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tv   Newsnight  BBC News  September 19, 2017 11:15pm-11:58pm BST

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yes, the president "united nations", but it was those he saw as america's enemies. he denounced iran, venezuela, and syria in one go. but it was this threat to kim jong—un that drew a gasp around the world. the united states has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy north korea. we'll ask those in his administration and a former australian prime minister what the world is making of an extraordinary speech. boris at bay. the foreign secretary is cornered, and insists he's singing the same song as theresa may on brexit. are you as one? are the two of you as one now? a nest of singing birds. tonight, the first indications of what will be in friday's speech are emerging. we bring you the latest. also tonight, the world's most powerful woman looks to be cruising to election victory number four. how does she do it?
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it is like in a boxing ring. the other one is fighting like a maniac and she has one punch. and after ten years, the documentary maker ken burns brings vietnam to our screens — what does his 18 hour epic tell us of america, then and now? good evening. "i said" — reflected donald trump afterwards — "what i had to say". certainly, today's donald trump didn't hold back. his address to the un general assembly in new york was like the axis of evil speech on steroids. in his sights were iran, syria, cuba and venezuela — a sort of rogue eurovision of nations. his message to north korea's leader — "a rocket man on a suicide mission" — was the threat of total destruction. there was a theatricality to his words that drew gasps from the audience.
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but there was another side to trump. a leader who rejected globalisation, rejected america as the world's policeman, who admitted he was less keen to receive the poor, tired huddled masses yearning to breathe free, and more interested in keeping them in their own countries with a little more financial aid. above all, it was a speech to those who had elected him. a speech to those who wanted to hear their leader repeat that america — its problems and its solutions — would be put first. he encouraged other states to think the same way. we'll hear what those listening made of it. here's mark urban with his take on trump's doctrine. the addressed to the un general assembly is a grand presidential tradition, as are references to the us constitution, although trump used his advocate governing in the us interest. as president of the united states, i will always put america first, just like you, as the leaders
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of your countries, will always and should always put your countries first. applause. and if that drew applause, it was because trump ideas about those who are lukewarm to the western democratic model. in america we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch. indeed the president even made explicit that america's values are not for export. a clean break with george w bush and barack obama's ideas of spreading democracy and human rights. but this president also set out the limits to his
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acceptance of other systems. we do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions or even systems of government, but we do expect all nations to uphold these two sovereign duties. to respect the interests of their own people, and the rights of every other sovereign nation. it seemed almost among tory trump doctrine. his team seem to be explaining why it america first and nationalism was consistent with leadership in the world. but i think what we saw was an echoing of many of the things putin has said about sovereignty, his critique of the international order has been that it doesn't respect the sovereignty of its members. the rubric of threatening others can certainly be extended to north korea and kim jong—un was duly threatened. now north korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. the united states has great
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strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy north korea. iran was flayed too, although the president stopped short of saying he would jump the nuclear deal. he also attacked the venezuelan government. it sometimes sounded like a re—versioning of the axis of evil. it's not clear what his guiding vision is, but certainly we see selective engagement on issues or countries when it comes to human rights, where there may be a political cost not to do anything and a political benefit to do something. it may all come down to politically what is feasible for him.
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although policy director steve bannon has left the white house now, swipes at mammoth international organisations, mass immigration and unequal trade deals lived on, as the bete noire from the trump campaign. for too long the american people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunal ‘s and powerful global bureaucracies where the best way to promote their success. and our great middle class, once the bedrock of american prosperity, was forgotten and left behind. but they are forgotten no more. they will never be forgotten again. his predecessor drew a warmer reception for this annual address, but there were a few lines that drew applause, not least because there
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are plenty of states here that are glad america has stopped trying to export its version of democracy. joining me now from new york is kevin rudd, former australian pm, who was at the un today. and from washington, kurt volker, director of the mccain institute for international leadership and us special representative to ukraine. thank you forjoining us. kevin rudd, your thoughts this evening, do you understand trump's foreign policy credo? no, i don't. what you see of course is an unvarnished nationalism on display in new york. it's a speech primarily directed at an american domestic audience. i think what the president has forgotten is that the united states who invented the post 45 global rules, united nations,
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and it was the united states who brought about the universal declaration of human rights in 1948. these are all american babies. for the president of the united states, i think uniquely imposed 45 history to publicly shredded those things, is odd. not only is it odd but it wasn't substituted by any coherent alternative doctrine other than american nationalism. unless he's more in tune with our times, and is saying things that many people might quietly agree with? the principle of the un is noninterference, there will be many countries who think his approach to the refugee problem is the right one, could he not be more in tune with the un of 2017? i think if you look from 45 to the present, there's been a lot of change in that period and it would be wrong to assume nationalism hadn't raised its ugly head many times over those seven decades. i think the responsibility of great powers in international history is to create rules—based order
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where on matters of common interest and global values, we choose to pool our sovereignty to deal with those. whether it's on questions of climate, questions of peace and international security, or questions of how to deal with stateless persons. that's what great powers to. you heard his threat to north korea, put in the context of the us having to defend itself, how likely do you feel it would be for him to follow through? if you were pm of australia now, what would you be putting in place of thinking? the first thing i'd be doing if i was prime minister of australia would be on the phone to my south korean counterpart, working out a combined approach to the white house about why that would be a bad idea. the bottom line is, if you look at what's happening in washington, and i've observed american politics
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and foreign policy professionally, is that there are two sets of options. one is the united states accepts the legitimacy of north korea becoming a bona fide nuclear state with an icbm capability of reaching mainland america, or that the united states takes unilateral military action of one form or another to degrade or destroy that nuclear capability. but there's a third, which is a new diplomacy which tries to strike a grand bargain between china, united states and north and south korea. that's where the americans should be focusing. kurt, you have a bird's eye view from washington, what is your sense of what you heard today? was it a trump you could celebrate, defend? i think he was talking to a domestic audience, but he was also talking to in international audience. i think he was expressing frustration that a lot of people
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feel, that we face a lot of challenges in the world. some darkening clouds on the horizon and north korea is one of them. there are others, terrorism and others. people are concerned these aren't being dealt with. i think he was speaking to that frustration. what he was doing, and it's important to go back to the beginning of his remarks. in the beginning he is talking about promoting or supporting peace, prosperity, security, and united nations being formed for that purpose. now we face a situation in which we need nations to pull together to do that. yesterday we heard nato saying we should be deeply worried about russia. doesn't it seem inconceivable that a us president should go to the un, make a 41 minute speech and not even mention russia or the dangers it poses?
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i was surprised to not find that there. there was one reference to ukraine and speaking about supporting sovereignty, talking about ukraine's sovereignty. there's only one country that has invaded ukraine's territory. when he said he was going to reject threats to sovereignty from ukraine to south china sea, does it mean america would be a policeman, would go to the rescue of ukraine, or... he keeps coming short, doesn't he, of action? in terms of launching a war, to say we are going to, i did think he was going that far. but he was calling out what are these very challenges
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you are referring to. whether he referred to dictators, terrorists. he said we face a lot of challenges and he's calling them out and saying we've got as sovereign nations that need to exercise responsibility, we've got to actually deal with these. as was the purpose of the un's founder. kevin rudd, do you treat president trump as a man who is likely to act on his words? it was interesting to see matheson mcmaster say we need to work out diplomatic and international means. do you respond to president trump as a man who will follow through? i think president trump, in the period he's been in office, has shown a remarkable ability to move from one set of strong words onto a different set of expressions the next week or the next month. i think we should take this specific language as it relates to north korea in this speech with a grain of salt. is it consistent with the president's approach to the nuclear agreement —— it is.
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he is legitimately frustrated by the fact that china has been unwilling to turn the north korean programme around, but i think it would be wrong to predict a particular course of action coming out of this speech. this is not the way this white house operates and he has a competent national security team around him. it is curious the way he goes along the line of an insult, he insults iran and venezuela but he does not actually pull out of the deal. it is almost the opposite of diplomacy. i think he is trying to demonstrate toughness and get attention. in the case of north korea, i think he is trying to engage in very tough rhetoric in order to get the attention of kim jong—un and get him to believe that there would be massive retaliation and through that, to hopefully deter him. the whole essence of deterrence is the certainty on the adversaries side that there will be a massive retaliation and i think he is trying to convey that through that strong language. thank you both very much. reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. today, borisjohnson insisted he wasn't about to resign. he was cornered by reporters
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in new york after a sweaty four mile run and insisted the government was as united on brexit as a nest of "singing birds". theresa may's big speech in florence, of course, is on friday, but to some extent the really big political moment of the week could well be the cabinet meeting in london the day beforehand. that's when they'll all get a look at the speech and we will find out whether they really are in any kind of harmony. nick watt, our political editor, joins us from brussels. nick, what have you been hearing? downing street is being very tight lipped about this speech. they are not briefing ahead of the prime minister on friday although we might get some words of thursday night of what she will say that date. it is interesting, there is a story in the financial times saying that the uk is willing to make a gesture, the prime minister is willing to make a gesture to brussels in one big area of concern and this is that there should be no black hole in the eu budget between brexit taking place in the spring of 2019 and that seven—year budget coming to an end at the end of 2020. no figures are being mentioned at the moment, but the uk did agree when it was a full member of the eu
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in 2013 to honour that budget until 2020 and i have been told that the view of the uk is once it leaves, it is under no legal obligation to meet the budget until the end of 2020, but it feels it has a moral obligation to do this, but one person said to me, let's just call this what it is, it is a bribe to unlock the trade side of the talks with the eu. is it a bribe to keep borisjohnson in his place, do you think he will stay? did you hear me? is it all so aptly to keep borisjohnson in his post, will he stay? we have lost him. we will bring you more from that ahead of the speech. if germany votes as expected this week, angela merkel will win
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a fourth term in office and extend her reign at the helm of german politics to 16 years. she has retained a commanding lead in the polls — as much as 17 points ahead of her rivals. she has weakened her opposition by modernising her party and moving to the political centre ground. her most controversial policy was that of 2015, which saw her welcome more than a million migrants into germany. has she held on this far because of it — or in spite of it? and what does the queen of europe, of the west, want to do with a fourth term? we sent ann mcelvoy, now a senior editor at the economist, who has been following merkel‘s career for decades, to germany to find out. sometimes, one felt, she comes from another satellite. she is actually rather normal. she has a very cooperative style in leading the discussion. she does not discuss. the doors are shut.
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a woman of many contradictions. angela merkel may have commanded german politics for 12 years, but she has proved remarkably difficult to pin down. now, for a fourth time, it looks like germany's power frau is about to breeze to victory in yet another election. well, she has a huge amount of experience. i knew angela merkel in the cabinet since 12 years now, as someone who was very reliable. people in germany trust her, they want somebody who is clear, who is reliable, and who has a clear vision about what is needed in international relationships. so, how has a once shy academic morphed into the merkelator? a ruthless colossus who not only dominates every room, but also the global arena? i've known merkel since 1989,
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when she first emerged on the german political stage. and i've come to find out what that magic recipe is, that keeps her being electable, keeps germans coming back from more and keeps her wanting to do it. she grew up in communist east germany, the daughter of an austere lutheran vicar. raised in a society where a wrong word could endanger your family, angela merkel developed a sixth sense of who she could trust. the fall of the berlin wall led to the rise of her political career, a shy figure, thrown into the spotlight. it led to a job as deputy press speaker for the first freely elected east german government. i remember this mousy figure who blushed readily and was mocked as the milkmaid. i remember this mousy figure who blushed readily and was mocked
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as the milkmaid. she has been seen as that girl from east germany, with little political experience who had a funny haircut and whom we westerners had to teach how political life in germany is run. and, i think she learnt a lot from the experience, and i think being underestimated always helped her. that role brought her on to the radar of helmut kohl. he felt obliged to gather up some young political talent from the east and even the odd woman in the ranks. the merkelator leaves a long line of conquests in her wake. helmut kohl dubbed her his assassin.
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she was the first of his ministers to put the knife in after a major party donations scandal, a blow that ended his long career. and her slow and steady outmanoeuvring of rivals in those early years still defines her. after gerhard schroeder, the bullish spd chancellor patronised merkel, she vowed to put him in a corner and eventually, she did, beating him to the top job in 2005, a glint of ice in the soul. of course she is a cunning person. when i was in the chancellor's office, they all underestimated her. merkel was the most underestimated person. she looked like the shy daughter of a protestant minister, but we did not see that she had a sharp and analytical mind. blair, who merkel liked very much, was charming, clinton was charming, 0bama tried to charm her, she has no charm, she does not have that way to win people.
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she is waiting and see, but at the end, she is the only survivor and it is like in a boxing ring. the other one is fighting like a maniac and she has one punch. at least we have something in common perhaps. so, what is her secret weapon against a tricky customer like donald trump? patience. the most important thing is patience and i think that is the secret of the success of angela merkel, that she is much more patient than any other politician in germany, in europe, in the world. voters also know she is rigorous. dealing with merkel as a boss sounds unrelenting. when i started in the chancellery, i myself learned that every paper i read and i gave it to her and afterwards, she asked me about the topic and i would say, i don't know and she would say, hey,
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you read the paper, why don't you know and why didn't you ask, if you don't know now? and i think that is really typical for her and also, if there is a meeting and we want, in europe or elsewhere, a lot of people come together, solving problems and if the facts are not clear, if the options are not clear and you lose time, in fact, she does not like that. it is a mixed merkel blessing, this forensic thoroughness. an old friend who has known merkel for nearly three decades puts her reticence down to growing up under an authoritarian system, a survival instinct. so, when merkel shepherded over
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a million refugees into germany in 2015, a newly emboldened figure and country emerged, taking more of a lead on the world stage. she was decisive, even brazen, but some called her autocratic. her idea is that she is the chancellor of change. she doesn't say that, but when she opened the doors for the refugees from hungary, she said, germany will change. will change. it was like a command. angela merkel had, in the refugees story, an idea to get in the international story,
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a place which had no nation before. i call that the humanitarian superpower. the refugee gamble has paid off for merkel, the sharpest tensions have dissipated, but the hard work of integration has barely begun and it won't be risk free. so, why gamble on a fourth term? i asked her two weeks ago what drives her to run again for chancellor and she told me that she is not a typical politician, that she is a gifted manager of contradictions and she said we are in the midst of crisis, the brexit crisis, the refugee crisis, the euro crisis, and we don't know what europe will be and in this time really, the future is not coming, she thinks it is her responsibility to present her experience.
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it is not fun, it is a sort of deeply felt duty. as for brexit, typically for merkel, she is shaking off an event on the ballot. well, chris williamson, mp for derby north and shadow fire ministerjoins us, and matt pound from labour first is here with me, campaigning against the changes. thank you both. this is a move towards democracy, towards giving more of the party more of a say. how can he contest that? there are a couple of things about the proposed rule change. the first one is is welcome but it's not 5% and it's gone to 10%. which was whatjohn mcdonnell was advocating. exactly. it was the original proposed rule change from last year. that would have meant we could have had a potential contest between 19 candidates. now it's down to nine. i think a contest between nine labour mps would be completely ridiculous, as due to the voting
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system at the moment that means people could be electing the labour party on the seventh, eighth or ninth preference. is that what worries you, or is it that you fear this allows more corbyn style leaders to come forward? i make no bones about the fact that i think mps should be more involved in the process of selecting the leader. there's an obvious reason why that works and ultimately the mps are the people who have to work with the leader everyday. doesn't that make total sense, that actually you want the mps to be working well with the leader and not to be shut out of the process? this is a huge victory for democracy. i think what is perhaps more significant even than the method of electing the leader is the democracy review that will be embarked upon out to look at how we can involve this mass movement
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in the development of policy. it's a huge weapon that we have at our disposal now. party membership has almost tripled in the last two years since jeremy corbyn became leader. you now have potentially nine different candidates, quite a lot, and you could get there on the eighth or ninth preference because it's almost impossible to reach that 50% majority on the first round vote. doesn't that worry you as a chaos of electoral logic? it doesn't worry me, because democracy is an important thing. with the mass movement which is the labour party now, i think it's essential that we enable all shades of opinion within the party to be represented
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in an election process. from the right of the party right the way through to the common—sense socialist wing of the labour party. ifjeremy corbyn did it without these changes, doesn't that suggest you don't need to do this at all? there's a range of recommendations which have been made. i think it's important we don't have a situation where mps could act as gatekeepers and prevent a candidate who would potentially be popular with the wider membership from getting onto the ballot paper. that would lead to huge frustrations and be damaging to the party's electoral prospects. we want to make sure we get into power to change people's lives and change the country. i agree with that, i think we should have members getting more
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involved in campaigning. me and chris will have worked with campaigners from labour first, progress, momentum. the party was united in the election campaign. what we are seeing today is not a report into how we harness members into becoming a campaigning force, it's how do we fiddle around with the rules in order to consolidate power to the left. i think at this point, what is the point in having a review like that which then causes the labour party to be completely focused on itself and not those they want to serve? will keep a close eye on it next week at conference. when documentary maker ken burns made his 1a hourfilm on america's civil war, it became the most watched documentary pbs had ever aired. he's just finished an 18 hour series about vietnam, begun a decade ago. what legacy did that war leave on america, on its foreign policy, on its trust in leaders and of its sense of patriotism, duty and fallability?
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here's a taste of what it offers. burns' work has depth and texture. the vietnam war was a decade in the making. along with his co—director lynn novick, they interviewed not just veterans and anti—war protesters, but former vietcong soldiers and north vietnamese citizens who lived through it. burns' focus on american history usually starts from the ground up. he's interested in how regular people reacted to the world changing events around them. their infinite patience, their loyalty to each other, their courage under fire, wasjust phenomenal. that's not to say he ignores how the president and those in power reacted too.
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he wants to give us both perspectives. president nixon claimed he was too busy watching football on television to pay attention, but he did suggest that army helicopters might be used to blow out the marchers' candles. he asks his audience to really question what they think they know, and says while making the documentary, the humiliation of realising how much he didn't know, turned to humility in relearning at all. ken burnsjoins me from new york. good evening. sometimes it feels that the legacy of the vietnam's war is bigger even than the war itself. did you come to understand the idealism that initiated, that kicked off the vietnam's war when you started work on it? yes i did. i think it was pretty obvious
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to both me and lynn novick that it was begun in good faith by decent people, as we say in the opening narration. but quickly becomes corrupted by mixed signals. we've initially been attracted to ho chi minh and his revolutionary movement. the french are pressing us to hope us restore their colony which doesn't work out. almost all the presidents know that there is no daylight, asjohnson said there, there's not really a sense of victory. what we say in public is always happy and we are ploughing forward. what we say in private is an entirely different thing. what you have is essentially the end of a sense of american invincibility and maybe of innocents and the beginning of notjust a sceptical response to government, which is of course help me, but a cynical one which is toxic. i think it has metastasised, the divisions of vietnam are being visited on other the moment.
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the hyper partisanship that has paralysed the united states today, the seeds for that were sown during the vietnam's era. because of that erosion in trust of our leadership? i think so. we've been through what americans call the second world war as the good war. i don't see how that can be that. but in the vietnam's era where the country is divided in half, polarised over for or against and the kind of rancour there, something happened. something was lost. we just want to be storytellers and telly good story. as you said in your introduction, what we didn't know was so extraordinary that it was necessary for us to drop our conventional wisdom, our baggage going in, and relearn the whole thing and try to share a combo catered story.
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now that it's done, now that the film is being released in the united states, you realise it perhaps has the possibility to help pull out some of the fuel rods that have intensified the heat in these partisan arguments that take place over everything. on that note, give us a sense of the reaction from audiences in the preview screenings. you invited veterans, protesters, what happened? it's been wonderful. i've toured around the country and had large groups of people, in 30 or a0 different cities, and i ask for the veterans to stand up. i say, stay standing. i say i'd like not only to salute you and your service but let's ask the people engaged in protesting the war to stand up. then i point out that everybody looks about the same. they grampa ‘s, grandmas, put on a future many pounds than that they want.
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too often americans forget the thing we are good at. in our civil war series shelby foote said americans like to think of themselves as uncompromising people but our genius is the compromise. when a breakdown we went to war, in that case causing the death of 750,000 of our own people, in the american civil war. in vietnam's it wasn't that tragic but we began to instil a sense of the other in those that disagreed with us that pertained to this day. mark twain famously said history doesn't repeat itself but it rhymes. after ten years you wake up and you realise the rhymes are there. demonstrations taking place across the whole country, document drops of stolen classified material, accusations that a political campaign reached out to a foreign power to influence that campaign, a president certain the media is lying. it's almost as if we've visited the vietnam war in every single way. but of course, this was all true of vietnam when we started ten years ago. the film was essentially finished before the general election began. ken burns, thank you.
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that's all we have time for tonight. i'll be back with much more tomorrow. until then, goodnight. hello there. the forecast today was probably the best day of the week regarding widespread dry and bright weather. i will show you the satellite picture from earlier. there were areas of cloud which fizzled out in the afternoon, plenty of sunshine from scotland down towards the south of the country. this massive cloud is the next weather system pushing into western areas. continuing to feed in an
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overnight over scotland and ireland, outbreaks of rain. a bit milder by the end of the night. maybe 1a degrees in belfast. these are the city values ahead in terms of clear skies for england and wales. 0ne city values ahead in terms of clear skies for england and wales. one or two spots of mist and fog. areas of high pressure moving away into the near continent. we will see for the rest of the week winds, not from south. we have lost those arctic northerlies that we've had for the past week or so. by day, we get sunshine, milder nights as well. through wednesday, a fine day for many. some sunshine around, cloud bubbling up at times. rain becoming heavy across northern ireland and into scotland, pushing into western wales and england. in the sunshine, mild south—easterly winds. 19, 20,
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21 in the brightest spots. through wednesday night, that weather front moving eastwards. heavy rain across south—west england, into wales and parts of southern scotland. slowly trundling eastwards on thursday morning. by thursday afternoon, across eastern parts of the country. possibly not the far south—east, which will be quite warm. behind the rain, a bit fresher and brighter with some sunshine. in the caribbean, hurricane maria ploughing through on monday night and tuesday morning. a category five storm, strengthening further to a very strong category five storm. that is during wednesday morning across the british virgin and us virgin islands. some devastation in the next 2a hours. moving west to the
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north of spain towards the end of the week, and perhaps towards the turks and caicos islands. looking at some potentially catastrophic damage to those islands in the next day or so. i'm babita sharma in london. the headlines: at least 100 dead in mexico, after a powerful earthquake strikes the capital. dozens of buildings have collapsed, with reports of people trapped in the debris. collapsed, with reports of people trapped in the debrislj collapsed, with reports of people trapped in the debris. i don't know the extent of the damage. what i do know is that dozens of people are desperately removing rubble here, because they believe someone is trapped. rescuers are searching for survivors in the rubble, and crowds cheered as this man was pulled out. but there are fears the death toll will rise. i'm rico hizon in singapore. also in the programme: president trump delivers a tough address to the un, saying that he would totally destroy
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north korea if it threatened america.
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