this is bbc news. welcome if you're watching here in the uk, on pbs in america or around the globe. i'm reged ahmad. our top stories: australia orders a mass evacuation from coastal areas of new south wales, as bushfires close in. the country's prime minister, scott morrison, calls for calm. i understand the frustration, i understand the anxiety, i understand the fear. but what i also understand is the need to allow the professionals and experts, who plan and then operationalise these responses, to do theirjob. pro—iranian militia and their supporters pullback from the us embassy in baghdad, after a second day of violence. israel's prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, seeks immunity from prosecution over charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
hello and welcome to bbc news. thousands of holidaymakers have been fleeing coastal areas of new south wales, after being warned it is not safe for them to stay in bushfire—hit parts of eastern australia. there are traffic jams on major roads, although the evacuation is hampered by a lack of fuel. the authorities are urging tourists and residents to leave while they can. saturday is forecast to be another punishing day in southeastern australia, with more hot, dry and windy weather. a "tourist leave zone" has been declared for a 180km stretch of the new south wales coast, from batemans bay to wonboyn. almost 1,300 homes have been destroyed in the state since the fire crisis began.
the prime minister scott morrison has been paying tribute to the fire fighters and emergecny services to the fire fighters and emergency services who've coordinated recovery efforts. he also called on people to follow the advice when evacuating. i would continue to ask people to be patient, i know you can have kids in the car and there's anxiety and there's stress, and the traffic is not moving quickly. but the best thing to do, the best thing that helps those out there volunteering, out there trying to restore some order to these situations, is for everyone just to be patient. and that help will arrive. now there are parts of both obviously victoria and new south wales which have been completely devastated with the loss of power, the loss of communications. every absolute effort is in train to ensure those things can be stood up as soon as possible. in some cases we have been able to get tankers in to restore fuel supplies, that has now greatly assisted.
there are other places which are still too difficult to get these supplies into now, but we'll be able to do that as soon as we possibly can. our correspondent in sydney, phil mercer, says the prime minister has been criticised for the federal government response to the crisis. what he said was that it's largely in the first instance the responsibility of australia's state government to manage these crises. he was saying the federal government would offer and would give any assistance required of it so mr morrison, as we have heard, said that he understood the fear and frustrations and the anxieties of those people who were not only stranded in certain communities but who are having trouble leaving the south coast of new south wales following that warning from fire authorities that conditions on saturday could be very dangerous. i think it's safe to say that mr morrison's leadership is under the sort of scrutiny that he has never had before. a lot of people have been linking
these fires to climate change, especially with some of the new fire behaviour we are seeing. did he have anything to say about that? he did. he has broadly acknowledged there is a link between global warming and the bushfire crisis. he said that you couldn't specifically say that a fire in new south wales or another one in western australia for example is directly caused by climate change. i don't think too many people are saying that. what the prime minister did say is that his climate change policies were both adequate and responsible. that australia would meet its international emissions targets. that won't wash with many of mr morrison's critics. they believe his centre—right government is too supportive of the coal industry that the coal industry isn't taking global warming seriously enough and some of his sterner critics have accused mr morrison of rather intemperate language of being a climate criminal.
saturday is predicted to be very troubling. lots of high temperatures. what is the plan for people still in danger? this is part of a grand pattern that we've seen for many, many weeks. we see a spike in the fire danger to extreme catastrophic levels. we see a spike in the fire danger to extreme or catastrophic levels. then there is a lull. the temperatures receed, the wind receed and in that time, firefighters ready for the next onslaught because there will be another one on saturday is shaping up to be the next spike in this pattern if you like. certainly the fire crews not only here in new south wales but in many australian states do use these milder conditions to prepare for hotter, drier, windy weather that has been forecast here on saturday and so the weekend is shaping up as another dangerous time of fire crews, residents and holidaymakers. phil mercer.
we will have more on how australians are experiencing those fires. let's get some of the day's other news: in austria, the conservative party, led by sebastian kurz, has struck a deal to return to power as part of a coalition with the greens. the agreement allows mr kurz to become chancellor for the second time in his career, which is quite an achievement, given he is still only 33 years old. the former national basketball association commisioner, david stern, who oversaw the huge rise in the game's popularity, has died aged 77. mr stern took charge of the sport in 1984 and, during his 30 years in office, saw basketball‘s revenues increase more than thirty fold. protesters in baghdad have all now pulled back from the us embassy, after earlier attacking the compound, for the second day running. the crowd were supporters of a militia, backed by iran, and their protest was against us air strikes last week, inside iraq, which killed twenty—five members of the militia. jonathan josephs reports.
the bitter struggle between the us and iran has again been playing out on the streets of iraq. a sizeable crowd of protesters and iranian—backed militias set fire to the perimeter of the american embassy in baghdad for a second day. but us troops have used tear gas and stun grenades to force them back. just some of the thousands of troops it has in the country. translation: this is not the first time the us have hit us. we will never move from here, i swear on god and on my life, until they leave here. translation: we are holding a sit-in for the souls of our martyrs until the departure of the american occupiers. iraq's military says the protesters have now withdrawn and that its forces have completely secured the perimeter. that will be welcomed by president trump, who has urged the iraqi government
to take a tough line. nonetheless, around 750 additional soldiers have been deployed to the region and, despite reinforcements being sent in, the us embassy has suspended all public consular operations. amid his new year celebrations, president trump warned he wouldn't allow a repeat of the 2012 storming of the us consulate in the libyan city of benghazi, where four americans were killed. the marines came in, we had some great warriors come in and do a fantasticjob. and they were there instantaneously, as soon as we heard. i use the word immediately, they came immediately, and it is in great shape, as you know. this will not be a benghazi. benghazi should never have happened. president trump blames iran for the death of an american contractor at an iraqi military base last week. he responded with these air strikes against the iranian—backed militia, kata'ib hezbollah, at the weekend. 25 people were killed.
that's drawn strong condemnation from iran's supreme leader, ayatollah ali khamenei, who said president trump's threats were hollow. translation: if the islamic republic decides to challenge and fight a country, it will do so unequivocally. we are strongly committed to our country's interest and our peace. we are strongly committed to the dignity of our country. these protests come amid a us—iran relationship that has deteriorated since washington pulled out of the nuclear weapons deal in 2018. and all the while, iraq finds itself stuck in the middle, trying to help the us see off the so—called islamic state group, but at the same time trying to protect its relationship with neighbouring iran. jonathan josephs, bbc news. i asked lieutenant general david deptula, a retired us air force commander who controlled some of america's
biggest air combat operations in iraq and afghanistan, if he had any theories why protesters withdrew. i would suggest to you that i think that the iraqi leadership understands the significance and the importance of needing to control these militants who, as i think your audience can see from the clip that you showed, they are not really protesters at all, they are militants of the hezbollah brigades that are really an iraqi—shia paramilitary group. but i think the iraqi leadership understands that they need to control these folks because there are serious consequences if, in fact, they are not controlled and they are allowed to continue their aggression towards the american embassy. i wonder what happens now, and how the united states and iraq get to a point where they can
smooth things out in terms of the relationship where iran is involved? that is a good question, the embassy attack and the ongoing us response really present a stark choice for iraq's leaders about the country's future. will they opt for international isolation akin to iran's, or for the type of sovereign functional governance that iraqi protesters have been asking and dying for since october first. at the same time, if i may, the us faces its own quandary. while the air attacks against the hezbollah brigades were necessary, carrying out attacks without taking other policy measures could give iraqi political elites an excuse for keeping delaying critical reforms. these are the same reforms that the demonstrators... it's an interesting point you make
about a choice for the us. isn't there an issue here, the united states doesn't really want to commit to keeping troops and really supporting the iraqi government. the iraqi government is going to have to turn to iran and iranian interests. i don't believe that is a fundamental conclusion, ithink iraqi leadership understands, and there are many leaders that are willing to stand up against iranian pressure in order to protect their own interests. if you take a look at the fact that iraq still needs us security assistance to stave off any resurgent islamic state, additionally iraq's power needs are currently being met by iranian natural gas and they can't buy that without us sanction waivers. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: floods in the indonesian capital, jakarta, have killed nine people and forced thousands to leave their homes.
the most ambitious financial and political change ever attempted has got under way with the introduction of the euro. tomorrow in holland, we're going to use money we picked up in belgium today. and then we'll be in france and again, it will be the same money. it's just got to be the way to go. george harrison, the former beatle, is recovering in hospital after being stabbed at his oxfordshire home. a 33—year—old man from liverpool is being interviewed by police on suspicion of attempted murder. i think it was good. reporter: it was just good? no, fantastic! that's better! big ben strikes the hour
this is bbc world news. our main headline: australian officials have ordered a mass evacuation from coastal areas of new south wales. thousands have already hit the road — as bushfires close in. let's stay with this story. i've been speaking to james findlay, whose parents‘ home in batemans bay was completely destroyed by the bushfires just before new year's eve. yeah, my mother received a call from my neighbour on new year's eve morning and just — the neighbour asked how my mother was, and she said we're fine, we are in new zealand on holiday, why are you asking?
and they said, well, because you've lost everything, and my mum said, "you're kidding?" our house just went up in flames and it's all gone. what did your neighbour say about how the fire started and how the fires approached your family home and what happened? yeah, so, we had some friends staying in the house and they were told to evacuate early in the morning, and my neighbours decided to stay, and protect their property. it wasn't long, it was only a couple of hours until embers started flying from the nearby fire, and then all of a sudden my neighbour says that the palm trees started catching on fire and she said the next thing you knew she could just see our house go up in flames, so there were other sheds in the street that were also lost as well, and houses in the nearby area as well were lost. it's devastating.
in the area where your family are, have they experienced fires like that before? there were fires in the late 90s that came close to our house, but the fire service was able to save our house. we didn't think that our house was going to be under that much threat, we knew there were fires close by but there aren't a lot of trees around our property and there is a block of land separating our place from the trees as well, from the bush. we didn't think it would be this bad, and certainly not like, it happened so very fast. was there any warning for your parents before they went away about this fire season, about whether the fires might even reach the area? yeah, so there was a fire burning in the area for the past few weeks, nearly a month. a huge bushfire.
it came close to friends of mine, parents‘ houses, but there have been a lot of places saved. on new year's eve, the weather was at catastrophic levels, there was no way to anticipate the fire would move like this. i know it might be difficult to think about the next step, especially as your father, i believe, built that family home, but are your parents talking about rebuilding? about staying in the area? yeah, absolutely. my parents have been there for 30 years, my brother and his wife live in the area, it's a beautiful area. my parents were planning on building their retirement home in the local area. that will still go ahead, my brother and his wife are going to move into this house next. it's just... there are no words to describe how devastating it is to have nothing left, you know?
my parents didn't know that this was going to happen, all ourfamily memories, our photos, our memories from the past, videotapes, everything is gone. the prime minister has been talking about plans and funding to help people like your parents who don't have anywhere else to go. what are their plans now that their home is gone? my parents will live with my brother and his wife as soon as they get back from their holiday in new zealand, but my brother is also worried that the fires on saturday, there is also going to be another catastrophic situation on saturday and the area is being evacuated...
we're just hoping that the other houses are safe as well. we don't know. we have got plenty of friends and family that my parents can stay with, so we are very lucky in that sense, and just lucky that no—one was in the house when it went up. james, thank you so much for sharing your family's story and we do wish you the best of luck at a very difficult time. israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu says he will seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in three cases in which he's charged with bribery and fraud. the immunity request could delay legal proceedings against him for months. mr netanyahu made his announcement in a live television address. translation: i intend to ask the speaker of the knesset, according to article 4, to let me implement my right, my duty and my mission to continue serving you, for the future of israel. i intend to ask because i am
sacrificing my life to you, people of israel. but there are people who, unlike me, did commit grave crimes, and they have lifelong immunity. they are just on the right side of the media and the left wing. for more i spoke to sara hirschhorn. she is an assistant professor of israel studies at northwestern university in chicago. at the moment there is no parliamentary committee in the israeli knesset that could even consider netanyahu's request because israel is now headed to its third election and does not have a government and therefore does not have any parliamentary committee standing to consider this request, which will not happen at least until the second of march when the third israeli election in a calendar year will be held. it is a relatively strong case against mr netanyahu. he denies any wrongdoing. but why doesn't he step down? well, this is a question
that is very much on the minds of the israeli public at the moment. while netanyahu is entitled to bring an immunity request before the parliament, it needs to satisfy certain criteria, which include discrimination, bad faith, or his inability to carry out the duties of the parliament and it does not seem that his personal political scandals will necessarily meet those criteria. you've just returned from tel aviv, you've spent time there, i wonder what people are saying about prime minister netanyahu, about the man himself? i think there are two sides of that coin. the first is those who are extraordinarily frustrated that israel has been without a government for nearly a calendar year and they place the blame at the feet of netanyahu who has been unable to form a coalition in the last two governments. at the same time, he certainly has his loyalists who are proud of his record with the economy, with regional security situation, and expanding new partnerships including the arab world,
and feel that only netanyahu can keep them safe and secure in a changing and challenging world. netanyahu's career is one of extraordinary staying power but is this also the issue that there isn't really a strong alternative to him? very much so. netanyahu recently entered his 10th year as prime minister, the longest—serving prime minister in israeli history. and i believe that much of the israeli public, even if they are gravely concerned with some of the charges against him, feels that there are no credible opponents. just briefly, there's another election to come up, do you foresee the likud party staying with neta nyahu, do you think there is going to be any change on this? there was a likud party primary only a week ago where netanyahu handily defeated his challenger gideon sa'ar and fellow minister in the government. of course a primary is not
necessarily indicative of the larger vote of the israeli population, only party members can vote and usually brings out the most diehard supporters of the party, but certainly netanyahu has retained his status as the first on the list, meaning that he would be the next prime minister in government, so it will now be up to the public to decide if they will give the likud party the largest number of mandates to form the next government. sara hirschhorn there. in indonesia, floods in the capitaljakarta, have killed at least 16 people and forced thousands to leave their homes. among the dead is a teenager who was electrocuted. sylvia lennan—spence reports. the heavy monsoon rains began lashing the indonesian capital on new year's eve, triggering the worst flooding seen there in almost seven years. houses have been submerged, forcing more than 19,000 people to leave their homes and find shelter elsewhere. more than 700 areas in the greaterjakarta region have suffered from power outages, although the electricity was shut off in many parts for safety
reasons after a man died when he was electrocuted. translation: my son's body was covered with newspaper. my second child passed by, and people asked, do you know him? if my other child had not passed by, we would not have known my son had been killed. 0ne ofjakarta's main airports had to be closed as the runway was flooded, meaning delays and diversions for hundreds of passengers. many roads were also impassable, cars and buses submerged by the waters. the president, joko widodo, has instructed government agencies to prioritise the rescue efforts and to try to get public transport running as soon as possible. translation: water has inundated some public facilities, including airports, toll roads and other vital places. the rivers must be stabilised so that their functions can be restored to normal. this is the worst flooding to hitjakarta since 2007, when at least 80 people were killed and more than 300,000 displaced. now schools and offices have been told to provide shelter
as the country's weather agency says more rainfall is expected over the next few days. sylvia lennan—spence, bbc news. a reminder of our top story. australian officials have ordered a mass evacuation from coastal areas of new south wales. thousands have already hit the road as bushfires close in. and before we go, we'd like to leave you with these pictures. motorists in the us state of washington found their way blocked by vast thickets of tumbleweed which were blown across a highway in benton county. five cars and a truck were trapped for hours over the new year. the department of transportation had to use snow ploughs to clear the weed, which was up to five metres high in places. do you stay with us on bbc news. much more coming up and our top stories and updates on our website.
you can also reach me on twitter. —— do stay with us. hello there. it was a relatively quiet start to the new year weather—wise, wasn't it? but a change is likely through today, we are going to see some stronger winds and also some rain around as well. now, if i show you the pressure chart you will see exactly what i'm talking about. the wet weather starting to push into the north—west and plenty of isobars here, so that's where the strongest of the winds and the heaviest of the rain is likely to be. now, these weather fronts are really just keeping the cold air for the moment at bay, but with that south—westerly feed at least it's a mild sort, so that blanket of cloud preventing those temperatures from falling too far. so a mild start to thursday, there will be some rain, some of it heavy as it moves through scotland and as one front clears away it will be replaced by yet another.
so, by the middle of the afternoon it is going to be windy and often wet at times. the first front moves out of the scottish borders into north wales, ahead of it it will stay rather cloudy and grey, blustery, but the strongest of the winds with gusts in excess of 50—60 mph on exposed coasts into the far north—west. but, as i say, a south—westerly wind, double digits quite widely across the country. those fronts sweep their way south and east and so that's going to open the door to this cooler, fresher air, the isobars open up so by the time we get to friday slightly lighter winds but hopefully a little more sunshine around. early morning cloud and rainjust easing away from the far south—east and then it's a relatively dry, quiet afternoon for many, with just a scattering of showers in the far north—west, some sunshine, but temperatures struggling for many to climb into double digits. so, 6—8 degrees in the north, 9 to maybe 11 if we're lucky in the south—east corner. as we move into the weekend, high—pressure is set to build from the south and that means that a relatively quiet story with the weather fronts toppling across the high, so maybe always the chance of a little more in the way of cloud
and outbreaks of showery rain into the north—west, the best of the sunshine on saturday across england and wales. and again those temperature is struggling a little, 6—10 degrees at the very best. now, as we move out of saturday into sunday, it's almost a case of spot the difference but the wind direction changing once again. always the risk of a little more cloud the further north and west you are, the best of the drier, brighter weather into the east and we mightjust see temperatures peaking at around 9—11 degrees. then as we move out of the weekend into next week where most of us are set to go back to a proper week of work, it looks like the north and west will stay blustery and wet, the best of the drier and brighter weather in the south and east. bye— bye.
australian officials have ordered a mass evacuation from coastal areas of new south wales. thousands have already hit the road, as wildfires close in. prime minister scott morrison has defended his handling of the crisis. he praised fire fighters and emergency services, who are coordinating recovery efforts, and called for calm. protesters in baghdad have pulled back from the us embassy, after attacking the compound for the second day running. the crowd were supporters of a militia, backed by iran. their protest was against us air strikes last week, inside iraq, which killed twenty—five militia members. israel's prime minister, benjamin netanyahu, has said he'll seek parliamentary immunity from prosecution in three cases in which he's charged with bribery and fraud. the request could delay legal proceedings against him for months. mr netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, says the charges against him are politically motivated.