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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 21, 2019 3:00am-3:31am GMT

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welcome to bbc news. i'm maryam moshiri. our top stories: there are more catastrophic fire warnings in australia for saturday in three parts of new south wales, with temperatures set to hit the mid—40s celsius. at least six people die in northern india — during another day of big protests against the country's new citizenship law. the un warns millions of syrians are at risk of dying of hunger or disease as russia and china veto humanitarian aid into northern syria. and stuck in orbit. why boeing's mission to the international space station didn't quite go as planned. firefighters in the australian state of new south wales were bracing
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for what are being termed "catastrophic" fire conditions. temperatures well above a0 degrees, are set to fuel more than a hundred fires burning across the state. in south australia, one person has died overnight in a blaze east of adelaide. the prime minister scott morrison, widely criticised for being on holiday during the crisis, is expected back in australia over the weekend. i got the latest from our reporter phil mercer. we have, as you say, a catastrophic fire warning for three large areas here in new south wales. more than 100 fires are burning across australia's most populous state. roads have been closed, rail services have been disrupt third,
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and what with just a few days left until christmas, summer holidaymakers hoping to go north, south, and west of sydney have been urged to stay at home today and to delay their trip until tomorrow, because conditions are very, very dangerous, as you say, very hot temperatures in parts of new south wales. we also have a prediction of very strong winds later. so that is a real menace for firefighters. very strong winds later. so that is a real menace forfirefighters. hot temperatures, very dry conditions underfoot, and those wins will make those fires increasingly unpredictable. fires burning to any of victoria, also in south australia and on the other side of the continent in western australia fire ci’ews continent in western australia fire crews battling blazes there too. so was another brutal day in australia's summer. amid all this the prime minister, scott morrison, criticised for going on holiday to hawaii, is on his way back now. he is. and one would imagine he will
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get quite a reception when he gets home. many australians very angry that their prime minister decided to ta ke that their prime minister decided to take a holiday to hawaii at a time of crisis. mr morrison has issued a statement saying that he deeply regrets a ny statement saying that he deeply regrets any offence caused to those australians affected by the bushfires. and it's notjust the fa ct bushfires. and it's notjust the fact that mr morrison has gone on holiday during this emergency. many australians wondering about his attitude to climate change and the role that they are playing in australia's bushfire crisis. mr morrison has acknowledged that global warming is a factor in australia's emergency. safe to say when mr morrison lands today, here in australia, his handling of this emergency will come under immense scrutiny. and of course there have been deaths, as well, happened there, including a couple of volunteer firefighters. we were down yesterday near the town of boston,
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where these two firefighters died. a tree hit their fire engine, where these two firefighters died. a tree hit theirfire engine, causing the vehicle to roll over. those two volunteer firefighters were men the vehicle to roll over. those two volunteerfirefighters were men in their 30s. and, once volunteerfirefighters were men in their30s. and, once again, it does underscore the dangers facing firefighters, many of them are volu nteers firefighters, many of them are volunteers here in new south wales, backed up by professional crews as well. we were quite close to a dam, a lake near the town of bargo in this enormous helicopter, a water bombing aircraft came down with a giant hose, sucking up water, before going off to fight the fires. so in many ways it is a military style operation, beats on the ground supported by those squadrons of water bombing aircraft. but, tragically, the death of those two firefighters does illustrate the dangers on the front line. and of course, this is the fire season. why is it that the fires this year have been so bad? scientists are telling
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us been so bad? scientists are telling us that this annual fire season is not only starting earlier, it is likely to last longer, and is more intense. so bushfires have always been part of the australian story. long before the europeans arrived, bushfires are a fact of life in this country. but what worries many scientists and other people is that they seem to be starting earlier and they seem to be starting earlier and they are far more intense. now, scientists can't say that that particular bushfire west of sydney 01’ particular bushfire west of sydney orafire in particular bushfire west of sydney or a fire in western australia is directly caused by climate change, but what they do say is that global warming is making the conditions here dryer and that is a massive factor in these bushfires. hearing in western australia, for example, we have had a very long drought. so what you have, you have dry conditions underfoot, you have no rain, strong winds, and hot temperatures. in those conditions do conspire to heighten the fire
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danger. as we say here in new south wales, three major areas facing catastrophic conditions. and that's as bad as it gets. there are various levels of rate in this country and catastrophic is right at the very top. that's phil mercer there. there have been more mass protests in india today over a controversial new citizenship law. at least six people have been killed in the demonstrations. critics say the legislation discriminates against the country's 200 million strong muslim population, with many fearing they could become stateless. but the move by prime minister narendra modi is popular with his hindu supporters. from delhi, here's rajini vaidyanathan. is this a moment of reckoning for the world's largest democracy, as anger over a controversial citizenship law intensifies? scenes of defiance, protesters ignoring cu rfews, police accused of heavy—handed tactics.
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hundreds of thousands across this vast and diverse nation have taken to the streets to oppose a law they say discriminates against muslims. it offers fast—track citizenship for illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries, except muslims. the government says it is to protect religious minorities fleeing persecution. india prides itself on its secular principles, the right to equality for all faiths. but many fear that, by making religion a condition of citizenship, that core fundamental principle is now at stake. muslims say they are living in fear. the government is planning to publish a nationwide register of citizens, in which everyone would have to prove they are indian. those who can't would be considered illegal immigrants, with only non—muslims afforded protection under the new citizenship law.
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"i don't trust the government," she tells me. "if they don't accept my documents, which prove i'm indian, then what will i do?" pressure is mounting on india's prime minister, narendra modi, but he still has huge support for his hindu nationalist agenda. tonight in delhi, a group of his supporters came out to defend the citizenship act. a lot of people are saying that it is against muslims, but it is not against muslims. it is only against — only for. it is not against anyone. it is for minorities in three neighbouring countries, pakistan, afghanistan and bangladesh, where islam is a state religion. this week's large—scale protest represents the first real dissent against mr modi's government. some fear the country is inching closer to becoming a hindu state, and worry that india's secular soul is at stake.
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let's get some of the day's other news. the international criminal court's chief prosecutor says she believes war crimes have been committed in the israeli—occupied palestinian territories. fatou bensouda says she wants to launch an investigation but needs the court to establish first if they have authority over these areas. officials in russia say they've established the identity of the gunman who opened fire at the headquarters of the country's main security agency, the fsb. 0ne fsb officer was killed on thursday, while a second has died from his wounds in the last few hours. another four people were wounded. the motive for the attack remains unclear. three and a half years after the uk voted to leave the european union, mps have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the government's brexit bill. the legislation now paves the way for boris johnson to deliver his promise by the end of next month. the prime minister won the vote easily, with six opposition labour mps backing the government.
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the united nations has warned of a rapid increase in hunger and disease amongst displaced people in syria. it follows the decision by russia and china to veto a measure to keep aid flowing to civilians. fighting between the government forces and rebels in the north—western province of idlib has been intensifying — with thousands fleeing their homes. bill hayton reports. this is the corner post, one of four places where aid can cross into syria stop but on friday was the scene of demonstrations. thousands of people march to protest what they see as turkey's elaboration with a renewed offensive in idlib province. —— collaboration. syrian government forces, backed by russia, moving into the north—west of idlib, forcing tens of thousands to flee.
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the road towards the border is now full of trucks heading to safety. translation: they were bombing us. we couldn't sleep. they were using every type of weapon, including bombs and rockets. the latest exit is only adds to the numbers needing aid. the un says it fed over1 million people in october with cross—border supplies. at that programme well and on january cross—border supplies. at that programme well and onjanuary ten, u nless programme well and onjanuary ten, unless it is renewed. on friday, russia and china blocked an extension, causing outrage from the american ambassador. this decision is reckless, irresponsible, and cruel. there is nojustification imaginable for any member of this security council leaving vulnerable syrian civilians with fewer means of securing vital aid. russia wants two of the eight crossing points closed. those from jordan and iraq. leaving
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only the two turkeys roots. it also was the mission length reduced to six month. it's ambassador blamed other countries for blocking the aid renewal. translation: who won today? nobody. who lost? those who lost were the syrian people. do not attempt to shift blame for this on us. with two weeks left until the callan resolution expires, there is still time for agreement. but it looks as if compromised will be hard to reach. in the meantime, the situation in syria gets more desperate. bill hayton, bbc news. facebook says it has removed hundreds of accounts with ties to a conservative news outlet that uses fake profile photos, generated with the help of artificial intelligence. researchers said the facebook and instagram fake profiles, generate thousands of personalities who emphasise support for president trump and opposition to the chinese government.
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peter, first of all, explain exactly what's been happening here. it sounds very worrying, doesn't it? this is, say a lot of people, very worrying. and it shows what technology can achieve these days. in terms of generating these images, faces that look like profile shots of ordinary people, but they are fake, they are generated by algorithms. there is absolutely nothing real about them. they don't represent real people. but they have been generated by users in vietnam, say facebook, purporting to be americans. and they have removed several hundred of these facebook accounts, as you say, along with instagram sites and various pages as well that carried with the messages that were anti— china, that were pro
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trumpet, or generated conversations about family values or impeachment or the hot button issues that are in the news at the moment —— donald trump. what is the social media giant been saying about all of this and what it is doing to combat this sort of thing? well, this is an ongoing battle, of course, for facebook and it has faced similar problems of course, going back to the last american election in 2016, then the key threat was from russia. but this was coming from a different pa rt but this was coming from a different part of the world. and this is in pathway facebook have been very open about revealing what they have found now. and they are digging into the technology. they are trying to find out and really get ahead of those people who can generate these kinds of images. the experts who have been looking at this say they have been essentially quite startled at how good they are. how easy it is to
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generate these images. and they have never seen anything quite like it with these, i suppose, artificial faces being used to send out false information, disinformation in social media. peter bowes in los angeles. thank you very much. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: we meet the italian engineer who makes sure that less well off children don't miss out on toys. the world of news has been paying tribute to george michael, —— the world of music has been paying tribute to george michael, who has died of suspected heart failure at the age of 53. he sold well over 100 million albums in a career spanning more than three decades. the united states troops have been trying to overthrow the dictatorship of general manuel noriega. the pentagon has says it has failed in its principle objective to capture him and take him to the united states. the hammer and sickle was hastily taken away. in its place, the russian flag was hoisted over what is now
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no longer the soviet union, but the commonwealth of independent states. day broke slowly over lockerbie, over the cockpit of pan am's maiden of the seas, nosedown in the soft earth. you could see what happens when a plane eight stories high, a football pitch wide, falls from 30,000 feet. christmas has returned to albania after a communist ban lasting more than 20 years. thousands went to midnight mass, where there were anti—communist riots ten days ago. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: there are more catastrophic fire warnings in australia for saturday in three parts of new south wales with temperatures set to hit the mid—40s celsius. one of the pioneers of new approaches to international development, sir fazle hasan abed, has died. he was 83. he founded the bangladesh rural advancement committee, also known as brac, in 1972.
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it's now one of the world's largest ngos, operating in 11 asian and african countries. brac is said to have lifted 150 million people out of poverty. someone who knew sir fazle hasan abed is nicholas kristof, columnist with the new york times. he joins me now from oregon in the us. thank you so much forjoining us here on bbc news. talk to me about how well you knew sir fazle hasan abed and how you knew him. so i met him through various conferences and then visited bangladesh because it was kind of an inspiring model of what education and the empowerment of women and an organisation like brac could achieve and it really was kind of extraordinary how
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bangladesh, which henry kissinger had famously dismissed as the world's basketcase back in the beginning of the 1970s, has enjoyed economic growth and fertility growth and it was not hard because abed focused on education and empowering rural, impoverished women and today, there are more girls in high school in bangladesh than boys because that isa in bangladesh than boys because that is a remarkable achievement and in many ways that is abed's fingerprints on it. so i saw him at conferences and in bangladesh and i grew to enormously admire what he had done, not only in his own country but later expanding that into afghanistan, south sudan, and he was really a giant over the last century in global development. he
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was so passionate, wasn't he, and so patient —— driven and so passionate about global development. what do you think his legacy is going to be? soi you think his legacy is going to be? so i think it is a few things. one is going to be that when he began in the development space, it was really about westerners sitting around conference rooms in places like london and washington and deciding what was best for people in villages half a world away. and that never really worked. and abed was a leader in the developing world's own responses to poverty and the truth is that when there was local ownership it worked a lot better. you know, the us did a lot of projects in afghanistan, they were not vastly successful. negritude did work in afghanistan brac brac did work. the local ownership
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development, i think another is his emphasis on education and on empowering of women and the returns you get from that and in recent, i don't think it was something he really began early in his career but over the last 15 years or so he was increasingly involved in using randomised controlled trials to test interventions and see how well they worked. if there was a pharmaceutical trial. and that has been a pioneering step in development, nobel prize for economics went to three economists who worked on them and in some cases with brac or on brac — inspired programmes so i think he leaves a huge legacy at the top tiers of development but also in villages around the world, kids who otherwise would have died who are here because
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of his work. nicholas, it is good to have you on the programme. thank you for your time. my pleasure. the duke of edinburgh, husband of queen elizabeth, is spending the night in a london hospital. royal officials say the duke, who is 98, has been taken there as a precautionary measure for a pre—existing condition. the queen is at her sandringham estate in the east of england, where she arrived on friday morning. nasa hopes the boeing starliner craft could be used to ferry passengers to and from the international space station, but a test flight in florida failed to go as planned. jonathan amos reports. ground control: and lift-off for the starliner, a new era in human space flight. a new era perhaps, but notjust yet. boeing launched its starliner capsule on time from cape canaveral in florida, but the automated ship then failed to carry out its commands properly. when it came off the top
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of the rocket, it was supposed to fire its engines to increase its height. it did, but at the wrong time, and for too long. the starliner put itself in the wrong part of the sky. it can no longer reach the space station and will have to come home. the american space agency has been overseeing the development of the capsule. nasa has provided milestone payments to help boeing bring the vehicle into operation. and despite the setback, the agency is staying positive. if we would've had crew in there, number one, they would have been safe. to be very clear, our crew would have been safe. and, in fact, had they been in there, we very well may have been orbiting or docking with the international space station tomorrow, had they been in the spacecraft. so a lot of things went right today and i want to be really clear — a lot of things went right, and this is why we test and because we are now in orbit and because, in fact, elevating our orbit, we are going to get a lot more data and a lot more information in the coming days.
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so this is all very positive. nasa has not been able to launch its own astronauts to orbit for nearly nine years. when it retired the shuttles in 2011, it ceased to operate space vehicles and it bought seats to the space station in russian capsules instead. nasa would rather spend its money handling rides on american—built space taxi services. —— nasa would rather spend its money hailing rides on american—built space taxi services. another enterprise, california's spacex company, has already completed its test flight of its astronaut capsule. the dragon craft made a flawless trip to the orbiting lab in march. spacex looks set to start flying astronauts for real in the next few months. quite how far behind today's events put boeing is unclear. engineers will need to inspect the starliner when they get it back on earth. nasa is determined that it should have a choice of capsules in the future. boeing is certain to try again. jonathan amos, bbc news.
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christmas is coming. all around the world, millions of children will be hoping for a visit from santa. some less well—off youngsters may miss out on getting a toy but a retired engineerfrom rome is determined to do something about that, as tim allman explains. his name is guido but it may as well be geppetto. a former engineer with an italian airline, he now devotes himself to repairing and restoring toys. lots and lots of toys. anything up to 70 a day, in fact, and it is all in a good cause. translation: take this one, for example. some toy shops give us the faulty toys that they cannot sell. this one, i have repaired it and it works now. and these new toys we send to hospitals. notjust hospitals. this charity also provides playthings to the children
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of refugees, or kids whose parents have lost theirjobs — any youngster who wants a moment ofjoy and a toy of their own. translation: we call these objects re—loved, since they are loved twice. first, by the parents of the children who donated them and then, they are loved by the children who receive them. so we reuse objects and avoid wasting plastic. they distribute around 20,000 toys. cars, action figures, teddies, toys, dolls, guido tinkers away at them all. h is greatest reward, he says, are the smiles on the children's faces. tim allman, bbc news. but is such a lovely story to endon now. —— to end on now. you can reach me on twitter — i'm @bbcmaryam. and of course, you can see all of
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the stories we are talking about on our website. back in a couple of minutes with the headlines but thank you forjoining us. goodbye. good morning. what a miserable week of weather it has been for many of us with some relentless rain, and that has brought localised flooding. in fact, friday afternoon, these were fairly typical weather watcher pictures across parts of central and southern england in particular. in fact, by close of play on friday, there were over 90 flood warnings in force, and with more rain to come through the weekend, well, do go to the bbc weather website for the latest updates on the flood warnings, and also any met office warnings as well. so, over the next few hours, we've got this little mini weather front which will enhance some showers, some of them heavy, with hail and thunder. windy conditions following on behind
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before another weather front makes its presence felt by the end of the day on saturday. so saturday morning, we start off with a few sharp showers still remaining, but they are easing away. the best of the sunshine perhaps on saturday, likely to be for the far north of scotland. slowly brightening up as well across parts of england and wales for a brief time, before yet more wet weather starts to push into the south—west by the end of the day. a cooler feeling in scotland, five or six degrees. double digits quite widely further south. now, that rain will continue to drift its way steadily east but it is going to clear off into the near continent through the early hours of saturday night into sunday morning. and then behind, with some clearer skies, it will be a chilly start into sheltered eastern areas of scotland, maybe a touch of light frost here. too much cloud further south and too much of a breeze for any issue. and still some bits and pieces of rain first thing on sunday morning. but sunday will be quieter for many — a case of sunny spells and a few isolated showers. still quite windy across the exposed coasts of the south, 40—50 mile an hour gusts of wind not out of the question.
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cooler again in scotland, five or six. higher values of nine or ten further south. it looks as though that quieter theme is set to continue for a time. showers will ease away on monday and by tuesday, christmas eve, it will be drier and quieter. what on earth is happening, you may ask? it looks as though father christmas might be granting us our wish and giving us a brief lull in the weather story at the moment with high pressure building on christmas eve into christmas day, that will quieten things down quite nicely. it means the chance of a white christmas is very remote indeed but it does mean a good deal of dry weather in the forecast. so our christmas week is looking like this — a showery start, drying up nicely for christmas eve and christmas day, there is the potential for more rain arriving late in the week. take care.
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this is bbc news. the headlines: there are more catastrophic fire warnings in australia for saturday in three parts of new south wales, with temperatures set to hit the mid—40s celsius. the australian prime minister scott morrison has apologised for going on a family holiday to hawaii while his country was dealing with the bushfire emergency. at least six people have been killed in india, as police tried to contain a further day of protests about a new citizenship law. police used tear gas and batons but denied firing on demonstrators. the law allows fast—track citizenship for religious refugees from neighbouring countries but excludes muslims. russia and china have vetoed a un security council resolution that would have allowed aid to continue flowing to civilians in northern a un aid chief warned that without an agreement there'd be a rapid increase in hunger and disease, and more deaths.


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