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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 16, 2021 4:00am-4:31am GMT

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this is bbc news. our top stories: the omicron variant deals higher cases in the uk and awarding of staggering cases to come. —— a warning. the doubling rate of omicron in some regions is now down to less than two days and i'm afraid we are also seeing the inevitable increase in hospitalisations. seeing the destruction for himself: president biden goes to kentucky and witnesses the devastation caused by deadly tornadoes. when you look around here, it is just almost beyond belief. these tornadoes devoured everything in their path. the influential black author and feminist known as bell hooks has died at the age of 69.
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sir lewis hamilton, for services to motorsport. and arise, sir lewis! he may have lost his world title, but britain's formula 1 hero is knighted at windsor castle. hello. welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe. we begin here in the uk. the uk has recorded its highest ever number of confirmed covid infections. more than 78,500 people have tested positive for the virus with the omicron strain causing considerable concern. south africa, where the variant was first identified last month, has also reported a record number of daily infections. italy and france also say they've seen record numbers too. the us has confirmed cases in 36 states, while the philippines
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and cambodia have detected their first omicron cases. our health editor hugh pym has this report. with the rapid spread of the new variant, the booster programme has been given new urgency. here, a gp in oxford visits elderly patients in their homes to give them the top—up jab. but it will give you a very good protection and boost your immunity. with evidence of that good protection against omicron infection, the booster roll—out will continue. but according to recent research, there's much less of a shield a few months after a second dose, and there's high—level concern about how much case numbers could rise. it's probably the most significant threat we've had since the start of the pandemic, and i'm sure, for example, that the numbers that we see on data over the next few days will be quite staggering compared to the rate of growth that we've seen in cases for previous variants. even if most of the extra cases are mild, that could result
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in more staff absences from key sectors of the economy and public services. and while omicron may cause less serious illness than delta, a surge in cases would mean at least some extra hospital admissions. one group of modellers has come up with a range of scenarios depending on what happens with the virus and the take—up of boosters. they say in the worst—case scenario in england, there could be more than 6,000 hospital admissions a day compared with just under 4,000 at the peak last winter. in the best case, they say it would be around 2,000 admissions a day in england, and all of that assumes that previously announced restrictions haven't been changed. the picture seems bleaker, but vaccine coverage is much more widespread than in the january wave, deaths, for now, are a lot lower, and there are more therapies for covid patients. hugh pym, bbc news. across the world, governments have been reacting to the phenomenal increase in omicron cases.
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as we've mentioned, south africa has recorded its highest number of coronavirus cases in 2a hours since the start of the pandemic. and in europe, a vaccination drive for children under 12 has begun. louisa pilbeam reports. as omicron spreads, countries in europe are trying to stop it by vaccinating young children. with children accounting the majority of cases in germany, spain, denmark and the netherlands, a handful of eu countries have approved vaccines for under 12s. in spain, the country's health minister said the take—up had been extraordinary. translation: the response has been extraordinary - and we are convinced that it will continue like this. as you know, 1.3 million doses arrived in our country on monday. we have about 3.3 million children in this group between 5 and 11 years of age. while children rarely get severely ill or die, infections spread quickly among young people.
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in hungary, 38,000 parents have registered their children for the shots so far. translation: since there - are grandparents in our family, it is safer to spend christmas with them if everyone is vaccinated. and we would like her to be able to meet other children in the family. and for the time being, i do not know a better solution than the vaccine. in germany, where there is more scepticism, the most vulnerable children are being jabbed first. translation: i'm getting phone calls from friends, | acquaintances and so forth who heard, so, yes, lots of parents would like to have their children vaccinated because they are seriously concerned. elsewhere, there is concern too and different measures to halt omicron. in canada, the government has advised citizens against international travel. i have a task of confirming that our government is officially advising canadians to avoid non—essential travel outside canada. to those who were planning
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to travel, i say very clearly, now is not the time to travel. it was three weeks ago south africa identified the emergence of the new strain of omicron to the world. they have now recorded the highest number of coronavirus cases in 2a hours since the start of the pandemic, but the government insists cases of omicron are mild and other countries are panicking. louisa pilbeam, bbc news. in the us, president biden visited kentucky on wednesday to see for himself the damage caused by a series of deadly tornadoes. more than 70 people were killed and more than 120 people are still missing. our correspondent nomia iqbal is in kentucky, and sent this report. this is one of the poorest towns in the state. it has been left in apocalyptic ruins. many people are now wondering what's next. officials say 75% of the town
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has been destroyed. today, president biden came to see the damage for himself. i intend to do whatever it takes as long as it takes, as long as it takes to support your state, your local leaders and as you recover and rebuild because you will recover and you will rebuild. you know, the scope and scale of this destruction is almost beyond belief. when you look around here, it's just almost beyond belief. these tornadoes devoured everything in their path. president biden has signed an emergency declaration for the state. it will provide funds for the emergency management agency known as fema to help with search and rescue and provide food, water and generators. but many in this town have been relying on strangers for support. sally's managed to find her wedding ring and pictures of her children. she's trying to clear up as much as she can ahead of another storm that's being forecast. we've recovered more, i think, than we first thought.
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�*cause at first, itjust looked like a big pile of rubble. but as you dig through, you are able to find some things, and we have found some things that were very important to us, which makes me happier than — when you think everything is gone, it's quite heartbreaking. some people say they want more thanjust their neighbours helping. i went to a shelter earlier and some volunteers there who didn't want to speak to me on camera claimed that the government response by fema has been really slow. they also say they hope the president isn'tjust here for a photo op. the president has also visited the town of mayfield, an hour away. kentucky is a republican state. how he and his democratic administration respond to the disaster will be scrutinised by conservatives, the very people he's trying to reach. nomia iqbal, kentucky. the influential black feminist known as bell hooks has died at the age of 69. the author, professor, poet and activist whose real name was gloria jean watkins
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wrote more than a0 books and herfirst major work ain't i a woman became widely recognised as an important feminist text. since 2004, she had been teaching at the berea college in kentucky, which established the bell hooks center as an inclusive space for historically under—represented students. well, earlier, ispoke to the feminist and political strategist angela peoples. i asked her why bell hooks served as such an inspiration to her. there is so much that was special about bell hooks. i think, for me, i was first introduced to bell hooks by other black feminists, organisers and activists over the last decade of doing work in the us. but when i started to read her writing, i was struck byjust how personal and vulnerable and easy it was to connect to her words. i remember evenjust
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approaching her reading, thinking that i had to be at a particular level of skill, but actually, opening the book and just sitting down, i really felt connected to her and to her experience and to her vulnerability, just right off of the page. it's been a divisive few years, especially in the us. we've seen health and income disparities, particularly when it comes to different ethnic groups, we've seen me too movement, violence against black men and women at the hands of police officers, the subsequent black lives matter movement. how did bell hooks reflect on these modern events? well, i think that bell hooks's work is so relevant and critical for times that we're in right now, there's so much to be angry about, there's so much to be disheartened about, and to feel weary. i know many folks feel weary just coming up into being — rounding out the second year
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of a global pandemic on top of the ongoing crises around racism and systematic oppression in the us. but the power of bell hooks's work is to remind us that love and care is actually our most powerful and practical tool in these moments, that we need to be leaning into love of each other and love of ourselves and practising that, and in lots of different ways, not just in our intimate relationships, but in our care, with our communities, in our activism and in our fight for justice. and so i think that — i know that for folks who have studied her work and have been inspired by her work for years, that folks are taking solace and being reminded of that in this moment, as we're grieving the loss of her, and for folks who are just hearing about bell hooks, i think that there's an exciting opportunity for folks to learn and to be expanded in their minds and their imaginations
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from her work, thinking about what is possible for us in this moment as we are moving through some very dark times. stay with us on bbc news. still to come, against all odds: the endangered whale that managed to give birth while entangled on rope in the north atlantic. 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.
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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 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. our top story this hour: record figures for new covid infections in the uk — more than 78,000 new cases were reported in the past 2a hours. president biden has been visiting kentucky to see the devastation caused by this weekend's tornadoes. he described it as being
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"almost beyond belief." let's stay with that story. earlier, i spoke to dr anne rimoin, she is professor of epidemiology at the fielding school of public health at ucla. i asked her with christmas just over a week away and the omicron variant spreading fast, what people could do to mitigate the problem. i think that the things that we need to be really worried about is this incredible momentum that the omicron variant is now starting to gain. we are starting to see cases everywhere. people are already starting to travel for the holidays, they have already made their plans and so i think it is going to be very difficult to get people to pivot or change plans so we have to get very clear about what people can do to be as safe as possible and those things are, of course, getting vaccinated, getting boosted if you are already vaccinated, wearing very high—quality masks, throwing in testing where you can if you are going to be gathering with people — get tested.
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use rapid tests if they are available to you. and be creative — open windows, open doors, spread out, and be very thoughtful about how you're going to spending time with people and what their risk factors are, because this variant is extremely contagious. you have done lots of work around vaccine hesitancy. why are some people hesitant about getting the vaccine? this is an interesting question because the answer — i'm not going to be able to give you just one answer. there are myriad reasons that people are hesitant. some people are worried about side—effects. some people are worried because of misinformation that is being spread about this vaccine. some people are concerned because of experiences that they have had that have been very negative with the health system. some peoplejust do not have enough information. and so it is going to be very important to be very specific with communities.
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address their concerns individually and really be able to help people understand, from their own perspective, what the vaccine can do for them, how it can help them get back to normal, how they can be helpful to their community and protect other people. but a one—size—fits—all strategy is not going to work. last year many people could not see family and friends over christmas. do you think there is a chance that even though they know the risks, some people this year, because of last year, might decide to take the gamble and have these family reunions? absolutely. i think that a lot of people are going to, and the bottom line is it is going to be about risk threshold — what people are willing to risk. now we have so many tools at our disposal to be able to see people much more safely. as i said, we have vaccines — this is a fantastic way to be able to see people.
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if you do get this virus, it is very likely going to be much less severe, you are going to be unlikely to be hospitalised or die if you are vaccinated and boosted for example. but as i said, masks are a terrific tool, they should also be used. ventilation also should be used. and as i said, testing also should be used. so there are so many things that you can do. if you're going to get together with your family, you have to recognize that there is risk involved but there are tools in the toolbox to make it as safe as possible. professor anne rimoin from ucla there. let's get some of the day's other news. two children have died and several have been critically injured on the australian island of tasmania, after an inflatable castle was blown into the air by a gust of wind. police said the children, from a primary school in devonport, fell from a height of about ten metres. america's biggest police department, the nypd in new york, is to be led by a woman for the first time in its history. keechant sewell has been appointed by mayor—elect eric adams. ms sewell said she wanted the department to �*look like the city it serves' — and promised to clamp down on gun crime.
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nine people have been killed in a plane crash in the dominican republic. the private jet was attempting an emergency landing in the capital santo domingo just 15 minutes after taking off en route to florida. the us government has released over 1,000 more previously secret documents, relating to the assassination of president kennedy in 1963. the documents show how soviet intelligence, communist groups with links to africa, and the italian mafia, were all investigated. but researchers have, so far, not found anything to contradict the official finding that lee harvey oswald acted on his own when he shotjfk. lewis hamilton, has been knighted at windsor castle, just days after controversially losing out on a record eighth formula one world title. sir lewis received the honour for services to motorsports
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meanwhile the sports governing body — the fia — has announced an inquiry into sunday's race, saying the controversy around it is tarnishing the image of the championship. all this as f1's new world champion, max verstappen, has been celebrating his title with his red bull team at theirfactory in milton keynes in england. our sports editor, dan roan, reports. it may have been at a slower speed than usual, but formula 1's new world champion returned to a hero's welcome at his team's headquarters today. max verstappen able to celebrate with the entire staff at red bull's base in milton keynes. later the dutch driver telling me how it felt to have realised a lifelong ambition. yes, it is slowly sinking in, but also it has been very hectic all the way through, so i'm also pretty tired at the moment. anything what will happen now is a bonus. not much will change, but in the back of your mind you are a bit more relaxed because your big dream, you know, ultimate goal you have achieved already. verstappen's victory over lewis hamilton in the season's deciding race in abu dhabi has
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divided the sport. mercedes failing with two protests after the dutchman was given the chance to claim the race and title in the final lap after a restart. so has the controversy tainted the success? not for me and and also i don't think for the team. we raced when there was a green light, green flag and we beat them on the track. when you look over the whole season we had the most poles, most wins. we had ourfairshare of bad luck as well. mercedes have the option of appealing, they have until tomorrow evening to decide. would you like them now to just stop this fight and accept the result? it's difficult. i can't speak for them. i think, you know, races should be won on the track. we will celebrate regardless, but we at least won it on the track. sir lewis hamilton. having missed out on a record eighth title, hamilton, meanwhile, could at least celebrate receiving his knighthood today, verstappen full of praise for the man who pushed him on the way.
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it has been a real pleasure fighting against him. we had our moments throughout the year when we clashed but i think we really respect each other because we have pushed each other to the limit. despite the fallout, verstappen's victory marks a new era for a sport which is winning new fans and, aged just 2a, there could be much more success to come. dan roan, bbc news. now, the remarkable tale of an endangered north atlantic right whale who's given birth — against all odds. tanya dendrinos has the story. a mother and her calf frolicking off the coast of georgia. it is a majestic sight but if you look a little closer, you will notice this north atlantic right whale is entangled in fishing rope — she has been for months but remarkably still managed to give birth. it is a very odd and first—ever seen situation when a mother is entangled in fishing gear and potentially lethally entangled and yet she gives birth to a calf,
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so now we have to worry about two whales. snow cone, as she's nicknamed, has already had an epicjourney travelling 1300 miles through her annual migration while entangled. she was first seen caught up in fishing gear off plymouth harbor, in massachusetts, in march. by may she was near the coast of new brunswick, canada. while at the start of december, she was spotted with her newborn near cumberland island, georgia. right whale's calves swim incredibly close to their mothers, making for a near—impossible task for disentanglement responders. but saving this pair is critical for the entire species. i guess the most outstanding trait is they are one of the rarest large mammals on earth. we know they are on the brink of extinction, may be something around 330 animals remaining, so the calves of these animals are the future,
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and that is largely why the situation with snow cone is so compelling. snow cone and her calf will continue to be closely monitored with many challenges and a long journey north ahead. tanya dendrinos, bbc news. two items linked to the birth of the online encyclopaedia wikipedia have raised almost a million dollars at auction at christie's in new york. wikipedia's founder, jimmy wales, sold the apple computer he used to develop the site 20 years ago for almost $200,000. the rest was raised by the sale of the image of the first words he ever typed on wikipedia, "hello world". it was sold as a non—fungible token, a unique digital object that confers ownership through blockchain technology.
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it's little more than a week until christmas — and the usual excitement is mounting. many children have sent their lists to santa and the grown ups are shopping for that perfect present. covid has obviously had an impact — but there is one place where the festive spirit can never be extinguished — the bbc�*s tim allman explains. # it's beginning to look a lot like christmas. # everywhere you go...# in this part of finland it really is christmas every day. rovaniemi in lapland calls itself the official home of santa claus. and here he is — honestly, truly, the real thing, notjust a man in a fake beard. father christmas hoping this year, of all years, he can bring some joy to the world. i have been hearing worrying news around the globe about well—being and coping of children and young people. now it's time to turn these worries into plenty of goodwill.
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visitor numbers obviously took a big hit in the last two years as the pandemic took hold. santa's business representatives they people are coming back but they have to take precautions. translation: the guests| are required to have corona passports when they arrive in finland. we ask all our guests to show their corona passport at the reception desk. and after that they are free to take part in all the activities. but, of course, the most important people here are the children. do you like santa? in a few days' time, after the odd dry run, father christmas will be back on his travels, in a much bigger sleigh. his ambition, he says, to make this christmas happy and unforgettable. tim allman, bbc news.
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and that's it from me and the rest of the team in london, we will see you next time, goodbye. hello there. temperatures were as high as 1a degrees on wednesday, and the rest of the week will stay mild. i suspect many of us, though, will continue to see cloudy skies like this. there was some sunshine, though, across a good part of yorkshire and lincolnshire on wednesday, but these areas with those clearer skies are starting a bit colder on thursday morning. mild elsewhere underneath that blanket of cloud. could be some mist and fog patches with those clearer skies across parts of northern england, even down into norfolk as well. we'll see those mist and fog patches lifting, and the best of the sunshine more likely to be to the east of the pennines, in the north—east of england.
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a lot of cloud around elsewhere. there's a bit of rain and drizzle across northern parts of scotland, becoming more confined towards the northern isles. whether you've got the cloud or not, though, it's still a mild day for the time of year. temperatures widely in double figures once again. now, high pressure is building in across the uk. that's why it's so quiet, but that high pressure is bringing with it a good deal of cloud. now, the cloud could just be thick enough to give one or two spots of drizzle across more southern parts of the uk, whereas again a mild start on friday. a little bit chillier across some eastern parts of scotland, the north—east of england, perhaps even into the north west of wales, where there could be a few breaks overnight. but as you can see, not a great deal of sunshine on offer on friday. the winds are light in most places, just picking up a touch there in the far south—west of england. and again, it's mild. 8—9 degrees more typically across northern parts of england and scotland. this time temperatures are starting to ebb away just a little. this weekend, though, we're going to hang on to the cloudy skies for most of the country. a lot of dry weather around as well, of course. limited amounts of sunshine means a limited amount of frost. it will be turning a bit colder
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as the weekend goes on. you can see we may have some sunshine across the north—east of scotland, perhaps west wales, into the far south—west of england, where there's a bit more breeze on saturday. but otherwise, it looks cloudy once again. and we may just sneak those temperatures across southern parts in particular into double figures. there's the area of high pressure. it's really taking a shine to the uk. it's not going to move very far at all during this weekend. so, again, the winds are likely to be light, but as you can see again it looks like it's going to be quite cloudy. that cloud could be quite low as well, so some mist and some fog potentially over some higher parts of the uk. and those temperatures beginning to drop away a little bit. it will feel a little bit chillier on sunday.
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this is bbc news. the headlines: the uk has registered a daily record of more than 78,000 cases of coronavirus, the highest since the pandemic began. the number exceeds by 10,000 the previous record injanuary. the uk's chief medical officer warned many more records would be broken over the next few weeks. president biden's announced the us federal government will cover the entire cost of 30 days of clear—up in the state of kentucky following friday's devastating tornadoes. mr biden described the destruction there as "almost beyond belief." at least 7a people died in kentucky and 1a others in other states. the influential black feminist known as bell hooks has died at the age of 69. the author, professor, poet and activist wrote dozens of books. she died at her home in kentucky surrounded by family and friends. now on bbc news, it's hardtalk.

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