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Brexit Backstop: Theresa May to Meet Ireland's Leo Varadkar in bid to Break Deadlock; Green New Deal Resolution Unveiled; Pelosi Appears To Pour Cold Water On "Green Deal"; Time-Lapse Video Shows Impact Of Australian Floods; Humanitarian Trucks Stuck at a Colombian Border; Jeff Bezos Claims He's Been Blackmailed by One of the President's Closest Allies; Matthew Whitaker to Testify This Friday; Pentagon is Sending 250 Active-Duty Troops; Germany Cracking Down on Facebook; Australia and the United States Joined Forces for a Drug Bust of Historic Proportions. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 8, 2019 - 02:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, JOURNALIST: Humanitarian aid stuck at the border. Venezuelans need it but their government won't let the convoys through.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: No big breakthrough for Theresa May in Brussels, but E.U. negotiators indicate they are interested in what her rival Jeremy Corbyn is proposing.

HOWELL: And the world's richest man says he was being blackmailed and it wasn't money, Jeff Bezos accusing a powerful of ally of the U.S. president of an extortion attempt.

ALLEN: We will get into that this hour. Hello, everyone. Welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. From CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you, we start this hour with the lifesaving aid that has reached the Venezuelan border but hasn't reached the people who need it most.

ALLEN: U.S. trucks carrying those supplies are currently stuck at a Colombian border town. This after President Nicolas Maduro government blocked a key bridge connecting the two countries. A U.S. official says he hopes Mr. Maduro will change his mind.


ELLIOTT ABRAMS, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE ON VENEZUELA: There are dire needs. And I think many people, again, in the Venezuelan army feel those needs for themselves and their families. So we're hopeful that that at least initial decision on the part of Maduro can be turned around. If he sees a real demand on the part of the people of Venezuela, let it in. That's all we're asking. Let it in.


HOWELL: This map gives you a lay of the land of what is happening in the town of Cucuta, Colombia. You see aid trucks from the United States are there. That is near the Tienditas Bridge, which was blocked by the government.

Our Isa Soares has been tracking all the developments from the Simon Bolivar Bridge just a few kilometers away.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm at the Simon Bolivar Bridge and you're seeing everyone here in a rather hurried pace, because at 8:00, that bridge at the border between Venezuela and Colombia closes. Behind me is Colombia. In front of me is Venezuela. It will open again at 6 o'clock in the morning. People are making their way back home after buying basic staples, foods. Some of them are actually coming from medication, anything they get their hands on, of course, because there's a short supply on the other side, very expensive -- little that it's left is very expensive.

Now, meanwhile, people make their way about 15 or so minutes away from here in the bridge of La Tienditas, it is brand new, built three years ago, that's never even been used or inaugurated. The first truckload of U.S. aid has started to arrive. They carry basic goods for a lot of the people in Venezuela.

Now, they are standing. They're staying in the warehouses in La Tienditas Bridge, and there is a reason for that, because that bridge, on the Venezuelan side of that bridge, Nicolas Maduro's forces has basically blocked the bridge with two blue containers and one petrol tanker.

And now, what you have it really is a test of the wills. Will Nicholas Maduro, will his men let that aid through? If they do, then Nicholas Maduro looks weakened and a lot of his generals will then defect and support the people.

But if they don't, then Juan Guaido, who has staked so much of his presidency on this, will look like he's not in control of the country. And worth bearing in mind, too, that Juan Guaido at the moment is a man with a microphone and a phone, he has no territorial control of Venezuela. So a high stakes game.

But people have been telling me every single hour that I have been here where is our aid? And if it doesn't cross, one lady said to me, we're going to come that bridge, we're going to cross it, we're going to move the tankers ourselves.

Isa Soares, CNN, at the Venezuelan-Colombian border.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Isa, thank you. And at the bottom of the hour, we will actually hear from people crossing that bridge to get a sense of the desperation of people trying to do the best they can.

ALLEN: Absolutely. All right, no breakthrough in sight as the Brexit deadline gets closer. The latest word from talks between the British prime minister and E.U. leaders in Brussels, no deal, Theresa May failed to get the E.U. to reopen the U.K.'s withdrawal agreement. E.U. leaders say they will only make changes to a separate political declaration.

HOWELL: And to make matters worse, a source tells CNN, E.U. council president told the British prime minister her political rival may have a solution. Here's Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn outlining his proposal.


[02:05:02] JEREMY CORBYN, U.K. LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Principle points are that we need a comprehensive customs union with the European Union. We need a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union. And we need what is called a dynamic relationship on rights at work, rights to environmental protection and consumer protection. So this country doesn't then consistently fall behind in the future.


HOWELL: The uncertainty around Brexit is already pulling on the E.U economy -- or the U.K. economy, rather. The Bank of England predicts the weakest economic growth in a decade.

ALLEN: The governor says a Brexit fog is clouding the U.K.'s future because it is not prepared for a no-deal scenario.


MARK CARNEY, BANK OF ENGLAND GOVERNOR: The fog of Brexit is causing short-term volatility in the economic data. And more fundamentally, it is creating a series tensions in the economy, tensions for business. Although many companies are stepping up their contingency planning, the economy as a whole is still not yet prepared for a no- deal, no-transition exit.


HOWELL: The impasse stems from the backstop where the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland will be drawn. And all seem to recognize just how sensitive this is. Listen.


GUY VERHOFSTADT, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT BREXIT COORDINATOR: It is important that Mrs. May today in the meeting assured us that there will be a backstop. That's what she said already in Belfast. There's no question to remove the backstop because that is absolutely necessary for securing and safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement, safeguarding internal market, and as safeguarding also the peace process.


ALLEN: We've heard a lot about the backstop. Our Richard Quest explains the Irish border situation, what it means, and where the borders could be drawn.


RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To understand the backstop, you have to understand the current position and where it is going forward. This is the current position, the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic, one single market with goods and services flowing between them freely.

The issue is after the U.K. leaves the E.U., well then it would be two countries in two different regulatory regimes. And by rights, there should be a hard border between Northern Ireland, and the Republic. But they're against that. It is not in the Good Friday Agreement. And the fear is that if you go back to a hard border on the island of Ireland, well, then there's a real risk of going back to violence.

So there's a backstop that is designed to stop it. And the backstop says as follows, if they don't reach agreement in the next two years, if then Northern Ireland becomes closely allied to the south in a customs union that includes the whole lot, but that because these between will be more closely aligned would create an artificial border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. And that, according to British politicians, is absolutely unacceptable. They will not go for it.

And so, the Northern Ireland question has become the intractable issue. The backstop says, if it is enforced, the north and the south will be aligned in a massive customs union. Can they renegotiate? European leaders say there's no going back to the negotiating table.

Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are remarkably consistent over the past months. Not open to negotiation. The only deal possible, the only way to insure an orderly withdrawal, and no room whatsoever for another deal.


HOWELL: So with the backstop in mind, the next stop on Theresa May's trip is to Dublin, Ireland.

ALLEN: The Irish are feeling frustration and even some pity about the British and their Brexit problems.

CNN's Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson shows us the view from Dublin.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATION DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Don't be afraid, the last words of legendary Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. They have a prophetic feel in Dublin today. Brexit is looming, and there's a lot at stake for Ireland. At the nearby pub, the weekly restock finished. Tell me, what do you think about Brexit?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disaster. Because it's going to change the whole economics of the whole Islands, both Britain and the Republic of Ireland, and Ireland, don't mind republic.

ROBERTSON: A hard Brexit, possible border controls and its impact on peace. What about the question of the border, the backstop and the border, could you compromise on that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. I think like a border it should be topped down (ph). It is part of the peace process.

[02:09:59] ROBERTSON: Are you afraid of what the implications or the outcome might be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah. I actually live by the border (inaudible) just part of the border whom -- I think the fact that it's going to happen, those kinds of really rural communities and agriculture particularly over there is going to be huge, yeah.

ROBERTSON: But not just fears for themselves, but for the U.K. as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel sorry for the Irish.

ROBERTSON: Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they don't seem to know what they're doing. It is a mess. They're going to suffer economically and probably socially.

ROBERTSON: Some pity, but a lot of loathing from London's politicians too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Britain chooses to pull out without any plans in place, we're getting all the bad press.

ROBERTSON: Could this government compromise on the border issue?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would this government need to compromise?

ROBERTSON: Could they do it, do you think, on the backstop, on the border issue?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, why would you want to compromise with people who have no plan, who keep changing their minds?

ROBERTSON: Frustrations that appear to go all the way to the top. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in office here has said that the no-deal Brexit threat is not over Ireland's or the E.U.'s making. It's down to Theresa May to fix, a message she'll no doubt hear during her visit.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Dublin, Ireland.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: We'll hear from Nic again -- have more on it in our next hour. Well, Amazon Founder, Jeff Bezos, making explosive claims about the National Enquirer. In a blog post, he says the tabloid and its parent company, AMI, threatened blackmail and extortion if he didn't go along with their demands.

HOWELL: You recall Bezos owns the Washington Post and is the man who leads the National Enquirer, the man named David Pecker, a long time friend of Donald Trump. Our Shimon Prokupecz has details.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It was extraordinary in the way Jeff Bezos did this, putting this all out there for everyone to see, strongly admitting that this was going to embarrassing for him. But he needed to do it because he says what the National Enquirer and its executives are trying to do was blackmail him, extort him. And essentially, it was to try and prevent the Washington Post from working on a story and an investigation into the National Enquirer. They've been working on an investigation.

A couple of things that -- these e-mails indicated what Bezos released from the National Enquirer is that, I guess, the Washington Post was going to say that of these some stories that the National Enquirer has been were working on were politically motivated, that they were influenced by political views and decisions.

And it seems that AMI was trying to get the Washington Post from not publishing some of this, from not saying that any of these stories were politically motivated. And they tried to use these nude photos that they somehow have obtained of Jeff Bezos and other photos of a relationship he had with a woman. And they were trying to use these photos to what Jeff Bezos says blackmail and try and prevent from any of this story from getting out and to try and skew it somehow in their favor.

What is interesting, obviously, is that Pecker's connection to the president, a long time friend. They maybe on the outs a little bit, but you know, he's protected the president for many, many years. He was involved in some of the catch and kill stories. He was involved in hush payments to women who accused the president of having an affair with the president that the president then paid.

So he's been around a very long time, certainly, in the president's circle. So there is that, perhaps. Maybe somehow these stories are being done to try and hurt Jeff Bezos because of how critical the Washington Post obviously has been of the administration and some the stories that they've been running.

But there's this entire other connection, perhaps, that people have been looking into. And Bezos says the Washington Post has been looking into, and that's the Saudis. At one point, Bezos writes that, in particular, to David Pecker and AMI, that Pecker was apoplectic about their investigation, the Washington Post investigations, for reasons still to be better understood. But there was a Saudi angle that seems to have hit a particular sensitive nerve of Bezos' rights. And of course, one of those reasons could be that the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, of course, and his relationship to the Washington Post. So there's still a lot here that needs to be developed. But these are things that, according to Bezos, the Washington Post was working on, and it appears that David Pecker was concerned.


HOWELL: Shimon Prokupecz, thank you so much. Keep in mind, CNN has reached out to Dylan Howard, the Chief Content Officer at AMI, also to the Deputy General Council John Fine, neither have responded to this point.

[02:14:55] ALLEN: And neither did a spokesperson for the Washington Post and Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment, but did confirm that Jeff Bezos wrote that post.

HOWELL: It's an interesting story. Facebook and government regulation at odds again, this time in Germany, where the social media giant is being told to change the way it gathers data from users.

ALLEN: Plus, coming up and still ahead, President Trump lashing out at Democrats, who are targeting him on multiple congressional investigations, and warning they won't back down.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I think overwhelmingly the public wants to see the president's tax returns. And so, they want to know the truth. They want to know the facts.



ALLEN: Welcome back. An update now to a standoff in Washington, Acting U.S. Attorney General Matthew Whitaker will testify before the House Judiciary Committee, Friday, after a tense back and forth between congressional Democrats and the Justice Department.

HOWELL: The committee's Democrats want to ask Whitaker about his conversations with White House over the Robert Mueller Russia probe. Whitaker had threatened to skip the hearing after the panel warned it could subpoena him.

ALLEN: Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler assured Whitaker he won't be subpoenaed so long as he voluntarily shows up and answers the committee's questions.

HOWELL: In the meantime, the furious President Trump is lashing out on Twitter as Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, launched new investigations. ALLEN: Under the new political reality in Congress, Mr. Trump's, policies, and even staff members are now under the microscope. He is blasting it as presidential harassment. But is that what it is?

Here's CNN's Abby Phillips.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today and everyday, let us pray for the future of our country. Let us pray for the courage to pursue justice and the wisdom to forge peace.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A prayer about pursuing justice and forging peace, ironically coming just hours after President Trump fired off a barrage of attacks against Democratic lawmakers who plan to investigate him. Trump tweeting, "Presidential harassment, it should never be allowed to happen again." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi not taking the bait.

PELOSI: I would think that whatever the president says about us, he's projecting his own unruliness. He's a projector. And that's what it is about.

PHILLIP: Trump also claiming that Republicans never did this to president Obama, even though --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She described Benghazi as a soft target.

PHILLIP: Republicans did lead a probe into the Benghazi attacks during Obama's presidency that lasted more than two years. This, as House Democrats announcing sweeping plans for public hearings with Trump cabinet officials, and probe a laundry list of issues, including the separation of children from their families at the border, Democrats also not shying away from potentially crossing Trump's red line, his personal finances.

PELOSI: I think overwhelmingly the public wants to see the president's tax returns. And so, they want to know the truth. They want to know the facts, and he has nothing to hide.

PHILLIP: Pelosi ignoring the president's unusual warning during the State of the Union address.

TRUMP: If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn't work that way.

[02:20:03] PHILLIP: The House Speaker today firing back.

PELOSI: We will not surrender or constitutional responsibility for oversight. That would make us delinquent in our duties.

PHILLIP: In one of his tweets this morning, President Trump complained about Democrats on Capitol Hill stealing people who worked at the White House for their oversight activities. That's an apparent reference to the House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who confirmed that his committee has hired people with National Security Council experience but, though wouldn't say who.

But Schiff also added that President Trump should probably work on being a better employer and not complain about the hires his committee is making for oversight.

Abby Phillips, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Abby, thank you so much. In the meantime, the Pentagon is sending 250 active-duty troops to the U.S. border with Mexico. That's on top of 500 Texas troopers sent by the state's governor.

ALLEN: Yes. And 1,800 migrants are waiting on the Mexican side of the border hoping to cross into the U.S. near Eagle Pass, Texas to seek asylum. Most of those in the caravan came from Honduras, others from Guatemala and El Salvador. Our Martin Savidge is there on the border.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eagle Pass is not exactly the quintessential sleepy American town on the Mexican border, but it is usually is pretty quiet. And they've never seen anything like they're seeing right now play out. It's international standoff.

On one side, the American side, you have got this huge build-up of security forces. And then the other side, the Mexico side, you have got this migrant caravan of roughly 1,800 people, 800 of which are said to be women and children that are now waiting to try to come across, and in most cases, seek asylum in the United States.

This all began on Monday when the migrant caravan was actually bussed in according to local authorities by the Mexican government, 51 buses to be exact. And all those migrants are being held just across the Rio Grande, which is the border here in a warehouse, an empty one, to being fed three times a day. And they're being fed three times a day. And they're being protected, guarded, and overseen by the Mexican federal police. This is something we haven't seen before in these kinds of caravans coming north.

And the question now is how will that asylum process begin. Now, we know that this is really a very small crossing point. They could only handle, they claim, Customs and Border Protection on the U.S. side, 16 to 20 people a day. You don't have to be an Albert Einstein to do the math to realize 1,800 people it's going to take about six months.

And the worry is the frustration, the anger, the waiting, and eventually many of those migrants to consider storming across the border. Hence, why there is this by and large security build-up on the American side of the border and it includes about 2,000 law enforcement, in addition 250 federal active military troops. How this plays out, no one really knows. But they're watching very carefully.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Eagle Pass, Texas.


HOWELL: Martin Savidge, thank you for the report. A top United Nations official was calling the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, quote, "the gravest violation of the most fundamental of all rights, the right to life." It's been nearly four months now since the Saudi Arabia journalist was killed and dismembered, chopped up inside the Saudi embassy in Istanbul.

Now, a report from the U.N. special investigator says this, quote, "The evidence presented to us during the mission to Turkey demonstrates that Mr. Khashoggi was the victim of a brutal and premeditated killing, planned and perpetrated by officials in the state of Saudi Arabia."

ALLEN: On Friday, the U.S. president is required to answer a request from the Senate about whether he thinks the Saudis are responsible. The president has previously disagreed with the CIA's conclusion that the Saudi Arabia Crown Prince personally ordered Khashoggi's killing. The Committee to Protect Journalists says it won't let the deadline slide.


CORTNEY RADSCH, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS: In the absence of action from the administration, Congress should compel the executive branch to release all intelligence files related to what the administration knew about the Saudi plans to harm Jamal, and what intelligence agencies have learned about the murder. Any proper response to a situation of this magnitude requires knowledge about caused the situation and what could have been done to prevent it.


ALLEN: This organization says if the White House doesn't offer a full and final report, they'll keep fighting for justice.

Well, Germany is cracking down on how Facebook gathers the data from its users. The country's anti-trust regulators say the social media giant must now seek explicit consent to collect and combine such information.

[02:25:06] HOWELL: Facebook has to come up with proposals on how to do this or face heavy fines. Our Hadas Gold has details for you.


HADAS GOLD, CNN MONEY REPORTER: Germany's anti-trust regulator issued a landmark ruling against Facebook on Thursday, saying that the social media giant is abusing its position as the dominant data-gathering company. This comes after a three-year investigation where the German regulator found that Facebook is combining data from not only Facebook but also Instagram, WhatsApp and third party websites to create a unique data profile of each user and forcing the users to agree to this collection or not actually use the services.

That practice now has to stop, at least for people using the sites in Germany. Facebook can still gather and combine the data from across all these platforms, the regulator said. But they would have to do so with a user's explicit consent. If the company to fails to comply, Facebook could face steep penalties ranging from more than $10 million to possibly even 10 percent of global revenue. That could easily be in the billions of dollars for a company like Facebook.

Now, Facebook immediately said that they will appeal the decision, and they claim that regulators are overstepping their boundaries and unfairly targeting them and that the regular underestimate the fierce competition they say they face from services like YouTube or SnapChat.

And though this ruling is specific to Germany, it is a sign of what it is possible to come when it comes to social media regulation. In the United Kingdom, the government officials recently said that they would soon release a whitepaper on how the government could further regulate social media companies, even possibly holding them accountable for what is on their platforms like they do to publishers. Europe now has emerged as the major battlefield between government regulation and the Wild West of social media and data privacy.

Hadas Gold, London.


HOWELL: Hadas, thank you. Australia and the United States came together to conduct a drug bust of historic proportions. Australian police say the task force seized nearly two tons of methamphetamines headed their way from the state of California. They say it is the largest ever seizure of the drug on American soil.

ALLEN: And police say it would have had street value of nearly $1 billion. Australian authorities arrested six people who they believe were involved with the U.S.-based crime syndicate.

HOWELL: There is a growing humanitarian price crisis playing out in Venezuela, the president there refuses to let humanitarian aid in, but thousands of people are desperate for the most basic of needs, food and supplies. Ahead, a look at the heartbreaking conditions in the slums of Venezuela.

ALLEN: Also ahead, the dwindling demographics of China, why an end to the two child policy may not be enough.


[02:30:12] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers all over the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We are live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: We appreciate you being with us. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories for you.

HOWELL: The British Prime Minister Theresa May has little to show for her talks with E.U. leaders in Brussels. They're at an impasse over the Irish border backstop and once again the prime minister was told Brexit will not be renegotiated in the coming hours. The British Prime Minister is set to meet with the Irish Prime Minister in Dublin.

ALLEN: France is recalling its ambassador to Italy to protest Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio meeting with French yellow vest protesters. France and Italy have been in a slowly escalating squabble for almost a year over the rise of populism in European politics.

HOWELL: The world's richest man, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos says the National Enquirer tried to blackmail and extort him. In a blog post, he included e-mails he says are from Enquirer officials. The e-mails described compromising photos the tabloid says it would release unless Bezos said publicly that its coverage was not politically motivated the Enquirer's publisher. He's a long-time friend of the U.S. president.

ALLEN: The crisis in Venezuela is only getting worse. Across the country there's not enough food for people and that forced many to cross into neighboring Colombia to get even basic food staples like rice, cereal, eggs, and milk.

HOWELL: It is a desperate situation. Our Isa Soares spoke with a Venezuelan man who says he's not just crossing for food, but also for important medications to treat his wife's cancer.


ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What are you going to buy? Food? What do you need? Pasta, rice, cereals. There are none? None. There's none. Nothing. He's coming here to buy medicine. What type? Treatment for chemotherapy, he's saying. Who needs this treatment? So his wife who needs it. What type of cancer does she have? Breast cancer. What stage is she? They discovered it on time. She needs medicine. She's got the fourth dose.

How many times do you make this journey? Before we were coming one a month. Now? Weekly? Because she's at another stage of the breast cancer (INAUDIBLE) she's given the title of the type of cancer. How do you feel? Is there a lot of pressure on you? Every week he does this. And the high cost of doing this of coming here every week to get medicine for his wife. Are we going to continue doing this? Because in Venezuela we can't get the chemotherapy.

What are the doctors saying? The director of the hospital, the oncology department said they're going to accept (INAUDIBLE) so this coming from the head of the oncology department in Venezuela because the government told her (INAUDIBLE) so the government basically saying we've got everything. We got all the medication, but it's not the case here. That's nothing. If there was some -- if there were medicine (INAUDIBLE) there, I wouldn't be here he's telling me.


HOWELL: That's Isa Soares there just, you know, cutting right down to the -- yes, to the heart of it. Real people dealing with real situations despite all of the politics that are playing out. In the meantime, the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, he has rejected aid saying Venezuelans are not beggars. Still, tens of thousands of people are scrounging for food, for medicine every day with no real hope that things will get any better.

ALLEN: Many used to support the president, but as their lives become more desperate, they are starting to change their mind. CNN's Sam Kiley shows us why.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is (INAUDIBLE) a slum, homes of about 750,000 of Venezuelan's poorest people.

[02:35:07] These locals have little hits yet they know of others much worse off. Of children who face starvation if no one helps. So they do volunteering to cook donated food. It seems incredible in an oil rich nation such as Venezuela that you would have therapeutic feeding centers and this is one of dozens just in this one barrio alone. This small bowl of rice and beans is the only meal these children are going to get each day. Three million Venezuelans have fled this country. Food is rationed and in short supply. ISABEL BLANCO, VOLUNTEER (via translator): Here, for one to eat, it's

become difficult. Sometimes I even can't get food for one.

KILEY: These slums used to support President Nicolas Maduro who's blocking aid from being brought in by his rival, Juan Guaido. Guaido is recognized as president by the U.S. and many other nations. Now, the barrio is a hotbed of dissent. Marvelys Paredes is a soup kitchen volunteer. We meet in secret. Her cousin campaigned against Maduro and paid a heavy price for it. And after a U-turn from an opposition rally, the special forces were looking for him. They'd seen his video, Marvelys says.

MARVELYS PAREDES, VOLUNTEER: He came out with his hands up and they take him up the stairs. You hear a first shot. You hear a first shot and you can hear him pleading with them not to kill him. They go further up and you hear a second shot. One of the neighbors then saw how they put a cloth on his mouth and they killed him. They suffocated him.

KILEY: And a widespread criminal murder and political killings, the government has said nothing about Jhony's death. He's become just another reason for Venezuelans to leave. Sam Kiley, CNN (INAUDIBLE) Caracas.


HOWELL: It is a humanitarian crisis.

ALLEN: Another just devastating story with these people are having to go through, terrible.

HOWELL: Other news that we're following for many years, China has had a one child policy. No couple could have more than one child. In 2016, though, that was relaxed a bit to two children. ALLEN: Yes. Now, there are rumblings that even that could go by the

way side. So why they change? The possible change? And what would that mean? Our Matt Rivers is in Beijing.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is a brutal trudge for a healthy person. But for 68-year-old (INAUDIBLE) stricken with emphysema and colon cancer, it's near torture. He keeps warm by burning firewood. It's cheaper than coal. What can I say, he says, life is all right. There's no other way. That steely stoicism is common in China's rural villages where life has only gotten tougher. Young people have been largely swept away by the relentless current of China's urban migration.

(INAUDIBLE) children left for work years ago. He and his wife (INAUDIBLE) carry on alone. It's difficult for our children to care for us, she says. We don't want to become a burden. A hundred and fifty miles away in Beijing, it's a burden that 32-year-old (INAUDIBLE) knows well. She and her husband financially support both their parents, the four grandparents of their five-year-old daughter (INAUDIBLE) she likes to ski and she enjoys diving (INAUDIBLE) says.

If those are her interests, we have to support her and that all cost money. The village couple and their city counterpart are a microcosm of China's aging problem. Simply put, there are a lot more older people in China than younger ones. And an aging population along with greater life expectancy can have drastic consequences.


RIVERS: Less working age people might limit the government's ability to pay for the benefits needed by its aging population. National economic priorities will shift more towards healthcare and pension obligations, and it might hurt consumer spending with the combined effect of slowing China's economic growth potential way down.


RIVERS: The obvious solution here is to have more babies. But that's not happening. There were two million fewer births in 2018 and most studies agree that China's population will soon begin to shrink. The government knows this and in 2016 changed the notorious one child policy. Couples are now allowed to have two babies per family and there's speculation the communist party could erase any restrictions as soon as this year, but for families like (INAUDIBLE) that doesn't matter.

(INAUDIBLE) she says, one baby is enough. One baby is what I can afford in terms of both energy and money. Now wanting more kids is a nationwide trend that's unlikely to change with higher cost and more opportunities for women as two reasons why.

[02:40:07] Back in the village (INAUDIBLE) and his wife survived on about $1,500 per year selling corn. At some point, though, hauling 50 kilos of wood twice a day will be too much and his meager income not enough. He'll need help just like all of China's older citizens whether there will be enough young people to support them is one of Chinese societies' great questions. Matt Rivers, CNN Beijing.


ALLEN: A climate change deal that House Democrats are proposing includes clean energy programs and the promise of new jobs. But can the plan lead to meaningful action? We'll explore that next.


ALLEN: British police say they have identified the body of Argentine football player Emiliano Sala. The star forward has just been signed to the English Premier club Cardiff City when the plane he was in went missing over the English Channel more than two weeks ago.

HOWELL: A private search team recovered his body from the crash site on Wednesday. The pilot's body though has not been located. U.S. House Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ed Markey are attempting to tackle climate change in their new green deal resolution. It covers a wrap of issues related to clean energy programs and the creation of new jobs.

ALLEN: But as Miguel Marquez reports, it probably won't get to the Senate and it's likely President Trump would never sign off on it.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I am so incredibly excited that we are going to transition this country into the future.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The transition Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is talking about is her first piece of legislation, a non-binding resolution, the Green New Deal. It goes beyond climate change, way beyond.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Today is a day that we truly embark on a comprehensive agenda of economic, social, and racial justice in the United States of America.

MARQUEZ: Surrounded by House and Senate veterans, the freshman Democrat from New York took center stage.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: So -- do you want me --

SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: You go, yes, please.

[02:44:51] MARQUEZ: The same resolution being introduced in the Senate by Ed Markey from Massachusetts elected to Congress 13 years before Ocasio-Cortez was born.

MARKEY: We now have the troops, we now have the money. We are ready to fight. MARQUEZ: The resolution just 14 pages long by some estimates could cost trillions, calls for a revolution in the way we live. Viewing climate change as an existential threat to the entire world. Fire, droughts, rising sea levels, increasingly violent storms, famine, and mass migrations is what we face they warn if radical change isn't embraced now.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: We're here to say that small incremental policy solutions are not enough. The Green New Deal calls for a 10-year national mobilization. The goal in one short decade to bring greenhouse gas emissions to zero-meet 100 percent of energy needs by renewable sources, overhaul transportation systems, create millions of high-paying jobs, bring quality in health care, and equal justice for underserved minority and impoverished communities.

REP. JOHN SHIMKUS (R-IL), HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE: We should be open to the fact that wealth transfer schemes suggested in the radical policies like the Green New Deal may not be the best path to community prosperity.

MARQUEZ: Other Republican said, the plan sounded more like communist economic doctrine. House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi first seemed to throw cold water on the idea, calling it the "green dream" while talking to POLITICO. Then, she changed her tune.

REP. NANCY PELOSI, (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I welcomed Green New Deal and then the other proposals that people have out there.

MARQUEZ: The Green New Deal could divide progressive and centrist Democrats. 2020 hopefuls Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, and Kirsten Gillibrand supports the resolution. But will it fly with the party's center?

PAUL BLEDSOE, STRATEGIC ADVISER, PROGRESSIVE POLICY INSTITUTE: Democrats have to stay united on climate change to facedown Donald Trump's climate nihilism. I think we can do that. We can't let resolutions like this divide us.


MARQUEZ: Now, it is worth underscoring that this is a resolution. It does not have the force of law even if it's passed by the House of Representatives, but not likely to get through the Senate. And certainly, the president isn't likely to sign it either.

But there are members of the House and Senate talking about specific pieces of legislation to bring the Green New Deal into effect, at least, in part or in whole. But as they say, the devil is in the details. Back to you.

ALLEN: Let's talk more about this with Miranda Green, she's a congressional reporter for The Hill. She did not change her last name just for this interview. Her name is Miranda Green. Thank you, Miranda. How are you? MIRANDA GREEN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE HILL: Thanks for having

me, doing well.

ALLEN: All right, yes, thanks for coming in. Well, right off the bat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday indicating that this might be some pie in the sky. Here she is, this is a quote. "It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream, or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?"

Does that kind of knock it down? A not what AOC and her colleagues are proposing?

GREEN: Well, I wouldn't say that Alexandria Ocacio-Cortez or any of the co-sponsors of this resolution would say that it did anything to knock down the power of this.

Introducing this resolution today on Capitol Hill, they wanted to really enforce the fact that this is a historical moment. And not only is this one of the largest pieces of legislation, but it's also a resolution that kind of calls for an ambitious goal of bringing the United States to using a 100 percent renewable energy for the electric grid by 2030.

But it also calls on a bunch of different issues that Democrats are hoping that they will see in this Congress. This is the first time that Democrats are in a position of power where they can actually try to work on legislation to try to bring climate change to the forefront for the first time in eight years.

And so, while Nancy Pelosi's comments might have been seen as a kind of putting them in their place or taking away as some of the legitimacy of the Green New Deal, they wouldn't argue that. You know, while this might seem ambitious, it is also important to be innovated and innovative in this moment. And that is a start.

ALLEN: I was listening to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talked about this on public radio this morning. She didn't really say how this is going to transpire. So, how in a practical sense is this different from former measures to get renewable energy at the forefront and push back on dirty polluting oil? The goal is ambitious, 10 years to carbon neutral in the United States.

GREEN: Right. So, this is just a non-binding resolution. So, it's not a bill, this is not something that can be voted on, and eventually become law. What's important here is to see that Democrats are coming together and trying to come up with ideas for how to address this really big issue. And it's an issue that lawmakers, and Democrats, and progressives say that not only Republicans haven't been touching on, but also, Democratic lawmakers haven't been doing enough.

And so, Ocasio-Cortez, her argument here is that while this kind of seems like an all-encompassing bill, the resolution itself talks about bringing clean water, transitioning to clean transportation, moving away from airplanes. It talks about wanting to bring family farming.

I mean it really does kind of sounds when you get into the nitty- gritty of it, a bit of a wish list. But her argument here is that this is just where you start. You start the conversation running and this is how Democrats can then take from this goal list. And then, bring in important bills and try to pass legislation through the House.

[02:50:41] ALLEN: Right, because she even admitted, look that she was asked point-blank. "Do you have power?" She laughed and goes, "No, I don't have any power yet I'm just coming in here. So, the question is, can this proposal with clean energy get momentum? Can it be a roadmap to cutting into polluting energy and get things done?

GREEN: I would say it already has. I mean while Ocasio-Cortez is still a freshman lawmaker. And, of course, she's going to laugh and say, she has no power, it is mesmerizing to see how much she has done to bring this issue to the forefront in such a short period of time.

She was just brought into Congress, became a lawmaker at the beginning of this month, yet, no one knew what the Green New Deal was, two months ago. The second thought, the midterms were over, we started hearing about this push to try to bring a special select committee to Congress to deal with this issue, and now we have this resolution.

So, while she herself can't bring this bill forward and while obviously Democrats are still going to face opposition with Republican leaders in the House, and then if they, of course, pass anything through they still have to deal with the Senate, it says a lot to show that America now knows what this issue is, and it shows that Democrats really do care about tackling climate change which, of course, is something that many people are fearful of what will happen if we don't address it as soon as possible.

ALLEN: Right. This issue has been up, time, and time, and time again, and that this country has not acted on it. So, we will see what AOC can do with it. We really appreciate your insights. Miranda Green for us. Thanks so much, Miranda.

GREEN: Thank you.

ALLEN: I mean, someone's got to do it. It's going to happen sometime, but many students around the world are now protesting climate change. So just putting it out there, reminding people this is where we need to go, is some sort of start hopefully.

HOWELL: The chorus is growing, for sure.

ALLEN: Yes, certainly is.

HOWELL: We'll be right back after the break.


HOWELL: A new time-lapse video shows the devastating impact of flooding in Australia from January 31st to February 5th. The footage from a railway operator shows the water rising above rail tracks just east of Townsville in Queensland.

Australian affiliate, Nine News reports many farm animals have been lost. Recovery efforts still underway there and officials are assessing the damage. Wow!

ALLEN: Yes, that's telling. But Derek Van Dam has been out on vacation, welcome back to you.


ALLEN: But he's going to talk about some extreme flooding somewhere else.

[02:54:40] VAN DAM: Yes, this is in a different part of the world being Brazil. Specifically in the resort areas of Rio de Janeiro, some very iconic locations. If you think those visuals you saw from Queensland we're staggering, take a look at what I've got to show you here because the mayor of Rio de Janeiro declared a state of emergency Thursday morning as chaos ensued and this is the reason why. Mudslides, unfortunately, wiped away this road, overtaking the bus that you see at the bottom of all that debris and rubble.

There was a significant amount of rainfall in a very short period of time that led to flash flooding. And unfortunately, it took the lives of five people. One person still missing. Winds over 110 kilometers per hour. And this caused all kinds of damage in and around southwestern sections of Rio de Janeiro, just west of the Ipanema and Copacabana region.

80 millimeters in four hours, maybe that doesn't sound like too much rainfall but it was just enough for that water to rush down the high terrain there into the valleys below and cause scenes just like this.

You can imagine the cleanup here is going to be taking days if not weeks to take care of. In fact, this is a staggering image as well you can see just how high the flooding got and how torrential it was because it moved parked vehicles and shifted them on their side, only for tourists to see once the water levels actually receded.

Now, the forecast shows dry weather for the days ahead, very hot. By the way, they're coming off the hottest month on record, at least, in 97 years. That was the month of January, then the severe weather they just got last night. There is the potential anytime you get temperatures like that to see a pop-up thunderstorm. So, the potential there for additional flooding does exist.

I got to bring it to the U.S. because lots of things to talk about a very active weather map. But pay attention to the frigid temperatures across the Midwest and into the Great Lakes. We've got a very active weather pattern across the entire country from coast to coast.

How about these cold temperatures are really, really something to talk about. Because we're talking frigid temperatures this morning. It feels like almost negative 40 degrees in both Fargo and Bismarck. Minneapolis waking up to negative 34-degree wind chills this morning. And that has prompted officials there to close schools ahead of the early morning wake-up call here on Friday morning.

That will end on a good note because this is astounding photo taken from a friend of mine actually in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. This is where I was on vacation, enjoying some time off. Those are called Kelvin-Helmholtz wave clouds. That's something you see every day. They are very rare phenomenon that what happens when there's different wind speeds at different elevations or altitudes in the sky, and it helps form those little waves, the clouds actually collapse in on themselves and create a kind of a surreal scene. So --


HOWELL: Wow. I wanted to show that image to our viewers.

ALLEN: Kind of cool. And you wanted to mention you have been snow -- was favorite thing to do.


VAN DAM: Yes, yes, and the snow is a perfect guide away. I mean everything to do in snow, right?

ALLEN: So, envious of you.

HOWELL: Throughout the day, Derek. Good to have you been,

VAN DAM: All right, guys.

ALLEN: All right. Thanks, Derek.

HOWELL: Thanks, Derek.

ALLEN: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll have much more ahead here. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues right after this. Stay with us.