tv BBC News BBC News December 18, 2021 3:00am-3:31am GMT
welcome to bbc news. i'm rich preston. our top stories: concern across europe as extra measures are announced to combat the growing threat of the omicron variant. as cases jump sharply in the us, the country's top health official warns of the risks of not getting jabbed. clearly, unvaccinated individuals are really at a higher risk of serious involvement, including hospitalisation. hundreds of thousands displaced and at least 12 dead as typhoon rai takes its toll on the philippines. british socialite ghislaine maxwell, who's on trial on sex trafficking charges, tells the us court she won't be giving evidence. more pressure
on borisjohnson — the man appointed to investigate whether government christmas parties were held during lockdown last christmas has stepped down from the role after it emerged a party was held in his own department. hello. welcome to the programme. the french prime minister, jean castex, has likened the spread of the omicron variant of coronavirus to lightning as he announced new measures to slow its advance. mr castex said major public parties and firework displays on new year's eve would be banned. the rapid spread of omicron has seen a raft of new restrictions brought in across europe. lucy grey has this report. as countries across europe and brace themselves for a sharp rise in cases due to the
omicron variant, fidelity and travel are the main targets for the new restrictions. the omicron _ the new restrictions. the omicron variant - the new restrictions. the omicron variant of- the new restrictions. the omicron variant of the i the new restrictions. tue: omicron variant of the covid—19 virus is exploding throughout europe. it is here, it is in our country and we are going to see a massive rise in infections.— see a massive rise in infections. in ireland, all restaurants, _ infections. in ireland, all restaurants, bars, - infections. in ireland, all. restaurants, bars, cinemas infections. in ireland, all- restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres will have close at 8pm from sunday, although weddings five 100 people will be allowed until midnight. the government is promising new financial support companies after warnings the new rules because up warnings the new rules because up to 70,000job warnings the new rules because up to 70,000 job losses. this was the scene in london on friday as brits rushed to get to france before it closed its border to uk passport holders. the french government has banned major public parties and fireworks displays on new year's eve, but the army has been brought into help with booster and ministers have approved the use of vaccines for children from the age of five. record numbers of new
cases in denmark have brought restrictions on restaurant opening hours as well, and cinemas, theatres and concert halls are closing. in switzerland from monday you will have to show proof of vaccination or recovering from covid to be allowed into restaurants or a negative test result to get into bars or nightclubs. the german government is warning the next wave will be a massive challenge for its hospitals and society as a whole and has banned unvaccinated people from restaurants and non—essential commerce. french and danish travellers who haven't been jabs will now have to quarantine on arrival in germany. with healthcare germany. with healthca re systems germany. with healthcare systems across europe under strain, this head of the european commission says vaccination is key. irate european commission says vaccination is key. we know that our healthcare - vaccination is key. we knowj that our healthcare systems vaccination is key. we know - that our healthcare systems are overstretched right now, and this is partly linked to the large number of unvaccinated patients, so in conclusion, the answer can only be to increase vaccination to include children above five years old, boosting and protective measures that
have to be the answer we give to this new variant. in have to be the answer we give to this new variant.— to this new variant. in the netherlands, _ to this new variant. in the netherlands, as - to this new variant. in the netherlands, as the - to this new variant. in the - netherlands, as the healthcare system deals with an influx of covid patience, routine care and all but urgent operations have been postponed. dutch ministers a meeting of advisers on saturday after they recommended the country go into a strict lockdown. lucy grey, bbc news. recorded cases are also rising sharply in the united states, while hospitalisations due to covid have jumped by 45% in the last month. the us infectious diseases expert, dr anthony fauci, says the high transmissibility of the omicron variant means it could cause many additional deaths, and he's leading calls for americans to get their booster shots. we are in the midst — in the situation where we are now facing a very important delta surge and we're looking over our shoulder at an oncoming omicron surge. clearly, unvaccinated individuals are really at a high risk of serious involvement, including hospitalisation.
the fully vaccinated are doing much better off. the optimum protection is fully vaccinated, plus a boost. so the bottom line of what we've been telling you all along, it is critical to get vaccinated. if you are vaccinated, it is critical for optimum protection to get boosted. we can now speak to dr william schaffner who's a professor of infectious diseases at vanderbilt university medical center. thank you very much for being with us. we have been told omicron is much more transmissible. how much more transmissible. how much more transmissible is it than the previous iterations of coronavirus?- previous iterations of coronavirus? ., , coronavirus? good to be with ou. coronavirus? good to be with yom omicron _ coronavirus? good to be with you. omicron is _ coronavirus? good to be with you. omicron is indeed - coronavirus? good to be with you. omicron is indeed much more contagious. one study indicates it multiplies, that is it reproduces itself 70 times more frequently than does the delta virus when it is back
in the throat and behind the nose. that means of course that a person exhales a large amount of virus, making it much more likely to infect people around them, resulting in this contagious nurse, and so is lightning strike that has been described omicron expanding throughout europe, i think, is a foreshadowing of what we will experience here in the united states very shortly. it is states very shortly. it is still relatively _ states very shortly. it is still relatively early - states very shortly. it is| still relatively early days states very shortly. it is i still relatively early days in the world omicron. can you talk us through what we still don't know about it, what we really need to find out, and when we might learn this information? well, we have learned that it is highly contagious. two other things. the first is can it produced more severe or similar severity of disease? that is still being worked out. it is really quite clear that this highly contagious virus can
infect fully vaccinated people, that illness is mild. the question is, how severe is the illness in unvaccinated people, and we have many of them in the united states. and then of course the last and very important question is exactly how protective are our vaccines? we know that they protect to a degree, the data that comes in suggest strongly and fortunately that they are keeping us out of the hospital. they will prevent severe disease. but minor infections akin to a common cold, they can still happen even among people who are vaccinated. for still happen even among people who are vaccinated.— who are vaccinated. for our viewers _ who are vaccinated. for our viewers watching _ who are vaccinated. for our viewers watching around i who are vaccinated. for our| viewers watching around the world, can you give us a sense of the picture of hospitalisations in america, and particularly in the uk, we have the nhs, a state run health system, have pretty good syncope of someone has to be off work sick. it is not true
off work sick. it is not true of the united states. how much of the united states. how much of a risk is it that people might still choose to go to work when they are feeling under the weather because they are not going to get sick pay, they might not go to the hospital when they are feeling well. how much risk does that pose to the greater society? that sort of behaviour poses a greater risk because it promotes even further spread, and of course we are very concerned about a surge that will impact once again our healthcare system, which has been so stressed. it is beginning already, but that is due to delta. omicron isjust coming on and in addition, that other nasty respiratory virus, influenza, isjust gathering steam here in the united states. we could have a twin demick that would really badly impact our healthcare system. thank you very much for sharing
your insights with us. mr; your insights with us. my pleasure- _ let's go to southeast asia now. 12 people are now confirmed to have died in the philippines due to super typhoon rai. but authorities are still trying to reach some badly affected areas and say the death toll could rise. the typhoon made landfall on the tourist island of siargao on friday, levelling homes and displacing hundreds of thousands of people. the united nations says some 13 million people may have been affected. sara monetta reports. after the storm, the devastation is everywhere. on friday, super typhoon rai pummelled the southern and central regions of the philippines, tearing roofs off buildings, uprooting trees, toppling power poles and flooding villages. these paradise islands — popular tourist destinations — are now cut off from the world. local airports are damaged and communications are down. more than 300,000 people had to flee their homes, and now, they are in
dire need for help. we had to bring ready—to—eat meals because people are in roofs in flooded areas and they are waiting to be assisted. we have already fed 20,000 people with hot meals and we are looking at not only the evacuation service, but those outside who have stayed in their homes or have lost their homes completely. so, it's a really bad situation. search teams are working to reach all those left stranded by the floods. several people are still missing and rescuers fear the death toll might rise. the philippines is often affected by such huge typhoons, but the effects of climate change may be making them more frequent and more powerful, meaning scenes like these may become increasingly common in years to come. sara monetta, bbc news.
an american man has been sentenced to five years in prison for attacking police during the storing of the us congress by donald trump ausmat supporters. the jail term is the longest so far of anyone involved in january's the longest so far of anyone involved injanuary�*s riot. our north america correspondent david willisjoins me now. what were the specific charges? robert palmer was the first person involved in the insurrection on january six to be prosecuted in connection with assaulting a police officer, and as you say, he received the longest sentence so far, the three months or five years and three months in prison. previously, 43 months, 41 months, sorry, had been the four longest sentence handed down, but none of those defendants had faced such serious charges, and the judge was told that mr palmer attacked police with a wooden
pole with a stick and with a fire hydrant as well, and they concluded that these were very serious charges that merited the sort of sentence that he received. of the 700 people who are facing charges in connection with that insurrection in the capital building onjanuary six, most face more minor charges, but there are some serious charges of assaulting police and possession of a deadly weapon and so on, which could lead to charges similar to those levelled against robert palmer today. levelled against robert palmer toda . levelled against robert palmer toda. ,. , today. david, we saw pictures of him just — today. david, we saw pictures of him just there, _ today. david, we saw pictures of him just there, he - today. david, we saw pictures of him just there, he looked l of him just there, he looked very emotional. it was his defence? in very emotional. it was his defence?— very emotional. it was his defence? . ., ., defence? in a handwritten note to the judge. — defence? in a handwritten note to the judge, robert _ defence? in a handwritten note to the judge, robert palmer. to the judge, robert palmer said that he felt he had been duped into taking part in the insurrection on the capital building. he said that it was born of loyalty to the former president, donald trump, and he
said he now believed that the claim that the presidential election had been stolen was a lie. robert palmer's conviction i think all part of a sign that if you like the most�*s tightening of those officials in washington, dc believe were to blame for that insurrection, and insurrection that led to the deaths of several people on the deaths of several people on the day itself. we saw this week the washington, dc attorney general announcing civil proceedings against members of too far right groups, the proud boys and the both keepers. how representatives voted to hold donald trump �*s former chief of staff, mark meadows, in contempt of congress and to refer potential charges to the us justice refer potential charges to the usjustice department refer potential charges to the us justice department after he failed to comply with a subpoena to testify
committee looking into the events of january six. committee looking into the events ofjanuary six.- events ofjanuary six. ok, david willis, _ events ofjanuary six. ok, david willis, thank - events ofjanuary six. ok, david willis, thank you . events ofjanuary six. ok, i david willis, thank you very much for being with us. the british socialite, ghislaine maxwell, who's facing sex trafficking charges in the united states, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. ms maxwell said there was no need to testify because the prosecution had failed to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt. she denies grooming girls for the late convicted paedophile, jeffrey epstein. our correspondent nada tawfik has been outside the courthouse in new york. the defence has rested its case today and it comes after ghislaine maxwell decided not to take the stand in her own defence. as she stood up and addressed the judge, she said that there was no need for her to testify because the prosecution had not proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt. so a very defiant response there from ghislaine maxwell, who has been very involved throughout this whole trial, passing notes to her lawyers during cross—examination
of the accusers and others who have testified, and her stating there that she will not tell her side of the story on the stand. of course, that would have been a very risky strategy, opening her up to intense examination by prosecutors. but really, this trial is moving incredibly fast. we are now set to have closing statements from both sides on monday. the defence's case, after initially saying they might call 35 witnesses, they rested after calling nine witnesses, and none really revealing too much more to help their case. it seems that the defence is really relying on their cross—examination that happened during the prosecution's case of the key four accusers, hoping that they have sown enough doubt injurors' minds to avoid a conviction for their client, ghislaine maxwell.
this you are watching bbc news. the headlines: concern across europe as extra measures are announced to combat the growing threat of the omicron variant. and as we've been hearing, the british socialite ghislaine maxwell, who's on trial in new york on sex trafficking charges, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. here in the uk, a crushing by—election defeat has dealt another blow to the authority of the prime minister, borisjohnson. his conservative party lost a seat it had held for almost 200 years. the result comes in the middle of a turbulent period for mr johnson. on friday, the man appointed to investigate whether british government officials broke lockdown rules last christmas has stepped down from the role after it emerged a party was held in his own department. our political editor, laura kuenssberg, reports. all: three, two, one! cheering. they might not do subtle... it turns out that if you take the people for granted, there is a price to pay. ..but there was nothing subtle about the lib dems' dramatic
burst of the tory bubble in this by—election. thousands upon thousands of voters switched sides. anger with the conservatives means a new lib dem is on their way to the commons. i think this is a watershed moment and i think we brought new hope to the whole nation, who have been so worried and fed up with borisjohnson. we've now beaten the conservatives in two of their safest seats this year. cheering and applause. at about 4:15am, the liberal democrats smashed what had been a tory majority of over 20,000 in north shropshire, tired but jubilant after weeks of claims of sleaze and misbehaviour in downing street. borisjohnson, the party is over. thank you very much. thank you. many of the prime minister's mps pin the blame for this staggering result on the chaos under his roof. does he? i'm responsible for everything that the government does and of course i take a personal responsibility. what people have been hearing is just a constant litany of stuff about politics and politicians — and stuff that isn't about them.
but it keeps coming. it's emerged that this man's team — simon case, the most senior civil servant in the country — had a virtual quiz in the office called �*a christmas party�* during lockdown. he was the one meant to be investigating whitehall parties. but tonight, miraculously, he stepped aside. another revered, perhaps even feared, civil servant sue gray will ask the questions instead. 232. shame! jeering. it is the latest in a series of missteps and mistakes for number 10. it began when the government tried to change the rules on mps' behaviour when a tory was found to have broken them. forgive my absence during some of the morning... that unleashed a torrent of claims about big money for second jobs. then the cringe worthy footage of number 10 staffjoking about their christmas party. and then on tuesday, the biggest rebellion against this government so far.
around half of tory backbenchers voted against plans for covid passports. if more limits on our lives are needed. the prime minister simply cannot count on their support. borisjohnson is no stranger to drama, to epic highs and chaotic lows, but the political danger to him right now is real and intense. being pounded by voters in what should be the safest of tory seats is the finale of a terrible month brought about, in part, by a series of mistakes and misjudgements in number 10 itself. there are strong, public and fierce private calls for him to change how he does business, and warnings tonight of what might happen if he does not, or cannot. the prime minister is now in last orders time. two strikes already — one earlier this week in the vote in the commons,
now this — one more strike and he's out. the prime minister has always had enemies inside but a former leader who backs him warns he has to change. he is our leader and he will lead us to the next election. he will? are you sure of that? well, as long as he wishes to do it, he has the right to do it. the party has to get behind him and he has to deliver on the basis that downing street and the departments are themselves structured and disciplined, and that will be the key litmus test. i mean, you are essentially saying he has to change and he has to make sure that the way his government operates has to change, or else? well, that is always the signal sent by the public when they feel that things have gone wrong. and the answer to that is very simple — it's not more of the same. number 10 may take some comfort from the fact that this by—election was a lib dem, not a labour breakthrough, but the cold reality — it's the prime minister who is being put on notice.
laura kuenssberg, bbc news, downing street. let's get some of the day's other news. the united states says it's prepared for dialogue with russia over its security demands, following the publication by moscow of a long list of proposals to the us and nato, including a commitment to end any expansion of the alliance. moscow's call for security guarantees comes as thousands of russian troops are massing on the border with ukraine. iran has opted to adjourn talks in vienna aimed at salvaging the 2015 nuclear deal. european negotiators have called on the tehran authorities to try to reach agreement as quickly as possible when discussions restart in the new year. diplomats from france, the uk and germany reiterated that the negotiations were — quote — "rapidly reaching the end of the road." well, another trial that's been fascinating
the american public is that of elizabeth holmes — once feted as the country's richest woman. she's facing fraud charges in a case that's drawing to a close in california. ms holmes wasjust 19 when she founded her silicon valley company, theranos, in 2003. it promised to develop a pinprick blood test that could diagnose over 200 different diseases. the venture raised over $400 million, aquiring high—profile board members along the way, including henry kissinger. but complaints about flawed technology soon flooded in, after customers received inaccurate results. then a whistleblower revealed that some samples were outsourced to other medical companies. ms holmes denies defrauding patients and investors — if convicted, she could face 20 years in prison. well, robert weisberg is a professor of criminal law at stanford university and explained more about the arguments ms holmes relied on in her defence. it's almost as if she's asking the jury to pick whichever
one that works. one of them is the silicon valley story, that laypeople — that is to say people who are not silicon valley experts — have to understand that great innovation occurs through trial and error — and we have to tolerate some error — and that statements she made have been denounced as lies were, shall we say, aspirational. but then we shift to some other stories she's told about herself, such as, gee, she really didn't have that much control of the company and that a lot of the bad acts attributed to her were really done by her then partner — and, indeed, her personal partner — a mr sunny balwani, who himself will be on trial. taking that a step further, she put on evidence that she had been emotionally abused in a very, very deleterious relationship with mr balwani, so he had virtually taken her mental autonomy away and things she apparently said she had no control over — she had essentially been brainwashed. and then, on some other matters she actually did a strange manoeuvre by sort of confessing to the jury, "yes, i shouldn't have done that but i feel really bad about it", as if she is making a plea for sympathy and not for innocence.
now, for nearly three months, we have been telling you about the volcanic eruption taking place on the canary islands. in the last few days, the seismic activity appears to have stopped. but it's notjust people who were affected, as the bbc�*s tim allman reports. meowing. the survivors of this volcano come in all shapes and sizes. these cats were found by members of the spanish civil guard. their homess almost certainly destroyed. and their owners, for now, a mystery. translation: when we arrived here, we found them crossing i the lava. they approached us and we fed them and gave them water. we have also been checking if they have a microchip to find out if they have an owner so we can return them to them. but not every creature on the island was so lucky. the bodies of wild animals
and birds have been sent away for analysis as to a cause of death. whether it was rivers of red hot lava engulfing everything in their path or the poisonous gases filling the skies above. all that volcanic magma and rock is cooling, now — giant black scars criss—crossing the land. and then there's the ash — so much ash. houses, cars, football pitches, buried beyond sight. translation: you can see. there are roofs that have not been able to support the weight. there's so much ash. some have begun the long, arduous process of trying to clear up the mess. but who knows how long that will take. there is hope this volcanic eruption will be declared officially over before christmas. one life gone,
eight still to go. there is more of those stories on our website or you can download the bbc news app. you can reach me on twitter. i'm @richpreston. thank you for watching. hello. scotland and northern ireland have the lion's share of friday's sunshine, even these areas are likely to turn cloudier as we go on through the weekend. a weekend which will for most places, bring plenty of cloud. despite that, it will be dry, it will gradually turn cooler as that weekend goes on, as well. there is an area of high pressure right across the united kingdom giving plenty of settled weather as we go through the weekend. but trapped underneath that, there is a lot of cloud. now, where there have been clear spells overnight and into the morning, in scotland and northern england in particular, this is where we will wake up to the lowest temperatures and there will be frost in places too.
but there will also be some sunny spells and fog across the eastern side of england in particular, dense in places, some patches lingering all day in a few spots and thick enough to be affecting travel. in terms of where we see some sunny spells, scotland, northern england, westernmost parts of wales, far south of england, maybe a few brighter breaks in northern ireland at times. temperatures mainly around six or 10 celsius, but there it will be colder, fog lingers and there will be parts of scotland that stay just above freezing all day long. as we go on through saturday night, again, its way out for all those breaks in the cloud, particularly into parts of northern england and scotland, you'll find the lowest temperatures that create the risk of seeing a frost going into sunday, picking up the areas in blue here. the cloud, temperatures will not fall too far from where we've been during the day. but that cloud will be back again on sunday and again, there's a risk of seeing some dense fog patches in places to begin the day. in terms of any sunshine on sunday, notjust the higher ground in scotland, northern england and wales venturing into the hills you're most likely to see some sunshine through the valleys below, may well be stuck underneath cloud.
and overall, it is trending cooler on sunday and getting colder still as we go into the new week. now, high pressure will eventually give way as we go deeper through the week. but then the big question mark about how quickly these weather systems from the atlantic, or indeed if they will at all, move—in and provide a change to more unsettled weather in time for christmas. so, colderfor a time next week, more widespread overnight frost. but if you're looking at your app and the forecast online, yes, it may look as if it turns unsettled just before christmas, but there's still a lot to play for in the details.
this is bbc news. the headlines: france and ireland have become the latest european countries to take further steps to contain the omicron coronavirus variant. the french government announced major public parties and firework displays on new year's eve will be banned to slow the spread. ghislaine maxwell, who's on trial in the us on sex trafficking charges, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. ms maxwell said there was no need to testify because the prosecution hadn't proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. she denies grooming girls for the late convicted paedophile, jeffrey epstein. borisjohnson says he takes personal responsibility for the conservatives' by—election defeat in north shropshire. he said there had been too much focus on the conduct of politicians rather than measures which could improve people's lives. some of his mps have urged him to make changes.
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