welcome to bbc news. our top stories: the women's tennis association suspends all tournaments in china amidst concerns about peng shuai. we are not going to walk away from this and we're not going allow this to be swept away without the appropriate respect and seriousness of the allegations that have been reflected are appropriately addressed. covid cases in south africa have increased sharply as the first case of omicron is reported in the us. hollywood actor alec baldwin insists he did not pull the trigger in the fatal shooting of cinematographer halyna hutchins. abortion rights in the balance as the united states supreme
court hears the most important case in a generation. and amid tensions with china over taiwan: the uss carl vinson finishes its biggest ever annual drills in the region. our correspondent�*s on board. this is the us navy's newest, most advanced and most expensive fighter aircraft. this is its first employment outside the us and their is no surprise it has been sent here. hello. very good to have you with us wherever in the world you are watching. some of the biggest names in tennis have thrown
their support behind the women's tennis association after it said it will immediately suspended all tournaments in china. the head of the wta has told the bbc the decision was taken because chinese authorities have failed to address sexual assault allegations made by the doubles star peng shuai against a former vice premier. courtney bembridge has the latest. it's been a month since peng shuai posted on social media accusing a top chinese official of sexual assault. the post was quickly taken down and she disappeared from public view. photos and videos like this released by chinese state media were supposed to show her safe and free, but did little to allay concerns for her safety. there are concerns she was filmed under duress. until there is a transparent investigation, it is pulling the plug on lucrative tournaments in china. ~ �* ., tournaments in china. we're not auoin to tournaments in china. we're not going to walk— tournaments in china. we're not going to walk away _ tournaments in china. we're not going to walk away from - tournaments in china. we're not going to walk away from this - going to walk away from this and we're not going to allow
this to be swept away without the appropriate respect and seriousness of the allegations that have been reflected are appropriately addressed. china is a key market for women's tennis, and the decision could cost the wta hundreds of millions of dollars in broadcasting and sponsorship. but the wta says it can't in good conscience asked athletes to compete there. this good conscience asked athletes to compete there.— to compete there. this is about something _ to compete there. this is about something that _ to compete there. this is about something that is _ to compete there. this is about something that is bigger- to compete there. this is about something that is bigger than l something that is bigger than the business and bigger than the business and bigger than the financials.— the business and bigger than the financials. novak d'okovic sa s the the financials. novak d'okovic says the position h the financials. novak d'okovic says the position of h the financials. novak djokovic says the position of the - the financials. novak djokovic says the position of the wta. the financials. novak djokovic| says the position of the wta is very bold and very courageous, adding that peng shuai's well—being is of the utmost importance to the world of tennis. american former number one billiejean king tweeted:
the international olympic committee had a video call with peng shuai last month and said she was safe and well, with the beijing winter olympics and paralympics around the corner, the ioc has been accused of putting its interests over the safety of athletes. china is yet to respond to the wta decision, but it is clear the questions about peng shuai aren't going away. courtney bembridge, bbc news. i've been speaking to ben rothenberg who is an american sports writer who covers tennis and also co—hosts a tennis podcast, no challenges remaining. i asked for his reaction to the suspension of tournaments. i think it is inevitable based on what they did off the jump. they made it clear they were notjust they made it clear they were not just concerned they made it clear they were notjust concerned about this issue, but also larger issues, censorship in china, women's voices heard in china, other
issues i don't think the chinese government is ever going to compromise on. i think the writing is on the wall for this for a few weeks, the wta is following up and making good on threat, and people have been really admiring them for a being that bold and decisive given all that is at stake for them monetarily and businesswise in that market. that is a key point, that financially this could be a very big hit to the women's tennis association and its efforts to for example achieve equal prize money for a women competitors. what needs to happen now to bolster their decision and make sure they do not suffer financially? what does the rest of the tennis world now need to do? the wta has not a world now need to do? the wta has got a lot _ world now need to do? the wta has got a lot of— world now need to do? the wta has got a lot of accolades - has got a lot of accolades from a lot of politicians and sports leaders around the world, and now it needs the countries who are praising them for standing up are praising them for standing up to china, so few of the world doesn't sports and
business, for those countries to step up and open the cheque—book to support women's tennis in terms of giving a new homes to play. it is the most popular women's sport. lots of countries are interested in hosting the event but china outbid them. now they can step up outbid them. now they can step up and fill the void that is for tennis as it seeks home for many of its biggest events. i5 many of its biggest events. is there any obvious place in your mind that could step in as an alternative host country? ﬁx, alternative host country? couple of things that come to mind to me, london which actually hosted the men's tour at the 02 arena, there actually hosted the men's tour at the o2 arena, there is properly a lot of interest in london. another player driven level, injapan, naomi osaka, i thinkjapan has been think japan has been overshadowed thinkjapan has been overshadowed in the asian market by china gobbling up all the events. it would be a big
opportunity forjapan to assert itself on the map and become a home for big events as well. traditional markets in america and europe had already lost most of their events to china, it is the chance for them to regain some of those losses as well. the us actor alec baldwin has given his first interview since a gun he was holding on set went off, killing cinematographer halyna hutchins, back in october. in the interview with abc news, he was emotional as he recalled the 42—year—old as someone who was "loved by everyone". he also said this... the trigger wasn't pulled, i didn't pull the trigger. so, you never pulled the trigger? no, no, no. i would never point a gun at anyone and pull the trigger at them, never. what did you think happened? how did a real bullet get on that set? i have no idea. someone put a live bullet in a gun, a bullet that wasn't even supposed to be on the property. our correspondent in los angeles, david willis, has more details.
when news of this incident broke six weeks ago, it seemed tragic, undoubtedly, surprising, but fairly straightforward incident. indeed, the local sheriff �*s department, within a couple of hours of this shooting, issued a statement in which it referred to the discharge of a gun by the actor, alec baldwin. as the weeks went by, it has started to see less and less straightforward. now we have alec baldwin himself coming forward to dispute what it seems to be up until now an incontrovertible part of the whole narrative, if you like, and namely that he was the person who pulled the trigger of the gun that fired the live bullet that killed cinematographer, halyna hutchins. naturally, this raises a whole load of questions, triggers don't pull themselves, so how did this gun go off? good alec baldwin perhaps have inadvertently
applied pressure to the trigger that caused the gun to fire? combined with a range of other uncertainties, disputes on the part of members of the film group, the inadvertent misfiring other weapons on the set, and claims of potential sabotage, this all looks now anything but straightforward. briefly, david, where are we up to with the investigation? detectives are focusing on how live ammunition could have made its way onto this film set, ben, contrary to all film industry protocols. they have interviewed members of the cast and crew, they number about 100 in total, and their investigation is continuing, they say they reserve the right to press charges against anyone involved in this production, including alec baldwin himself, but no charges have been laid so far.
david willis there in los angeles. south africa has recorded a sharp increase in coronavirus infections which have doubled across the country since monday. health officials say the newly discovered omicron variant may be fuelling the surge, although it isn't clear how many of the new cases it accounts for. 8,500 covid infections have been registered in south africa in the last 2a hours. officials there say omicron is "rapidly becoming the dominant variant" after the country became the first to detect the highly mutated new variant last week. since then, omicron has been identified in two dozen countries. the latest is the us, specifically san francisco, whether city public health department gave more details. the person recently travelled to south africa and they got tested and reported their travel history. they had received a full dose of the
moderna vaccine but no booster. they had mild symptoms, and thankfully, have now recovered. we can now speak dr craig spencer, who's director of global health in emergency medicine at columbia university. he joins us from new york. it is good to have you with us. given how many countries variant omicron has been detected in, more than 20 countries now, will any restrictions, is there anything that we can do that would stop it spreading further? i think what we have _ it spreading further? i think what we have seen - it spreading further? i think what we have seen is - it spreading further? i think what we have seen is that l it spreading further? i think| what we have seen is that in the less than one week since his variant was first identified, south african scientists were incredible and transfer this information with the world. we saw the travel bands put in place, but almost immediately you had public health experts like myself saying, this isn't silly because it is not going to really do what they think that they are intended to do. it was more political theatre than public health rationale,
because what you saw in the ensuing few days about cases were already in the netherlands and hong kong and ireland another us and canada and i believe now 30 countries, every day we're getting more countries and there will be more in the next day there will be more. it looks like this variant has already spread pretty widely. the travel bands themselves are not really going to help really preventing the spread of this virus. it is spreading around the world and has been for a few weeks at this point. i5 has been for a few weeks at this point-— has been for a few weeks at this point. is it too much of a lea to this point. is it too much of a leap to conclude _ this point. is it too much of a leap to conclude that - this point. is it too much of a leap to conclude that the - leap to conclude that the emergence of variance like omicron and perhaps others that may come after it, we are now seeing the effects of global vaccine inequality and the result of that coming home to roost? ' :: :: ' result of that coming home to roost? ' :: :: , ., ., result of that coming home to roost? ' :: :: ' ., . ., . roost? 10096. i wrote an article in february _ roost? 10096. i wrote an article in february this _ roost? 10096. i wrote an article in february this year _ roost? 10096. i wrote an article in february this year that - roost? 10096. i wrote an article in february this year that if - in february this year that if we do not do more to get everyone around the world
vaccinated... inaudible. i am afraid we _ vaccinated... inaudible. i am afraid we are _ vaccinated... inaudible. i am afraid we are having _ vaccinated... inaudible. i am afraid we are having a - vaccinated... inaudible. i am afraid we are having a real - afraid we are having a real problems hearing you, the sound of breaking up quite badly, we are getting every other word, so i am afraid we have to leave thank you very much for speaking to us, and it is a point many others have made as well about the vaccine inequality and the need to tackle that, so thank you for sharing your thoughts with us on bbc news. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: the bbc gets rare access on board an american aircraft carrier as itjoins with allies in asia, while politicians focus on china's intentions towards taiwan.
it's quite clear that the worst victims of this disaster are the poor people living in the slums which have sprung up around the factory. i am feeling so helpless that the childrens are dying in front of me and i can't do anything. charles manson - is the mystical leader of the hippie cult. suspected of killing sharon tate and at least six other. people in los angeles. at 11:00 this morning, just half a metre of rock separated britain from continental europe. it took the drills just a few moments to cut through the final obstacle. then philippe cozette, a minerfrom calais, was shaking hands and exchanging flags with robert fagg, his opposite numberfrom dover.
this is bbc world news. the latest headlines: the women's tennis association has suspended all tournaments in china, saying it has serious doubts that chinese tennis star, peng shuai, is "free, safe and not subject to intimidation." covid cases in south africa have doubled since monday, as the first case of omicron is reported in the us. the us supreme court has begun hearing arguments in the most important case on abortion rights for half a century. the court is considering a law in the state of mississippi which bans terminations after 15 weeks. a ruling isn't expected until next summer. the court is dominated byjustices with a conservative mindset, and if they find in mississippi's favour, dozens of other states could
ban or restrict abortions. our correspondent sophie long sent this report. singing. this is a regular scene outside the last remaining abortion clinic in the entire state of mississippi. it's murder, murdering children is wrong according to the god of the bible. the difficult decision women who come here have made, is judged very publicly. this is the front line in a bitter battle that has gone on for decades. mississippi is trying to ban abortions after 15 weeks. if the supreme court rules in the state's favour, it will roll back the law that has been in place for nearly half a century, known as roe v wade. it's people in the poorest communities that will feel the impact the most. we'rejust going out in the community... these students are spreading the anti—abortion message.
they want it banned without the exception of incest or rape, and lydia knows how that feels. i actually was in that same situation. i was scared. i was thinking, you know what, even if i am, it's just amazing that there's possibly a baby inside of me. even with the law still intact, many have been forced to travel thousands of miles from states like texas where abortion is banned afterjust six weeks, to more liberal states to access the care they need. one 19—year—old has come across half the country from houston to seattle. she was assaulted, did a pregnancy test that was negative, but over the following weeks, her body continued to change. i was scared. i don't want any memory of that day, any connection to that person. i could not get any help for
the pain i was going through. ijust had to suffer in silence. when people are controlling women's fertility and pregnant people's fertility under the guise they are trying to protect their health, they are really controlling that person's basic human rights and dignity, and that is a form of human rights abuse. the supreme court's decision will likely not come until next summer. over the coming months, many will pray and others will hope it goes their side's way. sophie long, bbc news, seattle. sahar aziz is a distinguished visiting professor at the boston university's school of law. good to have you with us. in terms of the effect this could have, what are the implications of the court's impending decision?—
of the court's impending decision? ~ . decision? well, what it will likely do. _ decision? well, what it will likely do. if— decision? well, what it will likely do, if it _ decision? well, what it will likely do, if it rules - decision? well, what it will likely do, if it rules in - likely do, if it rules in favour of mississippi, and essentially upholds the law that would prohibit abortion after 15 weeks, it will, the signal to at least 22 other states, but they also can pass laws that will inhibit abortion for possibly less than 15 months. 12 months, ten months. because ultimately what mississippi is arguing is that the court abandoned the viability test, established in 1992, in the planned parenthood the casey case, which essentially found that the 14th amendment's protection of a person's liberty without due process of law, the way that is interpreted for a woman is that her bodily integrity, her physical autonomy cannot be compromised by banning abortion before the viability of a foetus. so that tends to be
around 16 weeks, is what the medical professionals would say. if you abandon it viability test, commonalities it is case—by—case, and states can come up with all kinds of random tests orjust say it is “p random tests orjust say it is up to the legislature or the judges, and there will be a race to the bottom because many states already have trigger laws, which is as soon as roe vs wade is overturned, these laws go into effect and they will affect abortion going outward. will affect abortion going outward-— will affect abortion going outward. ., outward. how does the court reached its _ outward. how does the court reached its ruling _ outward. how does the court reached its ruling on - outward. how does the court| reached its ruling on this? do each of the justices go and make their own minds up and then we get that final tally? or could it be that they discuss it, and it comes down to how persuasive some are in the arguments they put their fellow justices? the arguments they put their fellowjustices? it the arguments they put their fellowjustices?— the arguments they put their fellowjustices? fellow 'ustices? it depends on the fellowjustices? it depends on the particular _ fellowjustices? it depends on the particular court. _ fellowjustices? it depends on l the particular court. sometimes they will discuss and deliberate beforehand, sometimes they will not, sometimes they will not, sometimes they will not, sometimes they distribute draft opinions, especially if it is a
close call. ultimately the question here is, you have got sixjudges who have question here is, you have got six judges who have gone on the records prior to when they were justices, and have expressed their personal policy preference against abortion. and so the test is that when they testified before congress during the confirmation hearings and they are asked, will you uphold roe vs wade, the answer for will you uphold roe vs wade, the answerfor all of them will you uphold roe vs wade, the answer for all of them was, my policy preferences will not interfere with my independence and impartiality in upholding the us constitution. so the question now is, will they follow precedent, roe vs wade and planned parenthood vs casey, and uphold a woman's right to abortion, or their policy preferences against abortion influence a decision evenif abortion influence a decision even if that is not what they will admit. even if that is not what they willadmit. but even if that is not what they will admit. but the key is, will admit. but the key is, will they say, well, we are not banning abortion, we are simply allowing states to regulate abortion...
allowing states to regulate abortion. . ._ allowing states to regulate abortion... . , . _ abortion... on a state-by-state basis, rather _ abortion... on a state-by-state basis, rather than _ abortion... on a state-by-state basis, rather than a _ abortion... on a state-by-state basis, rather than a federal - basis, rather than a federal basis. because slightly pushed for time, basis. because slightly pushed fortime, ijust basis. because slightly pushed for time, ijust want basis. because slightly pushed for time, i just want to ask you, would there be any situation where, if the conservative leading conservative leaning court limits or restricts the rights of women to have abortions, is there any situation where the president could step in and try to amend the law to effectively overrule the court, and if so, what does that do for the legitimacy of the court going forward? ~ . . forward? well, first, there is a washington _ forward? well, first, there is a washington post _ forward? well, first, there is a washington post poll - forward? well, first, there isj a washington post poll which finds that americans support roe vs wade 2—to—1. so there is a very strong support for a woman's right to choose, whether to have an abortion or not. if the supreme court finds the mississippi law is constitutional, then if this is now a state law, federal law is very restricted. it would essentially be congress passing
a law telling states that you cannot have a law which bans abortion, but then that will be abortion, but then that will be a separation of powers problem. they will come back and say, no, the court said we could. 0k, a decision that has far—reaching implications. thank you very much indeed. we have to leave it there.— have to leave it there. thank ou. for months, china has been probing taiwan's airspace, leading to speculation it could be preparing to attack or even invade the island. all of this has raised concerns among asian and american officials of increased instability in the region. the commander of the us seventh fleet has been talking to our correspondent ruperet wingfield—hayes during navy exercises with allies on board the uss carl vinson. a pair of us stealth jets streaks past the aircraft carrier carl vinson in a mock attack formation. this is a show for tv cameras. it's also a message for america's adversaries. so, by my estimation, we're now somewhere about 500km off the coast of japan, somewhere near the island of iwojima, which of course
was the island site of a very bloody battle between the americans and the japanese in the final months of world war ii. today, the us and japan sail together as allies, facing the new challenge from china. and to do that, america has brought its very latest aircraft. the noise when the aircraft takes off is just incredible. it goes right through your body. the f35—c is the us navy's newest, most advanced and of course most expensive fighter aircraft. this is its first deployment outside the us, and there's no surprise it's been sent here to the western pacific. for months, china has been sending dozens of military aircraft to probe the airspace around taiwan. in a shanghai shipyard, they're preparing to launch china's first super carrier, and in the deserts of western china, they're building full scale replicas of us aircraft carriers to practise
sinking them. the response from the us commander here was that no—one should underestimate the resolve of the us navy and its allies. the motto of this ship means strength from the sea. and the motto of the us under ronald reagan is peace through strength. and through strength, as we try to deter aggression from some of these nations that are showing a burgeoning strength, that maybe we haven't experienced in the past, it's about ensuring that everyone understands that today is not the day. many are predicting that china will soon overtake american naval power in asia and that taiwan will have to submit to that new reality. the message from the us navy is that it is still by far the best in the world at doing this, and any adversary should
be very cognisant of that fact. rupert wingfield—hayes, bbc news, on the uss carl vinson. thanks for watching. see you soon. hello. the cold air is back. thursday gets off to a chilly start with a widespread frost and temperatures won't crawl up too far for the day despite a lot of sunshine on offer. the cold air has come chasing down through these isobars all the way from close to the arctic circle, sweeping its way right to south across the uk. overnight starting to plunge down into the continent through thursday. we are all in the arctic air and we will all feel it thanks to a cold northerly breeze. where we've seen some showers overnight there will be a risk of ice to start us
off on thursday. as i said, a widespread frost. further showers across eastern scotland, eastern counties of england through the day, a few as well across the west coast of wales particularly i think through pembrookshire pushing down through devon and cornwall, eastern scotland. perhaps clearing come the afternoon. but it's cold in the sunshine. highs ofjust 3—4 degrees. sunshine a bit milkier for northern ireland through the afternoon. that is because this weather system will be starting to work its way in. as it runs into the cold air there could be some snow for a time but it will tend to turn back to rain as the air coming in behind this band of rain is relatively mild. actually, temperatures at the end of friday night higher than those we will see through thursday daytime. and on into friday daytime and we will have some rain around for southern and eastern england to start the day, we will get some brightness for scotland and northern ireland, they'll be a few showers on and off here. just some question to the south of the uk weather — this rain could push in through friday afternoon. we will certainly keep a lot of cloud generally across england and wales but temperatures perhaps 11—12 degrees. it's certainly milder than thursday. to the north, five, six, seven.
for the weekend, though, the chill returns. perhaps not quite as cold as thursday but once again will pick up a northwesterly breeze. for saturday, i think that's going to bring in some quite plentiful showers across northern ireland heading into north wales down into the midlands. temperatures, 6—7 degrees but it will feel cooler in the breeze. sunday is a very similar story but i think we can erase some of the showers from our picture. still some for western exposures of wales, and a northerly breeze, so really adding to the chillier feel.
this is bbc news. the headlines: the women's tennis association says it is suspending all tournaments in china. it comes after chinese tennis star peng shuai disappeared from public view for three weeks after she accused a top official of sexual assault. some of the biggest names in tennis have thrown their support behind the wta's move. south africa has recorded a sharp increase in coronavirus infections which have doubled across the country since monday. health officials say the newly discovered omicron variant may be fuelling the surge. at the same time, the first case of the new variant has been reported in california. the american actor, alec baldwin, has given his first full interview since the fatal shooting of the cinematographer, halyna hutchins, on the set of his film, rust. mr baldwin told abc he did not pull the trigger on the gun