this fundamental abuse of power, fitness for office. i'm sharanjit leyl in singapore. the headlines: public impeachment hearings into donald trump's presidency get under way in washington. mr trump, who's hosting turkey's leader, says he's too busy to watch. i hear it's a joke. i have not watched, i have not watched for one minute because i've been with the president, which is much more important as far as i am concerned. earlier, president erdogan received a warm welcome to the white house despite tensions over the war in syria. i'm maryam moshiri in london. also in the programme: a breakthrough in the war against
ebola, the world health organization approves the first vaccine. and venice underwater — the highest tide in 50 years causes severe flooding in the italian tourist city. voiceover: live from our studios in singapore and london, this is bbc world news. it's newsday. good morning. it's 9am in singapore, iam in london and 8pm in washington, where president trump has again denounced the impeachment inquiry into him as the first public hearings got under way. it started with testimony from the acting us ambassador to ukraine. bill taylor said it was clear to him the white house was making both military aid and a visit to washington by the ukrainian president conditional on ukraine
launching an investigation into mr trump's democratic rival joe biden and his son. our north america editor jon sopel has the latest. history in the house... this is like the super bowl for politics, the day the impeachment hearings go public. and coast—to—coast, all the us tv networks are gearing up for the unfolding drama that could be the decisive moment of the trump presidency. and early this morning, in the white house residence, the light is on and the tweets are angry. in the committee room, it's a scrum, an hour before the hearing gets under way. first up was this man, george kent. he's a senior state department official overseeing ukraine affairs. i do not believe the united states should ask other countries to engage in selective, politically—associated investigations or prosecutions against opponents of those in power, because such selective actions undermine the rule of law. in other words, the president ordered a halt to military aid to ukraine until it agreed to dig
dirt on a gas company, burisma, that hunter biden, son of former vice president joe biden and donald trump's potential 2020 rival, was a director of. next up, bill taylor, acting ambassador to ukraine. he says the president was trying to strong—arm kiev. by mid—july, it was becoming clear to me that the meeting that president zelensky wanted was conditioned on the investigation of burisma, and alleged ukrainian interference in the 2016 us elections. the republican strategy seems to be to cast doubt on everyone and everything involved in this impeachment inquiry, including the undermining of these lifelong public servants. ambassador taylor and mr kent, i'd like to welcome you here. i'd like to congratulate you for passing the democrats‘ star chamber auditions, held for the last weeks in the basement of the capital. it seems you agreed, wittingly or unwittingly, to participate in a drama.
republicans have dismissed much of the evidence as hearsay, and complained that the whistleblower hadn't been called. now, there is one witness that they won't bring in front of us, they won't bring it in front of the american people, and that is the guy who started it all, the whistleblower. i'd be glad to have the person who started it all come in and testify. president trump is welcome to take a seat right here. laughter a rare moment of humour, in a sour, partisan hearing. impeachment is the mechanism by which a sitting president can be removed from office for high crimes and misdemeanours. the first stage is a vote in the house of representatives, which has to be carried by a simple majority. if that's passed, then the articles of impeachment go to the upper house, and here the president is put on trial, with the 100 senators acting as the jury. for donald trump to be removed from office, two thirds of senators would have to find him guilty, a threshold that has never been reached before.
on this blockbuster wednesday, donald trump is meeting president erdogan of turkey at the white house. i'm too busy to watch it. it's a witch—hunt, it's a hoax. i'm too busy to watch it. so i'm sure i'll get a report. mr trump has railed against the unfairness of the process, and has insisted repeatedly he has done nothing wrong. jon sopel, bbc news, washington. well, as we heard injon‘s report, president trump spent the day meeting the visiting turkish president, recep tayyip erdogan. mr trump told him that they understand each other‘s countries despite tensions over the war in syria and russian missiles. at an initial meeting in the oval office in washington, mr trump said they would discuss mr erdogan‘s decision to buy 5400 missile batteries from russia. i look forward to continuing to find a common ground, harness common purpose and to advance the vital interests of our people and the abiding friendship between our
nations. we have a great relationship both personally and with the great country of turkey. and we look forward to moving forward and making it an even bigger and better relationship. we all agree that we need to further propound our relation and turkish — american relations should be erected oi'i american relations should be erected ona american relations should be erected on a healthy foundation. we should resolve to open a new chapter in our relations which are in full compliance with our deeply rooted alliance. also making news today: more palestinians have been killed by israeli air strikes in gaza as a flare—up of tensions between the two sides continued through a second day. at least 23 people are reported to have died in the palestinian territory, including three children. the violence began after the israelis targeted an islamichhad commander, ba ha abu al—ata.
jeanine anez has assumed the interim presidency of the country, following evo morales's resignation. she promised to hold elections soon. her appointment was endorsed by bolivia's constitutional court. mr morales's party boycotted the session and the former president branded ms anez "a coup—mongering right—wing senator". australian authorities have warned that massive bushfires raging in queensland and new south wales will continue to pose a threat. in some areas the danger has been downgraded from catastrophic — the highest level — but officials have urged residents to remain vigilant. they warned that no significant rain was expected, putting continuing strain on firefighters. the netherlands is to cut the daytime speed limit for cars to reduce its nitrogen emissions. the maximum daytime speed will be 100 kilometres an hour, the equivalent of around 62 miles per hour. the prime minister mark rutte said this is necessary to combat climate change.
and this is the urban climber alain robert, also known as the french spiderman. he's struck again, this time climbing a tower in the business district of paris. this guy uses no safety equipment and is well—known for scaling famous buildings all over the world. after an hour of climbing, the 57—year—old had to enter the tower through a window because of bad weather. now, we know many people get around venice by water, but at the moment they haven't got much choice. the italian city has been hit by severe flooding after the highest tide in more than 50 years. water levels in the canals rose by around two metres. the city's mayor said venice was on its knees and the cost of repairing the damage would run into hundreds of millions of euros. here's our correspondent,
mark lowen. italy's city of water has succumbed to it. venice, submerged by its highest tide in over 50 years. six feet, the second—highest since records began. st mark's square, with its byzantine basilica, drowning in water, its 12th century crypt flooded, no word yet on the priceless frescoes and mosaics inside. a city blessed with canals now cursed by them as fierce winds whipped the torrential rain. even the gondolas that glide beneath the rialto couldn't cope. hotels and shops have been hit, the damage will cost hundreds of millions. a floodgate project under way could have saved them but has been plagued by corruption and overspend. translation: they've done nothing. in italy, that's how it is. our politicians are all thieves. they should be injail. translation: everything is damaged.
look at what we're living through. there's really something to cry about. some reaped the benefit. a swim with a view. with rising seas and over—tourism, venice is fighting to survive, a city of art and love no match for our changing climate. mark lowen, bbc news. the world health organization has approved the world's first—ever vaccine against ebola. the vaccine is already being used in the ongoing outbreak in the democratic republic of congo, which has so far claimed more than 2,100 lives. it comes as health authorities in the country get ready to roll out a second experimental vaccine as part of a major clinical trial. our global health correspondent tulip mazumdar reports. for more than a0 years, ebola has been one of the world's most deadly and terrifying diseases. medics have relied on very basic tools like quarantining victims
and keeping them well—hydrated to help save lives. but today, for the first time, there is an internationally approved vaccine that provides almost 100% protection against ebola. developed by the american pharmaceutical company merck, it has already been given to around a quarter of a million people in the drc. now though, it can be stockpiled by governments and rolled out to countries most at risk of outbreaks. it's wonderful news. i mean, finally, after a0 years we have some tools that can prevent people from becoming infected. professor peter piot is part of the team that discovered ebola and investigated the first outbreak back in 1976. it's really a happy moment for everyone involved in ebola from the beginning because we finally have something to offer. and now we have to think of how we're to use these vaccines, making sure that people
have access to them. in my view, every healthcare worker, every nurse and doctor in countries like congo or sierra leone should benefit from vaccination against ebola. another major milestone in the fight against ebola is taking place in the drc this week. a large—scale trial of a second vaccine manufactured byjohnson & johnson. 50,000 people from one—year—old will be offered the jab in two areas of goma. they will need two doses, two months apart. this outbreak has been fuelled by conflict and by distrust of health workers. the medical charity msf has spent weeks carrying out education campaigns ahead of the rollout. certainly in an ebola outbreak, when you introduce a new drug or vaccine, and especially when you talk about something being experimental or new, there is a lot of questions and there can be a lot
of confusion or mistrust. that's normal. and one of the things that we have been very clear on from the beginning is that we need to work closely with the communities that we vaccinate. as well as the two vaccines, two experimental treatments are also being used in the drc, where new cases of ebola have dropped significantly in recent weeks. the world has never had so many tools with which to fight this virus. it's hoped it will help and the outbreak and prevent future ones. you're watching newsday on the bbc. still to come on the programme: sri lankans prepare for a tight race as the highest ever number of candidates contest the presidential election. also on the programme, the risks of rebuilding notre—dame. seven months after the fire, architects say there's still a risk of collapse.
the bombastic establishment outsider, donald trump, has defied the pollsters to take the keys to the oval office. i feel great about the election results. i voted for him because i genuinely believe that he cares about the country. it's keeping the candidate's name always in the public eye that counts. success or failure depends not only on public display, but on the local campaign headquarters and the heavy routine work of their women volunteers. berliners from both east and west linked hands and danced around their liberated territory. and with nobody to stop them, it wasn't long before the first attempts were made to destroy the structure itself. yasser arafat, who dominated the palestinian cause for so long, has died. palestinian authority has declared a state of mourning. after 17 years of discussion, the result was greeted with an outburst ofjoy. women ministers who'd long felt only grudgingly accepted in the ranks of clergy suddenly felt welcomed.
welcome back. this is newsday on the bbc. thank you for staying with us. i'm sharanjit leyl in singapore. i'm maryam moshiri in london. our top stories: public impeachment hearings into donald trump's presidency have started in washington. he's denounced the inquiry as "another witch—hunt. " meanwhile, mr trump's also been hosting talks with turkey's president erdogan about the war in syria and turkey's decision to buy russian missiles. it is that time in the show now. let's take a look at some front pages from around the world. the japan times leads on an impromptu meeting between japanese prime minister shinzo abe and the south korean president, moonjae—in, at the asean conference in bangkok last week.
this is the photo that japan claims was released to the press by seoul without its consent to try to show a thaw between the two countries. it shows both of them happy, getting along. the top story in the straits times is that all checkpoints in singapore will have facial and iris scans by 2025 — border security improvements were announced yesterday. but its main picture is of a man trying to extinguish a burning christmas tree in a singapore—owned mall in hong kong, which was damaged by protesters. and the philippine star leads with political divides in the house of representatives, saying president duterte is keeping out of issues involving the house speaker. but its main picture is of a new outreach programme in caloocan city, showing children
gathering at a mobile library. that is it for some of the papers. let's get more on events in washington now. professor cass sunstein is a legal expert and author of impeachment: a citizen's guide. i asked him what he made of today's impeachment hearings. it's been dignified in general, it's been consistent with our constitutional system, it's obeyed the rules, there's been an effort to find out what the facts are. of course, there's been a partisan element, which is not what we would like to see for something of this degree of gravity, but it is living up to the ideals in general of our constitutional system. how big a problem is the partisan nature of things, especially at the beginning like this? serious. the whole idea of impeachment was supposed to be that we're looking not at whether we think the president is a good person or not or whether even we agree
with his policies, but whether he's committed a high crime or misdemeanour and that's not supposed to be a partisan matter. but to have it right at the initial stages be inflamed in this way is not surprising and right now, not devastating, expected. there were some jokes made today about who could be called as a potential witness and what have you. how much power does the committee have to call witnesses, to see evidence in a way that perhaps the wider public wouldn't be able to see? well, they can call any witnesses they want when it's related to the legitimate purposes of an impeachment enquiry. so, if they called you or if they called someone who had no connection with what they're investigating, that wouldn't be a legitimate purpose and if they called people who are claiming to have had conversations with the president personally, those people might be able to resist on the grounds that there's executive privilege. also, there is a difference between a mere call, meaning please come,
and a subpoena. a please come, as in a dinner invitation, can be responded to with "no, thank you." but the subpoena is a legal instrument and you need a good reason to say no to that one. we talked on this programme about the whole process of impeachment. you've written a book about it so you know better than anyone. how likely is it that all of this is going to end up in the process, in the senate, with impeachment? i mean, a lot of people are saying today, "what's the point?" well, the likelihood of impeachment right now, meaning that the president will be effectively indicted by the house of representatives, is over 50%. that is, the democrats control the house and the grounds for impeachment in their apparent preliminary review are real. it's profoundly to be hoped that they're keeping an open mind and they'll listen to counter—arguments as it's profoundly to be hoped that the republicans will have an open mind
and sometimes hopes are realised even if the probability is not that everyone is going to be playing it straight. if it goes to the senate, which right now looks likely, the likelihood that the senate will convict — that's the legal term — donald trump, is over 50%, well over 50%, because the republicans control the senate, but probabilities tend to shift rapidly, so it's probably a mistake to be too confident about what tomorrow will bring. presidential elections are being held in sri lanka on saturday with the highest ever number of candidates taking part. it's expected to be a tight race between the two frontrunners — gota baya rajapa ksa, a controversial former defence chief, who's seen as the favourite to win, and sajith premadasa from the current ruling party. from sri lanka, here's the bbc‘s yogita limaye. under the tropical sun, they waited for hours at a rural bus
station, finding any place they could to see their leader. gota baya raja pa ksa, a wartime defence chief with a deadly reputation. he has now emerged from the shadow of his brother, the former president, mahinda. the rajapaksas are credited with ending sri lanka's civil war, and in a nation where people have suffered deadly attacks this year, they promise security. "from this point on, our country will never again experience such acts of terrorism," he says. translation: to save the country from where it's fallen to, we need a leader like gotabaya. he announced he was running for president soon after these bombings on easter sunday. what happened inside this church in many ways changed the course of the election.
the idea that peaceful families sitting together in mass could be brutally killed shook this nation and brought national security into the centre stage. in an environment of fear, an opportunity for a leader like gota baya rajapa ksa, who's seen as a strong man. but there is a part of sri lanka where his name evokes fear. when he was defence secretary, a fierce military crackdown ended the civil war waged by tamil rebels in the north. gota baya raja pa ksa is accused of human rights abuses and ordering the rounding up of thousands of tamils, many of whom never returned home. theirfamilies hold daily vigils. ratnasingham says his son was abducted
as he was leaving his university. translation: i know for sure this abduction was done by gotabaya. i don't think my son will come back. but we want to expose the atrocities of gotabaya to the world and that is why i come here. gotabaya rajapaksa has always denied he was behind the disappearance of their loved ones. his main rival is sajith premadasa, the candidate from the ruling party. their biggest challenge is appeasing people who believe the government failed to protect them. a lovely campaign has boosted mr premadasa's chances. an unlikely contender at first, he's made this a 2—man race. it's expected to be a close one. yogita limaye, bbc news, in sri lanka. the first television pictures have been broadcast showing the extent
of the damage inside notre—dame cathedral in paris after the devastating fire in april. lucy williamson reports. behind its familiar towers, the shape of notre—dame has changed, its soaring spire now a gaping hole, lead melting into new sculptures on its grizzled face. walking into notre—dame was always humbling. philippe villeneuve is one of very few to have seen how the cathedral looks today. it's silent, floodlit by sunlight, the charred remains of the collapsing spire still piled on the floor. translation: the wood continued to burn on the ground, and burned the bases of these two columns. if they weren't reinforced like this to stop them shattering, they could have collapsed and taken the walls and vault with them. it would have been a catastrophe.
firefighters say they came close to losing notre—dame that night, but the reconstruction could risk its survival again. architects here say there is still a major risk of the vaults collapsing because of the effect of intense heat and water on the stones. teams are working to stabilise the structure over the next few months so reconstruction can begin. it took an evening to burn through this building. it'll take much more than a single night to really save it. lucy williamson, bbc news, paris. you have been watching newsday. i'm maryam moshiri in london. and i'm sharanjit leyl in singapore. before we go, we'd like to leave you with these pictures of tails wagging on capitol hill. we love animals on the programme. therapy dogs have brought smiles to the faces of strained staffers on the first day of the public impeachment hearings.
i tell you what, we need a few of these here in the uk with the brexit shenanigans going on. absolutely adorable. hello. wednesday started decently enough across the south—west of england and south wales and then came a mix of rain or snow, just depending on elevation. to keep decent weather, you had to be a good dealfurther away towards the east and it was a drier and finer day than we've seen of late, but there was no escaping the fact the system that has brought that combination of wet and at times wintry fair into that south—western quarter is going to be a player more widely across the southern half of britain during the course of thursday. really quite wet for the commute across the southern counties of england. come the afternoon, we'lljust pushing the eastern portion of the front with some significant rainfall up towards those flood—affected areas and if you don't happen to see it during daylight hours, given the fact that this system
is going to move a little bit further north, you might get it during the evening on what will have been another single—figure temperature day right across the piece. there is more sunshine to be had across scotland and northern ireland with a few showers, but it won't make an awful lot of difference. here we are into the wee small hours of friday, that frontal system tending to fracture a little but each individual pulse of rain i'm showing there could be really quite heavy and unwelcome rain at that into the flood—affected areas, on what is going to be another fairly cool night and a fairly cool start to friday. still dominated by the big area of low pressure which is sitting across us and indeed much of central and western europe and the onshore flow from the north sea, moisture—laden airs and there's still bits and pieces of rain to be had quite widely across england and wales, but not with the same sort of intensity that we might have seen on thursday. scotland, northern ireland seeing the very best of the sunshine, the north of scotland still picking up on one or two showers, each in their own right could be
wintry across higher ground. what news of the weekend? not a great deal changes. not much intensity about the rain i just about to speak of, but that set—up for saturday is very similar on friday, still the big area of low pressure, still the moisture—laden airs on its northern flank, feeding cloud and bits of pieces of rain, particularly in eastern parts of scotland and england. separate weather front eventually closes on the western isles. in between, bits and pieces of sunshine perhaps to the western side of wales, down into towards the south—west of england, up towards the solway, could be favoured and we mayjust about find a degree in the temperatures. i've changed the day, the story's same.
this is bbc world news. our top story. president trump has dismissed the impeachment inquiry against him after the first public hearings. he said the proceedings are "a sham" and "a joke." in his testimony, bill taylor, america's top diplomat in kyiv, said he'd been told mr trump cared more about investigations into his political rival, joe biden, than about ukraine. meanwhile, the us president's also been holding talks with his turkish counterpart, recep tayyip erdogan, in washington. they discussed the war in syria and turkey's decision to buy missiles from russia. and this video is trending on bbc.com. the highest tides for 50 years have caused severe flooding in venice. the italian city's mayor has blamed climate change. that's all. stay with bbc world news.