this is bbc news i'm geeta guru—murthy. the headlines at 7. a saudi teenager whose efforts to escape her family gained worldwide attention , arrives in canada where she's been granted asylum. she wanted canadians to see that she's here, that she's well, and that she's very, very happy to be in her new home. although she did comment to me about the cold. hundreds of protesters march through central london demanding a general election and an end to austerity. three people are killed in a powerful explosion in central paris caused by a gas leak at a bakery. almost 50 others are injured. prison sentences of less than 6 months in england and wales could be scrapped, under plans being considered by the ministry ofjustice. president trump digs his heels in over his plans for a mexican border wall, as the us government shutdown enters a record—breaking 22nd day. and coming up in half an hour, as liverpool beat brighton and go
seven points clear at the top of the table, sportday has all of today's premier league action. hello. a saudi teenager whose efforts to escape her family gained worldwide attention , has arrived in canada where she's been granted asylum. last week rahaf mohammed al-qanun, who's 18, barricaded herself in a hotel room at bangkok airport, to resist deportation. she said she feared she'd be killed by her relatives, after she'd renounced islam. this afternoon she arrived at toronto airport and was greeted by canada's foreign minister. nada twafik reports from toronto. rahaf mohammed al-qanun arrived with a smile as she took the first steps into her new life.
how does it feel to be in canada? she was escorted out by the canadian foreign minister chrystia freeland who was on hand to welcome her and pass on flowers from one her supporters. after chronicling her ordeal on social media, she chose this moment, now safely in toronto, to let another speak on her behalf. she wanted canadians to see that she's here, that she's well, and that she's very, very happy to be in her new home. although she did comment to me about the cold. it's been a whirlwind journey for rahaf mohammed al-qanun. it's extraordinary that just a few days ago she was an unknown teenager and now she has commanded the attention of the world's media and reignited a debate about the treatment of women in saudi arabia. rahaf al-qanun had been trying to reach australia by way of thailand when her passport was confiscated and she was told she would be deported. the 18 year—old barricaded herself in an airport hotel room and sent
out fevered messages on twitter that she feared her family would kill her for renouncing islam. i'm not leaving my room until i see unchr, i want asylum. within a day, the campaign #saverahaf went viral, piling on international pressure. thai immigration police, who initially said her case was a family problem, instead placed her in the care of the united nations refugee agency which deemed her a legitimate refugee. saudi arabia and canada have been on bad terms ever since ottawa criticised riyadh's arrest of women's rights activists in a tweet months ago. this settlement of rahaf mohammed al-qanun will likely exacerbate the already tense relations between the countries. nada twafik, bbc news, toronto. and we'll find out how this story, and many others, are covered in tomorrow's front pages at 10:30 and 11:30pm. this evening in the papers, our guests joining me tonight are anne ashworth and john rentoul.
hundreds of people have marched through london, demanding a general election and an end to austerity. it comes ahead of a crucial week in the commons, when mps are widely expected to reject theresa may's withdrawal deal with the eu. our political correspondent chris mason has more. tories out! central london this afternoon and left wing campaigners take to the streets. theresa may must go! people have seen brexit is an absolute mess, the shambles the government is making of it, but what is the most important thing is to have a general election because we can then have a say on everything. you don't come out here to plod around town a couple of weeks after christmas, do you? you come for a reason and the reason is to get rid of this government. also here, the shadow chancellor, with the same message. the only solution to austerity, the only solution to tackling the threat brexit poses, is a general election and the election of a labour government.
this demonstration here wasn't primarily about brexit but these campaigners, like others, see the prospect of the government's plans over brexit being defeated as an opportunity for them to stake a case for what they want instead. 170 miles north in sheffield, another crowd with a cause, this one wanting another eu referendum. the obvious question to ask is about the two deals, the two propositions that are actually on the table. one is for the government, and people may or may not like it, it is very uncertain, but it is there, and the other is the one we already have with the eu, which in my view is a much better one, but let the people decide. the government is implacably opposed to delivering what people here want. clearly there are a lot of people coming out who are complaining about the deal for one reason or another but i still think it is the only game in town, it's the thing that gets us out
of the political institution and stops us paying so much money in, ends freedom of movement and that is why i still encourage people, if they want certainty, this is the way to do it. today was peaceful, for the most part, but this isolated incident in london was a reminder of the tension and anger brexit still provokes. chris mason, bbc news. police have arrested a man in connection with incidents in westminster earlier this week. james goddard seen here on the left wearing a high visibility vest was detained by officers this morning near stjames‘s park tube station in westminster, on suspicion of a public order offence. he has since been released on bail. a number of mps have raised concerns about safety in westminster ahead of this week's vote on the prime minister's brexit deal. firefighters have been tackling a blaze in the centre of paris after a powerful explosion that killed three people and injured nearly 50. police suspect a gas leak caused the blast in a bakery.
0ur paris correspondent, lucy williamson reports. 0n the site of a local bakery, around the corner from the folies bergere, residents faced a charred and empty shell. the force of the gas explosion was felt in districts several miles away. the blast shattered windows, blew out doors, and sent locals and tourists into the street, straight from their beds. translation: when i walked past the entrance i heard a huge explosion. i was hit by the debris. i'm dry now and i've washed off a bit but there was a lot of blood on my neck and head, too. 200 firefighters were called in to help those trapped by the blast. among those whose lives they saved was a colleague, buried for almost two hours beneath the rubble. but two other firefighters died. translation: at 830 this morning firefighters were on a call for a gas leak at 6 rue de trevise — during their intervention a dramatic explosion happened.
helicopters waited near the opera house to evacuate the wounded, some of whom are still in a serious condition. the explosion is being treated as accidental but there is a risk of further fires and emergency work will continue all weekend. this smart and lively part of paris, packed with bars and theatres, looks very different tonight. lucy williamson, bbc news, paris. the ministry ofjustice says it's considering proposals to abolish prison sentences of less than six months in england and wales. ministers say short sentences are less effective at cutting re—offending than community penalties. it's thought about 30 thousand offenders would be affected every year under the plans. chi chi izundu reports. long enough to damage you but not long enough to heal you, that's how the prisons minister rory stewart described those serving sentences of six months or less in today's telegraph newspaper. right now, that's around 30,000 prisoners in england and wales, who have committed crimes
like burglary or shoplifting. even a short spell behind bars could mean the loss of their home, job and family. we should not be using prison for these people. we should be turning their lives around and giving them support, dealing with their drug addiction, their homelessness, and getting them to make amends for the wrong they've done. that's really good for victims, it's good for the taxpayer and it will ease pressure on the prisons. in a statement, the ministry ofjustice said it's exploring potential alternatives and is yet to reach any conclusions. overcrowding in prisons like this one is a big problem in the uk, and the worry is, according to the government, that rehabilitation and reform won't happen. in fact, these prisons will turn one—time offenders into career criminals. this idea would need legislation to make it a reality and mps know promising to cut prison sentences is rarely a vote winner, and although prison reform groups have welcomed the idea, there is concern that victims of crimes are not being considered enough. i think victims will feel very
resentful, that it's unfair. that they have had the trauma of what's happened to them. and they almost feel that someone's got away with it. you don't want people to get away with things. a similar scheme in scotland has beenjudged a success and is being extended to sentences of 12 months. simplyjailing offenders has doubled the prison population since the 90s and the government suggests reform of the offender isn't enough. they also have to look at the system. chi chi izundu, bbc news. with me is peter kirkham, a former metropolitan police chief inspector and also i'm joined by dr belinda brooks gordon, a psychologist who has written widely on the subject of criminal justice and public safety. doctor brooks gordon, you welcome this move by the government potential he? very much so, yes, it's a welcome step in the right direction. why? well because it works. we know the
community penalties work better than short prison sentences. very often short prison sentences. very often short prison sentences mean that people go into prison, don't have time to address the offending behaviour, or the things that made them offend, and they come out sometimes very angry, not having sometimes very angry, not having some of the skills that would be able to prevent offending, and enter the same cycle. peter kirk, it seems that from some of the figures, the level of reoffending is higherfor those given shorter sentences than overall, so isn't this a sensible option? it is comic but yet the criminals are misrepresented in statistics, and they're going from statistics rather than digging into those statistics. we've got a situation where nobody goes to prison, hardly anybody goes to prison for a first offe nce. anybody goes to prison for a first offence. so by the time somebody is getting a short prison sentence, they failed to respond to numerous community sentences. for instance, just the other day someone has been convicted of carrying a knife in public, maximum penalty for years. for the fourth time, and they have
not yet been sentenced to go into prison. so community sentences don't work for everybody. i absolutely agree they work for the majority, but they don't work for everybody. so if you take away the ability to give ever—increasing sentences of imprisonment, you totally drive a big hole through the whole criminal justice system. doctor brooks what do you say to that, because people watching who have perhaps suffered up watching who have perhaps suffered up regularly or shorter sentences might think actually, i'm not happy that this person who's responsible for that should just be allowed to get away with that, a prison sentence. well what's interesting is that a lot of community penalties like restorative justice for example, actually have much higher satisfaction rates with victims, because they feel that they were able to address the offender themselves, the offender was able to address the particular crime. it the criminal justice address the particular crime. it the criminaljustice machinery actually taking over and taking things away from them. so, satisfaction is actually higher. i do take issue with the between the length of
sentence and the crime, causing deterrence. it doesn't. and why? because a lot of people don't actually know the length of sentence they will get. the risk of being caught is one of the things that will deter people from committing a crime, and that's another issue. more police, more police, community police officers and so on, but that's different issue. why make this arbitrary cut of six months? what about, you know, people given longer sentences, why this number? is it just purely longer sentences, why this number? is itjust purely a question of cost cutting at the root of this? i know why six months, it would be interesting, the announcement we haven't. .. green paper white interesting, the announcement we haven't... green paper white paper. it's a matter of detail. mr kirk, what do you say? even with cost—cutting, it's true that prison overcrowding has been a huge political problem for many years 110w. political problem for many years now. build more prisons and make it
work. put in a effective rehabilitation programmes in prison, if they are in for three weeks spent three weeks working with them so they don't come back. make prison work, don't stop using it. what worries me is that this government, which seems to be the party of crime and disorder right now, they did it with policing, they said we've got a crime problem, we do? let's cut the police. they listen to the critics, the critics, the equivalent of the prison reformers, and they said stop doing all of these nasty things like stop searching, and keeping people in custody and all that. we've seen what happens. they will do the same again, that's what worries me here. prisons need to be reformed, but instead of spending money let'sjust not use them. what's it going to do? it's going to raise crime. the prison minister who's behind this says, you know, if you look at people who are given shorter sentences, at a human level they are brought into prison and perhaps meeting people who will encourage them in the wrong direction, so when they come up they reoffend, isn't that just
they come up they reoffend, isn't thatjust common sense observation? so make it work. make sure that doesn't happen. spend money on doing it properly. well we know that the government is currently, you know not... flush with spending cash. with got up in a pot policy that is based on how me cells we can afford. you know, someone needs to go to prison should go to prison. and doctor gordon, just again in terms of the public response, do you think people will buy a proposal realistically to say we're not going to send people who have perhaps reoffend it already, already had community services, already sentences, already that they will accept that people should just be let off the hook is when you will seeit? if it's explained properly to them and the reason why, because at the moment, prisons arejust and the reason why, because at the moment, prisons are just colleges of crime, people can go into prison having committed a minor crime and they come out, sometimes with multiple addictions, let's face it keeping drugs out of prison is impossible at the moment. so that has to be dealt with, some of them they come out and they are actually
worse than when they went in. so what about the argument for mr kirk that you should just make prisons were? you should have the benefit of rehabilitation made it to work in prisons, again it's been a very long argument. that is a point of agreement where i do agree with him, you can design out some of the crime that happens in prisons, so for example, from europe and examples here where people have done research on the kinds of things that helped design out crime. you can have healthy prisons, that's possible. and that is something i really hope the ministry ofjustice also look set. doctor belinda berks gordon and peter curtin, thanks very much indeed. the headlines on bbc news... a saudi teenager whose efforts to escape her family gained worldwide attention, arriives in canada where she's been granted asylum. hundreds of protesters march through central london demanding a general election and an end to austerity. three people are killed in a powerful explosion in central paris caused by a gas leak
at a bakery. almost 50 others are injured. the standoff between president trump and members of the us congress, over funding for a wall on the mexican border, has now resulted in a record—breaking government shutdown. the row has entered its 22nd day, leaving hundreds of thousands of government workers unpaid, as politicians continue to argue over budgets. well this afternoon donald trump has been tweeting: saying he does have a plan on the shutdown. let's find out of more, david willis joins us now. live from washington, david do we know what that plan is? with if only we did. and if only those who have been docked there up
that as well. the president is in the building, behind me. but congress is nowhere to be seen, it's in recess until monday afternoon. and as he tends to do, when he gets a bit bored, the president has been tweeting as you say, and what of those tweets provides perhaps an insight into his thinking on this whole shutdown issue. he addresses the question of having no plan, the accusation that he has no plan to get the country out of it, he says he does. he says but to understand that plan, you would have to understand the fact that i've won the election, and i promised safety and security for the american people, part of that promise was a wall on the southern border, elections have consequences. well, president trump has long maintained that those who are part of this government cut shutdown are almost certainly democrat voters, it was his base of course that supported his base of course that supported his move to build this wall along
the southern border, and clearly he believes that its them that he owes loyalty to. so he's going to put that as the priority, now as far as these two sides getting back together to talk things through, there are no further meetings between unplanned. that's a few hundred thousand people affected, aren't there? by not getting their paycheque this week, i guess that's a huge number of people given the size of the us population, but how much of a political pressure will that prove to be for donald trump? well, we are talking about and hearing already stories of people who can't pay mortgages, can't need car payments, these are in many cases, people who live paycheque to paycheque, and they are struggling in many cases to make ends meet. so the first paycheque they were due to receive of the new year did not go out yesterday, or did with just a line of zeros in it, and of course the longer this drags on, the greater the hardship, if you like. but as i say, there really appears
no way of actually ending this at the moment, the president having said he is not inclined, at least at the moment anyway, to declare a national emergency, something which would have cut him off the hook with this. is that the only way out of it, if the democrats hold firm? it really is. given that these two sides are so entrenched and so far apart, but it would be a very controversial move for the simple reason that there would even be some in president trump's own party who would accuse him of presidential overreach, abuse of power if you like, by going over the heads of congress in order to get money for his pet project, the border wall, by some other means. it appears that the president is getting counsel from his son—in—law, jared kushner, who is also a senior adviser at the white house, that this is not a good policy to employ at the moment, but the longer this goes on, the
president may have no choice. david willis, thanks very much indeed. heavy snow has been wreaking more havoc across large parts of europe, leaving roads blocked, trains services cancelled and schools shut. it's led to the deaths of 7 people in austria in the past week, and 2 hikers have been reported missing. bethany bell reports from the austrian alps. the little town of annaberg is blanketed in white. like many mountain regions in germany and austria, it's experiencing unusually heavy falls of snow. these sensors are there to protect houses from avalanches. the authorities are struggling to remove the snow. these volunteer firefighters are working to clear the roof of annaberg primary school. steffan, austrian fire brigade said they
needed to insure the building is safe enough for children to enter. if it's changing and the snow gets heavier, the big problem is that the roof crashed down, and so it's very dangerous we have frequent five metres on the roof. that's a big problem, because of the weather is changing, and the snow gets heavier, the big problem is that the roofs crashed down, and so is that the roofs crashed down, and so it's very dangerous for the people that are living your. cars have been buried under several metres of snow. and it's a constant struggle to keep paths and roads clear. in neighbouring germany, the army is helping to clear away snow. several areas have been declared disaster zones. and there's more snow on the way, the risk of avalanches remains very high. bethany bell, bbc news, anna berg in the austrian alps. now it's that time of year, returns season. in fact the office for national statistics estimates that a quarter of our christmas shopping
could be sent back. anything bought online is more likely to be returned, and in women's clothing the percentage can be as high as 50%. it's a huge cost for stores, and, as our consumer affairs correspondent colletta smith reports, retailers are starting to fight back. picking, packing, and mailing out. it's been a busy couple of weeks for this online fashion company. but staff here know that, like a boomerang, a good chunk of these clothes come straight back, this is just today's returns. we would be flying if we didn't have any returns, but we sort of accept that, it's like to be going to a retail shop, you expect to try a few things on before you want to buy something. this weekend our clearance sale, we've had ladies by three of the same dress in three different sizes, and i know that best case scenario, one stay if they actually get the dress, three might come back.
which is quite heartbreaking when you know the cost of, you know, getting things back and forth. but increasingly, that's what shoppers are expecting. i'll buy like a small and medium and then see which one fits best, don't want to risk it. so i will send one back obviously because i don't need two. if you send it back, it's free. if you have to pay to send it back, i would probably just give it to a friend or sell it or something like that i think. especially if things but kids like holiday clothes and things like that, just to try on and take things back. with it being easier online, a lot of people will do that. maybe not so much in the shops, because it's more hassle to come back. but i think yet, a lot of my friends do it. the amount of stuff being brought back to shops has increased dramatically over the last couple of years. royal mail said they are expecting this to be the busiest ever for returning online goods. that's why even some of the biggest stores like next have decided to start charging people to return some items. but most retailers are using softer
techniques to make sure too many things aren't sent back. you tend to see more online technology that suggests what size you might want to buy, they are paying more attention to the photography or indeed the videos of things they are selling to help the customer have a better sense of what they are buying. retailers will have to work harder to help customers get it right first time, or swallow the extra cost. because for customers, sending things back is now part and parcel of the shopping process. coletta smith, bbc news, in new castle. the nominations for this year's brit awards have been announced, with female artists dominating the shortlist. solo artists dua lipa and anne—marie have each earned themselves four nominations. whilejorja smith and jess glynne have recieved three and two nods repectively. it's also only the second time in brit awards history, more women than men are up for the night's biggest prize, album of the year.
speculation is mounting whether graffiti daubed on a derelict pub in grimsby is the work of banksy. the albion on cleethorpe road — once popular with dock workers — has been dubbed "the pub from hell". the artwork, which appeared overnight, is of a similar style to other works by banksy according to some social media. others said if the work was by banksy they were keen to preserve it, as the pub faces being demolished to make way for flats. an exhibition in hull is showcasing key moments from history in lego. brick history brings to life key figures from mozart to martin luther king and highlights scientific discoveries including the big bang and dna. the bbc‘s simon spark went to have a look. prepare yourself to be transported into key moments of time, thanks to the most famous toy brick of all time. this exhibition is called brick history, by artist warren elsner.
it's made entirely of legos, capturing key figures and moments in time. such as martin luther king, scientific discoveries like dna, and the invention of the mobile phone. i'm working. there's a massive interest in it, and it's always really gratifying to see that. we tried very hard not to create a very boring list of kings and queens, and dates and battles, we wanted to make sure we cover other areas of history. so we covered science, and exploration, transport, and also arts and equality. we thought we wanted to actually explore some of those things as well. so this is a copy of rochester castle, and we split it so that you can see the interiors of the castle, and we have half of it during peacetime, so this is very happy, and this side is during wartime under siege. total across the two halves is about 70,000 bricks. and how long did it take to be built? it took about three
and half weeks to build. that's pretty long. yeah. the history centre in whole has run lego and craft events for a few years now, but this is a world away from what they are used to. i keep noticing things, there's there's the detail, there's some huge pieces, the castle, absolutely stunning detail. what we're hoping is it will inspire children of all ages two to 102. brick history will be open from monday to saturday, until the 9th of march. simon spark, bbc news, hull. now it's time for a look at the weather we can those standing outside her hoping for a bit of warmth. if anything the weather is going to be... cloud at the moment a bit of rain across eastern england and some heavy rain pushing south across
scotla nd heavy rain pushing south across scotland at the moment. that will reach northern ireland and the far north of england by the end of the night. quite a blister wind, and a very mild night as well. tab choose between eight and 10 celsius. looking at the weather picture tomorrow, we have weatherfriends moving the way southwards. a weak cold front pushing across england and wales, bringing a few spots of rain. the friend pushing into scotla nd rain. the friend pushing into scotland bringing some rain as well. behind that front, is much much colder air, so weather—wise, a bit of cloud moving southward across england and wales followed by showers across the north—west end into scotland, where we'll stay quite blustery. sky is brighter in the north, heavier getting into northern scotland. miles across england and wales, getting cooler further north. cold and shetland, with temperatures just 2 degrees, there will be showers of sleet or snow at times across the northern isles tomorrow. i'll see you later. hello this is bbc news with geeta guru—murthy. the headlines.
a saudi teenager whose efforts to escape her family gained worldwide attention, has arrived in canada where she's been granted asylum. protesters have marched through central london demanding a general election and an end to austerity. hundreds of demonstrators were wearing yellow vests — copying the yellow vest protests in france. two french firefighters and a spanish tourist have been killed in a powerful explosion in central paris caused by a gas leak at a bakery. nearly 50 other people were injured. prison sentences of less than six months in england and wales could be scrapped, under plans being considered by the government. ministers think it could reduce re—offending. now on bbc news it's time for sportsday.