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Typhoon Mangkhut Batters Asia; Many Russians Upset About Hike In Retirement Age; Reviving The Spirit Of Mosul. Aired 11-12p ET

Aired September 16, 2018 - 11:00   ET


[11:00:15] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: After wreaking havoc in Hong Kong, Typhoon Mangkhut is now battering mainland China. Ahead, a

look at the rescue efforts underway to help the hundreds of thousands of people less than its deadly wake. Also tonight ...


EVGENY PANKOV, TRACTOR OPERATOR, RUSSIA (through translator): I'm not just upset, I'm outraged. Now, I'll be forced to work even longer, deprive of

my loved ones, my grandchildren of my attention.


ANDERSON: And he's not the only one. Pension reform in Russia is sending people onto the streets in protest. We are live in Moscow where President

Putin's policies are far from popular. And --


AL-SHAHHAD, RESIDENT OF IDLIB, SYRIA (through translator): We have moved some supplies, food and water, in case of an emergency, God forbid.


ANDERSON: Fearing for the worst. Residents of Idlib, Syria try to safeguard their loved ones against the horrors of war. These stories are

much more on what is CONNECT THE WORLD this hour.

I'm Becky Anderson live in our Abu Dhabi for you, a very warm welcome to the show. We are connecting you this hour right into the path of what's

been the biggest and most incredibly powerful storm anywhere on the planet so far this year.

That's right now taking its deadly rampage deep into Southern China. Typhoon Mangkhut getting weaker as it moves from water to land. But this,

its ferocious winds and hammering rain smacking into the island of Hong Kong.

Just hours ago, its raw power shoving a roof off the top of this building, and tearing it to shreds and snapping trees, ripping power lines down in

its wake. The wind whipping up the sea into a frenzy, just look at the towering waves smashing into the air. And surges of thick trash-filled

ocean water inland here.

But the Philippines, far and away, taking the full might of the storm, killing 54 people there. Winds enough to level towns like this reaching

close to 300 kilometers an hour, almost as fast as a speeding bullet train.

We're connecting you to the tremendous power of this storm. CNN's Will Ripley out in Hong Kong for us now. And Will, tell us what have you been


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Becky, even for people who've lived in Hong Kong, all their lives who deal with many typhoons

every season, this storm was a doozy.

I want to set the scene for you by showing you a piece of video that was posted on social media by a CNN viewer who agreed to let us show it to you

a couch flew by as he was taping from a safe location inside.

A couch, the winds were so strong, they picked up that piece of furniture, barreled it down the street and there were social media videos being shared

across the city of construction sites collapsing, of people being thrown down.

I want to show you something that we're standing by here, this is Victoria Park in Hong Kong. Look at the size of this tree. A tree that has been

standing likely upwards of 100 years. It was ripped from its roots and it is now lying on its side.

And down trees are a common sight all over the city, and what they're doing is they're shutting down a lot of the major roads. You can see, this is

one of them here, we saw some crews out just within the last few minutes trying to clear that tree that fell.

You know, they're working as quickly as they can. Road closures are one issue. Nearly 900 flights were canceled here in Hong Kong, stranding tens

of thousands of passengers. They've been rescheduled most of them to get out of here tomorrow. And then, of course, there are the power outages.

20,000 people reported without power in Macau at one point, floodwaters waist-high.

And keep in mind, this is a city with buildings like this. Concrete many of them, this is a city that weathers typhoons. And as kind of destructive

as this looks, this is a massive mess in this city. And yet, for the most part, Hong Kong has survived relatively unscathed.

People were out here this evening looking at all of this, but there are still at home, they still are alive, they're safe. They were able to get

out to some of the few restaurants that started to open up. Some of the taxis are now back out running. Although you can see, for the most part,

streets are deserted.

It was obviously a much more tragic situation in the Philippines. 54 people killed, dozens of people still missing. And we still have yet to

know, Becky, what the impact is going to be as the storm hit heavily- populated Southern China just in the last couple of hours.

ANDERSON: Yes, I just want to bring up some video showing one thing you really, really do not see very often, Will. Your fellow Hong Kong is

taking a swim down the street after the worse that apparently passed through. People obviously wanting to go and check out what had happened.

Some people traveling a long way to see it. Typhoon tourism, if you will. We are hearing, I believe, from some of them.

[11:05:10] RIPLEY: It was one of the most striking things that I saw, Becky, out here in the hours after the worst of the storm subsided. It was

a really intense 12 hours. But when things started to calm down, you saw people standing in front of scenes like this.

This tree just split in half. Taking selfies, taking video, some of them with smiles on their faces. People were very curious and we talked to a

couple of them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I wanted to come here and see how severe the typhoon is. But now that I came here to the pier, it's not as

wild as I had expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I came here to actually catch the typhoon and I have like a helmet with a camera mount, and I have my waterproof gear for

catching good footage of the -- of the storm.


RIPLEY: Before this storm hit, they were saying that it could be the strongest to strike Hong Kong in some 60 years. Whether that turned out to

be the case, we do know that it came a right around 100 kilometers of the city center which the Hong Kong weather observatory classifies as almost a

direct hit.

And when you look at the impact in a park like this that trees that have survived so many storms here were snapped in half by this one, it really

does underscore what a walloping Hong Kong took. The fact that the strongest possible typhoon signal, signal 10 was raised, and this city was

feeling the impacts for half of the day. Becky?

ANDERSON: So, just by me, how do Hong Kong-ers react because it isn't unusual, is it? That you get big weather systems across that Island.

Neither is it unusual, of course, that you get these systems hitting the Island of the Philippines, and indeed, mainland China. How do Hong Kong-

ers cope?

RIPLEY: Well, what they do is -- you know, you can kind of look at some of these -- some of these buildings, and I'm not sure it might be kind of a

distance, but a lot of people taped up their windows, because one of the concerns is that the winds could actually blow in the windows. And as we

were walking around, and some of the sidewalks were littered with shattered glass.

So, when a building suffers something like that, when a lot of the windows smashed and glass is sent raining down into the street, they reinforced the

glass for the next typhoon season.

Remember, it was just a year ago, the Typhoon Hato, Super Typhoon Hato, struck this city. That was one of the strongest storms to hit in half a

century. And a lot of -- a lot of glass in buildings was shattered, and people rebuild. And they try to rebuild better for the next time around.

But as much preparation as you have, and these are sturdy buildings. These are buildings that have withstood many storms. There is a -- there's a

fear here that the storms continue to get stronger. That there -- that some -- you know, whether it be climate change or what not is fueling the

energy behind these systems, and that the storms are only going to continue to get stronger and people wonder how they're going to prepare for the next

major storm, one even bigger than the one that we saw here today. ANDERSON: Yes, stay with me, Will. I mean, this is unbelievable power

we're talking about here, as this storm moves from the world's largest ocean that covers a third of our planet. It wil,l we are told, get weaker,

you can see its speeds being zapped and fast, as it moves over China here over the next day or two.

And here is why giant spinning storms like this explode into supermassive balls of energy over warm ocean waters. Kind of like how a fire reacts to

gas being chucked on top of it. So, what do we know of this? But we're going to get to the Weather Center shortly, but from your perspective,

they're on the ground in the region, what do we know about the forecast for this storm as it heads away from Hong Kong and towards China, Will?

RIPLEY: The concern is, is that Southern China is so heavily populated. You're talking about upwards of potentially 4 million people or so in its

path. And so, there were mass evacuations. There is concerns about flooding, there are concerns about the fact that unlike Hong Kong, which is

used to typhoons and prepares very adequately that, you know, the typhoon warning signals are raised hours in advance so people have enough time to

try to get things inside that could potentially blow around, those same preparation steps are simply not taken in the mainland. They're not as

prepared as they are here in Hong Kong.

And so, they're just now kind of beginning to assess the impact of the storm. And, you know, keep in mind, it's now dark. A lot of -- a lot of

debris won't be visible until rescuers get out in the morning hours. So perhaps, the impact on the mainland really won't be known until the sun

comes up tomorrow.

ANDERSON: Will Ripley on the ground in Hong Kong where it is nine minutes past 11:00 in the evening. Great analysis from you. Thank you, Will.

Right now, in the Eastern Coast of the U.S., hundreds of people are still waiting to be rescued there from floodwaters. Hurricane Florence unleashed

nearly a meter of rain in some places before weakening to a tropical depression path.

[11:10:04] Officials are warning the worst flooding is yet to come. The Governor of North Carolina says the storm has unloaded an epic amount of

rain. Kaylee Hartung has been in the area since the storm hit. She joins me now from Wilmington, North Carolina, where, Kaylee, authorities rescued

hundreds of people as I understand it, overnight.

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Overnight with city and state and federal assets combined, they rescued about 500 people in this

area of Wilmington. But additionally, the volunteer group known as the Cajun Navy, they helped about 250 people, as well. And you said it,

hundreds are awaiting help now.

And the problem here is that these floodwaters are moving in so rapidly and they're moving into areas where people have never experienced flooding

before. This is a different phenomenon, something we've never seen before, that is how the Mayor of Wilmington described this developing situation to


Part of the problem now is that the waters are high and then low. The levels continue to rise and fall sometimes with the help of the low and

high tide. But then, the next problem being, well, where does that water go? It has to have somewhere to go.

And so, right now, I'm in the staging area for the volunteer group known as the Cajun Navy. I see one boat right there getting outfitted to head out

into the water. We're waiting on the next convoy to come back so we can jump on board and be witness to what they are experiencing.

But overnight, I mentioned 250 rescues that these volunteers were responsible for in this area. As it turns out, the local fire department

actually called this group up. And said, we need your help. They were the ones with the boats and the manpower who could get out in the dark of night

to help people so in need.

ANDERSON: Kaylee, evacuations have been ordered in the areas where they believe the worst flooding could happen. Have people evacuated? Have they

taken heed of the advice?

HARTUNG: Well, I have to tell you a story to illustrate that point. There's a County just north of here called Pender County, an area where

they're very familiar with flooding, they say a thunderstorm could make it flood. It was under a mandatory evacuation beginning Wednesday.

Now, yesterday, I met with a family as they were physically packing up their things. They had waited out the storm, the high winds that the eye

of the storm brought with it on Friday, but they recognized now it was time to go.

So, that's just yesterday, they were in the process of packing up their most personal belongings, even furniture, beds, being loaded up into a

truck so they could take it to safe ground. They were telling me, they believe they would lose everything, saying, they hoped even if they lost

their home, they would have some furniture and some things to start their life over again.

I just got a phone call from Susan Bostick, a woman who I spent so much time with yesterday, she says her home is already underwater. Already

underwater and that river is not expected to crest until tomorrow. It really illustrates the point of just how quickly this water is moving and

how quickly it continues to rise.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Kaylee, thank you for that. Florence has weakened now, but this storm is moving slowly and it has already killed at least 13

people and caused extensive damage. CNN was there as the storm hits. Have a look at this.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The wind has really picked up. The rain has gotten a lot heavier. The beach is now up on the boardwalk. This is about

a foot and a half of sand or so.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of the largest ones we've seen. I mean, this one completely uprooted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to a place where there are some high water rescues that are necessary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As the family who lived here tells me, they expect the water to come to their door -- to their home, on the second story of

that home.


ANDERSON: Well, it will become as no surprise that people in the Carolinas, well, many of them are in desperate need of food, drinking

water, and emergency supplies. If you'd like to help, Impact Your Worlds is where you can learn how. That's at, and we have information on

how to get involved, or you can read stories of others helping out with selfless acts of bravery and kindness.

[11:15:10] It's a great sight that not just for this storm on a myriad of issues, of course, this region, at the states, in Asia, and beyond always a

site that you can use if you do want to help on any big new story.

Well, still ahead, while Florence floods parts of the U.S. East Coast, Donald Trump dealing with a -- well, a storm of his own from his former

campaign chairman flipping in the Russia investigation. The President's outrageous denial of Hurricane Maria's death toll. All of that up for

discussion, up next.


ANDERSON: It is 18 minutes past 7:00 in the UAE. You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD with me, Becky Anderson broadcasting from a hub

here in the Gulf.

Now, to Washington where the White House says the President is likely to talk some areas damaged by Storm Florence -- Tropical Storm Florence in the

coming days.

But Donald Trump has been busy dealing with a political storm of sorts of his own. His former campaign manager Paul Manafort is now cooperating with

the special counsel's investigation after pleading guilty to a number of charges.

Meanwhile, the President blaming his diving poll numbers on Robert Mueller in what he calls the rigged Russian witch hunts. Seeing a new CNN poll,

Mr. Trump has an unfavorable rating of a 61 percent while the special counsel's unfavorable rating stands at just 28 percent. CNN political

analyst, Julian Zelizer, joining us now from New York.

There are lot to do here. So let's go through this systematically because we got number of issues that are like to deal with here. Let's start with

the President Trump praising the response of first responders to Tropical Storm Florence.

Yet he still hasn't acknowledged the devastating aftermath of last year's storm, Hurricane Maria. Last week, tweeting this, falsely claiming the

revised death toll of 3,000 people was fake and was cooked up by Democrats to make him look bad.

It's -- whatever you think of this, and however you want to spin the Rubik's Cube on this as to how these numbers have been collated. This just

makes him look bad, right?

[11:20:12] JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. I mean, this is in --

ANDERSON: His response, I mean.

ZELIZER: No, right. The actual response already made him look bad and there are many critics of what happened in Puerto Rico in terms of their

recovery, but now simply to dismiss the claims of how many deaths occurred and in this fashion in the middle of another storm.

In some ways and bodies, the worst elements that many people see in the President and is a pretty outrageous statement to make given all the

suffering that's occurred.

ANDERSON: He blames, as I have pointed out, his diving poll numbers on what he says to these cooked up numbers which have been collated and

perfectly sensibly collated as to the amount of people whose lives were lost in and as a result of the storm. His disapproval rating rounds about

as low as it's been. And the Special Counsel Mueller, of course, continues to get on with his job including at now Paul Manafort cooperating with

Mueller after pleading guilty to a number of charges.

Let's just -- let's just cross-examine this because the charges that he has pled guilty to aren't charges that would suggest that the Trump campaign

and Trump specifically in any way colluded with the Russia investigation. Let's just get this right, correct?

ZELIZER: No, absolutely, the charges so far have really revolved around Manafort himself. So, they do tell us a lot about the person who headed a

Donald Trump than his campaign in those critical months of the summer. But they are not proof of collusion.

What we don't know is in exchange for that, what Manafort has shared with Mueller. And we won't know until there is a report but that's where many

people suspect a plea deal was made in exchange for some kind of information.

But that again, the information about Manafort himself is relevant. Manafort was not a small player in the campaign. He headed the campaign

for several crucial months.

ANDERSON: But the President is blaming these diving poll numbers on Robert Mueller and what he calls the rigged Russian witch-hunt. There is nothing

in this plea deal at present. Even though you say the campaign manager was crucial over a period of months, let's just be clear there's nothing in

this plea -- these charges that would suggest that Trump colluded with the Russians. Correct?

ZELIZER: No, that's correct. And so, really, it will be what information does Manafort have to share. And that's something we don't know but that's

where there might be evidence of some kind of wrongdoing but nothing in the plea itself.

ANDERSON: As we approach these midterms, what's the mood in Washington? What's the atmosphere?

ZELIZER: Yes, if you're a Republican, you're terrified. I think you look at the numbers, and pretty consistently, right now, they are suggesting the

Democrats are going to do quite well in the midterms possibly taking control of both the House and the Senate, which would obviously be a

disastrous outcome for the GOP.

I think Democrats are feeling pretty good. They are still nervous though that they remember the mistaken polls from 2016, and they also see the

economy. And the economy is doing very well which ordinarily would be good for the party in power.

But putting that aside, I still think the evidence in their minds points to victory. So, I think both parties are watching the president and reading

these two messages from all the chaos that's happened in the Oval Office.

ANDERSON: Meantime, The Wall Street Journal, reporting President Trump, planning to impose a fresh round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of

Chinese goods. Now, these new tariffs would likely make thousands of products more expensive for American consumers, but this ticks the Trump

campaign promise box again, right?

ZELIZER: It does. This is an example where President Trump has promised to do something and he is doing something. The question is when people

feel the actual effects, are they still that excited about the promise? And we've seen already some evidence this isn't always the case.

Soybean farmers, for example, are registering a lot of unhappiness with the impact of the trade wars on their industry. This round of tariffs will hit

all kinds of consumers possibly going into the holiday season on goods like -- you know, Fitbits and appliances that people like to purchase.

[11:25:11] So, yes, he's following through on his promise, but he might actually undercut again the biggest asset that he and the Republicans have

which is a very strong economy. This moves in a different direction.

ANDERSON: Julian, pleasure having you on. We'll have you back. So busy times in U.S. domestic politics.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

ANDERSON: All of which makes a huge impact on the lives of those of us who don't live in the U.S., and will be watching this show. Thank you, sir.

Well, you can always follow the latest on U.S. politics on Read more about Manafort's plea deal, for example, as President Trump's former

campaign chairman joined a growing list of one of those flippers in the special counsel's Russia investigation. Check it out on our Web site at

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD live from Abu Dhabi in the UAE. Coming up, embattled British Prime Minister Theresa May, facing even more

uncertainty about her future. We'll have the very latest on that and why it matters after this.


[11:29:57] ANDERSON: Well, right now, we are watching a storm so massive and fast-moving that while some are adding up the damage thousand

kilometers away, others will there just now hunkering down and hoping that it's blown itself out enough not to hurt them as badly.

You are looking at the most powerful cyclone to spin into light on the face of the earth so far in 2018. Now, zeroing in on mainland China. But it's

easy for any of us to well, look at those kind of radar images. And imagine the typhoon is as almost unreal, kind of like a simulation, right?

In a far-off place.

This hour, the reality of what it did in the Philippines in its wake this weekend are coming true in these brand-new images. Taken from the air

really giving us a sense of the size of the tremendous amount of damage that the storm has already unleashed upon that country.

These homes and the lives of the 250,000 people the storm took apart in moments have totally rebuilt, of course. Many though just happy to be



NORMA MADAMBA, SURVIVOR, TYPHOON MANGKHUT (through translation): I thought my child won't survive because cars cannot move outside. My child was all

bloody and had fainted, but I still thank God we are alive and not seriously injured.


ANDERSON: Alive but not well. And now, everyone needs food, they need water and need somewhere to live. And so, on among those trying to help

out is David Kazashvili -- Gazashvili, sorry. The country director for the charity group, CARE, who are working on the ground right now. David, what

are your colleagues seeing on the ground as we speak?

DAVID GAZASHVILI, COUNTRY DIRECTOR, CARE PHILIPPINES: Yes, hello, everyone. CARE has deployed assessment teams and some relief items to the

area prior to the typhoon. And the assessment teams experienced strong winds and heavy rains when they travel to the area. The typhoon has

affected over 200,000 people from 1,400 villages and 323 cities and municipalities. And over 100,000 people are on refuge in, in about 1,200

evacuation centers.

Our team reports that the typhoon has caused landslides, damages to buildings, damages to homes, loss of power, and significant damage to

agriculture and economy.

Unfortunately, we now have information on casualties as well. According to various sources, there are 43 people were killed in the town of Itogon due

to landslides. And we know that there are casualties in other areas as well. Our teams and partners recorded there were --


ANDERSON: But we certainly know 250,000 people have been affected by the storm, David. Yes, sadly, the Philippines no stranger to typhoons as you

will be well aware, it gets about 20 each in every year. We are showing our viewers as you and I speak, some of the deadliest over the past 10

years. Each killing, at least, a thousand people mostly plowing right through the middle of the country where millions and millions of people


David, given its dramatic and deadly experience, the country it seems at least is relatively well repair -- prepared to respond. Is that your


GAZASHVILI: Yes, that is -- that is my sense as well. I think the government has prepared well to respond to this crisis. CARE and other

humanitarian organizations are also well prepared to respond to the crisis.

However, in the -- in the disasters like this that they need to always or well -- or their overwhelming need, and there are always more, more

assistance needed than the governments and the humanitarian organizations are prepared to provide. For instance --

ANDERSON: CARE on the ground in the Philippines. Thank you, David. We're moving on, but we appreciate your time. An important story and an

important guest for your viewers.

Well, British Prime Minister Theresa May, find herself on the defense ahead of this week's informal E.U. meeting on Brexit. On the BBC program,

Panorama, Mrs. May reacted to growing suggestions that she should will step down because of the Brexit model and to splits within her own party. Have

a listen.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: But actually, yes, this is where I get a little bit irritated but this is not -- this debate is not

about my future. This debate is about the future of the people of the U.K. and the future of the United Kingdom.

That's what I'm focused on and that's what I think we should all be focused on. It's ensuring that we get that good deal from the European Union which

is good for people in the U.K., wherever they live in the U.K. That's what's important for us and that's what I'm focusing on. It's the future

of people in the U.K. that matters.


[11:34:58] ANDERSON: Well, Mrs. May, irritated. Her position may seem a bit shaky. My next guest writes in The Independent that a, quote,

"Leadership challenge is the last thing the hard Brexiteers want."

John Rentoul is the chief political commentator for The Independent, and I'm delighted to say he's joining us today from London. Why do you say

that, John?

JOHN RENTOUL, CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, THE INDEPENDENT: Well, because the hard Brexiteers in the Conservative Party, they are very unhappy with

the direction that Theresa May is taking. The negotiations over the withdrawal agreement.

But they simply don't have the numbers to oust her in the Parliamentary Party. I mean, they would need the votes of a majority of Conservative MPs

to depose her, which would be 158 out of 315. And they may have 60 if they're -- if it's a good day. I mean some of them talk about 80.

But that's nowhere near the kind of -- the kind of numbers they need. They need 158, they haven't got them. And if they launched a challenge against

her that doesn't come off. Then, the party rules say that another challenge cannot be started for a year. So, they would only strengthen her


ANDERSON: Remind us why there could be a snap election in the U.K.?


ANDERSON: What are of the rules? And if there were a snap election over all of this, is it would be -- it would be over all of this at the end of

the day? What would the opposition's Brexit policy be? Is it clear whether it would be any different from that which it is at the moment

because at present the Labour Party supports in principle as a party, as the MPs of that party are the U.K. leaving the E.U., doesn't it?

RENTOUL: Yes, that's a very good question. And actually, that goes to the heart of what Theresa May was saying in that clip we just saw there. I

mean, she is obviously irritated about speculation about her position but the truth is, and she knows this and her opponents in her party and outside

her party know it too that a different leader of the Conservative Party, a different Prime Minister wouldn't actually have a substantially different

approach to our departure from the European Union.

And as you say, even if there were a general election, which is very unlikely by the way. Because all Conservative MPs would have to vote for

that, and they don't want to do that, they do not want to place the electorate at this point.

But even if there were a general election and if Labour took over, and Jeremy Corbyn's approach to Europe as you say is not that different from

the governments.

He accepts that we're going to leave. He says where he could negotiate a better deal. I -- and you know, would the British public believe that and

would he actually be able to achieve a better deal? I don't think it would make a huge amount of difference.

ANDERSON: And this is effectively a two-party race in the U.K. at present. And there is a discussion going on about the potential for a centrist

party, a new party. And I want to talk to you about that in a moment and get your perspective on that. Really an opinion piece for The Observer

newspaper today.

London mayor Sadiq Khan is calling for a second Brexit vote. Saying otherwise, quote, "With time rapidly running out, we are left with two

possibilities. A bad deal which could end up being so vague that we leave the E.U. blind to our future relationship, or a no deal Brexit? Where is

he going with this and what likelihood?

RENTOUL: Well, that -- well, that again, a very good question because it's very difficult to say. I mean, we are entering the most extraordinary few

months in British history because Theresa May has to get a deal. If she doesn't-- if she doesn't reach agreement with the European partners, then

we leave without a deal and that would be seriously disruptive for our economy.

And that is precisely what no one knows is going to happen. And that's why people like Sadiq Khan and my own newspaper, The Independent are calling

for another referendum when we -- when we know more clearly what the situation is likely to be next March.

Are we going to be -- what will the deal be or if there is no deal -- you know, what's it going to be like? Because, I mean, it is possible then

that I think the British people might want to reconsider.

ANDERSON: John, in a piece you wrote finally for The Independent, you discuss the possibility of this new centrist party for the U.K. You say

that one hard list if a new party emerges that its position on Brexit could quickly become irrelevant. I wonder why you say that, enclosing.

[11:40:02] RENTOUL: Well, well because a lot of -- a lot of people are arguing for a new party in Britain. It can't be the Liberal Democrats

existing centre party because they've been so closely associated with the Conservatives they were in coalition government with them.

And so, there's talk of setting up a new party. But, and all for that talk gets confused with people's opposition to Brexit, people don't want us to

leave the European Union, they want a second referendum, and so on. But you don't need a new party to do that.

So, my view is that -- you know, that's not going to happen before we leave. After we leave -- you know, then people can talk about a vacuum in

the center of British politics and then they can set up a new party they like without the confusion of Brexit or whether a relationship with Europe

should be changed, because I think that is a huge distraction at the moment. So, I don't think a Centre Party is on the cards until after we


ANDERSON: John, appreciate it. Thanks for coming in on a -- on a Sunday. Your analysis is vital for our viewers as we all get our heads around what

is an incredibly important story not just the U.K. but the wider E.U. and the world around us.

It certainly more unknown knowns and known unknowns and definitely, very few known knowns on that story. Thank you, sir.

More protests in Russia, where rallies against pension reform took place in President Putin's hometown of St. Petersburg. Demonstrations broke out

across the country last weekend. People furious at proposals to raise the retirement age.

Police cracking down last week in monitoring group as more than 1,000 people were detained. For more, CNN's Matthew Chance, live for us in

Moscow. Even Putin's supporters it seems are angry at this one. Explain.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, some of them are. Certainly, it's one of the key features of this pension

reform issue in Russia that -- you know, it's people from all different sides of the political spectrum, you've got the liberal opposition, you've

got supporters of Alexei Navalny, one of the key opposition figures in the country, and co-traditional Putin supporters as well, who are angered by

these proposals, these plans to change the retirement age by five years for both men and women.

For men, it's incredibly important because the plan is to change the retirement age from 60 years old to 65 years old. But the average life

expectancy for a Russian man is only 66 years old. So, there's a lot of concern that a lot of these people won't get any pension at all. And say,

because of that -- those figures, it is an issue that is causing anger across the political divide.


CHANCE: At 59, these should have been Evgeny Pankov's last few months of work after a lifetime back-breaking labor, fetching and carrying in the

construction industry.

PANKOV: I really feel my age.

CHANCE: He complains.

PANKOV: And my joints hurt especially in the morning.

CHANCE: 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 a country where average male life expectancy is just 67.

PANKOV: I'm not just upset, I'm outraged. Now, I'll be forced to work even longer, depriving my loved ones and my grandchildren of my attention.

CHANCE: Evgeny here is just one of the millions of Russians who have been adversely affected by these controversial pension reform. In fact, the

issue has ignited 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 OF RUSSIA: In the long term, if we hesitate now, it could threaten stability in society, and hence, national security.

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

CHANCE: 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: 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.


[11:45:10] CHANCE: Well, that undermining of the trust that's had a real impact on Vladimir Putin's approval ratings that down 15 points according

to some estimates. And so, the Kremlin is watching this very carefully to see what momentum these protests have nationwide. Becky.

ANDERSON: Fascinating. Matthew, thank you. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Matthew Chance is in Russia, I'm in the UAE. Still ahead,

preparing for the worst, we take you inside Idlib to see how one family is looking ahead to a possible government assault. That, after this.


ANDERSON: Light streaking across the Damascus night. This video released by Syrian state media purportedly shows an Israeli airstrike being

intercepted above the capital and shot down. Well, Israel hasn't commented on the allegation.

Meanwhile, Britain is warning the Syrian government against creating what is it says will be a man-made catastrophe in the rebel and jihadi ran

province of Idlib. London scaling up humanitarian aid to the province ahead of a feared attack by the army to retake the territory.

Many civilians trapped inside are making frantic preparations of their own ahead of what they fear will be the bloodiest battle yet as Jomana

Karadsheh, now reports.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are so many ways to die in Inlib. But only the most primitive methods for survival. (INAUDIBLE) al-

Shahhad is preparing for a regime onslaught in Idlib, this make shift shelter may be the difference between life or death for his family.

AL-SHAHHAD: We have moved some supplies, food and water in case of an emergency God forbid. Because Russia is tracking with highly explosive

bombs that houses cannot withstand. God willing, the cave will protect us from that.

KARADSHEH: The regime's offensive to be captured the last major rebel stronghold hasn't officially started yet, but bombs have already been

raining down on Southern Idlib. al-Shahhad hopes the cave would shelter his family from the worst of the conventional weapons. But in Syria, even

a breath of fresh air isn't uncertainty.

AL-SHAHHAD: We made the gas mask to protect our children, God forbid, if a chemical attack happens. To protect their eyes and ears, it's the least we

can do.

Upstares in their living room, preparing for the worst is all they can do. Residents here fear the possibility of another chemical attack. Following

instructions he found online, al-Shahhad uses what he can find. Colorful paper cups, cotton, bandages, charcoal, and plastic bags to create his

family's survival kit, these improvised gas masks.

al-Shahhad walks his children down into the darkness to inspect their underground hideaway. With nowhere left to run when the battle begins,

this could be their only sanctuary. Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


[11:50:34] ANDERSON: Well, meanwhile, Syrians in government-held territory which is most of the country are voting in their first local elections in

seven years since the war began. State media reporting that more than 40,000 candidates are vying for almost 20,000 seats.

Polls closing around on about 10 minutes time as the war winds down. Damascus keen to show that life is returning to normal in parts of the

country that it controls.

Right, let's get you off to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar right now. A 12-year-old Palestinian boy killed by Israeli

soldiers at the Gaza border has been laid to rest. Family members kissed his body farewell before carrying his body in a funeral procession through

the streets of Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp. The boy was among three people killed in Friday's border clashes with Israeli forces.

Well, Turkey has started legal proceedings against four men who allegedly staged to drive-by shooting at the American Embassy in Ankara last month.

Accused of carrying out a hostile act against the foreign state, that is according to the local news agency. The attack coincided with a deepening

route between Turkey and the U.S. over the trial of an American pastor.

Egypt has signed a 1$ billion deepwater oil and gas exploration deal with Royal Dutch Shell, and Malaysia's Petronas. The petroleum ministry said it

includes eight wells in the country's West Nile Delta. Egypt hopes to become a regional hub for the liquefied natural gas trade.

A new marathon world record has just been set in Berlin. Canyon long- distance runner, Eliud Kipchoge cross the line in Berlin at just over two hours and a minute. The race organizers praise his achievements they will

be remembered for decades to come.

Watching CONNECT THE WORLD, I'm Becky Anderson for you. We're in Abu Dhabi, coming up, reviving the spirit of Mosul. We look at efforts to

rebuild Iraq's second largest city from the ruins. It was left in after ISIS destroyed many of its landmarks.


[11:55:02] ANDERSON: And your parting shots tonight, we look at an incredibly ambitious project by UNESCO designed to rebuild Iraq second-

largest city after many of its landmarks often dating back centuries were destroyed by ISIS. Look at this.


ANDERSON: Over 800 years of history reduced to rubble. This is what remains of Mosul's grand al-Nouri Mosque. Built by one of the great

military commanders in Islamic history. But today, a shadow of its former self. After being destroyed by ISIS in the summer of 2017.

It was the very spot where its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared the creation of a Caliphate in 2014. A dream that ironically ended just

months after the group blew up the mosque, an act UNESCO has described as a crime.

But now, the United Nations cultural agency wants to use the reconstruction of Iraq's second largest city as a way to restore its own credibility which

took a hit after the U.S. and Israel left the agency in 2017, accusing it of anti-Israel bias.

Partnering with Iraq's government, UNESCO wants to rebuild the city's landmarks which according to estimates will require at least $2 billion in

aid. The biggest projects being the restoration of the Grand Mosque itself.

The UAE has pledged $50 million to the five-year project which the country's culture minister Noura al-Kaabi hopes will nurture values, of

tolerance, of peace, and of hope.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching wherever you are in the world.