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WORLD RIGHT NOW WITH HALA GORANI

Kurdistan referendum; Obamacare repeal and replace; Travel ban 3.0; Puerto Rico's hurricane aftermath; Uber apologizes. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired September 25, 2017 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:00:18]

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Tonight, players take a knee and the president picks a fight. What is really behind Donald Trump's issue

with the NFL?

Also, this hour, North Korea says the U.S. has declared war. We'll tell you what they planned to do about it.

And later this --

(VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Celebrating a vote on independence. I speak to the Kurdish foreign minister on this historic referendum day. Not everyone in the

Middle East is happy.

Hello, everyone. I'm Hala Gorani. We are coming to you live from CNN London. This is the WORLD RIGHT NOW.

Right now, we are waiting to hear from the U.S. president, Donald Trump. He is expected to talk about his administration's push for jobs, but it

comes amid a swirl of controversy over this -- NFL players kneeling, locking arms, defying the president saying they are protesting racial

injustice.

Mr. Trump, though, says athletes should be fired because by doing so they are, quote, "disrespecting the flag" because they're not standing up during

national anthem. But the president is unrepentant tweeting earlier that, quote, "Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday, which was a

small percentage of total. These are fans who demand respect for our flag."

In the last hour, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, defended the tweets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This isn't about the president being against anyone, but this is about the president and

millions of Americans being for something, being for honoring our flag, honoring our national anthem, and honoring the men and women who fought to

defend it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Sarah Sanders there. The latest controversy began at a rally in Alabama Friday night where Donald Trump made those controversial remarks.

The whole thing raged throughout the weekend. Joe Johns wraps it up for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it's very disrespectful to our country. I certainly think the owners should do

something about it.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump exacerbating a culture war with his unexpected Friday night.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say get that son of a (inaudible) off the

field right now, out. He's fired.

JOHNS: Despite a day of widespread backlash, the president calling again for an NFL boycott and for players who kneel during the national anthem to

be fired or suspended.

MICHAEL THOMAS, MIAMI DOLPHINS SAFETY: You're the leader of the free world. This is what you are talking about.

LESEAN MCCOY, BUFFALO BILLS PLAYER: Our leader of this country is acting like a jerk.

DREW BREES, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS PLAYER: It is very unbecoming of the office of the president of the United States to talk like to the great people like

that.

JOHNS: Dozens of NFL players taking a knee or sitting during the national anthem Sunday. Other teammates and coaches standing shoulder to shoulder

on the sideline interlocking arms.

JOHN FOX, CHICAGO BEARS COACH: There is no disrespecting the anthem. We just locked arms.

JOHNS: The majority of Steelers players choosing to stay in the locker room until after the anthem was over. Some singers even showing their

solidarity taking a knee along with players.

The president responding saying, "Standing with locked arms is good. Kneeling not acceptable." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sounding off in a

statement saying, "Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the league and the players." Even prominent Trump

backers finding it hard to defend the president.

REX RYAN, FORMER BUFFALO BILLS AND NEW YORK JETS COACH: I'm pissed off, I'll be honest with you, you know, because I supported Donald Trump. I'm

reading these comments and it's -- it's appalling to me.

JOHNS: New England Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, Mr. Trump's friend, who gave a million dollars to the president's inaugural fund says he is deeply

disappointed by the tone of Mr. Trump's comments.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I like Bob very much. He has to take his ideas and go with what he wants.

JOHNS: President Trump adding fuel to the fire by publicly rescinding a White House invitation to the NBA champion, Golden State Warriors Steph

Curry after he said he would not go.

STEPHEN CURRY, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: I don't know, you know, why he needs to target certain individuals. It's not what leaders do.

JOHNS: Curry's longtime rival, Lebron James, criticizing the president's response.

LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: For him to use this platform to divide us even more is not something I could stand for.

JOHNS: The president's attacks on players (inaudible) fans against each other at Sunday's games.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: All right. Joe Johns reporting there. This controversy is about much more than just sport obviously.

[15:05:06] It touches politics, racial tensions, free speech, issues entwined into the very fabric of American society.

I'm joined by CNN's Stephen Collinson, Larry Sabato, the director for the Center of Politics at the University of Virginia. Later we'll be joined by

Jack Brewer, a former NFL player.

Larry, one of the things you tweeted I found interesting over the weekend is "Trump's NFL comments really aren't going to hurt him in his 70 percent

white electorate." You likened it to one of the strategies that Richard Nixon employed decades ago.

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Yes. Those who remember the Nixon administration recall that Nixon became

president and stayed president because the so-called southern strategy in which he was appealing mainly to whites living in the south.

In this case, I think it's more broad than that. Trump is appealing to whites living across the country. Trump has completely given up on any

idea he may had broadening his coalition because it's not going to happen. He is focused on his group.

GORANI: Yes, go ahead.

SABATO: He's focused on his group and that primarily almost overwhelmingly is white. They loved his attack on kneeling for the national anthem. They

responded in various ways. Now obviously, everybody else thinks it's a terrible idea and they are criticizing Trump for inserting himself into yet

another controversy. It's unnecessary, un-presidential, but it's very much Donald Trump.

GORANI: Stephen Collinson, I mean, for people watching from abroad, you know, how do you pick a fight with Lebron James and win? Even if you're

president of the United States, even if you base supports you.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's a good question. I mean, there's one thing about losing a public relations battle with, you

know, perhaps the country's most famous athlete.

But as Larry said this is about politics from Donald Trump's point of view. This is what he does. He seeks areas of discord and alienation in society

whether it's racial or gender-based or everything else.

And then he sorts of inserts himself above that fault line and pushes it apart and the result is that he's attacked by people that he actually likes

to attack him, the media, liberal elites.

This bolsters his own position with his own base. It's very interesting most presidents in modern times at least have sort to use the presidency to

stress national unity and the National Football League has been one of the few areas in American society that's increasingly split by race and

economic disparity and societal fractures where people could have come together.

Now he's inserted himself into yet another area of American life and it shows what a profound effect his presidency is having not on just the

politics of this country, but the experience of living here.

GORANI: It's interesting because it's revealing some of those fault lines that perhaps were more hidden before.

Jack Brewer, a former NFL player joins me now. Thanks for being with us, Jack. Would you have taken a knee as you've been playing in the NFL today?

JACK BREWER, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I think that's a broader question. First off, you know, this president came out and called a bunch of great men who

are fathers and sons and community leaders sons of bitches. That's the big issue.

So, it's not as much about whether or not you take a knee. You make those decisions based upon your team. You know, me personally I think about this

more and more. If I took a knee, I'd probably get on both knees and start to pray and pray for this country.

Because this man going out and saying something out of the side of his ear like that just does not make sense and it is very unfortunate. You know,

and I applaud the National Football League and applaud the owners and I applaud the players for sticking together and showing some unity right now.

The National Football League and its players stick up for what's really the foundation of America. No matter if we're going through a time of crisis

or war, you see I'm down here right now in Houston still trying to help them recover from a horrible, horrible hurricane down here.

We need to be talking about those issues and those issues the National Football League players stand up for and they stand up for America. We

need to get that message out there loud and clear.

GORANI: All right. So, for you it wouldn't be necessarily about that symbolic act, but those other players, Jack Brewer, who did take any of

those, who lost to arms, those who've decided and some of them were booed, those who've decided to symbolically perform that act on the pitch. What

do you make of that? I mean, do you support that?

BREWER: I support them. I support them 100 percent. They did it in a peaceful way. These guys are taxpayers. They paid more taxes than 99.99

percent of people in their age bracket in our country.

[15:10:03] And if they want to -- and if they want to put themselves together and make a statement in a peaceful way, that's their right in

America. This is the United States of America where we have a Constitution that binds us and allowed us to have freedom of speech.

Now I don't support every act, but I'm not going to sit here on national television and talk down about people who want to just push through their

rights and that's what this country is founded on.

I mean, this country was also founded on the backs of slaves as well and we got to keep that in mind. So, there are a lot of racial issues that still

divide our country. We have a large percentage of African-American men incarcerated in this country.

Our education system is failing a lot of the areas that are poor and these things come from a deep, deep history and deep-rooted history of racial

divide. We can't stop talking about that.

And that's one positive thing that we are having right now as we are actually having that conversation.

GORANI: Right. That's I guess the silver lining to all of this. Larry Sabato, what I find interesting is this idea that the national anthem

somehow represents just the flag. That it's forever been played before sports games is actually relatively recent, it dates back to World War II.

Bob Costas, the veteran sports anchor said something very interesting about how the flag and sports are now intertwined. Listen to what he said, what

he told my colleagues this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB COSTAS, NBC SPORTS BROADCASTER: Sports and patriotism and the flag have been conflated to such an extent that people can't separate out any

nuance. Wrapping yourself in the flag and honoring the military is something which no one is going to object to.

We all respect their sacrifice. We all honor their sacrifice and yet what it has come to mean is that the flag is primarily and only about the

military. This is no disrespect to the military.

It's a huge part of the narrative, but Martin Luther King was a patriot. Susan B. Anthony was a patriot. Dissidents are patriots. School teachers

and social workers are patriots.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: And this is interesting, Larry, because this is a recent narrative, isn't it? That the flag is associated solely with respecting

veterans in the military, Larry.

SABATO: Yes. It is and other presidents have tried to do the same thing again mentioning Nixon and Democrats have done as well over the years.

They want to be identified with the flag and patriotism and therefore, they want to associate any dissent about them and their policies as being

unpatriotic.

This is nonsense. As Jack just mentioned, this country was founded on dissent revolution established this country and Donald Trump has pushed

this about as far as he can without raising the inevitable issue of race.

Because the truth is, Hala, if you devoted your entire program to all the racial controversies and scrapes that Donald Trump has been in, you

wouldn't have enough time. He has been prominent in so many of them including leading the birtherism charge against President Obama claiming he

was born in America, a completely false charge.

GORANI: And Stephen Collinson, there is a tweet for every occasion as people have remarked on Twitter, in 2013, Donald Trump tweeted, "The

president should not be telling the Washington Redskins to change their name. Our country has far bigger problems. Focus on them not nonsense."

Obviously, this is something that he said before he was president, but after Harvey, Donald Trump's popularity rating, Stephen, bounced back to 40

percent. Is this going to hurt him or not? I know I asked this after every controversy.

But in this case, you are saying -- we were talking about the NFL here. The NFL is I mean, like baseball. This is an obsession for a lot of

Americans. It's, you know, it's a Sunday thing, white, African-American, other races, all watch football, and is this going to hurt him?

COLLINSON: I think it's probably lightly to harden people's opinions about Donald Trump according to what you believe. (Inaudible) of his approval

rating ticking up was that he started speaking to Democrats and he was supposed to have shown good leadership during the mammoth hurricane

disasters.

He doesn't appear to be learning it, but I think the White House and Donald Trump have made a decision that his political faith whatever it is, is

going to be inextricably linked to his loyal political base.

And I don't think there's anything in this controversy that changes that, and I believe that many people in Donald Trump's base share his views or at

least willing to hear someone speak in a non-politically correct way about the flag and the sort of dog whistles about race and that's just a fact I

think.

GORANI: Jack Brewer, do you think ultimately this is about race?

[15:15:01] I mean, people have made the comment over the weekend that he is attacking African-Amer -- accomplished African-American athletes who are

wealthy. He is not going after the owners. We just lost Jack. Hopefully -- we did.

Anyway, the point I was making, and actually I could put that to my other two guests. He is not going after the rich, you know, owner, some of whom

have donated money to his campaign, Stephen Collinson. He's specifically attacking the black athletes.

COLLINSON: That's right. And the president said this is not about race, but let's remember how this started. This started when Colin Kaepernick, a

former San Francisco 49ers quarterback first took a knee to protest police brutality and the weight of the criminal justice system treats African-

Americans.

So, it's not a credible position to say this is not about race. It's true that he hasn't necessary gone off to the owners. Some of whom are his

friends, but what's really interesting is the number of NFL owners, who are not known to be the most liberal group of people with a great sort of

crusading reforming history.

The way they've come out against the president and his comments, the way the league has sort of tightened its circle. That's also very interesting

about this episode.

GORANI: All right. Sadly, we can't get back to Jack Brewer in Houston, technical issue there. Thanks to Jack Brewer. Thanks to Larry Sabato and

Stephen Collinson as well as always.

OK, from politics in the United States to politics in Germany and Angela Merkel is forging ahead. She is going to form a coalition government a day

after her party's worst election results since the 1940s.

The German chancellor has won a fourth term, but her Christian Democrats bled support to a far-right party, the Alternative For Germany or AFD. As

a result, for the first time in more than 50 years, a right-wing Nationalist Party, some of the members of which have said very xenophobic

and anti-Islam things will hold seats in the federal parliament.

Mrs. Merkel has vowed to get those voters back to her Christian Democrats. What's her strategy? Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): Overall, we had hoped for better results. We didn't realize the movement of voters as much

as you can tell today and as it stands now we lost about 1.3 million voters to the FDP, and 1 million to the AFD. In regard to the AFD, we want to win

them back with good policies and solutions to problems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Now those AFD celebrations from last night came to an abrupt end today. Atika Shubert has our story from Berlin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was supposed to be a victory lap, a press conference to trumpet the arrival of

a new far-right political force, the AFD, Alternative For Germany, instead it ended in disarray. Co-chair, Frauke Petry fighting anarchic dissent in

the party walked out.

FRAUKE PETRY, CO-CHAIR, ALTERNATIVE FOR GERMANY (through translator): I decided not to be a part of the AFD parliamentary group anymore, but will

be an independent deputy in the parliament. Rest assured that I will still be involved in active politics and that my political aim is that we will

bring about a conservative turn for the parliament 2021 in this country. For that I will do everything.

SHUBERT (on camera): So, you might be wondering who are these guys, what do they stand for, and who's in charge? Well, those are questions German

voters may also be wondering the day after they were elected into parliament.

(voice-over): The AFD was only founded in 2013 as an anti-Euro party railing against Germany's debt bailout of Greece. They've barely made a

dent missing the 5 percent threshold for parliament seats.

But in 2015, this happened, Germany opened its doors to nearly a million refugees and the AFD jumped on the issue with the vociferously anti-

immigration platform. The party wants to seal Germany's borders and ban mosque minarets and Muslim face veils claiming that Islam, quote,

"contradicts" Germany's Constitution.

The party tapped into the unease of many Germans wondering how they would accommodate so many new arrivals as well as the groundswell of anger from

far-right extremist groups.

So, who's leading the AFD? Let's start with co-chair, Frauke Petry, a former chemist. She's AFD's moderate although she did suggest last year

that police should shoot at migrants crossing the border illegally, though, she claimed it should be a last resort.

The other softer face is Alice Videl (ph), a former investment banker raising a family with her female partner in Switzerland. She represents a

paradoxically friendly face to a party that advocates traditional families and fights gay marriage.

[15:20:05] Both Petry and Videl (ph) have found themselves having to defend or qualify the fiery statements of their fellow party leaders including a

former member of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democrat, Alex Gowland (ph).

Gowland (ph) says he believes in the need for a German dominant culture and a change in how the country deals with its wartime history. He famously

said people would not want, quote, "someone like Jerome Buating (ph)" Germany's celebrated black footballer as their neighbor.

And within hours of the first election results, he threatened to, quote, "hunt down Angela Merkel" while in Parliament. Fighting words but if

Monday's press conference is any indication the AFD may be too busy battling itself.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GORANI: And Atika Shubert joins me now live from Berlin. So, I imagine Angela Merkel and in fact all mainstream politicians in Germany are hoping

that all of this in-fighting is going to weaken this far-right party.

SHUBERT: Well, certainly, maybe what they're hoping, but what we've seen from the AFD in the past is they may be short on policy and solutions, but

they're very big on fiery rhetoric and so I think we can expect to see a lot of fireworks coming out of the Bundestag, which is not something many

German voters perhaps have seen in the past in the grand coalition.

So, you know, it remains to be seen if they are going to get their leadership squabbles under control before they actually sit down in

Parliament, but it will be interesting to see how they position themselves as the opposition.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Atika Shubert. Thanks for your reporting.

Still to come this evening, the war of words escalates, North Korea says Donald Trump has quote, "declared war" on them. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: A war of words reaching dangerous new levels, North Korea's foreign minister says the U.S. president is declaring war on his country.

Let's get right to the United Nations and speak to Richard Roth. What's been the reaction in New York -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Chinese ambassador was quoted saying negotiations are the only way to go hours after the North

Korean foreign minister in front of the New York hotel that you can see over my left shoulder in front of the U.N. said that Donald Trump's tweet

that said that North Korea may not exist in the future was a declaration of war.

I seemed to recall in the 20 years of bombast from Pyongyang that I think they've issued some declarations of something involving war, but nothing

ever happens. But the stakes are much higher at the moment.

The North Korean foreign minister speaking to reporters in a statement only said that because of what the U.S. has declared that he believes is war

that the North Koreans could do this. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RI YONG HO, NORTH KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make

all self-defensive countermeasures including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers at any time even when they are not yet in said

airspace quarter of our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:25:10] ROTH: Now Air Force bombers flew as far north as they have in the 21st Century a few days ago right off North Korean waters. The White

House spokeswoman, Sarah Sanders in response to the North Korean foreign minister saying the United States has declared war, North Korea said,

that's absurd and that nodded all we've not declared war on North Korea. The suggestion --

GORANI: Richard, we'll get back to you in a moment, but the president in the White House is making an announcement on jobs. Let's listen in.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: -- everything you read about them, it doesn't mean it's necessarily (inaudible). Do they look like nice people? He is a nice

person, Steve. Thank you all. It's a great pleasure to be here with Secretary DeVos, Secretary Costa and Ivanka.

I also want to express my appreciation to Representatives Brandon Burns, Susan Brooks, Lamar Smith, and Virginia Fox, thank you all for being here.

Thank you be very much for being with us. And Jamie Walters, thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you, Susan.

I want to just talk about leadership. It's the most important issue we need leadership in this country. Women and girls and for every child in

America represented by all of the incredible students here today. These are great students. Are you all good students?

Everybody has really terrific marks, right? You're doing fantastic and that's why you're in. I just said before the press came in, what's the

name of this office. Every one of them know that.

As you know the workplace is changing, we need to create new pathways for all our citizens to get the best jobs. When you get out of school, you

want to get great jobs, right?

I've asked Ivanka to lead up the White House efforts on workforce development and the initiative today is a critical part of that endeavor.

Have you seen, Ivanka? Do you know Ivanka?

My administration will do everything possible to provide our children especially kids in underserved areas with access to high-quality education

in science, technology, engineering and math.

You are a good math student? Let's see. What's your strength in school? Science. Science, right? What's your strength? Particular computer

science for Grades K through 12 that's so important now, right.

It's a whole new world. You got to know how to use those computers. Currently, more than half of high schools do not offer computer programming

and nearly 40 percent do not offer physics.

Do you have computer programming in your schools? How about you? Do have them in your schools? You're all pretty good with the computers? It's

important nowadays. Greater access to STEM and computer science programs will ensure that our children can develop the skills they need to compete

and to win in the workforce of tomorrow.

Who likes to win? Anybody like to lose? Better STEM education also means higher paying jobs to American workers and families. You get out of

school, you get great, really great jobs, high paying jobs.

And we are doing well with the employment rolls today. You really good jobs and we want our amazing young Americans to fill these jobs, earn a

great living, lift up their communities, and achieve their American dreams.

The directive I am sharing today with Secretary DeVos at the helm to make STEM education including computer science a priority for the Department of

Education. Is that right, Betsy? It's going to be a big thing what -- that you are doing and that is working out well?

You are moving on it incredibly. The department will explore ways to add or increase computer science to existing K-12 and K-12 and post-secondary

education programs. It also establishes a goal of devoting at least 200, listen to this number, $200 million each year in grants toward funding this

priority.

So, that's 200 million a year. Does that sound like big bucks? It's peanuts, right? You are going to say give us more, right? Now $200

million each year in grants and that's toward funding this very, very important priority.

So, with today's action we will help give our American children the pathway to success in the workforce of tomorrow. Thank you and God bless you all

and I really appreciate your being in the White House.

And I know you're going to take a little tour in a little while, but we start right here in the Oval Office, but it's an honor to have all of you.

And someday you'll be great students and you'll be the leaders of the world - the United States and the world. Right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALA GORANI, CNN HOST, THE WORLD RIGHT NOW: US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office. He tasked his daughter Ivanka with a new jobs creation

initiative.

She is there to his left in the Oval Office, spoke with a few school kids who were gathered there about jobs creation and computer science

initiatives in American schools.

He was asked the question, by the way, about North Korea at the end of this and did not give an answer. North Korea's foreign minister, as we

mentioned before, said that the US had declared war on North Korea.

Well, speaking of that, North Korean citizens will soon be barred from entering the US. That's because of the latest updated travel ban to the

United States.

The last two sparked a massive backlash, but this one, which is much wider ranging and indefinite, got lost in some other headlines. We will bring

you the latest after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The world is waiting to hear the results of a controversial independence referendum in Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Kurdish leaders say the referendum will give them a mandate to pursue statehood apart from Iraq, with whom the Kurdish people have had a

difficult relationship. But even if the results lean toward a split, an independent Kurdistan does not have international backing to say the least.

Let's get straight to my guest Falah Mustafa Bakir joins me now from Erbil. He heads the Department of Foreign Relations for the Kurdistan Regional

Government.

Thanks, minister, for joining us. You've had pressure. You've had threats from Turkey. Turkey said we are going to cut off your oil tap. Iran is

saying no over-flights of the Kurdish region. Baghdad has even one of the MPs on our air earlier said that the Baghdad central government could even

use force if you decide to secede.

Why did you go ahead and hold this referendum anyway?

FALAH MUSTAFA BAKIR, HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN RELATIONS FOR KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT: I can't hear. I cannot hear

GORANI: Can you hear me, Mr. Mustafa. This is Hala Gorani in London. You can hear me now?

BAKIR: Yes, I can hear you.

GORANI: You've received not just pressure, but actually threats from some of your neighbors and the central government in Baghdad.

[15:35:05] Turkey has said we will turn off the oil tap. An MP, a member of parliament, on our air, CNN, earlier said Baghdad could even use force

if the Kurds decide to secede, why did you hold the referendum anyway?

BAKIR: Well, thank you for hosting me. In fact, today was a historic day for the people of Kurdistan peacefully to exercise their right to self-

determination. This came after years of trying to make the arrangement that we had in Baghdad work, but unfortunately it did not work.

In 2003, while we were almost independent, we decided voluntarily to go back to Baghdad and build a federal democratic pluralistic country to

everybody to be a partner, to live in peace within Iraq and with its neighbors.

But, unfortunately, we did not feel the partnership as we did not feel there would be any readiness for Baghdad to fulfill its constitutional

obligation.

We have seen and heard the reactions from the neighboring countries from Baghdad. And, in fact, I want to make it clear that this referendum has

been carried out today. Now, we have entered a new era. There has to be a new arrangement.

They cannot continue to deny this process. This is a legitimate process, a process and the right that is enshrined in the UN chapter. And it is in

the international law. We have not violated any law. We have not committed a crime.

And also to our neighboring countries, we have been a factor for stability and we have wanted to enjoy good relations with the neighboring countries.

GORANI: But, minister, minister, both Turkey who, as you know, really doesn't want this, but also the central government of Iraq, of which you

are a part as a semi-autonomous region, will not recognize the result, even if a yes vote wins, which it's expected to do.

BAKIR: But the point is that you know and I know, the whole world knows, that movements like this to gain independence is not an easy process. It's

not a risk-free process. But we cannot be denied our right.

And where is the free world. Where are the free nations who stand for democracy and human rights? We have tried our best. We did everything to

make it work, but, unfortunately, instead of having a democratic Iraq, we have got a religious Iraq.

We were not promised this Iraq. And again, when we have carried out this process today, we say that the next day we will not declare independence,

we will go to Baghdad to negotiate. This would be a legitimate mandate from the people of Kurdistan to their leadership.

And also, we want to make sure that this does not mean that we want to determine the future status of the disputed territories which call them

areas of Kurdistan outside the KRG administration.

And also, the whole world, the US-led coalition should also see Kurdistan in the last three years. We have played a major role in the fight against

ISIS and extremism.

GORANI: Can I ask you - practically speaking, so I understand - if the yes vote wins in this referendum, and I think the results are in about two or

three days, official, what happens next? You then declare independence, set up borders, all the oil reserves that the Kurdish people live on become

then just - because this is one of the big issues with the central government become the revenues of the state of an independent Kurdistan.

BAKIR: No. In fact, we have made it clear from the beginning that this referendum is to give a legitimate mandate to the leadership to go and

engage with Baghdad in a serious meaningful dialogue in order to address all these issues that need to be addressed.

The important thing is that we want to reach satisfactory solutions to both because we want to ensure a peaceful and lasting relationship with Baghdad

the day after independence.

This is not against the interest of our neighbors. This is not to be hostile to Baghdad. But we have to admit that we failed to bring about an

arrangement of partnership. Let's become two good neighbors that we can have the number of arrangements politically -

GORANI: But I think the biggest issue for Baghdad - I mean, I think one of the biggest issues at this point is the revenue from oil. Would you share

that post-independence?

BAKIR: Well, this is something that needs to be addressed during the negotiations. And the leadership in Kurdistan has clearly put forward that

we are ready to negotiate the borders, natural resources, water resources, anything that needs to be addressed.

We have to bear in mind that we have a sharing history. And also, we will have a border that we share. Therefore, we need to sit down together and

discuss, but we want this process to be peaceful, democratic and satisfactory to both.

GORANI: And you think that it could come - that it could - I mean, do you think there could be conflicts? I mean, we're hearing from elected

officials in Baghdad, we could use force to stop this. Do you think there is that risk?

[15:40:04] BAKIR: We hope we will not reach that stage. We have suffered. I'm sure the rest of Iraq have suffered under tyranny of Saddam Hussein

regime and also in the last three years under the terrorism of ISIS. Therefore, let's sit down together, address all these issues peacefully.

As far as we are concerned, in Kurdistan region, we are determined that we will go for a peaceful solution and also we will try to do this through

dialogue and negotiation. We have no intention whatsoever, neither to provoke, nor to bring about any issue that would not be addressed

peacefully.

GORANI: But you would defend yourself, obviously.

BAKIR: We're committed to peace and dialogue. Sorry?

GORANI: You would defend yourself, though, obviously.

BAKIR: Of course, we defend ourselves because we did not surrender to Saddam Hussein and we did not surrender to ISIS. We will not surrender.

But the point is that we are not thinking about that. We are thinking about peaceful solutions, about dialogue, the need to sit down together.

And we hope that Baghdad realizes that today marks a new era in the relationship between Erbil and Baghdad. We have failed. We were unable to

bring about a system that could function for both sides.

And this is not the end of the world. There have been other nations who have gained their independence and Kurdistan will not be the last.

But my message to the international community and to the free world is, take care of Kurdistan which has been a partner in the fight against ISIS,

which has hosted refugees and IDPs and protected minorities. This has been the success story of the United States and the coalition, support process

here in Kurdistan.

GORANI: Thank you, Falah Mustafa, the Kurdish foreign minister for joining us from Erbil. We appreciate your time this evening.

BAKIR: Thank you.

GORANI: Thank you. Back to American politics now. While President Trump grapples with protesting NFL players, the normal everyday gears of

government grind on.

And you may not have seen these headlines as prominently displayed as the NFL controversy. Immigration reform. There's a new travel ban going into

effect, 3.0, and the latest Republican version of a plant to repeal and replace Obamacare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PROTESTERS: No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty. No cuts to Medicaid, save our liberty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: The hearing into that healthcare proposal happening on Capitol Hill right now. It was disrupted by protesters.

We've got both of these stories covered. Sunlen Serfaty is outside that Senate finance hearing and has the latest on this protest you just saw.

First, though, let's get to Jessica Schneider for the details on the extended travel ban. And, Jessica, obviously many of our viewers around

the world, especially those in the Middle East, really want to know what this means for them, especially people who hold Iraqi passports, Syrian

passports. What does this mean for people hoping to travel to the United States from that part of the world from countries on the list?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There are eight countries on the list, Hala, and this will be a permanent ban. It replaces the

temporary one we saw over the summer.

So, it begins October 18. It does affect these eight countries - Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen. Iraq not on

that list.

And in countries like North Korea and Syria, it is an all-out ban, no travelers allowed to the United States unless they're valid visa holders

already.

In others of those countries, only certain categories of travelers are restricted. For example, in Venezuela, it's only certain government

officials and their families who are banned.

So, Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, she's called this version of the ban tailored to protect the United States. But here in the

US, many civil rights groups are still calling foul.

One group said - they went so far as to say that it's part of the administration's "ugly white supremacist agenda", but the White House is

countering that, saying that all of these countries, the eight of them were chosen as part of a nearly two-month long review because they didn't meet

security standards when they screen their own travelers.

And the White House also saying that this isn't a Muslim ban. They are pointing to North Korea and Venezuela as examples of that.

But, Hala, we are expecting legal challenges here in the United States, many saying that North Korea, Venezuela just adding to the list, to try to

mask that this is actually a Muslim ban.

So, of course, this new permanent travel ban, it goes into effect October 18. The restrictions do vary country by country. But important to note

for people out there around the world, if you have a valid visa or green card already from those eight affected countries, you will be allowed into

the US. Hala?

GORANI: OK. And by the way, we've just put it on a graphic for our viewers. We picked three countries. So, Syria is basically one of two

nations, as you mentioned, Jessica, hit with the harshest restrictions. Until October 18, Syrian nationals with a bona fide relationship with a

person or entity in the US can enter.

But after that day, Jessica, all Syrians, immigrants or not, will be barred under the new restrictions. The only other country with an outright ban is

North Korea. It's not like you had many north Korean tourists coming to the US of late.

[15:45:09] For Iran, only students will be allowed in, subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.

People have been asking me this question. So, maybe you'd be able to answer it. If you are a Syrian national with a valid visa, is it for the

duration of the visa that you're allowed to enter or is it starting October 18th a full ban?

SCHNEIDER: It is. If you have a valid visa and it's in effect now or post October 18th, you are allowed into the United States. It's only for those

people going to seek perhaps new visas as of October 18th or those whose visas aren't valid post October 18th and they are trying to get in this

country.

But, yes, I mean, this is the marked difference between the first travel ban that was put into effect back in February that really just imploded and

caused chaos at airports around the country and in other countries.

This one is very specific. It says that if you do already have this visa, if you have a green card, if you're a lawful permanent resident here in the

United States, this ban will not apply to you. So, those people should rest assured. Hala?

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much for clearing that up, Jessica Schneider.

Now, Sunlen Serfaty joins us with more on the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. And we saw these protesters today on Capitol Hill.

What was their issue with the proceedings or with the legislation being -?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, these hearings are typically very tame, but I have to say the hearing today in front of Senate

Finance Committee over the Republicans' bill got pretty intense.

You can tell by these pictures we're showing right now how many protesters, there were hundreds gathered outside the committee room just waiting to get

in, many others were able to get inside with the intention to disrupt the hearing and the proceedings from going on.

They are, of course, being very vocal, very loud in their opposition to this bill, many people chanting kill the bill, kill Trumpcare as they dub

this new version of the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill, that version which was only just updated last night. And they have, of course, as you know,

until Saturday to get this bill through.

We did hear from Senator Graham, Senator Cassidy in front of the hearing today defending their bill, speaking as to why they believe it's should go

through.

But at many points, they were interrupted by those protestors who were escorted away, some in wheelchairs being dragged away by Capitol Hill

police, certainly interesting that both senators, those Republican senators defending their bill.

While the writing right now is almost on the wall, there is a lot of opposition to this bill, a lot of senators still waiting to see how they

will vote. But, right now, I think it's safe to say really is teetering on the balance of collapse even after these revisions were made. Hala?

GORANI: Right. And with the president's tweets about the NFL, it might get lost that this could be another big legislative loss for Republicans.

SERFARTY: That's certainly right. And that point is not lost on Republicans up here. They ran for the last seven years on repealing and

replacing Obamacare. This is one of the chief campaign promises of many Republicans up here on Capitol Hill.

They want to get this win. They want to get this through. Throughout the summer, of course, there were various efforts, some which picked up more

steam than others. So, certainly, if this bill goes through and fails, that would be a huge embarrassment not only for the Republican Party, but

for the White House who is certainly behind this bill.

President Trump has been tweeting about this bill. So, it will be interesting to see how the schedule shapes up for the week and that's where

we can really learn a lot.

If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings the bill to the floor, that indicates that he likely has the votes, he likely will want to save

face and not bring the bill to a vote if he knows he doesn't have it. Hala?

GORANI: All right. Sunlen Serfaty, thanks very much, on Capitol Hill.

Still to come on the program. A crisis for Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria causes major infrastructure damage. We'll show you people directly

affected. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:51:11] GORANI: Rescuers are still digging through rubble six days after that earthquake struck Mexico. Now, the death toll has climbed to

324 people as more victims are pulled from the debris.

Authorities say dozens are still missing and the rescue effort will continue for at least two more weeks until officials are "absolutely

certain" that no one else is missing.

Western Puerto Rico is on flood watch right now as officials monitor a vital dam. All people living nearby should evacuate immediately is the

message from the National Weather Service. It could take months for infrastructure to be fully repaired.

CNN's Bill Weir is in Puerto Rico with more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Aguas Buenas, the Good Water, is a town of about 28,000 south of San Juan.

First of all, the first thing you see as you drive up in the highlands, it looks like a bomb went off. This is lush tropical greenery. Imagine the

flowers and the foliage. It's like a lawn mower in the sky came down and it's like that across the island.

But this house is in a neighborhood perched right on a ridge. It's so beautiful up here. And this is Deana and her husband Miguel. Say hi.

She's OK. She's OK. Her son Miguel, here's the little dog. Miguel, hello, hello. He is doing OK. So, they survived thankfully, but they're

very worried because her husband Miguel, who's a Vietnam war veteran, is bedridden inside and he needs insulin and so refrigeration is a matter of

life and death.

And the power is out for most of Puerto Rico and here's why. Look at this. One of the main transmission towers that goes to San Juan crushed this

home. Thankfully, the man who lives here evacuated before the storm. He is in a shelter.

But only about 50 people in this town out of 28,000 evacuated. Most rode it out. And so, search and rescue teams aren't able to go check on

everyone because the roads are impassable, as you can see right here. This is not something you fix with a bucket truck.

This will take helicopters. This will take months. But as we follow the line across, imagine this scene is being replayed across Puerto Rico and

the need is so desperate.

I just spoke with the mayor here, Javier, and he told me that there were no deaths during the storm, but six after the storm, including a 45-year-old

man who died of a heart attack at the hospital because the hospital had no power. They couldn't help him.

He says they need water and they need power and they need all the bare essentials. But he did say, I have a message for Puerto Ricans in New York

and Boston and Florida that we have a strong heart and noble hearts and we will rebuild.

But if this is any indication - and we're just getting started today, exploring, if this is any indication, Puerto Rico may arise again, but

they're going to need a ton of help and a lot of time.

GORANI: Bill Weir there in Puerto Rico. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:55:39] GORANI: Uber's CEO has said I'm sorry to the people of London, days before the ride-hailing app is due to be booted from the British

capital.

The San Francisco company won't have its license renewed at the end of this month with British regulators, saying they have concerns about safety.

But in a statement, Uber's new CEO said we will appeal this decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we

must also change. The mayor of London has welcomed this.

Fellow tech giant Facebook is resisting calls to publicly release Russia- linked ads that targeted American voters last year, but one Democratic lawmaker is not giving up the fight on this.

Facebook has already provided data about the pro-Trump propaganda to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. And CEO Mark Zuckerberg says he's taking

new steps to prevent future ads like those linked to foreign governments.

But speaking to CNN, SEN. Mark Warner said the public needs to see firsthand how they can be targeted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: We've not received any other information yet. They will disclose that to us next week. We want to try to find a

way to then to make some of those ads and other information public.

But at the end of the day, this is really about the public's need to know both the source of the content that's coming at them from a political

context and to be assured that if a series of individuals are liking a certain story or liking a certain account that those individuals are

actually who they represent themselves to be, not Russian agents, for example.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: The senator, Mark Warner. Check out our Facebook page, speaking of Facebook, Facebook.com/HalaGoraniCNN. All real there.

I'm Hala Gorani. This has been THE WORLD RIGHT NOW. Thanks for watching. "Quest Means Business" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END