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This is BBC World News Today.
I'm Kasia Madera.
Our top stories...
Fire and fury...
The author of the incendiary
new book about Donald Trump's White
House speaks in his first broadcast
interview since publication.
I will tell you the one
description that everyone gave,
everyone has in common.
They all say he is like a child.
Brutally cold weather
in the United States kills
at least 18 people -
low-temperature records could be
broken in the coming days.
The lines of communication are open.
North Korea agrees
to talks with the South -
the first in more than two years.
The Winter Olympics will be
high on the agenda.
Also in the programme...
The film that Kevin Spacey
was in, and then wasn't.
We talk to director Ridley Scott
about the business of replacing
the actor after allegations
of sexual misconduct.
Hello and welcome
to World News Today.
The author of a controversial book
on Donald Trump's White House has
spoken for the first time
since its publication.
Michael Wolff, who spent months
in Mr Trump's White House
while researching the book,
says the President
behaves "like a child".
President Trump tried to get
the book's publication halted,
and has dismissed it
as "full of lies".
Our North America editor
Jon Sopel reports.
Not quite Harry Potter
but at midnight last night,
they were queuing to get their hands
on Fire And Fury, and if Donald
Trump had the powers
of the young wizard,
he'd have made this book disappear
but he doesn't and this damning
portrait is now available
for everyone to read.
Well, what I'm most looking forward
to is seeing what we all know
is going on just below the surface.
I'm expecting the White House to be
as absolutely dysfunctional
as the leaks make it seem.
I don't think anyone really gets
tired of palace intrigue.
The picture it paints of life
in the West Wing is unsparing,
allegations of marital strain,
of tears and tantrums,
of dysfunction and improvisation.
And at the epicentre of every
storm, Donald J Trump.
I will tell you the one
description that everyone gave,
everyone has in common,
they all say he is like a child.
And what they mean by that is he has
a need for immediate gratification.
It's all about him.
And the gravest charge of all,
Michael Wolff alleges that a number
of his unnamed sources told him
that the President was mentally
unfit to remain in office,
a charge that brought this response
from the President's spokeswoman.
It's disgraceful and laughable.
If he was unfit he probably wouldn't
be sitting there and wouldn't have
defeated the most qualified group
of candidates that the Republican
Party has ever seen.
The President has been on Twitter
to rubbish the book saying:
But that's not how
Michael Wolff remembers it.
I absolutely spoke to the President,
whether he realised
it was an interview or not,
I don't know but it certainly
was not off the record.
The author says he
stands by every word.
Although with anonymous sources
it's hard to fact-check.
The most remarkable
thing about this is -
given Michael Wolff's track record -
why White House staff gave him
access to the inner sanctum
of the West Wing for months on end
as virtually a semi-resident.
The author was asked this
morning what he had to say
about the threatening legal letter
the President's lawyers had sent.
Where do I send
the box of chocolates?
Jon Sopel, BBC News, Washington.
Supporters of Mr Trump
have dismissed the book
which depicts a chaotic
White House, as phoney.
Sebastian Gorka, who
was Deputy Assistant
and Strategist to the President,
dismissed the book as blatant lies
by a political assassin.
You need to have a look
at the disclaimer that the book has
on page ten of the Business Insider
just published today.
On page ten the author,
Michael Wolff, who has been caught
lying repeatedly in the past
in his previous books,
states that he cannot verify
the accuracy of anything
that is in the book.
If you did that as a journalist,
you would be fired.
This is just a tissue
of lies which is about
as realistic as Harry Potter.
Let me give you just
one factual example.
He states that on the day
he won the election,
the President did not know
who John Boehner, the Speaker
of the House, was in Congress.
Any child with access to Google can
google Donald J Trump
and John Boehner and find
photographs of those two men golfing
together from two years ago.
The idea that this person
is reporting anything of factual
import is just fallacious.
Again, he is a political hack,
this is a storm in a teacup
and the book will be forgotten
a week from now.
That was Sebastian Gorka,
who was President Trump's
Deputy Assistant for
eight months last year.
Let's talk to our correspondent,
Anthony Zurckher in Washington.
My goodness, where do we start? Let
us start with the disclaimer that
Sebastien gawker was talking about.
It is the
Sebastien gawker was talking about.
It is the note in which Michael
Wolff himself talks about the
looseness with truth, what are we to
make of this?
Michael Gove said he
conducted over 200 interviews, many
of which she recorded and has notes
for, he has said that he stands by
all of the reporting and he is
comfortable with it. -- Michael
Wolff. As pointed out, some of his
past works have been pushing the
facts as far as they can go and
focusing more on flowery language
than on actual on the ground
reporting. But I think if you look
at the book overall, it matches up
with you what of what the mainstream
reporting has been on Donald Trump
as President over the past year. It
is no secret that there has been a
lot of chaos within the White House
and that there is a lot of staff
turnover. The president has assumed
occasionally disinterested in the
details of governing. There should
not come as a surprise but we should
look at individual anecdotes and
individual stories with a sceptical
eye, we cannot take it on face value
and while heaters and sceptics of
Donald Trump might embrace this
book, they must look at it as a
somewhat detached observer and not
this just because it agrees with the
worldview that it is necessarily
Thank you very
much, a fascinating insight into
what is turning out to be a
fascinating book. Thank you very
much. On Donald Trump has spoken a
few moments ago, he is on his way to
camp David in Maryland, the
presidential retreat. It spoke to
the media briefly that was gathered.
But he did not speak about the book.
This is what he said. Hi, everybody,
I am going over with the Senator is
to camp David. We have a lot of
things to work on and accomplished,
the stock market is very big today.
We have new records and I think we
will continue to set things. The tax
cuts are kicking and far beyond what
anybody thought. Numerous companies
have today come out and announced
they will make big payments to their
employees, something that nobody had
in mind. We are very honoured by it
but the market is good. The jobs
reports were very good and we think
they will get really good over the
next couple of months. So we are
going to Camp David wearing a lot of
the great Republican senators are
joining us and we are making America
great again. Thank you very much.
So, Donald Trump, he is on his way
to Camp David to talk with
Republicans when they will be
talking about the legislative
priorities and the future. But the
main thing that we wanted the year
was comments about Michael Wolff's
explosive book, he did not speak
about that, did he?
A winter storm has caused travel
chaos in the north-east
of the United States
and is being blamed for up to 18
deaths across the country.
Forecasters say the brutal cold
will reach from New England
across to the Midwest and down
to the Carolinas and that
low-temperature records could be
broken across the region
in the coming days.
Laura Trevelyan in New York explains
how people are coping there.
The impact of the bomb cyclone
in Portland in Maine where the storm
swallowed up the very foundations
of Ferry Beach as wind and waves
lashed the coastline.
of Ferry Beach as wind and waves
In Massachusetts, the storm
brought not just heavy
snowfall but flooding too,
due to the high winds.
In Boston, there was
a three foot storm surge.
The mayor is blaming
the changing climate.
We're keeping an eye on all of those
different floodings and if anyone
wants to question global warming,
just see where the flood zones are.
Those zones didn't
flood 30 years ago.
This is the scene in
coastal New England today.
In the wake of the blizzard,
the subzero conditions are making
life very difficult.
The winter hurricane conditions
closed New York's major airports,
though they're reopening today.
The clear up has begun in Manhattan.
New Yorkers are trying to take it
all in their frozen stride.
I'm so bundled up.
I have so many layers.
I feel OK right now.
As long as I go quickly
to work, I'm OK.
I just want it to be over with.
It's been way too long.
I just want it to be
nice and warm again.
The race is on to clear away
the snow in Manhattan before it
turns into dangerous ice.
The storm brought in all this cold
air from the Arctic and so,
in its aftermath, we're due to have
for the next few days.
It is so cold out here, -10 Celsius,
that already I can hardly
feel my fingers or my toes.
Can you believe this
is Tallahassee, Florida?
And we are getting snow?
That was the reaction
in Tallahassee, Florida,
where they haven't seen snow
in almost three decades.
And freezing temperatures
are prompting many
Americans to experiment.
This particular trick is proving
very popular in the deep freeze.
Laura joins us, it has dropped even
further down than -10, hasn't it?
Yes, -17 degrees. Some are enjoying
the icy conditions, taking advantage
with ice skating. The concern is
that with these temperatures due to
continue at least through Sunday,
believe it or not it will warm up on
Monday, enough for it to small, but
the concern is that the snow will
come to eyes and conditions become
slippery, very dangerous for the
elderly and vulnerable and the
homeless, the very young, but these
conditions are just terrible to be
out and about in and tonight the
Mayor of New York has forecasted
that the temperature on Saturday
night could drop to -30 Celsius. -40
degrees in parts of New England. We
have not seen a prolonged cold
period like this in many years and
it could be that by Monday this has
been a historic low in the period of
new work whether since records
In terms of the people
enjoying themselves, yes, absolutely
fine, but there is a serious side,
the race is on the corrupt the
enormous amount of snow that has
Yes, and not just here in
New York, but further afield in
Boston. Because what happened is
this enormous winter blizzard moved
up the eastern seaboard, was that it
whipped up the tides, the storm went
through at high tide, so there was
flooding. They have already got icy
conditions as you can imagine, one
subway station in Boston was flooded
and they saw coastal flooding in
parts that have never flooded
before. So it is hard to
underestimate the impact this
weather has had. It is not Moscow,
we are not used to having prolonged
weather like this. In New York City
there are 1500 snowploughs, 800
machines scattering salt, but they
are having to work overtime just to
keep up with the fact that we're
going to have this ice now.
funny at all. Laura Trevelyan, thank
you for that update.
North Korea has agreed
to hold direct talks
with the South next Tuesday -
for the first time in two years.
They're likely to focus primarily
on next month's Winter Olympics,
which are taking place in South
It comes a day after the US
announced that it had agreed
to Seoul's request to delay
joint military exercises.
Those drills usually increase
tensions with Pyongyang.
From Seoul, Sophie Long
sent this report.
The first talks between the North
and South Korean governments
for more than two years will take
place here, the village
of Panmunjom, which straddles
the border between the two countries
in the demilitarised zone.
The South's offer of high-level
talks was accepted via fax.
Regarding the agenda,
both will discuss the Pyeongchang
Winter Olympics and ways to improve
ties between South and North Korea.
It came just hours
after the United States
and South Korea agreed to suspend
joint military drills.
They say exercises like
this one are defensive
but the North Korean leader sees
them as rehearsals for invasion.
Both South Korean and US Marines
are taking part in this exercise
in the mountains of Pyeongchang.
They are training together to deal
with winter war conditions
and temperatures of below minus 20.
But these drills will stop
for the duration of the Winter
Olympics and Paralympics.
The South Korean President Moon
Jae-in has said the Games
could be a ground-breaking chance
to de-escalate tensions
on the Korean peninsula.
Xin Gu-sop hasn't seen his
sister for 70 years.
He and 61,000 others whose families
remain divided by the border hope
these talks could be
a prelude to change.
I am old now
and I don't know how many
more years I will live.
It is my only wish that
I meet my sister once and for all.
This is the wish not only for me
but for all divided families.
But others are sceptical
about Kim Jong-un's motives.
The commander of US forces
in South Korea said
they are keeping their expectations
at an appropriate level.
My mission remains the same,
to quietly and under control operate
a military force in greater
and greater readiness in the event
that it's the negative outcome,
not the positive one.
But scepticism didn't stop
President Trump claiming
credit for the potential
thawing of relations.
Does anybody really believe that
talks and dialogue would be
going on between North
and South Korea right now,
he tweeted, if I wasn't firm, strong
and willing to commit our total
might against the North?
Sophie Long, BBC News, Seoul.
Let's take a look
at some of the other
stories making the news...
in South Africa say 19 people
were killed in a train crash
on Thursday 200 kilometres
south-west of Johannesburg.
Hospital workers say four
children are among the dead.
The train was travelling
from Johannesburg to Port Elizabeth
when it hit a truck
and burst into flames.
Nearly 200 people were injured.
Police have launched
a manslaughter investigation.
Protests in Pakistan,
after the US Government announced
it was cutting almost all security
aid to the country.
Washington said Islamabad had failed
to deal with terrorist networks
operating on its soil and the freeze
will remain until action
was taken against the Haqqani
network and the Taliban.
A hot-air balloon has crashed
near Luxor in Egypt,
killing one tourist
from South Africa.
Strong winds over the ancient city
had forced the balloon off course
into a mountainous area.
Another 15 people were
injured, two seriously.
In 2013, 19 tourists were killed
when a hot-air balloon
caught fire in Luxor.
Apple has confirmed that
all its iPhones, iPads and Mac
computers are affected by two major
flaws in computer chips.
It emerged this week that tech
companies have been working on a fix
for the Meltdown and Spectre bugs,
which could allow
hackers to steal data.
Apple said there was no
evidence that the weakness
had been exploited.
The war in Syria is heading
towards its eighth year with no
definite end in sight,
though some believe the government's
new assault on the last entirely
rebel-held province in the country
could prove the
beginning of the end.
Idlib, in north-west Syria,
has been in the hands of rebel
groups since near the beginning
of the conflict.
Tens of thousands of civilians
and fighters from former rebel
strongholds including Aleppo,
Homs and Daraya
were evacuated there.
But an attack in the far
south of the province
by government forces,
backed by Russian planes,
could suggest the regime has fresh
aspirations to reclaim control.
Here's Mike Thomson -
and I should warn you that his film
contains distressing scenes.
This has been life for the past two
weeks for the people
of southern Idlib.
And the bombing by Syrian government
forces is carrying on.
Today marks the 15th
day of the continuous onslaught
by Syrian warplanes,
mainly against the southern
and eastern Idlib countryside.
We've had more than
250 aerial raids.
So far 57 people have died and 200
civilians have been injured.
And it seems it is the very young
who are suffering the most.
The majority of those
casualties are innocent civilians.
Just yesterday, a massacre committed
saw more than 12 civilians killed,
the majority of which were children.
Hunger and cold compete with bombs
and bullets as causes
of misery here in this
hugely overcrowded province.
We fled the heavy
bombardment in Aleppo,
leaving our homes behind,
only to face the same terrible
scene here in Idlib,
of bombardment and destruction.
Where else can we go?
We are living a nightmare each day,
alone, and scared for our children.
Idlib's population has been swelled
by the arrival of thousands
of civilians and fighters from other
areas of Syria, as more and more
rebel territory has fallen
to government forces.
Now Idlib is in the firing line.
Idlib is in a strategic location,
on the border with Turkey.
It is the main area that supplies
coming through Turkey pass
through in order to be deployed
in the rest of the rebel
held areas in Syria.
Infighting between rebel groups,
some of whom are extremists,
has weakened them further.
After a long struggle,
an alliance led by the formerly
Al-Qaeda-linked Hay'at Tahrir
al-Sham, or HTS, now dominates.
It is accused of carrying out
numerous war crimes.
These war crimes include the summary
killings of civilians,
especially the activist human rights
and stoning of women.
Idlib civilians haven't
taken this lying down.
Over the last year there have
been street protests
against HTS's diktats.
Local radio station Fresh FM has
joined the rebellion against HTS's
rule, defying their ban on playing
music and using women presenters.
But the station's founder fears that
if President Assad's forces succeed
in overrunning the province,
his rule might be even worse
than that of the extremists.
HTS is dangerous.
If Assad's forces take over
all of Idlib, will your radio
station keep broadcasting?
They will burn it.
They will break everything.
With the nearby Turkish border
currently closed to refugees,
the burning question facing
civilians desperate to escape
Idlib is where to go.
If there are attacks
they have nowhere to flee.
They can't go to
government-controlled areas out
of fear of reprisals and attacks
against them, and at the same time
they can't cross into Turkey.
It is yet unclear whether President
Assad has the strength to retake
the whole of this last rebel held
bastion, though even if he does,
many years of insurgency involving
various rebel groups looks likely
to follow before rebuilding this
shattered country can truly begin.
Sir Ridley Scott's
true-life kidnap drama,
All The Money In The World,
is destined to go down in cinema
history as the film that
Kevin Spacey was in,
and then wasn't.
Spacey, who played the rich oil
tycoon, John Paul Getty,
was dropped from the film
and replaced with Christopher
Plummer just six weeks
before its release date
of sexual misconduct.
Will Gompertz spoke to Sir Ridley.
Initially, it was a commercial
decision which would be maybe
a little hand in hand
with a moral decision.
You know, you can't take the artist,
and actually whatever a person
decides to do in their private life
which doesn't harm others,
you have to separate that
from what they do as an artist
or as a person, as a clever person.
Mr Getty, your grandson,
he's been kidnapped.
I have seen the movie
and it is completely seamless.
What was running through my head -
is it a much different movie
with Plummer and not Spacey?
Kevin Spacey did
a fantastically good job.
It was cooler and chillier.
Christopher comes with
this inordinate charm.
His smile and his twinkle.
So when in fact he's
doing the same words,
the same text as Kevin,
the twinkle and smile
somehow make him that
much more effective,
Are we looking at a moment
in the Hollywood where things
will change, where sexism
will subside and women will get
a fair crack at the whip?
Or do you think it's windowdressing?
I think a bit of each.
I think there will be
an immediate change,
because there should be.
It is long overdue.
You know, I have never experienced
any of those things that
you describe in my life,
in my companies.
I frankly have women
running my companies.
I have always been a supporter
of strong women without ever
actually thinking about it,
which I think is the best way.
I have great respect
for women generally.
Maybe it comes from my mum.
I had a very strong mother
who brought up three pretty stalwart
sons who were always very
independent and tough.
You talk about it being long
overdue, it is something you have
witnessed in Hollywood,
women being mistreated?
And if it ever came in front of me,
I would immediately step on it.
But not really, I've always treated
every actor or actress
with the greatest respect.
The remainder of our top story...
The author of a damning book
on Donald Trump is standing
by everything he's written,
and he dismissed the president's
assertion that he'd
never talked to him.
Michael Wolff -
the author of the instant