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tv   BBC News  BBC News  December 21, 2021 3:00am-3:31am GMT

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welcome to bbc news, i'm david eades. our top stories: the omicron variant sweeps across the united states with lightning speed — already accounting for three quarters of new infections in the country. omicron moves very fast, it's very transmittable. it moves fast, we have to move faster. the british prime minister says no new covid restrictions for now, but he doesn't rule out bringing them in if needed. we ask what is president putin planning, as russian forces continue to mass on the border with ukraine, increasing fears of an invasion. the number of people killed in the philippines by typhoon rai has risen to more than 375, with the military now helping
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the desperate relief operation. a new york cityjury begins deliberations in the sex trafficking and perjury trial of ghislaine maxwell. the fast—spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus has very rapidly become dominant in the united states. according to modelling by the centers for disease control, omicron now accounts for nearly three quarters of the new infections. and this is a very significant jump from a week ago, when about 13% of the new infections in the us were omicron. in a speech later on tuesday, president biden will outline how his administration plans to address the latest
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surge in cases. on monday, in a series of tweets, the president has urged americans to get vaccinated, saying those who aren't will face an extremely difficult winter for theirfamilies and community. mr biden predicts omicron cases are likely to increase in the us in the coming days, even among those who are fully vaccinated. in the new york area, it's thought around 90% of new cases are omicron. and with coronavirus cases rising quickly in new york, mayor bill de blasio says the city must "move faster" in its response. based on everything we've seen so far, the cases are more mild than what we've experienced previously, but again, a lot of research we're still waiting for, lot of evidence we're still waiting for. what we do know is omicron moves very fast, it's very transmissible. it moves fast, we have to move faster. that's why we are focusing even more on vaccination and we do know that vaccination
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helps address omicron. pretty clear message there from bill de blasio. our north america correspondent, peter bowes, has been looking into the latest omicron data from health officials in the us. we are discovering in these statistics what the experts have been telling us, that it is extremely fast moving and the data released in the last few hours back that up, 73% of new cases in the united states are as a result of the omicron variation of the virus, and it varies across the country. some cities are seeing higher numbers, you mentioned nine out of ten cases in new york city and some other cities around the country and that is particularly concerning, because there is a high level of vaccination rates in new york city and the real concern is for those parts of america
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where vaccination rates are significantly lower and there are still many people holding out and refusing to have the jab at all and then of course on top of all of that, we are just a few days away from christmas and people are planning to criss—cross the country to see relatives and loved ones and the real concern is come the end of christmas and new year, those figures could search even more. bill de blasio couldn't _ could search even more. bill de blasio couldn't be _ could search even more. bill de blasio couldn't be clearer, - could search even more. bill de blasio couldn't be clearer, in i blasio couldn't be clearer, in a way, could he? get vaccinated seems to be the big clarion call but as you say it is 90% of omicron cases, or 90% of all cases are omicron there, far less in other parts of the country so i'd presume you've still got a bit of a patchwork view about how best to tackle this. it view about how best to tackle this. , , . ., this. it is very much a patchwork _ this. it is very much a patchwork view - this. it is very much a patchwork view and i this. it is very much a - patchwork view and we're also going to be hearing president biden later in the day on tuesday and he will again reinforce this message that those people who have had the vaccination and the booster, if
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they are infected by this virus at all, are likely to be either asymptomatic or at least have very mild symptoms whereas those who have not been vaccinated will continue to, as the press secretary of the white house said earlier today, drive hospitalisations and deaths, and it will be a very tough winter. so very distinctly setting out in fact just in the last few minutes he has been tweeting about this, in some detail which is actually unusualfor in some detail which is actually unusual for this president to tweet as much as hejust president to tweet as much as he just has but laying out the situation as it faces america that this virus and this variant is going to move very quickly over the next few weeks and the key is to get the jab and the key is to get the jab and that is of course a big issue in this country, the rollout of the vaccinations has been slowing down over the last few weeks. let's just have a look at the situation in the uk as well in what is christmas week.
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the british prime minister, borisjohnson has stopped short of bringing in new covid measures in england, but he insisted the government would take further action if needed. there had been speculation that the rules in england might be tightened, amid reports of splits among senior ministers over whether to take action. meanwhile scotland's first minister nicola sturgeon confirmed there will be no new restrictions in scotland ahead of christmas. it all came as the queen cancelled her traditional christmas at sandringham in norfolk, amid concerns about omicron, choosing instead to stay in windsor. here is 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
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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 protect the public, and to protect public health, to protect our nhs, and we won't hesitate to take that action. 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 that 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
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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 some very difficult decisions to ta ke and i'm sure he'll be thinking very hard about them. in scotland, nicola sturgeon has issued new guidance, but offered reassurance about the christmas weekend. between now and the end of the week, i'm asking people to reduce their contact 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 december 27. it's still unclear what borisjohnson wants to do. his tone suggested it's a matter of when, not if,
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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 talking about work, according to boris johnson. tonight, the queen is among those scaling back their plans. she's 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. those issues of uncertainty continue pretty much everywhere. new zealand will delay it's re—opening plans until the end of february as the government tries to stop a rapid spread of the omicron variant. the country had originally
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planned for its citizens to return to non—quarantine travel by january. and while that date has now been pushed back, anyone now entering the country must stay in quarantine facilities for ten days instead of seven. the tensions and anxieties along the eastern border of ukraine continue to grow — as russia has for weeks been massing troops and tanks there. and it's prompted ukraine, poland and lithuania to call for more western sanctions against russia, in fear of an invasion. moscow has denied preparing for any invasion and has accused the west of threatening russia through nato expansion. and it's demanding the removal of nato battalions in the region. our moscow correspondent steve rosenberg has been investigating just what president putin might be planning. 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,
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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, has moscow decided to reverse the results of the cold war? translation: we're not re-examining the results j 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.
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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 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
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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 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. i'm joined now by professor andrei korobkov, an expert in post—soviet states, from middle tennessee state university. thanks very much indeed for joining us. ijust wonder, the demands being made by moscow would certainly be seen by the
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west is clearly unachievable, they are not going to happen. so what do you think is the strategic benefit of russia's position at the moment? are they getting anything out of this? , ., ., , this? first of all there is also an _ this? first of all there is also an issue _ this? first of all there is also an issue of - this? first of all there is also an issue of internal| also an issue of internal political considerations, grandstanding is usually helpful for a grandstanding is usually helpfulfor a politician grandstanding is usually helpful for a politician even though putin right now is in a safe position stopping the economy is relatively steady, elections are not coming soon and elections in general, are a special issue and russia. in terms of foreign policy, putin i think has shifted his goals, to some extent he has achieved more than he even expect it. sorry, in what regard? he brinus sorry, in what regard? he brings a — sorry, in what regard? he: brings a steady flow of us representatives either coming to moscow or having foreign conversations with russian leaders, so we know about putin
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and biden, talking via skype or via zoom but this is not all. the state department came to moscow and did not visit kyiv which very interesting. ambassador to moscow and current cia and their comes while the assistant secretary of state for eurasia arrived in moscow yesterday, there was a conversation between putin's advisor on foreign policy and former ambassador to the us and jake sullivan, biden�*s national security adviser. so it is a kind of recognition of russia's well, if not super at least major power status. it is a clear sign by the us and the west specifically that it wants to solve problems and improve relations. , ., ., ., relations. does that mean that this hue
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relations. does that mean that this huge military _ relations. does that mean that this huge military buildup - this huge military buildup really is purely for show because we have seen whether it is with crimea or indeed assisting in eastern ukraine, it is not as if moscow is afraid to take some sort of step if it wants to? i think it is a twofold strategy. on the one i think it is a twofold strategy. on the i think it is a twofold strate-y. on the one hand i think it is a twofold strategy. on the i think it is a twofold strate-y. on the one hand it i think it is a twofold strategy. on the i think it is a twofold strate-y. on the one hand it is strategy. on the one hand it is a show of force as a part of negotiating technique that, as already have mentioned, essentially brought results. really, talks, serious conversations, and, well, to some extent, an improvement of relationships. and second, this concentration is just in case. if cylinder scheme makes a move, putin will take action. first of all, negotiating
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technique but if opportunity comes, he will use it. nevertheless, putin right now is not interested in using force because he is getting a lot of pressure, not through military action. he knows that any attempt to use force right now would leave that might lead to the worsening of relations and the introduction of final sanctions that the west holds as a bargaining chip but doesn't want to apply because among other things, if they are applied, there is a question in what is next. 50 applied, there is a question in what is next.— what is next. so we wait and see what _ what is next. so we wait and see what the _ what is next. so we wait and see what the next _ what is next. so we wait and see what the next step - what is next. so we wait and see what the next step is. i what is next. so we wait and l see what the next step is. you give us a very nice christmas scene behind you, you seem to think it is a relatively peaceful christmas on the ukraine borderfor the peaceful christmas on the ukraine border for the time being. take you very much indeed. stay with us on bbc news, still to come: why questions
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in new york cityjury begins deliberations in the sex trafficking and perjury trial of ghislaine maxwell. 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 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. m 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, 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, a football pitch wide falls from 30,000 feet. christmas has returned to albania after a communist ban
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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 bbc news, the latest headlines: the omicron variant sweeps across the united states with lightning speed — already accounting for three quarters of new infections in the country. the british prime minister says no new covid restrictions for now — but he doesn't rule out bringing them in if needed. thejury in the trail of ghislaine maxwell have begun their deliberations in her federal sex trafficking trial. in the closing arguments, prosecutors called her a sophisticated predator. ms maxwell has denied grooming underage girls for abuse by the late paedophile jeffrey epstein between i994 and 2004. barbara plett usher
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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 sort of, as if it was just normal behaviour, and that is what the prosecution argued, was her grooming them for him. and they also said that she had been paid by him $30 million, over the period that this trial
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is looking at, something 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. one of the two core issues the jurors will have to decide, how much miss maxwell actually knew. and the defence said she didn't actually 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.
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ms maxwell into their memories now because they have the prospect of a payout from a compensation 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 pay—out 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 women, the accusers, and what they think about how much ghislaine maxwell actually knew about what was going on. that is barbara plett—usher there. we're trying to give you a picture of the scale of the damage done in the police are telling us now that the number of people who have died after the latest super typhoon rai has risen to more than 375. the red cross is describing it as carnage in many areas so no power, carnage in many areas so no power, no carnage in many areas so no power, no communications, very little water as well. there are thousands of military, coastguard and fire service personnel who are all doing what they can to help in the
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relief operation. i'm joined now by senator richard gordon who is also the chair of the philippine red cross. senator, thank you very much forjoining us. i know you said you expected number of people who had lost their lives to rise, and it has risen considerably. are you expecting yet worse to come? , , ., . are you expecting yet worse to come? , ,., . ., come? yes, the police are probably _ come? yes, the police are probably more _ come? yes, the police are probably more reliable - come? yes, the police are i probably more reliable right now because they have sent people all over and they are counting over 200. i still expect the debt told to rise but we are so busy with the disaster, we are going to have a look at the people who have died. in the meantime, the thread is rising because there are people in one island and people just arrived there. can you imagine, we tried for the last 48 hours to land there. it is a nice island, tourism ireland, 100,000 people are there. other people are in a
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panic because none nothing is working, there is an explosion of debris. but we are going to be restoring family links and at the same time trying to put in a medical team to organise people who may be there in the medical centre in manila who we are sending as soon. the rest of the islands are still having problem with the lifelines. there are no —— is no power. at the same time there are several other people in need of food, in need of water and we are sending a lot of water. that is not going to be near enough. that is what's happening. that sounds like — that is what's happening. that sounds like one _ that is what's happening. that sounds like one of— that is what's happening. that sounds like one of the - that is what's happening. that sounds like one of the greatest challenges. i see president duterte saying that he is going to find more money, we will get more money. but it is far more immediate in terms of concern
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than that. immediate in terms of concern than that-— than that. the irc are helping but there is _ than that. the irc are helping but there is an _ than that. the irc are helping but there is an international. but there is an international appeal. hopefully, we are appealing to the world to help. it may be two—thirds or one half of high—end of the damage is so considerable in many, many departments. in heian there were houses, a lot of houses and every place, there is powerdown, down, which is hampering our efforts. for the first time the red cross is putting up five satellite dishes in certain areas. just so people can get information so people can get information so we would know what kind of support we could bring in. they are going to do that. the support we could bring in. they are going to do that.— are going to do that. the point about communication - are going to do that. the point about communication is - are going to do that. the point about communication is so - about communication is so important. richard, we're out of time in this programme but we are keeping close tabs on the situation and the best of
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luck in all of your endeavours. thank you forjoining us. thank you for “oining us. thank ou ve thank you forjoining us. thank you very much- _ thank you for being with us here on bbc news. see you soon. 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
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and western england, but more cloud further east. 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.
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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 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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afraid to take some sort of step if it wants to? this is bbc news, the headlines: the omicron variant is sweeping across the united states with lightning speed, already accounting for three quarters of new infections in the country. this is a very significant jump from a week ago, when about 13% of the new infections in the us were omicron. in the uk, prime minister has said no new covid restrictions for now, but he insisted the government would take further action if needed. there had been speculation the rules in england might be tightened, following reports of splits among senior ministers over whether to take action. the number of people killed in the philippines by typhoon rai has risen to more than 375, with the military now helping the desperate relief operation. the red cross says it's carnage in many areas, with no power, no communications, and very little water.

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