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Kavanaugh Accuser Tentatively Agrees to Testify Thursday; Flooding Expected to Worsen in South Carolina; U.S.-North Korea Relations; Sexual Assault Survivors Respond to Trump; Comcast Outbids Fox for Purchase of Sky; Japan Lands Robot Rovers on Ryugu's Surface. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired September 23, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault agrees to testify as Republicans work to save his Supreme Court nomination.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also this hour, the Iranian president lashes out at the United States after a deadly attack at a military parade.
HOWELL (voice-over): And Japan's space agency makes history at the dropping of tiny robots onto an asteroid. We'll talk to a former NASA astronaut about that.
ALLEN (voice-over): Just a spaceship landing on an asteroid.
Welcome to viewers in the U.S. and around the world and on asteroids. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. NEWSROOM starts right now.
ALLEN: And we begin with a potential breakthrough in the bitter confirmation battle of Supreme Court nominee judge Brett Kavanaugh. The woman who accused Kavanaugh of sexual and physical assault has agreed for now to testify in a Senate committee hearing on Thursday.
HOWELL: We're talking about Christine Blasey Ford, a research psychologist who accuses Kavanaugh of assaulting her. She said it happened during a house party when they were teenagers. Kavanaugh firmly denies the allegation.
ALLEN: Now Democrats fear the 11 Republican men of the Senate Judiciary Committee will not treat Professor Ford's allegations fairly.
HOWELL: In the meantime, Republicans are trying not to lose more women voters in the midterm elections. Again, the midterms are just 44 days away. This confirmation battle is, in part, a battle of public opinion. That's important because, look, it's going to be negotiated in the coming hours, whether this hearing should be public or private.
ALLEN: Either way, Ms. Ford's testimony will captivate the U.S. political world very likely as nothing less than the ideological balance of the highest court of the land at stake. CNN's Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue has more.
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: It looks like Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, will be facing senators at an historic hearing on Thursday that could very well determine the fate of Kavanaugh's nomination.
While Ford alleges that Kavanaugh assaulted her at a party some 30 years ago, he categorically denies the allegations. But there are still more details to be worked out between lawyers for Ford and the Judiciary Committee before the hearing is final. They plan to talk later on, on Sunday, to hammer out remaining issues.
Lawyers for Ford, for instance, believe that Republican senators should question Ford. Some in the GOP want to hire an outside counsel, maybe a woman, to do the questioning.
Also Ford thinks other witnesses should be called. For instance, they want to call Mark Judge, who Ford has said was in the room where the alleged assault happened. Judge has said he has no memory of the party.
But Senate judiciary chairman Chuck Grassley says there will be only two witnesses, Ford and Kavanaugh -- Ariane de Vogue, CNN, Washington.
(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Let's bring in Scott Lucas who is a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham live this hour from Birmingham, England.
Scott, a pleasure to have you, friend of the show for sure. Good to talk about this very important issue coming ahead. We understand that Ford has accepted an invitation to speak. This plays out in several ways.
First, let's talk about the pressure on Republican senators. Upon hearing her testimony, there are three Republican senators who could vote either way on confirming Brett Kavanaugh, depending upon what she has to say.
Could her story break past political solidarity?
SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, if this goes ahead -- and right now it's an agreement in principle -- whereas I think politics will overtake the legal considerations.
The Republicans who support Kavanaugh want to turn this into a he said/she said episode. And indeed, some of Kavanaugh's supporters, including those working at the White House, have been spreading stories such as, oh, Kavanaugh was not at the party; this is a misidentification; he was mistaken for someone else.
And President Trump has even sort of denounced Christine Ford and said, in fact, she's not reliable. Now on the other side, Democrats quite clearly, at the least, want a full hearing, which is not just simply he said versus she said but in fact it is something that might go on and take this beyond November's elections.
How does this affect the Republican swing votes?
Well, you know, if a day is a long time in politics, a few weeks could seem like an eternity. But do watch Jeff Flake of Arizona. Do see if he supports the Democrats to say this she be a process which is full --
LUCAS: -- rather than rushed through. And beyond that, when this gets through committee, we're looking at Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. How they might react in the confirmation, that will turn not only on the testimony that we eventually get over the next week but on the reactions to the testimony, for example, Susan Collins was quite unsettled last Friday when Donald Trump sought to deride Professor Ford and cast her as unreliable.
HOWELL: That tweet that you're talking about, that the president sent out and to your point about the he said/she said, it's important to point out, as of this moment, no other witnesses allowed and no FBI investigation, which Dr. Ford would have wanted to be part of this.
Let's also consider the negotiations that are ongoing now as to whether this will be a public or private hearing. That's the very highly significant issue because on one hand, Republicans are concerned about the optics around Dr. Ford and how she's being treated but there's also this. Scott, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: You watched the fight, you watched the tactics but here's what I want to tell you, in the very near future, judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court. So my friends, keep the faith, don't get rattled by all of this, we're going to plow right through it. And do our job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Plow right through it, he says. Clearly, Scott, some would prefer this to remain private, not a public hearing.
LUCAS: Well, first of all, just a reminder, that is the first priority should be Professor Ford's security. This is a woman who, at risk to herself, has come forward to make these allegations. She's received a lot of abuse and even death threats over this. And therefore the hearing should be tailored in which she gets a fair
hearing which protects her security. But as you heard from the clip, I'm afraid the first priorities give way to politics.
Let's be honest here, whatever you think about Judge Kavanaugh, the Republicans have wanted to rush this through and everything else is incidental. They have withheld thousands of documents, they have brushed aside testimony, which has raised questions about Judge Kavanaugh's statements, such as on contraceptives or for example whether he was involved in the, let's say, questionable obtaining of Democratic Party documents 15 years ago.
Pushing all that aside, here's where we are now. What you just heard from that clip is, it doesn't matter what Professor Ford says. It doesn't matter what the truth is here. You know, Judge Kavanaugh could have gone out, torn apart Washington, D.C., single-handedly.
The fact is that the politics behind this is the Republicans want him on the court for life. And that's the starting point that we get, whether that is eroded or whether there is pushback on this because of the substance of Professor Ford's claims, we'll find out later this week.
HOWELL: Any facade that this is not political is certainly a false facade because you do have both sides looking to have very different outcomes from this, Scott. I want to talk a bit about that as well. All this playing out in advance of the midterm elections, it is more advantageous for Republicans to, as Mitch McConnell indicated, to plow right through it and simply ensure the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh as a conservative Supreme Court justice at all costs.
Or should they focus more on the longer view here, to make sure they don't alienate moderate women voters come November and, Scott, come 2020?
LUCAS: Well, I'm going to talk about what should happen first, that is, when folks get married, they're supposed to be married for life. You're supposed to have a chance to raise an objection before that process goes through.
Now this is a Supreme Court justice who is on the court for decades, for life. And questions should be raised and should be heard. And you shouldn't just rush everybody out of the room and say, nothing to see here.
What the Republican gamble here is right now, it doesn't matter how quickly they do this; they believe that they can still win a lot of women voters by running arguments such as, it's unfair how he's being treated, this is all a Democratic plot.
And if you watch the line which has come out not only from Donald Trump's tweets last Friday but from his rally appearance in Nevada, for example, or indeed from the White House, that's what they're saying.
They actually believe that they can gain more votes in the midterm elections from women even playing politics with Kavanaugh. I actually think that's a huge gamble. In fact, I think they're wrong. But we won't know until six weeks from now.
HOWELL: There are -- it does come down to a divided electorate. There are women, we have done stories on people who have a certain view on Kavanaugh, who support him and certainly others who disagree with seeing him move forward. We'll have to --
HOWELL: -- wait and see. Scott Lucas, thank you so much for your time today.
LUCAS: Thank you, George.
ALLEN: Another story we're following, Iran launching new accusations after a deadly terror attack. Its state media reports that guns opened fire on Saturday at a military parade in Southwest Iran. At least 29 people were killed. Officials blame separatists.
But they also say the attackers had foreign support from countries like the United States and Saudi Arabia. For more, CNN's Sam Kiley is following this from Abu Dhabi.
Sam, what do we know about how this played out and who possibly is behind it?
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that during this anniversary parade for what we call the end of the Iran- Iraq War back in the 1980s, several gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons on a crowd of not only members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard group but also the civilians and we reportedly one child that was caught up many this terrorist attack.
Now this attack was spectacular in its nature and the need to generate a lot of international publicity. Iran is not a stranger to terrorist attacks. There are a number of organizations and groups, movements, within and without the country, that have used violence in the past against the regime or to embarrass the regime.
The difference is the context of when this is occurring. The Iranian government has blamed typically the United States, the long-time rivals, Saudi Arabia, the regional rival, Israel with the Zionist entity in the background.
At this time when the Trump administration and the Saudis have been openly talking about members of the Trump administration supporting groups within Iran to topple the regime, that's a point made by Rudy Giuliani, who is the U.S. president's personal lawyer, but also John Bolton prior to him becoming the national security adviser, who gave speeches to a formerly terrorist organization designated by United States as a terrorist organization, an organization that's dedicated to regime change.
In Iran the Saudis say they are going to start switching their efforts toward destabilizing and regime change inside Iran. That gives a bit of credibility to what the Iranians are saying.
Now that is not to say at all that there is any kind of causal link between this terrorist attack and what is happening in Iran but it is not surprising that the Iranians would highlight these links and all be the merely philosophical propaganda leaks.
ALLEN: Have we heard from the government in Tehran about this?
KILEY: Yes, the Iranians are saying that this is part of a plot orchestrated by what it said is regional puppets of the United States. I think that is clearly what they mean by that is Saudi Arabia. The Saudis earlier in the year have said that they would be switching efforts to bring pressure on Iran over Iranian support of Houthi militants in Yemen in particular are but wider destabilization efforts in Syria and Iraq and South Lebanon.
As a consequence of that, the Saudis are allergic to ongoing military and proxy efforts by the Iranians and equally, particularly under the Trump administration, the Iranians are saying the Trump administration has created the context for this attack -- Natalie.
ALLEN: We'll continue to watch it to see how it unfolds and how the United States responds as well. Sam Kiley, thank you.
HOWELL: Got to tell you about a drama playing out on the high seas. An international rescue mission underway to save an injured sailor taking part in the Golden Globe Yacht Race.
ALLEN: Race organizers say naval commander Abilash Tomi (ph) sent an SOS from his yacht in the South Indian Ocean about 3,000 kilometers or 1,900 miles southwest of Perth, Australia. He told rescuers his back was badly injured and he couldn't move after his racing boat lost its mast in extreme weather.
HOWELL: Officials say a French fisheries patrol boat could reach Tomi (ph) the soonest but not until Monday.
Hurricane Florence has come and gone but its impact is lingering. Ahead, the latest on the flooding in South Carolina.
ALLEN: Also, a year after threats and insults, the U.S. and North Korea learn to be friends. A look at the changing Korean Peninsula coming up. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
HOWELL: What you see right there, the Indonesian volcano giving quite a show on Sunday. It has erupted at least 44 times this week alone. ALLEN: How about that picture right there?
Despite erupting that many times, George, there have been no reports of problems for airlines or for tourists. But this volcano erupted back in 1883. And that resulted in the deaths of 35,000 people. Much different situation there today. Just a pretty picture.
A dire situation in South Carolina from what was Hurricane Florence. The rain has gone but runoff from the storm still swelling rivers.
HOWELL: This the scene in Conway that has already reached in this river more than 19 feet. That's nearly 6 meters and this is likely to increase even more in the coming days. CNN's Nick Valencia has more from South Carolina.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think the best way to describe this is a slow-motion disaster. That's what Conway residents have told us that they feel like they're dealing with as this water just slowly but surely creeps into their homes.
You may remember this community. It's the same community that President Trump visited earlier this week. It had flash flooding --
VALENCIA: -- after Hurricane Florence made landfall. That flash flooding receded long enough for many of the residents to get their belongings and get out of here. But some decided to stick it out, not heeding the warnings of local officials.
They had been warning residents all week long that this would happen and now the water is here. It's the result of the runoff in North Carolina, all the rains dumped on the community by Hurricane Florence. Well, they have to drain somewhere and are coming through the Waccamaw River, which is bursting at the seams, causing situations like this.
Perhaps the worst news of all, this is not technically a flood zone typically, so many here don't have flood insurance and will have to deal with the rising water in the days ahead -- Nick Valencia, CNN, Conway, South Carolina.
ALLEN: Well, the world leaders are gearing up for a high-level debate at this year's U.N. General Assembly in New York.
HOWELL: And the geopolitical landscape between the U.S. and the Korean Peninsula couldn't be more different than during last year's general assembly. CNN's Paula Hancocks has the view from Seoul, South Korea.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are a few key days coming up when it comes to the denuclearization of North Korea. South Korean president Moon Jae-in will be traveling to the United States to brief the U.S. president Donald Trump on his three-day summit with Kim Jong- un.
And he will effectively be putting the ball back in the U.S.' court. Now we already know that Kim Jong-un wants a second summit with the U.S. president. He sent a letter to Mr. Trump. The White House has said they are open to it.
President Moon will be reinforcing that message. He has said that Kim Jong-un told him he really wants another summit as soon as possible so that he can continue with denuclearization very quickly.
Now there are plenty of critics in the U.S., including within the Trump administration, that believe that Mr. Trump should not be rewarding the North Korean leader with a second summit when there haven't been tangible results on the steps toward denuclearization.
The other tangible result that President Moon believes he will be going to the U.S. with is that Kim Jong-un has agreed to shutdown the key missile site and he will be allowing international experts, he says, in to verify that process.
In addition to that, if the U.S. has corresponding measures, then North Korea will agree to shutdown its Yongbyon nuclear facility.
President Moon did have a press conference with journalists as soon as he got back to Seoul from the summit. And I asked him, what exactly are these corresponding measures?
And he effectively said that it was to end hostilities against North Korea, which means an end to the Korean War, which was signed by an armistice, not a peace treaty, back in 1953. And this is something that both North and South Korea --
HANCOCKS: -- have been very clear about. They both want to end the Korea War, to have that declaration and to have a peace treaty.
Now certainly so far the U.S. response appears to have been positive to this three-day summit. So President Moon will be heading to the U.S. and also to the United Nations General Assembly knowing that there is this positive response, that the U.S. is willing to restart negotiations.
But the issue remains the same. It is all about timing and order. The U.S. wants denuclearization and they will follow that with a declaration of the end of the Korean War and concessions. North Korea wants it exactly the opposite way -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.
ALLEN: A new and important viral moment on Twitter as thousands of people share why they did not report their sexual assault. We'll discuss the #whyididntreport after comments by President Trump. We'll talk with an expert in a moment.
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: And Brett Kavanaugh's accuser, research psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, alleges he assaulted her while he was drunk during a house party more than 30 years ago. She says there was another person in the room, who witnessed the alleged attack and she wants him to testify.
HOWELL: And that person we're talking about, this man. Kavanaugh's high school friend, Mark Judge. Now he does not want to speak publicly. And the Republican majority in the Senate Judiciary Committee is unlikely to force him to testify.
ALLEN: In a letter to the committee, Judge wrote this, quote, "I have no memory of this alleged incident. I do not recall the party described in Dr. Ford's letter. More to the point, I never saw Brett act in the manner Dr. Ford describes."
ALLEN: We looked a little closer into it, who exactly is Mark Judge?
Our Randi Kaye had this report.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His name is Mark Judge and he was Brett Kavanaugh's high school friend and classmate. In this yearbook photo, that's Judge in the white T-shirt, Kavanaugh next to him in a baseball cap. That photo taken long before Judge made a name for himself albeit controversial as a conservative writer and journalist, contributing to publications like "The Daily Caller" and "American Spectator."
In his 1997 book, "Wasted: Tales of a GenX Drunk," Judge writes about his heavy drinking when he was a student at Georgetown Preparatory School, describing how once he had a beer, he found it impossible to stop until he was completely annihilated.
He said his high school was positively swimming in alcohol. Judge also referenced a Bart O'Kavanaugh, who he says vomited in someone's car and then passed out. It's unclear if this is a reference to Brett Kavanaugh. Mark Judge seems to embrace controversy. In 2006, he asked on PoliticalMavens.com whether gay people are perverts and later in 2012 in "The Daily Caller," he wrote that the odds were very high that a black person had stolen his bike.
In a 2013 piece for "The Daily Caller," he denounced former President Barack Obama, writing that, "He doesn't have just a streak of the feminine in him, he seems to be a woman and a feminist one at that, with a streak of a man in him."
KAYE: Since being named in his latest political firestorm, Mark Judge has deleted much of his presence on social media, including shutting down his Twitter account. But enough of his writings are still out there to get a sense of how he views women.
KAYE (voice-over): In that 2013 piece in "The Daily Caller," Judge compared Michelle Obama to Laura Bush, writing, "Michelle is actually more man than her husband. Oh, for the days when President George W. Bush gave his wife Laura a loving but firm pat on the backside in public. The man knew who is boss."
Two years later in 2015, Judge wrote in splice today about something he called damseling, which he described as making a woman a passive damsel in distress who needs rescuing.
Judge wrote about women as early as high school. His yearbook page included this, "Certain women should be struck regularly like gongs," citing Sir Noel Coward.
More recently, Judge wrote this on the online magazine, Acculturated.
"There's never any excuse to rape, a crime that I think is almost akin to murder because the rapist kills a part of the human soul. And yet what women wear and their body language also sends signals about their sexuality."
A friend of Kavanaugh's from high school described Mark Judge to CNN as a "joker and a loudmouth." Now, suddenly, all these years later, a lawyer from Mark Judge says his client has nothing to say publicly -- Randi Kaye, CNN, Orlando.
ALLEN: Well, he has had things to say in the past, has he not?
Well, many are asking why Christine Blasey Ford didn't report the alleged sexual assault sooner. President Trump said as much this past week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Why didn't somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?
I mean, you could also say, when did this all happen?
What is going on? To take a man like this and -- with that being said, let her have her say and let's see how it all works out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: In the wake of the comments there and Mr. Trump's tweet on Friday, saying that if the attack had been as bad as Ford said, charges would have been filed immediately.
Well, many assault survivors are now speaking out on why they never came forward before, along with the #whyididntreport. Here are some of the tweets.
Here's one, "My mom said she would kill anyone who hurt me and at 9 years old I believed her. I was afraid she would go to jail."
Another person tweeted, "Because he was a friend of my parents and I knew they would never believe me. I was 12 or 13. Years later when I did tell them, they didn't believe me."
And this, "I was 15 and it took years for me to even understand that it was not my fault." #whyididntreport.
I want to talk more about this with a criminology professor, Nicole Westmarland from Darlington, England. She's also director of the Durham Center for Research into Violence and Abuse.
Thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate your insight. So let's start there, #whyididntreport. Sex abuse victims are having their say on Twitter.
What's the reaction to what you're reading and the fact that this came out after President Trump said of Brett Kavanaugh's accuser why didn't she report it back then?
NICOLE WESTMARLAND, CRIMINOLOGY PROFESSOR: Well, I think the first thing to say is obviously these are heartbreaking stories that are coming out online. Sometimes people who have never spoken out publicly about being a survivor and choosing now in support to say the very reasons why they didn't report.
And the reasons which are coming through on Twitter and other forms of social media really do back up what we have of decades of evidence now from criminological research in the U.K., the U.S. and all over the world.
There are so many reasons, so many barriers to people reporting sexual violence that actually the question of why didn't they report, would be better for us is the question, why does anybody report?
ALLEN: Right. That's a good look at it. It takes tremendous courage. And it takes support. And the law is varying country to country if anyone does come forward, what would happen then?
Now we are in the era of #MeToo, we're seeing more abuse victims come forward. They've received support.
But here's an accomplished woman, a professor, who boldly comes forward, makes the claim deemed credible.
How do you gauge the response from the politicians in Washington?
Let's look at an example here from the Republican senator, Mitch McConnell, indicating Friday that he was going to, quote, "plow right through it."
He wrote in the very near future, Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court. We're going to plow right through it and do our job.
What is your assessment of whether he's taking this seriously?
WESTMARLAND: Well, obviously, it's very aggressive, masculinist language which is being used. The idea that you can just get to the facts of an issue and sweep it somehow under the carpet without listening to both sides of the story.
I mean, it reminds me very much of the #MeToo campaign which obviously started around celebrities and what was said in the early days of that was that they were such (INAUDIBLE), they declared such a good character (ph) but they did work for charity, but they did this, that and the other.
And the idea is if you have done good things as well in your life, you might not done something or you cannot done something which has involved the sexual violation of another person.
Of course, we know that's not the case, we know that there are a lot of men and women out there who, in many other areas of their life, have done hugely positive things. In the U.K., we have the case of Jimmy Savile. When people first started talking out about him, they said, well, he had done so much for charity, he had raised this much money, he had run a marathon, he had worked with children, he cannot have sexually violated all of these people.
And of course as time came out, it turned out that he had. He had done that. And he had also been a good person in terms of raising money for charity.
ALLEN: Right. That's a very good point you bring out. I want to talk to you about what we may see this week in Washington. We may see a public hearing.
How will it get to the truth?
What will it be beyond a he said/she said without an investigation?
WESTMARLAND: I think what makes this case particularly difficult obviously in all of politics, which is going around it and all the publicity that is happening within this case. In the U.K., it would have been a criminal offense to have mend (ph) the accuser, the complainant in the case. So that to some extent would have stopped the picking away of the
details, some of the social media response. And it would have allowed thoughtfully for a more private healing to have been held so that it wasn't the kind of trial by public --
WESTMARLAND: -- that we often see in the big political or celebrity cases happening today.
So obviously there's the backdrop of politics which complicates the matter but, at the end of the day, what we need is for the questions to be asked but sensitively, the right questions to be asked.
Asking a question like "Why didn't you report this at the time?" is not a useful question for finding out whether it happened.
There is no evidence that suggests that people who genuinely report at the time or vice versa that people are liars. So that's not a useful starting point for the question.
More useful questions would be, "At what point did you realize that this actually was a violation?
"Was it straightaway at the time or was it as time has gone on?
"What has been the impact of this on your life?"
These are the starting points which I think need to be progressed with.
ALLEN: We hope that's what we see then. We appreciate you so much with your insights and your analysis, Nicole Westmarland for us. Thank you.
WESTMARLAND: Thank you.
ALLEN: And we'll be right back.
HOWELL: Welcome back. For those of you who've been following the battle of the media titans, Comcast versus 21st Century Fox, we now know the outcome.
ALLEN: The prize: Europe's biggest pay TV broadcaster, right there, Sky. Comcast came out on top but now the ball is in the Sky shareholders' court. For more now, here's Anna Stewart in London.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The bidding battle for Sky is finally over with Comcast emerging victorious. Now it's taken 21 months, multiple bids and, at the end, the take of a panel here in the U.K. The regulator called an end to the saga by announcing a very rare event, an auction.
This is something like a penalty shoot-out of the U.K. Pick of the World. This was three rounds of bidding over some 26 hours.
STEWART: Comcast emerged victorious as the winner at $22.57. And 21st Century Fox was 15.67 pounds and that is $20.46 a share. Ultimately this means that Comcast is valuing Sky at nearly $40 billion, which is actually far more than its current market cap of $35.6 billion.
Now the reason for all this, both Disney, which is in the process of buying Fox, and Comcast, wanted to buy Sky to help diversify a wave in the United States. Increasingly, it is hard to grow there against the changing media landscape. Of course, online streaming means they have new rivals like Amazon, Netflix and Hulu.
And Sky would have enabled them to do just that with a huge European distribution network, 23 million customers as well as content, very valuable things like Premier League football rights and its own online streaming service NOW TV.
Now although Comcast may have won the bid it is not quite signed, sealed and delivered yet. Next, Comcast and Fox both have to officially announce their final bidding offers and they will do that before 7:00 am on Monday before the market opens.
Then they publish a document to that effect by Thursday. And then it is over to Sky. Now the board will recommend one of the offers, which will likely be Comcast at this stage, and shareholders have until the end of Thursday, the 11th of October, to approve it -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
ALLEN: Next here, we are off to an asteroid. Japan's tiny robots have hopped their way onto an asteroid. It is an amazing feat and we'll talk about it with a former NASA astronaut after this.
HOWELL: Archaeologists call it the discovery of a decade. They found a centuries-old shipwreck off the coast of Portugal.
ALLEN: That had to be a cool find.
ALLEN: How old is it, you ask?
The ship is thought to have gone down between the late 1500s and early 1600s while on its way to Lisbon from India. Divers discovered it just 40 feet below the surface, about 12 meters. And on board, they found bronze cannons, spices and Chinese ceramics, hopefully coming to a museum near you.
HOWELL: Wow, definitely a look at history.
And then looking ahead with this next story, Japan's space agency has made history. This when two of its unmanned rovers successfully landed on what you see there, an asteroid. The agency says they are in good condition and are transmitting images and data.
ALLEN: That picture gives you a sense of how fast both were going. The tiny robot separated from Hayabusa2 spacecraft and landed on the asteroid entitled Ryugu, which is between Earth and Mars. Japan hopes the spacecraft will be able to bring asteroid samples back to Earth in 2020.
Joining me to talk about this is retired NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao.
Hello, Leroy, thank you for being with us. Always good to have you.
LEROY CHIAO, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT: Great to be back. Thanks.
ALLEN: Let's talk about this feat, the complexities of landing a spacecraft with two rovers on an asteroid.
How fast are both traveling?
How far out in space is the asteroid and what its size?
CHIAO: Well, they are -- both pieces are going pretty darn fast. The orbit ranges between one astronomical unit and 1.5. Roughly the distance between the sun and the Earth and then Mars, which is half as far away from the sun on average.
So the Hayabusa2 spacecraft itself is about the size of a very large refrigerator. And the rovers are a little smaller and were deployed successfully as you saw in the news and have gone down to the surface, which is pretty incredible because the Ryugu itself is only 1 kilometer in diameter.
And the gravity level on the asteroid is about 180 thousandths (ph) of the Earth. So to be able to put a lander down on that low gravity asteroid is pretty incredible. These things are not traditional rovers. They're actually hot. And so they have a mechanism that allows them to jump around on that asteroid.
They go up to about 15 meters off of the surface and stay up in -- above it for up to about 15 minutes. And what they are looking for, they are looking for organic compounds and other measurements in addition to the great pictures that they're sending back. So it is exciting because, you know, a few years ago, the European
space agency sent Rosetta to comet 67p. And the lander that went down onto the comet found signs of organic chemicals, including the existence of one of the amino acids, a basic building block to DNA, which is a basic building block to life.
ALLEN: So people think, oh, what is the big deal?
An asteroid seems kind of not so interesting on the surface. But you dig down and it's certain can be. So that is what they're looking to do here and I understand that these rovers will come back with the samples that they take from this asteroid?
CHIAO: Correct. So what will happen, next month, the Hayabusa2 spacecraft will fire an impacter, basically kind of a missile onto that asteroid to kind of blast down into the surface, make a crater and then kind of then thus exposing fresh material underneath the surface.
And so these rovers are going to go into that crater, pick up some of the raw samples or protected samples and then actually bring some of the material back to Earth in 2020. So a very exciting mission.
ALLEN: And what does this say for Japan's space agency, the fact that Japan has done this?
CHIAO: Well, Japan, they have a very successful Hayabusa1, the original Hayabusa mission a few years ago that had some technical issues but they were still able to get some pretty interesting science. So this is their second effort at this and they are obviously able to do it.
CHIAO: They have launched probes to the moon. Of course, the Japanese space agency has been very active with NASA as far as putting astronauts aboard space shuttle and then aboard the International Space Station.
And so Japan has been a very good partner with the United States for space flight. And it's been very impressive in both the human space plant side as well as the unmanned probes like Hayabusa2.
ALLEN: That picture that it sent back is really remarkable, isn't it, from an asteroid.
Where are we in space exploration, Leroy?
How would you characterize it?
The U.S. has a probe spiraling to the sun; Japan has just landed on an asteroid to pick up samples to figure out what does it all mean and where did we come from?
Where are we in space exploration? CHIAO: Well, it's been exciting, over the last two to three years, the European space agency, the mission to 67p, the Rosetta, that was very exciting. Recently NASA has the Juno mission, studying Jupiter.
And a couple of years ago the new Horizon found out very fascinating things about Pluto that we had no idea of. So a lot of really cool things are happening. And the human space flight, we have some very exciting things happening with companies like SpaceX and Boeing about to launch U.S. astronauts on commercial vehicles to ISS.
And then all the talk of the exploring the moon and one day Mars. Elon Musk, in particular, wants to go and explore and even colonize Mars.
ALLEN: Much, much to explore for sure and it is very exciting times. Leroy Chiao, as always, always a pleasure to come on. Thank you for coming to talk to us.
CHIAO: Thank you.
HOWELL: That's fascinating.
ALLEN: Our top stories are around the corner. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. More news after the break. Stay with us.