Return to Transcripts main page


Centrist Coalition In Dead Heat As Far Right Surges; Many Russians Upset About Plans To Raise Retirement Age; Mass Games Celebrated New Message; North And South Korea To Hold Talks; U.S. Open Fines Serena Williams $17,000 For Violations; White House Hunts for Op-Ed Writer; CBS CEO Moonves Out Amid Allegations; The Red Sea's Resilient Coral Reefs; Alibaba Co-Founder Jack Ma To Step Down. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 10, 2018 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Sweden's far-right party gains ground in parliamentary elections and hopes to become the kingmaker in coalition talks. Plus no nukes, no long-range missiles in sight. North Korea's annual celebration focuses less on war and more on the economy. And hurricane season, we are monitoring a trio of hurricanes in the Atlantic. Florence has its sights set on the U.S. East Coast. Live from the CNN center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier, it's great to have you with us.

A right-wing party when neo-Nazi roots is set to become a bigger political force in Sweden, one of the world's most liberal countries. Far-right movements have made major gains in elections across Europe and now the anti-migrant, Sweden Democrats are celebrating their best results ever. This is a major blow for the center-left. With most votes counted, the ruling Social Democrats and their coalition are ahead by less than half a percentage point. The center-right alliance led by the moderates is in a very close second. It's going to be difficult for them to form a government.

Meanwhile, the far-right party we were telling you about is in third jumping almost five percentage points from the previous election four years ago. Our Senior International Correspondent Atika Shubert reports from Stockholm.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the preliminary count is finally in and we're at the watch party of the Social Democrats. This is the party that has dominated Swedish politics for decades. They managed to stay on top but still has the worst result they've had in nearly a century. Here's how Prime Minister and party leader Stefan Lovan explained it.

STEFAN LOVAN, PRIME MINISTER, SWEDEN (through translator): We wanted to see a better result. There's no doubt about that. But despite this, the voters have made the Social Democrats the biggest party.

SHUBERT: Now, the insurgent far-right party, the Sweden Democrats came in third. They weren't quite able to out the center-right moderates as the largest opposition party but it is certainly enough as the Sweden Democrats leader Jimmie Akesson told supporters it is enough to drive there are no more immigrants agenda.

JIMMIE AKESSON, LEADER, SWEDEN DEMOCRATS (through translator): We have nothing more to give but Sweden, friends. We are not satisfied. We are not satisfied. We see that we are the selections winner but now we enter a new mandate period and now we are going to get influence over Swedish politics for real.

SHUBERT: Now the Sweden Democrats campaigned hard on anti-immigrant issues rising crime rates in immigrant neighborhoods and an overburdened welfare system. That's how the Sweden Democrats came to this. Now, they weren't able to score a number of votes, however, the majority of voters still voted against Sweden Democrats anti- immigration policy. It did, however, polarize the country. Neither the left nor the right were able to form any sort of majority bloc in Parliament and that leaves voters wondering where the country is headed to next. Atika Shubert, CNN Stockholm.


VANIER: Police are cracking down on protesters in Russia as demonstrators came out in several dozen cities. This was the scene in St. Petersburg on Sunday. So why are the protesters coming out? Well, they're angry at the government's plans to reform their pensions. A monitoring group says at least 800 people were detained. The rallies were organized by supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny but this turned out to be a mixed crowd and it included some supporters of President Vladimir Putin who also are furious. CNN's Matthew Chance has more from Moscow.

MATHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are part of a nationwide protest being held in Russia to oppose the reform of the pension system in this country. The key issue is the retirement age in the plans by the Russian government to push that back to 65 for men and to 60 for women. It is angering people not just amongst ordinary Putin critics but among the general population, ordinary Russian workers normally support the government's across this country.


CHANCE: At 59, these should have been Evgeny Pankov's last few months of work after a lifetime of backbreaking labor fetching and carrying in the construction industry.

I really feel my age he complains, and my joints hurt especially in the morning.

But Evgeny's dream of taking it easy has now been shattered. The Russian government's decision to raise pension ages from 60 to 65 for men means his retirement has to be put back particularly galling in the country where average male life expectancy is just 67.

[01:05:15] EVGENY PANKOV, TRACTOR OPERATOR (through translator): I'm not just upset, I'm outraged. Now I'll be forced to work even longer to deprive my loved ones, my grandchildren of my attention.

CHANCE: Evgeny here is just one of millions of Russians who have been adversely affected by this controversial pension reform. In fact, the issue has united young and old in opposition across the country, raising concerns in the Kremlin that the plight of ordinary workers could actually undermine the popularity of the country's president.

Amid nationwide protests and plunging approval ratings, Vladimir Putin made a televised address to soften the reforms specifically for women but also to insist that they must go ahead.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT, RUSSIA (through translator): In the long term, if we shut it now, it could threaten stability in society, and chance national security.

CHANCE: It's not going down well with those affected most.

If the government says and Putin says that they have no choice, they don't have enough money to pay the pensions unless they reform the system, do you understand that? Do you believe the government when they tell you that?

PANKOV (through translator): No I do not believe it. Comparing the incomes of high ranked officials, they have simply unimaginable salaries. I do not believe that there is no money. It's a lie.

CHANCE: For many Russians, the pension issue has further undermined their trust in the Kremlin and its leader.


CHANCE: Well, there you have it. That's the nub of the issue, a real breakdown in trust between the country's leadership and its people. The big question, of course, is whether this protest, these protests across the country are going to gather momentum and pose a serious challenge to the Russian leadership and to Vladimir Putin himself. At this point, we're not at that stage but certainly, we're watching it very closely as are the Russian authorities. Matthew chance CNN, Moscow.

VANIER: CNN Contributor Jill Dougherty is in Seattle Washington. She's our former Moscow Bureau Chief. Jill, it's not just political activists who took to the streets, it's ordinary people as well, like the man that Matthew chance interviewed. Putin has really hit a nerve with this reform.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly. You know, looking at some of the signs at those demonstrations, there were ones that said I will live to enjoy my pension because again men die you know, will be average is 66 or 67. So if you have a retirement age of 65 you're not going to be on your pension for very long. And I think also you know the Kremlin knew that this was coming. They do polling. It was a polled by the Levada Center which is you know quite a respectable organization. And that was just taken at the beginning of September.

90 percent of people were against these so-called reforms. And you had I think almost more significant in a way 53 percent who believed or who said that they would be willing to protest against these reforms. So those worrying signs to the Kremlin and it really it gets to this anomaly that Russians have. You know, here they are about some of them to lose their pensions and they look around Moscow right now is looking beautiful. They just replaced all the sidewalks in most of the downtown area to I'm sure a very expensive proposition. And so people look around and they say, our country seems to be going OK, why this?

VANIER: You know, it's interesting that you should bring that up because in what some of the protesters have been saying, there is exactly that theme that comes back time and time again which is there is money in Russia and we shouldn't have to be the ones to financially suffer.

DOUGHERTY: Well, that's true. And then also you know, up that a bit a few percentage points and take the message of Navalny who is the opposition leader, a very canny guy who knows how to use social media. He happens to be in jail right now for a while but you know, that is his message. He's talking about corruption. And I think some of the younger people, even though they are not certainly looking at retirement, the ones that I've talked to -- and I go back to Moscow quite frequently -- they kind of feel that their future is being stolen by corruption as well.

So this is you know, uniting young people, people in the middle about to retire, and then people who thought they were going to retire and can't for let's say another five years. So there's a lot of discontents and that is very bad for the Kremlin.

[01:10:16] VANIER: What typically happens in cases like this? Do you see Vladimir Putin backtracking on this?

DOUGHERTY: Well, no. I mean, I think he does believe that they have to do it. You know, having people retire at 55 is very expensive for the government so I think you know, you can -- you can take him at that part. I think I would at his word that you have to do it. But the point is people look at that and say, yes but there's money to do everything else, so it doesn't make sense. It angers people. Not that Russians really depend on the government. They really don't.

It's not like the old Soviet days. There are a few people who say, yes, the government should take care of me from cradle to death but a lot of people do it for themselves and then they see this step by the government which they think is really the government making their lives more difficult. And I think that's the thing you know, that it sticks in their cry.

VANIER: Jill Dougherty, great speaking to you thank you. North Korea celebrated its 70th anniversary with a massive military parade. As usual, it featured goose-stepping soldiers, colorful flags, tanks, flyovers, but unlike past years there were no intercontinental ballistic missiles on display. Instead, Kim Jong-un played up an economic message and earned praise from U.S. President Donald Trump in the process. In a tweet, Mr. Trump thanked him writing there is nothing like good

dialogue from two people that like each other. CNN's Will Ripley reports from Pyongyang.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The stands of Pyongyang's May Day Stadium transformed tens of thousands of North Koreans like human pixels flipping colorful cards revealing the new agenda of their supreme leader Kim Jong-un. This super-sized socialist propaganda blitz does more than dazzle. It reveals the new message North Korea wants to send to the world. The last time they did this five years ago, the focus was nuclear power, now its economic power and diplomacy with a history-making nod to South Korean President Moon Jae-in due to visit Pyongyang for a summit with Kim Jong-un next week.

They call these the Mass Games. This actually my first time seeing it in person and I've never seen anything like it. It's mindblowing. Sort of like the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. They even having huge choirs. But it's all about North Korean history and their economy. They stay around 100,000 people are participating mostly students.

Earlier Sunday, a military parade through Pyongyang's Kim Il-sung Square. It featured thousands of goose-stepping soldiers. But unlike past parades, when the nuclear program was featured prominently, this time they didn't have a single intercontinental ballistic missile on display.

Just because North Korea is not parading nuclear weapons doesn't mean it's getting rid of them. Denuclearization talks with the U.S. have hit an impasse. The main sticking point, North Korea wants a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. A war featured prominently in this parade celebrating North Korea's 70th founding anniversary.

Do you think that North Korea should give up nuclear weapons?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Never ever. We built this powerful nation on the basis of our military strength. If we give up our nuclear weapons, we can't guarantee the existence of this nation.

RIPLEY: Pyongyang's display of military hardware comes just days after Kim reportedly sent a letter to Trump.

Have your feelings about America and President Trump change at all?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We don't worry much about President Trump or U.S. policy. We care about the policies of Martial Kim Jong-un who's working to improve our economy.

RIPLEY: It shows that whether the focus is on the nuclear program or on the economy, there is still one thing that matters the most to the people in this country and that is showing their admiration for their leader Kim Jong-un.

This may be the new image of North Korea, but here some things never change. Will Ripley, CNN Pyongyang.

VANIER: Paula Hancocks is looking at all of this from Seoul South Korea, the southern neighbor. Is it fair, Paula, to say that North Korea is now prioritizing the economy above its nuclear program?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So above is as an interesting word. It's certainly what they are showing to the world and also to their own people that the economy is what they are focusing not on now.

[01:15:00] But remember, we've heard from Kim Jong-un, the Korea leader himself. Saying, the reason he can do this is because he believes that he has got to the point he needs to get to with his nuclear and missile program. Saying he is comfortable with the achievements that they have.

That North Korea considers itself a fully pledge nuclear state its part of the Constitution. So, what we're seeing now is -- yes, you're right, there is this switch to the economy. And certainly, I -- that mass games that we saw in Pyongyang was vastly different to what we saw just five years ago. I was there in 2013, and there was a lot more images of nuclear and missile program.

And, of course, this time it's a very different situation. They are celebrating 70 years of the foundation of the country. Five years ago, they were celebrating the end of the war which they tell their people that they won. But there's no doubt about it that this is an important message they're sending.

And if I say not just to the U.S., to South Korea, look to their own people as well what their own people should be expecting. And the fact that they had the images of the South Korean president Moon Jae- in, meeting Kim Jong-un back in April at the DMZ, at Panmunjom. That was beamed on large screens and projectors at the stadium and there were -- there were loud cheers according to our team on the ground when that happened.

So, certainly, that shows at least within that area there is some acknowledgment and some support for the fact that inter-Korean relations are improving. So, certainly, that is something South Korea is welcoming.

We heard from the Unification Ministry briefing saying that they do welcome the fact that this appears to be showing the improvement in inter-Korean relations. Cyril.

[01:16:27] VANIER: Yes. I figured that you would have picked up on that particular aspect of the -- of the festivities as you say that beaming that picture of Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president together, we are just eight, nine days away now removed from the next meeting of these two leaders. What do we know about that?

HANCOCKS: That's right. Yes, 18th to the 20th of September, it will be in Pyongyang this time. So, the third time that a South Korean president has traveled to the North Korean capital, it will be -- it will be the first time for the South Korean president Moon Jae-in, as well.

And one of the main things that we're hearing that will be discussed, certainly, from a working-level point of view. And then, during the summit itself, is this declaration at the end of the Korean War. Back in 1953, it ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. And both North and South Korea have made no secret of the fact that they want this to end in a peace treaty.

So, they're looking for this declaration back in April. They said that they were hoping to have that happen by the end of this year. The U.S. seems to be dragging its feet a little more on this, but certainly, from a North-South Korean perspective, this will be one of the focuses. Cyril.

VANIER: Paula Hancocks, reporting from Seoul in South Korea. Thank you. Hurricane Florence is marching toward the U.S. East Coast. We'll be taking a look at where it's headed and when they will likely get there when we come back.


[01:20:12] KATE RILEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN "WORLD SPORT" Headlines. Novak Djokovic is on the 2018 edition of the U.S. Open. He beat the Argentine Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets in New York. Serbia's former world number one and reigning Wimbledon champ won it to add to his U.S. Open Championships from 2011 and 15.

The second set was a marathon thriller that took almost over an hour and 30 minutes to complete which Djokovic won. But in the third set, he really did put the pressure on to take that title eventually.

To UEFA's Nations League where World Cup winners, France were in action against the Netherlands and who other to open the scoring but the French teenager Kylian Mbappe had finished off a low cross across the balk. The Dutch would grab one bag and Olivier Giroud would deliver the final blow to lift France blasting home appalling from across 2-1 it ends.

There Margaret back to full strength as they played against Wales on Sunday. They quickly lost 3-0 to Slovakia after fielding a severely weakened team after their top tier and overseas players were ruled out due to a commercial rights dispute with the country's F.A. that Denmark had no problems earlier.

First, Christian Eriksen, over the scoring with a low shot to the par post and then the Tottenham midfielder buried a penalty to double their lead 2-0 the final score as Denmark cruised past Wales. And that's the look of your "WORLD SPORTS" Headlines. I'm Kate Riley.

VANIER: Hurricane Florence is on track to hit the U.S. East Coast later this week and it could pack quite a punch. It's gaining speed and strength over the Atlantic and could make landfall as a brutal Category 4. And Florence is not the only storm brewing right now far from it, in fact. CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is tracking all the storms for us. Pedram, there's a lot going on over the Atlantic to keep you busy.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Cyril. You know, and incredibly, today is the statistical peak date. September 10th is the peak date for tropical season and tropical activity across the Atlantic Ocean.

And certainly, really lives up to it here. 30 percent chance across the Western Caribbean, 40 percent chance North of Florence and a trio of Category 1 is almost every single one of a place is ranked and very quickly over the next couple of days.

But let's touch on Florence quickly here as far as what is slated to do because really environmental conditions, absolutely phenomenal for this and putting the maps in motion if you can get Robert, the Maps advance here kind of showing you exactly what we're dealing with, with a storm that not only moves over warmer waters but very deep area of warm water.

So, the storm itself really strengthens rather quickly. And in fact, 150 kilometer per hour winds at this time tomorrow, we could be up to say 200-225 or so. A Category 3, a major hurricane, and then, over the next couple of days, retaining Category 4 as it returned goes over warmer waters and pushes in towards land.

We think, sometime Thursday afternoon into potentially Thursday night. If this remains to be the case as models have been suggesting for the last couple of days, it would be the first time a Category 4 has impacted the eastern seaboard of the United States since 1992.

And unfortunately, you notice between Thursday, 8:00 p.m. to Friday 8:00 p.m., very little forward progression which is a major concern when it comes to how much rainfall this system could bring down. In fact, life-threatening amount of water could come down with this in places such as Raleigh as you work your way inland.

So, half a meter of rainfall certainly not a good news for anyone across this region. But take a look, Helene, slated to move off to the north. Isaac, slated to move back toward the west and weaken but could potentially impact the island of Hispaniola and also Puerto Rico with heavy rainfall.

Then, we have Hurricane Olivia. Remember, we had Helene a couple of weeks ago? Olivia potentially could weaken here just before making landfall on the Big Island. But looks very likely that this will impact, at least, one part of the Hawaiian Islands, unlike Helene, which just brought heavy rainfall. So, certainly, that's the story across that region.

And then we have Mangkhut, which sits out there in the Western Pacific, impacting Guam right now as a weak -- as a weak typhoon. Notice what happens, becomes a super typhoon going into the latter portion of this week.

And by early this weekend, Cyril, this could be a Category 4 equivalent much like what we have with Florence impacting northern portions of Luzon. Very mountainous region there in northern Luzon, it's the last thing we want to see with a lot of these systems though, we do have four to six days of preparation time with what really looks to be a tough week for millions of people. So, certainly the story worth following here on CNN all week.

VANIER: All right, Pedram Javaheri and all the good work of the CNN Center. Thank you very much.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.


VANIER: We appreciate your efforts.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got a first-hand look at the earthquake damage on the northern island of Hokkaido. His visit comes just days after the area was hit by a strong 6.7 magnitude quake. Death toll now is up to 39, and more than 600 others were injured.

OK, I want to update you on what we were telling you about yesterday. Tennis star Serena Williams. She's been fined $17,000 by the U.S. Open for three code violations during the Women's Singles final on Saturday. Williams was penalized for clashing with the chair umpire and smashing her racket.

She later accused the umpire of sexism and making unfair calls during the match. Japan's Naomi Osaka defeated Williams in that match. The 20-year-old was front-page news in Japan as you'd expect after winning her first Grand Slam title. Reaction to Serena Williams, however, has been mixed.

In Japan, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper showed this headline. Osaka claims U.S. Open title after Serena meltdown. In an opinion piece by The Telegraph, the headline reads sexism claim is a red herring. Serena Williams should apologize for overshadowing Naomi Osaka's big moment.

And here's another opinion piece in this one in USA Today, a different take with this headline, "Blatant sexism cost Serena Williams' tennis title, men are celebrated when they do much worse.

The co-founder and executive chairman of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba is stepping down. The company says, Jack Ma will depart one year from now and be replaced by current CEO Daniel Zhang. Jack Ma plans to stay on Alibaba's Board of Directors until its annual shareholders meeting in 2020.

Jack Ma is a true rags to riches story born to a poor family. He grew Alibaba from a web page run out of his apartment to a $420 billion company. Ma, himself is worth about $40 billion, one of the richest man in China.

It is the big question in Washington right now when the White House wants an answer. Ahead, the hunt for the writer of a harshly critical editorial bashing Donald Trump. Stay with us.


[01:30:20] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the NEWSROOM here at CNN. I'm Cyril Vanier.

Here's what we're looking at this hour.

Police have arrested a man that they say went on a stabbing rampage in Paris on Sunday. In all, seven people were injured, four of them injured critically. French media report a group of people standing nearby starting chasing him and he threw an iron bar at them. An official tells CNN attack does not appear to be terror-related.

Sweden's general election is too close to call. Almost all votes have been counted and the far right party with neo-Nazi roots is in third and has won a higher percentage of the votes than ever before. The two main coalitions are separated by less than a half a percentage point.

More than 800 people were detained in Russia Sunday amid nationwide protests against pension reform. That's according to a monitoring group. Images appear to show a child and a pensioner being grabbed by police. Many Russians, even backers of President Vladimir Putin are upset about plans to raise the retirement age.

The White House is still reeling from the anonymous op-ed that described an administration in chaos and a resistance to President Trump's actions.

Ryan Nobles reports on the hunt for who is responsible.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's been a relatively quiet weekend here at the White House. But there's no doubt that the President and his staff are still furiously trying to determine who is the author of this op-ed that was in the "New York Times" that claimed that there was a person working with the administration that was part of the resistance.

The President himself was said to be obsessed with the search and in addition to rooting out who exactly may be behind the op-ed they're also working to destroy that person's credibility before their identity is ever even revealed.

Both Vice President Mike Pence and Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor, going on the Sunday morning talk shows claiming that this person is essentially a traitor, someone that is working to destroy this administration from within.

Kellyanne Conway taking it even a step further, suggesting that the media may be partially to blame. Listen to what she told Jake Tapper.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT. What does concern me though, Jake -- apart from everything the President and others have said is that for a media that is constantly talking about facts, accuracy, transparency, authority-- the authoritativeness to this anonymous writer was imbued automatically because of the content.

As long as the message is anti-Trump it means the messenger has credibility. That should concern everyone. I'm with the Vice President on this. He has said that the person should resign if the person truly is an appointee who has taken an oath to the Constitution.

NOBLES: And of course, the big question going into this week is just what lengths will the White House go to, to attempt to try and figure out who this person is?

The Vice President suggesting over the weekend that perhaps this person is guilty of some sort of a crime. So does that mean that the Department of Justice gets involved. The President has suggested that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should look into this. So far the Department of Justice has said that it won't comment on this situation.

Ryan Nobles, CNN -- at the White House.


VANIER: Earlier I spoke with Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman and Republican strategist Chris Faulkner about the op-ed's impact on the administration and also asked them about former President Obama's return to the political scene.


CHRIS FAULKNER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think that, you know, with over 30,000 political appointee jobs in any presidential administration across all the departments, you're bound to have more than a few people who may not share the President's agenda or may not have a personal like for him.

Sadly this is just somebody acting out. This is somebody trying to get attention and in a 24-hour media news cycle where everybody wants to find, you know, the latest Republican who will bash the President, this is just another example of everybody getting super excited about a Republican beating up the President, or at least someone who allegedly is Republican. We don't know because it is anonymous.

VANIER: Well, in fairness most Republicans stand by the President -- Caroline?

CAROLINE HELDMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIS: Well, they certainly don't in the White House. And for Chris to characterize it as simply being one person is factually incorrect. Not only did anonymous say that these are views that are held by many people in the White House, Woodward's book confirms that, that this is the standard operating procedure that Trump has people pulling documents from him so that he won't bomb a country or assassinate a leader or stop a trade agreement.

I mean we're talking about a group of people telling the same story, which is having to contain an unfit toddler in the White House. And that's not just something that one person is saying. So they can root out anonymous all they want. They've got dozens of anonymouses in the White House who are saying the same thing about this incompetent president.


VANIER: Does Barack Obama jumping back into the political fray help or hurt Donald Trump and the Republicans ahead of the midterms? The reason I ask the question is just because Donald Trump tends to do better whether he has enemies that he can take aim at -- Chris.

FAULKNER: This is an off-year election which means it's a base turn- out election which means about party intensity and nothing excites Republicans about going to vote faster than Barack Obama except maybe Nancy Pelosi. But the combo of the two of them is magic. And quite frankly, I'm ready to donate $25 for the President to get on the road and go to battleground congressional districts and campaign because it's the best possible thing to turn out Republicans.


VANIER: Chris Faulkner and Caroline Heldman speaking to me earlier.

Chaos in the Trump administration comes just two months before November's midterm elections which are being viewed as a pivotal referendum on the President's leadership.

Tom Foreman explains how much is at stake.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Presidents are elected every four years in this country and halfway through each term come the midterm elections. What that means is in the U.S. House of Representatives all 435 seats are up for grabs and about a third of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate are too.

Right now the Republicans are in charge of both chambers. And there are a lot of complicated equations about how the Democrats might be able to take back control in one or both of them.

But here's all you really need to know. On the House side, if the Democrats can flip 23 seats in their favor, they would take charge. And on the Senate side, if they could net two more seats, they would be in charge there too. But the Democrats are defending so many of their own on that side, the map seems pretty challenging.

Midterms are seen as referendums on the President. And this one has been particularly polarizing so watch for potential flips in the areas where Democrats are up in arms, or Republicans have weak majorities and importantly where Independents are frustrated with the White House.

If enough seats flip, big changes could come up. Start with legislation on the House side, Republican hopes for new immigration laws or trade deals or welfare reform or social security reform or even new tax laws could all come to a stop dependent on Democratic support to get them going again.

And if by chance the Democrats could flip the Senate, that could play havoc with the administration's plans for stacking the judiciary. Right now the Trump administration has been marching conservative justices on to benches across this country but from the Supreme Court on down, that could come to a screeching halt unless they were willing to make them more moderate voices that Democrats could support.

Of course the President could have much bigger problems if the Democrats seize either chamber, they could reinvigorate all sorts of investigations into him and his cabinet subpoenaing witnesses, compelling testimony into allegations of election meddling and the conflicts of interest and possible misuse of tax money, sexual improprieties, controversial policies, and so much more.

They may not be able to prove anything just like the (INAUDIBLE) the bigger question of impeachment and not be able to prove anything there or get a conviction. But they could make it very humiliating and time-consuming for the President.

And these elections could determine whether any or all of that comes to pass.


VANIER: Tom Foreman reporting there.

With just over six months until Brexit, Britain's former foreign secretary Boris Johnson is giving some strong indications that he wants Prime Minister Theresa May's job.

In the tabloid newspaper, "The Mail" on Sunday, Johnson blasted Mrs. May's handling of Brexit negotiations. He writes the Prime Minister has quote, "wrapped a suicide vest around the British constitution and handed the detonators to the European Union's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Some of Johnson's backers reportedly are working to trigger a no-confidence vote against Mrs. May in parliament.

The chief executive of U.S. multimedia giant CBS has resigned. Les Moonves is facing multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, which he denies. As CNN's Brian Stelter reports, Moonves' departure is one of the most significant moments yet for the MeToo Movement.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Of all the MewToo cases in the past year, there's not been one like this. Les Moonves is the first Fortune 500 CEO to leave his post amid harassment allegations in this year of MeToo.

It's a remarkable turn of events given that six weeks ago when the first harassment allegation against him came out he vowed to fight on.


Back then in late July when Ronan Farrow's reporting came out, the CBS board basically stood by Moonves. He wasn't suspended. He was not forced to step down.

Instead two law firms were hired to investigate the allegations. And all of this was going on amid a corporate tug-of-war between Moonves and the controlling shareholder of CBS Shari Redstone.

So now, fast forward six weeks. Farrow heard from more women, more accusers who were concerned CBS was not taking action, was not holding him as accountable. Farrow published a new story on Sunday morning on "The New Yorker" Web site. Just within hours, Moonves was out.

Now, the caveat here is -- the complication is that the negotiations for him to leave were already underway at that point. But it seems clear that the new harassment allegations, which also included allegations of assault, which were even more disturbing than the first set of allegations -- all of that a major factor in this Sunday night announcement.

Moonves is one of the most powerful men in TV, one of the highest paid executives in the media business. So this is leaving a lot of aftershocks. There are going to be developments for days to come, including about how much Moonvess is going to be paid on the way out the door.

Normally he would have been paid well over $100 million if he had just been forced out one day. But because of these allegations against him, it is going to be a much more complicated and legal conversation.

Now Moonves has admitted to some mistakes in his past but he denies ever abusing his power and he denies what he calls the appalling accusations of assault, of forcible sex that were detailed in "The New Yorker" story earlier on Sunday.

All of this, of course, happening at a time of dramatic change in the broadcast business. And now CBS moves into a new era without Moonves in charge of the company.

Much more to come on this but it is a climactic moment in the MeToo movement.

Brian Stelter, CNN -- New York.


VANIER: The war continues but some Syrians are finally able to start rebuilding. The struggles they face on the road to recovery when we come back.


[01:45:03] A long-predicted ground offensive has yet to begin in Syria's Idlib province. That's according to a government official.

Idlib is the country's last major opposition stronghold. Some three million people live there along with rebels and jihadists. A Syrian official says government and Russian warplanes are targeting al-Qaeda linked fighters with quote, "surgical air strikes". That's despite reports of civilian casualties. White Helmets Rescue group says a toddler was among 27 people killed since Tuesday.

The civil war has left communities across Syria in ruins, and even areas retaken by the government are struggling to rebuild.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen has this report from where some of the conflict's worst fighting took place -- in Douma.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A drive through Douma, a wasteland left behind as rebels made their last stand against the Syrian army on the outskirts of Damascus.

Having survived the carnage and years of sieve, Housan Ghaboura (ph) and his family are now trying to rebuild their home.

Lunch break -- a time for reflection.

"It's very difficult but the circumstances have imposed this on us," he says. We need to make things like they used to be, go back to our homes and continue our lives."

Douma was the site of some of the most intense battles in Syria's seven-year civil war. As rebels lost their grip here, government forces were blamed for a chemical attack during the onslaught, a claim Damascus vehemently denies.

Residents are still picking up the pieces. At this pace it could take decades to rebuild just this neighborhood.

(on camera): That's the problem in places like Douma and still many other destroyed places in Syria. There are people coming back and they're trying to rebuild mostly their own houses. But when it comes to big urban projects, there simply isn't enough money available.

(voice over): As residents managed to restock the market in Douma, the government in Damascus wants the international community to help rebuild. But Western nations remain reluctant citing the Assad government's human rights track record.

Caught in the middle Douma residents like Abdul Raheem Khadeejeh (ph) tried to stay cool selling flush shakes out of his cart clinging to the hope that things will improve.

"Of course we have hope," he says, "if we live without hope, everything would be lost. There is hope, thank God."

Progress is happening in Douma, but it is slow. Residents still happy the fighting here has been silent but wondering whether their town will ever be the same as it was before the war.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN -- Douma, Syria.


VANIER: Coming up next, an underwater look at a coral reef that is defying the ravages of climate change. We'll explain how after the break.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri here for CNN Weather Watch.

Watching what's happening across the eastern United States. Wet weather kind of starts the week and looks very likely to end the week as well across much of the eastern United States here as a frontal boundary locked in place will bring in some showers across most densely populated corner of the U.S. such as (INAUDIBLE) across New York.

Into Boston there, you could see a few disruptions there are it relates to some gusty winds and storms slated into the afternoon hours. Twenty degrees in New York City will go with wet weather. Montreal, a couple of degrees cooler at 18; Chicago finally beginning to feel maybe a hint of autumn come back, maybe even come back to stay across some of these regions, about 23 degrees there.

How about what's going on down towards the western Caribbean, not far from the Cayman Islands -- 30 percent chance of formation, pretty wet weather across the region but we expect this system to push off to the north and west eventually and end up in the Gulf of Mexico. And if it does, it looks to be predominantly a rainmaker for northern areas of Mexico and also southern Texas.

But beyond that pick your choice. We've got a trio of category 1 hurricane sitting out there from Florence to Isaac to Helene and a 40 percent chance of formation. The most notable one, at least at this hour has to be what is happening with Hurricane Florence because we expect rapid intensification in an environment that is very, very conducive for that to occur and unfortunately a potential major hurricane landfall on the eastern United States. So we'll follow that. Also following Olivia as it approaches towards the Hawaiian Islands.

VANIER: Rising ocean water temperatures are endangering coral reefs around the world. The Red Sea, which contains the planet's northern most coral reef, may be the only exception. So how are they proving to be so resilient to the effects of climate change?

CNN's Oren Liebermann finds the answer under water.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): In the shallow waters of the Red Sea, this coral reef defies expectations. Some of the world's most diverse eco-systems, coral reefs are in peril.

AMATZIA GENIN, MARINE BIOLOGIST: Reefs are deteriorating all over the world. They're going down in cover, they die. There is a catastrophe for coral reefs in the world. Everywhere they bleach except here.

LIEBERMANN: Bleaching leaves the reefs extremely vulnerable, overcome by water perhaps too warm for corals to survive. The Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, seen here, has experienced mass bleaching.

GENIN: The Gulf of Eilat and the Gulf of Aqaba has never been exposed to bleaching. There's no bleaching here although the water is warming up.

LIEBERMANN: I had the privilege of diving along these corals to see a marine world thriving, its majesty on full display. Researchers say thousands of years ago, the ancestors of the corals growing here had to come through the southern Red Sea where the waters are far warmer. Through natural selection, the corals that survived the journey were accustomed to warm salty water.

In the relatively cooler waters, the Gulf of Aqaba, the corals blossomed. The water here is heating up just like the rest of the world, a consequence of climate change. But it hasn't affected the corals. And researchers say it won't for another 100 years.

(on camera): So you have here both the current condition of the Red Sea and then what it might look like in ten years, 20 years and beyond.


So this is what we're trying to understand, how the beautiful reefs that we see now are likely to change if at all and the future conditions in the Red Sea and from world wide reefs we know that the situation right now is not that good.

However in the Red Sea, it is still looking pretty good, for reefs of the area. This may very well be the last reef refuge in terms of the -- of the present conditions.

LIEBERMANN (voice over): This Red Sea simulator tests different temperature and acidity levels in the water. The corals are brought to the tanks and placed under varying conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is many, many individual animals living together as one. Each individual (INAUDIBLE) on the screen is one animal, one mouth of the animal.

LIEBERMANN: Then they're examined under a microscope to see how they react. The lessons help scientists and governments protect the reef that cannot defend itself. Development, pollution and more monitored and controlled with the reef's survival in mind.

[01:54:57] (on camera): Here in Eilat, we're standing within a few miles of four different countries. I'm standing in Israel. That's Egypt behind me, Jordan in front of me and you can see Saudi Arabia across the sea here.

But the reef doesn't recognize international borders. Its future, its survival depends upon international cooperation to protect the corals. Below sea level, politics rarely gets in the way of cooperation between neighboring countries. The reef maybe growing but it's still fragile, part of a much larger ecosystem near the booming resort towns of the Gulf of Aqaba. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an ecosystem that grew as reef next to a

complete desert. Basically there's not supposed to be artificial life, there's not supposed to be a lot of development and we are allowing the development of Eilat but it has to be very slow.

LIEBERMANN (voice over): Eilat's reef is only four kilometers long, a fraction of the 2,000 kilometers of reef along the Red Sea. Perhaps because it is so small, Israel treats it as national treasure, one that is far too valuable to let go.

Oren Liebermann, CNN -- Eilat.


VANIER: And that is it from us this hour. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

The news continues next with Rosemary Church. You're in great hands. Have a great day.


[02:00:10] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Three hurricanes are brewing in the Atlantic --