welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name is mike embley. our top stories: tensions are mounting about possible us military action in syria. jets and warships are moved into place, but president trump adopts a less bullish tone. we're looking very, very seriously, very closely, at that whole situation. and we'll see what happens, folks, we'll see what happens. moscow warns any military action could risk war between russia and the us. mike pompeo is grilled by senators at his confirmation hearing. the man who wants to be america's new top diplomat denies he is a war hawk. is the us headed for agricultural boom or bust? as president trump tries to sow confidence about his trade policies, farmers are uncertain. a marked shift in tone from president trump over possible
military action in syria. he is now saying he will decide on a response to the latest suspected chemical attack fairly soon. the white house is still assessing intelligence, and talking to allies the uk and france. inspectors are on their way to douma, near damascus, and expect to start work by saturday. moscow, which backs the syrian government, has warned any western airstrikes could start a war between russia and the us. here isjon sopel in washington. weapons locked and loaded, sailors ready for action, this us carrier battle group left its home port in norfolk, virginia — destination the eastern mediterranean, still 5,000 miles away, and the senior officer awaiting orders to act from the president. i'm so pleased and proud of the harry s truman strike carrier group team, 6,500 of the finest americans
you could ever sail with or serve with. we're trained, we're ready. any mission, any time, anywhere, we're ready to go. and, though this powerfulflotilla might be full steam ahead, you get the sense in washington of rowing back. from the commander in chief today, the talk was a lot less bellicose. no more a big price to pay, no more decisions in 24—48 hours, no more nice, new, and smart missiles raining down. instead, this. we're looking very, very seriously, very closely, at that whole situation. and we'll see what happens, folks, we'll see what happens. it's too bad that the world puts us in a position like that. and, from the defence secretary, an insistence that no decisions to strike had been taken, all options were on the table, and what sounded like uncertainty over who was responsible for the attack. i believe there was a chemical attack, and we're looking for the actual evidence. the 0pcw, this is the organisation for the chemical weapons convention, we're trying to get those inspectors in, probably within the week.
but the allies are not speaking with one voice. listen to how much more definitive the french president is. translation: we have proof that last week, now nearly ten days ago, that chemical weapons were used, at least chlorine, and that they were used by bashar al—assad's regime. us action a year ago amounted to little more than cratering a runway. it is still likely that this time, multinational action will be more extensive, and will come sooner rather than later. but, with chemical weapons inspectors due to arrive in douma at the weekend, the window for a quick response would appear to be closing fast. the russians, though, still insist there is no justification for any action. translation: washington continues to make militaristic statements that risk causing a dangerous escalation. there are accusations not only against damascus, but also against the russian federation. donald trump tweeted this morning
that a military strike may come soon, or maybe not so soon. now, if you're being generous, you could say this is the fog of war — keep the enemy guessing. or it may be that there is still some confusion and indecision over what to do next. john sopel, bbc news, washington. in a moment we will get the view from the united nations. but first to steve rosenberg, in moscow, and what the kremlin is saying. well, if donald trump's aim via twitter is to sow chaos and confusion about his intentions, that's working in moscow, because the russians are completely confused. i was watching a live political talk show earlier on russian state television when the news came in that president trump had tweeted that an attack on syria could happen very soon, or not soon at all, and a bemused presenter looked into the camera and said one word in russian, which means incredible.
also today, the kremlin said that a special crisis communication link which had been set up before by the us and russian militaries to prevent an accidental clash between russia and america in syria, that that line was still functioning and still being used. and that suggests that conversations are taking place behind the scenes to prevent a us military strike from sparking an accidental conflict between russia and the united states. it's the words of the russian ambassador that are reverberating at the united nations tonight, and his refusal to rule out the possibility that airstrikes could spark a war between russia and america. and it's those kind of comments, and donald trump's tweets, that have heightened concern here about the risk of a major power military confrontation between washington and moscow, and for that reason, the un secretary general,
antonio guterres, has taken the rather unusual step of ringing up the ambassadors of america, russia, france, britain, and china, and stressing to them the importance of not letting the situation spiral out of control. now, the swedish have been trying to broker. an 11th hour compromise, but their proposals are far too weak for the americans, the british and the french. and, although the russians have called another security council meeting tomorrow, there is a strong sense that diplomacy has been exhausted. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news: the former fbi directorjames comey has compared president trump to a mafia boss, driven by ego and demanding absolute loyalty. in the first extracts of a political memoir by mr comey, published in us media, he describes the president as living in a cocoon of alternative reality. the president fired him as he was investigating suspected russian meddling in the us election. the republican party has set up a website attempting to discredit mr comey.
the singer sir cliff richard is due to give evidence later at a high court trial in london. his lawyers have told the court that bbc coverage of a police raid on his home was a very serious invasion of his privacy. sir cliff is suing the bbc, claiming breach of privacy and data protection. 0fficers went into his berkshire home in 2014 following an allegation of an historic sexual assault. sir cliff denied any wrongdoing. he was not arrested and was not charged with any offence. the bbc argues its coverage was in the public interest. campaigners are calling on the uae to explain what has happened to a princess who posted this video saying that her father, the ruler of dubai, has put her in fear of her life. she was fleeing a yacht last month when it was bought in international waters by the indian coastguard, and it is alleged she was taken back to dubai.
the duke of edinburgh is recovering from his hip operation, and it is believed that princess anne is the first member of the royal family to visit him. the international chemical weapons watchdog, the 0pcw, has confirmed the uk's assessment of the nerve agent used to poison a former russian spy and his daughter in the english city of salisbury. the british government says the russian state must have been behind last month's attack. moscow denies any involvement. 0ur security correspondent frank gardner reports. investigating every possible site of last month's nerve agent poisoning in salisbury has been exhaustive. now, britain's findings have been backed up the global chemical weapons watchdog, the 0pcw. today it published its report confirming the findings of the uk relating to the identity of the toxic chemical that was used in salisbury. britain's chemical defence laboratories at porton down quickly identified that toxic chemical as a novichok.
today's report doesn't mention that word. but a second, classified, 0pcw report has been given to governments, identifying the name and structure of the nerve agent, which it said was of high purity. by itself, this is not going to be determinative. but, if you look at the contextual facts of what we know about novichoks, they were invented by russia largely to avoid verification under the chemical weapons convention. today, russia's foreign ministry spokeswoman dismissed the report as being part of an operation to discredit russia. yulia skripal, seen here before she was poisoned on 4 march, is now in hiding somewhere in britain with police protection. russia has suggested she is being held against her will. her father is still seriously ill in hospital. tonight, britain has called for a un security council debate on the 0pcw report. whitehall officials say russia has some hard questions to answer.
frank gardner, bbc news. mike pompeo, president trump's nominee to be america's new top diplomat, the us secretary of state, has been facing questions from members of congress in a senate confirmation hearing. he is currently director of the cia. he appeared to confirm reports that in february around 200 russians were killed in syria in clashes with american—led forces. there's still more work to be done on caatsa, there's other work to be done on the sanctions provisions as well. i concede that. vladimir putin has not yet received the message sufficiently and we need to continue to work on the net is notjust been the sanctions, the largest expulsion, this administration announced 60 expulsions. russia is on notice that we're going to recapitalise our force in syria. now, four weeks ago,
the russians met their match, a handful of russians were killed. pulling out of the trans—pacific trade partnership was one of president trump's first acts in office. he has been very publicly rude about the trade deal, but there are signs of a spectacular reversal. he has now told republicans in congress he has instructed officials to look into rejoining the deal. the bbc‘sjoe miller has travelled to tennessee, where uncertainty over a looming trade war with china is having an impact. will hutchinson's family have been farming near nashville since 1932. thanks to a favourable climate, their crop has remained steady. what has changed are their customers. we probably export 80% to 90% of total soy bean production, and probably half of that even goes to china. so — so those trade relations are pretty vital. the hutchinsons don't usually pay much attention to politics, but after china announced it would slap a 25% levy on soy bean imports, grain growers have been glued to the news,
hoping for a thaw in relations between washington and beijing. we really study the markets close. we don't need any more pressure on us, commodity prices that we're already working with. margins are as tight now as they've been in an extremely long time, and we're — farmers all across the country are looking for some relief. thanks to international trade, tennessee's economy has been booming. unemployment here is falling faster than in the rest of the us, and investment is flooding in. but the state, which voted enthusiastically for donald trump, is now in danger of being caught in the crosshairs of his trade war. road tech is a local success story. the company's specialist road laying machines, assembled entirely in the city of chattanooga, are sought after around the world. but donald trump's steel tariffs are already throwing a spanner
in the works, by restricting the firm's supply chain. pretty much everything on the machine, whether it's the engine, track assemblies, those are all made out of steel. right now, we're looking at around a 40% increase in our steel costs for what we most commonly buy. even so, the firm shares some of the trump administration's grievances, particularly when it comes to protecting us companies from unfair chinese competition. chinese manufacturers moving into the us is a challenge for us, and you have the intellectual property issues, as well. if the long play sort of works out, it could be good for us, in some cases. we really don't know what it's going to mean yet. a former industrial hub, chattanooga was once dubbed the dirtiest city in america. but it fought hard to recover its manufacturing base, and has managed to attract the likes of volkswagen and amazon. the mayor is hoping decisions made in the white house don't reverse the city's fortunes.
there are a lot of things going right in our community. we have one of the highest wage growths in the country for a mid—sized city. 0ur unemployment is low. we don't need to fightjust to fight, we need to find those practical solutions that help chattanoogans. back at the hutchinsons‘ farm, the focus is on getting this year's crop in the ground. but they, along with exporters across the state, know it could be the president who will decide the fate of their harvest. joe miller, bbc news. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: opening a door to the past. how you can pick up a memento of a new york that no longer exists. pol pot, one of the century's greatest mass murderers, is reported to have died of natural causes. he and the khmer rouge movement he led were responsible for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million cambodians. there have been violent
protests in indonesia, where playboy has gone on sale for the first time. traditionalist muslim leaders have expressed disgust. the magazine's offices have been attacked, and its editorial staff have gone into hiding. it was clear that paula's only contest was with the clock, and as for a sporting legacy, paula radcliffe's competitors will be chasing her new world—best time for years to come. quite quietly, but quicker and quicker, she seemed just to slide away under the surface and disappear. this is bbc news. the latest headlines: president trump has spoken to british and french leaders about military action in response to the latest suspected chemical attack by the syrian government.
british ministers and the french president have said it is highly likely the syrian government was responsible for last weekend's suspected chemical attack. but what action can the rest of the world take? here's our middle east editor, jeremy bowen. in the streets of douma, supporters of president assad paraded. the town's been a no—go area for them for more than six years. thousands who used to live there have been bussed out. these were arriving in idlib, a province held by rebel groups. they didn't bring much more than they can carry, and account of what they'd experienced. for many, this was their parting memory of douma before they left. it's been condemned by the west as a chemical attack carried out by the assad regime. its ally, russia, says this wasn't caused by chemical weapons. abu, a medical technician who says
he treated the wounded, arrived in idlib with some bad memories. translation: fatalities came in, they had suffocated. there were entire families — children, women and babies. it was very difficult. we hope the regime takes a hit. we don't care who strikes, we don't feel sorry for it. this man is a criminal. he's a war criminal. he means president assad, looking relaxed with an iranian visitor. he's always denied using chemical weapons. douma's former residents don't believe him. this doctor was sheltering in a basement during the attack, and he heard about it when he emerged. regime forces had entered douma. translation: the doctors had been warned against saying anything about casualties, because if they talked, the patient, his family and douma would be put in harm's way. so no—one dared speaking out,
because they were afraid. people who were in douma saw how ferocious the bombing was. no—one dared say anything. the timing of a military response isn't clear. its potential consequences are. if the west attacks syria, its neighbours will feel the heat. the us, britain and france, and saudi arabia's offered tojoin in, face a difficult military challenge. they want to punish the syrian regime, but not go to war with syria's allies, russia and iran. the western powers want to deter the use of chemical weapons, but how do they do it without killing and maiming the syrian civilians they say they're protecting? russian soldiers are in douma alongside their syrian allies. they've been winning. changing that would take a bigger war than the west is contemplating.
jeremy bowen, bbc news. 0ur correspondent in washington, chris buckler, told me the president's fiery tweets have been replaced, for the time being at least, by diplomacy. i think the fiery talk of donald trump's twitter account is certainly gone and it's been replaced with much more diplomatic discussion that's taking place between the us, the uk and france. at the same time, however, although those conversations are about the justification for intervention and about really what this strategy for strikes should be, there's still a looming threat of some kind of military action. when i sayjustification, obviously part of the issue here is that syria and russia continue to deny that this was a chemical attack, continue to say that it was fabricated, despite the pictures allegedly coming out of douma.
and as a result, there is this attempt to put forward a case for chemical attacks having happened. if you take a look at the conversation that happened tonight between president trump and theresa may, it is clear that they believe it was a chemical attack and they say it is part of a pattern of behaviour by the president assad's forces that must be addressed. there must be a deterrent. they're not walking back on that idea that there should be military force, but having evidence is important and us officials have been on us tv networks today, saying that as far as they're concerned they have looked at some evidence that has emerged from douma, they have looked at some of the urine samples and they believe chlorine and a nerve agent was used in the attack. they say that they are confident it was used in the attack but they cannot be 100% certain. i think at this stage
there are two things going on. first of all, they're trying to work out exactly what the purpose and extent of this military action will be and secondly, just laying down the justification as a message back to russia as it continues to threaten with some kind of retaliation. the us defence secretary james mathis saying they've been trying to get inspectors from the iopcw in within a week. there is an issue of getting them in and out as fast as possible but also, what trace of a chemical attack may still be there because the area is now under the control of the syrian government again. yeah, again, there will be questions and questions will be raised by syria and russia whatever the results of those investigations that take place. certainly, the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons is looking to get there potentially as early as this weekend to try and find some evidence. but i think where we are at this stage is that people have seen these images that have come out of douma, that are alleged to have taken place
after this chemical attack, and that there is a feeling from the west that there must some kind of response to that. i do feel that although we are still in a position where conversations are taking place, where the us, uk and france have to work out what they are going to do specifically, they also want to make clear that if this has been a chemical attack it is simply unacceptable and could not be allowed to happen again. when you think of new york in the 1960s and ‘70s one place that may come to mind is the chelsea hotel. it was a hangout for celebrities and artists, including andy warhol, bob dylan and janis joplin. now, in an unusual auction, 50 of the hotel's doors are going up for sale, each one a memento of a new york that no longer exists. the bbc‘s tim allman has more. # i remember you well in the chelsea hotel... famous, infamous.
an iconic location on the streets of manhattan. the chelsea hotel has so many stories to tell. many of them were told behind these doors. they're not all that much to look at now. tattered, worn out, the paint‘s peeling off. but the history was made in the rooms they opened onto. we have the door to edie sedgwick‘s room where anti—war film chelsea girls. thomas wolfe wrote the enormously popular novel look lomeward angel, one of the great novels of the 20th century. janisjoplin and leonard cohen cohabited together in their room. bob dylan wrote blonde on blonde in this room, one of his most beloved albums.
# i am waiting for my man... opening in 1884, the chelsea hotel became a refuge for writers, artists, musicians and eccentrics. it was a place where great work was created, where people fell in love. it was even a place where lives were lost. all these people have been icons for me as i was growing up, as i was growing older and even today, before i die. as for the chelsea hotel now, it lies empty. the owners say it's being redeveloped. perhaps when it reopens it will have new stories to tell. tim new stories to tell. allman, bbc news. if new stories to tell. walls could talk, if doors could talk! if walls could talk, if doors could talk! in myanmar the water festival has started. it basically means five days of mass water fights and street parties, loads of fun. thailand also
celebrates this water festival. a reminder of our top story: president trump has been speaking to the leaders of britain and france about possible military action in response to the suspected use of chemical weapons by the syrian government. he says a decision will be made fairly soon, but the white house says no final decision has been made. a british statement said mr trump and the prime minister, theresa may, had agreed that it was vital chemical attacks did not go unchallenged. moscow has warned that any western air strikes could risk starting a war between russia and the us. it has been revealed that inspectors from the 0pcw are on their way to syria and expect to start work in duma by saturday. that's it for now. thank you for watching. —— douma. well, thursday was a really
disappointing day across so many parts of the country. five degrees, for example, in sheffield, really cloudy skies and we saw scenes like this, a picture from leicester, but beautiful weather too yesterday. lovely highland picture here of some flowers. let's have a look at the forecast for the early hours of friday then, still some rain and drizzle around low, grey cloud shrouding the hilltops of the pennines, really unpleasant conditions out there through the course of the night. so clear in the far north of scotland and the temperatures wherever you are in the far north or south, not really that different, seven in plymouth, around six degrees expected in edinburgh. the forecast for friday itself, and we're expecting some of that grey, damp weather to eventually clear away, and for most of us it's a case of cloudy skies through much of the morning and much of the afternoon as well, but in the south it looks as though some of those clouds will be breaking up a little bit so i think there will be some sunshine on the way i think later in the day
for london, cardiff, possibly for birmingham and norwich as well. 11; tomorrow in london, still chilly in the north, only seven in aberdeen and nine in the lowlands of scotland. that was friday, how about the weekend 7 it looks as though things are going to be warming up, quite a bit of bright weather around but we are also expecting heavy showers to develop in one or two areas, so not a completely dry weekend. let's look at saturday's weather forecast, starts really bright across most of the uk and the chances are there will be one or two showers breaking out across southern areas, so be prepared for the odd downpour. but for most of us across the country it's going to be a dry, bright day with temperatures up to 17 in the south. then saturday night into sunday, this low pressure swings in off the atlantic and increases the winds across western areas of the uk, really gusty conditions, and it's also going to bring some cloud and rain for south—western parts of england, for wales, northern ireland and western scotland. the east, i think, on sunday, should just about stay dry and in fact here those temperatures will start to rise and you'll particularly notice those temperatures rising
on the north sea coast, look at that, 11; expected in newcastle. into early next week, into midweek, we'll start to see warm air coming out of the south, turning hot across france and potentially quite hot in the south of the uk and here's an outlook. say, for example, in london, i suspect some time next week temperatures could peak at around 2a, cardiff will be around 20 or so and even further north those temperatures will rise. this is bbc news. the headlines: president trump has discussed with the british and french leaders possible military action in response to the suspected chemical attack by the syrian government. inspectors from the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons are now on their way to douma, near damascus, and expect to start work on saturday. a team from the 0pcw has confirmed the uk's assessment of the nerve agent used to poison a former russian spy and his daughter in the english city of salisbury.
the british government says the russian state must have been behind last month's attack. moscow denies any involvement. the man who wants to be the new us secretary of state has denied during a senate confirmation hearing that he is a war hawk. mike pompeo, who is currently director of the cia, told senators that as america's top diplomat he would always prioritise diplomacy. he has long been seen as a trump loyalist. now on bbc news, hardtalk.