welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley. our top stories: three of donald trump's inner circle are called before congress, as part of investigations into russian interference in the us election. us senatorjohn mccain reveals he has brain cancer. the 80—year—old vietnam veteran was the republican nominee for the presidential election in 2008. billions of tons of plastic manufactured since the 1950s are now threatening the planet. researchers say the world is at risk of near—permanent contamination. the gay men and women of south asian origin coming under pressure to marry someone of the opposite sex — we have special report. and a british zoo joins the fight to save the northern white rhino, using ivf from its closest relatives. the us congress has just set up what could be a crucial week
of evidence in the investigations into russian interference in last year's presidential election. president trump's eldest son and his former campaign manager will both testify before the senatejudiciary committee next wednesday. earlier this month donald junior published e—mails which showed him accepting what appeared to be a russian offer to help his father get elected, and damage hillary clinton. and us media is also reporting that president trump's son—in—law, jared kushner, has been asked to appear before the senate intelligence committee in a closed session on monday. and several new lines have emerged from an interview president trump has done with the new york times. a couple of stand—outs: how he now wishes he'd never given jeff sessions thejob of attorney general, new accusations against the fbi director he sacked, and a warning to special counsel robert mueller. the bbc‘s laura bicker gave us
the latest from washington. the first thing to say is that they are scheduled to appear. there is a lot in this interview. the new york times does point out that healthcare and other policies were asked about, but what is certainly seen in this interview and shown from this interview is this constant drip, drip feed of information and speculation about the investigation into whether or not russia interfered in the us presidential election and whether or not they colluded with trump associates to do so, is hanging over donald trump's head. it's clear from the many answers that he's given that it is something he simply can't shrug off, starting with the comment aboutjeff sessions. remember, he was an early supporter of donald trump, right from the start of the campaign. he was appointed attorney general and after that donald trump says now that, had he known he would step back from that investigation,
he wouldn't have appointed him in the first place. jeff sessions had to step back from overseeing the russian investigation as attorney general because it was disclosed that he had met with the russian ambassador during the campaign. yet another disclosure. and then there was this discussion about james comey, holding that dossier, remember that dossier that was revealed injanuary? it's been very controversial, containing salacious allegations, many of which have been widely dismissed. but donald trump accused the former fbi director of almost blackmailing him, of holding it over his head. a lot of accusations in there, and a lot of claims by the president and, certainly, when it comes down to it, what you can see through these pages of the interview is that the russian investigation is something that is needling away at him. us senatorjohn mccain office has revealed he has brain cancer. the 80—year—old republican had been
recovering from surgery after announcing over the weekend that doctors in pheonix had removed a five centimetre blood clot above his eye. senator mccain, a vietnam veteran, was the republican nominee for the us presidential election in 2008. 0ur correspondent james cook has been following this from los angeles. what we know is, as you say, senator mccain went into hospital to have this clot above his eye removed, and it was in subsequent tests that his doctors realised that he had a brain tumour, known as a blastoma. they say that he is now reviewing treatment both with his family and doctors and that those options might include chemotherapy and possibly radiation treatment as well. senator mccain is 80 years old. he is well respected in washington, among other members of congress on both sides of the aisle. they see him as an independent minded senator. he has been there since the 1980s.
he is of course known to the american people as a war hero, having been captured in the vietnam war when his navy plane, which he was flying, was shot down in 1967. he was held for five years and tortured. and references to that, or at least oblique references to that, are coming through in statements of support for mr mccain from, among others, the president donald trump. mr trump it should be set insulted mr mccain last year, saying he preferred his heroes not to be captured. this evening he issued a short statement saying the senator was always a fighter. former president 0bama and former president george bush saying their thoughts are withjohn mccain and they believe if anyone can beat this, he will be able to do this. he has coped with a great deal in his life, hasn't he, and as a result of the vietnam war
he couldn't raise his arms above shoulder height, could he? that's right. ever since that torture during his long period in captivity, which included two years in solitary confinement, he was beaten a great deal during that time. he was tortured numerous times as well. as you say, yes, he's unable ever since them to raise both his arms above his head. he's a man who has obviously endured a great deal. but he is 80 years old. he has been a thorn in the side not just for his interrogators and captors in vietnam but for his party at some points as well. not least championing the issue of campaign finance reform when it was not necessarily popular with all of his colleagues to do so. he's been critical recently of president trump's attempts, or the way that president trump has been attempting to replace 0bamacare, the healthcare plan that affects millions of americans. he's known as an independent—minded senator. but he is above all else known as a fighter.
many americans tonight will be wishing him the very best with this treatment and hopefully his recovery. let's take a look at some of the other stories making the news. the us supreme court has denied a request by the white house to tighten the travel ban on nationals from six mainly muslim countries. the justices upheld a ruling made by a district court in hawaii last week to allow grandparents and other close relatives to visit family members in the united states. the us state department has again named iran as the world's main sponsor of terrorism, due in part to its support for the lebanese shia movement hezbollah. in its annual report for 2016, it also said jihadist groups such as so—called islamic state, al-qaeda and the taliban were the leading culprits for terrorist attacks. a brazilianjudge has ordered assets belonging to the country's former president to be frozen following his conviction for corruption. luiz inacio lula da silva denies the charges and said they are politically motivated. the bbc has revealed two—thirds of its stars earning more than $200,000 are men and admitted
the corporation has to do more to tackle the gender pay gap. the bbc was compelled to reveal the information under the terms agreed with the uk government. there is also a gap between the pay for white presenters and those from a black, asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. scientists in the united states have calculated that 8.3 billion tons of plastics have been manufactured since the 1950s. that's enough debris to cover a country the size of argentina. the study also found that the use of the synthetic material has been accelerating. here's our science correspondent victoria gill. plastic, it seems to have a million uses. so many, in fact, that we've manufactured 8.3 billion ton of it since it was first mass
produced in the 1950s. the very qualities that make plastic so useful, its strength, its durability, make it almost impossible for natural processes to break it down. so, even out in the middle of the south pacific, researchers have calculated that there are about 400,000 plastic particles per square kilometre. as of 2015, these scientists worked out we had generated 7 billion tons of plastic waste. 9% was recycled, 12% incinerated, and 79% accumulated in landfills or the environment. let's get more on that research from american scientists —
the world's first about our use of plastics since the 1950s. denise hardesty is a senior research scientist specialising in marine debris. she told me there's plenty people can do to reduce the use of plastics. the individual consumer, you know, we can take our own coffee cups, we can bring our own bags to the supermarket, we can shop in places that provide the products that are in accordance with our values. so if we don't want a lot of packaging, we can buy in bulk. we can support the companies, the manufacturers that are making the decisions that support the values that we have have. so you're gonna vote and choose with your wallet, with your pocketbook. so i think we can make very smart consumer decisions and it's important to look, to dig deep, to ask the right questions, to check—in and validate the information from the manufacturers, from the advertisements that we're seeing.
but there's many things that we can each and everyone of us do and that is a real difference with the plastic polution problem. it's a solvable, tractable problem and each and every one of us can make decisions that can be really effective. just briefly, denise, even if we can do something about our current and future use, there is an enormous cleanup problem already, isn't there? there absolutely is. it's a tremendous problem. plastic doesn't disappear, it doesn't go away, itjust breaks into smaller and smaller particles that are then available to more and more animals in the environment and are harderand harder to clean up. dr denise hardesty there. a little later we'll hear how to reduce the use of plastics. and you can get more by heading to the bbc news website. there's full background and analysis, plus video and audio content. go to bbc.com/news. here in the uk, it's estimated hundreds of gay and lesbian people of south asian origin are thought to be under pressure to marry
someone of the opposite sex. west midlands police in england say dozens of people have come forward seeking help after their families tried to force them into heterosexual marriages. 0ur correspondent sima kotecha reports. cosmopolitan birmingham, a city which reflects much of the west midlands, with its large ethnic minority population, but in some cases social conservatism can cause problems. decades of pressure that you're put on as a child, that you have to conform, you have to marry a woman. it made me wish that i could be the straight son that he wanted. a gay sikh man who felt he was trapped in a lie until he told his family he was homosexual. his father won't accept it. still, after me telling him that i was gay, he still said, "just get married, it's just a phase you're going through. once you get married, everything will be fine", and you get told that if you follow what your parents want you to do that, yeah, you will be cured or you will be straight.
he eventually married his partner, but his father didn't go to the wedding. also affects our lgbt community... at a conference, police in birmingham talk about how strong anti—gay sentiments still exist in many south asian families. homophobia is rife in some communities, and to be seen as being gay or lesbian or bisexual, it can absolutely destroy the dynamic of that community. well, over the last week we've spoken to 22 gay and lesbian people of south asian heritage from here in the west midlands, and all of them told us that, at some point, they were pressurised to marry somebody of the opposite sex. in many of those cases, they even said they considered doing so because they didn't want to bring shame on their family. 1,400 people asked the government
for help last year about forced marriages and only 30 voluntarily said they were homosexual. police believe the true figure is significantly higher. 0fficers want religious leaders to speak out more against what's happening. islam is categorically against any form of forced marriage. what's important is that you are sensitive towards the concerns of young people, including when it comes to matters of sexuality, and that we provide them the necessary support and care that they require to grow and become healthy members of society. homosexuality is illegal in parts of south asia. it's now hoped, by stressing the laws and practices here, entrenched attitudes can be changed to be in line with modern britain. sima kotecha, bbc news, birmingham. stay with us on bbc news. still to come: uruguay becomes the first country to produce and sell marijuana legally for recreational use. the flamboyant italian fashion
designer gianni versace has been shot dead in florida. the multi—millionaire was gunned down outside his home in the exclusive south beach district of miami. emergency services across central europe are stepping up their efforts to contain the worse floods this century. nearly 100 people have been killed. broadway is traditionally called the "great white way" by americans, but tonight it is completely blacked out. it is a timely reminder to all americans of the problems that the energy crisis has brought to them. 200 years ago today, a huge parisian crowd stormed the bastille prison — the first act of the revolution which was to topple the french monarchy. today, hundreds of thousands throng the champs—elysees for the traditional military parade. finally, fairy penguins have been staggering ashore and collapsing after gorging themselves on a huge shoal of their favourite food, pilchards. some had eaten so much they could barely stand. this is bbc news.
the latest headlines: three of donald trump's inner circle are called before congress — next week's testimony could prove crucial in the investigations into russian interference in the us election. us senatorjohn mccain reveals he has brain cancer. the 80—year—old vietnam veteran, was the republican nominee for the presidential election in 2008. uruguay has become the first country in the world to legally produce and sell marijuana for recreational use. 16 pharmacies are authorised to distribute the drug. supporters say it could help stop the illegal trade. but not everyone is convinced. laura westbrook reports. smoking marijuana has been legal in uruguay, buying it was not, until now. it has taken more than three years to implement this pioneering
legislation and there were plenty of customers. those wanting marijuana in uruguay can now get it from a pharmacy but, to avoid marijuana tourism, only residents who are over 18 can register to buy the drug. using fingerprint recognition, customers can buy up to 40g a month and, crucially, to help stop the sale of the drug illigally, the government sets the price below black market rates. translation: i decided to buy marijuana at the pharmacy because i do not have enough space at my house to grow it. translation: i have a lot of friends that are users in other countries who have to go to the illegal market which can be dangerous. i feel lucky. today is a "before" and "after". uruguay has one of the lowest crime rates in latin america but drug—related violence is growing. the government says it is time
to deal with the profits of the drug cartels before they become too powerful. laura westbrook, bbc news. the duke and duchess of cambridge are in berlin. it marks the start of the second leg of their trip to europe. the visited the brandenberg gate and the holocaust memorial — and also met the german chancellor, angela merkel. 0ur royal correspondent peter hunt reports. royal protocol does not register when you are george, aged three, and keen to head out of warsaw. children often have different ideas to their parents, but few are princes and the focus of a global interest. that interest also extends to charlotte, a princess ready for a glimpse on arrival of berlin. only two, she is already navigating many firsts, including red carpets and flowers. this will become routine one day. george, on the other hand, appeared more than ready to disappear from public view.
without the children, william and kate went on to meet angela merkel, the german chancellor, to extend the uk government's hand of friendship at a time of a potentially messy brexit divorce. with the eu unity under threat because of britain's imminent departure, the royals‘ tour has visited berlin's symbol of unity, the brandenburg gate. there the couple, not the famous landmark, were the attraction. the links, the blood ties between the royals and germany run deep. embarassingly deep in the past — 100 years ago this week, during the first world war, they changed the name from saxe—coburg gotha to windsor. sightseeing over and a visit to a project for disadvantaged young people and an admission of a lack of fluency when it comes to languages. the young kids speak such fantastic english. they have been teaching us some german.
how's your english — better than our german? the language barrier did not deter a nine—year—old determined to demonstrate his affection. william and kate in action as ambassadors for a country following a new path but wanting to retain old relationships. peter hunt, bbc news, berlin. a british zoo is part of a radical project to save one of the world's most endangered species from extinction. there are only three northern white rhino still alive. so, its closest relatives — based at longleat safari park — have been enlisted to help. 0ur science correspondent, rebecca morelle, has this exclusive report. meet ebun, a seven—year—old southern white rhino who could save a species from extinction. the one—and—a—half tonne animal is sedated. a little agitated at first,
but soon she's sound asleep. she's ready to take part in an experimental fertility treatment. scientists are harvesting her eggs to be fertilised in a lab, this is rhino ivf. this procedure is farfrom easy. the team here are keeping an incredibly close eye on this rhino, it's essential she stays under heavy sedation. over the last week or so she's been given hormone treatment, but what's being done today requires millimetre precision. egg collection is really only a technique that's been perfected over the last year. this is conservation science at its most extreme. here's the animal ebun could save, her closest living relative, the northern white rhino. 0nce widespread across central africa, today there are just three left on the planet, but they're unable to breed.
back at longleat, in a makeshift lab, the researchers check for eggs — they find one. they'll take this southern white rhino egg and mix it with sperm from one of the last northern white rhinos, creating a hybrid. the scientists say it's better than losing the species altogether. the last three can die at any time, they're not as old, but anything can happen to them and then all the genetics would be lost. if we had at least 50% of this species preserved in a hybrid embryo, we would preserve at least half of this for future generations. with herjob done, ebun is soon back on her feet. the safari park is proud of the role she'll play. with the northern white rhino being sojeopardised in numbers, practicing techniques like this with the southern whites, it's a huge advance for science and conservation, i suppose. yeah, it's a real honour
to be able to help. the eggs are now being rushed back to a lab in italy, there's a 20—hour window to prepare them for fertilisation. they could be implanted back into ebun, but with her northern cousins so close to extinction, it's a race against time. rebecca morrell, bbc news. the song despacito has just become the most streamed tune in history. the organisational says that two thirds of the world population is protected by anti—smoking legislation. advertising bans and higher tobacco taxes have saved millions of lives but the world health organization still makes the point that smoking is killing several million people a year. the song despacito has just become the most streamed tune in history. it has been played on streaming services,
4.6 billion times worldwide. if you are one of the few who hasn't heard it yet a warning — it will get stuck in your head. mark savage reports. in english, despacito means slowly but the rise of this song has been anything but. injust six months, it's been played 4.6 billion times on streaming services like spotify, youtube and apple music. i love it. i sing it every day. yeah, it's really nice. i listen to it as much as i can. it is not my cup of tea. i wouldn't say it'swhat i've been listening to but it is very relaxed. 4.6 billion times. oh, wow. are you one of those 4.6 billion people? yes. no. it's become a break—out song for puerto rican star, luis fonsi, giving him a global nearly 20 years into his career. i still do not go to bed saying, hey, hey, hey i have the biggest song in the world. i was just lucky to have this song in the correct time and it kind ofjust really break open.
originally released injanuary, despisito really caught on when pop starjustin bieber heard it at a nightclub and asked to record a new verse. the head of universal records says the success of the song shows how streaming is changing music. streaming is and will continue to open up music from latin american artists globally. it has also injected new life into the music industry. revenues are going up after a 15—year downturn. so in latin america, and elsewhere, artists will get hoping to recreate the despacito phenomenon. mark savage, bbc news. more on that and the news at any time on our website. you can reach me and the team on twitter. thank you for watching. hello there.
there was still quite a lot of energy in the atmosphere, during wednesday afternoon some pretty intense thunderstorms broke out across north wales and parts of north—west england. weather watchers pictures coming through of torrential downpours, and there were reports of flash flooding across the rhyl area and parts of western lancashire. during the small hours of thursday, those heavy, thundery showers continue to move their way northwards. quite a wet start to thursday across scotland. further south, much of england and wales, it's going to be cloudy with showery outbreaks of rain. the odd heavier burst there too. turning a little bit cool and fresh and pushing to the far west, but quite a humid start again for thursday morning across eastern areas. and it means it will be quite a drab start across many eastern areas through the morning, and outbreaks of rain, the odd heavy outbursts too. eventually clearing out into the north sea, becoming more confined towards the north—east of scotland. but something a bit brighter and drier into the afternoon, but with it cooler and fresher air, so you will notice that —
highs around 21 and 22 degrees across the southeast. further west, even cooler than that. around the mid—teens celsius, but at least you have the sunshine to compensate. in towards scotland, it's central northern areas will see most of the cloud, outbreaks of rain, the odd heavier burst, particularly across the northern isles. and then into northern ireland, something more showery moving in later on in the day. that is because of this area of low pressure which will become quite a player in our weather through friday, and potentially on into the weekend as well. notice isobars deepening as it continues to move in towards western parts of the uk. so it means quite a windy day for the western half of the country. and a weather front, pretty slow moving, will bring a lots of rain to northern ireland, to wales, particularly into south—west england and maybe in towards the west midlands. whereas further north and east, actually a fine dry day with some sunny spells and temperatures around 20—23 degrees. but cooler further west under that rain. through friday night, the weather front slowly gets a wiggle on, moves its way a little bit further northwards and eastwards but it's still with us though, as we head on into saturday, but a bit of a disappointing
start to the weekend, i have to say, across northern and eastern areas — quite wet, the odd heavier burst there, too. feeling quite cool as well. the south could see the sunshine come out a little bit but then blustery showers will arrive and it will feel fresh. 0n into sunday, the winds ease down a little bit but it doesn't mean any showers that develop through central southern areas could be quite slow—moving so quite a bit of rain falling in a short space of time. further north, it looks like it will remain quite wet. i think the main message is, then, through this weekend, it is going to remain fairly cool and fresh for the time of year, longer spells of rain, but more likely showers and sunny spells. the lastest headlines on bbc news: three of donald trump's inner circle have been called to give testimony before congressional committees as part of investigations into russian interference in last year's presidential election. his eldest son donald junior, former campaign manager paul manafort, and son—in—law jared kushner will give evidence next week. mr trump has said he'd never have madejeff sessions attorney general if he'd known he'd stand aside from the russia investigation. in a new york times interview, he also accused james comey,
the fbi director he sacked, of trying to exert pressure on him, and said special counsel robert mueller would be crossing a red line if he began looking into the trump family's finances. the office of arizona senator john mccain has revealed he has brain cancer. he's 80 years old, a vietnam veteran, and was republican nominee for the us presidency in 2008. it's time now for hardtalk.