tv BBC News BBC News December 25, 2021 5:00am-5:31am GMT
this is bbc news. i'm simon pusey, with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. millions of travellers face disruption over christmas, as the world—wide record surge in omicron cases means cancelled flights and staff shortages. i'm worried about the variant, omicron and all that. at the same time i'm just — let's get back to living our lives a little bit. a christmas midnight mass at the church of the nativity in bethlehem. and a message from the pope calling for more solidarity with the poor. the queen is expected to give a very personal christmas message this year — her first since the death of her husband prince philip. final preparations are under way for the launch of a space telescope that could transform our understanding of the universe.
and, provided you've been good, father christmas is coming to a chimney near you. hello and welcome to the programme. for much of the world christmas day has begun, but the shadow of the omicron variant continues to loom large. infections are on the rise and the fallout is taking its toll. let's have a look at some of the most recent developments, as people try to deal with covid at christmas. here in the uk, the nhs is offering vaccination services even on christmas day. 1.7 million people are estimated to have been infected in the last week. the south african government has announced an immediate end to contact tracing, saying most of the country has now been exposed to coronavirus and they're now concentrating on mitigation rather than containment.
and more than 4,000 flights that were scheduled for friday and saturday have been cancelled. many airlines blaming a lack of healthy staff. azadeh moshiri reports on the problems facing those trying to travel at this festive time. which one would you like? chocolate. festivities may be going ahead this year, but millions are still having difficulty reaching their families. with the omicron variant surging quickly around the world, it's causing chaos within airlines, with crews testing positive or needing to isolate. in the us, united airlines and delta airlines already cancelled hundreds of christmas eve flights and warned of more cancellations throughout the weekend. i spoke to one passenger who is now forced to travel on christmas day.
your grandmother is in bosnia, you haven't seen herfor years, but because of these flight cancellations the family reunion has been halted. what happened 7 so we were, unfortunately, in the airport and sitting there and waiting for our flight from orlando to charlotte and we got a notification that our flight from charlotte to munich had been cancelled. completely out of the blue. had no idea of what was going on. we got no prior notice and we went ahead and, you know, we ran to the ticket counter and asked what to do and they said the best thing we could do still get on the flight to charlotte because our luggage was still being sent there on the aeroplane. the flight tracking firm flightaware has said more than 2,000 christmas eve flights have been cancelled globally. explaining their decision, delta airlines warned: in the us, daily omicron cases have risen beyond the peak of the delta wave and hospitals are quickly filling up. despite this, many are still taking the risk to reach their loved ones.
i'm very scared to be flying, to be honest. i'm glad to see everyone looks pretty masked up. ijust hope people on the plane are respectful of those around them. fully vaxxed and boosted and all of that and i said, you know, i'm just so glad to be back with people, doing what we do. it kind of feels good. i mean, i'm still worried about the variant, omicron, and all that, but at the same time, i'm just like you know what? let'sjust — let's get back to living our lives a little bit. airlines are now calling for reduced quarantine for vaccinated staff, with delta's ceo asking for those experiencing breakthrough infections to isolate five days instead of ten. but in the meantime, many will still be struggling to make it home for the holidays. azadeh moshiri, bbc news. well, earlier i spoke to dr peter hotez, who's an infectious disease expert at baylor college of medicine. how worried is he at the rapid
spread of the omicron variant in the us? yeah, absolutely. you know, one of the interesting things about this wave compared to alpha and delta is that we had a 4— to 6—week lag before the uk surge with alpha and delta, before it hit the us, so we had an opportunity to learn from the united kingdom on how to — and what we might expect. we don't have that luxury right now, this came up so fast, and it's causing pretty widespread social disruption from the standpoint that so many of the workers in various businesses — of course, including the airlines — are getting sick now with breakthrough covid, meaning they have had either two or three immunisations and yet, they're still getting breakthrough infections, so it's knocking out a lot of the workforce. so even though we don't really have a lockdown, as we would call it, effectively, it is almost acting like that because it is hard for businesses to operate. and, of course, our biggest concern right now are among healthcare workers, so we that 1—2 punch where now hospitalisations are starting to increase in our major urban areas in the north, such as new york city and washington
dc and in newjersey and so much of the workforce is getting knocked out — not so much that they're getting sick enough to be in the hospital, but they're at home, sick with breakthrough covid, and that's really causing a lot of issues in terms of how do we navigate that and how we keep the workforce in place. yeah, you say there is not a technical lockdown. do you think there should be more restrictions put in place at this point in time? you know, it's been very tough, especially, you know, from the far right and here in the republican party which vigorously opposes any sort of slowing or lockdown measures, so it's going to be difficult to implement, especially in places like here in texas, so i don't see that happening, so it's going to be a matter of how we navigate the next few weeks and with the hope that maybe this won't be a long—lasting wave. what is the vaccine take—up — what is it like in texas and in the us and what kind of part does that play in it? we have a lot of regionalisation, so it's quite
high in the north—east — most people are all in on vaccines and are committed to getting all three immunisations — but here in texas, about only half the state is vaccinated. the vast majority have only two immunisations, so that creates a lot of vulnerability here in texas, so i'm quite worried about big surges on our hospitals because we've had that experience in the past — especially in the panhandle part of texas, the more conservative areas of texas, where people are openly defiant about getting vaccinated and vaccination rates are only 30—a0% — so we're hoping for the best but it could be a very rough time. i mean, the hope, as you have pointed out, is that the severity of this illness is not as great as previous lineages but it's from my standpoint, it's still a soft call because your wave, of course, your omicron wave dovetailed right onto the delta wave, so perhaps the reason for the appearance of less severity was because so many of your omicron infections were in fact reinfections following delta.
i'm not sure we have that same situation here, so we'll have to see how it pans out, but i am extremely worried. dr peter hotez there. let's get some of the day's other news. the un says three million people are in need of assistance in the philippines, among them around a million children. it comes after typhoon rai devastated the country's south—eastern islands. many have lost everything and are heading into christmas unsure if they'll be able to feed their families. 11 people are now known to have died when a boat carrying migrants sank off a greek island in the early hours of friday morning. another 90 people have been rescued from the island of antikythera. a search and rescue operation is still continuing. two leading american tech firms meta, formerly known as facebook, and google, have received huge fines by a court in moscow for repeatedly failing to delete content
russia deems illegal. google was fined $98 million, while meta was fined $27 million. meta has yet to respond, google says it will study the ruling before deciding on any future action. christmas celebrations have taken place in bethlehem, including an annual procession led by the head of the roman catholic church in the region. the events culminated in a mass at the church of the nativity, built on the spot where it's believed thatjesus was born. our middle east correspondent tom bateman reports. in manger square, they wait for the biggest night of the year. a christmas procession follows the route believed to have been taken by mary and joseph. it's a march of faith. but this season's greetings are mainly between the locals. the scout bands are a fixture of christmas in manger square and you can feel the energy. but what is missing are the international visitors and pilgrims that would usually be thronging the square here,
and that is a devastating blow for the second year running because bethlehem needs tourism to keep surviving. the glimmers of tourism restarting last month have gone, derailed by border closures due to the new covid variant. people trying to find joy and happiness from nothing. so it's very interesting, very impressive. since the beginning of 2020, everything is closed. all hotels are empty. it's very, very difficult - for people — especially those who are working i in tourism sector. they are selling somej of the land to houses. the characters of christmas come to life. in this olive wood factory, ibrahim is the only worker here today. normally, he'd be joined by four more. for palestinian christians in this part of the west bank, life has been a challenge, says nabeel, whose family has
run the shop for decades. we could keep our workers till the moment, but i don't know. you know, it's hard. i have two shops — one is here. the one on the manger square, it's been like 2a months, zero income. it's sad — it's not normal to see bethlehem this way. but at christmas, there's always light to look up to. as this town celebrates, it remains a year of hope against the odds. merry christmas! tom bateman, bbc news, bethlehem. pope francis has urged catholics to "look beyond all the lights and decorations" and remember the neediest. in his homily during the christmas eve mass, the pope said the fact that jesus was born in poverty should remind people that serving others was more important than seeking status or spending a lifetime in pursuit of success. here's a little taste of the service. singing
the queen is expected to talk in some detail about her late husband, prince philip, in her christmas broadcast later. he died in april at the age of 99. the monarch will spend the day at windsor castle with six members of her family. there are some flashing images in this report from our royal correspondent, nicholas witchell. rehearsing at windsor for their part in the queen's christmas broadcast, the central band of the royal british legion will play the national anthem which begins the broadcast. this year's christmas message — a still from which has been issued by buckingham palace — will be an unusually personal one.
the queen is wearing a brooch which she wore on her honeymoon, and on the desk beside her, a photograph of her and prince philip taken in 2007, when they celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary. it's eight months now since philip's death. so far, the queen has not spoken publicly in any detail about how much he meant to her. her broadcast will be an opportunity for her to do so. within the royal family, mindful that this will be the queen's first christmas without her husband, arrangements have been adjusted so that she won't be alone. the prince of wales and the duchess of cornwall will be with her at windsor, other members of the family, the wessexes and the gloucesters, will also be there. absent, of course, will be the duke and duchess of sussex. from their home in california, they've issued this photograph wishing their supporters happy holidays. it shows harry and meghan with their son, archie, and their daughter, lilibet, pictured for the first time. and so, at the end of a year touched by personal sadness, and some family tensions, thoughts will start to look ahead to next year and the celebrations to mark the queen's 70 years on the throne. uppermost in the minds
of the palace planners, of course, will be the question of the queen's health. it's always a sensitive matter. it has particular significance after the recent concerns, and given that next year is the year of her platinumjubilee. the queen will certainly want to be involved in thejubilee as fully as possible, and there will be another event of special significance to her — a service of thanksgiving for the life of the duke of edinburgh, which, it has been announced, will take place at westminster abbey in the spring. nicholas witchell, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: jingle bells instrumental plays 50 years after
the classic christmas joni mitchell song, the music video finally gets released. the world of music's 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 said 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 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: millions of travellers are facing disruption over christmas, as the world—wide record surge in omicron cases means cancelled flights and staff shortages. a christmas midnight mass at the church of the nativity in bethlehem — and a message from the pope calling for more solidarity with the poor. the biggest ever space telescope is due to be launched into orbit today. the james webb telescope cost more than £7 billion — and has taken three decades to design and build. it's a hundred times more powerful than its predecessor, hubble. our science editor rebecca morelle reports. it's taken 30 years to develop, cost more than $10 billion
and has involved thousands of scientists. now, the james webb space telescope is finally ready to launch, to begin the most ambitious astronomy mission ever attempted. this telescope is absolutely the biggest and most complex and most powerful telescope that we've ever attempted to send to space. all of us astronomers are extremely eager to get this telescope into space. but, you know, i think it's going to work and i think it's going to, again, you know, just completely revolutionise how we understand the cosmos. the telescope is a successor to hubble, which has given us amazing images, butjames webb is much more powerful. its mirror is almost three times bigger, which means it can reveal parts of the cosmos we've never seen before. gazing up into the heavens can help us to answer some of the biggest questions, like where we come from and how did we get here? this space telescope will help us to look further back in time than ever before, to 13.5 billion years ago, revealing
the light from the very first stars to shine. the final preparations have been under way. it's an incredibly tight fit as the rocket is tentatively lowered over the folded telescope. this is high—stakes science but, if it works, it could lead to discoveries that scientists haven't even dreamt of. rebecca morelle, bbc news. the duchess of cambridge has performed at her own christmas carol event, taking to the piano at a special service from westminster abbey broadcast on christmas eve in the uk. # round the table banter flows # round the table banter flows # praying no—one... . kate hosted the carol service as a thank you to people who supported their communities during the pandemic. she accompanied tom walker on the piano during a performance of �*for those
who can't be here'. the singer described kate as an �*amazing musician', and said the pair got together for top—secret rehearsals in a recording studio ahead of the concert. and now for a christmas treat, see if you can guess this famous holiday track. music plays. well the instrumental is, of course, jingle bells , from joni mitchell's classic �*river�*. the song first appeared on her landmark album �*blue�* back in 1971 —, and 50 years later, it's gotten its first music video in time for christmas. let's have a listen. # cutting down trees # they are putting up reindeer and singing songs ofjoy and peace # i wish i had a river # i could skate away on. # but it don't know here # it stays pretty green...
most of the video is in black and white , until the end, when the river turns blue. and while it may sound christmassy, there's another theme throughout, as you can guess from this message from joni which accompanied the video: �*river�* expresses regret at the end of a relationship, but it's also about being lonely at christmas time. a christmas song for people who are lonely at christmas! we need a song like that." i've been speaking to matvey resanov, the animation artist who directed the music video, on the message and how he got it across. i think the choice of black and white palette was really essential here and, as you rightfully pointed out, the colour symbolises hope and solace, because even in the deepest sadness there is some kind of calmness. and ijust tried to do justice to the lyrics and that was my goal, basically, and to the song itself and what it means. it's really effective, congratulations. why did you decide on the watercolour effect, is that a nod tojoni
being a painter herself? it is definitely a nod tojoni being a painter, but i think the decision was made by rhino records, i work with them, doran tyson and lisa glines. they approached me because that is what i do, i do watercolour animation. but the idea came from them, ijust... how much artistic license did you have yourself, did you have a complete blank canvas to do what you wanted? they did indicate the general idea and they wanted to be like symbols — symbolic. other than that i had really a lot of creative freedom and i really appreciated it. 169,000 views on youtube and injust today, what has the reaction been like that you have been getting? it's really overwhelming. this song means a lot to different people and it really speaks to different people's, you know, hearts and lives. a lot of people approached me
and i'm really grateful that they say that the visuals correspond to the lyrics quite well. so that's a huge honour for me. and you've got the black and white, obviously, they go through the video. at the end there is an element of hope, right, with the colour coming in? that's correct, yes. and what hasjoni said to you or to people about it herself? you know, she saw the storyboards, and that was a really crucial moment because that's when i presented the overall flow and how it will look and she approved it. which was a really, really big deal. and i was executing that media i was actually really nervous. because, as you said, she is an artist herself, a great artist, she has an incredible artistic eye. so when a sent the video it got approved in an hour. that meant the world to me. how long did the whole process
take, because obviously it has been released just in time for christmas, perfect timing, but i guess you have been working on this for quite a long time? actually it took me a0 days. matvey rezanov there. that is the music video for the song river. for millions around the world the big day has arrived — and for millions more it is only hours away. christmas is being celebrated across the globe. a lot of food will be eaten — and a lot of presents will be opened — assuming one man in particular heads in the right direction. tim allman explains. # you better watch out. # you better not cry. # better not pout — i'm telling you why.
# santa claus is coming to town. this has become almost as big a festive tradition as crackers, turkey, and tinsel. for more than 65 years, the north american aerospace defense command, or norad, has been tracking father christmas as he makes his way around the world. of course, this year, he has to deliver presents in a covid—secure environment. i'm sure santa is taking precautions. he — obviously, when he's riding the sleigh, he has to call out those commands to the reindeer, so he might have his mask off there so they can hear him, but i'm sure he's following the, you know, six feet away and wearing his mask when he's around others and his elves, et cetera. before he left, father christmas — or someone who looks like him — made a quick detour to thailand, exchanging his reindeerfor elephants — elephants with face masks. they were delivering presents to this school not far from bangkok. the children seemed to enjoy it, although animal rights groups think this is one tradition that's had its day.
if we want to teach children a christmas message, if we want to spread the christmas spirit, the best thing that we can do is to leave animals out of performances like this one and use people instead. back on hisjourney, and there is no chance the big man would miss this house. here in danvers, massachusetts, they light this building up to raise money for a local children's hospital. most spectacle, more bright lights, this time in taiwan — a giant santa claus next to a giant christmas tree. this time of year is special, wherever you are. tim allman, bbc news. and where is santa now, let's take a live feed now. he is in illinois at the moment and has delivered over 6 billion presents with many more to go. and that is it for us from now.
stay watching and remain tuned to bbc news. hello there. merry christmas to you. some of us will see some snow during this christmas period, mainly across the hills of the northern half of the uk. further south, it'll tend to be milder, so any precipitation will be rain. and we've got areas of low pressure pushing into the south west and they're weather fronts bringing outbreaks of rain. as these weather fronts slowly push north—eastwards into that stubborn area of colder air which is sitting to the north—east of the country, then this is where we're likely to see some of that rain turn to snow. so, we're starting christmas day morning off on a very cold, frosty note across scotland, the far north of england, but less cold, milder for northern ireland in towards wales and the south west. but here, we have more of the cloud, outbreaks of rain, which will be slowly spilling northwards and eastwards through the course of the day. quite a bit of cloud for most of england but the far north of england, scotland off that cold, frosty start, will be dry and sunny throughout the day. maybe just the odd wintry
shower around, some patchy cloud, but it will be windy, particularly across the northern half of the country, as you can see here. these are the mean wind speeds. so, when you factor in the wind with that cold air, it really will feel chilly — colder than these temperatures suggest, 3—5 degrees in the north, seven to maybe 11 degrees across the south and south west. now, as we head through christmas day evening, it looks like the rain will start to push its way northwards and eastwards and overnight, as it bumps into that cold air, we could see a bit of snow for north wales on the hills first and then into northern england, central, southern scotland, mainly over the pennines, across the southern uplands and the higher ground of central scotland. quite a covering here, maybe even some down to lower levels for a time. you can see it's going to be another cold night here, less so further south and west. so, some places on boxing day starting off with that snowfall across the north pennines, into the southern uplands, perhaps into central scotland but through the day, any snowfall will become reserved to the hills of northern scotland as the milder air begins to push its way northwards. quite a lot of cloud
generally across the country. we could see some brightness, a few showers pushing into northern ireland, wales and the south—west quadrant of england, where it'll be mild again but still chilly across the far north east. then, as we move out of boxing day to the run—up to new year's eve, we can see some really mild air starts to move in and right across the uk on a south—westerly wind, pushes all that cold air well away from the uk, so, it turns mild or even very mild for a time in places in the run—up to new year's eve. but with that, it will be unsettled, some areas seeing some spells of wet and windy weather.
this is bbc news. the headlines: millions around the world face travel disruption over christmas, as the surge in omicron variant cases sees thousands of flights cancelled due to staff shortages. united airlines says it's contacting those passengers affected before they arrive at the airport. china and the us are the worst affected countries. christmas celebrations have taken place in bethlehem, culminating in a mass at the church of the nativity, built at the site where jesus is said to have been born. earlier, in his christmas eve mass, pope francis called for more solidarity with those living in poverty around the world. and final preparations are under way for the launch of a rocket carrying a space telescope that could transform our understanding of the universe. the rocket carrying the james webb space telescope will take off from french guiana later on saturday. it's the successor to the hubble space telescope.
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