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tv   Newsday  BBC News  December 21, 2021 1:00am-1:31am GMT

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welcome to newsday, reporting live from singapore, i'm karishma vaswani. the headlines: the omicron variant sweeps across the united states with lightning speed, now accounting for three quarters of new infections in the country. omicron moves very fast, it is very transmittable. it moves fast, we have to move faster. a new york cityjury begins deliberations in the sex trafficking and perjury trial of ghislaine maxwell. in the philippines, the number of people killed by typhoon rai rises to more than 375 — with the military now helping the desperate relief operation.
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and the chinese tennis star peng shuai appears to have retracted her claim of sexual assault, as concerns persist around her wellbeing. hello and welcome to our viewers in the uk and around the world. it's nine in the morning in singapore, and 8pm in the us east coast. the fast—spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus has become dominant in the united states with lightning speed. the variant now accounts for 73% of new infections in the us, according to estimates from the centre for disease control. in the new york area, it's thought 90% of cases are omicron. with coronavirus cases rising quickly in new york, mayor bill de blasio says the city must "move faster" in its response to
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the omicron variant. based the omicron variant. on everything we have seen based on everything we have seen so far, the cases are more mild than what we have experienced previously but again, a lot of research and evidence we are still waiting for. what we do know is omicron moves very fast, it is very transmittable. it moves fast, we have to move faster. that is why we are focusing even more on vaccination and we do know that vaccination helps address omicron. our north america correspondent, peter bowes, has been looking into the latest omicron data from health officials in the us. i spoke to him a little earlier, this is what he had to say. earlier, this is what he had to sa . , , earlier, this is what he had to sa , , , . , earlier, this is what he had to sa . , , . , ., say. this is the centres for disease — say. this is the centres for disease control— say. this is the centres for disease control and - say. this is the centres for - disease control and prevention revealing just in the last hour orso revealing just in the last hour or so that some 73% of cases, now the new cases of coronavirus are caused by the new omicron variant and that is a significant leap on just a week ago and once again,
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reinforcing that this variant is moving with lightning speed across the country. we are hearing some really quite scary to sticks in terms of a number of new cases in new york city, increasing by some 60% just in the past week, and that is a figure that is likely to be mirrored right across the country and it is of most concern because new york city is one of the most highly vaccinated cities in the united states. there are many other parts of the country where a lower proportion of people are vaccinated and the real fear is thatjust vaccinated and the real fear is that just within the vaccinated and the real fear is thatjust within the next vaccinated and the real fear is that just within the next few days the number of new cases is really going to surge in those areas as well so we are hearing local officials in different cities now, more and more every day, talking about new mask mandates, especially indoors, we just heard it from washington, dc, we have a similar mandate here in los angeles last week. president biden is due _ angeles last week. president
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biden is due to _ angeles last week. president biden is due to make - angeles last week. president. biden is due to make comments or certainly address the nation about the speed and scale of the omicron variant. what is his advice likely to be? we will wait — his advice likely to be? we will wait and _ his advice likely to be? we will wait and see _ his advice likely to be? - will wait and see and perhaps these new statistics will bear into what he precisely has to say but what we understand is that he won't be announcing major new restrictions on people in the united states and of course everyone this time of year, just a few days before christmas is thinking about travelling to see loved ones in other parts of the country and wondering whether they may be stopped from doing that. at teams as though they won't be but the warning will be, and we are hearing this phrase over and overagain, are hearing this phrase over and over again, that for those that are unvaccinated, this is going to be a winter that will include disease and death. and it is very likely that the president isn't going to sugarcoat this. that he is going to be pretty forceful in what he believes is the likely cause of this disease with new
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variant and the speed at which it is spreading and how it is going to affect those people who haven't had the jab at all and haven't had the booster. the world health organization has warned the omicron variant of coronavirus appears pretty good at evading immune responses. the who has said it's also causing an increase in infections, both in the vaccinated, and those who've already had the disease. here's what the head of the organsation had to say: there is now consistent evidence that omicron is spreading significantly faster than the delta variant. and it is more likely that people who have been vaccinated or have recovered from covid—19 could be in for did or reinfected it. —— infected or reinfected.
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dr maria sundaram, an infectious disease epidemiologist who works as a research scientist at the marshfield clinic research institute, says the new who findings are a cause for concern. it's very, very concerning on several different levels. the biggest one is that for people who are vaccinated, they may be used to taking a little bit more risks and they may be used to going outside and doing things that they might have done before the pandemic, and unfortunately they no longer have the level of protection that they're used to having with two doses, so that is very concerning, and of course the very fast transmissibility, high transmissibility and quick replication of this variant of concern are potentially devastating to medical infrastructure all over the place, so that's very, very concerning. indeed. dr sundaram, ijust want to put you some of the early data coming in from south africa, and i want to caveat that it is indeed early data, but it seems to suggest that while infections are on the rise, hospitalisations are low.
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is that encouraging or a possible model we can use for other countries? it's very helpful information, but it has to be taken with several grains of salt. so one thing to keep in mind is that the population of south africa may be of a different type than the population of another country. it may be a different average age, it may be a different average previous covid—i9 infection status, it may be a different covid—i9 vaccination status, so we have to really keep those in mind. there's also going to be a delay in the number of cases and hospitalisations. we may still be seeing a little bit of that. but it is also really important to remember that er�*d have to decrease the severity of this outcome by a factor that's proportional to its increased transmissibility for that to be less of an impact on the health care system, and unfortunately the transmissibility is so high that we will wind up seeing an increase in hospitalisations, and that's even if the proportion of those cases is fewer than we have seen for other
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variants of concern. given what you said, what is the best way to decrease the transmissibility, as you've just described, so we don't get to that situation? i think we have to go back to the swiss cheese model of preventing respiratory transmission of covid—i9. so one slice of the swiss cheese is vaccines. we need global vaccine equity now. and the longer that we wait, the more risk we have of other variants of concern like this one developing and causing harm to all of us. another slice of the swiss cheeseis another slice of the swiss cheese is wearing masks, high—quality i—stop yet another slice is physical distance and, as much as possible. so hopefully we can combine these measures that we do know work that we can reduce transmitters ability a little bit but it is going to be a very challenging time for us, i think. pare
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going to be a very challenging time for us, i think.— time for us, i think. are you encouraged _ time for us, i think. are you encouraged by _ time for us, i think. are you encouraged by the - time for us, i think. are you encouraged by the fact - time for us, i think. are you encouraged by the fact that| encouraged by the fact that some boosters, at least, do appear to work and what is the medical advice around that? i am very encouraged by that. the idea is that when you boost the amount of antibodies that you have with a third dose, for example, after two mrna doses of covid-i9 example, after two mrna doses of covid—i9 vaccine, that increase in antibody plus the increase in antibody plus the increase in antibody plus the increase in t—cell activity could potentially protect you a little bit more than your first two doses. that is really great news but always on my mind is who has access to that dose of covid-i9 who has access to that dose of covid—i9 vaccine? and unfortunately far too many people still have not had access to their first doses i think this is another reason why we really need local vaccine equity and we really need a plan for global back in the. —— a plan for global
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vaccine equity. the british prime minister borisjohnson has ruled out bringing in new covid restrictions in england for now — but said the government wouldn't hesitate to take further action to protect the public if needed. he was speaking after chairing an emergency cabinet meeting amid reports of splits among senior ministers. here's our deputy political editor vicki young. the decorations are up, celebrations in full swing. there was no shortage of christmas cheer in bristol this evening. some are too young to remember last year, when festive plans were thrown into disarray. everyone would welcome some certainty. after a two—hour meeting with his cabinet, borisjohnson said the arguments were finely balanced. we agreed that we should keep the data from now on under constant review, keep following it hour by hour, and, unfortunately, i must say to people we will have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to, to protect the public, and to protect public health, to protect our nhs, and we won't hesitate to take that action.
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the government insists it's not sitting back doing nothing. manchester city's football stadium among the sites helping get vaccinations up to a record one million on saturday. people have already been told to work from home, use covid passes and take tests before socialising — that's not enough, says labour. instead of being hamstrung by his own cabinet and hiding from his own backbenchers, it's time borisjohnson stopped putting the politics of the conservative party ahead of public health and levelled with the country. last week, more than 100 conservatives refused to back mrjohnson�*s plan for covid passports. then, at the weekend, his ally lord frost resigned as brexit minister, blaming the government's pandemic response. i don't support coercive policies on covid. the prime minister's got very difficult decisions to take and i'm sure he'll be thinking very hard about them. in scotland, nicola sturgeon has issued new guidance but offered reassurance
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about the christmas weekend. between now and the end of the week, i'm asking people to reduce their contacts with those in other households as much as possible — effectively, to stay at home as much as is feasible. over the weekend, christmas day, boxing day, we're not asking people to cancel or change their plans. wales has put guidance in place for the run—up to christmas, and will introduce tougher legal restrictions on the 27th of december. it's still unclear what boris johnson wants to do. his tone suggested it's a matter of when, not if, new measures will come in. but during their meeting, several cabinet ministers made it clear they're more reluctant to go down that road again. several aren't convinced the data yet justifies the economic hit that any new restrictions bring. when it comes to rules, critics say downing street lacks moral authority. in this photo, taken during lockdown, the prime minister, his wife and staff are drinking wine in the garden. these were people at work
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talking about work, according to boris johnson. tonight, the queen is among those scaling back their plans. she has cancelled her traditional christmas in sandringham — a personal decision reflecting a cautionary approach, says buckingham palace. and as borisjohnson weighs up his options, the uncertainty continues. vicki young, bbc news, westminster. as always you can get more detail about the coronavirus situation on our website. you'll find lots of detail including the latest on the effectiveness of the vaccines. just go to bbc.com/news for all that. thejury on the the jury on the trail of ghislaine maxwell have begun their deliberations. in the closing arguments, prosecutors called her a sophisticated predator. ms maxwell has denied grooming underage girls for abuse
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by the late paedophile jeffrey epstein between i994 and 2004. barbara plett usher is following developments. they recapped their argument, i suppose, that ghislaine maxwell was absolutely crucial for this operation, that her demeanour, as you mentioned, she was age—appropriate, smiling, posh, made the girls comfortable, and so she provided a cover to what the prosecution called the creepy behaviour of mr epstein. he never could have done it without her. and they talked about the fact, or they said she had a playbook of how to lure these girls in, getting to know them, offering them gifts, spending time with them, making them feel comfortable, and ultimately introducing sexual contact with jeffrey epstein in a as if it was just normal behaviour, and that is what the prosecution argued, her grooming them for him. and they also said that she had been paid by him $30 million, over the period that this trial is looking at, something
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that one lawyer said, "that's $30 million of �*we did this together, we did this crime together�* money." so those are the arguments they made — ghislaine maxwell knowing what she was doing and being very involved in this operation of mr epstein's sex crimes. that's one of the core issues the jurors will have to decide, how much miss maxwell actually knew? and the defence said she did not know that much because her partner, her long—time partner, kept secrets from her, and now that he has died, he committed suicide, the prosecution is going after her as a sort of substitute. they're scapegoating her because somebody needs to pay for his crimes. they also argue that the witnesses are not credible. and this is the other core issue, whether the four women are telling the truth. the defence says no, they're not. they're mis—remembering, they're inserting ghislaine maxwell into their memories now because they have the prospect of a payout from a compensation
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fund, and the details are, you know, not consistent. and again, the prosecution has come back and said, "well, if they are mis—remembering, they're all mis—remembering the same thing," and actually money isn't an issue because that payout was for civil suits, and that's done. there's no money involved in what happens in this trial. so those are the two issues — how credible the jurors see the accusers and what they think about how much ghislaine maxwell actually knew about what was going on. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme: with tensions rising as russian forces mass on the border with ukraine, we ask the kremlin just how serious is the threat of conflict with nato. the world of music has been paying tribute to george michael, who's died from suspected heart failure at the age of 53. he sold well over 100 million albums in a career spanning
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more than three decades. the united states' troops have been trying to overthrow the dictatorship of general manuel noriega. the pentagon says it's failed in its principle objective to capture noriega and take him to the united states to face drugs charges. the hammer and sickle was hastily taken away. in its place, the russian flag was hoisted over what is now no longer the soviet union, but the commonwealth of independent states. day broke slowly over lockerbie, i over the cockpit of pan am's maid of the seas, _ nosedown in the soft earth. you could see what happens when a plane _ eight storeys high, i a football pitch wide falls from 30,000 feet. christmas has returned to albania after a communist ban lasting more than 20 years. thousands went to midnight mass in the town of shkoder, where there were anti—communist riots ten days ago. this is newsday on the bbc. i'm karishma vaswani in singapore.
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our headlines: the omicron variant sweeps across the united states with lightning speed — now accounting for three quarters of new infections in the country. a new york cityjury begins deliberations in the sex trafficking and perjury trial of ghislaine maxwell. police in the philippines say the number of people who've died after a super typhoon hit last week has risen to more than 375. the red cross says it's "carnage" in many areas, with no power, no communications, and very little water. thousands of military, coastguard and fire service personnel, have been deployed to help in the relief operation. with the latest from the capital manila, here's howard johnson. four days on from super typhoon matt on mac first landfall in the philippines, the extent of the philippines, the extent of the damage it caused is finally
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becoming clear. nine different islands separated by distance of more than 800 kilometres, all experienced sustained ferocious wind and heavy rain, flattening thousands of homes and flooding vast tracts of land. translation: we appeal for at least some _ translation: we appeal for at least some small _ translation: we appeal for at least some small help _ translation: we appeal for at least some small help to - translation: we appeal for at least some small help to come l least some small help to come to us. now is the time that we need a government, a government ready to help us in our current situation. we are waiting for whoever has a kind heart and i hope they will help us. the breadth of _ hope they will help us. the breadth of the _ hope they will help us. the breadth of the destruction and the lack of communication lines is causing logistical delays in humanitarian support. food, water, fuel and electricity are in limited supply on numerous islands. today, the british government committed million dollars to an appeal by the international federation of the red cross to help the relief effort. the ifr c hope to raise a total of more than $20
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million. howard johnson, bbc news, manila. let's take a look at some other stories in the headlines. the chilean currency, the peso, has fallen by 4% to a record low against the dollar following the victory of the left—wing candidate, gabriel boric in sunday's presidential election. mr boric won 56% of the vote, beating the far right candidate jose antonio kast. rebel tigrayan forces fighting the ethiopian government say they are withdrawing immediately from neighbouring regions. it comes after pro—government forces made significant military gains. the rebels say they are hoping there will now be a ceasefire. the english premier league and football league have chosen to go ahead with their christmas and new year fixtures, despite ongoing disruption caused by the pandemic. 90 players tested positive in england's top tier last week leading to a number of postponements. fa cup third and fourth round replays have, however, been scrapped.
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ukraine has called for more western sanctions against russia as it feels increasingly threatened by the build up of russian troops on its border. ukraine today issued a joint statement with poland and lituania calling on nato to do more to tackle russian aggression. it's been fighting pro—russia separatists in the east of the country since 2014 with the kremlin repeatedly denying its supporting them. here's our moscow correspondent steve rosenberg. in russia, too, it is the season of goodwill. but peace on earth is in short supply. russian armour is massing near the border with ukraine. at the same time, moscow is demanding an end to nato enlargement and nato military activity in eastern europe. what is russia signalling? i asked the deputy foreign minister,
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has moscow decided to reverse the results of the cold war? translation: we're not re-examining - the results of the cold war, we're reassessing the expansion the west has carried out in recent years against russian interests with hostile intent. enough is enough. state tv has been echoing vladimir putin's claim that nato activity close to russia threatens russia's security, and moscow has this warning. translation: if ukraine joined nato, _ or if nato develops military infrastructure there, we will hold a gun to america's head. russia has the world's best weapons, hypersonic. you'd get the cuban missile crisis all over again, but with a shorter flight time for missiles. we propose trying to avoid this situation. otherwise everyone
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will be turned into radioactive ash. critics of the kremlin say this isn't about genuine security threats, it's about moscow trying to restore a sphere of influence. we don't know what the kremlin is planning, but what is clear from what president putin has been saying is that — 30 years after the fall of the soviet union — russia's leader remains deeply resentful of how the cold war ended, with russia losing territory, influence and empire. and if vladimir putin has decided that now is the moment to try to reverse that, that will be a huge challenge for russia's neighbours and for the west. right now, most russians are focused on celebration, not confrontation. if there is a full—scale war with ukraine or a clash with the west, the kremlin may be
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skating on thin ice in terms of public support. "i don't want any war," irina says, "any killing." "slavic people are like a family," says roslan. "i can't bear the idea of fighting with ukraine." ultimately, it's the president who will decide whether russia takes the path of compromise or confrontation. steve rosenberg, bbc news, moscow. the chinese tennis star, peng shuai, appears to have retracted an accusation, of sexual assault, that she made against a former chinese vice premier. in a video interview, filmed by singaporean chinese language newspaper lianhe zaobao, she said the comments she'd made on social media had been misunderstood. translation: first and foremost i must emphasise _ translation: first and foremost i must emphasise i _ translation: first and foremost i must emphasise i have - translation: first and foremost i must emphasise i have never - i must emphasise i have never said or wrote about anyone sexually assaulting me. that is
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a very important point. the post is my personal issue. i know there are many misunderstandings but there is no distorted interpretation. the women's tennis association has said it's still concerned that ms peng is still being censored by the state — and although it welcomes her apperance in a public setting, it doesn't alleviate or address the concerns about her wellbeing. now here's something to cheer us all up as we go into what for many is the festive season. french champagne houses say they expect record sales this year after lockdowns and closures drove them down. the owner of this bar in paris says things have been going crazy since september. the surge is so unexpected that its created shortages in the supply chain. so if you're lucky enough to find any, raise a glass to 2022. and hope that, eventually,
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things do get better. that's all for now — stay with bbc world news. hello there. it's been a cloudy and chilly start to the week. things will change. from midweek, we'll start to see atlantic air coming our way. that means temperatures will be rising, but we're also going to find some rain. but what about christmas? well, i'll try and answer that question later on. we start, though, cold in many places on tuesday morning, particularly in the clearer skies in scotland, with a frost in the north. we could see some pockets of frost across some western parts of england and wales, but the prospects of some sunshine during tuesday, which will be good news on what is the shortest day of the year. it's the winter solstice. these are the sunrise and sunset times, but, of course, after tuesday, the days do get longer. we do have some sunshine across northern parts of scotland, some sunshine at times coming through across wales and western england, but more cloud further east.
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still that blanket of cloud in northern ireland, southern scotland that will push its way into the central belt and make it feel quite chilly here. temperatures on the whole similar to what we had on monday, and near—normal, really, for this time of the year. but it's from wednesday that the weather starts to change because high pressure that's kept it quiet for so long is moving away. and instead, we've got a big low out in the atlantic. that's going to push bands of rain our way. but we start wednesday with a widespread frost in scotland, england and wales. some early sunshine, but it clouds over from the west. the wind starts to pick up. we've got this band of rain mainly affecting northern ireland, pushing into wales and southwest england and then into parts of scotland later on, bringing in some milder airfor western areas. but for many parts of the country, it's still another chilly day. that band of wet weather moves northwards and eastwards overnight, and then with low pressure still out to the west, another band of rain sweeps around that as well. so we're going to find some wet weather moving northwards and eastwards again during thursday. could stay wet for most of the day across the northern
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half of scotland. elsewhere, that rain does clear through. we get some sunshine following on behind. and with a south—westerly wind, just look at what it does for the temperatures — widely in double figures across northern ireland, england and wales. as the winds fall light, though, overnight, and if you're going to be travelling into christmas eve, it could be misty with some patches of fog around in the morning. and then we have that battle between the milder air and colder air that's in the north. now, for many, it looks like we'll stay in the milder air for christmas day, but if there is going to be a white christmas, at the moment, it only looks likely in northern parts of scotland.
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this is bbc news. we will have the headlines and all the main news for you at the top of the hour straight after this programme. hello, good evening. good evening. that distinctive music can only mean one thing. it's time for channel 4 news and one of the most famous faces in broadcasting. jon snow has been the face of the programme since 1989. over the course of three decades, he has grilled every prime minister, from margaret thatcher up to and including theresa may. he drew the iconic words, "let bygones be bygones"
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from nelson mandela. he shared a plane with idi amin,

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