this is bbc news. i'm ben brown. the headlines at 8pm: president trump makes an unannounced trip to us troops in iraq — just days after his defence secretary resigned over us strategy in the region. japan is to restart commercial whale hunting next summer, in defiance of a global ban. campaigners say they‘ re worried by the decision. cos ifjapan, if you like, gets away with this, other countries may want to try and do the same thing and then more and more populations could be exposed to whaling. queues for the boxing day sales, but the number of people on the high street today has fallen for the third year in a row. sister wendy beckett — the nun who became famous around the world as an art historian and broadcasterfor the bbc — has died at the age of 88. and in half an hour, we take a front row seat, as mark kermode looks back on the big releases of the year in review 2018: the year in film. good evening.
some breaking news first. president trump has visited us troops in iraq, on a previously unannounced trip to the region. the president, along with the first lady, melania, spent three hours on the ground meeting american troops at the al asad air base west of baghdad. it comes just days after the us defence secretary, jim mattis, resigned over disagreements with the president about american strategy in the region. president trump has said today there was no plan for the united states to withdraw its forces from iraq. and the president has been widely criticised for his decision to pull american troops out of syria — against the advice of top aides. that led to the resignation
of brett mcgurk, the us envoy to the global alliance fighting against islamic state, who said the group had not been defeated yet. and we'll be speaking to our correspondent in washington, about that visits to american troops injusta about that visits to american troops injust a few about that visits to american troops in just a few minutes. there's been international criticism ofjapan‘s decision to resume commercial whale hunting. the government of australia described it as regrettable and new zealand said killing whales was unnecessary. japanjoins iceland and norway in defying the moratorium on commercial whaling, which was introduced in the 1980s. our science correspondent victoria gill's report contains some distressing images. they are the ocean's gentle giants. they are now at the heart of an international dispute.
it's all about the bloody business of commercial whaling. business that japan says it will resume in the summer of 2019. translation: at the international whaling commission meeting in september, it became obvious that it is not possible for states with different views to exist side by side, which led to our decision to leave. the international whaling commission is the body that banned the hunting of whales in 1986 after many species were almost wiped out. but countries, including iceland and norway, still hunt primarily minke whales, which are not endangered. japan already catches between 200 and 1,200 whales every year under a programme of what it calls scientific research. the country's hunted whales for centuries and the meat was a key source of protein during desperately poor years immediately after world war ii. translation: people around my age remember the old times when we would eat whale meat. there are shops that sell it and i sometimes buy some, but it's not like people are queueing up for it. officials, though, still say
that eating whales is part of japanese culture and it can be done sustainably. but this decision has sparked condemnation. conservationists say it could threaten populations of whales that have recovered since the ban. it's not just about what japan does, it's now about whether other countries will follow suit or whether other countries will also step outside of the whaling commission, because ifjapan, if you like, gets away with this, other countries may want to do the same thing, and then more and more populations could be exposed to whaling. so we are very concerned about the potential for an expansion, again, of whaling outside of any international control. japan says commercial whaling will be restricted to its own territorial waters and economic zones, so its ships will cease whaling in the antarctic 0cean. despite the reassurances, though, many are calling on the country to reconsider. victoria gill, bbc news. thousands of bargain hunters have been hitting the high street for the annual boxing day sales — with some starting to queue from
as early as midnight to bag a deal. but the number of in—store customers around the uk fell for the third year in a row, according to analysts, although shoppers are still expected to spend around £4 billion today. joe miller reports. prices slashed, goods, aplenty, bargains galore... it is a yuletide ritual that stretches back decades, and one that shoppers in cardiff queued in the early hours to perform. lured by the promise of bumper discounts, they turned out in their droves, from liverpool to belfast to gateshead. boxing day is great because you can decide what you want, from christmas presents, you can see what you want, to match them. boxing day is nice to come out and get some fresh air. millions more are estimated to visit shopping centres across the country.
but the starting gun for seasonal sales was fired a few weeks ago. black friday, an american import, is increasingly popular both online and in stores. and it's taken the wind out of boxing day sales. the number of shoppers about this morning was 9% lower than black friday and 4% than on boxing day last year. things were even worse in shopping centres, which saw almost 7% fewer customers. retailing is a really tough environment at the moment, consumer confidence is really low and it has been over the best part of two years. what we need is some certainty, some economic certainty and some political certainty, and then shoppers will start to feel more confident about spending more money. in london's west end, it is a different story altogether. here, bargain hunters are out in force. 15% more than last year. and among them are many visitors from overseas. here to take advantage of a weaker pound. 0ne keen shopper from pakistan says he spent £2,500 on oxford street. i come here, it's a very good price.
everything is half price, and shopping is... london's very best. getting customers through the door is not the only challenge, with warehouses full of stock, retailers are forced to keep slashing prices and they will need the spendthrift christmas spirit to stretch well into the new year. joe miller, bbc news. let's go back to our top story tonight. that surprise visit by president trump to us troops in iraq. we can speak to our correspondent in washington, chris buckler. this is coming at a time when president trump is facing real criticism for polling should out of syria. foreign policy very much under scrutiny at the white house. donald trump left washington late on christmas night to spend about three
hours at the airbase in west of baghdad. they been involved in really trying to bully morale, something presidents have done in the past. they have been taking selfies, signing autographs. you are right. behind all of this is really thinking them for the sacrifice and the service they are giving. we have already hadjim the service they are giving. we have already had jim mattis leave as defence secretary, concerned that america is increasingly isolationist and is not listening or supporting allies in the wake that it perhaps should. and he faced questions, as you can imagine, staying on foreign soil with us troops. he was asked specifically out of —— about a decision to pull troops out of syria. he said he believes it's the right is it sinful also says he believes that many people will come around to his way of thinking. in
washington, there are a lot of people watching this at the moment not least because there are also reports the pentagon has been asked to drop plans to reduce the number of us troops inside afghanistan as well. what mr trump did say is that there are no plans to pull out of iraq. he made very clear that his first he was concerned, the us troops would stay in iraq. in fact, he even said they could potentially be used if there needed to be further action inside syria. he has in recent days clarified his initial comments and is said that the pull—out of troops from syria will be slow and coordinated. even so, do you think the fact that he is pulling troops out of syria represents a bit of a watershed in american foreign—policy? is this the united states under donald trump trying last to be the sort of world's police man to be a little bit more isolationist?” world's police man to be a little bit more isolationist? i don't think there's any doubt at all about that.
if you take a look atjim mattis's letter, after that announcement by syria, he was very clear on saying that he was concerned. but america was less focused on maintaining and building a solution zips —— those relationships with allies. perhaps mr trump's isn't about america first, those concerns about a nation as opposed to the global issue, and we also had the resignation of brett mcgurk, who was the us special envoy to the global coalition fighting is. and again, this concern was specifically about that america is more concerned with looking after itself to looking at the address of iraq. as faras itself to looking at the address of iraq. as far as mr trump is concerned, he has not hidden a lot of he of course campaigned with the words "america first", and he believes people will be thankful
when troops are back in the us. but he also denied that there are republicans sitting in congress watch a lot of this who are concerned the president is making snap decisions, perhaps not speaking to some advisers had he goes forward. but he seems determined to follow his own policies at the moment. even when he was standing alongside us troops, in iraq, he was not backing down on that commitment to leave syria that he made after speaking to the turkish president erdogan. if you do the sense president trump is somebody who believes he is making great decisions and ultimately intends to follow through on them. chris, for the moment, thank you very much indeed. chris buckler, are washington correspondent. we can also discuss president trump's moved to remove troops from iraq. let's speak to professor scott lucas from the department of political science and international studies at birmingham university.
what you make of us foreign policy at moment? pulling troops out of syria. would you make of what he is up syria. would you make of what he is ? syria. would you make of what he is up to? american foreign-policy, it is trying to cling on to some sort of stability. donald trump's foreign policy is chaos. i have to be very blunt with your viewers here. donald trump's decisions to cut forces in afghanistan, timidly withdraw from syria, we can debate those issues come and indeed agencies have debated. the concern is that he is almost out of control or beyond control and he is making these decisions on a whim. as your correspondent mentioned, he suddenly decided i called the turkish president to scrap and is given to him, and hejust simply president to scrap and is given to him, and he just simply told president erdogan, you are right, we will be. that type of sudden snap decision made without consultation,
made without knowledge, because donald trump knows very little about syria or iraq or afghanistan, that has concerned advisers. a reminder that his advisers such as the national security adviser, is white house chief of staff, both caught him an idiot over issues like this. that concern was he cannot make decisions like this. haldeman in check until recently but he is now making the decisions and people like the defence secretary, jim mattis, almost all of them are gone to for stuff i don't. why does i decide what you say, though, many of americans will say, we should not be in syria. united states from vietnam onwards has been too quick to intervene in foreign conflicts. onwards has been too quick to intervene in foreign conflictslj think that's a very important issue. it's serious. specifically whether the us remains to support kurdish allies who have back for three years against the islamic state. if the us
leaves, carlos hyde troops and turkey both will try to take territory controlled by the turks —— pro—assad troops. the question here was, should donald trump have suddenly decided within a moment talking to the turkish president to decide the future of american foreign—policy in syria, or should he have gone in consulting the defence secretary, the state department, the security agencies? his willingness to make a decision and to do so without any apparent knowledge of the issues involved with that the problem here, not the actual substance that infect american troops may be coming out of the syrian conflict after eight yea rs of. the syrian conflict after eight years of. good to talk to you. thank you very much for your time. professor scott lucas there from birmingham university. thank you. russian president vladimir putin says his country will deploy nuclear missiles capable of flying at ten times the speed of sound next year. it comes after he observed the final tests of a new missile known as avangard. moscow said the rocket was launched
in the ural mountains and hit a target 6,000 kilometres away in the russian far east. mr putin announced a series of new weapons in march, including avangard. he told a government meeting that the new missile can evade missile defence systems. translation: the new avangard missile system is invincible for today's and future air defence systems and missile defence systems. this is a big success, and a big victory. several people have been injured in italy after an earthquake hit the area around mount etna in sicily. some buildings were damaged by the 4.8 magnitude quake which struck in the early hours of the morning. it was the most powerful since the volcano erupted on monday. three more migrants have been rescued from a small boat as they tried to cross the english channel in the early hours of this morning.
it follows the rescue yesterday of a0 migrants, including two children, mainly from iraq, iran and afghanistan. the home office has blamed organised crime. there has been a sharp rise in the number of migrants attempting to cross the channel from france since october. 0ur our latest headlines now on bbc news: president trump makes an unannounced visit to us troops in iraq — just days after his defence secretary resigned over american strategy in the region. japan is to restart commercial whaling next year. conservation groups warn the move will have serious consequences. despite queues for the boxing day sales, the number of in—store shoppers falls for the third year in a row. sport now. from the bbc sport centre, here's ben. a very good evening to you.
a week ago, liverpool were just a point clear at the top of the premier league. well, make that six now just two games later. we've reached the halfway point. liverpool still yet to lose a league game after a comfortable 4—0 win against newcastle united at anfield. a 12th clean sheet in 19 games, too, no mean feat. they'll be top for the new year, but ifjurgen klopp is excited, he's hiding it well. we play man city still in eight days or in a week, so if i would be man city, i would think there is only four. because we have to play them and before we play that game, we play against arsenal, so that means absolutely nothing. the only thing that is important to us is their performance, the level of performance, which we obviously can't keep in the moment. we have to keep it. that is how it is, and for the moment, it is obviously good. but that's all. klopp's happy. really. pep guardiola, less so. a second straight defeat for manchester city. they took the lead against leicester but lost 2—1.
ricardo pereira grabbing a fine winner. the defending champions down to third — seven points behind liverpool. leapfrogging city are tottenham hotspur. they put six past everton at the weekend and thrashed bournemouth 5—0 at wembley. harry kane was on target. two for son heung min as well. it maintains spurs' best start to a premier league season. in the evening kick off, arsenal climbed up to fourth for a couple of hours at least but were another side to squander a lead. they drew 1—1 with brighton. austin halewood watched this for us. still in full festive spirit, it was a boxing day trip to the seaside for arsenalfans. their a boxing day trip to the seaside for arsenal fans. their team knowing they could and the day inside the top four. since the arrival of unai emery, the gunners have started to fire once again. a new—found confidence surging through the team. it's a fact clear to see. pierre—emerick aubameyang looking for magic. 0nly pierre—emerick aubameyang looking for magic. only the fingertips of matt ryan at enough to keep him out. but with 12 goals already this
season, but with 12 goals already this season, you cannot but with 12 goals already this season, you cannot get into many chances. just three minutes later, he had already made amends. but for all of their attacking prowess, this arsenal side had issues at the back. arsenal side had issues at the back. asimple arsenal side had issues at the back. a simple long ball all it unlock their defence. an equaliser all too simple, all too easy. and from then on to me was a different game. right in the team on the front foot, looking more likely to score. arsenal have been the premier league's comeback kings this season but after starting with a bang, in the end, the gunners will count themselves lucky to come back with a point. austin halewood, bbc news. elsewhere, everton put five past burnley — who remain in the relegation zone. no goals for crystal palce and cardiff. fulham are off the bottom after a 1—1 draw with wolves. 0le gunnar solskjaer‘s first home game as manchester united caretaker boss ended in a 3—1 win over huddersfield. paul pogba scored twice. huddersfield slip to last place.
in the late game, eden hazard has broke the deadlock for chelsea to give them the lead at watford. that was his 100th goal but watford equalised just two minutes later. there was also a full programme of matches in the scottish premiership. scott sinclair scored a hat—trick as leaders celtic beat aberdeen 4—3. that result extends celtic‘s lead at the top of the table to three points. that's because second—placed rangers dropped points with a 1—1 draw against hibernian at ibrox. there were also wins today for hearts, kilmarnock and stjohnstone. that's all the sport for now. you can find more on our website, including another win for trainer paul nicholls in the king george at kempton park. 16—1 shot clan des 0beaux victorious earlier on. that's bbc.co.uk/sport. more for you in the next hour. and, thank you very much indeed. see you later on. sister wendy beckett — the nun whose passion for art made her an unexpected television star — has died at the age of 88.
her broadcasting career began in the early 1990s and she went to appear in several bbc series. each time filming was over, sister wendy returned to her life as a hermit at the carmelite monastery in norfolk, where she died this afternoon. david sillito looks back at her life. the sculpture tells us that the angel gabriel was sent by god to a virgin in the town of nazareth. sister wendy beckett — a nun talking about paintings. who would have guessed that this would have been such a hit? god became man and it happened like this. there was never a rehearsal or written script. she simply stood and spoke. and millions in britain, america and around the world sat and listened. and here we have the great mythological scene, but i really can't afford to spend time looking at it because i want to get on to this huge... she was 16 when she
first joined the nuns. as a child, she had been almost too clever. well, i never expected to be able to talk to anybody. but i took that for granted, that was how people were. they never found anybody they could talk to. at 0xford, her tutor was jrr tolkien. she received a congratulatory first. not so much a degree, more a round of applause. she began writing art books, but the pressure of work and coping with epilepsy led her to seek almost total solitude. but then, during a rare excursion to a gallery, she was overheard talking about art. it was that that led to her tv career. but she found the idea of fame and celebrity mortifying. herjoy was silence and solitude. even at mass, she sat alone in the belfry. well, that's where i'm going to be
for eternity, i hope. tucked away in the belfry of the graveyard, thanking god for allowing me a life of such unimaginable happiness. lucky me. sister wendy beckett there, who has died at the age of 88. i'm joined by xinran xue, a close friend of sister wendy's. xinran‘s late husband, toby eady, was sister wendy's lifelong agent. thank you very much for being with us. what made her so popular as somebody who could bring art to everybody, really, to the television screen? as you just mentioned to my
husband was her agent for over 20 yea rs. husband was her agent for over 20 years. i witnessed sister wendy. i think something that really touched me about arts was her unique view of art. we are used to talking about... she can pick out lots of details from the ancient art reflecting daily life. i was amazed by her view. and it was extraordinary, really, in some ways an unlikely television presenter. how did she get into it in the first place? because i think she had written books, about art, and she was asked to present television programmes about art? yes. i think, for my husband's story about her, she
started from america and they invited her to talk to the galleries. everybody was so surprised that she did not need to prepare, mighty words or by the writing, for anything. she just stood by the piece of art, very silent, to tell the story from her own view. not academic. not from other people's you. her view, her unique view of art. and she did not have a script? no. there is a story between her and in american presenter on a documentary. after six hours, the american team was exhausted but sister wendy still goes on and on and on. something in her body, in her soul, is full of
this kind of mind. what do you think she was surprised by, by becoming a tv star, by becoming famous for her programme? do you think i took her a little by surprise? we spent a lot of time together, and normally, she come to my house for a drink, for the horse racing and also to knock about art because i have lots of chinese artwork there. from the conversation, i think the most that really gave her the religious police is something about life. i think that she felt life is really... it is really beyond academic knowledge we re is really beyond academic knowledge were worried read from books. she is really remarkable and unique. what do you think will be her legacy? i suppose in a way, she changed the way some people look at art, and
just by being so spontaneous, by focusing in onjust just by being so spontaneous, by focusing in on just how she saw a piece of art, itjust brought arts do so many people? from my personal experience of working with her in the last 15 years, i would say what i learned is, i got confidence from working with her. because she never gave you a view from academics. she a lwa ys gave you a view from academics. she always encouraged each single member working on the project, "what is art?" do you feel? do you see? from your limited experience, from your culture, from your own beliefs, i think that is really unique. thank you so much for coming in. it's a very sad day, of course, but vancouver disgusting sister wendy's life and work. that is xinran xue. —— but thank you for discussing. you're watching bbc news. we're
going to get a look at the weather 110w. going to get a look at the weather now. good evening. a lot of dry weather but not always sunny weather. that theme continues to the next few days. 0ften weather. that theme continues to the next few days. often quite cloudy. for the northeast of scotland, critically for the south of england and the south of wales, with clear skies developing, it is going to get a little bit chilly. he continues pale green shades are temperature chart. towns and cities, three or 4 degrees. but in the countryside, one 01’ degrees. but in the countryside, one or two spots to get a touch of frost, and also slightly chilly across northeast scotland. we start thursday with a lot of clout some mist and merck and the odd spot of drizzle. as of the century to be found across the southern areas once we clear any early fog and also northeast anglican northeast, thickson centre through the day. cabbage is not bad at all for the time of year. —— temperature not at all. we could see rain in the north
on saturday. hello this is bbc news with ben brown. the headlines. president trump makes an unannounced trip to us troops in iraq — just days after his defence secretary resigned over american strategy in the region. japan confirms it will restart commercial whale hunting injuly — defying an international ban. despite queues for the boxing day sales — the number of people visiting the high street today falls for the third year in a row. president putin witnesses the final test of a hyper—sonic missile which he says can penetrate any missile defence system. sister wendy beckett — the nun who became famous around the world as an art historian and broadcaster has