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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 15, 2021 4:00am-4:31am GMT

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this is bbc news. most countries probably have omicron cases and it's spreading faster than previous variants and the world health organization warns the world to prepare. even if omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could, once again, overwhelm unprepared health systems. the noes, 126. here in london, despite the pm claiming success, dozens of his own mps vote against new coronavirus restrictions in the latest blow to boris johnson's authority.
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a record temperature�*s observed in the arctic. scientists say the 38 degrees celsius heat is an alarm bell for climate change. celebrations and hugs for ministers — malta legalises cannabis for personal use in a european—first. welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe. the number of people who've died from coronavirus in the united states has passed 800,000 as the country prepares for the impact of the omicron variant. it comes as the head of the world health organization has issued a new warning about omicron, saying it is spreading far more quickly than any other to date. he told countries around the world underestimate it
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at your peril. stephanie prentice reports. it's been three weeks since the first detection of the omicron mutation, but it's likely to be in most countries by now. that's according to the world health organization, who are pushing for increased vaccination, enforced mask wearing, and further social distancing as the new variant moves swiftly around the world. omicron is spreading at a rate we have not seen with any previous variant. we're concerned that people are dismissing omicron as mild. surely, we have learned by now that we underestimate this virus at our peril. even if omicron does cause less severe disease, the sheer number of cases could, once again, overwhelm unprepared health systems. 77 countries are now
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reporting omicron cases with manyjolting into action. the uk has rolled out its plan b measures. and, in the netherlands, primary schools are closing early for the holidays. christmas there will once again roll out with less sparkle as a night—time lockdown is extended, limiting house guests to four over christmas and new year's eve. translation: there's a lot we don't know - about omicron yet. more information will be revealed in the coming days and weeks. for example, we do not know yet how sickening this variant is, but what we do know by now is enough to worry us. early data had suggested omicron may be resistant to vaccines, with many countries fearful of hospitals being overwhelmed, but some experts are more optimistic. we're so thankful we're not seeing the same kind of rate of mortality that we did with delta or even the high numbers of overall viral load, which tells us that omicron, fortunately, should be less pathogenic, but that doesn't mean if you're unvaccinated
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that you should be unworried about it, we still would encourage you certainly to get the vaccine, get your booster. get the vaccine — the sentiment echoed by the who, but with a nod to vaccine inequality in poorer nations. reiterating the fact that when it comes to battling variants, the world is only as strong as its least vaccinated population. stephanie prentice, bbc news. earlier, iasked dr louise ivers, executive director of the center for global health at massachusetts general hospital, if the fact that deaths from coronavirus in the united states have just passed 800,000 mean that president biden�*s early optimism about tackling the pandemic was misplaced. certainly, it's a very sobering number, and it's even more sobering when you see that1 in 100 older americans have died. it's really impacted a generation of people. i think any pandemic response needs to be comprehensive, and that requires a whole
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of public health response. i think there was certainly a lot of messaging about vaccines, vaccines, vaccines, which are critically important. but we also have a very — as in many places around the world — a very exhausted public who are getting mixed messages, often they're not really sure if they should be masking, if they shouldn't, they're tired of doing it. so i don't know that there was unwarranted optimism. we have to hold onto optimism. but i do think we're in a challenging situation at the moment, especially with omicron, as you were mentioning earlier. you talk about fatigue. a doctor was saying earlier that some people say we're done with the virus, but the virus is not done with us. there is a tension at the moment between boosters and vaccinating unvaccinated parts of the world. how do you view that? well, it seems pretty clear that, immunologically,
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boosters are effective in reducing illness even further, but we have a huge gap in the world, whereas only 7% of the lowest income countries arae vaccinated, and that's just devastating. it's a public health failure, it's a moralfailure and we won't be able to emerge from the pandemic safely unless we're able to address that. so the tension, i think, between boosters versus getting some people their very first shot is very real, i think the geopolitics and the way the vaccines have been purchased, imported and sequestered in rich countries out of the reach of poorer countries means that one person giving up their booster doesn't necessarily mean that a person in another country will get theirs right now, but i do think it's a really unfair and inappropriate allocation of the vaccines that we have in the world, we could vaccinate far more people around the world.
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so what infrastructure is needed to get vaccines around the world, and if i may ask you, also, why are governments still opting for travel bans until those vaccines are spread more widely? yeah, i mean, travel bans i think i could start with that. they — in some very limited circumstances in delaying a pandemic, they may work in some situations. they really don't make any sense to me now, two years in, especially when some of the travel bans were to country where there hadn't been the variant identified and where the variant was already identified in many other countries, plus if you're going to do a travel ban, you have to essentially ban all the travel to be effective, which doesn't really make sense for our global economy either. there are far more better tools we can use like asking people to be vaccinated to travel, doing testing, quarantining, tracing, all those other tools that we have now would be much more favourable in my view. in terms of getting access to vaccines around the world, we actually know what to do here. we have vaccines that have been hoarded, even more
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than are needed for boosters in rich countries. those doses could be donated immediately. we also know that we're going to need to make billions of doses of vaccines and we need to transfer the intellectual property and the know—how on how to do that in this emergency to try to solve this emergency. to me, that's absolutely critical, and then we need to help countries invest in their health systems so that they cannot just deliver vaccines and manufacture vaccines for themselves, but so they can also have access to testing, and some of the emerging therapeutics, so we have new emerging oral therapies that are going to be very important as well, we have to make sure that all around the world everyone has access to those. a point that will be very familiar to people for many months now. coronavirus cases in the uk have been rising, and the prime minister has introduced restrictions
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to stop the spread but borisjohnson�*s new rules prompted a major rebellion in parliament by his own conservative mps. the measures such as mandatory covid passes for entertainment venues, were passed but only because the opposition labour party supported them. the rebellion in his own ranks spoke both of a lack of support for any further restrictions and left another dent in mrjohnson�*s already battered authority which took a hit when allegations emerged of christmas parties held a year ago under his watch when the country was in lockdown. a british newspaper hasjust published this photo of what appears to be another such party thrown by conservative aides, in breach of covid measures. a spokesman has said that senior staff "became aware of an unauthorised social gathering" organised by a candidate for london mayor and that formal disciplinary action has been taken
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against four staff members. our deputy political editor, vicky young, reports on the events in parliament. a government win... the ayes to the right, 369. the noes to the left, 126. wow! ouch! but only with the help of labour mps. that's the biggest rebellion borisjohnson has suffered a huge number of his own side ignoring his pleas, refusing to accept the case he's made for more restrictions. so, the ayes have it, the ayes have it, unlock. tonight, the government was putting on a brave face. of course it is difficult, every decision we make has costs and consequences. everybody�*s weighing those up all the time. my colleagues are weighing those up all the time. but we have decided we need to buy time, we really do need to slow down this unbelievably transmissible virus so that we can get everybody vaccinated. but labour say it's a reflection on mrjohnson and the way he governs. this is a very significant blow to the already damaged
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authority of the prime minister. it confirms that he's too weak to discharge the basic functions of government. these public health measures would not have gone through if labour hadn't shown at the leadership that the prime minister failed to show. after 20 months of on—off covid restrictions, many conservatives have had enough. this was just a bridge too far. vaccine passports today, what tomorrow or a week down the road? so i think they were putting a marker down. it has been proven in scotland — vaccine passports don't work, they don't prevent infection. it was a cry of pain from the conservative party. no prime minister wants to rely on the opposition to get their own policies through, and the prime minister spent the day trying to persuade his own mps. addressing them here in the commons, he said
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the government had absolutely no choice but to act, and said that this variant was spreading so quickly, that the numbers that could end up in hospital would be disastrous. he wanted them to back new measures, including compulsory vaccinations for nhs staff, more masks, and covid passes or a negative test before entering large venues. earlier, the health secretary had tried to win them round. ifirmly believe in individual liberty and that the curbs should be placed on our freedoms only in the most gravest of circumstances. so it's vital that we act early and we act in a proportional way, doing whatever we can to build our defences and to preserve greater freedom for the long term. but there was no mistaking the anger amongst conservative mps. i am staggered by the government's approach over the last two weeks in which we have used fear to persuade people. i believe that no government should ever use fear as a tool to try and persuade its citizens. freedom is not an abstract ideology. freedom is what enables my constituents to see their family, to comfort the dying, to go to school, to go to work. that is not freedom!
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the liberal democrat leader, who has joined a growing list of mps who've, today, tested positive for covid, is questioning how effective some of the government's measures are. we think the covid id cards, the vaccine passports as they are called would give people a false sense of security because you can be double jab, boosterjabs and still carry or transmit the virus. liberal democrat support a better option to insist on negative lateral flow tests. the prime minister's authority has taken a hit in the past few weeks and his supporters worry he'll struggle to get his party and the country behind him. the french authorities have formally identified 26 people who died when their boat sank in the sea between england and mainland europe last month, in what is the crossings worst recorded migrant tragedy. more people may still be unaccounted for. among those confirmed dead were two friends from the same town in iraqi kurdistan.
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the bbc�*s hanan razak spoke to their families before the news of their death was officially confirmed. the people of this valley are in mourning once again. two close friends from the town of ranya are among those confirmed to have died last month when their boat sank in the english channel. rizwan hassan was just 18 and a carpenter. his nephew says he tried to talk him out of going. the last time he heard from rizwan was on the night of the boat crossing. rizwan told his family that he would contact them from the uk.
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but hours later, he would lose his life, along with at least 26 others. also in the boat was his friend, hamad, 28. his sister says he believed that the uk promised him a brighter future. but he, too, would never make it. authorities told his family that his body was one of the 27 found. but even before this news, his family have been
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grieving for weeks. many otherfamilies in the region are now expecting similar phone calls from the authorities to tell them that their missing loved ones are now confirmed dead. but despite the risks, people are still coming. an estimated 40,000 people have left the region for europe in the past year alone using illegal smuggling routes. the valley is bracing itself for more bad news. hanan razek, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: a record temperature's observed in the arctic. scientists say the 38 degrees celsius heat is an alarm bell for climate change.
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saddam hussein is finished because he killed our people, ourwomen, our children. the signatures took only a few minutes, but they brought a formal end to 3.5 years of conflict — conflict that has claimed more than 200,000 lives. before an audience of world leaders, the presidents of bosnia, serbia and croatia put their names to the peace agreement. the romanian border- was sealed and silent today. romania has cut itself off from the outside world i in order to prevent the details of the presumed massacre - in timisoara from leaking out. from sex at the white house to a trial
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for his political life — the lewinsky affair tonight guaranteed bill clinton his place in history as only the second president ever to be impeached. this is bbc world news, the latest headlines: a fresh warning from the world health organisation that the new coronavirus variant is spreading at an unprecedented rate. in the uk, a blow to prime minister boris johnson's authority as dozens of his fellow mp vote against covid restrictions. some breaking news now. us house of representatives has voted to seek criminal contempt of charges against mark meadows, donald trump's former chief of staff over that attack on capitol hill onjanuary six. the vote was largely along party lines, with 222 votes to 208. just two republicans voted for it. it has also been
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recommended he faces federal charges. we hope to have more on this story on the likely punishment he might face and the ramifications for donald trump a bit later in the programme. the arctic is among the fastest warming regions in the world, heating at more than twice the global average. on tuesday, the world meteorological organization recognised a new arctic temperature record, after the russian town of verkhoyansk hit 38 degrees celsius in june 2020. professor randy cerveny is the rapporteur on extreme records at the world meteorological organization and was part of the team that worked to verify this temperature in the arctic. in order to make sure that our records are right, we have to make sure that they were taken into the correct manner, that the instrumentation was the proper instrumentation, that the sensor was calibrated, that it was reading the correct values, that it was sighted in the specified place and it was at a specified level. there are lots of guidelines that we have for taking
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uniform measurements around the world, so when we have a new record what we want to do is make sure that observation was taken in exactly the proper manner so that we can have faith and confidence in all of our observations. so we can trust it. when i was living in the middle east, when it was 38 degrees outside some days, i'd have to change my shirt quite regularly. this is in the arctic, where the snow should be reflecting the heat away — it's a problem for the world this, isn't it? very alarming. it is and, in fact, that is one of the big problems with having these kind of high temperatures taking place in the arctic. arctic is an area where we normally would expect to see snow cover but as temperatures are increasing, what is happening, of course, is we're going to have less and less snow cover and that means that the sunlight that would normally be reflected back up into space, is being absorbed by the ground so it is making it hotter.
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it is what we call a feedback mechanism, that the warming temperatures lead to a lack of snow, which increases the actual heat on the ground. is there some good news in this? can it be reversed or is it linked to climate change? it is linked to climate change. part of my particularjob is determining extremes around the world. the hottest temperatures in different parts of the world, or the coldest, as a matter of fact. i cant tell you, for example, that in the last ten years we have looked at many more extremes of high temperature then we have of low temperature. our last low temperature extremes that we verified took place more than 25 years ago, so we are living in a warming world and that warming world is as a result of our own actions. this is keeping you busy now.
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let's go back to our breaking news, mr house of representatives has voted to bring these charges against mark meadows, but he is in contempt of congress. we are going to speak to kimberly whaley from the university of baltimore school of law now. thank you so much forjoining us. this wasn't the most surprising result, but it does bring back into everybody�*s mind those events of january the sixth. what happens next to mark meadows, donald trump's former chief of staff? the recommendation - former chief of staff? the recommendation goes - former chief of staff? tue: recommendation goes to former chief of staff? tte: recommendation goes to the justice department that will then make a decision as to whether to actually indict him for contempt as recommended by the house of representatives, this exercise happened recently with former donald trump aide stephen bannon, and he was indicted and his trial is in july. the factual circumstances
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are a little bit different. mr meadows did co—operate to some degree, he turned over 9000 documents, records, including texts and emails that people are now talking about a lot. so there is no way to predict necessarily what will happen at the justice department, necessarily what will happen at thejustice department, but the next step is a possible criminal indictment which could trigger up to one year in jail. donald trump did famously speak about his opponent at the time, hillary clinton, going to jail. those were his words. of course, steve bannon and mark meadows could face that sentence?— meadows could face that sentence? , ., , sentence? yes, his famous words were "lock _ sentence? yes, his famous words were "lock her— sentence? yes, his famous words were "lock her up". _ sentence? yes, his famous words were "lock her up". you - sentence? yes, his famous words were "lock her up". you know, i were "lock her up". you know, there were not any criminal charges brought against hillary clinton at any point in her career, including in the whitewater investigation, which i participated in many years ago. mark meadows and steve bannon are not the first people within former president trump's close but which have been
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indicted or pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial or going to prison. he tends to collect people that below through legal limits under the state and federal criminal laws in the united states. this state and federal criminal laws in the united states.— in the united states. this has come about _ in the united states. this has come about because - in the united states. this has come about because mark- in the united states. this has - come about because mark meadows was cooperating with the january six enquiry, in fact, thatis january six enquiry, in fact, that is how we know about all these text messages, until the cooperation was ended. those text messages that were published recently to show what a centralfigure published recently to show what a central figure mark meadows was. ., ., , was. right, i mean, he was the chief of staff. _ was. right, i mean, he was the chief of staff. he _ was. right, i mean, he was the chief of staff. he is _ was. right, i mean, he was the chief of staff. he is the - was. right, i mean, he was the chief of staff. he is the top - chief of staff. he is the top person closest to the president and he is managing the president's affairs, managing the white house, and we know that he was sort of the centrepiece of communication for many people in the republican party, in the far right, trump supporting republican party, including prominent figures at fox news,
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who were literally begging mark meadows to get donald trump to make an announcement or to do something to stop the carnage at the capital, and as house of representatives member liz cheney of wyoming said today, it was 187 minutes but donald trump did nothing. and multiple lives were lost. property was damaged. and american democracy almost fell. and there is no guarantee it won't for the next round. that, ithink, is why there is an urgency around what is have —— what happened on january six, it is not so much backward looking, it is also forward—looking, because the forces of tyranny are very much at work in the united states government right now. kimberly, thanks so much _ government right now. kimberly, thanks so much for— government right now. kimberly, thanks so much forjoining - government right now. kimberly, thanks so much forjoining us - thanks so much forjoining us on that breaking news that the us house of representatives has voted to seek criminal contempt of congress charges against
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donald trump's former chief of staff, mark meadows. plenty of —— plenty more on that coming up. thanks forjoining us. see you soon. hello. well, the key message in the weather forecast is that the weather is going to be very settled over the next few days. a big area of high pressure is going to establish itself across the uk, and that means settled conditions, i think, in the run—up to christmas. and on the satellite picture, you can see that area of high pressure across spain, portugal and france. it's building here and it's extending northwards. and as it extends northwards, it's going to push the fronts away to the north as well. but for the time being, we still have quite a few isobars — these pressure lines — so a stronger wind and a weather front now, the cloud cover on wednesday will vary but for the time being, we still have quite a few isobars — these pressure lines — so a stronger wind and a weather front close to northern ireland and across western parts of scotland and the north, as well,
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during the course of wednesday. so, here, it will be at times cloudy, but it's mild with that cloudy, rainy weather, around 8—9 degrees celsius. to the south of that, very mild, too. ten degrees, but it is dry. now, the cloud cover on wednesday will vary considerably across the uk. we still have that weakening weather front in the north west here, so dribs and drabs of rain. and at the very least, it will be cloudy, but plenty of bright if not even sunny weather around merseyside, parts of the midlands, lincolnshire, also northern and eastern parts of scotland. in the south, we have thicker cloud because it's drifting in from the southern climes here. now, this high pressure really will be in place across the uk by thursday. you can see the weather fronts have been pushed to the north, so that means it's drying out right across the uk. still a little bit of rain maybe early in the morning, flirting with the very far
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north—west of scotland and the northern isles, but you can see the bulk of the country is dry on thursday. and again, a lot of variation in the cloud cover, but wherever you will be on thursday, i think the temperature will be more or less the same, around 10—12 degrees celsius. now, this is what we call a blocking high, and this happens when the jet stream sort of wraps around it in the shape of the greek letter omega. so, you can just about make out that omega shape. when that happens in the atmosphere, things don't tend to move around an awful lot. they get sort of locked in, so that's why that high pressure will lock itself in, across this part of the world, across our shores. so, very little change is expected as we head through friday, through the weekend and into next week as well. that's it from me.
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his family have been grieving for weeks.
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this is bbc news, the headlines: the head of the world health organization has issued mr meadows has had charges urged against him. the head of the world health organization has issued a new warning about the omicron variant of coronavirus, saying it is spreading far more quickly than any other to date. he told countries around the world underestimate it at your peril. in the uk, prime minister borisjohnson�*s suffered the worst parliamentary rebellion of his term in office, with dozens of his own mps voting against new covid restrictions but the changes were approved thanks to backing from the labour opposition. now on bbc news,
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it's hardtalk with stephen sackur.


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