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Trump Storms Out Of Meeting With Democrat Leaders. Tshisekedi Elected Leader OF Democratic Republic Of Congo; U.K. Food Industry Prepares For Hard Brexit; Reports: Kim And Xi Talk Denuclearization, U.S. Summit; Pompeo Seeks To Reassure Iraqis On Syria Pullout; Maduro Begins Second Term amid Economic Collapse; U.N. Deeply Concerned over Fighting in Myanmar; Australian Officials, U.N. Gives Saudi Teen Refugee Status; Baby Born to "Incapacitated" Woman; Central Europe Blanketed with Heavy Snow; Dry January Gaining Popularity Around the World. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired January 10, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. Wherever you are around the world, great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, a show of strength of temper taunting. Donald Trump storms out of a meeting with congressional leaders after Democrats once again refused his demand for almost $6 million for a border wall issue today.

And historic election brings a surprise result in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But claims are vote rigging and fears of violence overshadow what could be the country's first peaceful transfer of power.

And later, the surprising health benefits from taking a break from the booze. If you sign up a dry January, we'll have some tips to help you stick it out.

The meeting of the day at the U.S. government shutdown drags on with no end in sight. President Donald Trump met the Democratic Leaders like we say, it did not go well. Here's Kaitlan Collins.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We saw a temper tantrum because he couldn't get his way.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Talks between the White House and Democrats crumbling tonight.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our meeting did not last long.

COLLINS: After President Trump stormed out of his meeting with Congressional leaders when it became clear Democrats wouldn't budge on funding his border wall.

SCHUMER: The President just got up and walked out. He asked Speaker Pelosi, will you agree to my wall? She said no, and he just got up and said then we have nothing to discuss and he just walked out.

COLLINS: Democrats declaring that the President threw a temper tantrum as he tweeted that the meeting was a total waste of time, writing, "I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up? Are you going to approve border security which includes a wall or steel barrier? Nancy said no. I said, bye-bye, nothing else works."

Vice President Mike Pence saying Democrats were unwilling to engage in good-faith negotiations.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He asked speaker Pelosi that if he opened things up quickly, if he reopened the government quickly, would she be willing to agree to funding for a wall or a barrier on the southern border? And when she said no the President said goodbye.

COLLINS: The episode dramatically escalating a shutdown where talks were already at a stalemate. During a bill signing in the Oval Office today, Trump claiming he never wanted this shutdown to begin with.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not a fight I wanted. I didn't want this fight.

COLLINS: Despite saying on camera he was willing to take the blame.

TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security.

COLLINS: The President claiming today that the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are bracing to miss their first paycheck Friday are backing his shutdown.

TRUMP: A lot of them agree with what I'm doing.

COLLINS: After stopping short of declaring a national emergency on the border during his primetime pitch, Trump leaving the door open today.

TRUMP: I think we might work a deal. And if we don't, I may go that route. I have the absolute right to do national emergency if I want.

COLLINS: Despite a growing number of moderate Republicans signaling they are ready to open the government with or without funding his border wall, Trump says the party is firmly behind him.

TRUMP: Mitch McConnell has been incredible. He said the president's not going to sign it. I'm not going to waste my time. That confidence as Trump seems to be increasingly concerned about losing Republican support.

TRUMP: We have tremendous support in the Senate. We have tremendous support in the House.

We have great republican support.

We will have border security. Tremendous Republican support and I think we're going to win.

COLLINS: After a lunch with the President on Capitol Hill today, some Republicans seem to be growing impatient.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: How can we resolve this ? We owe it to the American people. This is like a circus.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long do you think --

COLLINS: Now after those talks fell apart at the White House today, Jared Kushner and the White House legislative affairs Director Shahira Knight did travel to Capitol Hill to meet with some lawmakers. But CNN is told by sources that there is no meeting currently rescheduled between Nancy Pelosi and President Trump. The two people who ultimately reopening the government will come down to.

But right now we are told by a White House official that the President declaring a national emergency on the border is still very much an option here in the West Wing. Kailan Collins, CNN the White House.


VAUSE: David Drucker is a CNN Political Analyst and Senior Political Correspondent for the Washington Examiner, and he is with us this hour from Washington. So David, the tweet from President Trump seems to have credence to Chuck Schumer's version of events that regardless the bottom line is that the Commander in Chief walked out of a meeting intended to find a solution to what may be the biggest political crisis of his presidency and while some might see walking out as a sign of strength? For others it seems to confirm what the Democrats have been saying about temper tantrums.

[01:05:05] DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. So I think that this is going to cut two ways. The President's base the base of the Republican Party is going to love the treatment that he gave Schumer, is going to love it he walked out. This is the sort of heavy-handed strong sort of impulsive leadership, no-nonsense that they voted for.

For all the voters that have at least haven't had issues with Trump, never mind Democrats, independents soft Republicans, the reasons why his reelection could be in peril, this is just going to be another example of why they're exhausted and why they're frustrated, and why they don't feel like his brand of leadership is getting it done.

So when you walk out of a meeting like this or whatever move you make, it's all about how effective you can be and what kind of leverage you have.

VAUSE: Here's a little more detail. It comes from Axios on the exchange in that meeting between the President and the minority Senate Leader Democrat Chuck Schumer. Schumer said to Trump, you are using people as leverage. Why won't you open the government and stop burning people. Trump then responded because then you won't give me what I want and I'm tryingto do the right thing for the country. This isn't about politics. This is all half politics. But putting that to one side, why can't the world's greatest deal maker actually make a deal to Democrats? How was that he shut down part of the government leaving hundreds of thousands of federal workers without a paycheck? He has not explained why you're holding 800,000 federal workers hostage if you like or holding on their paychecks? Why exactly that is necessary part of the negotiations here.

DRUCKER: And I think this is the most interesting part of the Trump presidency aside from all of the controversies. Here's a here's a President who ran on being a pragmatic deal maker, who said he was going to bring negotiating skills to the job that other politicians didn't have and therefore he was going to get more done.

But one of the reasons why the president has trouble cutting deals in Congress and why there is some issues with Democrats it's not just because they don't want to move because they don't feel the incentive, it's because there's not a lot of trust when they're -- when you're dealing with President Trump.

His style is to agree to something and then move a few steps back to where he wants to be and break the deal to try and get people to move to fluster them and to be unpredictable. That sort of operation does not work in a legislative setting not, in the United States Congress where people need to know that your word is good because they're going to be taking votes that are going to stick with them a lot longer then you're going to be around as president.

VAUSE: What was interesting is that after meeting with the Republican lawmakers on Wednesday, the President insisted that everyone was united in their support of the government shutdown, and he explained why he is refusing to give grounds. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Right now if I did something that was foolish, like gave up on border security, the first ones that would hit me are my Senators. They'd be angry at me. The second ones would be the House, and the third ones would be frankly my base and a lot of Republicans out there and a lot of Democrats that want to see border security.


VAUSE: Assuming the President means funding for the wall when he says border security because border security is not the sticking point when it comes to funding the government. Is there anything in that statement Donald Trump which is actually true?

DRUCKER: Well, yes, some of these things are true. I think that if he capitulated and caved, I think that a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill would be upset particularly in the House, not so much in the Senate. You would have a group in the Senate but I think most Republican senators would be happy to just move on with this already. I think a lot of House Republicans would be upset. The President's base would be upset. I think a lot of the President's supporters in conservative media

would be upset so I don't think that any of that's untrue. I think you make a good point that this is not about border security, it's about the wall. I think that the president said give me $5 billion for a whole measure of border security changes and fixes but not the wall. I think they would deliver. That doesn't mean that's what he's supposed to do.

Look, the president can try and strike the deal that he thinks is best for the country, but I think he needs to understand where the political pressure points are. And if he wants to get the Democrats to do something that they don't want to do, he has to entice them by offering things that maybe he doesn't want to do. That's usually how deals are made in Congress. And that way everybody can say they won.

VAUSE: I'm just wondering if Donald Trump of 2019 should listen to Donald Trump on 2013 about how a President should deal with the government shutdown. Here is.


TRUMP: You have to get everybody in a room. You have to be a leader. The President has to lead. He's got to get Mr. Boehner and everybody else in a room and they have to make a deal.


VAUSE: The problem is that he has made this fight zero-sum game. There can be only one winner, one loser. So it's you know, it's political now but the question is how did the President get himself into this position in the first place of doubling down on a very unpopular your know, proposal, policy proposal, campaign promise for a wall. You know, his base wants it but it's unpopular with the you know, the vast majority of Americans.

Is this because he just listens to the commentators over at Fox News and what they tell him and he believes the facts that he chooses to believe even though if those facts are not actually true?

DRUCKER: Well, it's true that the president talks to a wide variety of people outside of the White House so it's very unusual. Normally you're surrounded by a bunch of advisers, a bunch of experts. Maybe they know what they're doing, maybe they don't, but you sort of have a controlled information flow.

The President reaches out at all hours at all times to all sorts of different people whether they're in conservative media, whether they're in business, a part of his personal circle. His family still plays a very large role, maybe larger than people realize behind the scenes. His two sons his daughter in advising him and he bounces a lot of things off of them. I think I think the President is in this fix for one reason and one reason only.

He continues to misjudge what it takes to cut a deal in Congress and he continues to insist that as you mentioned it's zero-sum. He needs to win and they need to lose. VAUSE: There's no indication of exactly what he wants, what you know,

was he -- what you know what will actually end this for the President apart from you he's absolutely claim of $5.7 billion for the wall. David, thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.

DRUCKER: Any time. Thank you. Well now, to Africa where opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi has been declared president-elect of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Local Commission announced his victory via Twitter in the early hours of the morning. The long-delayed presidential vote was held December 30th. His provisional result paved the way for the first handover of power in the DRC in nearly tw0 decades.

Tshisekedi will replace President Joseph Kabila who's been in power since 2001. CNN's David Mckenzie live this out from Johannesburg with more on this. David there seems to be a you know, genuine surprise I guess that the opposition leader actually managed to pull off this win. Many expected Kapila's hand-picked successors to be named the next president.

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. It is seen as a surprise. As you say the former interior minister and the hand-picked successor of Joseph Kabila was seen to be the possible presidential frontrunner not because of polls, not because of the will of the people but because of the lack of transparency and delays that went on for at least two years up until this vote.

And that lack of transparency means that what should be seen as a surprise win by an opposition party and a democratic transfers power has been viewed very skeptically already by those who follow Congo closely. Now the a presumptive President, this is provisional results. Felix Tshisekedi, he is in fact, will be the first opposition leader to come into power and the first transition democratically of power. But the main front-runner in the polls ahead of the selection, the former oil executive Martin Fayulu has already said he doesn't accept the results talking to the French media just a short time ago saying that there is this is an electoral coup.

So clearly it seems he will take this to the courts. The Constitutional Court has to ratify these results. What is a key question, John, is whether this will be taken to the streets where that for Fayulu has pretty substantial following in certain parts of this massive country. John?

VAUSE: There is a lot at stake here for the DRC. If this peaceful, if it all goes smoothly, it sends a message. The world talks about stability, of democracy, the rule of law, out which is what investors like, the international community likes. If it doesn't go that way, though, what are the consequences?

MCKENZIE: The consequences are huge. The DRC in its various forms has been wracked by massive violence and wars in the past. So I think that is in the front of mind of both Congolese and of course, international observers. I think the key a step the next, step will be to see what the Catholic observer mission within DRC has to say about these elections.

They said they knew who the winner was as early as early last week. They didn't obviously announce that. They are seen as pretty credible and a very powerful group within the Congo. As I said before, no international observers were allowed into the country but there will be a temptation for both African and international leaders particularly the U.S. to look at these results and say well, any kind of transition, a peaceful transition is better than this country descending back into chaos.

This will be a crucial next few days, January 15th is slated as when the official announcement are announced. It's also worth mentioning, John, that at least three major cities weren't able to vote during this election. They've been postponed to March, so they won't have a say. More than a million people disenfranchised the Electoral Commission saying that violence in those areas and the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the northeast was a reason, and our people was so desperate to vote in Beni that they even had a mock election on Election Day despite the Ebola outbreak.

So, they will be many Congolese feels that they were disenfranchised. But still, the opposition party does have a power base on the streets. And it will be a feeling of jubilation from them that they have actually had a transfer of power away from the ruling party. John.

[01:15:40] VAUSE: OK. David, thank you. Obviously, a story to watch not just for today but in the days to come. David McKenzie live for us there in Johannesburg.

For British Prime Minister May, blow follows setback, follows defeat, wash, rinse, repeat. Lawmakers have now given her a tight deadline just three days to lay out a plan B if and likely when her Brexit deal is voted down in Parliament. That all happens next Tuesday.

Even now, which just days before that vote, Mrs. May says negotiations with E.U. leaders of some of the more via contentious issues are ongoing.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The conclusions of the December European Council went further than before in seeking to address the concerns of this House and they have legal status. I've been in contact with European leaders over since then about M.P.s concerns. These discussions have shown that further clarification on the backstop is possible, and those talks will continue over the next few days.


VAUSE: But time is running out. In a speech Thursday, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn will call for new elections if the prime minister's plan fails. Saying, "If the government cannot pass its most important legislation, and there must be a general election at the earliest opportunity." Britain is now on the very brink of a no-deal Brexit. Many are now preparing for what has been described as the worst case scenario. And that includes the food industry which fears crashing out of the E.U. could mean shortages in supermarkets. CNN's Anna Stewart reports.


ANNA STEWART, CNN REPORTER: The U.K. government said it was a hard Brexit test run. A chance for trucks to practice biding their time backed up at the border. For British businesses, the scene confirmed a no-deal nightmare.

UMESH PARMAR, JOINT MANAGING DIRECTOR, TILDA: The goods will only trickle into Europe.

STEWART: Goods like this basmati rice, milled by a company called Tilda.

Last year, Tilda generated $150 million in revenue. Processing up to 250 tons of rice a day at its factory on the edge of London.

PARMAR: No-deal Brexit looks like we have to outsource 20 percent of all production. So, we'll have to produce that in Europe and sell in Europe.

STEWART: What does that mean for the facility here, are you going to lose stuff?

PARMAR: Well, potentially yes. Because we have to shrink cooperation over here.

STEWART: It's not just border delays, if there's a no-deal Brexit, the company could face a roughly $200 tariff on each ton of rice it sends to the continent.

PARMAR: We want free market access into Europe forward good.

STEWART: Time to suit up to get a closer glimpse of the milling process. The rice gets cleaned, and then screened, any bag that goes against the grain is rejected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this is (INAUDIBLE), brown rice, cargo rice that comes in.

STEWART: Tilda brings in rice from India and that's a problem.

A lot of the food that the U.K. sends to the E.U. actually has its origins elsewhere. Whether it's corn from the United States, wheat from Canada, or rice from India. Now, even if the U.K. manages to negotiate a free trade agreement with the E.U., a company like Tilda is unlikely to benefit. Based on the E.U.'s rules of origin, this rice wouldn't be considered British enough and would face steep tariffs.

The food sector is calling it a hidden hard Brexit. ALEXANDER WAUGH, DIRECTOR GENERAL, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BRITISH AND IRISH MILLERS; Exports in the arable sector as a whole are valued around 8 to 900 million pounds a year to the European Union. And in the event that those trades don't happen, there's going to be an impact on jobs.

STEWART: Tilda has been a U.K. staple since the 1970s. It started out family-run and many of the employees count their service in decades.


STEWART: Its image Palmer's job to soothe the fears of an anxious workforce, as the clock ticks down towards Brexit day.

PARMAR: The biggest issue is the uncertainty which still stands today.

STEWART: Do you feel a sense of urgency?

PARMAR: Yes, absolutely, immediacy. We need to know what's going to happen to us.

STEWART: Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Well, as a surprise visit to Beijing by Kim Jong-un. But no surprise what he talks about when he got there and many are now expecting a new round of international diplomacy.

Plus 100 days since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and now newly released video may reveal what happened to his body.


[01:22:35] VAUSE: The train has left the station across the border and headed home. Kim Jong-un, back in North Korea after four days in China. According to state media, a second U.S.-North Korea summit was one of the main topics during a meeting between Kim and China's Xi Jinping.

Kim also have made it known and he's still committed to denuclearization as he promised Donald Trump on the Korean Peninsula. CNN's Paula Hancocks live this hour in Seoul.

Paula, this all seems he pointing to yet again another flurry of international diplomacy not just with that U.S. North Korea summit looking imminent, but also on a historic visit to Seoul by Kim Jong- un.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, John. And we actually had a press conference a little earlier today from the South Korean president Moon Jae-in, his New Year's address. And he was talking about this. He said that the fact that Kim Jong-un has just gone to China, would suggest that, that second U.S.-North Korean summit is close. Saying that he had full support for it. He believed that something good could come out of it. And was also saying that he thought that this second summit whatever happens with that could smooth away for Kim Jong-un coming here to Seoul.

So, really suggesting that, that is the order we could be seeing this. And, of course, it would be on historic time for a North Korean leader, for the very first time to come to the South Korean capital. Now, he is under some pressure at this point with a sluggish economy that he's under pressure for not having delivered on campaign promises.

So, certainly, the South Korean president would welcome the summit season starting again as clearly the U.S. president would, as well, to defer from the domestic issues.

We did hear from President Moon, as well, saying he had a special letter from Kim Jong-un that was his word, "special". Explaining why he wasn't able to come and visit Seoul last year. But saying that he does want to see the South Korean leader very much in the future.

VAUSE: Paula, we appreciate the update. Thank you. Paula Hancocks live for us there in Seoul. Thank you.

Well, on the wake of a shifting American strategy in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the region trying to calm some nervous allies. Right now, Mike Pompeo is in Egypt after two stops in Iraq where he met the prime minister and Kurdish leaders. The secretary of state says, U.S. troops won't leave Syria until ISIS is defeated, and the U.S. can be certain Kurdish allies will not be harmed.

That same position sparked outrage from Turkey's president who says the Syrian Kurds are all terrorists.


[01:25:02] MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We're having conversations with them even as we speak about how we will effectuate this in a way that protects our forces to make sure that the Americans as we withdraw are safe and we will complete the mission of taking down the last elements of the Caliphate before we depart.


VAUSE: A trip to Saudi Arabia is also planned for Pompeo. Keep in mind, it's just 100 days since Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Now, newly released surveillance video might answer one very important question. What happened to Khashoggi's body? Details now from CNN's Nic Robertson.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It is 100 days since these fateful steps led Jamal Khashoggi to his brutal death inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Yet his body is still missing.

Saudi Arabia admits its operatives killed him but refused to help find his remains, blaming unnamed local collaborators for disposing of his body. But what is now clear, Khashoggi's murder culminated in his dismemberment.

Turkish officials have searched forests, remote farms, city car parks, garbage dumps, the consulate where he was killed, and the nearby consul general's residence. But were refused thorough access to the well on the property.

The most recent clue in the search, this video made public last week by pro-government Turkish newspaper Sabah, appears to show heavy bags carried into the building. On the afternoon of October 2nd, less than two hours after Khashoggi entered the consulate, several vehicles left. Arriving minutes later at the consul general's residence that's where the latest video comes into play.

Five heavy wheeled cases are rushed inside the consul general's house. Quickly followed by a man carrying two awkward large plastic bin bags. According to the Sabah journalists, that Turkish sources believe Khashoggi's dismembered body was inside those cases and bags. Something CNN cannot independently confirm.

It begs this question earlier in their investigation, Turkish officials wanted access to the well. Saying that finding Khashoggi's body was their greatest priority. But more recently, they've been less vocal. Do they believe Khashoggi's remains were taken somewhere else? Or have they decided to dial back criticism of Saudi Arabia.

Last week, Saudi authorities put on trial 11 people they accused in Khashoggi's murder. Calling for the death penalty for five of them. But they insist they need more evidence from Turkey and have rejected Turkeys demand that the suspects are extradited.

U.S. officials say the trial has not reached the threshold of credibility and accountability they expect. But President Trump has insisted he doesn't want to punish Saudi Arabia.

In life, Jamal Khashoggi was much more than an internationally respected journalist. He was a beloved father and doting grandfather. But 100 days after his death, he has become a pawn in a complex power game. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Next here on CNN NEWSROOM. As Nicolas Maduro celebrates his second term as president of Venezuela, the neighbors ruin the party.


[01:31:09] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump stormed out of a meeting with Democratic congressional leaders on Wednesday after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi again refused to fund his border wall. Trump called the meeting a total waste of time. Democrats say he threw a temper tantrum Trump. And so despite all of that, the government shutdown continues.

Opposition candidate Felix Tshisekedi has won the Democratic Republic of Congo's presidential election. The electoral commission now see provisional results by Twitter and it paves the way for Congo's first handover of power in nearly two decades. Tshisekedi will replace President Joseph Kabila who's led the country since 2001.

British lawmakers have handed Prime Minister Theresa May yet another Brexit blow. With the vote on Wednesday they decided if her deal fails in Parliament next Tuesday, which is likely, she must come back with a Plan B and she must do that within three days instead of 21 days which she had originally.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro begins his second-term on Thursday. And to mark the occasion, neighboring countries have branded him a pariah. Brazil, Argentina and Colombia denounced his reelection as illegitimate and Peru will place an entry on Venezuelan officials. Despite that Maduro remains defiant and unbowed even as he presides over a collapsing economy.

Details now from CNN's Paula Newton.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From her rooftop perch in one of Caracas' poorest neighborhoods, Dania Nieves (ph) is back to coaxing scarce water from a winding hose. After scouring both Peru and Colombia for a better life, she is too disillusioned now, she says, to even think about politics.

DANIA NIEVEZ, VENEZUELAN (through translator): Elections are meaningless here now. We have to go out vote -- that sense of duty has been lost, even if the opposition gets the majority, the government always wins. So elections don't mean anything.

NEWTON: With fresh contempt, she listens to Nicolas Maduro declare 2019 the year of fresh starts.

Touting his experience Maduro begins a six-year term after a disputed election last May and a collapsing economy that shows no sign of bottoming out.

RICHARD FRANCIS, DIRECTOR OF SOVEREIGN RATINGS, FITCH RATINGS: It's a very, very difficult situation with the economy falling by, you know, nearly 50 percent and -- and, you know, since 2013. It is the largest decline we've seen outside of a war, you know, since the fall of the Soviet Union. That's a huge, huge, huge economic crisis.

NEWTON: Huge didn't define Venezuela's astronomical inflation rate expected by the IMF to reach 10 million percent in 2019.

With prices for basic food items doubling every 26 days, according to Venezuela's own numbers, that means the monthly minimum wage usually can't buy you one chicken.

For nearly six years, CNN has witnessed the desperation and the misery. Queues for basic food, hospitals that lack lifesaving essentials.

And the backlash -- the daring protesters we met in 2017 now silenced. They've been intimidated, imprisoned or forced out of the country.

The election that keeps Maduro in power had the lowest turnout in years and has been discredited by many of its neighboring countries including Argentina, Brazil and Colombia.

And so how has the Maduro regime hung on for so long? Some insights from the latest set of U.S. sanctions that target what the U.S. Treasury Department called an illicit scheme to skim profits from currency markets.

[01:35:00] In a statement U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says, "Our actions against this corrupt currency exchange network expose yet another deplorable practice that Venezuela regime insiders have used to benefit themselves at the expense of the Venezuelan people."

Insiders used to benefit themselves at the expense of the Venezuelan people.

FRANCIS: Financially it seems like it could be coming more and more to a head. Whether that spills over into the political realm remains to be seen.

NEWTON: Propped up by deals with Russia and loan repayment extensions from China, Maduro though does hang on and that's why Dania isn't counting on anything to change. She joined the three million Venezuelans that the U.N. says have fled Venezuela since 2014. She returned with nothing.

NIEVES: If my choice is to struggle somewhere else or struggle here, I'd rather struggle here.

And that struggle is the only thing Venezuelans have learned to count on.

Paula Newton, CNN.


VAUSE: The U.N. is warning of another potential military crackdown in Myanmar with fears it could be similar in size and scale to the one in 2017 which forced more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee the country. Only this time, the Rohingya are not the targets. The country's Buddhists are being attacked.

And it seems the reason for the military offensive this time is the same as it was last time -- an attack on Myanmar police. The government says 13 officers have been killed by Buddhist fighters from Arakan Army.

The response from the military has been swift and harsh with reports of unprecedented level of fighting in the troubled Rakhine state. Not only is that the same area where the Rohingya crisis began in August 2017 but the government is using similar language to what was heard back then with talk of clearance operations.

Knut Osby is the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar and he is with us now from Yangon. Sir -- thank you for your time.

What exactly do you know at this point about Myanmar's military option which the government says is targeting this Buddhist insurgency and an army which they say is well armed and 7,000 fighters strong?


These attacks that happened on the 4th of January that you referred to was an unprecedented escalation from the Arakan Army and I would like to express my sympathy to the families of those who were killed then. Now that has led to an escalation in military presence in Rakhine state and we're worried there of the fighting that might come out of this escalation.

VAUSE: What are you seeing in terms of sort of troop movements and essentially the level of military deployment in the region which would suggest that something more serious is in the works?

OSBY: Yes. There has been a number of government statements saying that -- that the insurgents should be crushed and that these military operations would be -- would be large. There has been a -- a number of -- a large number of troops move into the area.

We -- the situation is not entirely clear. We do not know exactly where the troops are deployed. And the large scale fighting has not started yet. We are, of course, hoping that there will be some peaceful solution to this because in a large scale military action, there's a big risk for civilians. Our main concern is the civilian population.

VAUSE: Back in August 2017, an attack on police outposts was used as a pretext for the start of the military operation against the Rohingya Muslims. The U.N. later described that as a textbook example of genocide.

Is it just coincidence that the same pretext, the same incident has happened again and there is now what appears to be a, you know, a military operation targeting another minority within Myanmar?

OSBY: We don't know exactly the reason that they were escalated and more coordinated attacks from Arakan Army. I am worried about the similarity in the types of response because we know the severity of what happened to the civilian population last time. We -- we hope of course that this will not escalate to a very large extent but -- but we need to be prepared for the possibility that there will be -- a new humanitarian crisis on top of the existing one.

VAUSE: So we shall leave it there but we very much appreciate your time and the update. Knut Osby, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Myanmar with us there from Yangon. Thank you -- sir.

OSBY: Thank you.

VAUSE: A teenager who fled to Thailand tried to escape her allegedly abusive Saudi family might soon find out if she'll be allowed to live in Australia. Officials there now say they're considering Rahaf al Qunun's bid for asylum after a refugee agency gave the 18-year-old refugee status. The young woman says she fears for her life back in Saudi Arabia after renouncing Islam.

[01:40:03] Her story gained international attention after she appealed for help on Twitter, barricaded herself in an airport hotel room in Bangkok to try and avoid deportation. It was a strategy that worked.

Thai immigration police say Rahaf's father told her his daughter was not abused but for now Rahaf is safe and she says on Twitter she is happy.

Next on CNN NEWSROOM, after a woman in a vegetative state for years gives birth, the hunt is now on for a depraved, sick man.


VAUSE: Well, this will be no ordinary divorce settlement with the world's richest couple deciding to separate after 25 years of marriage. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his wife McKenzie announced their divorce on Wednesday with a joint statement on Twitter.

"After a long period of loving exploration and trial separation, we have decided to divorce and continue our shared lives as friends. We feel incredibly lucky to have found each other and deeply grateful for every one of the years we have been married to each other. They met and they married in the 1990s long before Amazon was a thing which made him the world's richest person worth an estimated $137 billion.

Well, in Norway there has been a ransom demand for the wife of a prominent businessman who went missing back in October. Police had asked media to withhold the news until now. According to local reports, the kidnappers wanted the ransom paid in crypto currency.

Anne-Elisabeth Hagen lives with husband Tom Hagen just outside Oslo. He's a real estate investor believed to be worth an estimated $200 million.

In Phoenix, Arizona a sickening story of sexual assault at a nursing home. Police are trying to determine how a young woman who's been in a persistent vegetative state for more than a decade gave birth four days after Christmas.

CNN's Sara Sidner says police are using DNA to try and find the man responsible.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Phoenix police revealing a disturbing new detail in an already horrifying case. A baby born to a female patient living in a vegetative state for years at this facility had coded. Meaning his life was in danger. He and the incapacitated mother whisked away to a hospital.

Investigators finally addressing the public moments ago after days of silence.

SGT. TOMMY THOMPSON, PHOENIX POLICE DEPARTMENT: This woman was unable to move. She was unable to communicate. In other words, she was helpless.

[01:45:01] SIDNER: Police have obtained search warrants to get DNA samples from male staffers at the medical facilities hoping to find who may have sexually assaulted the woman who has been in a vegetative state for more than a decade.

Attorney Brian Claypool says the criminal exposure in this case is very clear.

BRIAN CLAYPOOL, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: If the woman in Phoenix was in a vegetative state and she gave birth to a child then she was raped because she could not have consented to a sexual relation.

SIDNER: Karina Cesena says she and other parents with children in this facility are stunned and scared. Cesena's 22-year-old daughter is living here with severe brain damage. She is extremely vulnerable. She cannot walk and can barely talk.

KARINA CESENA, MOTHER OF PATIENT: We were just so scared because who know what would happen if it was a staff member, if it was a family member, if it was a stranger. We have no idea.

SIDNER: What did you decide to do personally to make sure your daughter who's inside is safe?

CESENA: I stay here 24/7 now to make sure that she's in a safe environment as well and just move forward, because trust has been severely broken.

SIDNER: The woman's family isn't talking due to the emotional distress but shared their feelings through an attorney saying they are outraged, traumatized and in shock by the abuse and neglect of their daughter. They also revealed the baby is a boy who has been born into a loving family and will be well cared for.

The San Carlos Apache tribe said the woman is a 29-year-old registered member of their tribe. As for the medical facility, the CEO Bill Timmons abruptly resigned this week. Hacienda Health Care's board of directors released a statement saying what happened is an absolutely horrifying situation and an unprecedented case. But they gave no specifics about the case. Cesena says the healthcare company didn't even inform the families about the incident until five days after the birth and only after local news reports exposed the situation.

CESENA: I think that there's an underlying blanket somewhere that they're trying to hide under, you know, instead of being transparent. They're not being very transparent at all.

SIDNER: Police say the woman and the child are both still in the hospital recovering.

Sara Sidner, CNN -- Phoenix.


VAUSE: A deadly snow storms are crippling parts of central Europe. Who is getting hit hardest and how much more so is on the way? That is next right here on CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: And the Oscar hosting job goes to no one -- maybe. "Variety" reports rather than using just one marquee host, producers are scrambling to line up Hollywood A-listers to introduce various segments of the awards, now just six weeks away.

Comedian Kevin Hart backed out of hosting after he refused to apologize for homophobic jokes and comments he made years ago. His interview last week with Ellen DeGeneres seemed to actually backfire. He tried to portray himself as the victim of haters and Internet trolls.

Central Europe is digging out from heavy snow and more could be on the way. Germany and Austria being hit especially hard with avalanche warnings, and school closures and major travel delays. Some areas have more than two meters or so.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now with the very latest. You know, it looks fun but you know it is not. It is really awful.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It is. Especially at some of the highest mountain peaks in Austria. They have recorded a snow depth of over 280 centimeters. That's ten feet of snow. That's virtually immovable if you live in that part of the world.

[01:50:07] Check out what is causing the ski community to do some unnecessary risks on the mountains. This is a dramatic rescue of a helicopter actually kind of nosing into the edge of the steep slope to help rescue an injured skier that broke his leg on the side of this mountain. You see him pulling away from this area as well.

But with all of this snow fall across the Alps comes the risk of avalanches as well. Incredible amounts of snow fall, just take -- well for Austria, for example. They have doubled their monthly average snowfall totals for the month of January just in a period of nine days. I mean this is incredible amounts of snow for this area. So they've had red warnings in place. In fact, the second time in four days. This is the highest avalanche rating in place for southern Germany and Austria. 20 to 60 centimeters of new snow expected.

So how in the world does all of this mind boggling amounts of snow occur? Well, the term has actually been coined in Europe. It's called the stau effect -- it's simple thermo dynamics. You get warm moist air that rises over a mountain ridge, it cools, condenses as it reaches higher altitudes. It creates cloud cover and out comes the heavy precipitation. Of course, this time of year temperatures below freezing so it falls in the form of snow.

That is on the windward side of the mountain. On the leeward side, the opposite effect. The air cools or actually it warms up as it goes down the hill. And no snow is exhibited on that side of the mountain.

Now, with the combination of steep slopes between 20 and 50 degrees and gravity working on all snowfall we have the potential of our avalanche risks and cornices that form thanks to the strong winds that blanket and buffet the northern side of the Alps, that causes just immediate danger to the villages and some of the ski areas in the bottom of the mountain.

So here's the heavy snowfall continuing across the Alps. We've even had heavy snowfall across portions of Greece. So even the Baltic States getting some of the snow. In terms of moving forward, you can see the snow fall totals here piling up over the next several days.

So the immediate threats there, of course, avalanches, John and that's going to continue for the next foreseeable future.

VAUSE: Why don't they make up a stupid name for it like, you know, snow-mageddon or ice (INAUDIBLE) or something.

VAN DAM: Well, this isn't Atlanta we're talking about. It's Austria.

VAUSE: Good point. Thank you.

According to British tabloids Prince Harry has given up alcohol and coffee to support his wife Meghan during her pregnancy. Apparently he's drinking a lot of mineral water. The prince is famously known for some of his hard partying days as a bachelor but it seems his new bride is having a positive and healthy influence.

Giving up alcohol at least for January has become an increasingly popular tradition in recent years in the U.K. It's been catching on in other countries like the U.S. and in Australia where they call it dryuary. In 1942 a campaign called Sober January was implemented in Finland as part of the war effort.

These days though for many the decision to abstain for a month is sometimes an effort to detox after holiday binge, maybe try and lose a little weight or at the very least, a healthy start to the year.

And according to one recent study abstaining from booze for a month sees people regaining control of their drinking, having more energy, better skin and losing weight. They also report drinking less months later.

For more now on the benefits of taking a month long pledge, Katie Witkiewitz is with the Center of Alcoholism, substance abuse and addiction at the University of New Mexico and she is with us from Albuquerque. Katie -- thanks for taking the time.

KATIE Witkiewitz, UNIVERSITY OF NEW MEXICO: Yes, thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Ok. It seems to have health benefits especially, you know, when talking about, you know, (INAUDIBLE) losing weight seem to speak for themselves. But a month long booze break can also bring some significant changes in behavior which can often have a lasting impact and a positive impact.

Witkiewitz: Yes, that's right. A lot of people see that their mood will stabilize. A lot of people report better sleep which, of course, has lasting effects on -- on mood and behavior and just general being and stress. So a lot of benefits from just taking a month off.

VAUSE: And there's also essentially breaking the pattern of going out and grabbing a bottle of wine or a beer or whatever it might be and finding other things to do which then becomes a habit, right.

Witkiewitz: Exactly, yes. A lot of people find it's interesting to see what happens when they're not drinking. And so how do you go out and have -- how do you socialize with friends or what other activities do you do? And then you start to learn new activities that you enjoy that you can do without alcohol. And so that can have even longer term effects as well.

VAUSE: But what would you say to someone who perhaps, you know, decides and successfully completes January without drinking but then sees that almost as a license to drink as much as they want for the rest of the year?

Witkiewitz: Yes. That's the problem. So the worst case would be to then go back to drinking really heavily or to drink a ton on February 1st. You might actually put yourself at risk of -- of being more intoxicated than you would have been and also risk falling or risk of overdosing on alcohol.

[01:55:04] So the idea would be to use January as a way to cut back on your drinking over the long-term but not as excuse to drink heavily on January 31st and February 1st.

VAUSE: Ok. So as far as actually noticing the health improvements, that seems to be directly related to how much you drink, your baseline level. Those that drink a lot every day, they really notice a difference; more moderate drinkers maybe not so much. So for heavier drinkers, they often see those health benefits and that really is the incentive, I guess for a lot of people to rethink their relationship with alcohol. Witkiewitz: Exactly, yes. I mean a lot of people just don't

understand their relationship with alcohol because they always use it whenever they need it. And so just understanding when you need alcohol and when you don't and what it is like to actually feel the need for alcohol is kind of interesting, too. And then some people report saving money, of course.

VAUSE: Ok. We're up to -- coming into day ten for a lot of people around the world who have decided that it will be dryuary -- dry January, first few days, pretty easy and then comes a bit of a challenge. At this point anyone who is maybe struggling a little bit, maybe, you know looking at the fridge, what would be your advice for them to keep going?

Witkiewitz: Well, A couple of things. I think enlisting help of friends who are also doing it is a great idea. There's online support groups for this. Finding activities that you really love that either could be used with nonalcoholic beverages or that don't involve alcohol at all to really make a point of doing those activities.

And yes, I would say just kind of sticking with it. And if you're really struggling though that might also be a sign that you may need more help if you're drinking than you thought.

And so talking to a doctor or primary care provider about kind of your struggle with staying off of alcohol for the month could be really helpful for the long-term.

VAUSE: Ok. Katie -- thank you. Good advice there. We appreciate it.

Witkiewitz: Yes.

VAUSE: Well Paris is saying au revoir to naked fine dining, the capital's first nudist restaurant set to close in February because of financial reasons. O'Naturel opened just over a year ago. The concept had customers leave everything, including their cell phones in a cloakroom before heading into the dining room. A thick white curtain blocked any curious onlooker from taking a peek inside. But also, not enough people wanted to dine in the buff. Maybe the baked (INAUDIBLE) or the flaming (INAUDIBLE) has something with to do with it.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. A lot more news after a very short break.


U.S. President calls a discussion with democrats a total waste of time with no compromise.