Refugee Repatriations Delayed after No Rohingya Volunteer; Netanyahu Defends Cease-fire with Gaza Militants; Endless Cycle of
<Show: CNN NEWSROOM>
<Date: November 15, 2018>
<Head: Refugee Repatriations Delayed after No Rohingya Volunteer;
Netanyahu Defends Cease-fire with Gaza Militants; Endless Cycle of
Mideast Violence; Ruling Expected Thursday in CNN Lawsuit against
Trump; PM May Secures Cabinet Backing On Draft Brexit Deal; China
Makes Opening Bid In Trade Talks With U.S.; Sources: White House And
Cabinet Shakeup Coming; Michael Avenatti Arrested For Domestic
Violence; 13 Million People Under Red Flag Fire Warning; U.S.
Lawmakers Aim To Hold China Accountable For Alleged Uyghur Abuses.
Aired 1-2a ET - Part 1>
<Sect: News; International>
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It’s alive, its alive. The British Prime Minister’s draft breaks it deal survives for another day squeaking through a very divided cabinet. The next hurdle (INAUDIBLE) Parliament where there’s overwhelming opposition. Let’s make a deal. Chinese officials offer a series of trade concessions to the Trump administration. They’re short of us demands but a sign both sides are still working towards an agreement. And the killing fields of Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees refusing to return to the place for just over a year ago they were the victims of a military-backed campaign of genocide.
Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I’m John Vause, great to have you with us. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
The British Prime Minister’s draft Brexit deal has survived for another day but only just. After months of doubts and setbacks, a deeply divided cabinet approved Theresa May’s plan for divorcing the European Union. Mrs. Mays proposal avoids a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland or any trade agreement is negotiated and what’s called a backstop provision which keeps the Irish border open to trade and commerce even if no trade deal is reached by the end of 2020.
Confusing? Absolutely. In fact, there’s more than 500 pages of confusing in all this. So here’s CNN’s Bianca Nobilo.
BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Today the Prime Minister managed to get her cabinet to agree on a draft Brexit text after a marathon five- hour Cabinet session here at Downing Street this afternoon. At around 7:00 p.m. London time, the Prime Minister addressed the nation telling them that she believed in her heart and her head that she was choosing the right course for Brexit. She said, she anticipated difficult days to come but said that the choice was essentially between no deal or her deal which would ensure jobs and security.
Now, that’s an argument she’s been taking to cabinet and she’ll have to take to Parliament too threatening Remainers with the idea of a No Deal if they don’t back her and Brexiters with the notion of a second referendum or unpredictable chaos if they don’t support her plan. Now, cabinet is on side but sources tell CNN that the meeting was incredibly tense and cabinet is just the first hurdle that Teresa May needs to pass. The next is trying to get that deal through the houses of parliament and they are deeply divided even more so than cabinet and it’s anyone’s guess whether or not resume has the parliamentary arithmetic to move her deal through Parliament.
But regardless, today was a historic moment. A prime minister who never supported Brexit moving the United Kingdom one definitive step closer to leaving the European Union. Bianca Nobilo, London.
VAUSE: I’m joined now by Tim Gruenwald, he’s Program Director of American Studies at Hong Kong University. Tim, thank you for coming with -- thank you for coming in to see us. After a five-hour long meeting with her cabinet, Prime Minister Theresa May, she stepped outside number ten basking in the warmth of a rare win, the first Brexit hurdle was cleared and there she was a woman alone. There are 23 other members of the British Cabinet, not one seem willing to stand by their Prime Minister. It’s not exactly a vote of confidence is it?
TIM GRUENWALD, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, AMERICAN STUDIES, HONG KONG UNIVERSITY: Indeed, indeed. It was a much more contentious cabinet meeting that she could ever have hoped for lasting almost five hours reports that indicate that some opponents were even reduced to tears. So it’s -- that doesn’t bode very positively for the coming days and the upcoming decision in the parliament.
VAUSE: Even in that moment when the Prime Minister was outside number ten, she continued to try and sell this draft agreement it seems to anyone who would listen. This is part of what she said. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The choice before us is clear. This deal which delivers on the vote of the referendum which brings about control of our money laws and borders, ends free movement, protects jobs, security and our union, all leave with no deal, or leave no Brexit at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The only problem is that what she said there is not true. Nowhere in this draft agreement is there a mention of the fact that the U.K. is actually getting back control of anything. It’s staying in a customs union, it can’t leave with our E.U. permission, borders remained open to E.U. citizens, billions of dollars we pay to Brussels every year. It seems almost irony now that the Brexiters campaigned on a slogan of take back control. GRUENWALD: Indeed, indeed. Especially for the agreed transition period of 21 months, nothing will change at all. The borders between Northern Ireland and Ireland will remain open. They had to make tremendous concessions from the point of view of the Brexit hardliners that they will be loath to swallow and that will lead most likely to at least one or two cabinet resignations and which will further cloud the debates in the parliament.
[01:05:34] VAUSE: It just gets to the point of asking, at the end of the day, this is what the Brexit looks like. What’s the point?
GRUENWALD: Indeed, indeed. Not much will change from an economic standpoint for the foreseeable future. The Brexit hardliners will be very displeased with the long transition period, the possibility of extending that even further. The good news is of course, is coming out of Europe that you know, there is now hope, a sliver of hope for avoiding a hard exit. And good news for the three million E.U. citizens living in Britain as well as the one million British citizens living in the E.U. for both of whom nothing will change, but you’re completely right.
VAUSE: This sliver of hope to stay alive, the next hurdle will be trying to win over a majority of MPs in the British Parliament. Here is a sample of question time from the British Parliament on Wednesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: So does the Prime Minister still intend to what a false choice to Parliament between her botch deal or no deal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister.
MAY: Can I say to the gentleman that he’s wrong in the description that he set out. But can I also say to him, time and time again, he stood up in this house and complained but the government isn’t making progress, the government isn’t anywhere close to a deal. Now when we’re making progress and close to a deal, he’s complaining about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: It’s no surprise that Theresa May did not say when that vote would happen. She gave no date because right now it seems she doesn’t have the numbers. There was likely -- what’s the likelihood that she ever will?
GRUENWALD: From looking at it from now, it’s a slim likelihood. A lot will depend on the statements today that announced for today on Thursday in the parliament for further explaining. And indeed as you put it selling the deal, a lot of selling still remains to be done in order to close this deal for Theresa May. If of course, this fails, this would be a doomsday scenario for her and much, much more the future of British E.U. relations with the likelihood of a hard, hard Brexit. VAUSE: Tim, it seems as if Theresa May got through maybe one hurdle hour and there is so much more for her to do that it still seems like an incredibly uphill climb for the British Prime Minister. Thanks for coming in. We appreciate it.
GRUENWALD: Thank you very much. Thanks for having me.
VAUSE: We have this just in. Sources telling CNN China has made what amounts to an opening bid and restarted trade talks with the United States. One source says the China offer is nothing new, well short of U.S. demands and both sides are still at an impasse, but adding the channels are now open. CNN’s Matt Rivers live in Beijing with the details. So just as a reminder, Matt, both the U.S. and China have been locked in this trade war for months. So it’s hoped if both sides are talking at least, maybe they can find a way to roll back billions of dollars in tariffs each side has placed on imports from the other.
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that’s what everyone is hoping. But based on what we’re hearing from these two sources, John, people familiar with the Chinese offer that was given to Washington, it doesn’t seem like we’re anywhere close to that. Basically what we’re hearing from our sources is that the Chinese offer is just a rehash of things they’ve asked for before things -- or they’ve offered before, things like relatively or limited a select -- selective -- that’s the word I’m looking -- selective lifting of certain tariffs that they’ve put on products coming in here to China.
And for the Trump Administration, they have been consistent on this. It’s going to take more than that. There was nothing in this offer apparently from China that has to do with force technology transfers, that has to do with industrial espionage, that has to do with intellectual property theft. Those are those real structural reforms that the Trump administration has been sticking to and that apparently, China is not willing to offer. So yes they’re talking, that’s a good thing, but if this is the best that China can put forward according to these two sources, then it’s unclear how that really solves any issues.
[01:10:06] VAUSE: There’s also a time crunch here though, trying to get something done between these two negotiating teams because the G20 meeting is not far away and that’s where Trump and Xi are expected to maybe get together and actually talk about this.
RIVERS: Absolutely. And you know, especially given the nature of these two leaders. You know, on the U.S. side, you know, the administration, the cabinet officials have really shown no ability to negotiate as a unit on behalf of the president. The President ultimately has the final say and we know that he’s a mercurial guy who can change his mind at the last minute. And when it comes to China, you better believe that it’s Xi Jinping, the President of China, that ultimately decides what’s happening here. So what lots of people are saying is well, maybe it doesn’t actually matter how much they go back and forth. Both sides go back and forth with negotiations and offers and that kind of thing.
What actually matters is that meeting at the G20. And so if the criticism of g20 s in years past, John, has been well, it’s nothing more than a photo-op, we could actually see some news come out of this particular G20 in Buenos Aires in just a couple of weeks’ time.
VAUSE: You mean it’s just a photo-op? I mean, coming for all those years it’s just a photo-op? Matt, thank you. Talk soon. To U.S. politics now and what’s being described by aides is a darker than normal cloud hovering over the Oval Office. With Democrats taking control of the House, a report looming in the Russia investigation, a widely criticized trip to Paris, all leaving the U.S. President in a foul mood and his staff may pay the price. With the president confirming on Wednesday, a major shake-up of White House staff is on the way. Here’s CNN’s Jeff Zeleny reporting it.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After projecting optimism a week ago after the Midterm elections --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was a big day yesterday, an incredible day.
ZELENY: Tonight, President Trump’s mood is anything but. He’s isolated and growing more furious by the day a White House officials tell CNN, with one bluntly saying yes, he’s pissed at damn near everyone. And tonight he’s searching for a scapegoat. In an Oval Office interview with the Daily Caller, the President revived old conspiracy theories about voter fraud.
The Republicans don’t win and that’s because of potentially illegal votes, he told the conservative Web site. When people get in line that have absolutely no right to vote and they go around in circles. Sometimes they go to their car, put on a different hat, put on a different shirt, come in and vote again. Nobody takes anything. It’s really a disgrace what’s going on.
After announcing his support for a bipartisan prison reform bill tonight, he did not answer questions about the fraud allegations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have evidence that people are doing voter fraud?
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody.
ZELENY: There is no evidence to back up the claim aimed at the Florida recount, but it offers a window into the President’s state of mind as the White House heads into uncharted territory with Democrats assuming control of the House and Special Counsel Robert Mueller inching closer to issuing a report on the Russia investigation. A day after First Lady Melania Trump launched a public grenade across the White House saying Deputy National Security Advisor Mira Ricardel no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House, she reported to work today, a rare personal rebuke from Mrs. Trump.
CNN has learned she’s been quietly calling for her firing for weeks because of a conflict over her trip to Africa last month. When the problem wasn’t solved, Mrs. Trump went public. All that is a far bigger shake-up is looming. Even as the President says he will soon decide the fate of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, she was at the U.S.-Mexico border today alongside defense secretary James Mattis receiving a briefing from military commanders.
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY, UNITED STATES: And it’s obviously evolving very quickly which is why the transport for CBP is helpful.
ZELENY: The President has made little secret of his dissatisfaction with Nielsen on his to signature issues immigration and border security. It could touch off a domino of departures including White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who was Nielsen’s topped advocate inside the administration. The President is already talking to a handful of potential replacements for Kelly including elevating Vice President Pence’s Chief of Staff Nick Ayers to the post. But even before his name, CNN has learned there’s been aggressive pushback against him with some senior aides even threatening to resign if he’s tapped for the job.
And talk of a staff shake-up has led to an actual development in the staff shake-up. Just a short time ago, the White House announcing if they are indeed going to remove that Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardel from her position. Of course, she is the one who got in the crosshairs with the First Lady’s office. Just yesterday, the White House has waited some 24 hours for resolution on that. But White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders sending out a statement just a few moments ago saying indeed that she’s going to transition outside of the White House, will still have some type of job in the administration but clearly a sign here that the First Lady’s a very unusual rebuke certainly worked in this case. Jeff Zeleny, CNN the White House.
[01:14:52] VAUSE: Attorney Michael Avenatti has made bail after being arrested for suspicion of domestic violence. He calls allegations completely bogus and fabricated to harm his reputation. Police did not name the alleged victim. Avenatti is well known for representing the adult film star Stormy Daniel’s and her legal action against President Trump in his 2016 hush money payment to keep her quiet about their alleged affair.
Firefighters in California appeared to be getting the upper hand, the worst wildfires the state has ever seen. The death toll has risen to 58 and is expected to continue to rise with more than 100 people now reported missing in the state’s north. Late details now from CNN’s Nick Watt.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In Southern California, another completely separate fire exploding east of Los Angeles. Whipped by those same Santa Ana winds creating carnage across California.
And another dangerous flare-up on the western edge of the enormous Woolsey Fire around Malibu not near homes but those hot dry gusty winds can carry dangerous burning embers far and wide.
Two dead in Malibu, so far and inland in Agoura Hills, another body found, authorities suspect that fatality also fire related.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, God. Please, God.
WATT: 13 million people remain under red flag warnings, hundreds of thousands forced to flee from their homes.
REBECCA HACKETT, ESCAPED WOOLSEY FIRE, MALIBU: Please, God. Please, God, can you put me out of here.
I just thought maybe I was going to die. I just -- I was like I just have to keep going or I can’t turn around, I can’t stop, I have to just keep going.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were all left in the dark.
WATT: At a meeting for the Malibu, evacuated emotions high, tempers’ hot.
NICK STEWART, HOMEOWNER, MALIBU: I mean, the evacuation was not smooth. I had to hear about this smooth evacuation on the radio 100 times while I’m sitting in that Zuma parking lot. Wondering if I’m going to die from the smoke.
Meanwhile, in Northern California, through the ash and rubble that was once a town called Paradise, they’re still searching for the dead. The toll will rise. This already the deadliest fire in California’s history.
KARYN BARTLEY, EVACUEE, PARADISE, CALIFORNIA: Our dream is gone right now. But I just want to say that everybody out here has been so gracious, and we’re so thankful for our friends who have been so supportive.
WATT: Nearly 7,700 homes burned and counting lost to the fast-moving flames of the so-called Camp Fire at its peak consuming every second an area the size of a football field.
Cal Fire creating this interactive map. All that red is destroyed, those tiny chunks of black, the only areas unaffected. One official says, in his 30 years of service, he’s never seen such destruction.
In less than a week, an area around four times the size of Boston has burned. There is a little bit of hope on the horizon. The winds are dropping and some rain is forecast for the end of next week. But until then, California is still a tinderbox. Nick Watt, CNN, Malibu, California.
VAUSE: Well, that the forecast there from Nick Watt, let’s get the forecast now from Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. So, Pedram, we know that it’s dry, we know that it’s slowly getting better, but, of course, when will the rain come? PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, you know, so the rainfall is in the forecast that has been for a couple of days, and that consistency is what we’re looking for. At this point, the transition and the shift of the weather pattern happens.
The middle of next week, and as we go in towards Thursday and Friday of next week’s we’re still about nine days out. The rainfall is going to be pushing it across this region if things play out as we hope. But you notice, the winds have died down and they’re going to continue to die down, down from the 120 KPH that we saw on the gust a couple of days ago, to 40 kilometers per hour expected for Thursday afternoon.
But notice, you get up into the higher elevations of Ventura and Los Angeles, and also San Diego counties. That’s where we have critical concerns still in place. And, of course, those are the areas that are seeing the large active fires, and humidity is going to remain low, fuels plentiful across this region, and again, with all of that said, still seeing firefighting efforts make some ground up to 52 percent containment there.
Well, to the north still locked in at 35 percent, but at least, we have an expected containment date -- full containment date of November 30th at this point. But I want to show you how things played out earlier in the year across the state of California.
Look at the rainfall. In particular, Northern California, quite a bit of it in the month of April, and then fast-forward to the right-hand side of the screen that was in July, non-existent. And this really plays a significant role in all of this, John. Because, of course, vegetation flourishes and just like that, you cut off the moisture and it has not rained in some of these areas since April believe it or not.
So, we’ve gone now on some six, seven, months of no rainfall. You have plenty of fuel, and that is what’s being consumed right now. And, of course, the smoke, the haze, it’s all apparent across this region and his impacted flights upwards of nearly 300 flights that have either been canceled or delayed in San Francisco.
And again, as the winds shift, the humidity’s go up, a rain comes in, all of this will get a help here from Mother Nature, at least, John.
VAUSE: From moving here, the air is terrible and it’s going to be a while, I guess before it gets better. Pedram, thank you.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
[01:20:01] VAUSE: When we come back here, reports of brainwashing sessions in China, all part of what U.S. lawmakers are calling in “human rights violation”. A live report from Hong Kong in just a moment.
VAUSE: U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pushing legislation to hold China accountable for alleged wide-scale human rights abuses of the country’s minority Uyghur Muslims.
A congressional report alleges as many as 1 million Uyghurs have been forced into re-education camps, where former detainee say they endured brainwashing sessions and were forced to study Communist Party propaganda.
The Chinese defend the camp, saying it’s just part of the fight against Islamic extremism. CNN’s Ivan Watson live now from Hong Kong with more.
You know, Ivan, the Uyghurs have long complained of being the victims of discrimination and harassment by Beijing. I guess, I mean now, it seems someone might be listening.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And what’s remarkable is that this is a collection of Senators in the U.S. from the Republican and Democratic parties which rarely agree on anything these days, but they put together this bipartisan piece of legislation. That is called the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2018.
And it calls attention to what appears to be a widening Chinese crackdown in Xinjiang Province of what the legislation says is the mass internment of over 1 million Uyghurs of this ethnic and Muslim religious minority. And calls for sanctions in response to that.
And it also calls attention to and calls for an end to what the legislation says is a policy of threats and intimidation against U.S. citizens and residents -- legal residents of Uyghur extraction. And highlights what it says is a pattern of abuse targeting the relatives of six Radio Free Asia journalists of Uyghur descent.
WATSON: Everyday, Gulchehra Hoja, steps up to the microphone and speaks to her homeland. Hoja is a journalist with U.S. government- funded Radio Free Asia in Washington, D.C. She broadcasts in Uyghur, the language of an ethnic Muslim minority from the Western Xinjiang region of China. These days, Hoja lives in fear for her family back home.
[01:24:57] GULCHEHRA HOJA, JOURNALIST, RADIO FREE ASIA: So, this is my brother. This is my last picture with him. We don’t know where he is now. My cousins, father’s side and the mother’s side. They are missing same day.
WATSON: Hoja says, at least, 23 of her relatives went missing on February 1st, 2018. She hasn’t heard from any of them since. Six Uyghur employees of Radio Free Asia, say their relatives back in Xinjiang have disappeared in the last year.
MAMATJAN JUMA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, RADIO FREE ASIA: Three of my brothers and two of my sisters are missing, I lost contact with my mom.
HOJA: Those region, all have camps. WATSON: All feared detained in a shadowy network of Chinese prisons. Reports of the mass incarceration of up to a million Uyghurs, the subject of inquiry at a recent United Nations Human Rights panel in Geneva.
TAMARA MAWHINNEY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GLOBAL AFFAIRS CANADA: We are deeply concerned by credible reports of the mass detention, repression, and surveillance of Uyghurs and other Muslims and Xinjiang.
WATSON: After initially denying the existence of prison camps, Beijing now says it is sending an unspecified number of people for vocational training free of charge to combat the spread of terrorism. And adds that they are free to leave when they complete their courses.
This recent report narrated by Chinese state T.V. highlights one of these training centers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Most of the students are not proficient in Chinese. They are easily instigated and coerced by terrorist and extremist ideologies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If I had not come here to study, maybe I ought to follow those religious extremists and walked down the path of crime.
WATSON: Uyghurs outside of China express alarm at the number of people who are disappearing.
SEAN ROBERTS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Virtually, every Uyghur I’ve spoken to in the last year and a half has family members who’ve been detained in these camps. This is a social engineering project that has very little precedent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The focus will be on building economic corridors based on existing international transport routes.
WATSON: The Chinese government wants to make Xinjiang an important international hub for its ambitious belt and road initiative. But Beijing has struggled to assimilate Xinjiang’s indigenous Uyghurs.
HOJA: You cannot just force people to love you or accept you.
WATSON: In Washington, Gulchehra Hoja, says her 74-year-old mother described harsh prison-like conditions when she was detained last February.
HOJA: As my mother described, they mistreated people, they torture.
WATSON: After months under house arrest, Hoja says her mother’s phone went completely silent last month. She fears she is once again in detention. With no word from her loved ones, Hoja is far from home giving a voice to the voiceless.
(END VIDEOTAPE) WATSON: John, the U.S. legislation, it proposes imposing sanctions on some top Chinese government officials including the Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo, who is accused of being behind this crackdown in the autonomous region. Also calls for the prohibition of the sale of U.S. goods that could be purchased by the state in that region.
The Chinese foreign ministry responded to questions about this legislation this week. And the foreign ministry spokesperson engaged in some remarkable whataboutism. Highlighting the fact that U.S. lawmakers were spending taxpayer money on this when they should be focusing on getting their own house and order, and began citing statistics about examples of racial discrimination in the U.S.
For example, the fact that African-Americans are convicted of murder on a much higher rate than Caucasians in the U.S. And an example of whataboutism in the midst of what truly does by many of the anecdotal accounts we’re hearing and from human rights groups appear to be a massive detention of Uyghur Muslims on an almost industrial scale in that Western province. John.
VAUSE: That is -- that is a tactic they have used before and I’m sure they would use again. But it is well worth noting. Thank you, Ivan. Ivan Watson there, live for us in Hong Kong.