tv Dateline London BBC News January 10, 2022 3:30am-4:01am GMT
a court in melbourne is hearing an appeal by tennis world number one novak djokovic against the cancellation of his australian visa. he's spent five days in immigration detention there. arguments centre on whether his recent recovery from covid—19 exempts him from australia's vaccine policy. at least 19 people have died, nine of them children, after a fire in an apartment building in new york city. a malfunctioning electric heater is thought to have sparked the incident. 32 people are in hospital with life—threatening injuries. us actor and comedian bob saget has been found dead in a hotel room in orlando, florida. he was best known as the jovial dad in the tv sitcom "full house" the 65—year—old had just begun a new stand up tour and had expressed delight at being back performing.
now on bbc news it's time for dateline london, with shaun ley. hello, and welcome to a new year of the programme which brings together bbc specialists with foreign correspondents who write, blog and broadcast to audiences back home from the dateline: london. this week, pragmatism versus extremism in faith, politics and health. joining us, jef mcallister, us broadcaster and international lawyer, ashis ray, who's been explaining the british to indians for almost half a century now, and in the studio, damian grammaticas, who's been based in delhi, beijing and brussels
for the bbc, and who's now at westminster. welcome to you all and happy new year. now, covid pragmatism — is that the news year resolution adopted by some world leaders? in the uk, faced with the highly infectious variant of covid, omicron, borisjohnson has resisted imposing fresh restrictions in england. this despite a wave of staff absences, including one hospital — derriford in devon — which had 500 of its employees absent on a single day. instead, 100,000 key workers in sectors such as energy will be required to self—test every day, keeping the lights on. in australia, it seems to be a case of protecting key sporting events, or so it seemed a few days ago. novak djokovic, something of a vaccine sceptic, was told he could, after all, defend his title at tennis�*s australian open. but then there was outrage at the medical exemption he had been granted and now, as we speak, he is in hotel quarantine facing the prospect of deportation unless his legal challenge is successful. china, of course, goes its own way.
yuzhou, in the central province of henan, a city of 1.1 million people, has been locked down. three people there are infected. damian, china notwithstanding, is 2022 looking like the year we are going to learn to live with covid? it might be very early to say that, actually, i'm sorry to say and start the new year off on a low note. what we are seeing in the uk at the minute is this sort of lowered tiers of restrictions at the minute, which were brought in just before christmas for this 0micron wave, this highly transmissible variant, and the government here is resisting going further than that. partly, ithink, because, ideologically, it does not want to impose restrictions if it does not have to, but also, politically, borisjohnson had problems before christmas just bringing in the work—from—home rules
and the covid pass you now need to get into big events through his own party. so he's held back, and what you've seen is a health service under real pressure here. this wave might pass, but what is the next wave going to look like? and, crucially, if you're talking about a bigger global picture, this is in a population in the uk which is highly vaccinated already, has a large degree of protection. the real question for living with covid is all those other countries around the world that do not have that vaccine protection at the minute and need vaccines spread around the world to reduce the level of covid circulating, and therefore, also, the chances of new variants coming back again. let's talk about that question of vaccination — because it has not gone away, has it, in over a year since we have talked about it? jef, staying with the uk for the moment, one in 15, according to the office for national statistics, are thought to have been affected about a week ago with covid. are we getting to the point, whether we like it or not, partly because vaccination has
been so successful, where we may really see herd immunity as a way out of this pandemic? at least for this country. it's too early to be that hopeful. you need to get to, i think, 80% or so of combined previously infected and vaccination to be able to get to a kind of herd immunity. the fact that this new omicron variant has been so successful in spreading, though not so successful in killing, indicates that whatever herd is in existence really is not that effective. it does vary. the nice thing about it, and i think there is some thought among virologists, is that viruses tend to become more transmissible and less lethal as more variants go on. that isjust not an inevitable, but it is a frequently seen trend, and so i think we have
to hope that this is all going to be around us but not so debilitating both to human beings and to economies, and that seems to be what is happening. it is not as bad as it was a year ago. let's pick up what damian was saying about the problem being... it's all very well for us in north america, in parts of europe and some of the wealthy parts of the middle east and so on to say, "i'm all right, jack," but the reality is, as everybody has told us from the beginning of this, that if you don't vaccinate everyone, then no—one is really truthfully protected. the serum institute in india was one of those places where vaccine production took off and vaccine numbers have been good in india, notwithstanding its enormous population. do you see any hope of that for the developing world? i think the situation is really desperate in africa. - in india, given its vast population, i think- it's a major challenge. so, india is still in- the process of completing its second dose of the vaccine. it still has, ithink, -
about 50% of its population to be given the second vaccine, so that, i think, does pose - a challenge, the sheerj size of the population, but i think the problem is greater in the lowerl income countries. and that's where i think some kind of equality. needs to be achieved - because the first world having it and the third world not| having it is not a solution. there has to be some kind of equality, otherwise this| menace will not go away. there is, of course, - this race to find a vaccine which is possibly durable for at least one year, - and so that you don't have i to administer a vaccine every six months, - and that is important. so it's either going to be such a vaccine like a flu vaccine, i or maybe a medicine which would be a definitive cure. _
jef, both the british and the united states seem to be struggling with a shortage of testing equipment and particularly for the self—administered lateral flow tests, probably the test people are most familiar with. what is the biden administration trying to do about that? it has announced that it is buying 500 million and will be disturbing them, but they were obviously caught a little by surprise by the failure of the vaccine to do as much of a job as they anticipated and biden complained that trump had not done a very good job of tests and they look like they have not done a greatjob either. the contracts are now being let. apparently there are some dozen new tests, lateral flow—type quick tests, now available for production and it is ramping up. the people who are on biden's transition team have said they need a lot more than 500 million and that they also need vaccine passports and they need to have a closer
link between reports of getting infected and getting the antiviral drugs for the people most likely to go into the hospital. and that combined will be enough, but even the people who were sympathetic to biden are worried that the public health efforts are kind of ragged and need a boost, and he will have to listen to that or he is going to bear the political brunt and the health brunt and economic brunt. how much damage do you think the novak djokovic row and now the row involving a second player, who is pretty much saying she is giving up and is going home, how much is this damaging australia, do you think? and particularly the australian government, which seems to have taken a contradictory view on this. before the public row kicked up, it appeared to be quite relaxed about him coming. first of all, i think djokovic.
is a marvellous tennis player, and my money would be on him to go past roger federer- and rafael nadal to take 21 grand slam titles — i they are all level- on 20, as you know. but having said that, - i think it's important to say that i do not sympathise i with his stance on vaccines. now, there is of course - a confusion — the confusion being, from what i can make out, a circular that was sentl out by the australian open i authorities to say that anyone who has had covid in the past six months, in other words, i from the 31st ofjuly onwards, was exempt in terms- of taking a vaccine. and then, of course, - when he arrives in australia, he is stopped because the authorities feel. that he should have i taken his vaccinations.
this will not be resolved, i dare say, until monday, but it's unpleasant. i don't think it shows . australia in particularly consistent light, but atl the same time, i do not sympathise with djokovic. he has not set a very good example since. the outbreak of covid. damian, that brings us to china, which, of course, has an international sporting occasion, if anything, bigger than the australian open with the olympics coming up. they seem to have taken what one might call lock down the moment you see any sign of anything. the chinese approach is zero covid. has it been effective? it has been in china. it's now 11 months since china have recorded a death from covid within china and very, very low cases, but that comes at a very high cost, and the cost we are seeing is these lockdowns that china imposes on as soon as there is a hint of an outbreak and there is mass testing going on to spot it. so this week have the city of yuzhou —
1.1 million people — three cases, asymptomatic people identified through testing, the whole city in lockdown. the city of xian, as big as london, 13 million, has been in lockdown since before christmas, and that is 13 million people confined to their homes. again, for a small number of cases. there, it's the biggest outbreak they have had since wuhan, around 100 a day, 1,800 cases or so at the minute, plus 40,000 people moved the quarantine. but it's costly. in xian, the difficulty now is the ability of the local government to keep those people fed, those people needing to get out and get medical treatment. there was a case just in the last few days of a woman trying to get to hospital. the hospital staff would not let her in because she did not have a negative covid test that was valid on herself — she had a miscarriage and lost her baby. that's circulated on social media. and an elderly man, too, did not get to hospital in time and died and there is now criticism circulating of,
what is the cost of this lockdown when there are very few deaths? the pressures are starting to mount there, i think, and can china continue this, particularly with the omicron variant now? this was worked with a less transmissible variant. the difficulty for china is, if the more transmissible one gets in and starts to spread, because the chinese vaccines, the testing at the minute seems to show that the chinese vaccines that they've used on the chinese population may not be very effective against the omicron variant, it's not the new type of vaccine and that could be a real difficulty. thank you very much. on christmas day, the bbc reported the reopening of a church in india—administered kashmir shut since violence in the muslim—majority state more than 30 years ago. as worshippers said their prayers in haryana, a state controlled by the bjp, the hindu nationalist party, which also provides india's government, a life—size statue ofjesus was desecrated. it was not an isolated incident. some even accused christians of using santa claus
and the distribution of presents to children as a tool of conversion. hostility towards muslim indians has become depressingly routine in the country's public life. congress, the main opposition party which supposedly believes and stands for a non—sectarian democracy, is too enfeebled to raise much protest. can you give us examples of the sort of things indian christians are having to endure at the moment, and is there any indication that this is kind of state—sponsored or state—influenced in any way? what i will say is that - the state has been silent, and if that means that they condone it, then _ that's what it means. they certainly have been veryl rarely condemning these acts. these have been steadily - happening for quite some time. in one state alone, there have been 40 such attacks -
on christians in 2021 alone. so, overand above, there is this spate of legislation| in the ruling party, i bjp—run states — such as haryana that you mentioned, madhya pradesh, uttar pradeshj and karnataka, where these legislations — l so—called anti—conversion laws — are aimed at christians. - in other words, it's- a matter of containment, it's a matter of intimidation, and that's exactly— what is going on. there's been this spewing of hate and intolerance i by the ruling bjp, i with narendra modi, unfortunately, being. the fountainhead of this kind of sentiment. and this has not only affected muslims, but it has also - affected christians. indeed, it affects - liberal hindus, socially
discriminated hindus as well. but these attacks have beenl mounted deliberately around christmas in order to make christians feel insecure - and they have certainly. achieved their objective. ithere is one other thing that i| should mention, which is this — that the nobel prize winner i mother teresa's missionaries of charity. now, they used to receive funding from all— over the world because it's . been doing extraordinary work with the poor, needy. and destitute in india. but that funding has been - stopped by the modi government, so that gives you a picture of what is really going - on in india at the moment. jef, that might be one of the reasons that the us commission on international religious freedom recommended putting india on a red list of some countries that commit serious violations of religious freedom.
is this — not least because there is a big indian diaspora in the us. is this becoming a political issue there? i don't think it's become a central issue and the state department has not taken this advice from this non—official but officially constituted body to put india on the red list because, of course, india has a lot of important other issues with the us — geopolitical, economic — and the biden administration has, understandably, been skittish about taking them on in this way. but there really isn't any doubt that these are extremely serious issues for india, and for a country like the us, which believes in religious freedom and is supposed to be founded on it, there is going to be a point where it becomes a public issue for the biden administration, too.
we may not have gotten there yet, but i think we are heading in that direction. damian, narendra modi has invited the pope to visit india. with this kind of backdrop, that could make for potentially a quite an interesting visit, assuming he accepts the invitation. but there will be some christians who will say, "hang on a minute — the vatican has not covered itself in glory when one thinks of china," where christianity was suppressed for so long and a deal was done — a deal that not everybody thinks was a terribly good one. yes, so this is four years ago now. so, you have the chinese communist party, xijinping, who tolerate religion. it's still — religious freedoms are still violated in china and if you try and practise outside state control, there is serious control and repression there. but tolerated — the state wants to try and co—opt and tolerate some religions.
and is quite keen to, for example, control the choice of bishops and things like that? yes, exactly, and the pope has a different view, which is that the church alone should decide. so, the two did this dealfour years ago, where they would sort of effectively agree to compromise and choose bishops together. the pope wanted to do so as an attempt to sort of have a dialogue with china. the difficulty with that, i think, has been that it's only two bishops or a couple of bishops have been agreed and appointed. there are several dozen that they need to, so there's not been actually very much progress, and the criticism has been that then, that actually slightly ties the catholic church's hands because it has then felt unable to criticise where there has been violations of religious freedom and violations of other religion�*s religious freedoms in china too —
so, muslims in xijiang, uighurs, or tibetan buddhists or the treatment of non—sanctioned churches, where often the churches will be razed, bulldozed in china and the pastors will be arrested and pressure put on people. so does that limit the catholic church's room to speak out about those things? let me ask one brief thought, ashis, if i may. is part of this because of the arrival of evangelical christianity? a greater desire to proselytize and convert? because that seems to be one of the fears, at least, you hear a lot about from those who are involved in these anti—christian protests, that they say it is not so much about anti—christianity, it's anti—christians trying to convert us and others. that is a very good question. i think over the centuries, . we find that weaker sections and tribal people, people - who have been discriminated against by higher—caste hindus, have ventured i towards christianity, - have converted to christianity.
but i do not see any credible or widespread evidence that| says that this is being done in a systematic manner- by the churches in india. so it could happen in the odd case but it's certainly- not widespread, it's - certainly not systematic. and therefore, this - is an allegation, i know, on the part of the hindu right in india, but it's _ an allegation which i believe is baseless. i ashis, thank you very much. now, from extremism of faith to the polarisation of politics. if you thought the last us election was rough, you ain't seen nothing yet. on thursday, the anniversary of the capitol riot in washington, dc, presidentjoe biden accused his predecessor, donald trump, of creating a web of lies about the november 2020 election and onjanuary 6 last year, a president, he said, who rallied the mob to attack. this sort of language may
be catnip to democrats and an effective way for a president with very poor voter approval to rally the party ahead of midterm elections, where the democrats are in sore danger of losing control of congress. i mean, jef, it may have been good politics, but was this wise, never mind statesman—like? i think you have to look at this in a way that is hard for us to look at in the normal fashion of politics. this is, i have to say, a five—alarm fire, and we are so used to it, it's been there for such a long time now in america because of trump, that we tend to think it'sjust politics as usual. one of the tricky things about talking about trump has been, really, how different he has been from other presidents. the 20,000 lies he told, according to the washington
post counters, the fact that he would talk about grabbing women's genitalia, that he would cosy up to putin, that he told people to take bleach to solve their problems with covid. and those were strange, but the truly most unusual thing he did was try to mount a coup to keep himself in power. he is the only president in history of the republic who ever did this. and this is serious. it has continual consequences. 68% of republicans think that he should be president, that biden is not the legitimate president. and that is very, very difficult and worrisome for democracy. that 'big lie', iwould posit, is similar to the big lie told by the right in germany after the first world war — that the reason they lost the war is that they were stabbed in the back by the socialists and the jews. and that gives people a chance to rev up and feel betrayed,
and the republicans are feeling betrayed because trump is still leading them. he is going to run for president. he is going to be the candidate of the republican party again. there's no—one in a position to stand up to him. they won't stand up to him for anything. and so, we are actually facing a grave constitutional crisis in the united states. biden is going to be 82 years old at the next election. he's not doing great. if he doesn't do well in the midterms, there's not going to be any legislation at all coming out of washington in those two years leading up. things are going to get worse, more broken. and so, to ignore this giant elephant in the room and say, "0h, things are just sort of 0k," he has got to push for voting reform. the republicans are trying to make it harder for democrats to vote in the states they control. they're doing a pretty good job of it. for federal legislation to counteract this, biden has
to get at least a couple of senators to vote against the filibuster. maybe he's making some progress by making a big deal about this election. i think we should all be concerned, notjustjoe biden, people who care about the united states, even if they think it's imperfect, people who think "well, at least it's a gravitational centre of the world order" need to be concerned about the future of the state of american democracy and i'm glad joe biden is raising it. a brief last thought, ashis, if i may. that was all true a year ago. he has not used quite this language until now. and there is going to be a suspicion, isn't it, that this is electoral politics — this is about strengthening his base — a base that, let's face it, might well be having quite a lot of doubts about whether he should even be their candidate in three years' time. i certainly see this i as a change of tactics because for one year, - he ignored trump and trump has not gone away. so, therefore, ithink
he has decided to be| more aggressive and seal if more aggression works. and certainly, when it comes to the pro—biden media - in the us, they have welcomed this aggressive approach. - he has decided to take him on. but at the end of the day, a . couple of things are important. very brief. one is that the economy needs to turn around and the second i is that his social and climate agenda needs to be - pushed forward. thank you all very much. lovely to have your company. thank you very much for your company as well. dateline: london back same time next week. goodbye. hello again.
sunday brought us a mixed picture of weather. there was a bit of rain across northern areas. we had some lovely winter sunshine across parts of the midlands, east anglia, southern england, parts of wales for a time as well but towards the end of the day, we did rather lose the bright skies in wales, replaced it with some thicker cloud and started to lose the visibility as well. now, right now, we're seeing cloud increase from the west as a warm front begins to push its way in. that is starting to push a bit of patchy light rain and drizzle in across these western areas, but temperatures are rising hour by hour, so it is increasingly turning mild. heading into the first part of monday morning, ten degrees there in plymouth, but cold in rural aberdeenshire — some of the deeper valleys, about —5 degrees or so. through monday, this area of milder air is going to slowly creep its way a little bit further eastwards. with that, could be an odd spit of drizzle just about anywhere through the day, but it will be mainly focused across the west. some heavier rain, though, for western scotland,
with strengthening winds here during the course of the afternoon. it is for these western areas that the temperatures will be at their highest — 13 degrees in belfast. further east, not quite so high temperatures, but they're still above average — highs of 7—9 degrees. through monday night and into tuesday, our warm front gets chased down by this cold front. behind the cold front, we get the colder air moving back in. so for tuesday, the murky weather will be across the south — mist and hill fog patches, a bit of light rain or drizzle from that system. further north, a fair bit of sunshine, northern ireland, northern england, wales, the midlands, too. a few showers, though, for the northwest of scotland. the temperatures just dropping away again across most parts of the uk, but mild in the south this time. from wednesday onwards, high pressure builds to the south of the uk and with this high pressure, winds are going to be coming around that from quite a long way south. the mildest air will be heading in across these northern areas. but there will be quite a lot of cloud around — thick enough to give some spots of drizzle. no great amounts, but it
could be quite damp at times for the highlands and the western isles, perhaps the northern isles as well. but it's here where we'll see temperatures in double figures. after a frosty start elsewhere, should be some sunny spells. but as the week goes by, a lot of quiet weather. there will probably be some dense patches of fog around as well across parts of england and wales later in the week. that's your latest weather.
this is bbc news — welcome if you're watching here in the uk or around the globe. i'm david eades. our top stories: novak djokovic's court case against his deportation from australia is underway, after the world's top mens tennis player had his visa cancelled by the authorities there. at least 19 people, including nine children, die in a fire at an apartment block in new york city. the smoke spread throughout the building, thus the tremendous loss of life and other people fighting for their lives right now in hospitals all over the bronx. a little boy lost, and found again. the baby who went missing in the chaos of the afghan evacuation is reunited with his family.