president trump pays a surprise christmas visit to american troops in iraq. he arrived late on christmas day with first lady melania trump, and defended his decision to pull us troops out of syria. bargain hunters queue before dawn for the boxing day sales, but overall the number of shoppers on the high street has fallen again. japan defends its decision to resume commercial whaling next summer, for the first time since the 1980s. and sister wendy beckett, whose passion for art made her a television star, has died at the age of 88. good evening. president trump and first lady melania trump have made a surprise visit to us troops in iraq. the white house confirmed they travelled there unannounced
"late on christmas night" to thank troops for "their service, their success and their sacrifice". the president defended his decision to withdraw american forces from syria, a move which prompted his defence secretary, james mattis, to resign last week. chris buckler reports now from washington. president trump travelled with the first lady to iraq to spread some christmas cheer and to thank the troops for their service and sacrifice. we came here this year, oui’ sacrifice. we came here this year, our eternal gratitude for everything you do to keep america safe, strong and free. but standing with us soldiers on foreign soil, it was inevitable he would be asked about what many claim is his increasingly isolationist foreign policy for supper last week, in a sudden and surprise decision he announced american forces would be leaving syria, causing concern in washington and several corners of the world.
but mrtrump said and several corners of the world. but mr trump said he believed a lot of people are going to come around to his way of thinking. he went on to his way of thinking. he went on to insist that it's time for us to start using our head. one person who remains unconvinced as the outgoing defence secretaryjim mattis who resigned at the president's plans. mrtrump resigned at the president's plans. mr trump says he is in no hurry to find a permanent successor to general mattis, a sign he intends to push forward with what he thinks is right. it is reported that the pentagon has been asked to draw up plans to severely reduce the number of american troops in afghanistan. many in the military feel there is still much work left to be done there and in syria. and there has been widespread criticism of mr trump of suggestion that the so—called islamic state group have been defeated. this was the first trip by this commander in chief to see his soldiers in a combat zone, but mrtrump see his soldiers in a combat zone, but mr trump has given every signal that he wants to be less involved in the middle east. a president who
seemingly believes in america first, and getting involved in other countries only as last resort. even with questions about his foreign policy, mr trump may well feel his trip to iraq might be a breakfrom feel his trip to iraq might be a break from some battles he faces in washington. concerns about the economy, the stock market and the partial government shutdown that left hundreds of thousands of workers over christmas on either unpaid leave or not knowing when they will get paid. congress gets back together tomorrow to see if they can find a deal but with mr trump insisting he won't upset anything unless he is given $5 billion for a border war with mexico, and democrats saying that will not happen, there is an indication the shutdown will continue for some time to come. studio: chris buckler, thank you. president putin says russia has acquired a new type of strategic weapon, after observing the final tests of a nuclear—ca pable hypersonic missile. he said it was a "new year's gift to the nation".
mr putin said the weapon could penetrate any existing or next—generation missile defence system. moscow says the avangard missile launched in the ural mountains hit a target 6,000 kilometres away. 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 shoppers around the uk fell for the third year in a row according to analysts, though shoppers were expected to spend around £4 billion today. joe miller has more. newsreel: prices slashed, goods aplenty, bargains galore... it's 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, like, christmas presents, you can see what you want to match them. i mostly spend christmas indoors watching movies with my family. so, boxing day is nice to come out and get some fresh air. millions more are estimated to have hit the high streets
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 out and about this morning was more than 9% lower than on black friday and 4% lower 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 low for the best part of two years. what we need is some certainty, economic certainty and political certainty, and then shoppers will start to feel more confident about spending money. in london's west end it's a different story altogether. here, bargain hunters are out in force. 15% more of them than last year. and among them are many visitors from overseas, here to take advantage of a weaker pound.
one keen shopper from pakistan says he spent £2500 on oxford street. i come here, it is a very good price, london. christmas, everything is half price and the shopping is for london's very best. getting customers through the door is not the only challenge. with warehouses full of stock retailers have been forced to keep slashing prices and they will need the spendthrift christmas spirit to stretch well into the new year. joe miller, bbc news. 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. the family of a pedestrian who died after being hit by a police car on christmas day said he spent the "best day ever" with his family
before the collision. tony carroll was knocked down near the wallasey tunneljust before seven o'clock yesterday evening. the incident is now being investigated by the independent office for police conduct. there's been international criticism ofjapan‘s decision to resume commercial whale hunting. the government of australia described it as regrettable. 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 reports. they're the ocean's gentle giants, but these majestic mammals are now at the heart of an international dispute. it's all about the bloody business of commercial whaling, a 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 has 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 a 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, whether other countries will also step outside of the whaling commission, because ifjapan, if you like, gets away with this, other countries might 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 ocean. despite the reassurances though, many are calling on the country to reconsider. victoria gill, bbc news. more than 20 people have been injured in italy after an earthquake hit the area around mount etna in sicily. several 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. with all the sport now here's
hugh ferris at the bbc sport centre. it's been a busy boxing day of sport, not least in the premier league which has reached the halfway point of the season. match of the day follows the news so if you don't want to know the scores you know what to do. leave the room for a moment! and it could be some title race now after liverpool's 4—0 victory over newcastle united at anfield which sees their lead at the top stretch to six points. as for manchester city, they lost again, going down 2—1 at leicester city. that was their third league defeat in four games. and it means tottenham go above them into second place after a 5—0 hammering of bournemouth. elsewhere, there was a first home win for manchester united's new caretaker manager, ole gunnar solskjaer, with paul pogba scoring twice in the 3—1 victory over huddersfield town. chelsea and everton also won while there were draws betwen brighton and arsenal, fulham and wolves, and crystal palace and cardiff. in the scottish premiership,
leaders celtic are now three points clear of rangers at the top after a 4—3 win at aberdeen. scott sinclair completed his hat—trick amid a spell of four goals in the final seven minutes as celtic secured a fifth successive win at pittodrie. clan des obeaux was the surprise winner of the big christmas race, the king george vi chase at kempton. the 2016 winner, thistlecrack, finished second, as jo currie reports. boxing day at kempton always brings the crowds. this isjump racing christmas blockbuster featured a glittering line—up, including the defending champion and favourite might bite. but the former gold cup winner showed the early promise. a fall at the start of lap number to bringing down the second favourite waiting patiently in the process. but it wasn't enough to put the
front runners off as might bite, thistlecrack and clan des obeaux all moved up, a horse part owned by alex ferguson. thistlecrack headed into the lead but couldn't shake off clan des obeaux and a strong drop by the six—year—old at the last fence saw him pull clear to secure a surprise victory. the 12—1—shot written by harry cobden delivering trainer paul nicholls his perfect christmas present, his tenth king george winn and his first since 2015. jo currie, bbc news. more on all those stories on the bbc sport website. but that's it from me, goodnight. 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 on to appear in several bbc series. but she always 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. scripture 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 a 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 them because i want to get to this huge claude. and even more remarkable was that she had only ever seen most of these paintings in books in her little caravan in the woods. sister wendy was a hermit. it was an old caravan i got for £60 and it stood on blocks and it was uninsulated and it had
a skylight which the rain came through. but i loved it. she was 16 when she first joined the nuns. at oxford she received a congratulatory first. her tutorj r r tolkien led a round of applause. she went on to write books and then she was asked if she would present a programme on her passion, art. the fame was utterly unexpected for someone who had spent so much of her life in silence and solitude. even at mass she sat alone in the belfry. well, that is where i am going to live 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, who died today at the age of 88. you can see more on all of today's stories on the bbc news channel. that's all from me. goodnight. hello. you're watching bbc news. let's get more on our main news. president trump has made that unannounced visit to us troops in iraq. it comes just days after the us defence secretary, jim mattis, resigned over disagreements with the president about american strategy in the region. i spoke to professor scott lucas from the department of political science and international studies at birmingham university. he said president trump's snap decisions to withdraw troops from afghanistan and syria were damaging. 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. that is that donald trump's decisions to cut forces in afghanistan, to compltely withdraw from syria, we can debate those issues, and indeed agencies have debated... the concern about donald trump is that he is almost out of control or beyond control and he is making these decisions ona whim. he suddenly decided on a call the turkish president to scrap american advisers notes 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,
his white house chief of staff, both called him an idiot over issues like this. that concern was he cannot make decisions like this. they held him in check until recently, but he is now making the decisions and people like the defence secretary, jim mattis, almost the last adult in the room... despite 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. i think that's a very important practical issue. it's serious. specifically whether the us remains to support kurdish allies whom they have backed for three years against the islamic state. if the us leaves, pro—assad troops and turkey both will try to take territory controlled by the kurds.
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 and consulted the defence secretary, the state department, his security agencies? his willingness to make a decision, and to do so without any apparent knowledge of the issues involved, that's the problem here, not the actual substance that, in fact, american troops may be coming out of the syrian conflict after eight years of. that his professor scott lucas. seven people have been arrested on suspicion of murder after a man was attacked in leeds. the 30—year—old was found with serious injuries and later died later in hospital. alasdair gill reports. christmas day was barely over when police were called here to robb street in the beeston area of leeds at around 3:14am this morning. what they found was a 30—year—old man lying in the street with serious injuries. he was taken to hospital, where he later died. and a murder investigation has now been launched, something the people that live in this street say is really out
of character for the area. i live right opposite where it happened, and they said he was laid on the floor in front of... on my path, you know. i've lived here quite a long while, and it's the first thing... first time we've ever had a thing like this, yeah. bloke laid on floor, so ijust didn't think anything about it, like, and obviously women screaming and that, so... then i think the ambulance came and then i found out he's pronounced dead, like. well, the street remains cordoned off by police this afternoon, and scenes of crime and forensic officers are covering the local area are looking for evidence. meanwhile, seven people have been arrested on suspicion of murder — four men and three women — and west yorkshire police is asking anyone with any information to come forward. scientists in cambridge have created a digital model of a cancer. the tumour sample — taken from a patient — can be studied using virtual reality. researchers hope it will provide new insights
into how cancers spread. here's our medical correspondent fergus walsh. this is 21st—century pathology. on the conveyor belt is a wafer thin slice taken from a human tumour. multiple slices, each just one cell thick, are analysed to reveal all the characteristics of the cancer. then, the sample is reassembled digitally so it can be studied, using virtual reality. we are on the bleeding edge of nearly every technology. greg hannon, director of cancer research uk's cambridge institute, showed me round his virtual lab, where we are transformed into avatars. this giant multicoloured cloud of bubbles is the virtual tumour. the tissue sample it came from was the size of a pinhead. the purpose of this project is to understand how each of these cell types influences each other. what messages do they send to
each other and how does that influence their behaviour? this shows how the incredible diversity of cancer cell types interact in order to evade the body's defences. now that knowledge may ultimately help in the search for new treatments. at this point, we decided to go and explore the tumour in more detail. i think here, you can really start to appreciate its structure. i'm noticing something interesting here. if we can just move around. it looks to me like there are sets of tumour cells that are floating above the ductile structures, almost as if they are streaming out. it's when those cells leave the duct and become invasive disease that they become really dangerous. so, here, are you capturing potentially the moment when this cancer begins to spread? yes. and i think that's what is really remarkable here, because i think
unless we were looking at the tumour in this detail, in this resolution, in this many cells and in three dimensions, we would never be able to find such an event. researchers at the crick institute in london say that the virtual tumour will help explain how cancers interact with healthy cells and eventually spread. it's a huge step forward. it's so much more dynamic and real than what we've been able to do in the past by looking at very static analyses of what is happening in essentially two dimensions. this virtual pathology lab can be accessed by researchers anywhere in the world, helping scientists share knowledge in the fight against cancer. fergus walsh, bbc news, cambridge. sister wendy beckett — the nun who became an art historian and a rather unlikely television star — has died at the age of 88. she died this afternoon at the carmelite monastery in norfolk. i have been speaking
to xinran xue, a close friend of sister wendy's. xinran‘s late husband, toby eady, was sister wendy's lifelong agent. i began by asking her what made sister wendy so popular. my husband, toby ealy, was her agent over 20 years. i witness sister wendy. i think something that really touched me, changed my life about art was her unique view of art. we 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. she's, 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, hadn't she, and she was asked to present television programmes about art? yes. i think, from my husband's story about her, she started from america and they invited her to talk to the galleries. but everybody was so surprised that she did not need to prepare, by the words or by the writing, by anything. she just stood by the art, the piece of art, very silent, and watched it to tell the story from her own view. not academic. not from other people's view. her view, her unique view of art. and she did not have a script? no. there is a story between her and an american presenter
on the tv documentary. after six hours, the american team was exhausted, but sister wendy still goes on and go on and go on. something in her body, in her soul, is full of this kind of lighting. what do you think she was surprised by — by becoming a tv star, by becoming famous for her programme? do you think that took her a little bit by surprise? we spent a lot of time together, and normally, she come to my house for the drink, for the horse racing and also we talk about art because i have lots of chinese artwork there. from the conversation, i think the most that really gave her the beliefs, religion beliefs is something about life. i think that she felt life is really...
it is really beyond academic knowledge or what we 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 on just how she saw a piece of art, it just brought art to so many people? well, 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 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. a close friend of sister wendy beckett, who has died at the age of 88. we can look ahead and see what the weather is doing for us next 48 hours or so. good evening. we've had a lot of dry weather this festive period but not a lwa ys weather this festive period but not always sunny weather. it is that the net continues. where we beat the clock in the overnight hours, it is pretty mild asthma. the south, it is a little chilly. you can see these pale shades on a temperature chart. one or two spots could get a touch of frost and fog patches and also slightly chilly across the east scotland. elsewhere, we start chilly with.
as scotland. elsewhere, we start chilly as an incentive to be found across southern areas as an incentive to be found across southern areas once we as an incentive to be found across southern areas once we clear any early fog and also in northeast england, north east scotland seeing some sunshine today. temperatures, not bad at all for the time of year. nine, ten, 11 degrees. another quiet day to come on friday. we could see some rain in the north on saturday.