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Dems Remain at Odds with Trump over Border Wall; Brazil Shifts to the Right with Jair Bolsonaro; Whelan Family Rejects Claims of Espionage; Migrants Attempt Dangerous Trip across the Channel; Whelan Family Rejects Russian Claims of Espionage; U.K. Foreign Secretary to Speak on Brexit in Singapore; May's Brexit Challenge Carries on Into 2019. Aired 12m-1a ET

Aired January 2, 2019 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Let's make a deal. The U.S. president invites congressional leaders to a Wednesday meeting at the White House, their first face-to-face session since the partial government shutdown began 12 days ago.

New year, new president. Brazil moves sharply to the right with Jair Bolsonaro, mow officially sworn in.

And the family of an American prisoner in Russia is speaking out, insisting he is no spy and was simply in Moscow for a wedding.

Hello and welcome to viewers around the world. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: While there has been a fight in Washington over border security, there were actual clashes happening at the border with Mexico. Early Tuesday U.S. authorities fired tear gas and pepper spray at migrants, firing across the border into Tijuana, who, according to a government spokeswoman, were violent and throwing rocks.

The incident is now being investigated by the U.S. border Patrol. It comes as a partial shutdown of the U.S. government enters its 12th day.

Democrats take control of the House on Thursday which let to this tweet from President Trump, directed at the likely next House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"Border security and the wall thing and shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker. Let's make a deal."

Pelosi fired back, saying the president "has given Democrats a great opportunity to show how we will govern responsibly and quickly end the irresponsible Trump shutdown," as she put it.

CNN's Jessica Dean reports from Washington.


JESSICA DEAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is day 11 of the partial government shutdown here in Washington, D.C. and here at the White House we are just learning that the White House and President Trump has invited senior leadership from both parties to the White House on Wednesday.

We're also learning that there will be a presentation, an update, from the Department of Homeland Security during that meeting.

Of course, the border wall and it's funding right in the middle of this disagreement, this stalemate that has brought part of the government to a halt over the last, almost two weeks, so they will be discussing that tomorrow.

This, as the president continues to tweet on this New Year's Day. He's tweeting about the shutdown and Nancy Pelosi's speakership.

This is something that the White House has been going back to over and over again, talking about how Nancy Pelosi is unwilling to deal in this deal because she wants to get the votes to be speaker on Thursday. In all likelihood she does have the votes and all likelihood she will be Speaker.

She said that they've - the Democrats have given them three opportunities to reopen the government, but they haven't taken it. At the end of the day, it's still a wide area between the two sides on this.

The Republicans, President Trump saying, "I want the wall a $5 billion to fund it."

The Democrats saying, "We want to reopen the government with $1.3 billion for border security, but no funding for a wall a no wall within that."

We'll see what happens tomorrow -- Jessica Dean, CNN, the White House.



VAUSE: For now, on this seemingly endless partial government shutdown, CNN's senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joins us now from Los Angeles.

Ron, happy New Year. Good to see you.


VAUSE: Thank you. OK, bipartisan compromise, that seems you the only way to end this shutdown. Democrats take control Congress on Thursday, Republicans maintain their slim majority in the Senate.

Somehow they need to agree to a deal which satisfies both houses and that includes Democrats demands that there's no funding for this wall but they also need to have some kind of provision to allow the president to claim victory on funding for the wall.

So how does that work?

BROWNSTEIN: And it's not clear how this plays out. You know, I think, most Senate Republicans would be happy to find a face-saving compromise that provided more money for border security in general but did not allow the dollars for the wall but it's not clear the White House can climb off of the ledge that it's climbed onto.

I think what the president has failed to apprehend is how different this Democratic majority is then the last time the Democrats held the House in 2009 or 2010. Back then there were a large number of small- town rural Blue Dog Democrats, who would have been worried about seeming to be on the wrong side of him on an issue like immigration security and border safety.

Now, this is a very different Democratic majority that is much more urban, suburban. Every element of the coalition that elected them in polling overwhelmingly opposes the wall. I don't think they feel a lot of pressure to give in to him and he has, I think, much less leverage than he anticipated when he started. This is a little bit like a basketball player who went up in the air not really sure what he's going to do with the ball and now here he is.

VAUSE: Well, before the partial shutdown, during that jaw-dropping meeting with Democrat leaders in the Oval Office, Donald Trump was more than eager to take responsibility for all of this. Here's what he said at the time.



TRUMP: And I am proud -- and I'll tell you what.


TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it.


VAUSE: Yes, but the very first morning the shutdown happened, Trump was on Twitter, the Democrats now own the shutdown. It's insane the White House strategy has been to keep the president out of the spotlight, let his tweets speak for themselves.

You know, they made a lot of -- about the fact that Trump was still in Washington dealing with the government shutdown but he made no public appearances.

It seems like an odd strategy, given the fact that he could have dominated the news cycle, you know, doing a very slow news period, essentially arguing his case but they opted not to do that.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, look, throughout his presidency, the president has been much more effective at kind of picking these culturally resident, often racially tinged fights and speaking directly to his base through FOX, through talk radio, than he has been at waging any kind of argument with the broader public.

I mean, if you think about the Affordable Care Act fight, if you think about even the tax reform fight, certainly this, he simply has never shown much ability or even interest in persuading the broader public of his merits. And he's all about mobilizing his base.

The problem he's got is that government shutdowns are unpopular. I covered them under Clinton, I covered them under Obama. The public never likes the idea of this time of gamesmanship.

And in this case, he is using a tactic that is unpopular in advance of a goal that is even more unpopular. I mean, the wall has never had majority support in any poll that I have seen during his presidency. The last CNN poll, only 38 percent of the public said they supported the wall.

It dropped to 33 percent when he told that Mexico would not be paying for it. And as I mentioned, it was at least 60 percent and usually two-thirds or more of all the key groups in the Democratic coalition -- young people, minorities, college-educated whites -- opposed the wall.

So he has kind of painted himself into a corner here and it's not clear how he gets out.

VAUSE: The president did make an appearance on Christmas Day. He went out and made a bizarre claim that many federal workers actually support this fight he's having with Democrats over funding of his border wall. This is what he said.


TRUMP: Well, many of those workers have said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall. These federal workers want the wall. The only one that doesn't want the wall are the Democrats.


VAUSE: OK. So keep that in mind, because two days later on Twitter, he claims that most of the federal workers not getting paid were Democrats. This --

BROWNSTEIN: Look, and certainly our Border Patrol agents, the Border Patrol Union is a pretty conservative group and I'm sure there are people within the Border Patrol, you know, a family, that have, you know, told him they support the wall.

But consistently, somewhere around 50 percent to 60 percent of the country in poll after poll from organization after organization has said they oppose the wall. And that is, I think, one -- you know, again a key difference here is that, compared to 10 years ago, the last time the Democrats had the majority, there are many fewer members who would worry about the president kind of trying to position himself to their right on border security.

The public does support border security. I mean, it's been very consistent in polling over the last 25 years; a pathway to citizenship or legal status for the undocumented, coupled with some enhancement of border security is a winning combination with the public.

But that does not translate into support for the president's specific solution so he is holding kind of -- he's playing on the short end of the field in this standoff.

VAUSE: You know, we're also seeing on Twitter, like there's abundance of inconsistencies from the president -- and keep in mind this was a candidate who was devastating social media, you know, during the campaign in 2016.

And there are still flashes of that today. like the response to General Stanley McChrystal. He said Trump was immoral and doesn't tell the truth. And he tweeted out, General McChrystal got fired like a dog by Obama. Last assignment a total bust, known for a big, dumb mouth. Hillary lover.

There's also the criticism from the former secretary, Rex Tillerson and Trump tweeted out you know, that he was dumb as a rock and lazy as hell.

But you know, take a look at this account. He's logged more than 40,000 tweets and really not all of them as president. Still, for the most part, the tweets almost seem like now it's like a downtown bus. Don't worry if you miss one, there'll be another in 20 minutes.

Has he lost his Twitter mojo to an extent here?

BROWNSTEIN: I think -- I think he has but only in the broader context of the reality of his governing style. I mean, the president is coping with an approval rating somewhere between 38 percent and 44 percent with unemployment below 4 percent. I mean that should not be possible.

And the only way it is possible is because there are many Americans who are generally satisfied with economic conditions in the country, who are deeply dissatisfied with his approach to the job.

I mean, we saw an echo of that again just you know tonight with the rather remarkable Mitt Romney op-ed in "The Washington Post," where he, you know, essentially says the president is defining the office down.

And so I think that the Twitter -- the Twitter abrasiveness in line with the --


BROWNSTEIN: -- overall approach to the presidency, yes, it mobilizes a base, it energizes a base, might be enough to allow them to squeeze by, you know, those Midwestern states again in 2020.

But there is no question that there is a majority of the country and pretty consistently in every possible way, including the midterm election, is expressing that it is dissatisfied, discontented, you know, and, in some cases, disgusted with the way that he has approached the presidency and Twitter is a big part of that.

VAUSE: Yes, a very big part of it. Ron, as always, thank you so much. Good to see you.

BROWNSTEIN: Hey, happy New Year.

VAUSE: Thank you.


VAUSE: Brazil's new president has been sworn into office. Jair Bolsonaro campaigned on a promise of prosperity while ending corruption and political correctness. Amara Walker looks at his style of leadership, he is a right wing populist who has often been compared to Donald Trump.


AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Promising to take the country on a shift to the right, Jair Bolsonaro was inaugurated as Brazil's new president on New Years Day.

JAIR BOLSONARO, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): With humility and honor, I present myself to everyone as President of Brazil and I stand in front of our nation as we liberate ourselves from socialism today.

WALKER: Before a crowd of supporters in the capital of Brasilia, Bolsonaro also vowed to liberate Brazil from political correctness and to rebuild the economy.

BOLSONARO: Our elections give a voice to those whose voice was silent and the voices from the streets and polling booths were clear. I am here to respond and, once again, commit myself to this change.

WALKER: Before his speech, the former army captain and far-right congressman took a ride through the crowds with his wife, Michelle, and received the presidential sash from outgoing President Michel Temer.

Earlier in the day, Bolsonaro was officially sworn in during a ceremony at the National Congress Building where he spoke about his intended economic reforms. BOLSONARO: We will make structural reforms that are key for financial health and sustainability with public accounts, transforming our economic scenario and opening new opportunities. We need to create a new cycle for the economy so that we could open our markets internationally.

WALKER: His supporters see him as a no-nonsense leader who will drain the swamp and tackle the ramped violence plaguing the country. His opponents fear that four years of a Bolsonaro presidency will threaten human rights and ecological preservation in the sixth largest country in the world by size and by population.

After his speech, Bolsonaro, who's been compared to Donald Trump, got a shout out from the U.S. president who tweeted, "The USA is with you."

Bolsonaro tweeted back, "Together under God's protection we shall bring prosperity and progress to our people." -- Amara Walker, CNN.


VAUSE: And now to Cuba, where former president Raul Castro has used a speech commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Socialist Revolution to slam the U.S. government, accusing some American lawmakers of spreading lies and portraying Cuba as a threat to the region.

Castro also says new economic and financial restrictions imposed by the U.S. are hindering much needed economic development.

The Reuters News Agency is reporting China's president, Xi Jinping, is calling for reunification with Taiwan, saying nothing can change the fact that Taiwan is part of China, it cannot be changed by anyone or any force.

This came during a speech marking the 40th anniversary of a statement known as the Message to Compatriots in Taiwan that led to a thaw in relations with the island.

Well, after two weeks of deadly anti-government protest, representatives of 22 Sudanese political parties are demanding the resignation of president Omar al-Bashir.

In a letter, they write his regime cannot overcome the crisis and quote, "The only way to remedy the imminent political and economic collapse is to take exceptional and extraordinary measures to put in place a new regime."

So far no word from the president.

The family of an American man detained in Russia are speaking out, insisting he is no spy; 48-year-old Marine veteran Paul Whelan was detained Friday in Moscow allegedly for espionage. According to his brother, Whelan was in Moscow for a wedding. He visited Russia many times for both professional and personal reasons.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVID WHELAN, PAUL'S BROTHER: Paul was mostly worried about the family golden retriever, who had a vet appointment last week, and about his parents slipping on the ice in the Michigan winter. He was not concerned about his trip to Russia.

He is not the sort of person who would stumble into a strange environment or make poor choices that could cause him risks. But particularly, he wouldn't have made choices that would have gotten sideways of the Russian government and its espionage act.



VAUSE: CNN intelligence and security analyst and former CIA operative, Bob Baer is with us now from Washington.

So Bob, the theory here is that, you know, Whelan was --


VAUSE: -- arrested to be traded by the Kremlin at some future point for Maria Butina. She's the Russian spy who infiltrated conservative groups in the U.S. including the NRA. This happened in 2016 before the election.

So if Whelan is being effectively held hostage by Putin, that's a very stark message to the United States and Americans who might be in Russia right now.

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, exactly, John. Because first of all, I can tell you right now that we do not operate, the United States, in Moscow using private citizens to take, you know, carry out espionage. Never. It's not going to happen.

So this guy was framed. He was taken as a hostage. And Putin is furious about indictments of, you know, he's been furious about indictments of oligarchs and the rest of it. And things are not going his way vis-a-vis Trump.

And he's letting us know. Do not let the Department of Justice and the FBI start coming after Russians or we're going to grab more Americans. I think that's the message.

VAUSE: You know, U.S. officials should have been with Whelan by now but, you know, the partial government shutdown in the U.S. has forced embassies to reduce staffing levels. And this is just another complication and the case, you know, this could take months to resolve.

BAER: Well, it's really up to Putin. I mean he could give access. We could get a consul in there very fast within hours after notification. But I think really it's up to Putin.

He's going to wait to see what Trump does. I mean, this Butina problem, in Putin's eyes it was not justified. She was not properly a spy. She was not out getting secrets. She was simply nosing around the NRA and the National Prayer Breakfast in Putin's eyes, saying so what. Americans come over to Russia all the time and nose around and we don't arrest them.

So you know, he's partially right here. This was a real reach rolling her up and indicting her and sending her to jail. I mean even if she gets a minimal sentence, in Russian eyes, they don't think that's fair and it's unjustified.

And this is a question of reciprocity for Putin.

VAUSE: Sorry. I was going to say we know a little more about Paul Whelan now. He traveled to Russia before. He works in corporate security. He was a former Marine.

Back in 2007, he was featured in a military magazine. There was a change in the rules between (ph) -- you know, take part of his leave in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

On his personal website back then he posted about meeting nice people, pleasant excursions. His Russian language skills were improving. He was posting on Russia's version of Facebook for about 13 years.

So if his arrest had been in the works for some time and that seems to be the assumption, the Russians certainly knew when to expect him and knew when he was coming.

BAER: Oh, absolutely. They know. I went to Moscow a couple of years ago and they knew exactly who I was by the time I got off the airplane and got to customs. They knew I was ex-CIA. They took a close look at me but it was very efficient, got through.

They know before you get there. They have a very advanced system. They probably got on Facebook, looked this guy up, figured out he was ex-military, fits the profile of a spook in a lot of ways. And it would be an easy case for them to make.

And again - but I'm saying, he wasn't a spy. I'm sure of that. So they're framing him. But they're going to produce some piece of information, you know, taken out of context that makes it look bad. That's what I imagine is going to happen.

VAUSE: You mention Maria Butina. Here's part of a report in "The New York Times," you know, basically they're backing what you've been saying.

"The Russian government, while strenuously denying that Ms. Butina is a Russian agent has organized a social media campaign to win her release."

There's also been reports that, you know, the Russian foreign ministry has been making, you know, multiple inquiries about her, more so than any other Russian who's been detained. So clearly she is of value to Putin, which I guess means what.

This ultimately plays out as some kind of classic Checkpoint Charlie move. Except for there's that problem with the Trump administration when it comes to Russia and it's a total lack of credibility.

If Butina is released, you know, many will just see that as another concession to Putin.

BAER: Well, exactly. I mean not only that, half of Americans believe the Russians put him in the White House and that he's somehow been blackmailed by the Russians. And he just essentially gave Syria to Russia which has caused all sorts of problems right and left.

So he's being compromised by the Russians' previous business deals and the rest of it in this bizarre meeting with Putin in Helsinki. You know, he's in a tight spot. He does not look like a neutral, objective player in all of this.

So what is he going to do?

I mean this is, you know, one hell of a way to open the new year in a crisis with Russia.

VAUSE: Happy 2019, Mr. President.

Bob, thank you. And happy New Year to you, as well.

BAER: Thanks, John.


VAUSE: Well, it's just over seven nautical miles and, for an increasing number of migrants, it's worth the risk --


VAUSE: -- to cross the English Channel to reach the U.K., despite the freezing waters and we'll explain why in a moment.

Also ahead, trapped under a pile of rubble for more than a day, an incredible rescue and one very tough baby in Russia.




VAUSE: French police say they've stopped 14 migrants who allegedly stole a fishing boat to try to cross the English Channel. This is just the latest in a string of attempts by migrants to reach the U.K. from France.

The Spanish police arrested two men found hiding inside mattresses on top of a van. They were believed to have crossed into Spain from Morocco and tweeted out the video and said as long as there are no safe routes for asylum seekers, migrants will continue to take these types of risks.

As for the U.K., they're trying to stop these dangerous attempts by adding more patrol vessels in the Channel. We have details now from CNN's Melissa Bell.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twelve Iranian migrants intercepted by British border force officials just as they made it to shore. Others have been rescued further out to sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old is your daughter?

How old?

BELL (voice-over): And in greater and greater numbers. In 2018, 539 migrants tried to reach Britain on small boats; 80 percent of those attempts were made in the last three months of the year, according to the British home office.

On Monday, the home secretary held a press conference, having cut short his holiday.


SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: I want to send a very strong signal to people who do think about making this journey, is that we will do everything we can to make sure it is not a success.


BELL: The home secretary said that two extra border force boats would be brought from the Mediterranean to the Channel and that greater cooperation would be sought with the French.

Already the French Coast Guard has redoubled its patrols and now says it's rescuing migrants everyday.

INGRID PARROT, SPOKESWOMAN, FRENCH COAST GUARD: So these people, when we found them, they are in this state of hypothermia and also they are just so frightened because we thought that they saw deaths and we don't want to have corpse on the beach or to have collision with a big boat.

BELL: This is the part of the French coast that is the closest to England. From here, you can see the cliffs of Dover. It's only 17 nautical miles across. And so it is from these beaches, from this part of the coast that the migrants set off in whatever they can find, in fishing boats --


BELL: -- in dinghies and sometimes even in kayaks.

BELL (voice-over): It was with a dinghy that Ahmed tried and failed, not once, but twice. He spoke to us from the woods of Northern France that he calls the jungle. He told us that the risk was worth it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AHMED, IRANIAN MIGRANT (from captions): You can go to England to two hours, three hours if you have a motor. If you have a strong motor, you can go.

BELL: But there are big ships, there are waves, there are currents, it's very dangerous. You could die in the water.

AHMED: Yes, I know. But to die, is better off love a life in the jungle.


BELL (voice-over): Ahmed left Iran more than two years ago. More recently, fellow Iranians have been arriving in greater numbers say aid workers, speaking of economic hardship and political persecution. All are in a hurry to get across.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The New Year's, the U.K. leads the Europe and the police and everything is going to be hard and no one can go to U.K.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need help?

BELL (voice-over): Which means a worsening struggle for the French and British coast guards as they seek to rescue migrants from waters so cold that no one could survive them for more than an hour -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VAUSE: A miraculous rescue from the rubble of a collapsed building in Russia. Workers saved an infant buried under debris after hearing his cries. He is in serious condition after more than 35 hours in freezing temperatures.

The mother also survived but at least eight people were killed after a suspected gas explosion at the apartment block on Monday; 36 people remain missing.

Still to come here, British prime minister Theresa May, lurching from crisis to crisis, somehow managed to survive the Brexit debacle but a new year brings new challenges. That's just around the corner.




VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.


[00:30:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: This is not how Nancy Pelosi wants to start her tenure as House Speaker. She says Democrats who now have a House Majority, can quickly end the irresponsible Trump shutdown.

And the family of an American man detained in Russia, on suspicion of spying, insists he is innocent. David Whelan says his twin brother, Paul, was in Moscow for a wedding, he's been to Russia many times for both work and personal business. It appears he also posted regularly on a Russian social media network.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is in Singapore. He is expected to speak in the coming hours about Brexit. He wrote an op-ed in the Daily Mail, last week, about looking east, in his vision of post- Brexit prosperity. Singapore has been touted by some, as an economic model for a post-Brexit Britain.

Perhaps, he should look at a clock instead, which is ticking towards the March deadline, when the U.K. leaves the European Union with or without a Brexit deal.

CNN's Anna Stewart reports on the challenges now facing Prime Minister Theresa May.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF U.K.: Whichever way you voted in the referendum --

ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL REPORTER: Theresa May, beginning the year, facing a near mission impossible, to deliver on that vote, to leave the European Union.

MAY: Most people just want the government to get on and deliver a good Brexit, and that's exactly what we are doing.

STEWART: May lays out her vision for U.K. with more control of its sovereignty and building a new relationship with the E.U.

MAY: I am confident that we can reach agreement. We both want good access to each other's markets. We have a shared interest in getting this right. So let's get on with it.

STEWART: A key sticking point for an exit, how to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and Ireland, part of the E.U. A back stop border as an E.U. compromise, keeping the border open in a transition period, but with the U.K. still following E.U. rules.

MAY: We don't want the back stop to be necessary.

STEWART: That same month, Theresa May confronted with her biggest international crisis of the year, on British soil.

MAY: Today, 18 countries have announced their intention to expel more than 100 Russian intelligence officers from their countries.

STEWART: A former Russian spy and his daughter, both living in Britain, poisoned by a nerve agent. The U.K. government accuses Russian intelligence for the attack, an allegation the Russians deny. Brexit continue to dominate public debate with less than a year to go, E.U. officials also impatient to see a Brexit plan.

MICHEL BARNIER, CHIEF NEGOTIATOR OF THE EUROPEAN UNION (through translator): There is a request for a status quo, a sort of continuity which is quite paradoxical, since it was their country which took the decision to leave the European Union.

STEWART: The biggest commotion coming from her own cabinet, though, when two ministers, her Brexit negotiator and her foreign secretary, quit in protest, over a deal they claim gives too many concessions to the E.U.

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: How can anyone have faith in the prime minister getting a good deal, with 27 European Union governments, when she can't even broke her a deal within her own cabinet?

STEWART: President Trump, while visiting the U.K., second guesses May's handling of Brexit in a newspaper interview, only to later apologize.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to apologize, because I said such good things about you. She said, don't worry, it's only the press.

STEWART: A dancing queen (INAUDIBLE) on by party supporters saying her deal is the only deal for the U.K.

MAY: If we are going to leave with a deal, this is it. It is in the interests of the E.U., as well as the U.K., to get this over the line.

STEWART: A 585-page plan for divorce that the E.U. agrees to. But, in parliament, Theresa May faces a hostile reception. Even calls for a new referendum. Lacking the majority, she delays the vote. Attacks on her leadership didn't stop there, members of her party, casting secret ballots in a vote of no confidence. Theresa May survives the vote, but her leadership is damaged.

MAY: This has been a long and challenging day, a significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me, and I have listened to what they said.

STEWART: Now, the Prime Minister heads into the New Year, with the clock running down to that March deadline, when the U.K. will leave the E.U., with or without a deal. One thing is certain, however, and that is her political legacy will be defined by Brexit.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Coming up here, a New Year means new laws, especially in the United States, including a hike in the minimum wage (INAUDIBLE)

Also, history is made, 6 billion kilometers from Earth, and it seems never before have blurry, grainy images, excited so many.



VAUSE: As the United States rings in the New Year, there are new laws, which have already taken effect, and they're having an impact on everything, from paychecks to pets. Here's CNN's Jean Casarez.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 2019 rings in with bigger paychecks for some workers, and at least 19 states that are increasing or adjusting their hourly minimum wages on or around New Year's Day. Workers from Maine to Missouri to Arizona will see bumps in their paychecks, even as the federal minimum wage hasn't budged from $7.25 since 2009.

Just as the 2020 political season kicks off, next week, the state of Florida will restore the voting right of former felons upon the completion of their sentences, excluding those convicted of murder and sexual offenses. Utah officially has the nation's lowest blood alcohol content standard for drunk driving, now at 0.5 percent, that's as little as one drink for most women, and three drinks for most men, to reach the new limit.

Over in California, public held corporations based in the state, must have at least one woman on the board of directors by the end of the year. And by the end of 2021, corporations must have at least two or three female board members, depending on the size of the board of directors. Violations of this new law can be punishable by fines up to $300,000.

Also in California, pet stores are no longer allowed to sell cats, dogs, or rabbits, unless they come from animal shelters or non-profit rescue groups. The Golden State is also home to a new law that gives pets more rights. No longer will the family dog and cat be treated by courts as physical property.

Judges can now decide who gets custody of the family pet during divorce proceedings, based on what is in the best interests of the pets.

Fashion forward hunters in Illinois, will now have another color option for their hunting wardrobe. The state becomes the seventh to expand the color options for hunting from the standard blaze orange, to an equally bright blaze pink.

And in the age of tweets and texts, the state of Ohio is going retro. Students there will now be required to learn how to write, in cursive, by the end of the fifth grade. Just some of the new laws Americans are waking up to, this New Year.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: Well, it's a bit like a geeky Rorschach test. The blurry, grainy images sent back to Earth from the very edge of our solar system, sent some scientists into a frenzy of excitement, while the others, it's just a space blob. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The kid in the astronaut suit is a dead giveaway that this isn't a New Year's countdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two, one! Go New Horizons!

MOOS: It happened about half an hour, after 2019 arrived. A spacecraft named New Horizons did a flyby past the most distant and most ancient object ever reached by humankind, and the scientists couldn't wipe the grins off their faces.

ALAN STERN, PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR, NEW HORIZONS: I'm really liking this 2019 thing so far.

[00:40:08] MOOS: It took 13 years to get here. It's a billion miles past Pluto. Wait until you see it.

STERN: It's OK to laugh, but it's better than the one we had yesterday.


MOOS: Yes, they're applauding what looks like a blurry dental X-ray. Ultima Thule, meaning, a distant place beyond the borders of the known world, it's a rocky lump preserved in frigid temperatures, a sort of solar system time capsule. But that shape?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bowling pin or a peanut, it sort of looks like a peanut to me.

MOOS: It was compared to Olaf, the snowman, from Frozen. Someone tweeted, looks like a jelly bean. But the voyage to this jelly bean has inspired a song by a world famous guitarist.

QUEEN: We are the champions. No time for losers --

MOOS: Brian May, the lead guitarist for Queen, now has a PhD in astrophysics, white hair, and a soft spot for the New Horizon's mission.

BRIAN MAY, LEAD GUITARIST, QUEEN: New Horizons, to take our breath away.

MOOS: New Horizons is also taking away the ashes of the astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930. He got to fly right by it. It will take weeks for the highest resolution close-ups of Ultima to arrive. Someone's pet was posed awaiting images, signal enhancing dish deployed, while others enjoyed imagining images.

Who needs the man in the moon, when you've got the man in the Ultima Thule.

QUEEN: I see a little silhouetto of a man, Scaramouche --

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

QUEEN: Scaramouche --

MOOS: New York.

QUEEN: will you do the Fandango? Thunderbolt and lightning, very, very --


VAUSE: Another space first, this one, though, a lot closer to Earth, after launching from Southern China, back in early December, a Chinese lunar landing is expected to attempt a soft landing on the far side of the moon. All of this expected within the next 72 hours.

There is still much which is not known about the side of the moon which faces away from our planet. Other spacecraft have flown over the region, but have not landed. It will be a first for China.

Hundreds of thousands of women in India, standing up for equality, and they formed a human chain, spanning more than 600 kilometers. All this took place in the same province as the famous Hindu Temple that once refused to allow all women between the ages of 10 and 50, to enter.

India's top court overturned that ban back in September, but some Conservatives have been blocking women from entering the shrine, and that sometimes, violently. Local media report organizers of the women's wall, say as many as 5 million people took part.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. You're watching CNN.


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