so how does he feel now
about the impact his intervention has had? look, this was terrible. it makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election. but, honestly, it wouldn't change the decision. what's not in doubt is that his letter, 11 days before america voted, convulsed the campaign. its significance can't be over—stated. this was donald trump, the day the news broke. the investigation is the biggest political scandal since watergate and it's everybody‘s hope that justice, at last, can be delivered. and hillary clinton has now made clear she believes that james comey may have cost her the election. i was on the way to winning until a combination ofjim comey‘s letter, on october 28th, and russian wikileaks raised doubts in the minds of people who were inclined to vote for me, but got scared off.
but donald trump, on twitter, attacked hillary clinton and seemingly has a swipe at james comey, too. "fbi director comey was the best thing that ever happened to hillary clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds." the question is, why did the fbi make public the e—mail investigation and not the parallel inquiry into the trump campaign's links with russia? the answer seems to be that congress had been told the e—mail investigation was complete and therefore reopening it needed congress to be told again. it's an explanation that baffles many democrats. jon sopel, bbc news, washington. president trump has welcomed the palestinian leader mahmoud abbas to the white house for a series of talks aimed at finding a way towards peace in the middle east. mr trump acknowledged that reaching agreement between israelis and palestinians was probably the toughest deal to close in the world.
the palestinian president said a peace accord based on a two—state solution would help fight terrorism. president trump said he was willing to play any role which would help bring agreement. the palestinians and israelis must work together to reach an agreement that allows both peoples to live, worship and thrive and prosper in peace, and i will do whatever is necessary to facilitate the agreement, to mediate, arbitrate, anything they would like to do, but i would love to be a mediator, or facilitator, and we will get this done. the two people hoping to be president of france have gone head to head in their final tv debate. latest polls suggest the centrist former banker emmanuel macron is still well ahead of his far—right rival marine le pen but his lead has narrowed in recent weeks. both are competing for large numbers of apparently undecided and reluctant voters. the final round is on sunday. james reynolds watched the exchanges. for the first time, emmanuel macron
and marine le pen sat directly across from one another. right from the start of this debate they began their attacks. translation: mr macron is the candidate of savage globalisation, uberisation, economic uncertainty, social brutality, of every man for himself. translation: you have shown you are not the candidate for a balanced democratic debate. the question is, do the people want your defeatist attitude ? you say globalisation is too hard for us, so is europe. let's shut our borders, leave the euro, because others succeed, not us. the atmosphere got heated. at times the moderators barely managed to get a word in. "i treat the french like adults", mr macron told his opponent. "you lie all the time." then each was asked about terrorism. translation: the safety of our people, the fight against terror and islamist extremism, you don't want to take it
on and i know why. against terrorism we have to close our borders straightaway, immediately, and that's what i will do the moment i take power. translation: closing borders achieves nothing. there are many countries outside the schengen area that have been hit as hard as us by terrorist attacks and since 2015 we have put back border controls to fight terrorism. marine le pen spent much of the time attacking her opponent. she avoided detailed discussion of her own proposals. emmanuel macron and marine le pen presented two very different visions of france. theirs was a debate marked by attacks and accusations. they now head out to the rest of the country for the final days of the campaign. thousands of opposition supporters in venezuela have clashed again
with security forces in caracas — the latest demonstrations sparked by president maduro's decision to form a new people's assembly, largely made up of his supporters. opponents say it's a ploy to sideline the democratically—elected congress, dominated by the opposition. greg dawson reports. in one part of caracas, delight and celebration as president maduro met his supporters. in another, protest and demonstration. opposition leaders called this a mega—protest, as they marched through the streets. once again rocks and petrol—bombs were thrown at police who once again responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannon. these people say they are fighting for freedom and democracy and in the eyes of president maduro they're supporters of a fascist coup attempt.
on wednesday he officially launched the process to create a new people's assembly in venezuela, which will have the power to override the opposition—controlled congress. translation: i denounce this opposition. an armed fascist insurgency which has raised its arms against the republic and the republic has the right to defend itself against terrorism and we are going to defend ourselves. for more than a month violent clashes between protesters and police have been almost a daily occurrence in venezuela. more than 30 people have been killed and the government has warned demonstrators their right to cause such disruption is not absolute. but with the country mired in recession, opposition leaders have vowed to keep the pressure up until the government calls and agrees a general election. president maduro may have promised his new assembly will help to deliver peace and security, the reality so far looks very different. stay with us on bbc news.
still to come: may the fourth be with you! we meet the fans celebrating star wars day in a rather special cantina. i, nelson rolihlahla mandela, do hereby serve to be faithful to the republic of south africa. after six years of construction and numerous delays, the channel tunnel has been formally opened by the queen and president mitterrand. the tunnel is still not yet ready for passengers and freight services to begin. for centuries, christianity and islam struggled for supremacy. now the pope's visit symbolises their willingness to coexist. roger bannister became the first man in the world to run a mile
in under four minutes. memories of victory as the ve celebrations reach their climax. this night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: after months of wrangling, republicans in the us congress may be close to repealing health care legislation introduced under barack obama. the director of the fbi has defended his decision to publicise the reopening an investigation into hillary clinton's e—mails, less than two weeks before the presidential election. facebook is hiring 3,000 people to help stop hate speech, child abuse and self—harm
being broadcast on the site. mark zuckerberg says the new team willjoin 4,500 others who already check the network for reports of inappropriate material. for more on this i'm joined by sarah robertson, assistant professor in the department of information studies at the university of california in los angeles. what do you make of this? well, i think what we are seeing here is a response to a problem that i have been looking out for many years and others have been following closely and it has certainly made itself tangible to people around the world in some very high profile and extremely tragic cases over the last few weeks. what we have is the ability for people all over the world to upload material as well as
broadcast it live. without many checks or balances on what that material consists of. unfortunately we've seen some of the very worst kind of human self—expression that has been transmitted over facebook and other platforms. this is facebook‘s attempts to respond to that issue. i use social media as much as anyone, but it generally does have this impetus for people to exercise their worst impulses. will this be enough to you to stem the tide? we're already seeing that facebook has some a500 workers worldwide dealing with this. it's not clear to me that they are facebook employees. many of them could be part—time or limited term contractors. facebook is essentially doubling that workforce, but faced with the vast amounts of content that are uploaded every second of every day to the platform i fear that this is still going to be a
game of catch as catch can. we have a lot of raw material going in. what about conditions for workers dealing with this material, their health and well—being? with this material, their health and well-being? i think you are right to ask about that. it is unclear from facebook‘s brother opec statement —— rather opaque statement as to what will be put in place for work or wellness. this is especially complicated when the workers are hired through a series of contracts and subcontracts. there's very little control the firm itself can do to control those conditions. we heard about the potential repeal of the affordable care act in the us. that means contract workers have gotten medical and mental health assistance over the past few years without that. it's unclear how they will get it. briefly, there may be some surprise that computers are not being asked to do this. does it have to be humans? at this point in time
and as underscored by facebook today, certainly we are not there yet. it requires human cognitive ability to deal with this. thank you very much, professor. huntington west virginia is in the grips of an addiction epidemic. more than one in ten people there is hooked on heroin or other opioids. now local authorities are taking legal action against pharmaceutical companies they accuse of flooding their city with prescription drugs. tom bateman and howard johnson report now from huntington. that's an overdose, come on. steve williams, mayor of the city of huntington, west virginia. huntington is a town ofjust under 50,000 people, our county is 96,000 people, yet over a five—year period, just a five—year period, there was over a0 million, a0 million doses of opiates that were distributed
in this county alone. the numbers speak for themselves. most of our callouts now are for drugs. they probably make up somewhere around a third of our calls. fires generally are about 15% to 10% of our calls, so obviously the drugs are much... alarm sounds sorry about that! that's me. that's an overdose, come on. just going to an overdose of a middle—aged male at a local grocery store. he's been reported and i'll know
more on that and we're on our way now. the man that was called? the restroom. the restroom? thank you. his mouth is closing up. hey!? what's his name? timmy. timmy?! what? wake up, partner. look here. how long you been doing heroin? it's been a while since you've done it... ..done it or you've been doing it a while? go ahead, let's stand up against the wall, get your bearings. can i ask, did you go and start on opioids first before you moved onto heroin? and how did you get into it? i was on pain pills and actually i've been trying to get off it hopefully.
i would just as soon be able to hear from these companies that say we'll come in and we'll partner with you to try to fight this addiction rather than spend their time saying, "if it's not our fault, we're just a business." when i was in the investment business, if i was giving advice to somebody that caused harm to them, i would lose my career, lose my license and possibly have to pay money. do no harm and there's plenty of harm that we can point to all around. creating a bionic hand that is as sensitive and versatile as the human version has long been the ambition for scientists. now they are a step closer.
researchers have developed a bionic hand that has a camera embedded in it. a prosthetic with potential. a bionic hand that for the first time can pick up objects almost instantaneously. in fact it is ten times quicker than what is currently available. ok, let's try it again. doug is one of a number of amputees trialling this new technology. it is a life changer, yeah. i guess the first time i got the hand to work, it is quite emotional, really. you know, deep down, you know, i'm working something i lost 20 years ago, you know. so how does it work? on the face of it it is very simple. it is down to 99p webcam. what we have done is to take one image, one snapshot from the object, and within a fraction of a second come up with the best grip. a picture from that object is taken and the hand moves
on to the right grip mode. and then it is moved across. so clever. so why are these developments so crucial? there are three types of prosthetics currently available on the nhs. this is a body powered arm. many find it cumbersome. in fact studies suggest that nearly half choose not to wear one. anne has been working with amputees for years. she thinks the all seeing hand is a significant step forward. i think they are really exciting. i think they're something that patients have been asking forfor a very long time. a wide variety of patients are very keen to have a prosthesis but a prosthesis that actually does something functional. the camera can be miniaturised and embedded into the back of the hand. this is stilljust a prototype, right now it only has four grips. but the team are creating a database of everyday objects so eventually
it can learn to pick up something it has never seen before. but because in many ways it is such a simple and potentially cheap solution, it means that this bionic hand may be available in the very near future. nikki fox, bbc news. this thursday isn't just any old thursday. it is may the ath, which is unofficially star wars day. back in 1977 the first chapter in the space saga was released in cinemas across the united states and every year fans celebrate the battle between the rebels and the empire. in los angeles, you can go to a pop—up bar that may look awfully familiar, as the bbc‘s tim allman explains. i have walked in the wrong place! in sci—fi terms, this is pure heresy. captain kirk visiting mos eisley — star trek meets star wars, some things do not compute. this is the scum and villainy
cantina, a bar devoted to all things science fiction. i wanted to build a place that, geeks and nerds and cosplayers could all gather together and have a place to make pretend. in my head this is a play set and we are all action figures. wookies, bounty hunters, starfleet crew, droids and the occasional sith lord sharing good times and the odd beverage, although this is most certainly not romulan ale. you truly feel transported into a galaxy far, far away. that's what they're doing good, is making you feel like you are in a different place, like, totally. almost everybody comes in costume. so i'm dressed from star trek, you'll see other people from star wars, people come in their own original creative costumes that are just space themed and they're the ones that really
make this our own galaxy ball. the scum and villainy cantina will remain open until the end ofjune. so, may the force be with you, or live long and prosper. you decide! and you can get in touch with me and most of the team on twitter. i'm @bbc mike embley. hello there. the weather contrast on wednesday got a little bit more stark across the uk, with low cloud dominant across parts of east anglia and the south—west. a breeze off a chilly sea. 9 celsius the high for one or two, but in the sunshine, and plenty of it further north and west, high teens and low 20s. and considering our wind is coming from the east, and will be for the next few days, you look downwind, clumps of cloud running into the same areas that we have seen during the past 2a hours. so, more cloud around on thursday. maybe the odd brighter break here and there. but east anglia and the south—east
always prone to the odd spot of rain and drizzle and maybe a few splashes of drizzle further west. a few breaks in the cloud towards devon and cornwall, the channel islands, but probably a little bit of a cloudier start across wales, compared to what we saw yesterday morning. further north, though, sunshine will be out again across much of northern england, after a chilly start. a chilly start but a sunny start in northern ireland too. the odd mist or fog patch. in scotland, more chilly start, dry and sunny. around moray firth, shetland some low cloud close to the coast. that will come and go through the day. still with some sunny spells. a few brighter breaks through the midlands and parts of north wales into the afternoon after a grey start. but still plenty of cloud across other southern counties. still the chance of one or two passing showers. a breezy day. limiting the temperatures off the cold sea across those eastern areas. in the west, particularly gusty winds west of the hills. western scotland 19—20 celsius is again possible. then into thursday night, we see a few more in the way of bright clearer breaks across parts england and wales, and that will lead to
temperatures dropping a touch. outside of the towns, you mightjust about get a touch of frost here and there once again, but most will be frost—free, particularly the further south you are. the breeze helping to limit things. so another breezy day on friday. further areas of cloud drifting across southern counties of england and wales. maybe into the midlands later. further north, clearer skies across northern england, scotland and northern ireland. temperatures for some getting down a little bit day on day, but could still get into the high teens across western scotland and maybe to the west of cumbria. a few changes as we go into the weekend — the high—pressure that has been with us recedes a little bit towards iceland. allows this low pressure system to get close by. how close it gets is a big question mark, but it could spread rain across devon and cornwall, channel islands, maybe southern counties of england through the day. north of that, some brighter sunny spells and feeling a little less chilly across south—eastern areas. the rain very close by if you go through the night and into sunday. but, either way, whether it reaches the south coast or not, it clears into the near continent,
allowing north—easterly winds to develop for sunday. so we'll see a bit more sunshine around in places. the best of which always in the west, but still cool down the eastern coast. take care. this is bbc news, the headlines: the us house of representatives has scheduled a vote for thursday to repeal barack obama's affordable health care act. republicans are now confident they have the numbers to win. a previous attempt to repeal it in march failed. the director of the fbi, james comey, has defended his decision to notify the us congress about reopening an investigation into hillary clinton's use of emails less than two weeks before last year's presidential election. four days before the country goes to the polls, the two remaining candidates for the french presidency have attacked each other‘s policies and characters in a bad—tempered televised debate. polling suggests mr macron won the clash. at a meeting with the palestinian leader mahmoud abbas at the white house, president trump has said he is committed to working for a middle east peace deal. now on bbc news it's