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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 18, 2021 4:00am-4:31am GMT

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this is 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. 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.
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hundreds of thousands displaced and at least 12 dead as typhoon rai takes its toll on the philippines. welcome to our viewers on pbs in america and around the globe. 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 brace themselves for a sharp rise in cases due to the omicron variant, hospitality and travel are the main targets
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for the new restrictions. the omicron variant of the covid—19 virus is exploding throughout europe. it is here, it is in our country and we're going to see a massive rise in infections. in ireland, all restaurants, bars, cinemas and theatres will have close at 8pm from sunday, although weddings for up to 100 people will be allowed until midnight. the government's promising new financial support companies after warnings the new rules could cause up to 70,000 job losses. this was the scene at london's eurostar late on friday as brits rushed to try to get over 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, and the army has been brought in to help with boosterjabs 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
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opening hours too, and cinemas, theatres and concert halls are closing. in switzerland from monday, you'll 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 that 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 jabbed will now have to quarantine on arrival in germany. with healthcare systems across europe under strain, the head of the european commission says 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 has to be the answer we give to this new variant.
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and in the netherlands, as the healthcare system deals with an influx of covid patients, routine care and all but urgent operations have been postponed. dutch ministers are meeting health 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 hospitalizations 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,
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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. well, earlier, ispoke to william schaffner who's a professor of infectious diseases at vanderbilt university medical center. he began by explaining how omicron is the fastest spreading variant so far. omicron is indeed much more contagious. there's been one study to indicate that it multiplies, that is it reproduces itself 70 times more frequently than does the delta virus when it's 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
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likely to infect people around them, resulting in this contagiousness, and so this lightning strike that's been described of omicron expanding throughout europe, i think, is a foreshadowing of what we will experience here in the united states very shortly. it's still relatively early days in the world of 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's highly contagious. two other things — the first is can it produce more severe or similar severity of disease? that's still being worked out. it's really quite clear that this highly contagious virus can infect fully vaccinated people, but that illness is very mild. the question is —
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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 are coming 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 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 sick pay if someone has to be off work sick. that's not true of the united states. how much of a risk is it that people might still choose to go to work when they are feeling
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under the weather because they are not going to get sick pay, they might not go to the hospital when they are not feeling well. how much risk does that pose to the greater society? oh, well, that sort of behaviour poses a great risk because it promotes even further spread, and of course we're 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 �*twindemic�* that would really badly impact our healthcare system. 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
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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
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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. here in britain, 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 mrjohnson. on friday, the man appointed to investigate whether
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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've 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, butjubilant after weeks of claims
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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 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!
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jeering it's just 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. laughter then the cringe—worthy footage of number 10 staff joking 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 can't 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,
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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're essentially saying he has to change and he has to make sure that the way his government operates has to change, or else?
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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. stay with us on bbc news. still to come, the cats and the canary islands: the feline survivors of a major volcanic eruption. 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.
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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 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: concern across europe as extra measures are announced to combat the growing threat of the omicron variant. the british socialite, ghislaine maxwell, who's
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on trial in new york on sex trafficking charges, has told the court she won't be giving evidence. 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
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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.
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let's get some of the day's other news. the world health organization has issued emergency approval for a new coronavirus vaccine in india. covovax has been produced by the serum institute. it's part of the covax portfolio, an initative to vaccinate more people in lower—income countries. 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 rapidly reaching the end of the road. 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
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on the border with ukraine. the united states has called for an end to ethiopia's civil war, after the un voted for an independent investigation into atrocities by all sides, in the ongoing conflict between ethiopian government forces and the tigray people's liberation front. a state department spokesman said he was concerned by reports of mass detentions and killings of ethnic tigrayans. the united states is home to a large, and very vocal, ethiopian expat community, which is divided along the same ethnic lines that fuel the conflict. barbara plett usher sent this report from washington. ethiopia's civil war is 7,000 miles away, and it's right here in this kitchen, on this canvas. gabrielle's family is from the northern region of tigray, the epicentre of the conflict, the theme that consumes her art. it's like opening up a channel and a passageway taking us all back there.
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but what better way to create than with painting? ——but what better way to create beauty with you pain? there's so many other things i could do with that, i could destroy myself with it. for more than a year, the ethiopian army had been battling rebels from tigray and their allies. thousands are dead. human rights abuses committed on both sides, parts of the country pushed into famine. tigrayans in the us are desperate. the ethiopian government has blocked most aid and communications to the north. many have lost contact with their relatives. i can't sleep at night because i'm thinking about all of them. who's starving, which were the starving? what you think about what the us is doing? the us has not stepped in, the international community has not stepped in. they've allowed us to just suffer and suffer. so what is it that we are supposed to do, what other options do we have other than to fight back? outside the state department a chance to personally plead their case. we are not ignoring you.
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we want to listen to you. don't think that were not thinking of ways to be supportive of all sides of these conflict, of all the communities, the ethiopian people. what you see here in washington is a reflection of what's happening in ethiopia. the fighting is taking place between ethnic groups and the demonstrations here also showcase those ethnic divisions. across town, supporters of the ethiopian government insist that the west has got it wrong. the americans are calling for a ceasefire and negotiations with the rebels, who are advancing on the capital. we can't negotiate with terrorists! would you negotiate with isis? no, you wouldn't. so it's not — we cannot — they are not equal partners. they kill, they rape, people die. my aunt, my uncle, my family is there. i don't know if they die or are still alive. the rebel leaders, known as the tplf, once governed the country with a heavy hand
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and are deeply resented by many ethiopians. the us is treading a fine line. the americans are talking to the ethiopian government. that's not the engagement that ethiopian people want. what do they want? they want support. they don't want engagement that's demonising the government and supporting the cause of the tplf. ethiopians in america where their national identities with passion. but they have different views of what ethiopia is — and that is deepening. for nearly three months now 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. the cleanup operation will be immense, as thousands of buildings were destroyed. but it's notjust people who were affected, as the bbc�*s tim allman reports. meowing. the survivors of this volcano
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come in all shapes and sizes. these cats were found by members of the spanish civil guard — their homes almost certainly destroyed, and their owners, for now, a mystery. translation: when we arrived here, we found them _ crossing 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,
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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? meowing. there is hope this volcanic eruption will be declared officially over before christmas. one life gone, eight still to go. in colombia, an ngo is using pedal power to tackle exclusion in society. whistling. te llevamos — "we take you" — ensures that people with disabilities and the elderly can enjoy a bike ride round envigado, near the city of medellin. the ngo custom—makes the bikes to accomodate wheelchairs and walkers, and volunteers accompany the cyclists round the bicycle lanes on a sunday evening. this one, a special
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christmas event. you're watching bbc news. 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
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to be affecting travel. in terms of where we see some sunny spells, scotland, northern england, westernmost parts of wales, far south—west of england, maybe a few brighter breaks in northern ireland at times. temperatures mainly around 6—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, it's where you have 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. where you keep the cloud, though, temperatures will not fall too far from where they'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 ——in terms of any sunshine
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on sunday, probablyjust 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 detail.
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this is bbc news,
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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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now on bbc news, saeeda mahmood, born and brought up


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