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Trump's Thanksgiving Call to Military Turns Political; Brexit Negotiations at a Critical Moment; Wife of British Scholar Jailed in UAE Speaks to CNN; Teenager Auctioned off for Marriage in South Sudan; Gunmen Attack Chinese Consulate in Pakistan; E.U. Members Meet Sunday to Ratify Brexit Agreement; Trump's Thanksgiving Call to Military Turns Political. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired November 23, 2018 - 00:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): President Trump's talk with U.S. troops turns into praise for himself.

Donald Trump also spent Thanksgiving blasting migrants, judges and trade.

A diplomatic storm between Britain and the United Arab Emirates, CNN's exclusive interview with the wife of Matthew Hedges, the student accused of spying, who was handed a life sentence.

And Britain and the E.U. agree to a trade deal to deal on their future relationship.

Does it fulfill the vision of Brexit?

We'll ask our guests.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Cyril Vanier. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


VANIER: So the Thanksgiving holiday did not keep Donald Trump from talking politics.

Asked what he was thankful for, the U.S. president had words of praise for himself and the, quote, "tremendous difference he's made in this country."

He'd been speaking by phone with members of the U.S. military around the world.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny is in West Palm Beach following the president, where Donald Trump is spending his holiday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In a Thanksgiving Day phone call from his resort at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump talking to military commanders across the world, talking to a general in Afghanistan, talking to the commander of a ship in Bahrain and other military officials.

Now this would all be a normal course of events for a commander in chief to call in on troops serving around the world but the president quickly turned it political, talking about a variety of hot spots around the world, including the U.S. southern border.

The president essentially asking members of the military if they agreed with his position, the president so blasting other countries for their policies against the U.S., also disclosing some operational details.

But it was the conversation with the president doubling down on his defense of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia that certainly raised eyebrows, all over that brutal murder of "The Washington Post" opinion columnist, Jamal Khashoggi. The president said he believes the Saudi Crown Prince feels badly about it. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hate the crime, I hate what's done, I hate the cover-up and I will tell you this. The Crown Prince hates it more than I do and they have vehemently denied it. The CIA points it both ways.

You know, it's -- and I -- as I said, maybe he did, maybe he didn't. But I will say very strongly that he's a very important ally. And if we go by a certain standard, we won't be able to have allies with almost any country.

ZELENY: So the president there drawing a moral equivalence to what he believes is an ally in Saudi Arabia versus other allies around the world, never once talking about the moral leadership and the moral questions here that so many others have raised including Republican allies of the White House.


Now the president went on in that unusual phone call with military advisers followed by a Q&A; session with reporters at his Mar-a-Lago resort for nearly an hour, talking about troops along the border and that controversial ruling that ended up with the president in a fight with the Supreme Court Justice here in the U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts.

He called him an Obama judge. Of course, the Chief Justice pushed back so the president pushed back as well and, you know, was essentially bringing in the independent judiciary into his political argument fray here.

So the president certainly unscripted and unsupervised in many respects, most senior White House advisors are not here in Florida for the Thanksgiving Day vacation. But the president after doing all of that, spent most of the rest of the day on the golf course -- Jeff Zeleny, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.



VANIER: Joining me from Washington, D.C., is Michael Shear. He's a CNN political analyst and White House Correspondent for "The New York Times."

Michael, it's Thanksgiving in the U.S. so predictably Donald Trump was asked what he's thankful for. This was his reply. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you thankful for, Mr. President?

TRUMP: For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country. I've made a tremendous difference in the country. This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn't believe it.


VANIER: OK, so he appears to be thankful in no small measure for himself. For our international audience, what's the usual tone of presidential Thanksgiving messages?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's not that. You know, there were sort of two things that were surprising about that.

One, is that most presidents are more humble especially on Thanksgiving so they would think -- be thankful for you know the blessings of the country, or the -- you know, the people around him, for his family. You know, but not for himself. But that is almost never done.

And the other thing that was remarkable about it was that it took place at exactly the moment that he was --


SHEAR: -- trying to portray himself as caring about the troops, right?

He had just done this phone call and you know, it was -- it was -- it would have been or could have been a moment where he sort of rose above all of the chaos of his administration and -- you know, let the spotlight shine on people who are in very dangerous places, doing very dangerous things.

And instead, he brought it back to himself. It was really quite remarkable. VANIER: And he used the conversation to bring it back to his domestic policy priorities. He kept making the conversation about politics. He's -- I want to give you an example.

He spoke to an Air Force general, Air Force General Lyons in Afghanistan, who was discussing the fight against terrorists there. And this is what Donald Trump answered.


TRUMP: As you probably see over the news what's happening in our southern border and our southern border territory, large numbers of people and in many cases we have no idea who they are. And in many cases, they are not good people. And they're bad people.

But large numbers of people are forming at our border and I don't have to even ask you, I know what you want to do, you want to make sure that you know who we're letting in and we're not letting in anybody.


VANIER: So, we don't know what the opinion of General Lyons is on immigration. But it looks like the president is using the people he had on the phone as props.

SHEAR: Yes. That certainly looked like that. The thing that you have to understand about this president is that he obsesses about things endlessly.

He's not somebody that can do what most presidents can do, which is to compartmentalize, right.

Most presidents have gotten to the place that to the presidency in part because they're able to multitask to take a different tone in a different environment. And to not kind of obsess about one thing when they should be doing something else.

And of -- and this president constantly watches television, gets thoughts in his head and then obsesses about them endlessly.

And especially when he's down on vacation or holiday as he is right now at Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Florida, when there's less distractions around, he literally stews about the subjects that are upsetting him.

And obviously, the border and the -- and the challenges by the legal system and others to what he wants to do at the border is something that is really on his mind and he just can't get it off.

VANIER: On the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, he said a couple of interesting things. Not so much the fact that Donald Trump seems to be protecting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. He's been doing that since day one.

But he said this, "If we hold Saudi Arabia to this standard," by which, I think he means murder, "then we won't have many allies." I think this gives us a really good window into his foreign policy

thinking. Tell me what you make of it.

SHEAR: You know, this is sort of an extension of that remarkable statement that he put out the other day, in which he laid bare the sort of thinking that he goes through when he bounces off (INAUDIBLE) what are always difficult challenges, right?

The interests of the country versus human rights concerns, for example. In this case, he was quite plain about the fact that, you know, it doesn't really matter what the human rights violation is. In fact, in this case, it couldn't be worse, right?

The murder and dismembering of a journalist.

And yet, in the statements today, in the in the statement that he issued the other day, he makes it clear that for him, there really isn't a kind of interest to be balanced. Because he really pays -- he puts little weight on the human right side of that ledger.


SHEAR: He only wants to focus on the sort of financial and diplomatic interest of the country.

VANIER: And even if it comes at the cost of -- I was going to say, truth. I should say, of his own CIA's assessment. Because he undermined the CIA's belief, the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is indeed behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

And the interesting thing there is it's becoming a pattern. He did the same thing when his own intelligence services -- plural, assessed that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election.

SHEAR: Right. That may have actually been the least surprising thing that happened today. The idea that he would undermine his own intelligence services has actually been the sort of jaw-dropping observation that we've had since before he actually took office, right?

During the transition --


VANIER: But now, there's a confirmation he's not doing it just on the one issue that's a thorn in his side which is Russia.

SHEAR: That's right. Now, that's it -- that's exactly right. This is -- this adds to the idea that it's not just a Russia specific thing. It is a real kind of distrust and mistrust of the intelligence services that serve ultimately to provide him with the information that he needs to make decisions and he just doesn't believe them.

VANIER: All right. Michael Shear, CNN political analyst. Happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.

SHEAR: Sure. Thank you.



VANIER: And Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee have issued subpoenas to former FBI director James Comey and former attorney general Loretta Lynch. This committee is led by Republicans but also includes Democrats.

The Republicans are asking for private depositions early next month before the balance of power changes in the House of Representatives. They want to quiz Comey on the FBI's actions during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Now Comey tweeted that he got the subpoena and he is happy to answer questions but publicly. He says he doesn't want to speak privately in committee, that is, because of what he calls selective leaking and distortion.

The U.K.'s controversial Brexit plan faces a critical test on Sunday. That's when European Union members are expected to ratify the final terms of the deal. But it's not a certainty.

Spain's prime minister is now threatening to derail Brexit over the tiny British territory of Gibraltar in Southern Spain. British prime minister Theresa May is pushing ahead regardless to leave the E.U. next March. Here is CNN's Nina dos Santos.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Another day, another deal on Brexit. This time it was the future political relationship that was laid out in a draft text that the E.U. and the U.K. agreed on which would lay the foundation stone for a potential future trade relationship after the U.K. was to leave the E.U. on March the 29th of 2019.

Theresa May made it clear both on the steps of 10 Downing Street, to the people and also to the members of Parliament that she'll have to convince that this was the best deal that Britain could get.

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: This is the right deal for the U.K. It delivers on the vote of the referendum. It brings back control of our borders, our money and our laws and it does so while protecting jobs, protecting our security and protecting the integrity of the United Kingdom.

The agreement we've reached is between the U.K. and the European Commission. It is now up to the 27 leaders of the other E.U. member States to examine this agreement in the days leading up to the special E.U. Council meeting on Sunday.

DOS SANTOS: What you'll have to rely on members of the opposition party to make up her numbers after spectacularly losing her majority in parliament in the ill-fated 2017 general election. And that means that support from some of the Labour backbenches will

also be crucial. The leader of the opposition though, Jeremy Corbyn, made it clear she couldn't count on that.


JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, LABOUR PARTY: A little over a year ago, we were constantly told by the government that by the end of the Article 50 period we would have a trade deal. The international second trade secretary said it would be easiest in human history. Instead, we have 26 pages of waffle.

This, this empty document -- this empty document could have been written two years ago. It's peppered with phrases such as the parties we'll look at, the parties will explore.

What on Earth has the government been doing for the last two years?

DOS SANTOS: So what happens now?

Well, although the action will be taking place over the next three days in Brussels with Theresa May set to make another whistle-stop tour there before, of course, the big meeting taking place on Sunday between E.U. heads of state to rubber stamp a lot of the paperwork that we've seen issued over the last two weeks.

Then the U.K. Parliament will have to vote on this. And they made it clear that they're hostile not just to the political declaration but also to the previous piece of paperwork issued last week which is the 585-page detailed withdrawal document.

If the U.K. Parliament does pass this, well, then it has to go back to the European Parliament early next year for them to vote upon this.

Brexit by no means is said and done but at least two milestones have been achieved for Theresa May with the agreement over the last few weeks of the U.K.'s withdrawal from the E.U. and now the nature of the relationship it wants to rebuild thereafter -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.



VANIER: CNN's European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas joins us now from Los Angeles to shed some more light on this.

Dominic, we're going to talk about the different angles of this between now and Sunday when the European leaders meet. For today though, I'd like to focus on one aspect of this which is the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Once Brexit is done, right, once the U.K. is out of the E.U. what's their relationship going to look like. The main thing is trade. That's what both sides are mostly worried about at this stage.

What do we know about that?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Well, what we know is from what's been published in the withdrawal agreement thus far and what's been mentioned in the political declaration and the ways in which over the last week or so, it has been subjected --


THOMAS: -- to cross-party scrutiny and analysis.

And should this even go through, should we get to the point of March 2019 and the Brexit deal actually go ahead, what we're actually looking at is very little change for the time being because we're going to through a transition period, which will initially expire in 2020 with the possibility of renegotiating and an even longer time to be able to deal with all the issues and problems that have come up along the way and those that will come up down the road.

Essentially what we're going to be working with is a customs union style agreement and a single market membership that will essentially continue almost unchanged except that the U.K. will be out of the E.U. but it will continue to pay in to the European Union funds that will have no say over various policy initiatives that are going along.

And as I just said, during that time period there will be returning to the question of the border between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the fisheries questions and all the kinds of issues and -- that have come up over this extended Brexit negotiation.

VANIER: This -- you make this a really interesting point that I think is really central and our viewers need to understand. On March 29, 2019, Brexit more than likely is going to happen. That's the date. Everybody has stuck to that date so far.

But you're -- and that's the date a U.K. is no longer part of the E.U.

But you're telling us apart from that formality, the E.U. shrinks from 28 to 27 countries, the links between the two sides remain pretty much the same?

THOMAS: Well, they're pretty the same because there's no deal in place. They haven't agreed as to whether they're going to completely withdraw and go for a World Trade Organization deal or whether in fact, we're going to remain with something a little bit closer which would allow for there to not be a border with Northern Ireland.

In other words, to remain in the customs union or something alongside, something like the single market. As we know, this is complicated and there's all sorts of discussion taking place over that, but essentially I might not even share your optimism.

I think that the likelihood of us getting to March 2019 and this actually going ahead along the way there all sorts of things that could happen such as a general election, a second referendum and so on. There's an awful lot of uncertainty. What Theresa May has been trying to do and she's taken control over these negotiations is there's a constant disconnect between the conversation she has in Brussels which is, of course, the logical conversation.

These are the people from whom you are divorcing. The problem is she needs to bring this back to the United Kingdom and get this through an extraordinarily divided Parliament which reflects the divided political landscape of the U.K. today.

VANIER: And to be clear, there's a huge question mark about -- so how they trade together right, after Brexit. And the European Union doesn't want to settle that question now.

Am I right on that?

THOMAS: Right. I mean, for the time being, they've been unable to settle it now. I mean, the whole point of it really is there should have been a deal in place --


VANIER: But wait. Let me stop you there for a second. It's not just -- my understanding is they're not just unable to settle it now. The E.U. actually doesn't want to settle it now. They want to first get to Brexit and once the U.K.'s out of the E.U. and has less leverage, then they hit them with a trade deal and OK, let's figure out how we do this.

THOMAS: Well, that argument is a difficult one to make.

The point is, they haven't got to the point where they've arrived in an agreement where they can actually sort of move ahead, right?

So there's a lot of back and forth as to whether or not the E.U. holds the power or the United Kingdom holds the power. Ideally, there should have been a deal in place which would allowed for a Brexit to take place at March 2019.

That was ultimately the mandate of Theresa May. They have failed to achieve that goal. And now we find ourselves in a transition period which is essentially a kind of an extended a match to try and see what the outcome and the result will be.

VANIER: And this -- so this extended -- what we call it, sub-E.U. essentially for a number of years, this -- that doesn't match the vision of Brexit or at least not the vision that Brexiteers had, the people who voted to leave the E.U.

THOMAS: Right. Absolutely not. So I think once again and you made the right -- the absolute you know, correct distinction between Brexiteers and those that voted to leave so the Brexiters really today are associated with that sort of far-right you know, extreme fringe of the Conservative Party that ultimately want total withdrawal from the European Union and WTO rules or something along those lines as Theresa May as mentioned, it was about the money, it was about the borders, it was about the laws.

As we know, the number one issue for leave voters was the question of immigration. The agreement and the declaration talked about this where essentially the United Kingdom will have total control over its borders and implement a system of skills trade and coefficients and so on and so forth.

But when it comes down to the laws, the agreement specifically talks about the fact that the European Court of Justice, for the time being, remains the arbitrator that the European Convention on Human Rights must be adhered to.


THOMAS: And in terms of the money part at the moment, there's no deal in place and so continued membership to the customs union, membership to the single market and so on, means paying into that and therefore neither having control of the rules and regulations nor having the autonomy to do what one wishes with one's money.

VANIER: Dominic Thomas, great to get your insights on this. We'll have to talk again between now and Sunday on the sticking point right now of Gibraltar. There are going to be more sticking points probably. And on the likelihood that E.U. members are going to agree on this Brexit deal as it stands, Dominic, we'll speak again. Thank you.

THOMAS: Thank you, Cyril.


VANIER: "Serious diplomatic consequences;" that's the warning Britain's foreign secretary is sending to the United Arab Emirates. A British Ph.D. student there, Matthew Hedges, is at the center of this dispute. He has been accused of spying and he has been sentenced to life in prison.


JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: The news about Matthew Hedges is absolutely devastating and our thoughts are with Matthew and his wife, Daniela, and his family today.

And we are incredibly disappointed that the UAE should do this. We see no foundation in the charges that have been made against him. There will be serious diplomatic consequences for a country that says that it is a friend and ally of the United Kingdom.


VANIER: Now we spoke to Mr. Hedges' wife and we'll get to that in just a moment. But first, I want to lay out the details of his story for you. He is a specialist in Middle Eastern studies at Durham University but he can't speak or read Arabic. This is going to be important. He was arrested as he was leaving Dubai airport after a research trip

in May. His family says he had no legal representation in court, that he was forced to sign a confession in only Arabic, according to their spokesperson.

The UAE has pushed back, saying he was treated fairly, he was provided with translators both during his investigation and his trial. And it not true that he was asked to sign documents that he did not understand.

That statement goes on to say that both the UAE and the U.K. hope to find a solution.

Now Mr. Hedges' wife, Daniela Tejada, says her husband's trial lasted only five minutes. She spoke with CNN's Hala Gorani earlier. It was her first on-camera interview since Hedges was convicted and sentenced.


HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Have you been able to speak to him since the verdict?

And do you know where he is now?

DANIELA TEJADA, WIFE OF MATTHEW HEDGES: I don't know where he is now. I have not been able to speak to him. We didn't even get to say goodbye.

GORANI: In the courtroom, you weren't able to hug or kiss goodbye?

TEJADA: No. The second the sentence was given, we were both made to leave.

GORANI: Is it possible that he did or said or spoke to someone that might have led to some sort of misunderstanding?

TEJADA: Absolutely not. I think the only misunderstanding is his research. It is not unheard of that government -- and authoritarian regimes, particularly -- misinterpret academic research as espionage work or as a threat. And Matt sadly is the first person to endure such a travesty in the UAE as a Western academic.

GORANI: And you just met with the foreign secretary of this country, Jeremy Hunt.

Did that meeting encourage you?

What came out of it?

TEJADA: I am very hopeful that, now that the British government have taken a firmer stance about the matter and emphasized through their stance the fact that Matt is innocent, that the UAE will come to terms with reality and the fact that Matt indeed is innocent.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: That was Daniela Tejada speaking to Hala Gorani.

Still ahead, the auction of a child bride in South Sudan goes viral on Facebook. Why some are saying the social network is responsible for allowing the bidding to take place. We'll have the details on that next.





VANIER: Facebook is under fire after the auction of a teenage bride in South Sudan went viral on its website. A women's rights attorney tells CNN the social network could be held for responsible for the posts, even though the bidding itself didn't take place on the site.

CNN Farai Sevenzo reports the case is now raising questions of marriage traditions in the country.


FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The incredible story of a young South Sudanese woman named Yalon Gondeng (ph) has gone viral all through South Sudan and indeed all through East Africa.

Why is that?

Is it because three very powerful men have been bidding for her hand in marriage?

And of course the winning bid is the talk of all social media. The man who won her hand in marriage paid 500 cows, three cars and $10,000.

Now, why does this matter?

It matters because, at the center of it, is the issue of women's rights.

People like the National Alliance for Women's Lawyers and all kinds of issues about why is it that a young woman, a young girl for that matter, of this age can be bought in a way by a man so much older than her who already has wives.

But of course, this is tradition. The Dinka in South Sudan do their marriages in this way. They offer a dowry. And if the parents accept it, then they marry the girl.

And of course, all of this is being taken into account considering South Sudan's position in the world. South Sudan is a very poor country. The last African country to be independent in Africa which has been ravaged by war. On CNN we continuously cover stories about South Sudanese refugees all over this part of the world.

And of course, also at the center of it is why is it that men, politicians in South Sudan, can afford to pay out this kind of money?

And then we need to understand, what is it about the traditional marriage in South Sudan?

Here is what the deputy governor of the East Lake Region said about Yalon Gongdeng (ph).


DAVID MAYOM RIAK, DEPUTY GOVERNOR, SOUTH SUDAN EAST LAKES REGION (through translator): In 2011 when Yalon, was 10 years old and our families were neighbors to theirs, she was a pupil in Yei, a town in South Sudan.

I even paid her school fees at that time because I grew up knowing her. And her parents know this is the truth. This is when I approached the parents and asked for the girl's hand in marriage when she matured.

It's common practice here and is acceptable in our culture since time immemorial. In our traditional Dinka culture, it is allowed.

Why can't it happen now?


SEVENZO: But of course, he lost in his efforts to try to win her hand. And the winner, a businessman, is now her husband.

This story will continue to mesmerize people all over social media in South Sudan and East Africa. And we wait to hear how she feels about it.

Was she coerced into it?

Is this something that she wants to do? -- Farai Sevenzo, CNN, Nairobi.


VANIER: We're following breaking news right now. The local governor says gunmen have attacked the Chinese consulate in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi. Pictures from Pakistani media show a plume of dark smoke rising from the area. We're working to get additional details.

[00:30:00] We'll bring you more on that story as soon as it comes into us.

Still to come on CNN, the Trump administration is set to release a major climate change report. Some people are suspicious about the typing of it. We'll tell you why.

Plus, a non-profit group teams up with celebrity chefs and businesses to provide thousands of thanksgiving meals to fire victims and first responders in California.


VANIER: And welcome back. Let's look at your headlines this hour. We're following breaking news out of Pakistan, where gunmen have attacked the Chinese consulate in the city of Karachi. The local governor there, says couldn't say whether the attack was ongoing, but said security is being increased across the southern port city. We'll bring you more on that as soon as we have it.

The U.K.'s Brexit plan is expected to be ratified Sunday, by E.U. ambassadors in Brussels. It will include a separate agreement on future trade and security issues. Spain's prime minister has threatened to derail the deal if concerns about the British territory of Gibraltar in Southern Spain, are not addressed.

Donald Trump says he is thankful for the tremendous difference he has made for the country. He phoned members of the military, this Thanksgiving, to thank them for their service. He brought up several controversial political topics, including trade and security at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Trump administration is just hours away from releasing a major report on climate change. Now, President Trump is a huge skeptic of global warming, and critics argue that the report is being released on Black Friday, one of the slowest news days of the year, in the United States, in an effort to bury the story.

Well, be that as it may, we want to know what is actually in the report. And meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now to talk about that. This is obviously something that is of a particular focus of yours.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Yes, absolutely. We talk so often about climate change, the impacts of global warming here on the set, you and I together. This natural climate assessment volume two is so important. Regardless of its controversial release date, it is going to contribute to the overwhelming evidence that global warming is happening.

It is man-made, and that its serious impacts, like the California wildfires, for instance, are going to only be on the rise in frequency and intensity as well. Let's get to my graphics and you'll be able to see why this is so important for you and I watching, specifically in the United States, because we're going to talk about the U.S., within this volume two, report.

You say, OK, they're releasing volume two, but what about volume one? Well, volume one, which was released last year, actually talked about the science behind climate change, the driving forces behind it. This particular volume two that's being released on Friday, in the U.S., is going to talk about the impacts and the risks, specific to regional areas across the United States.

[00:35:12] Graphic behind me here, just highlighting that. Coincidentally, 17 of the top 18 warmest years have occurred since the year 2000. The fingerprints of climate change written all over that, right? Well, the U.S. Now, we talk about volume two of the National Climate Assessment report. In 2017 alone, there were 16 record disasters that topped over $1 billion.

I don't think I need to remind you about Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, Texas, Florida, and along the Gulf Coast, 2018 is shaping up to be a record year, as well. But what this climate assessment report is going to do, instead of looking at a broad national view on climate change, across the U.S., it is going to break down cities, by population and regions by impacts.

And so, for instance, sea level rise and its threat to New Orleans, New York City, Boston, Charleston, that will be highlighted. And it will also talk about adaptation practices to counteract the impacts of a warming planet.

Also talking about the frequency and intensity of heavy rain events, countering that, the drought that is ongoing across the western U.S. so much, in this multipage report, in fact, I've heard -- I haven't seen it yet, because it hasn't been released until Friday, but this thing is over 200 pages long.

One thing is for sure, though, we have our greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. These are the heat trapping gases that are released in the atmosphere from transportation, electricity, industry, all the way to agriculture.

We're noticing that link with these greenhouse gases, as they rise exponentially in the post-industrial era, that temperatures are warming across the planet, and we're also seeing that link and the intensity, the severity and frequency of extreme weather events like hurricanes and the wildfires over the western U.S.

VANIER: And the wildfires that you've been telling us about for two weeks, I've got something on that, but Derek Van Dam, thank you very much.


VANIER: Appreciate it. And once you actually get your eyes on the report, we'll want to hear back from you.

VAN DAM: All 200 pages of it.

VANIER: Thank you.

Now, the wildfires in Northern California, Derek's been telling us about them. The whole CNN weather team has been working on those for two weeks. Well, in Northern California, the non-profit group, World Central Kitchen, teamed up with celebrity chefs and businesses, to provide 15,000 meals to fire victims and first responders on Thanksgiving. They are in the Paradise Ridge, and you've heard that word before. That's the area that was hit by the so-called Camp Fire, devastated, in fact. Our Nick Watt has more on this generous deed and the latest efforts to control the deadly fire.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a little moment of respite here for the people in Chico, California. Two weeks ago, this fire broke out, and it's still not fully extinguished, although we had some rain last night that did help dampen up some spots. More rain tonight that authorities fear might actually cause some problems, cause some mud slides.

They are fingers crossed that is not going to be the case. But it is, of course, Thanksgiving here in the United States, and that means, Thanksgiving dinner. Now, here, we've got Chef Jose Andres who was right over there and Guy Fieri, both celebrity chefs in this country who have made Thanksgiving dinner for 15,000 people.

And it is being served by volunteers and members of Cal fire who have been here, fighting this blaze, as well. The destruction, one firefighter told me, unlike anything he has seen in his 25 years, fighting fires here, in California, nearly 14,000 homes have been destroyed.

The death toll will sadly probably continue to rise as the searchers make their way through more and more devastated neighborhoods. Some people are being allowed back in, but not yet to the town of Paradise, that town of 27,000 people, virtually, burned off the map.

The hurt goes on here, in California. But for now, a bit of respite, thanks to some chefs, oh, and some pie, back to you.


VAUSE: Nick Watt there, reporting.

Now, we're following breaking news out of Pakistan. I can bring you more on that. A local governor says gunmen have attacked the Chinese consulate in the southern port city of Karachi. Aamir Latif is with us on the line. He's a journalist with the Turkish news agency, Anadolu News Agency, he's in Karachi. Amir, what did you see? Were you a witness to the attack?

AAMIR LATIF, JOURNALIST, ANADOLU NEWS AGENCY (through telephone): It's two policemen have been killed and one attacker is also dead. The police claim to have recovered a suicide vest from the scene. It's a -- it's a brazen attack. I can see -- I can say that the cause is very heavily guarded in the southern high end city of Karachi.

The fighting is still continuing, and we can hear small blasts that suggest that the attacker is still engaged in clashes with the security forces, which are trying to enter the consulate. It is still unclear whether the terrorist are inside the consulate or they are near the consulate. The police said that it will take a while to make -- to make a statement about the attack.

[00:40:17] VANIER: All right, so you say the attack is ongoing, as we speak, you still hear the gunfire and you told me you heard a small blast, correct?

LATIF: Yes, it is. The fighting is still continuing, and though the police have not made any official statement, however, eyewitnesses said that there are three to four attackers, heavily armed attackers who tried to storm the Chinese consulate. And it's, still, we can hear the gunshots.

VANIER: Aamir, is there -- is there any more information on the attackers? You said three to four heavily armed attackers. Do we know anything else about them at this stage?

LATIF: You see that China is -- China and Pakistan are involved in a multibillion-dollar CPAC project. And there are forces which are against the CPAC. But these forces are the Baloch separatist movement. They would suggest that China is here to steal their resources.

But this attack may be the recovery of a suicide vest suggests that they are not the Baloch separatists because-the tactics of suicide attack is being used by Taliban, here.

So, it is the security agency point finger at the local Taliban here, who could be behind this attack. However, there is no claim of responsibility for this attack.

VANIER: Sure, sure, absolutely. And we don't have concrete information on that. I want to make that very clear at this very early stage for our viewers. But you were giving us some pointers to try and understand the situation. Thank you very much, Aamir Latif of Anadolu News Agency. We appreciate it. We'll talk to you again.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Stay tuned. We've got an update of all your sport news, right now, on "WORLD SPORT."


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