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French And British Coast Guards Seek To Rescue Migrants From Cold Water; Day 12 Of The Partial Shutdown Of The U.S. Government And One day Before Democrats Take Over The House of Representatives; North Korea Has Been Continuing To Produce Nuclear Fuel. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired January 2, 2019 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[03:00:00]

PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: The U.K. is adding more patrols in the English Channel to deal with migrants willing to brave dangerous crossing from France.

New Year, new president, Brazil movers sharply to the right, Jair Bolsonara now officially sworn in.

And NASA says this pixilated blob could reveal secrets about the origins of our solar system.

Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN Newsroom.

Now as U.S. lawmakers in Washington argue over border security, there was an actual clash on the southern border near Tijuana, Mexico, and now U.S. agents use tear gas and pepper spray as more than 100 migrants were trying to enter the country illegally. A government spokeswoman says some of the migrants were throwing rocks while others were lifting children over razor edged wire.

Now the U.S. Border Patrol says it is investigating the incident.

Meantime in Europe many migrants are risking everything to get to the U.K., even crossing the freezing waters of the English Channel during winter. The U.K. is responding, as we were saying, by adding more patrol vessels. With more on this CNN's Melissa Bell joins me now live from Paris.

And Melissa, it's an issue you've been covering for quite some time. We talk about the U.K. really stepping it up and treating this as a significant incident and now having more patrols. What are they up against though?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: I think it's important from the outset to say, Paula, that the numbers involved here are actually not that great when you consider how many asylum applications are made in the U.K. on average every year. It's about 25,000, we're talking about 240 people who have attempted the crossing in small vessels and dinghy often and made it and then claimed asylum since November. So, the numbers are small but it is the dramatic nature of the

pictures, it is the danger of the crossing. After all, the English Channel, Paula, is one of the two most busy shipping lanes in the world. It has strong currents, treacherous weather conditions and they are taking off in dinghy. It speaks to their desperation, it is almost miraculous that any should make it at all.

Twelve Iranian migrants intercepted by British border force officials just as the made it to shore. Others have been rescued further out to sea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old is your daughter? How old?

BELL: 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.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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 it's patrols and now says it's rescuing migrants everyday.

INGRED 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 death 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, in dinghies' and sometimes even in kayaks.

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: You can go to England to two hours, three hours if you have a motor, strong motor, you can go.

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

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BELL: Ahmed left Iran more than two years ago, more recently, fellow Iranians have been arriving in greater numbers say aide workers, speaking of economic hardship and political persecution.

[03:05:00]

BELL: All are in a hurry to get across.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you help?

BELL: Which means a worsening struggle for the French and British Coast Guards as the seek to rescue migrants from waters so cold that no one could survive them for more than an hour.

Paula, only last night French Coast Guards managed to stop 14 migrants who were attempting to make the crossing, attempting to leave the Port of Boulogne (ph) in northern France to make the crossing on a stolen fishing vessel. They were stopped even before they left, and perhaps really, Paula, they're the luckiest of all.

NEWTON: Yes, especially when you point out an hour and you could have severe and dyer consequences health wise. Obviously though, the migrants are desperate. If we take a step back here Melissa, you've been covering this issue for several years. You were there when French authorities controversially took apart the jungle that Ahmed was in.

What is the situation now? You pointed out in the beginning of your report that the numbers are quite different in terms of the amount of asylum seekers going to the U.K. in general, but has there been progress in this issue if you look at it overall?

BELL: Well this issue has been so important in Europe over the last few years, and of course, crucial to the Brexit vote it is believed. And that is, I think, also why you're hearing about it a great deal again as we head into the pre-Brexit period.

Of course, it is March 29, many of the migrant that we spoke to who were dotted around the woods of northern France, those big camps that you referred to, have really been dismantled now by the French. They believe that after March 29, it will get harder for them to get across.

But, of course, this issue is all about the complication for Europe of organizing it's immigration policy over the course of the last few years. Of coordinating it, of making it so that it was the same whether you were in one country or whether you were in another, of trying to organize better external borders and a smoother communication within the European Union.

And again, we're talking about the very desperate, trying one last time to get to the country that they believe and have always believed, would provide them with a better life.

The idea of the United Kingdom, when you speak to these Iranians, they say, when you say to them, why England? Why go to England rather than stay here in France? They say, because we believe that there we have a better chance at fixing our lives, at getting a better life. Some of them have family there and they believe, and one thing that we notice was that this Iranian presence was quite new.

When we'd seen the dismantling of the camp in Calais, you were talking about a lot of Afghans, a lot of Somalis, East Africans, now they migrants we met huddled in those woods hoping to get across were mainly Iranians.

And that speaks, of course, of the troubles at home to them, but also the fact that they believe that it will be easier for them to claim asylum in the United Kingdom, and Paula, interestingly, that is born out by the fact, when you look at the number of asylum applications from Iranians compared to, say, Iraqi's, they have over the last few years in the United Kingdom been much more successful in getting that asylum. And of course that is why these crossings, that is why they put themselves at such risk.

NEWTON: Such a good point. These are desperate crossings, but on the other hand, there are very rational decisions for people who've really run out of the best options. Melissa, thanks so much for bringing us that story. I appreciate it.

Now it is day 12 of the partial shutdown of the U.S. Government and one day before Democrats take over the House of Representatives. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers aren't being paid though and Democrats insist they won't fund President Donald Trump's border wall.

He's now in a verbal spat with the next likely -- most likely, House leader and right now it doesn't look like Nancy Pelosi is willing to budge on the president's demands.

CNN's Jessica Dean has more from now 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.

[03:10:00]

DEAN: 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: OK, quite a showdown there shaping up. Earlier I spoke to CNN Political and National Security Analyst, David Sanger, about where things stand on the government shutdown and, you know, some of the foreign policy issues now facing President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think it marks a turning point, but I don't think that the battle over the wall and the shutdown is necessarily going to be what we - indicative of what we're seeing. And what we're going to see over the next year is going to have to do with the president's recognition, but basically his domestic agenda to the degree that it involves Congress is over just as it was for Barack Obama after he lost control of Congress at exactly the same point in his presidency.

That tends to make a president turn more toward foreign policy - an area where they can operate completely by themselves - but the complicating factor here, of course, is the Mueller investigation. We don't know where that's going to take us, but we do know that if the president feels threatened by both that investigation and the many investigations that'll start up in the democratically-controlled House, they'll probably lash out at the institutions and the people who are behind the investigation.

NEWTON: Now that he has lost control of the House that - in terms of that domestic agenda likely not being able to get a lot done will then turn it to foreign affairs. Top of mind going into his presidency is North Korea. You have new reporting out of The New York Times now saying that, look, there has not been much progress when it comes to North Korea. And David, just before we get to the recent developments, I know you've done so much work on this in the last year since that, as we can see there, the new diplomacy started between North Korea and the United States. When you say that they're back at square one materially in terms of capability and in terms of getting back to that nuclear program, you're saying a snap of the fingers and, you know, North Korea's back where they wanted to be in terms of nuclear capability?

SANGER: Well, what's changed here, Paula, is the tone of the relationship which is certainly a lot friendlier. We've gone from the president threatening fire and fury to the president saying during a campaign rally that he and Kim Jong-un fell in love. The fire and fury was probably too far on the hawkish side. The fall in love is not necessarily something you want to do with a dictator, right? The answer's probably somewhere in between. The president takes the change in tone as a significant piece of progress, and there is some progress to that. He also takes the fact that there's been a freeze - a de facto freeze on missile tests and nuclear tests now for more than 13 months as a sign of some good will. But what the administration watches over is that during that time, North Korea has been continuing to produce nuclear fuel. It's been continuing, U.S. intelligence believes, to build nuclear weapons although yesterday Kim Jong-un said he was not doing that, and it has continued to improve its missile fleet. Not test them, but improve them and expand them. And so, that part of capability is really where we're back at square one as I argued in a news analysis that's in The Times tomorrow and online now. And the reason for that is that the key to this was denuclearization. The strategic goal was to get North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, its materials, and its missiles. There hasn't been a bit of that in the six months plus in Singapore.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Brazil's new president has been sworn into office. When we return, hear how he promises to restore order and bring prosperity to his country. Plus, we're hearing from the family of an American man detained in Moscow as an alleged spy, why the timing of his arrest is raising suspicions in the United States.

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on Taiwan to reject independence and embrace reification (ph) with China, and he took a hard line on the south governing island's political sovereignty and freedoms. Now, he says nothing can change the fact that Taiwan is part of China. It cannot be changed by anyone or by any force. Now, this came during a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the so- called Message of Compatriots in Taiwan. That speech led to a thaw in relations with the island.

All right, when populist known as the Trump of the tropics has been sworn in as Brazil's new president. Jair Bolsonaro has promised to restore order and policies that protect criminals and political correctness and bring prosperity to Brazil. Our Amara Walker looks at Bolsonaro's plans for the country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

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 out people." Amara Walker, CNN.

[03:20:00]

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Now, earlier we asked Eric Farnsworth to weigh in on Brazil's new president and the impact that he might have. Now, Farnsworth is the Vice President of the America Society and Council of the Americas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERIC FARNSWORTH, AMERICA SOCEITY AND COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS VICE PRESIDENT: Some of the things that were said on the campaign trail and, indeed, before the campaign even began are things that normal democratic societies would probably reject and have proven to be very divisive and very polarizing. And I think we'll have to see and will seen very soon whether this carries over into actually governing. But I think the key point here is that in order to do the big things that Brazil needs done in the economy and an attack on corruption, attack on crime, you really have to have a national consensus for action and moving forward. And without that, you can't really make progress on these big issues. And if you're a divisive, polarizing figure, it's going to be more difficult to get that consensus, so that's something we're going to have to watch very closely going forward.

One of the things that we've seen is some strong statements initially and then some pullback both on climate change and also on the relationship, for example, with China. You know, it's something that's going to have to play itself out. There are competing voices within the administration. There are those who support a stronger approach on the environment. There are those who support a pullback and more development and that sort of thing.

One of the things that the president has done is to merged ministries, Agriculture and the Environment for example, and that's caused some pause among observers thinking that perhaps the environmental portfolio will be downgraded. So again, that's something we need to watch. Look, Brazil has a massive territory in the Amazon region. It's important not just for Brazil, but indeed for the environmental health of the world. And so, the world has an interest in this issue going forward. It's something, though, that I think the president's pulled back a little bit from and probably doesn't have a strong defined position going forward. That will evolve.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: The family of an American man detained in Russia insists he is not a spy. 48-year-old Marine veteran, Paul Whelan, was detained Friday in Moscow, suspected of espionage. His brother says Whelan was there for a wedding and has visited Russia many times for work and personal business. We get more now from CNN's Martin Savidge.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It may seem surprising, but the family of Paul Whelan was actually relieved to hear that he'd been taken into custody by Russian authorities because up until that point once he had disappeared in Russia when he wasn't contacting his family and he didn't show up at an event where he was planned to be, they became greatly concerned that maybe he was a victim of crime, perhaps even dead. Well, now they know he's alive, but then there is this bizarre twist. He's alive and being held on charges of espionage.

Let me tell you a little bit about his background. Paul Whelan is 48 years of age, works in corporate security for a major auto parts manufacturer here in the Detroit area. He did serve in the U.S. Marines. He's Canadian-born, but he's an American citizen. Did a couple of tours in Iraq, and in fact, the whole reason that he was in Russia was to help out a former marine and help him with his wedding. He was getting married to a Russian woman, and that, his family says, shows you the kind of guy that Paul Whelan is. He went to Russia. He's been there several times before. He's familiar with the place. So he was going to help other people get around. And then he disappeared, and it was the bride and groom that showed up at the police station and actually filed a missing persons report in Russia to report that Paul had vanished. Well, a couple of hours later, Russian officials said, no. They knew exactly where he was. He was in their custody and charged with espionage. So what has been kind of a relief for a family has now turned into this very bizarre odyssey and no one really knows how long it's going to last, and no one has fully explained to them how is it possible he goes for a wedding and ends up being charged with spying. Martin Savidge, CNN, Novi, Michigan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Now, many analysts say Russia may have picked up Whelan in retaliation for the U.S. arrest of Maria Butina on espionage charges. Now, she struck a deal with prosecutors last month pleading guilty to one count of conspiring to act as a foreign agent. She's now cooperating with U.S. authorities. CNN Intelligence and Security Analyst, Bob Baer, says the Kremlin may be looking to make a deal.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: 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 Butina. He's furious about indictments of or - you know, he's furious about indictments of oligarchs and the rest of it

[03:25:00]

BAER: Furious about Butina. He's furious about indictments of or -- he's furious about indictments of Oligarchs and the rest of it. And if things are not going his way vis-a-vi 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.

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 in 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, 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, it's unjustified and this is a question of reciprocity for Putin.

NEWTON: Yes, Bob did a good job there of laying out the very complicated geopolitics. Whelan could face 10 to 20 years in prison in Russia if he's found guilty.

In India, two women entered a revered Hindu temple after a centuries long ban on woman of child bearing age going inside of it. Now, the women were accompanied by police officers and went into the temple early Wednesday morning local time. All this coming a day after tens of thousands of women, that you see

there, formed a human chain across the Indian state of Kerala. Now that, what they're doing there, is pushing for equality at that temple. India's top court overturned the ban back in September, but religious protestors have made it difficult to enforce the ruling.

Investors around the world are holding their breath. I could think of other things you'd do as well. They're just waiting to see what 2019 brings. We'll get a look at the early indicators just ahead.

Plus, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has weathered the Brexit storm so far, but new challenges and that final deadline are just around the corner. That's next on CNN Newsroom.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom, I'm Paula Newton with the headlines this hour. Senior U.S. lawmakers have been invited to the White House. This comes as President Donald Trump is pressing Democrats to make a deal to end the partial government shutdown.

Now he tweeted a dispute over border security and the wall is not how Nancy Pelosi wants to start her tenure as House Speaker.

[03:30:00]

PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: Ms. Pelosi, though, says Democrats who now have a House majority can quickly end the, quote, irresponsible Trump shutdown. Brazil's new president has been sworn into office. Rightwing populous Jair Bolsonaro promises to restore order, and policies that protect criminals, and political correctness. And bring prosperity to Brazil.

A former army captain, Mr. Bolsonaro has been called the Trump of the tropics. China's president is calling on Taiwan to reject independence, and embrace reunification with Beijing. Xi Jinping says nothing can change the fact that Taiwan is part of China. It cannot be changed by anyone, or by any force.

Now, financial markets across Europe just are underway this hour as investors are anxious to see what 2019 will bring. Anxious is the key word there. They're hoping to avoid that stock slump that hit Asia on the first trading day of this year. CNN Business reporter Hadas Gold is live hour for us from London.

And I will say Happy New Year to you. And unfortunately, I think we all have to have strong stomachs because it's going to be the kind of volatility - you know, China really - well, Asian markets in general really starting off on a - on a bad note, worried about growth.

But we also do have those all important meetings in Asia coming up between the U.S. and China on trade. And my gosh, Hadas, could we really forget about Brexit? I mean, it was just such a nice break there for a little bit. We didn't get too much news about it in the last few days. HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you've got - you've got to love that holiday break, and how seriously they take holiday breaks here in Europe. But it was not exactly a happy New Year for European markets that have just opened - all of the markets opened in negative territory today.

The worst hit was the French CAC 40. The FTSE was down 1.7 percent. As you can see on the screen right there, it's just not looking good. It's all red. Whatever little gains European markets may have made on that, kind of, last trading day of 2018 have pretty much been erased.

And investors are still licking their wounds from this last year, this rollercoaster year that we've had. And 2019, I have to say, doesn't seem to be looking much more positive. There's so much, just, uncertainty out there, as you noted, about trade deals between the U.S. and China.

There's worries in Italy about spending plans. And of course, as you noted, there is Brexit. And we are just less than three months away from that official withdraw date. And still, we don't know what exactly Brexit is going to look like, whether Theresa May's plan is going to be approved my Parliament, whether there's going to be a hard Brexit or not.

And all of that uncertainty is obviously contributing to just this, sort of, down forecast right now. And just, all of this uncertainty that the markets are - are showing. And analysts aren't that upbeat about what's going to come in the future.

They're saying that it's more challenging this year, and that weaker growth is going to likely have a significant implication for the financial markets in the coming months, the coming year. I mean, Paula, you know this better than anybody, but the stock markets do not like all of this uncertainty.

NEWTON: Yes, no. I think some traders do, having said that, they like the volatility, but it's not good for anyone's investment portfolio, usually, or their pension funds. Hadas, I have to ask you.

You know, a lot of people were quite surprised at how resilient European investors were, actually, towards 2018, especially when you had a lot of financial unraveling in Europe, and of course - of course Brexit. Do you think - you know, are experts saying that they can be that resilient again going forward in 2019?

GOLD: Well, I mean, it's definitely possible. And I think so much of this hinges on, sort of, as we see these big news events turnout. I mean, just if we get some sort of certainty on Brexit for example, I'm sure that will help.

But you're right that it has been interesting to see how the markets have reacted to 2018. I - I think that'll - as a lot of people know, we're just sort of in this new era where there's just so much going on around the world. But 2019 will, for sure, be a year that we'll all be keeping a very - obviously, a close eye on. And hopefully we'll be seeing some changes in the positive trend for investors in this coming year.

NEWTON: Yes. Well, we're going to update people on Brexit right now. I'm not sure whether they want that update or not, but we're going to plow ahead here, Hadas, good - good to see you, appreciate it.

Now, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is in Singapore where he is going to speak about Brexit in the coming hours. Now, he wrote an op- ed in the Daily Mail about looking east for post-Brexit prosperity. Singapore has been touted as an economic model for a post-Brexit Britain.

But perhaps he should look at a clock which is now ticking towards the March deadline that Hadas was talking about, when the U.K. leaves the European Union with or without a deal. CNN's Anna Stewart reports on the challenges now facing Prime Minister Theresa May.

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

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: 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 a U.K. with more control of its sovereignty, and building a new relationship with the E.U.

[03:35:00]

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 backstop 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 backstop 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 in 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 continued to dominate public debate with less than a year to go, E.U. officials also impatient to see a Brexit plan.

MICHEL BARNIER, E.U. CHIEF NEGOTIATOR (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, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: How can anyone have faith in the Prime Minister getting a good deal with 27 European Union governments when she can't even broker 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 said 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 is urged 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 interest 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 a 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 a 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.

NEWTON: Now, 2019 marks the end of an era in Japan. Emperor Akihito will step down from the thrown in April ending his three decade reign. Now, he made a final New Years appearance on Wednesday and said he was praying for peace.

More than 100,000 people reportedly came out to see the 85 year old monarch. The widely adored emperor will be the first to abdicate in more than two centuries. Coming up, scientists love it, but some just don't appreciate a photo of an object billions - I said billions of kilometers out in space. Also ahead ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This child had hit so many walls before, and you just want him to fly, you know? And he's (ph) still stuck on the ground.

NEWTON: ... now, whether you've heard about this story before or not, please tune in. A mother and father share the highs and lows two years after the complicated surgery to separate their conjoined twins. We'll have an update on their story coming up. You don't want to miss it.

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[03:40:00]

NEWTON: An update now on an incredibly touching story CNN has been following for two years. In October 2016, the McDonald family decided to have their sons, Jaden and Anias, separated. Now, the boys were born joined at the head.

The McDonald's decision, not easy, came with no guarantees, just a chance - a chance the surgery might succeed. Our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been very close with this family, and allowed him to really witness each and every moment. He updates us on their condition.

NICOLE MCDONALD, PARENT OF CONJOINED TWINS: What matters in the end is that they love each other.

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When we started the story none of knew how it was going to end.

N. MCDONALD: When we decided to share our story, I did it with the intention of knowing that everyone would see a miracle. I could almost just keep them like this right now, you know, because they're so - they're so perfect.

CHRISTIAN MCDONALD, PART OF CONJOINED TWINS: They're normal little boys.

N. MCDONALD: They're - they're beautiful. They are - they're perfect.

GUPTA: Conjoined twins are exceedingly rare, only happening in one out of every 200,000 live births. Twins joined at the head, or craniopagus twins, are even more uncommon.

Eighty percent of twins joined at the head die of medical complications by the age of two if not separated. But separating them is risky and tedious. Jaden and Anias share five to seven centimeters of brain tissue. And for parents, Nicole and Christian McDonald, the decision was obvious, and brought them to Dr. James Goodrich.

From the beginning the McDonald's invited us and our cameras into every aspect of their lives, including this dramatic 27 hour operation where the boys went from being one to two, and those moments continued, full of surprise, wonder, joy, and yes, miracles, the boys seeing each other for the first time, Nicole holding her babies for the first time.

Jaden biking ... N. MCDONALD: Say uh oh.

GUPTA: ... and Anias starting to talk.

N. MCDONALD: Yes.

GUPTA: After two years Nicole and Christian decided to leave New York, the city they adopted to help care for their boys, and return home to the Midwest, Knox, Indiana, big changes for everyone. The biggest change of all, though, the boys. This is three year old Jaden McDonald. He's starting to read.

But as with most stories, along with victories came defeats. You see, for conjoined twins, there's almost one that is more dominant, and one at a greater disadvantage. Anias ...

N. MCDONALD: That's where I, kind of, fall apart this year because the child that had hit so many walls before. And you just want him to fly, you know? And he's still stuck on the ground.

C. MCDONALD: In this day and age we're kind of a quantum leap society, you know? We want quick fixes. And if it doesn't happen quick then we almost get discouraged, and think that it can't happen.

[03:45:00]

C. MCDONALD: But we're - you know, we really need to understand that amazing things can happen, and Anias can do amazing things, and will do amazing things.

N. MCDONALD: He just started holding his head up like this.

GUPTA: But even Anias has made gains. He no longer needs any of the machinery that was used to monitor him. He's starting to be a kid again, playing with his toys. It's hard to believe that just two years ago Anias and Jaden were connected. And amazingly, Nicole and Christian are now more connected than ever. How are you guys doing as a couple? I mean, it's been your life. How are you guys doing?

C. MCDONALD: I think we're getting stronger and better everyday.

N. MCDONALD: Yes.

C. MCDONALD: I mean, I guess they say, you know, sometimes difficult circumstances, you know, you - you - you go through the fire, you know ,you come out stronger on the other side. And I think that's definitely true for us. It's definitely made us better as a couple.

N. MCDONALD: This forced us into family. I have gained so much respect for him through the process, and the - and the dad that he is. And then, in the way that he's been able to support me.

C. MCDONALD: Here I come.

N. MCDONALD: But we also have to remember that we're not done. You know, our future has a lot more. GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Knox, Indiana.

NEWTON: That would be so tough on those parents, Pedram, because they want so much for their kids. And of course, you're impatient to see it all. I remember that very emotional moment that Dr. Sanjay Gupta brought to us. The parents having to say goodbye to them going into surgery, not knowing if they'd make it out. They did, and it was so nice of Sanjay to bring us that update.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes.

NEWTON: It's really great.

JAVAHERI: Absolutely.

NEWTON: Yes, unfortunately ...

JAVAHERI: Absolutely.

NEWTON: ... there are more people at risk, unfortunately, in Indonesia. As I understand, the rains there have already killed at least 15 people ...

JAVAHERI: Yes.

NEWTON: ... and as many as another 20 are - are missing. I know you're - I'm hoping you've got some relief for them there.

JAVAHERI: In the immediate future, absolutely. That's at least one piece of good news here, Paula, great seeing you, happy New Year. You know, of course, 2018, going out on a very rough note.

You know, just a couple of weeks ago we had that Tsunami take place. It took with it hundreds of lives. Now, not far from that location in Western Java we have these fatalities because of a landslide.

And it is the heart of the wet season. But at least the forecast of the next couple of days has lesser amounts of rain in their, as opposed to say, potentially, the next couple of months where we know, typically, and climatologically speaking, January and February are the wettest months of the year, number one.

And number two, in place there. So it's really going to be a rough go in that sense. But officials really having a tough time because, not only just amount of mud that accumulated, which was upwards of four meters in a few spots.

But of course, getting heavy machinery in this location to - to make more search and rescue efforts had to be halted, in addition to the rainfall, because the flooding risk was so high here yesterday, and going into today. And this all took place around six - 7 p.m. on New Years Eve.

So folks were getting ready for New Years festivities across this region of West Java. And of course, a landslide occurs with the heavy rainfall that's been in place. And part of this could be attributed to the recent deforestation we've seen across this part of the world.

We've had plenty of deforestation. The numbers have decreased a little bit in recent years. But if you take that vegetation away, of course, there is no vegetation to absorb that moisture. So, the heavy rainfall essentially becomes runoff, and could lead to landslides, as we've seen more and more in this part of the world. And here's the forecast.

(WEATHER)

NEWTON: I know 'tis the season, but we're certainly hoping for some relief in parts of Asia that really need it at this point. Pedram, thanks so much, appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thanks.

NEWTON: Now, coming up, and incredible feat from the far reaches of the solar system has been reduced by some to a, quote, space blob. We'll explain.

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[03:50:00]

NEWTON: Rescuers working in frigid conditions found a baby alive in the rubble of an apartment building that collapsed in Russia. Now, the boy was rescued more than a day after a suspected gas explosion killed at least 14 people. Michael Holmes has more.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dramatic footage shows rescuers trying desperately to remove pieces of rubble from a collapsed apartment building, behind all of that debris, a baby boy. Wearing hardhats, gloves, and using a power tool, the workers attempt to free the trapped child.

Finally, the boy is pulled to safety after being trapped for 35 hours. The temperatures are freezing. He is covered in dust and dirt, wearing a shirt and pink socks, but he is alive. The infant, described as less than a year old, is wrapped in a blanket before being taken for medical treatment.

Russian officials describe the boy's condition as serious. Doctors say the infant's mother also survived the explosion, and was able to see her son at the hospital. It happened in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk, an industrial town in the country's south near the Kazakhstan border.

An explosion thought to be caused by a gas leak destroyed 48 apartments in the ten story building, the blast tearing through the apartment complex before dawn, while many residents were still asleep. Dozens are said to be still missing. President Vladimir Putin visited those injured in the hospital, and met with local authorities.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I would like to express my condolences to the families of the victims, and to assure those affected that we will do everything to help and support them.

HOLMES: There have been a number of similar incidents in the country in recent years due to aging infrastructure, and poor regulation around gas usage. Michael Holmes, CNN.

NEWTON: Now, the baby is the fifth person pulled alive from that collapsed buildings. Hundreds of emergency workers remain on the scene. Now, and image from billions of kilometers in space made history on New Years Day. It was called exciting, and outstanding achievement even, at first. It was a first. But as Jeanne Moos reports, she's editing, some are calling it simply a space blob.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four, three, two, one, go New Horizons.

(APPLAUSE)

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

(APPLAUSE)

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

(LAUGHTER)

MOOS: It took 13 years to get here. It's a billion miles passed Pluto. Wait till you see it.

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

(APPLAUSE)

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 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 jellybean. But the voyage to this jellybean has inspired a song by a world famous guitarist. Brian May, the lead guitarist for Queen now has a PhD is astrophysics, white hair, and a soft spot for the New Horizons' mission.

[03:55:00]

(MUSIC PLAYING) MOOS: New Horizons is also taking away the ashes of the astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930, 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 Ultima Thule?

(MUSIC PLAYING)

Jeanie Moos, CNN, New York.

NEWTON: A dental x-ray. I hadn't though of that, but she's kind of right. OK, tennis fans are, of course, excited about 2019 as well. But it's going to beat what they saw on day one when Roger Federer and Serena Williams played each other, yes, each other for the first time. They were competing in mixed doubled at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia. Federer and his partner one 4-2 4-3, but it hardly mattered to these two champions with a combined 43 Grand Slam Singles titles.

SERENA WILLIAMS, 23 GRAND SLAM TITLES: All of these years, we've actually never done this. So, this is super cool that we get to do at such a pinnacle point in both of our careers. And for me, it was super cool. Like, I'm literally like wanting to take pictures, and I want to bring my baby out.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm like way too excited. But it was - it was really fun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Roger, what stood out for you about coming up against Serena in her game?

ROGER FEDERER, 20 GRAND SLAM TITLES: Well, I was nervous returning because ...

(LAUGHTER)

... because you just don't know. People talk about her serve so much. And I see why it is such a wonderful serve because you just can't read it. You don't see - they're very ...

WILLIAMS: I can't read yours either.

FEDERER: Well ...

(LAUGHTER)

... we have the same qualities, you know?

(LAUGHTER)

But yours is a bit better. But - no, it's true. But I do have - for me, it was a bit nerve racking, too, to be honest because all of a sudden you're serving, especially the last serve at three-all (ph). I'm like I've got to win this point. But Serena Williams, I was telling myself, and I was telling myself this is maybe what I've always wanted, maybe ...

(LAUGHTER)

... big time moment like this and I made the serve. But I actually totally missed the target. And thank you for missing the ball.

NEWTON: That's great, isn't it? We want an encore, people. Encore please. Now, not surprisingly, as you can imagine, a record 14,000 plus people packed into that arena in Perth to watch the match. I'm sorry I wasn't one of them. Thanks for watching CNN Newsroom. I am Paula Newton. The news continues now with Max Foster who will take good care of you from London. You're watching CNN.

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