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Brexit Deal: Tusk Confirms November Summit on 'Lose-Lose Situation'; Uyghur Family Accuses China Of Tearing Them Appart, Says 23 members Have Disappeared Inside Camps; Key Moments Along The Path To Brexit; Marie Antoinette's Pearl Pendant Fetches Record Price. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired November 15, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Andrew Stevens live in Hong Kong. The stories this hour, the cabinet of U.K. prime minister Theresa May has endorsed the draft of the Brexit deal negotiated with the European Union.
Just weeks ago the agreement seemed doubtful but Ms. May emerged from Number 10 Downing Street Wednesday with a much needed win. She made her announcement against a backdrop of loud protests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This is a decision which will come under intense scrutiny and that's entirely as it should be and entirely understandable. But the choice was this deal, which enables us to take back control and to build a brighter future for our country or going back to square one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEVENS: A key provision of that draft agreement: avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland to preserve the 1998 Good Friday agreement that ended decades of violence.
The U.K. and the E.U. have tentatively agreed to a backstop provision to keep the border open to trade and commerce if a new trade deal can't be reached by the end of 2020. But getting Parliament on board with the agreement could be a hard sell between now and next March. Lawmakers on both sides of the issue voice strong disapproval.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER BONE, BRITISH CONSERVATIVE MP: Is the prime minister aware that if the media reports about the E.U. agreement are in any way accurate, you're not delivering the Brexit people voted for?
JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, U.K. LABOUR PARTY: After two years of bungled negotiations, from what we know -- from what we know of the government's deal, it's a failure in its own terms. MAY: Time and time again, he has stood up in this house and complained and said that the government isn't making progress, the government isn't anywhere close to a deal. Now when we're making progress close to a deal, he complains about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STEVENS: The next stop for Brexit is Brussels, the E.U. ministers are likely to meet later this month to sign off on the draft agreement. Right now we're expected live statements from the E.U. Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the European Council president, Donald Tusk. We will bring you that live when it happens.
The prime minister faces a daunting task in getting Brexit through Parliament, at least in the current environment. But Ms. May has proven she's a survivor and that she shouldn't be underestimated.
Let's go to Nina dos Santos now, joining us from London.
Nina, let us go back to that cabinet meeting yesterday. As we've heard since, there has been strong opposition publicly from both sides of the fence.
How difficult was it for her to get the deal done?
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: By all accounts of British media reports, it was extremely strenuous to get through the five-hour meeting, which apparently reduced two Brexit Tory ministers to tears.
There were reports this time -- actually 10 hours ago, really -- when she emerged with the deal. There were reports as many as 10 of her cabinet ministers had dissented. She managed to push this through albeit to a deeply divided cabinet. There's only 21 members of the British cabinet and repeatedly 10 members were set dead against it.
That raises the prospect of resignations from here on. I'll remind you of what happened a number of months ago after Theresa May supposedly had unanimous backing of her Chequers agreement, 48 hours later we saw David Davis and Boris Johnson, two key ministers, the Brexit minister and then foreign secretary resigned.
That nearly toppled Theresa May. So she's certainly not clear in the clear here in terms of her leadership now when it comes to getting this through Parliament, which is much harder than her own divided cabinet.
STEVENS: On that point, A, she's got to deal with more criticism, much closer than the actual parliamentary vote.
But on the parliamentary vote, does she, at this stage, look like she has the numbers?
DOS SANTOS: Looking very difficult. She needs about 320 votes to get this through Parliament. If you speak to pro- and anti-Brexit members of her own party, some say they will vote against it. Members of the opposition, who she will rely on to muster enough of the numbers, some of them also saying there's no way that we would go for a deal like this.
In fact, members of the Labour Party say they would rather see the U.K. in the European economic area.
DOS SANTOS: So having some kind of deal like Switzerland or another referendum rather than what they call a terrible deal.
Then you got the DUP, the Northern Irish party, that forms an ad hoc coalition with the government, supporting the marquee votes. They're very unhappy with certain aspects of this. They believe this particular deal could just give more power to the E.U. and therefore to the Republic of Ireland south of the border. That could see them distanced from the rest of the U.K., of which they want to remain part.
So those key 10 votes of the DUP will be crucial. Labour votes are crucial. We know that the prime minister met with Jeremy Corbyn yesterday after presenting the deal that she had managed to scrape through cabinet.
He seemed rather noncommittal. But Corbyn is in an interesting position. He himself is eurosceptic but his party and many of his party members would like to see either another vote or a different deal to the one on the table. So it is not looking promising.
As you pointed out, forget the Parliamentary math and the timetable, the ball is in Brussels' court. You pointed out, Michel Barnier, the head of the European Commission, who's been negotiating these negotiations for the last two years, he'll meet with Donald Tusk, the head of the European Council, which convenes meetings with the E.U. member states.
Based on the framework we saw yesterday and that so-called decisive step with this early Brexit negotiation finally being sealed, they will likely convene an E.U. summit on the subject of Brexit for 27 member states, set to take place on November 25th.
Once that is rubber stamped, then we see things ping-pong back here to Parliament. Parliament have to go to recess before December 20th. So there's only a couple of weeks in the early December period when Theresa May will have to try and get this through the hardest sell of all, the House of Commons.
STEVENS: Nina dos Santos, thank you for that analysis.
STEVENS: Steven Erlanger is chief diplomatic correspondent in Europe for "The New York Times" and he is watching this play out from Brussels.
Steven, good to have you back on the show.
We're all hearing the criticism, the vocal, shrill criticism coming on the deal, which even though it was passed. I mean, one cabinet, one high profile Brexiteer calls it the worst of both worlds.
It may be, but is it actually workable?
STEVEN ERLANGER, LONDON BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think it's workable. But you have to remember it's a transitional agreement. I mean, the withdrawal agreement is real. Britain leaves it pays its money. The problem is no one is ready for the future relationship. We've got two more years or so of negotiations on really what matters, which is Britain's future relation with the E.U.
What people are unhappy about is the standstill transition period. And the biggest problem has been as we've always said the border between the E.U., which is Ireland, the republic and the U.K. which is Northern Ireland. And how you manage that has -- will continue to be a big problem.
I'm not always sure what the British various parts of the British establishment thought possible but they can change things in the future relationship negotiations if they choose to do so.
In the meantime, really nothing changes for the next 20 months. I mean, you have a standstill, effectively a standstill deal where Britain is still paying into the E.U. where there are still freedom of movement where nothing actually changes while negotiations continue.
ERLANGER: Now Theresa May, you know, has been pressuring every choice as far back as possible. Now the boots are on the ground and people have to decide.
STEVENS: It's a good point raised, the fact that nothing really does change materially until the end of 2020 as far as are the relationship between Britain and the E.U. is concerned.
I want to go back to the first point you raise about Northern Ireland because this is the key. This was the 5 percent which is always been usually problematic.
You're a diplomatic correspondent, do you see a way through this, neither side wants a hard border but they have to negotiate and don't you have to have a hard border if there is going to be Europe leading up to the to the border with Northern Ireland?
ERLANGER: Well, this is the problem. I mean, really have two contradictory things going on here, right. One is the E.U. want to protect its single market, which includes Ireland. And Britain doesn't want to divide itself, you know, England and the rest of the country from Northern Ireland and you can't have one without the other.
So, what they're trying to do is treat Ireland as an island as a single entity for customs and duties. And what the U.K. then said is don't divide us. So let's treat all of the U.K.
ERLANGER: -- as a single custom. And frankly, Brussels conceded on that point.
But again, this is only for a transition. I think down the road it's possible to negotiate a significant free-trade deal of sort of Canada plus-plus that will eliminate on goods which is after all only 15 percent of the British economy free trade and free passage of goods across Ireland and from the U.K. into the E.U.
The problem will be there will have to be some kind of regulatory checks. They don't have to be on the border. They can be in factories, they can be on ships or pharmaceuticals or livestock because, after all, the E.U. will defend its single market and Northern Ireland, you know, in the future may not be actually part of it.
So that's what they are going to have to figure out. It remains a problem, it will be a problem for the next two years. And I think, you know, for the moment, Britain being able to trade freely with the E.U. is probably a good thing for Britain and a good thing for Northern Ireland.
It is not the Declaration of Independence that Brexiteers wanted. But, you know, many people in Brussels feel that would've been incredibly costly because no one is prepared for that.
ERLANGER: The worry people have, frankly, is a cliff's edge at the end of this negotiating period, December 2020 or even 2021 if there's no deal. That frightens people, too.
STEVENS: Absolutely. Well, I say a week is a long time in politics. So, two years is an unimaginable with what's going on in Westminster at the moment.
Steven, thank you very much for joining us. Steven Erlanger with "The New York Times" in Brussels.
STEVENS: We're still waiting for a statement from E.U. officials on the draft Brexit deal. We will bring that to you live as soon as it happens.
President Trump is set to meet with Xi Jinping in a few weeks. Why there's new hope that they could be looking at the end of the U.S.- China trade war.
Plus a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas leads to a major resignation and questions about the future of Israel's leader.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:15:00]
STEVENS: Welcome back.
China has made an offer to the United States in an effort to resolve stalled trade talks. It comes just a few weeks before Trump and Xi Jinping are set to meet at the G20 summit in Argentina.
CNN's Matt Rivers joins us from Beijing.
Matt, what do we though about Beijing's offer?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know the two sources that told CNN about the offer are calling it a lowball offer from the Chinese and the kind of thing they have seen before. They called it a rehash of what Beijing has offered in the past, things like selectively limiting tariffs on certain imports here to China.
It didn't seem to impress the American side at all.
The American side, according to the sources, tell CNN that the Trump administration is holding firm to the line that they have been consistent with. For a long time now, they want to see structural reforms to the Chinese economy. They want to see things like forced technology transfers go away.
They want to get rid of intellectual property theft. They're concerned about continued industrial espionage. Those are the big ticket items that the Trump administration wants to see go away.
But so far the Chinese don't seem willing to put those kinds of things on the table. Beijing would say they don't steal intellectual property or engage in industrial espionage but generally the international community has said they do.
So that's what the Trump administration wants to see happen. It does not appear that is what is happening so far. But both sides are saying they're still talking. We're still waiting on comment from the Chinese side here in Beijing. But both sides are still talking. Of course, all eyes are on that, what could be a crucial meeting between President Xi and Trump at the G20 in a couple of weeks in Argentina.
STEVENS: We possibly can't get inside the mind of the U.S. president as to whether he meets Xi Jinping, given his track record of agreeing to and then pulling out of other meetings.
I'm curious; do you get how much hope or importance that China is pinning on a meeting with Trump?
Or are they seeing this as just another step in what could be a very long road?
RIVERS: That's a good question. I think the answer to that question will have evolved. How important is meeting with Trump versus meeting with members of his
I think if you had asked me that question 6-12 months ago, I would have said that the Chinese and Beijing would think that they could negotiate with American administration officials who are acting on behalf of the president.
But what we've seen in the past year or so is this president constantly reinforces the notion that, no matter what his administration officials say, he's capable of changing his mind at the last minute.
So the Chinese are putting great importance on that meeting in Buenos Aires between both sides, between Xi and Trump. They know if they can get Trump in a room they may be able to change his mind, no matter what groundwork was laid before that meeting.
So the answer to the question is Beijing is putting a huge amount of importance on the meeting in Argentina but so far they haven't done anything to impress American officials with an offer before that meeting takes place.
STEVENS: Matt, thanks very much, Matt Rivers from Beijing.
Now Israel's defense minister has resigned in protest over a cease- fire agreement with Hamas. Avigdor Lieberman said it is giving into terror and he's also calling for early elections.
The question is, does he have enough clout and support to get early elections?
The cease-fire comes after the worst clashes between Israel and Gaza in four years. Gaza militants firing some 400 rockets into Israel Monday and Tuesday. Israel hitting back with more than 100 targets in Gaza.
Oren Liebermann joins us from Jerusalem.
Oren, to that question, does Lieberman have the numbers he needs to force this issue?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Numbers, no. He's missing a couple of seats to actually force an election on his own. In the Knesset, a parliament of 120 seats, Netanyahu had a 66-seat coalition. Five went to the defense minister.
Even now Netanyahu's left with a bare minimum 61-seat coalition. That's what he had for two years after the last election. So he's not particularly worried. The defense minister doesn't have enough ability on his own. He simply doesn't have the numbers to do it.
But what this opens up is now an opportunity for all of the other parties in this coalition, five other parties, to suddenly make demands of Netanyahu. That's where the question of --
LIEBERMANN: -- does Lieberman have enough clout to force elections?
That answer may very well be yes. For example, the hardline rightwing education minister is now demanding the defense portfolio. He said if Netanyahu doesn't give it to him, he will leave the coalition as well and that would force early elections.
All the newspapers, all the media speculating that elections are drawing closer; there are politicians in Netanyahu's coalition that would like to see early elections. Netanyahu may have reason to go to early elections on his own.
But we know from his party spokesperson he's working to stabilize the coalition. We'll see if that works. Right now, so far, the defense minister has resigned and there's political intrigue about what happens next with Netanyahu's next move.
In short, Netanyahu holds the cards here.
STEVENS: Netanyahu's been in many tight spots before. He's a survivor and a very good politician.
Is this any different from previous pressure he faced to his leadership?
LIEBERMANN: It feels more serious now. But when you're in it, it always feels more serious. His coalition has been there since mid- 2015 or so and he got through a number of tough spots when politicians and parties have threatened to bolt the coalition.
You're right that, whether you like him or not, he's an expert politician, especially in Israel's political game. He knows how to play it better than anybody else.
So again, he has all of the cards, as he often does. It is just a matter of how he wants to play them and how he chooses to proceed from here. Right now he's in negotiations. It doesn't look like there will be any big decision today and then we head into the weekend. Next week it should be a little clearer as to what will happen and how Netanyahu chooses to work this.
And will he accede to the education minister's demand to hand over the defense portfolio?
STEVENS: Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem, thank you.
There's political fallout from the days of fighting. Then there's the human toll. The fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The emotional scars are deep and painful, especially for children. Here's Arwa Damon from Gaza City.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The ruins of the Israeli bomb site are still smoldering but 5-year-old Nedda's (ph) mother says her daughter wanted to see her classroom. She clutches her hand, walking through the building she used to laugh and play in and shows us where she used to sit.
DAMON: The building next door is what seems to have been the main target. But this nursery was also significantly damaged in the Israeli airstrike. You can still see the babies' bottles in the rubble.
There wasn't anyone killed or wounded here. The strike happened in the early hours of the morning. But also the Israelis have warned residents in this area to evacuate.
DAMON (voice over): Her mother says Nedda (ph) is normally a chatterbox, that her shy and quiet behavior are because she's in shock.
"We have to, as a population, get used to this," Mariam says. "Whether we like it or not, it is our land. If we don't protect ourselves, who is going to?"
Dr. Basem Naim (ph), a member of Hamas' international --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
STEVENS: I think we can go now to European leaders, who are giving a -- a short summary of the negotiations with the E.U. and with U.K. and the E.U. negotiator, Michel Barnier, and European Council chairman, Donald Tusk. Let's listen in.
MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. BREXIT NEGOTIATOR: It's fair and balanced, fixed into account of the U.K.'s positions, organizes the withdrawal in orderly fashion and ensure no hard border for the island of Ireland and lays the ground for an ambitious new partnership.
I would like, (INAUDIBLE), to thank you. You and your team, your cabinet, the secretary-general, (INAUDIBLE), for guiding the European Council effectively throughout the last two years. We have always followed the E.U. mandate scrupulously together with the U.K. We have achieved decisive progress together.
It is now up to you, Donald, as president of the European Council, to decide and convening an extraordinary meeting. But our work is not finished. We still have a long road, a long road ahead of us on both sides.
For my side, in the next few days we will all work on the text of the political declaration of the future relationship with the member states as well as with the European Parliament. And this work --
BARNIER: -- will be intense. Our goal is to finalize this particular situation with the U.K. so that the European Council can endorse it.
I would (INAUDIBLE) now this (INAUDIBLE) with the European Parliament and take the feedback and vote in the final days of the negotiation. We have no time to lose. We have no time to lose. Now with that, I will give you --
(OFF MIKE COMMENTS)
DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: Almost everything.
Thank you very much, Michel.
I took good note of Prime Minister May's statement yesterday. Of course I don't serve the prime minister's (INAUDIBLE) as such. Since the very beginning, we have had no doubt that Brexit is a lose-lose situation and that our negotiations are only about damage control.
Given these extremely difficult circumstances, I would like to thank Michel Barnier and his team especially for being very (INAUDIBLE) resolve, for doing this exceptionally hard work.
Michel, we all put a lot of trust in you and rightly so. We have achieved our two most important objectives. First, you ensured the limitation of the damage caused by Brexit and, second, you have secured the vital interest and principles of the 27 member states and of the European Union as a whole.
If I weren't confident that you did your best to protect the interests of the 27 and I'm familiar with the essence of the document, I would not propose to formalize this deal. In the next stage, we'll proceed as follows.
The agreement is now being analyzed by all the member states. By the end of this week, the E.U.'s 27 ambassadors will meet in order to share their assessment of the agreement. I hope that there will not be too many comments. They will also discuss the mandate for the commission to finalize the joint political declaration about the future relations between the E.U. and the U.K.
The European ministers will be involved in this process. The commission intends to agree the declaration about the future with the U.K. by Tuesday. Over the following 48 hours, the member states will have time to evaluate it, which means that the E.U. 27 Sherpas (ph) should conclude this work on Thursday.
Then if nothing extraordinary happens, we will hold a European Council meeting in order to finalize and formalize the Brexit agreement. It will take place on Sunday, the 25th of November at 9:30 am.
Finally, let me say this to our British friends. As much as I am sad to see you leave, I will do everything to make this farewell as painless as possible both for Europe and us. Thank you. Thank you.
(OFF MIKE COMMENTS)
TUSK: No questions. No questions tonight. STEVENS: OK, you've been watching there a very short statement from Michel Barnier, the chief E.U. negotiator on the Brexit talks, and the president of the E.U. Council, European Council, Donald Tusk.
They're talking through the formalities now on taking this to the next stage, which is on November 25th, which would be the signing off of this deal. Mr. Tusk said in his brief comments saying to Britain particularly that he would do everything to make the farewell with Europe as painless as possible.
That was his message to the Brits as Theresa May continues to struggle to convince her own Parliament this is the right deal.
Let's go now to Nina dos Santos who's been obviously covering the story for a long time, Nina. That was a pretty short and to the point note from the Europeans.
NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: That's right. And Donald Tusk didn't take questions after as you can hear he was being asked about Theresa May's future in the U.K. because obviously the big question here is, will she still be the person who's leading the government through these negotiations by the time that they have that meeting on November the 25th, Sunday that he said they be convening with the other E.U. leaders heads of states to rubber stamp this from the European side before it comes to the House of Commons which will there really difficult part of the fight here at least domestically for the deal.
Just a little bit of a timeframe, we now have some more clarity on this. He said that by Tuesday, they will have a situation where the E.U. Commission understands whether or not this is something that they will be able to call that meeting on the 25th meeting on Sunday, November the 25th. He also said that by the end of this week, hopefully, what they're going to see is E.U. Ambassadors having their meeting after having a chance to digest this 585-page document.
He hoped that they wouldn't have too many comments so the course of this process could be smooth through as possible because as I said the difficult that will come back is the U.K., Andrew.
STEVENS: OK. Nina, thank you very much for that. You're watching CNN. Stay with us. We're going to take a short break. We'll be back in just a moment.
STEVENS: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Andrew Stevens and these are the headlines this hour. The British Prime Minister Theresa May has cleared a major hurdle as she steers the U.K. away from the European Union. She says her cabinet has accepted a Brexit draft negotiated with the E.U. Mrs. May now faces the much bigger challenge of getting it through parliament where there is a lot of opposition.
U.S. President Donald Trump and the Chinese leader Xi Jinping could make progress on resolving the U.S.-China's trade war when they meet at the G20 Summit in Argentina in a few weeks from now. Sources are telling CNN that China has presented an offer to restart negotiations, but one person briefed on those discussions that Beijing isn't offering anything new. Israel's defense minister has resigned in a protest over a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.
Avigdor Lieberman says it's giving into terror. He's also calling for earlier elections. The ceasefire comes after the worst clashes between Israel and Gaza in four years. Israel and Hamas I should say in four years.
[02:35:07] Firefighters are getting some help from milder winds and high humidity as they battle California's wildfires. But the number of people killed has risen steadily and now stands at 58. Nick Valencia reports in the north more than 100 people are missing, many of them elderly.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The search for the missing intensifies in Northern California. The Camp Fire which ignited nearly a week ago already the deadliest in California history. The death toll almost certainly will rise. Rescuers scouring burnt down homes searching for signs of life, but fearing the worst.
KORY HONEA, SHERIFF, BUTTE COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: Even after we've searched an area, once people get back in there it's possible that human remains could be found.
VALENCIA: The death toll climbing from the Northern California Camp Fire. Officials say they have a partial list of names of 103 missing people. Authorities have requested National Guard Troops, cadaver dogs, and mobile works to help with the recovery. Inspection teams are mapping out the destruction in Paradise, one of the hardest hit towns. The population there, 27,000 people, 8,000 structures destroyed. These images show how a nurse used his truck to help rescue people stuck in the fire.
The lights on his truck melted. The sides burnt and blackened.
ALLYN PIERCE, DROVE INTO THE FIRES TO HELP VICTIMS: I think the word is terrified. I think but I was -- I was terrified.
VALENCIA: In Southern California, firefighters still battling the Woolsey Fire which has burned nearly 100,000 acres and left at least two people dead in Malibu. A third body was found in a burnt home. A new fire east of Los Angeles whipped by those same Santa Ana winds was knocked down. Thirteen million people remain under red flag warnings, hundreds of thousands forced to flee from their homes. One woman describes how she narrowly escaped death by driving straight through the fire.
REBECCA HACKETT, DROVE THROUGH FIRE: I just thought maybe I was going to die. I just -- I was like I just have to keep going. I can't turn around. I can't stop. I have to just keep going.
(END VIDEOTAPE) VALENCIA: There's still no official caused for the fire. But 22
residents who lose their homes are already suing the power company, PG&E which had an incident with one of their high voltage lines in the origin of the fire 15 minutes before it started. PG&E released a statement saying they are aware of the lawsuit. But right now their focus is on the community not the litigation. Nick Valencia, CNN Paradise, California.
STEVENS: Let's take more now on what conditions firefighters can expect. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us. How is looking, Derek?
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, unfortunately, the fire threat remains, Andrew. And if you take the accumulative amount of acreage that has burned so far just in the State of California, it is equivalent to roughly the size of Berlin. We've had over 931 square kilometers burnt this year. Berlin is about 892 square kilometers and that really puts it into perspective. That's what happens when you have six to seven months of an entire state like the size of California without rainfall.
But you go back into April when we have our last measureable precipitation and the vegetation was flourishing. But if you turn off that tap and that vegetation dries out very quickly. It becomes almost timber like in its structure. Now, these are the two fires that -- the main fires of course there are several smaller fires still burning across the state. But the Camp Fire, we don't have a projected containment date until the end of the month, more the same for the Woolsey Fire.
And now, the good news is the winds have relaxed somewhat. The highest peaks and the highest elevations of the coastal mountain range in Southern California will receive wind gust an excess of 40 maybe 45 kilometers per hour. But near the valleys where the majority of the population lives, well, unfortunately, the winds have relaxed a little bit that's why we have at the moment just an elevated to critical fire danger away from the coastline for Los Angeles, San Diego, and Ventura County.
Still however, the potential for fire remains. The spreading of these fires. The other concern here is that the air quality has really deteriorated across the states. Smokes has drifted across San Francisco International Airport cancelling over 19 flights delaying nearly 300 flights. That is why the San Joaquin Valley has an air quality alert. So very dangerous for people to step outside breathing these toxic fumes that have been, you know, released into the atmosphere with the amount of vegetation and just general smoke that has drifted into this region makes it very difficult for people especially with respiratory problems to breathe the air.
Now, Thanksgiving, we have the potential for some relief. Andrew, we have a strong system we're monitoring relative humidity's will come up and our next chance of rainfall late next week. Back to you.
STEVENS: Can't get it -- can't get there too soon I'm sure. Derek, thanks very much for that. Myanmar says that it's ready to welcome back thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh. But so far, no Rohingya refugee has volunteered to actually come back. Details just ahead.
[02:42:45] STEVENS: Myanmar says it's ready to welcome back thousands of Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh. But so far, none of the refugees has volunteered to return. The repatriation program will set to start now. More than 700,000 Rohingya are in refugee camps in Bangladesh following a military crackdown in Myanmar's Rakhine State. The U.N., the U.S., even rights groups, and the Rohingya themselves has repeatedly warned against repatriation calling it premature and dangerous.
Our Alex Field joins us now from Hong Kong with more on this. And as we just said, Alex, that the Rohingya themselves are warning against this sort of repatriation at this time, so hardly surprised. They're not going back.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Word of the plan has sparked panic and fear among many who've been living in the world's largest refugee camp for over a year now. There were threats even attempts at suicide. And now, you're hearing on the first date that this plan just meant to go into effect from the repatriation commissioner in Bangladesh who said that this morning, there was no one who had volunteered to make this journey and it would seem very evident that the conditions to return simply have not been met.
That must be the feeling among the Rohingya themselves. These are people who fled for their lives leaving their home country by the hundreds of thousands. We spoke to them back in 2017 as they were coming across the border often times. Their bodies riddled with (INAUDIBLE) horror stories. They have left homes and villages that had been set ablaze. They have been waiting for assurances that they would be safe if they cross back into Myanmar.
They seem to be as a whole unconvinced that that is the case. Furthermore, Andrew, their concerns have not been meet in terms of the fact that this is a minority group in that country that has not been treated with the rights of citizenship. They have not been guaranteed those rights and they said those are conditions for return as well. They want freedom of movement within Rakhine State. They want access to healthcare, access to education. Third parties here have been watching this plan closely.
There's a shakeup between Bangladesh and Myanmar. You got the U.S. State Department insisting that any movement of people must be voluntary. You got human rights officials with the U.N. going further pointing to the previous atrocities against the Rohingya also talking about the scale of that violence, the lack of accountability for it and reports on going today of continued violations against Rohingya all reasons why they say that this plan should not be going into effect just yet and seemly it hasn't, Andrew.
[02:45:09] STEVENS: All right, Alexandra. Thank you very much. Alexandra Field, joining us with the latest on the repatriation, or the attempts of repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who are currently in refugee camps in Bangladesh. China is denying accusations from human rights organization that it's engaged in a crackdown targeting the Uyghur Muslim minority. Beijing says it's combating Islamist extremism. But it has seemed to have adopted a new tactic that critics say amounts to mass incarceration. Ivan Watson reports.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Everyday, Gulchehra Hoja steps up to the microphone and speaks to her homeland. Hoja is a journalist with U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia in Washington, D.C. She broadcasts in Uyghur, the language of an ethnic Muslim minority from the Western Xinjiang region of China. These days, Hoja lives in fear for her family back home.
GULCHEHRA HOJA, JOURNALIST, RADIO FREE ASIA: So, this is my brother. This is my last picture with him. We don't know where he is now. My cousins, father's side and the mother's side. They're missing same day.
WATSON: Hoja says, at least, 23 of her relatives went missing on February 1st, 2018. She hasn't heard from any of them since. Six Uyghur employees of Radio Free Asia, say their relatives back in Xinjiang have disappeared in the last year.
MAMATJAN JUMA, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, RADIO FREE ASIA: Three of my brothers and two of my sisters are missing, I lost contact with my mom.
HOJA: Those region, all have camps.
WATSON: All feared detained in a shadowy network of Chinese prisons. Reports of the mass incarceration of up to a million Uyghurs, the subject of inquiry at a recent United Nations Human Rights panel in Geneva.
TAMARA MAWHINNEY, DEPUTY PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We are deeply concerned by credible reports of the mass detention, repression, and surveillance of Uyghurs and other Muslims and Xinjiang.
WATSON: After initially denying the existence of prison camps, Beijing now says it is sending an unspecified number of people for vocational training free of charge to combat the spread of terrorism. And adds that they are free to leave when they complete their courses.
This recent report narrated by Chinese state T.V. highlights one of these training centers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Most of the students are not proficient in Chinese. They are easily instigated and coerced by terrorist and extremist ideologies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If I had not come here to study, maybe I ought to follow those religious extremists and walked down the path of crime.
WATSON: Uyghurs outside of China express alarm at the number of people who are disappearing.
SEAN ROBERTS, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Virtually, every Uyghur I've spoken to in the last year and a half has family members who've been detained in these camps. This is a social engineering project that has very little precedent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The focus will be on building economic corridors based on existing international transport routes.
WATSON: The Chinese government wants to make Xinjiang an important international hub for its ambitious Belt and Road initiative. But Beijing has struggled to assimilate Xinjiang's indigenous Uyghurs.
HOJA: You cannot just force people to love you or accept you.
WATSON: In Washington, Gulchehra Hoja, says her 74-year-old mother described harsh prison-like conditions when she was detained last February.
HOJA: As my mother described, they mistreated people, they torture.
WATSON: After months under house arrest, Hoja says her mother's phone went completely silent last month. She fears she is once again in detention. With no word from her loved ones, Hoja is far from home giving a voice to the voiceless.
STEVENS: Next on CNN NEWSROOM, the long and twisting road from Brexit referendum to a proposed deal.
[02:50:59] STEVENS: The not guilty verdict in a rape trial in Ireland has stirred international outrage. A jury acquitted a 27-year-old man of raping a 17-year-old girl. In her closing statement, the defense attorney asked jurors to take into account the underwear the girl was wearing.
Well, angry women consider the tactic victim blaming, and took to Twitter posting photos of their underwear with the #this is not consent. In the next hour, we'll be hearing from one of the women behind that campaign.
No one can say for sure what might happen if the U.K. leaves the European Union next March. Especially, if Parliament rejects the deal now on the table. Here's a look back to the key moments that have brought us to this point.
QUEEN ELIZABETH II, QUEEN OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: My government will renegotiate United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union. Alongside this, any legislation will be introduced to provide for an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union before the end of 2017. NIGEL FARAGE, FORMER LEADER, INDEPENDENCE PARTY, UNITED KINGDOM: When people vote, they must make a decision which flag is theirs? And I want -- I want us to live under British passports and under with British flag.
DAVID CAMERON, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I believe that despite its faults and its frustrations, United Kingdom is stronger, safer and better off, by remaining a member of the European Union.
BORIS JOHNSON, SECRETARY OF STATE, BRITISH FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS: I will be advocating vote leave because I want a better deal for the people of this country.
JENNY WATSON, CHIEF COUNTING OFFICER, E.U. REFERENDUM: The total number of votes cast in favor of remain was 16,141,241. The total number of votes cast in favor of leave was 17,410,742. This means that the U.K. has voted to leave the European Union.
CAMERON: I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months. But I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination.
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: Brexit means Brexit, and we're going to make a success of it.
DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL: So, here it is, six pages. The notification from Prime Minister Theresa May, triggering Article 50.
MAY: As we look ahead and we wait to see what the final results will be, I know that as I say the country needs a period of stability.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deal or no deal Mrs. Foster? What, what price for DUP support?
[02:55:09] LEO VARADKAR, PRIME MINISTER OF IRELAND: As I said many times, the best and most obvious solution would be for the United Kingdom to remain in the customs union and the single market. But as British government has ruled that option edge, it must offer credible concrete unworkable solutions that guarantee that there will be no hard border.
MICHEL BARNIER, CHIEF BREXIT NEGOTIATOR, EUROPEAN UNION (through translator): We have reached an agreement on the transition period. The transition will be of limited duration as requested by both the British government and the European Union.
MAY: We will not rerun the referendum. We will deliver Brexit and the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union on the 29th of March 2019.
STEVENS: The defiance of the British Prime Minister, their ending that look back at what has been a very long and twisting road of Brexit and there are still plenty of road bumps ahead. Certainly, before the deal is formally reached, there's going to be a lot of turning points. The E.U. council still have to approve it. So the 27 other countries in the Union will be convened for an extraordinary summit. They'll get their say.
After that, the deal goes to the British Parliament where Theresa May may -- Theresa May does not command a majority. But if British lawmakers agreed to it, the European Parliament would then decide whether to give its blessing.
Whatever happens, Britain is set to leave the European Union on March the 29th next year. Although nothing will change effectively until the end of 2020 during what's known as the transitional period.
Now, jewels belonging to Marie Antoinette have fetched, as you might expect a Queen's ransom at auction. This diamond and pearl pendant was the main attraction. It sold for more than $36 million. Sotheby's, says it's a record for a pearl.
This was part of a collection belonging to France's last Queen that fetched a total of $53 million. Queen Marie Antoinette died on the guillotine in 1793 during the French Revolution after she was widely condemned for her extravagant tastes.
You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Andrew Stevens. The news continues here on CNN right after this.