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tv   BBC News  BBC News  January 13, 2019 4:00am-4:31am GMT

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hello and welcome to bbc news. i'm reged ahmad. a saudi teenager who fled from her family, fearing they would kill her for renouncing islam, has arrived in canada, where she's been offered asylum. rahaf al-qunun, who's 18, barricaded herself in a hotel room in bangkok and used social media to highlight her case. nada tawfik reports from toronto. rahaf al-qunun arrived with a smile as she took the first steps into her new life. reporter: rahaf, how does it feel to be in canada? she was escorted out by canada's foreign minister, chrystia freeland, who was on hand to welcome her and to pass on flowers from one of ra haf‘s supporters. after chronicling her ordeal on social media, she chose this moment, now safely in toronto, to let another speak on her behalf. she wanted canadians to see that she's here, that she's well, and that she's very, very happy to be in her new home. although she did comment to me about the cold. it's been a whirlwind journey for rahaf al-qunun.
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it's extraordinary that just a few days ago, she was an unknown teenager, and now she has commanded the attention of the world's media and reignited a debate about the treatment of women in saudi arabia. and i'm still in the room. rahaf al-qunun had been trying to reach australia by way of thailand when her passport was confiscated and she was told she would be deported. the 18—year—old barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and sent out fevered tweets saying that she feared her family would kill her for renouncing islam. i'm not leaving my room until i see unhcr. i want asylum. within a day, the campaign #saverahaf went viral, piling on international pressure. thai immigration police initially said her case was a family matter but reversed course and placed her in the care of the un's refugee agency. after a review, unhcr said she was a legitimate refugee. her family has denied any abuse. saudi arabia and canada have been
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on bad terms ever since ottawa criticised riyadh's arrests of women's rights activists in a tweet months ago. ra haf al-qunun‘s resettlement will likely exacerbate the already tense relations between the two countries. nada tawfik, bbc news, toronto. let's look at some other stories in brief. the british prime minister has warned mps who are preparing to vote on her eu withdrawal deal that a failure to deliver brexit would be "a catastrophic breach of trust in our democracy." she's written an article in the sunday express ahead of the crucial vote on tuesday, which she's expected to lose. there's still no sign of a breakthrough in the partial government shutdown in the us, which is now officially the longest in history. president trump is refusing to sign measures to pay all federal employees because democrats in congress won't include funding for the wall he promised on the border with mexico. an opposition presidential candidate in the democratic republic of congo, martin fayulu, has demanded a full recount of votes from last
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month's presidential election. another opposition leader, felix tshisekedi, was declared the winner, but mr fayulu has accused him of striking a power—sharing deal with the outgoing president, joseph kabila. 19 people have been killed and two are missing after a roof collapsed at a coal mine in northern china. a total of 87 people were working underground in the shaanxi province mine at the time of the accident. the search for the two trapped miners continues, while 66 others have been airlifted to safety. the cause of the accident is under investigation. the texas democratjulian castro has formally declared he wants to run for president of the united states in 2020. he's a former mayor of san antonio who went on to serve in president obama's cabinet. the announcement makes him the first hispanic in what looks set to be a crowded field of candidates vying to challenge president trump. here's what mr castro had to say. when my grandmother got
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here almost 100 years ago, i'm sure that she never could've imagined thatjust two generations later, one of her grandsons would be serving as a member of the united states congress and the other would be standing with you here today to say these words, "i am a candidate for president of the united states of america." cheering and applause. don't forget, you can find more on all of the stories we're covering on our website. there's the latest on the ‘yellow vests‘ protests in france. just go to, or you can download the bbc news app. more now on brexit, and hundreds of people have marched through london, demanding a general election and an end to austerity. 0ur political correspondent chris mason has more. chanting: tories out! refugees in!
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central london this afternoon and left—wing campaigners take to the streets. theresa may must go! people have seen brexit's an absolute mess, the shambles the government is making of it, but really, what is the most important thing is to get a general election because then people can actually have a say on everything. have you got a spring in your step at the moment? absolutely. absolutely, yes! you don't come out two weeks after christmas to plod around town, do you? you come for a reason and the reason is to get rid of this government. securing a general election isn't straightforward, but the shadow chancellor was also here to make the case for it. the only solution to austerity, the only solution to tackling the threat that brexit poses is a general election and the election of a labour government. this demonstration here wasn't primarily about brexit but this gathering, like others, is about seizing a political opportunity, seeing that the government is likely to lose on its plan for leaving the european union on tuesday,
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and so, making the most of pressing for what they want instead. 170 miles north in sheffield, another crowd with a cause — this one wanting another eu referendum. but what would be the question? the obvious question to ask is about the two deals, the two propositions that are actually on the table. one is for the government — and people may or may not like it, it's very uncertain, but it's there — and the other deal is the one we already have with the eu — in my view, much better, but let the people decide. the government's implacably opposed to delivering what people here want and its supporters are still trying to sell its plan. clearly, there's a lot of people coming out that are campaigning about the deal for one way or the other, but i still think it's the only game in town — it's the thing that gets us out of the political institution, stops paying so much money in, ends freedom of movement, and allows us to start the trade
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deals, and that's why i still encourage people, if they want certainty, this is the way to do it. today was peaceful, for the most part, but this isolated incident — scuffles between rival protesters — was a reminder of the tension and anger swirling around our politics. chris mason, bbc news. ministers are being warned that a proposal to scrap prison sentences of six months or less will only work if there is more investment in the probation services. the government says short sentences are less effective at cutting re—offending than community penalties. it's thought thousands of offenders in england and wales could be affected every year under the plans. chi chi izundu reports. "long enough to damage you and not long enough to heal you" — that's how the prisons minister rory stewart described those serving sentences of six months or less in today's telegraph newspaper. annually, there are some 30,000 offenders in england and wales who've committed crimes
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like burglary or shoplifting who this could affect but realistically, because of turnover, at any one time, it would free up around 3,500 prison places. we should not be using prison for these people. we should be turning their lives around and giving them support, dealing with their drug addiction, their homelessness, and getting them to make amends for the wrong they've done. that's really good for victims, it's good for the taxpayer, and it will ease pressure on the prisons. in a statement, the ministry ofjustice said it's exploring potential alternatives and is yet to reach any conclusions. 0vercrowding in prisons like this one is a big problem in the uk and the worry is, according to the government, that rehabilitation and reform won't happen. in fact, these prisons will turn one—time offenders into career criminals. this idea would need legislation to make it a reality and mps know promising to cut prison sentences is rarely a vote—winner, and although prison reform groups have welcomed the idea, there are calls for better funding of every element of thejudicial system.
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i wouldn't say that the rehabilitation side works. it patently obviously doesn't. but what needs to happen is prison needs to be made to work. and that means investing in prisons so that the conditions are better, so that there is rehabilitative activity all day, every day when they're there, and we maximise the chances of them not coming back. a similar scheme in scotland has beenjudged a success and is being extended to sentences of 12 months. simplyjailing offenders has doubled the prison population since the ‘90s and the government suggests reform of the offender isn't enough. they also have to look at the system. chi chi izundu, bbc news. three people, including two firefighters, have died and nearly 50 others injured in a powerful explosion at a bakery in the centre of paris. firefighters have been tackling the blaze throughout the day. police suspect a gas leak caused the blast. 0ur paris correspondent lucy williamson reports. 0n the site of a local
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bakery, round the corner from the folies bergere, residents faced a charred and empty shell. the force of the gas explosion was felt in districts several miles away. along rue trevise, the blast shattered windows, blew out doors and sent locals and tourists into the street, straight from their beds. translation: when i walked past the entrance, i heard a huge explosion. i was hit by the debris. it's dry now and i washed off a bit, but there was a lot of blood on my neck and my head, too. 200 firefighters were called in to help those trapped by the blast. among those whose lives they saved was a colleague, buried for almost two hours beneath the rubble. but two other firefighters died. translation: firefighters were dealing with the blaze. the explosion is probably from a gas leak. it has had a very heavy toll on civilians, but also on firefighters who were on site. helicopters waited near
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the opera house to evacuate the wounded, some of whom are still in a serious condition. the explosion is being treated as accidental, but there's a risk of further fires and emergency work will continue all weekend. a crisis centre has been set up to house and care for the area's new homeless. lucy williamson, bbc news, paris. well, staying in france, and the french government says about 84,000 people took part in the latest round of ‘yellow vest‘ protests on saturday, sharply up on last week‘s estimate of 50,000. but the interior minister, christophe castaner, said the demonstrations across the country had been largely peaceful. unlike past protests, there were fewer reports of property damage and injuries, although nearly 250 protestors were arrested nationwide. kim gittleson has more. from paris to toulon, what began as a protest against the now—scrapped fuel tax at the end of november continues to draw thousands of french demonstrators to the streets, who say they‘re protesting
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against the rising cost of living. translation: i'm a civil servant and i don‘t have enough at the end of the month to take care of my son. is that normal after 25 years of service? at the end of the month, i‘m reduced to eating pasta, and i‘m not even the most unfortunate person here. in many of the cities, much of the ‘yellow vest‘ anger was directed at the french president emmanuel macron. translation: let emmanuel macron tell me that i need to make an effort. i work until 10pm, four times a week. if i don‘t make the effort to feed my kids, who will? not him — he eats cake. for his part, mr macron is due to open the national debate on tuesday on how to tackle the grievances raised by the protesters. but with a number of demonstrators swelling once more, the question is if listening will be enough to put this highly visible movement to rest. kim gittleson, bbc news.
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south africa‘s governing party, the anc, has putjobs at the centre of its election campaign as it launched its manifesto in durban. thousands of supporters turned out to hear party leader and president cyril ramaphosa outline his promises to transform the economy. mr ramaphosa also appealed for men to unite against what he called a major crisis of rape and sexual assault in the country. from durban, nomsa maseko reports. a show of force by tens of thousands of anc supporters as president cyril ramaphosa launched the party‘s election ma nifesto. it has been a while since south africa‘s governing party pulled such a massive crowd — especially in kwazulu—natal, which is former president jacob zuma‘s home province, who was ousted in 2017 after nine years at the helm. this is an annual event which sets the tone for the anc‘s plans
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for the year but this time, it is even more significant. south africa marks 25 years since the first democratic elections and millions will be going back to the polls. most credible opinion polls suggest the anc will secure enough votes to form the next government. that is despite declining support and small economic growth. the party‘s president, cyril ramaphosa, said the anc —— that is despite declining support and slow economic growth. the party‘s president, cyril ramaphosa, said the anc would do all it can to regain the confidence of all south africans. today at the african national congress, we launch our 2019 election manifesto. we do so at a crucial moment in the history of our nation. after a period of doubt and uncertainty, we have arrived
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at a moment of hope and renewal. the new leadership has vowed to raise millions of dollars in foreign direct investment to drivejob creation, particularly among the youth and women. there are more unemployed, you know? so cyril ramaphosa will take all the problems of south africa and will cover all of them. to fight poverty, unemployment — especially for women and the youth. another critical electioneering point will be the party‘s land reform policy. and with the amendment of the constitution to expropriate land without compensation passed, the anc believes it is keeping its promises. nomsa maseko, bbc news, durban. are
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this is bbc news, the latest headlines: the saudi teenager who fled to thailand in fear for her life has arrived in canada where she‘s been granted asylum. let‘s stay with that story. dennis horak is the former canadian ambassador to saudi arabia. he has first—hand knowledge of the two countries‘ often testy relationship, having been expelled from saudi arabia last august following canada‘s criticism of saudi‘s detention of women‘s rights activists. i asked him what he made of canada‘s decision to offer rahaf asylum. it is absolutely the right decision. she was clearly facing a difficult situation in saudi arabia. the unhcr declared her a refugee and canada did the right thing accepting her. it will likely have some sort of impact. we don‘t know how much but it will have an impact in our efforts to try and re—establish or repair the relationship but it was absolutely the right thing nonetheless. you had to leave in august when relations deteriorated
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and we did see a canadian minister next to rahaf when she arrived in canada at the airport, do you think that was a good decision given the state of relations? i think it was an inevitable decision. this has become a very political worldwide and obviously the government has made a point of emphasising canada‘s support for human rights and support for women‘s rights. i think it was inevitable that a minister would show up. i‘m hoping that‘s the end of it though because i think we shouldn‘t be trying to make a political play with this. this woman has gone through a lot. she has faced an oppressive situation in saudi arabia. she‘s got a very difficult road ahead of her, she‘s very young and trying to establish herself here. i hope there isn‘t any effort to try and exploit the situation for political or diplomatic gain, diplomatic scoring points. this isn‘t about us, this is about her. we need to let her have time to settle in, find her legs,
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find out where she is going to be living and all of these things you have to do when you‘re in a new country. and then, down the road, if she decides she wants to be an activist, if she wants to be very active in promoting women‘s rights etc, that great. that needs to be a decision left to her and i‘m hoping the government doesn‘t, again, as i said, doesn‘t try and exploit the situation for political or diplomatic gain. it‘s her life. there have been consequences for canada with the difficult relationship with saudi arabia. my understanding is there hasn‘t been new trade and investment talks. so given the problems for canada, do you think the country has made a choice, basically, to essentially not salvage its relationship with saudi arabia? i don‘t think so, i think what they‘ve done is made a choice that this is an important issue that we have accepted a refugee here who has a legitimate claim based on the unhcr‘s assessment and it‘s the right thing. i don‘t think it necessarily means
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that we can‘t continue to pursue efforts to try and re—establish and improve or rebuild our relationship with saudi arabia. it will take time, this is maybe a bump in the road. and if we don‘t, the next few days, the next week or so will be indicative of the intensity of the saudi reaction to this and if we manage this properly and we don‘t try score political or diplomatic points, i think it‘s something we can work with the saudis, we can talk to them, tell them what we‘ve done, why we‘ve done what we‘ve done and continue the effort to try and re—establish a relationship. i don‘t think it was necessarily an either—or situation. as we reported earlier, parts of germany, austria and sweden are suffering exceptional amounts of snow. a number of ski resorts and mountain villages have been
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evacuated in austria. bethany bell reports from annaberg in the alps. the little town of annaberg is blanketed in white. like many mountain regions in germany and austria, it‘s experiencing unusually heavy falls of snow. these fences are there to protect houses from avalanches. the authorities are struggling to remove the snow. these volunteer firefighters are working to clear the roof of annaberg‘s primary school. stefan obermeister from the lower austrian fire brigade says they need to ensure the building is safe enough for children to enter. the big problem is that the snow is very heavy so we have about 3.5 metres on the roofs, and that‘s the big problem. because if the weather is changing and the snow gets heavier, the big problem is that the roofs crash down
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and so it‘s very dangerous for the people that are living here. cars have been buried under several metres of snow and it‘s a constant struggle to keep paths and roads clear. in neighbouring germany, the army is helping to clear away snow. several areas have been declared disaster zones. and there‘s more snow on the way. the risk of avalanches remains very high. bethany bell, bbc news, annaberg in the austrian alps. now, for a bit of history. in the last years of stalin‘s life, the soviet leader pursued a campaign against many of the doctors in moscow, accusing them of attempting to assassinate high ranking soviet officials. natasha rapoport was the daughter of one of the doctors who was arrested, and she speaks to witness about the ‘doctor‘s
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plot'. that night i was alone and then there was a very loud knock at the door. i opened the door and there was a crowd, a big crowd of men. i have decided that they were burglars, that they came to take ourfurniture. and then there was a telephone call. one of them grabbed me and screamed at me, "talk, talk!" and it was too much for me... ..and ifainted. my parents came home. i didn‘t see it because i was unconscious for several hours actually. they took my father away. both my parents were
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medical scientists. it was the last year of stalin‘s life when he became extremely paranoid and he arrested all major doctors in the kremlin hospital. they were accused of spying for england, for israel, for america and deliberately killing high—level communist party members. major targets werejewish doctors. you couldn‘t, you know, turn on the radio. the moment you turn it on, you hear about these jewish killer doctors. scum on the earth, people that sold their soul to the devil. my father was accused of spying for england. translation: rumours were spreading about the sort of punishment that
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would be meted out. there were threats of hangings on red square. but he refused to sign false accusations. he was kept there in manacles and many, many days and nights without sleeping. if he signed the false confession, it would have been his death sentence. i didn‘t expect this happening to my father. i was brainwashed, i grew up in soviet school. march 5,1953, stalin died. and the situation of the doctors in prison changed immediately. translation: i remember
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the marvellous evening when i was suddenly called to go downstairs. i was taken in a prison van to the lubyanka to see a general and he told me, "you are free, you have been totally rehabilitated and can go home". that was really a big celebration in our house, the time of stalin‘s death. because it was stalin‘s death and for us, it was the rebirth of my father. i think, i‘m sure, that the doctor‘s plot accelerated stalin‘s death because he didn‘t have doctors to help him. all of them were arrested and when his stroke happened, there was nobody at hand to help him. and isn‘t it amazing?
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the nominations for this year‘s brit awards have been announced — with female artists dominating the shortlist. dua lipa and anne—marie have each earned themselves four nominations. while georgia smith and jess glynne have recieved three and two nods repectively. it‘s also only the second time in brit awards history, more women than men are up for the night‘s biggest prize: album of the year. now it is time for the weather. hello there. temperatures on saturday reached 12 degrees in strathallan. 6 celsius higher than the january average in this part of scotland. it was a very mild day.
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we have some rain for western scotland and that rain continues to edge its way southwards. if you are heading outside over the next few hours, it is worth taking wet weather gear with you across scotland, northern ireland and the far north of england. it will be quite blustery and very mild as well. temperatures between 8 and 10 degrees celsius to start the day on sunday. on sunday itself, we have two weather fronts to look at. the first weak cold front will move southwards across england and wales and a more significant occluded front here across northern scotland will bring heavy rain to the north of scotland with colder air following that. so for sunday, a cloudy day for england and wales with a few patches of rain working southwards. brighter weather in the afternoon with showers working into northern and western areas with more persistent rain hedging into the far north of scotland. wherever you are, it will be a blustery old day weatherwise, and temperaturewise, there will be big contrast from south to north across the country. for much of england and wales, we‘ll see temperatures similar to that on saturday, 11, 12 degrees. notice it gets cooler further north and cold weather in shetland where temperatures just reached just 2 degrees. indeed, a fair few wintry showers with a little bit of sleet and a few flakes of snow mixed in with showers during the latter part
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of the afternoon. the week starts mild, rain in the north and west, often quite windy and it‘s set to turn much, much colder as we head towards the end of the week. now, monday, we will have quite a sharp frost to start the day across scotland and parts of north—east england as well. sunshine initially, but then it turns cloudier with showers working into western areas of scotland. the mildest air tending to be across western and southern parts of the country, but quite cold air across the north and east. temperature around 1 celsius or so. tuesday and wednesday, we have a slow—moving weather front that‘s going to bring heavy persistent outbreaks of rain to western scotland, particularly into the highlands and western isles looking pretty wet. temperatures are rising again, 10 degrees widely and temperature is reaching around 7 degrees here. it will get milder for all of us. as we reach wednesday and thursday, we will start to see a more significant push of arctic winds moving down and replacing these milder westerly winds. so for all of us as we head through thursday, the temperatures will drop, even a little below
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normal for the time of year but at the same time, with that colder air arriving, it should be a little bit more in the way of sunshine. that‘s your latest weather. this is bbc news. the headlines: a saudi teenager who fled from her family, fearing that they would kill her for renouncing islam, has arrived in toronto where she‘s been offered asylum. rahaf al-qunun, who‘s 18, barricaded herself in a hotel room in bangkok and used social media to highlight her case.
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