a very warm welcome to bbc news, broadcasting to our viewers in north america and around the globe. my name's mike embley. our top stories: fighting for the french presidency. as support shifts, sunday's first round in a crucial election is looking too close to call. two people are killed as venezuela's biggest anti—government demonstrations in years turn violent. seven weeks and counting: british members of parliament vote to confirm a snap general election, onjune the 8th. and grand slam mum—to—be. serena williams‘ agent confirms the tennis star is expecting a baby. hello. one of europe's most watched elections in years is in its final stretch. france holds the first
round of its presidential election on sunday and the candidates have been staging some of their last major rallies. emmanuel macron, on the centre—left, who is just ahead in most polls, told a crowd in nantes he was the only candidate capable of ensuring security. his closest challenger is the far—right leader marine le pen. she's promising a referendum on france's membership of the european union and says she opposes all immigration. our correspondent hugh schofield was at her rally in marseille. for her last rally, marine le pen went back to the roots of the front national, the message was vintage fn, blaming immigration forthe country's many woes and promising a harder line when she is in power. we have to protect the unity of our people. we have to protect them from
permanent social austerity. i want to protect the people i am part of. i want to protect the people who have seen me go grow and see my children grow and will see my children's children grow. this is marine le pen returning to the heartland, the ranks of voters who used to turn out en masse in venues in marseille for her father. the men and women who are happy to stand up and women who are happy to stand up and shout out the message, france for the french. it was heady uncompromising stuff and for people in the audience, a welcome return for what should be the party ‘s core values. they have no doubt she is heading for victory on sunday and then beyond. she has the best solution is to put france in order again. her speech was as captivating as usual and she really gives us energy to keep going. for me, she is the only candidate that tells the truth. that's it. she is giving hope
to the youth, the french people, the hope that we can wrap to reconcile and have a future together. but behind the circus euphoria, not all this is as confident as it seems. some say she hasn't been as strong as she could have been, rival candidates catching up. sunday's victory may not necessarily be the format of —— may not necessarily be the formality is predictable is there's much more on our website about the french election, election, there's predictable is much more on our website about the french there is much more on the election, including this profile of all the main candidates. although marine le pen and emmanuel macron lead in most polls — the right—wing francois fillon and far—left jean—luc melenchon are also in the running. you can find out more about all of them at bbc.com/news, or on the bbc news app. china's foreign ministry has called for an end to words or actions that could raise tensions further, over
north korea's military programme. and there does seem to be some clarity now about whether the us is sending a naval battle group towards the korean peninsular. president trump had tweeted he was sending "an armada." "very powerful" he said. but then it emerged the aircraft carrier carl vinson was sailing in the opposite direction, on exercises. according to the white house press secretary, it is now heading for korea. the us and south korea are holding joint exercises in the region, right now — our correspondent steve evans brought me up to date from a us airforce base in south korea. later in the day, there will be one of these exercises which china does not think will help the situation. joint exercise between the us and the republic of south korea and building 80 craft. it is a regular exercise. every single year, north korea says it is practising for
invasion. what china is suggesting is that the us but a moratorium on these exercises and then returns —— and in return, north korea puts a moratorium on its nuclear development. this exercise here will involve ata craft, 1000 us personnel, about 500 south korean personnel, about 500 south korean personnel and aircraft from japanese bases as well. they will get involved in simulating, not involving real ammunition. air to oui’ involving real ammunition. air to our combat involving real ammunition. air to ourcombat in involving real ammunition. air to our combat in the bombing of targets on the ground. so the us and south korea say this is a necessary exercise to do with the defence of south korea were as north korea says it is provocative and china is kind of pushing that way. mike pence, the us vice president, says all options are on the table but they are looking for a peaceable solution. if there is to be a negotiation of this whole difficult situation, it will
involve putting things like these exercises onto the table in return for north korea doing a moratorium on its own efforts. it seems a long way away, i have to say. how is the vincent carrier and the exports —— and about where it is heading, the confusion, how has all this played into the dynamics. ——7 confusion, how has all this played into the dynamics. --? there are some people in south korea who would say we have been told by the president that the armada is on its way, and those at his words. quoted as saying in the press this morning, if that was false, what else can we also assume is false? i have to tell you, the people on the street are not talking about where that aircraft carrier is at the moment. there is an election on the way
here. the stands of any new government within the next month is much more a feature. and that stance will also be interesting because if there is movement to the left that there is movement to the left that the polls will be indicating, the likely president of this country, south korea, is indicating a much more communicative attitude towards north korea. and that may not play with donald trump's current stance. at least two people have been shot dead in venezuela in protests against the government of president nicolas maduro. a teenager died in the capital caracas and a woman was killed in san cristobal, near the colombian border. hundreds of thousands took to the streets to demand new presidential elections and the release ofjailed opposition politicians. this from our americas editor, leonardo rocha. the demonstrators arrived in their thousands for what they call the mother
of all protests. they called for new elections and the release of opposition politicians. the opposition blames president nicolas maduro and his predecessor, the late hugo chavez, for the country's serious economic crisis. many venezuelans say the country is on the verge of collapse. translation: i think we will reach victory with this protest. this is the second independence of venezuela. this is the day we have been waiting for, longing for. the confrontation quickly triggered conflict with security forces. in caracas, police fired teargas and rubber bullets at demonstrators who attempted to converge on the office of the state 0mbudsman. the violence wasn't restricted to the capital. this was the scene in san cristobal in the west of the country where protesters also clashed with riot police. but the president remained defiant. speaking at a rally of his supporters, he accused the opposition of plotting a coup.
and the protesters of attacking the police and looting shops. translation: we have captured more than 30 hooded people, violent terrorists. we have caught more than 30 today, fully identified. venezuela, an oil—rich country, seems to be locked in a political stalemate while its economy collapses and violence flares up again. leonardo rocha, bbc news. here in the uk, mps have voted overwhelmingly to hold a snap election in june. in the end, it was little more than a formality with 522 votes to 13 backing the prime minister's plans to send britain to the polls three years early. theresa may says it's necessary to guarantee stability and a strong hand for the uk during brexit negotiations. campaigning has already kicked off, here's what the party leaders said during their first election rallies. that is what this election is about,
providing strong and stable leadership to take britain through brexit and beyond. it is about strengthening our hand in the negotiations which lie ahead and it's about sticking to our plan or a stronger britain that will enable us to procure that more stable and secure future for this country and ta ke secure future for this country and take the right long—term decisions for the future. it's about strong and stable leadership in the national interest. this election is about the future of all of us, the future of our children, the future of socialjustice, the future of our services, the future of ourjobs. are we going to be a country that gives riches and makes which is or asa gives riches and makes which is or as a country which only makes the richest even richer. this election
is going to be fought on the streets of this country. on town halls and streets and beach fronts. the kind of country and society we want to be. you'll find plenty —— and there's plenty more about the british general election on our website — including an — all you need to know guide — that's at bbc.com/news. in other news: monitors from the organisation for the prohibition of chemical weapons, which is mandated by the un, have announced their test results confirm that sarin gas or a similar nerve agent was used in an attack in syria this month. dozens were killed in the rebel—held town of khan sheikhun. the state of arkansas has suffered more setbacks in its attempt to carry out eight executions in 11 days, before one of the drugs used in the lethal injection expires. a judge ruled in favour of one company that doesn't want its drug used. another court gave a condemned prisoner more time to prove his innocence using dna techniques.
the dubai—based airline, emirates, is cutting flights to the us because of restrictions imposed since president trump took office. the airline says demand for travel to the us has slackened. it will cut services to five cities including boston and los angeles from next month. serena williams's agent has confirmed social media reports that the tennis star is pregnant. serena has posted a selfie on snapchat showing a small bump, and the words "20 weeks". now that's quite a big deal news—wise, in itself, but it also suggests she was in the early stages of pregnancy when she won the australian open injanuary. a little earlier, our sports presenter mark edwards gave me more details. her agent did confirm it is the end of the season. but she is looking forward to a return to the tour in 2018. as you mentioned, mike,
she teased us when she posted the picture snapchat, showing the bump, adding the caption "20 weeks". she deleted the post. she announced her engagement earlier to reddit co—founder alexis ohanian, and hasn't played since winning the australian open citing injury. it now seems she was pregnant. eight weeks pregnant. she would not be the first top women's player to return to competition after having a baby. australians evonne goolagong and margaret court also won grand slam titles after having children. but she would be the oldest. belgium's kim clijsters came out of retirement at the age of 26 after having a child. she won three grand slam titles. while former number one, victoria azarenka, won indian wells and miami titles in march, last year, before missing the rest of the season for the birth of her child in december. but an incredible 23
grand slam titles. and her open—era record—equalling one was somewhere around the two—month mark of being pregnant. one of the most high profile figures in american tv news, bill o'reilly, has lost hisjob, accused of sexual harassment. his employer, 21st century fox, which owns the cable channel fox news, has confirmed he won't be returning from a break. o'reilly described the decision as disheartening and claimed the allegations against him were unfounded. much more. including prince harry saying he's amazed at the response to his comments about coping with his mother's death. the stars and stripes at half—mast outside columbine high. the school sealed off, the bodies of the dead still inside. i never thought they would actually go through with it. some places have already had nearly
as much rain as they'd normally expect in an entire year. for millions of americans, the death of richard nixon in a new york hospital has meant conflicting emotions. a national day of mourning next wednesday sitting somehow uneasily with the abiding memories of the shame of watergate. and lift—off of the space shuttle discovery with the hubble space telescope, our window on the universe. this is bbc news.
my name's mike embley. the latest headlines: candidates for the french presidency have staged some of their last major rallies before sunday's first round vote. two people have been killed after violence marred venezuela's biggest anti—government demonstrations in years. more now on the french presidential election. the two apparent front runners are a centrist who believes in globalisation and the european union, and a nationalist who wants to suspend all immigration. you couldn't ask for a much clearer illustration of contrasting ideas of french national identity, as alan little reports. a warning, flash photography coming up. france has two faces — the proud, independent nation, its imperial past still visible, and the france that has led the drive to ever closer european unity. two rival ideas of what france should be. france would love to see a french europe.
you know, that was the plan, in a way, in the ‘50s and the ‘60s. it's a kind of bonapartist vision for europe. there's an ambiguity, contradiction in french politics and in french minds about one's love for one's country and one's love for europe. you know, it's a contradiction, but it's what makes us. that contradiction has never been sharper. marine le pen has brought french nationalism in from the cold. she is slowly shedding her party's association with the shaming memory of france's wartime collaboration with nazi germany, she has allied it instead with euroscepticism. unlike in britain, that euroscepticism is growing among the young. this group hold different political views — some left, some right — but they all reject what they see as a rigid, pro—european orthodoxy. france has a long history which has always fought out for its independence and its ability
to rule itself by its own means and its own will. i can't understand obstinate will that some people, especially in the older generations now, they seem to have to surrender this independence and this sovereignty to unelected bodies. our generation didn't know the war, so we are not as afraid as they were about the conflict between nations. the framework for politics, the framework for democracy, is the nation state. we're in a europe right now where there is rising insecurity. there is no growth, there is high unemployment. we have to get rid of that eu which is doing harm to the people. this revolt has been brewing for years. a generation ago, the french nearly derailed the european train.
in a referendum then, they voted to accept the euro by just 51% to 49%. a tiny majority for so profound a change. post—war europe's founding statesman was a frenchman. robert schuman's vision has guided french thinking for 70 years, but that other france, the france that wants a return to national sovereignty and clear borders, is getting stronger in its challenge to his legacy. in the end, every generation has to hand its dreams and hopes down to the care of posterity and it's up to those who come afterwards to decide whether to nurture or amend or discard those dreams altogether. but france has always been, even in their day, in two minds about how far it wants to be absorbed into a broader european identity and that's at the heart of this election campaign. allan little, bbc news, in eastern france. facebook has assembled a team to create technology which can
read our brain activity. facebook execs say they hope one day it will be common for people to carry out tasks on their computers using brain—control. they think it's still years away, but the ambition is to make it possible to "type straight from your brain via non—invasive sensors." they insist they only want to help people share thoughts the individual wants made public. nigeria's spy chief has been suspended following the discovery last week of $113 million in a house in lagos. ayo oke, who's head of the national intelligence agency, claimed the money belonged to his organisation and was intended for use in covert operations. sarah corker reports. neatly hidden in filing cabinets and wardrobes, millions and millions of us dollars discovered last week in a four—bedroom flat in lagos. images that, even in a country used to corruption, caused a public outcry.
now in an extraordinary twist it is claimed by spy chief ayo oke the money was used by his agency for covert operations. it was a discovery of huge proportions. as well as us notes worth $113 million, investigators found more than £27,000 and some 23 million naira in the empty flat in an affluent area of lagos. now nigeria's president has ordered an investigation into how the spy agency came into possession of so much cash and whether any laws were broken. mr oke has been suspended. the discovery comes as the nation is gripped by its worst economic crisis in decades, hit by a drop in oil prices. modest growth, though, is predicted for this year, but ordinary nigerians say they're struggling to make ends meet. i've not seen any
improvements in this economy. even today i couldn't eat. seriously. my colleague gave me money to eat. if you ask me if it has an impact on me, i would say it has been terrible. if anyone says they are not feeling the impacts, the negative impacts of this government on the economy, they are lying. it's been two years since president buhari was elected on a platform of fighting corruption, but, despite several high—profile cases, not a single senior official has yet been convicted. this is the latest in a series of raids that have uncovered bundles of cash in nigeria. the president has now given investigators two weeks to submit their report on how this stash came to be here. prince harry says he's been amazed by the response to his revelations about his difficulty in dealing with his mother's death. his brother prince william has also opened up about coping with the loss of princess diana.
he said the shock of it is still with him, 20 years later. this report from our royal correspondent peter hunt. and there is flash photography from the start. harry and his helper, melissa, getting the london marathon preparations under way in a race which this year has a special focus on a princely passion — mental health. prince harry has attracted widespread praise this week for his honesty when he spoke of the anguish and the anxiety he suffered for years after his mother's death. it was only right to share my experiences and to hope to encourage others to come forward and reduce or smash that stigma to make it easierfor them to talk about our own experiences, so i wasjust doing my bit. was it liberating? was it scary? no. look, when you have heard so many stories from so many other people, and if you can relate to that, then it is only right that you talk about your own experiences. all of the experts you have had
would have told you one of the key issues is finding out that there is not enough money in some places. what are you going to do about that? that is not, as you probably know, our mission. our mission is to remove the stigma of mental health so that we can provide a platform for people to discuss it. the risk is you could encourage people to seek services that aren't there. that is something that we have been aware of for the last year but the fact of the reality is that, as i say, the appetite is there. once the appetite is there, things will change, i am confident of that. it's not my position and it is not our position or ourjob to do that. we are nonpolitical. we'll do everything we can to encourage the conversation, remove the stigma, so everything else then can take place. opening up about the past is a brotherly trait. in a bbc documentary prince william has provided an insight into the trauma of his bereavement. the shock is the biggest thing, and i still feel it 20 years later about my mother, shock, you know, 20 years later,
and people think it can't last that long but it does. you never get over it. it is such an unbelievably big moment in your life that it never leaves you. you just learn to deal with it. an upbeat harry believes the campaign is at a tipping point. the uk, he hopes, will lead the way in the world by removing the taboos surrounding mental health. sorry i gave you such big scissors. peter hunt, bbc news. and you can get in touch with me and most of the team on twitter. thank you for watching. hello.
after several days of fairly quiet weather taking us through much of the weekend, next week is looking very different. next week's weather will get us talking, stay with me for a tease of what's to come. this is how thursday begins, with more cloud around than recent mornings, not as chilly as it's been on recent mornings, but that cloud will produce some damp weather in places and a bit of patchy rain for northern and western parts of scotland, perhaps into northern ireland and parts of north—west england to begin the day. low cloud around as well. venture into the hills it could be misty and murky and a similar story into snowdonia. a band of thicker cloud into the midlands, wales and yorkshire producing patchy rain, not amounting to much. to the south of that for some it could be a bright start but quite a chilly start here. even here cloud is going to increase, just leaving by the afternoon limited sunny spells, southern england, east anglia. a few brighter breaks into south—east scotland, north—east england, east wales, west midlands and eastern parts of northern ireland but on the whole a good deal of cloud around, patchy rain in north and west in scotland, maybe at times into northern ireland
and north—west england but many places will stay dry. breaking out in the sunshine it will feel warmer, maybe 15, 16 or even 17. going through thursday night we're going to keep a good deal of cloud around, pepping up the rain in northern scotland with a strengthening breeze but for many it looks like a mild start to friday morning. on friday we are going to take this rain southwards across scotland eventually reaching into parts of northern ireland. colder air following this, maybe a few wintry showers developing in shetland during friday. to the south of that for much of england and wales, a good deal of cloud around, some sunny spells and the temperatures peaking into the mid—teens in some spots. friday night we continue taking this weather front southwards across the uk, barely any rain associated with it, but it is the leading edge of cooler air so it will be turning somewhat chillier by the start of the weekend, a touch of frost in a few spots to begin the day. quite a breeze in the north—east, not as chilly as the rest of the uk
into south—west england, maybe south—west wales, a lot of dry weather around with variable cloud and sunny spells. on sunday, england, wales and northern ireland mainly dry but the wind here will pick up. wetter and windier weather will move east across scotland through the day. this area of low pressure north of scotland is significant because into next week it will take colder air south across the uk and some of us will see some snow. keep checking the forecast. the latest headlines from bbc news. i'm mike embley. the main candidates for the french presidency have held their last major rallies before sunday's first round vote. none of the four front—runners is expecting an outright majority — a run—off between the top two is expected in may. at least two people have been shot dead in venezuela in protests against the government of president nicolas maduro. a teenager died in the capital caracas and a woman was killed in san cristobal. tens of thousands took to the streets to demand new elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians. british mps have voted