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This is BBC World News Today.
I'm Geeta Guru-Murthy.
Our top stories...
Civilians flee eastern Ghouta,
as Syrian government forces
advance on the rebel-held area.
Polls are closing in just under an
hour in the Italian general
Parties on all sides are
hoping for at least a share of
As Hollywood prepares
for the Oscars,
will the ceremony focus on the films
or the new mood of protest?
These are live pictures. Harvey
Weinstein has changed the scope of
award season on what people ask on
red carpets and what they wear full
he has changed how the whole
industry is behaving.
Hello and welcome
to World News Today.
The Syrian president has insisted
that the current offensive in
Eastern Ghouta must continue as
thousands of civilians flee. He said
also that Western accusations over
chemical weapons are an excuse to
attack the Syrian army. A monitor
based in the UK says government
forces have now taken a quarter of
the Ghouta enclave. Our Middle East
editor reports from Damascus.
These people said their village
was moving because the
Syrian Army had arrived.
One man cursed the Russians and
Iranians, key allies of the regime.
Air strikes, he said,
including banned cluster
bombs had not stopped.
TRANSLATION: It has been
four days, no fuel, no
bread, no food, no water.
Where is the world?
Where are human rights?
We are humans, not animals.
400,000 people live
in Eastern Ghouta, an area
of fields and small towns
about the size of Manchester.
Most of them are civilians who have
not been able to escape the war.
When the planes
shelled, I could not see
anything in front of me.
I did not wait for the ambulance,
I started running.
The air strikes have been
followed by ground troops
who are making rapid advances.
The strategy seems to be to cut
Eastern Ghouta in half.
Negotiations between the rebel
groups and the Russians have been
going on for quite some time.
It is not clear if the objective
is a ceasefire or the effective
surrender of the rebels.
The biggest rebel group says
it is regrouping after a retreat.
The fighting is still going on,
for the regime the prize is the end
of the last major rebel
enclave around Damascus.
For the rebels, these
are desperate moments.
Jeremy Bowen, BBC News, Damascus.
Italians are voting
in a general election
against the backdrop of a bitter
debate on immigration.
Latest indications point,
once again, to no clear majority
for any single party.
Well, let's cross live to Rome.
My colleague Karin Giannone
is there for us.
It has been a fierce campaign. We
get the results soon.
campaign indeed. The polls close in
just under an hour. Italians really
do not have a clear idea of what the
likely outcome is going to be. As
you mentioned, no party looks like
it will get the necessary 40 descent
to secure a majority. So, the close
of polls could be the starting point
for coalition talks that may go on
for weeks. This report from our
Charming, but troubled Naples,
unhappily encapsulates the problems
at the heart of Italy's elections.
Falling living standards,
unemployment, and mass irregular
migration from Africa.
But uncertainty hangs in the today.
Italians are voting for change.
They are just not sure
which political party to trust.
TRANSLATION: I am so
worried about Italy.
I said a prayer before
coming to vote.
Politicians need to
hear our voice today.
Son of Naples is the leader
of the party tipped to become
Italy's largest today.
His Five Star Movement claims to be
corruption-free and people-friendly.
But the political system
here favours coalitions and meaning
this familiar face could
be kingmaker instead.
Naples and the south of Italy
will swing the vote today.
Silvio Berlusconi did some
last-minute campaigning here
on behalf of a right-wing Coalition.
So, what does this rather chaotic
political picture mean
for Italy and Europe?
After all, this is the Eurozone's
Confusion is quintessentially
Italian, Brussels is used to it,
the financial markets seem prepared
for it, they believe that
a Coalition government will
smooth away political extremism.
This Napolitan shop is famous for
its handcrafted political figures.
Today, all Italian voters
will help paint the future
landscape of the country.
Turnout really is key because, in
the weeks before the elections, some
polls were saying as many as 40% of
Italians were not going to bother to
turn up or were undecided. In the
last election 28% of the voting
population and stained. As we heard
there, the South is three critical.
-- abstained. Latest figures show
there is a higher turnout than usual
in the south and a lower turnout
than usual in the north. In the
south that could favour the Five
Star Movement. I been speaking to
John Hooper, Italy correspondent for
the Economist about just how turnout
could affect the result.
The first thing that is different is
turnout, which seems to be on the
low side, going the way of maybe 5%
and 10% less this time. And with
very significant regional
variations. In the south, turnout
seems to be higher, which should,
perhaps, favour the Five Star
Movement, which has made the south
into something of a fortress. It
seems to be going lower in the
centre and the North and that may be
bad news for particularly the
You would be able
to talk about disillusionment with
the parties in the south because of
the economic situation in the south
to two high unemployment.
unemployment and high juvenile
unemployment. Lots of people in need
25 to 35 age group who are on
short-term contracts, who are not
getting the benefits of full
employment, and who feel there is a
plague on all your houses. Vote for
the Five Star Movement because they
are in new faces and they promised
What exactly do
the Five Star Movement offer? Can
you define them left, right or
centre, or none of the above?
average out their policies they come
up more in the centre. They are more
like a group in Spain in the fact
they pick policies both from the
right and the left. They would say
the left and right mean nothing but
since the fall of the Berlin Wall,
these are outdated concepts. Having
said that, what they really stand
for, certainly according to their
founder, is the introduction of
direct democracy. In other words,
doing away with the present system
of parties and replacing it by a
system in which everybody can click
with a mouse and vote on everything.
That is really the original purpose
of the Five Star Movement and in
fact Grillo put up a post just the
other day saying that you have to
remember what you are there for.
This is a party which, once it gets
into power and does that, it should
disband itself. That is why they
call themselves a movement. They
really are different from parties
want to do away with parties.
thought it was just the European
Union watching closely what happens
in Italy, think again. I rather
interesting figure has arrived in
town to monitor this election very
closely. None other than Donald
Trump smack former chief strategist,
Steve Bannon. He finds himself very
much aligned with the leader of the
right-wing party. He has come to
town to give a boost to those forces
of population which have been making
huge waves in this election, which
has been very dominated by the
matter of immigration. Just to take
you through what we are expecting.
Polls close at 11 o'clock local
time, just under an hour. Every hour
we will get an updated exit poll.
They are slightly unreliable. There
is a 5% margin for error. At around
0130 GMT, 130 in the morning Italian
time. That is when we will get a
definitive result which may give us
the shape of what has come out of
the polls. It will not necessarily
tell us the shape of the Government
because that can all be decided by
coalition discussions which may go
one for a very long time to come.
will see you in the coming hours.
Thank you very much.
Another earthquake struck Papua New
Guinea. This one is ranked 6.0 at
the depth of ten kilometres. That is
a week after an earthquake caused
landslides, damaged buildings
enclosed oil and gas operations. The
people are in need of supplies.
The German Chancellor,
Angela Merkel, is set
to form her fourth government,
after the centre-left
Social Democrats agreed
to join her conservatives
in a renewed coalition.
It brings an end to
the political uncertainty
since September's election.
Voters in Switzerland have rejected
a proposal to abolish the mandatory
licence fee for Public broadcasting.
In a referendum, more than 70% said
no to the change. The Swiss pay
almost $500 a year for the public
broadcaster. It broadcasts in all
four national languages.
Stay with us on BBC World News.
Still to come...
Tributes to the world's
first four minute miler,
as Roger Bannister dies
at the age of 88.
It was just a matter of seconds as
the very lurched onto her side.
hydrogen bomb. The Americans have
successfully tested a weapon whose
explosive force dwarfed that of the
bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
went bang and bang will stop the
constitutional rights of these
marches and their rights for
citizens of the United States, they
should be protected so they do not
get their heads broken and are sent
It is religious
controversy. Does it worry that it
will boil up when you get to the
It worries me. I hope
everything will be right when you
get to the end of the day.
be all right.
This is BBC World News Today.
The latest headlines...
President Assad says the Government
assault on Eastern Ghouta must
continue with civilians fleeing the
Millions have been voting in the
election in Italy.
Not long to go now before
the film industry's
biggest event of the year
- the Oscars.
This year's event comes
with Hollywood still reeling
from the allegations of sexual
harassment and sexual
assault against several
high profile figures,
These are the live pictures. Camera
crews and genocide gathering outside
the red carpet area where pretty
soon we will see the stars parade.
-- and journalists.
Will Gompertz reports.
Here on a still concealed
Oscars red carpet, just
about everybody has got an opinion
about what is going
to happen tonight.
But what does a genuine Hollywood
insider, with her ear
to the ground think?
Does she expect there to be
a post-Weinstein reaction that might
change how Academy members vote?
I don't think so. Harvey Weinstein
has changed the scope of awards
season and what people ask about on
red carpets and what they wear, how
the whole industry is changing.
In terms of voting on the Oscars,
I don't think that there will be
a real effect on who wins
and who loses.
My daughter, Angela was...
I would be surprised
if Three Billboards repeated
its Bafta success
and won Best PPicture.
That movie is quite polarising among
American Academy members.
The Shape of Water,
Guillermo Del Toro's film, is one
that has won a lot of the precursor
awards that lead up to the Oscars,
so that seems to be sort
of a rising contender.
Who is going to win?
I would put my money on Get Out.
Chris was just telling me
how he felt much more
comfortable with my being here.
What about Best Actor?
You cannot reason with a tiger!
Not when your head is in its mouth.
The front runner for Best Actor
is Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour,
for whom this is, in many ways,
possibly a lifetime
There is an outside contender,
Timothee Chalamet for
Call Me By Your Name.
He has kind of captured,
what I think of as the
ingenue spot this year.
This year it is seemingly held by a
beautiful young man.
Surely Francis McDormand
is a shoo-in as Best Actress for her
performance in Three Billboards
as a grieving, seething mother.
Her performance in Three
If there is any movie that sort
of captured the #MeToo movement
and the idea of female rage,
surely it is this one.
And what about Greta Gerwig
and her film Lady Bird?
Could she become just the second
woman in the history
of the Oscars to walk away
with the Best Director prize?
I think Greta Gerwig is a long shot.
I think her being nominated is
a milestone for a female director.
It has happens so rarely. Kathryn
Bigelow is the anyone who has won in
Three, two, one.
Guillermo Del Toro is the person
I would put my money on.
This could indeed be the year
that The Shape of Water is the film
that makes the biggest...
Will Gompertz, BBC News, Hollywood.
Let's go live to Hollywood. You are
looking stunning. We can see people
are riding behind you. What is your
sense, our people focused on the
films all the controversy?
impossible to separate the two. This
is the culmination of the awards
season with the biggest awards yet
to come. People are celebrating some
of the most adverse range of movies
we have had for best picture
nominee. We have tragic comedies in
Three Billboards to romances in Call
Me By Your Name, and The Shape Of
Water. Among those films we have
seen a lot of diversity and
storylines talking about the
underdogs, the underrepresented,
capturing the culture right now.
There are very real controversy
surrounding the Oscars. The Me Too
movement is capturing the fact that
there has been rampant sexual abuse
in this industry which Harvey
Weinstein has come to symbolise.
Also the underrepresentation of
minorities in Hollywood. I expect in
a ceremony for all of that really to
come to light.
We can see the
excitement behind you already. Also
a change in the presenter line-up.
Casey Affleck has withdrawn, hasn't
There has been a lot of conflict
because he has been accused of
sexual assault. He denied and said
they had settled the matter. That
was going to overshadow the
tradition of having the person who
won best actor present the best
actress award. He withdrew and said
he will not be attending the Oscars.
The Academy thanked him for that and
said they want the focus to be on
winners. Instead we are going to be
having Jodie Foster and Jennifer
Lawrence presents best actress and
also, for best actor, we're going to
have Jane Fonda and Heron Mellon --
Helen Mirren presenting that.
you very much.
We will of course bring
you all the winners
and the reaction from the red carpet
here on World News,
which kicks at 0100 GMT.
And you can find much
more on the Academy
Awards on our website.
Now the sport.
Talking of the red carpet it
certainly hasn't been rolled out in
Central London. The pressure has
increased on Arsene Wenger. Brighton
& Hove Albion were 2-1 winners over
the gunners. Record signing barmy
Yanks scored for Arsenal. Arsene
Wenger's sign of four points behind
It took us a while to get
into the game. They were sharper us
on the ball. We made some defensive
mistakes. In the second half it was
all us but we could not find a goal.
We are going through a tough time.
Of course it is difficult at the
As tough as you can
remember, do you think, this week?
Three defeats back-to-back. It never
happened to me in my life. It hit me
on the confident side and you could
see the team at the moment struggles
A Barnardo 's silver goal
proved the difference as Manchester
City extended their lead at the top
of the table to 18 points. The blues
managed just three shots on goal
throughout the game and are
languishing five points of the
Champions League qualification
places. Pep Guardiola is on target
to win the title in three different
18, a strong team, like
Chelsea, are still the champions. We
did not concede one shot on target.
Against the Chelsea players,
everybody was involved and I was
Lionel Messi scored his
600th career goal from a wonderfully
struck free kick. They are eight
points clear of the division. The
Atletico defence only conceded 12
goals in 27 games. The Catalans
remain unbeaten this year. They
almost scored a late equaliser only
to have it ruled out for offside.
Elsewhere in Spain, Valencia lead
real Bettis in Sunday's other big
clash. The Fiorentina captain has
died after a sudden illness. The
Florence -based outfit was scheduled
to play Udinese. He joined the team
and made 58 appearances for them.
Sir Roger Bannister, the first man
to break the four-minute mile, has
died at the age of 88 foot he has
been described as one of the
inspirational figures will stop he
also won gold over the same distance
at the 1954 Commonwealth Games. He
later became a leading urologist and
was diagnosed with Parkinson's
disease in 2011. -- neurologist.
Andrew posse got a gold medal. --
Pozzi. It was a relief to the
British co-captain he made some
mistakes but held his nerve to claim
the gold. The Burundi athlete was in
a class of her own and defended her
title. The fastest time of the world
in 2018. Thank you.
Sir Roger Bannister -
the first man to run a mile
in under four minutes -
has died at the age of 88.
He set the record on a track
in Oxford in 1954 -
later winning the gold at the same
distance at that year's
Joe Wilson looks back at his life.
Bannister, third from the left.
There are some moments of sporting
history which become part
of the world's history.
He's decided this
is the right moment.
What Roger Bannister achieved
in 1954 was like a lunar landing
for 20th century sport.
Bannister's old friend and rival
Chris Chataway is in third place,
waiting to take over as pacer.
To run a mile and stop
the clock before it reached
four minutes in 1954,
this was a magical number,
a barrier of human achievement.
A feat that would redefine
what was humanly possible.
And it would fall to a young medical
student to achieve it.
After two-and-a-half laps,
Brasher gives way to Chataway.
Bannister, a superb tactician, has
suffered some criticism in the past
for adopting his own rather
unorthodox training methods.
But they are paying dividends now.
At this point it
becomes quite painful.
I overtake Chris Chataway
and begin the finish.
And here he comes.
Bannister goes streaking forward
with about 250 yards to the tapes.
Every stride counted.
The tape broke at three
minutes 59.4 seconds.
And Bannister has done it.
Though he is out on his feet,
his coach and team manager tell him
he has achieved his ambition.
It might have felt like the world
stopped when that clock stopped.
Four minute mile was a sporting
catch phrase everyone recognised.
There was certainly a feeling of it
being a national event and something
of a landmark for the country.
I am overwhelmed and delighted at
being able to do it today. I was
Sir Roger Bannister was
knighted in 1995. He regarded his
work as a neurologist as more
consistent. He described the gentle
irony when he was diagnosed with
Parkinson's disease. His training
would have been half an hour a day
on the cinder track. He was perhaps
sport's last great amateur. Sir
Roger Bannister, who