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Ninth Straight Week of Hong Kong Protests; Trump Shrugs Off Latest North Korean Missile Tests; Opponents Question Legitimacy of New Puerto Rico Governor; New California Law Requires Trump to Release Tax Returns; A$AP Rocky Goes Home; Rohingya Refugees Remain in Limbo; Brazilian Official Fired over Deforestation Data. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 3, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Returning to march for a ninth straight week. Protesters on the right side of your screen. The pro democracy protesters there. And on the left, pro-police demonstrations. CNN, of course, live at both events with the latest news for you.
Free for now, American rapper A$AP Rocky returns home.
And thousands of Rohingya refugees announce Myanmar's plans to bring them home. We'll tell you why they say that's not enough.
Live at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: It's 5:01 on the U.S. East Coast. We start in Hong Kong. The ninth straight weekend of massive protests in and around that city. This particular weekend, though, two very different demonstrations fighting for attention. The main pro-democracy protest is under way. You're looking at this live image in Hong Kong, 5:01 pm there. Thousands of people coming together in one of the most crowded places in the world.
In the meantime, supporters of the city's police, they are holding another rally. Their own rally in Victoria Park. CNN covering both of those rallies with our correspondents. Matt Rivers live with the pro-democracy protesters and our Ben Wedeman with the pro-police event.
Matt, we start with the sanctioned and unsanctioned protests, very important. We understand these protests are sanctioned just so long as people stay within that agreed-upon route?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, George, basically, what we are along right now, a protest that had been planned out already. It was late last night, Friday evening, that police gave this particular march route the go-ahead. So this is a legal demonstration. And to that end, we don't actually see much of a police presence at least at this point. It's been entirely peaceful.
Thousands, if not tens of thousands out here, I would say, in what has been a march with a message and that would be the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill that kicked off these protests more than two months ago, nine weeks ago. This is the ninth consecutive weekend, George.
The big question is, what happens as this goes into the night?
What we've seen happen in the past, big, peaceful marches just like this here. Then the violence comes after police say, OK, this is no longer a legal assembly.
How many people will stay?
How many people are here for a fight with police?
We're not sure but we know that the trend has been towards more violence. We saw it last weekend. And George, there's every possibility that we could see a similar situation here as the night continues.
HOWELL: Again, Matt, timing certainly does play into this. We'll continue to follow it with you. Let's bring in our correspondent Ben Wedeman there as well. Ben with the pro-police demonstrations.
Ben, what are police telling you?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is an interesting rally in favor of the police. What we know, many of them appear to be here, let's move a little closer. Many appear to be older than the average age of the protesters that Matt is seeing in the other part of the city.
Here in Victoria Park, it's a largely older crowd. The crowd is starting to thin out. Earlier there were perhaps 5,000 people here. Now it seems that some people are going home.
But what we're hearing from people is they are worried about the stability of this special administrative area that is Hong Kong, that, since 1997, has been part of the system of one country/ two systems, worked out with Britain back in 1997. They're worried that --
WEDEMAN: -- the economic prosperity that this territory has enjoyed could be damaged by this civil unrest.
I was speaking to one gentleman, a few years my senior, who told me that some of his younger relatives are, in fact, part of the pro- democracy demonstrations and that he's spoken with them and told them he doesn't have a problem with protests; what he's worried about is disorder. And he suggested that those more unruly elements in the pro-democracy
movement could benefit by going to Mainland China, where, he said, they might get some sort of education.
But in general, George, what we're seeing is that older people who, many of them moved from Mainland China in their younger years, are still showing their affiliation, their loyalty to China; whereas, many of the younger people, who don't really have that connection, are very much taking part enthusiastically in his pro-democracy movement, George.
HOWELL: Ben Wedeman live at the pro-police rally. Ben, thank you.
Matt, one other question to you, look, we've seen the clashes with police, as you point out as it gets later there in the evening, these clashes tend to take place. We saw a few weeks ago the clashes with the Triads, the organized crime groups.
Here's the question, given that the protest today is happening in such a crowded, such a dense district, is there a concern about safety among the protesters?
RIVERS: Yes, there absolutely is. I mean, these streets here, this is a very densely crowded part of Hong Kong. And it's one of the most crowded areas, in terms of people per square kilometer, anywhere in the world. And these are small, tight streets. So there's absolutely a concern amongst the protesters that will stay and could clash with police over safety.
And to that end, we have seen people who do appear gearing up for a fight. They've got elbow pads on, they've got helmets, they've got masks for the tear gas that will likely be deployed. They've got knee pads on. Clearly there are people concerned about their safety. We've seen police be willing to meet force with force, use tear gas, batons, rubber bullets. Absolutely a concern of the protesters and also of the police what could be at risk.
Matt Rivers following that live and Ben Wedeman as well. Thank you, gentlemen, for reporting.
Earlier, I spoke with Holden Chow, a lawmaker in Hong Kong. Also the vice chairman of the Democratic Alliance of Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, that's the largest pro-Beijing party that said that people are not happy with the violence and disruption in the neighborhoods with the protests. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDEN CHOW, HONG KONG LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL MEMBER: And as you say may see, over the few weekends, violence erupted throughout the city and we don't want to see that carry on. And if that goes down, people decide to go down that path, I think that that will eventually ruin the entire city.
So I think that we do first of all urge the people to step back and think and calm down and this is not the right way to carry on. I mean, for the violence.
HOWELL: Earlier in the week there was a warning from China's military which increased the worry that they could intervene in these protests.
Is that something that you would like to see?
CHOW: Well, I don't think that the PLA would come in and deal with the demonstrations or the violence in Hong Kong because we trust that the Hong Kong police is able to deal with the entire situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Again, that was Holden Chow speaking with me earlier. Holden also mentioned that he would urge the Chinese government to hold dialogue with the pro-democracy --
HOWELL: -- leaders as a solution. There's a lot more to learn about what's happening there in Hong Kong. It's a dynamic story. We have a lot of details at cnn.com. There's a special section that features maps, backgrounders and links to videos, you can also connect using cnn.com/hongkongprotests.
Now to Capitol Hill. In the aftermath of the Mueller report, a majority of House Democrats, 118 so far. These people are coming out with making a formal inquiry for impeachment. Then came the Mueller report detailing numerous times that the White House may have obstructed justice. So far, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not shown an interest in a full-blown impeachment inquiry.
A 180 as the president picks his replacement for Dan Coats as DNI. Coats is expected to step down in a week's time. But Republican John Ratcliffe will not be nominated. It was announced days ago that Ratcliffe's lack of experience in the intelligence field was going to be a hard sell in the U.S. Senate. But none of that figured into President Trump's explanation, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He thought about it. I said it's going to be rough. I could see exactly where the press is going.
We hadn't started the process and I thought it is easier before we start. But I read things that were just unfair.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The U.S. president typically calling things he does not like "fake" or "unfair."
The Trump administration ended the week by scrapping a landmark nuclear weapons agreement with Russia, threatening more tariffs on Chinese imports and also announcing a deal to sell more American beef overseas. We've got more now from CNN's Pamela Brown with this story from the White House.
TRUMP: A wonderful day and a wonderful deal for a lot of people.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump touted the art of his deal, this time, enabling American ranchers to export beef to the European Union and other world markets.
TRUMP: You've never seen anything like that happen before, have you?
Not with your other presidents, you haven't.
BROWN (voice-over): But news of the president's beef deal comes as negotiations with China and Russia reach a breaking point.
TRUMP: Until such time as there is a deal, we will be taxing the hell out of China, that's all there is, OK?
BROWN (voice-over): Trump's surprising global markets Thursday by tweeting he's adding a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion worth of Chinese goods, which includes toys, shoes, laptops and, yes, iPhones. China's ministry of commerce saying today China is not, quote, "afraid of a fight," adding, "countermeasures will be necessary."
Russia is fighting mad, too. Calling it a, quote, "serious mistake for the U.S. to formally withdraw today from the INF treaty," a landmark nuclear arms control pact made in 1987.
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trust but verify.
BROWN (voice-over): The end of that trust was first announced in February.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We can no longer be restricted by the treaty while Russia shamelessly violates it.
BROWN (voice-over): It's just the latest international agreement the president has gone against. As promised, the president abandoned the Paris climate accord and renegotiated NAFTA.
TRUMP: NAFTA has been a catastrophe for our country.
BROWN (voice-over): As for his nuclear deal with North Korea --
TRUMP: We've had a great relationship, the Singapore was a tremendous success.
BROWN (voice-over): Seems Trump's agreement I think Kim Jong-un can withstand a lot. The president today tweeting, "Kim Jong-un and North Korea tested three short-range missiles over the last number of days. These missiles tests are not a violation of our signed Singapore agreement," adding, "Chairman Kim does not want to disappoint me with a violation of trust." BROWN: A senior administration official tells me that the way the
administration views these short-range missiles is that North Korea is trying to get the president's attention, sending a message but that in the administration, the view is as long as they aren't long-range missiles that can reach Guam or the United States, the posture will be the same with the president, basically downplaying it, saying it's not a violation of his agreement with Kim Jong-un -- Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.
HOWELL: Pamela there reporting. Let's put it into focus with Leslie Vinjamuri at Chatham House think tank.
Let's talk about the president's deals --
HOWELL: -- from his negotiations to North Korea to his approach with tariffs in China a bit unconventional, compared to his predecessors, the question is, is it working for him?
LESLIE VINJAMURI, CHATHAM HOUSE: Yes, undoubtedly, this president has taken a number of positions that the U.S. government has stayed firm on for quite a long time. And he's undone them, whether it's walking away from the INF agreement or unsettling America's approach to China or pulling out of the Iran deal.
So we're seeing conventions broken, deals broken but we're not seeing alternatives put in place that demonstrate any prospect for success. We're no closer to a China deal. We're seeing grave instability in the global economy. A number of America's allies feeling very uncertain, not feeling like they're part of the consultation; tensions with Iran much greater without any clear alternative in place.
What this president has done, he's moved the needle. If you go back to the Democratic debates that you saw a few days ago, very few candidates are saying they would go back to the old Iran deal, that they would take America back into the deal, that they would renegotiate and push harder. So he's moved the dial at the cost arguably of a considerable amount of stability and he's created a lot of global uncertainty.
HOWELL: I also want to get your perspective, Leslie, on the Texas representative John Ratcliffe, that the president announced he would nominate to take over for Dan Coats as the Director of National Intelligence.
Now he's out of the running, President Trump saying scrutiny for Ratcliffe's experience was overstated. Clearly the White House just didn't vet this.
VINJAMURI: This is a clearly good result. The candidate has stood down; he's very inexperienced, relative to the significance of the role. Remember that the DNI oversees 16 agencies, a budget, arguably, one of the most critical times in intelligence when it comes to any number of global concerns, North Korea, Iran, terrorism. So it's the right result.
But the process is deeply flawed. A president who didn't adequately vet his candidate, who appears to have selected him because he made him feel comfortable. The pushback was actually Senate Republicans who simply didn't back this choice because, of course, the support for the DNIs have generally been bipartisan. People realize how important this post is. But it reflects very poorly on the president's judgment.
HOWELL: Finally here, the number of Democrats who want to make the case for impeachment. That number has now grown to reach a majority in the House. Here's the list here. Nowhere near the 218 needed. But again, 118 Democrats now say they want to push for impeachment, except for the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, still pushing members to be patient.
But with this growing pressure to impeach, can Pelosi still hold the line on that issue?
VINJAMURI: Well, I think, you know, Pelosi is watching this. She's allowing Congress to do what it is required to do, what it should do, which is oversight, those investigations to continue to engage and consider this issue. But she's very cognizant, as she should be.
Firstly, that public American opinion, by pretty much every poll, still, the majority of Americans don't want to see impeachment. She's cognizant of the potential electoral effects, both for individual members of Congress but also the party as a whole, for the presidential elections forthcoming.
And she's cognizant of the feeling that regardless of what the House does it's unlikely that this president will get impeached. She's taking it a measured way. But the pressure is significant, it's growing. And I think the key thing here, those investigations and that oversight role continues to move forward.
HOWELL: The Democrats really facing the dilemma here, to either push forward the issues that matter to their voting bloc or to either impeach, you know, the U.S. president. It will be interesting to see which message they choose moving into the 2020 election. Leslie Vinjamuri, we appreciate your time.
On the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, a new governor has taken office but not everyone is happy about that choice. We'll tell you what people are saying and why they're protesting there.
Also, a new California law forces presidential candidates to reveal their tax returns. But critics --
HOWELL: -- say the law is aimed at one candidate in particular. We'll look at how it might affect the president's chances next year. Live around the world and in the United States, you're watching NEWSROOM.
HOWELL: This, the scene in Khartoum, Sudan, people there celebrating a new political deal. Hundreds of people filled the streets in Khartoum Friday. This after a mediator announced a final constitutional declaration had been reached.
It would pave the way for a transitional government there for that country. Officials of the military council and the opposition are meeting to work out details for a signing ceremony.
Sudan has seen weeks of protests, some of those protests violent since the ouster of the president Omar al-Bashir in April.
Now to Puerto Rico, a new governor has been sworn in, Pedro Pierluisi took the oath of office, he's replacing Ricardo Rossello stepped down after weeks of protests against him. Some opponents are saying they will challenge his appointment.
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Protests are continuing here in old San Juan at the governor's mansion here in Puerto Rico says that Pedro Pierluisi will be the new governor of Puerto Rico after Ricardo Rossello stepped down, now a lot of people are saying they are not happy with that selection and more so they are questioning the constitutionality of that decision.
Why is that?
They are saying that he was confirmed by the house but he was not confirmed by the senate and his appointment as secretary of state, the next in line, should the governor reside and the senate here will not consider the issue until next week, so it is far from over.
And whether these protesters are questioning their constitutionality of this decision or are they just unhappy with this selection, they say it is enough for them to stay on the streets and not go on, continuing to call for an island that can't get rid of corruption.
Very, much a lot of uncertainty still --
SANTIAGO: -- on the island of Puerto Rico as they figure out what's next for the island -- in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Leyla Santiago, CNN.
HOWELL: Leyla, thank you. The U.S. president once promised to reveal his tax returns. But since taking office, he has fought to keep them hidden. A new law in California, however, may force him to reveal all and if he doesn't it could cost him millions of votes in the next election. Our Kyung Lah has the story.
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Gauntlet thrown in the latest battle for President Trump's taxes. California governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns in order to qualify for the state's 2020 primary ballot.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): You have a right as an American citizen what's going on. You have a right to know.
LAH (voice-over): This latest move pits Newsom in another and more personal fight with Trump, as California dives into the Trump tax battle.
MIKE MCGUIRE, CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR: The federal government is not able to his force his hand, California will.
LAH (voice-over): State senator Mike McGuire introduced the bill and saying it's all about presidential transparency.
MCGUIRE: If you're a Democrat or a Republican, you can choose not to release your tax returns; you simply won't be on the California ballot.
LAH: But there's one person who has vehemently resisted releasing his tax returns.
MCGUIRE: I think we all know that audit is hogwash. He simply wants to avoid releasing his tax returns.
LAH (voice-over): For years Trump has refused to budge.
TRUMP: I would love to give them but I'm not going to do it while I'm under audit. It's very simple.
LAH (voice-over): To force Trump hand, states are jumping in. This year, 18 states introduced similar bills, California's law is expected to immediately face legal challenges. But Democrats say they're not worried.
MCGUIRE: This bill applies to all candidates, it doesn't discriminate. That's why I believe that this bill will be ruled constitutional.
LAH (voice-over): The state GOP disagrees, noting that California's previous governor, Jerry Brown, vetoed a similar measure, questioning the constitutionality and concerned about a slippery slope precedent.
LAH: What is this truly about? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Politics. I think it's clearly a vendetta with President Trump.
LAH (voice-over): That may not matter for Democrats politically. A CNN poll earlier this year found 66 percent of Americans believe President Trump should release his tax returns; 32 percent says he should not.
Republican senator Brian Jones said if Trump's name isn't on the state ballot, all his party can do is use it as a tool to energize the GOP base.
BRIAN JONES (R), CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE: People are like, OK, I don't like Trump but I don't like this idea either of the state or majority party overreaching. So I'm going to go vote just to show my distaste of this particular process.
LAH: Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow released a statement, saying California's attempt to circumvent the Constitution will be met with legal action. California Democrat say they're not particularly worried, they hope to expedite any sort of legal process to have some sort of answer before California's primary on Super Tuesday -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Denver.
HOWELL: A U.S. rapper is freed from a Swedish jail. But his assault case is still far from over.
Also one of the families of the two American teens held in the stabbing death of an Italian policeman now speaking out. The latest from Rome, as CNN NEWSROOM live continues.
HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from the ATL. I'm George Howell. The headlines we're following for you this hour.
HOWELL: An American rapper is back in the United States after spending the past month in a Swedish jail. We're talking about A$AP Rocky, who arrived in Los Angeles just a few hours ago, this after a judge in Sweden allowed him to return home to await the verdict of his assault case. He and two other people are accused of assaulting a man during a street fight in Stockholm.
CNN's Salma Abdelaziz following the story.
What's the latest?
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN PRODUCER: Well, he has just landed in L.A. just a few hours ago in the very early hours of the morning. And it really closes at least one of the chapters in the saga that's attracted the fans and celebrities and Donald Trump himself.
It was an emotional moment in court when the judge did say that A$AP Rocky could go back to the States. His supporters cheered and applauded. His mother could be seen crying. Take a listen to what his lawyer said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SLOBODAN JOVIVIC, A$AP ROCKY'S LAWYER: We had two goals. One goal was that my client was going to be a free man today and that we have achieved. And then we are hoping for an acquittal in 14 days. But we have to wait and see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ABDELAZIZ: The 30-year-old rapper had spent about a month in jail. This, of course, after an altercation where a 19-year-old Afghan man accused the rapper and his friends of beating him and hitting him with a glass bottle. A$AP Rocky denied using the glass bottle and said that he was acting in self-defense and felt threatened. Over the proceedings --
ABDELAZIZ: -- video footage was carefully reviewed with a more than 500-page report, including photographs of the alleged victim's injuries.
President Trump was heavily involved petitioning for the release of A$AP Rocky taking to Twitter. Even spending his special envoy for hostage affairs to intervene. That envoy did send a letter to the Swedish prosecutor's office say it could potentially harm the bilateral relationship between the two countries if it was not resolved. For now, A$AP Rocky will wait and get a final verdict in about two weeks' time -- George.
HOWELL: Salma Abdelaziz live for us in the London bureau. Thank you.
Now to the killing of an Italian police officer. The parents of one of the two American suspects wants the prosecution to produce video evidence showing the crime. The officer was stabbed 11 times. This happening on July 26, during a drug bust that went wrong. CNN's Melissa Bell following the story live in Rome.
And Melissa, what is the latest?
These parents, of course, speaking out. And they want to see exactly how all of this transpired.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. More specifically, this is Finnegan Elder's father, as he set off, having visited with his son on two consecutive days at the prison, where Finnegan was held, leaving the matter in the hands of the Italian lawyer who will represent him throughout the process.
He issued this statement before he left, wishing to see more of that video evidence. Specifically at the heart of this are those CCTV cameras that would have been trained on this particular spot, which is specifically where the confrontation took place between Mario Rega and two American teens.
What the parents of the teens want to see, lawyers want to see is the evidence against them. For the time being what we have is the version of the Italian prosecutors and what's been published by the ruling judge so far. We've heard very little from the lawyers and we've heard from the defense of their frustration of not getting access already to some of the evidence on the two teens.
On the question of what CCTV furnished and what we know, published specifically from the judge, is that one of the cameras that may have resolved this, just in front of a bank that would have shown clearly was that was going on here, was apparently out of order.
Until the defense gets its hands on that, it's hard to work out what they're going to do. We do have an idea from the line of defense since we've heard from within the documents about the testimony of the two boys, saying when they were confronted with these two out of uniform police officers, they had felt threatened.
Exactly what transpired in those minutes before Rega was stabbed, that's at the heart of this in that until then, we're only hearing one side.
HOWELL: Melissa Bell, thank you.
Human Rights Watch group calls a so-called charm offensive by Myanmar's government to slowly bring them back, they are questioning that. Thousands of Rohingya minority refugees are living in limbo. More about that story, next.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
In Bangladesh, thousands of Rohingya refugees are still living in makeshift tents there. Myanmar's officials visited the squalid camps to discuss preparation plans with leaders. Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh. The Rohingya also want to be recognized as an ethnic group and the right to full citizenship.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MYINT THU, MYANMAR MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We are trying to explain to them, what are the possibility of citizenship. So according to the law, they may not be entitled to the full-fledged citizenship. But they are entitled to nationalized citizenship. And eventually, their sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters will be entitled to the full-fledged citizenship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Rohingya leaders say they refused that offer to come back with a national verification card which means they're less than full citizens of their home country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABDUR RAHIM, ROHINGYA MUSLIMS' LEADER (through translator): But they don't accept that we are citizens of that country. We want our citizenship card. We will not accept the NVC residence card. We are indigenous Rohingya. We do not accept this paper. We don't agree.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translator) If we accept the NVC card and go back, they will again slaughter and kill us. We will not go. Our demand is to move there, Myanmar, freely, as other communities can. We must get back our homes and land. We want to move freely. Our people must get jobs in every sector of the government, like the military, police and other offices. Then we will go back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Let's talk more with Phil Robertson. Phil is the deputy director of the Asia division for Human Rights Watch and joining from us Bangkok.
Good to have you with us.
Phil, clearly there is a great deal of lack of trust when it comes to officials, Rohingya are really concerned about trust. Tell us more about this concern that they have, when it comes to this offer of a national verification card.
PHIL ROBERTSON, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Yes, unfortunately, there is a great deal of distrust. It's connected to the Rohingya not believing, based on the historical evidence, they will be able to go through a citizenship verification process that will be fairly adjudicated.
And the situation is one where we have seen, time and time again, that promises has been made to the Rohingya and then broken by the Burmese government. So we're not surprised that they're not agreeing to this NVC and frankly, it's their right to have both citizenship and security guaranteed before they decide to return to Rakhine state in --
ROBERTSON: -- Burma. HOWELL: Let's talk about the difference with this offer that they have and what they want to be recognized as full citizens of their country.
ROBERTSON: That's right. They want to have citizenship guaranteed to them. They don't want to have it under the 1982 citizenship act, which doesn't recognize the Rohingya. The requirements for the naturalized citizenship that the official from the Myanmar government was speaking about was to prove that they had residence in these areas going back to the British colonial times.
And frankly, that's impossible to do. So there's a bit of a bait-and- switch that's being played here by the Myanmar government. The Rohingya want citizenship guaranteed and they want their security guaranteed. They don't want to be put back in the same areas under the control of the military and the police that were just raping and killing them two years ago.
HOWELL: And when you consider the conditions that they are presently in, you understand how difficult it would be for them to meet those requirements.
ROBERTSON: They are in a very difficult situation in those refugee camps in Bangladesh. Many of them lost everything they owned when they were burned out of their homes, including any documentation they had.
They are facing a dire situation where they will not be allowed probably to go back to the areas they originally were from. They're worried that they'll be put in detention camps similar to what the Rohingya who fled from the center part of the state in 2012 -- there's still 120,000 of them locked down in camps surrounded by barbed wire and police and military.
So there's no real trust among the Rohingya in the Myanmar government and they have good reasons for that.
HOWELL: If they're not given what they want, what is next?
ROBERTSON: I think they would remain as refugees until the international community can persuade Myanmar to improve their offer. These people are citizens. That's part of the package deal for people to be willing to return.
I think there's going to be an intensification of pressure against Myanmar to find a way to make this work. I think we're seeing the initial offers. The government is going over there, trying to do the outreach and it's good that they're doing that. But they don't have a realistic offer to get the Rohingya to accept.
HOWELL: Phil Robertson, thank you.
It is an ecological disasters unfolding before our eyes, blazing wildfires in one of the coldest places in the world. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: Scientists have warned for decades now that cutting down millions of trees will have an adverse effect on the Earth's climate, especially in places like the Amazon rain forest.
Recent satellite images reportedly show the rate of deforestation there has nearly doubled. Over the past year alone, Brazil's president, who promotes economic development in the Amazon, slammed the scientific data, he called it a lie. The head of Brazil's space agency, which monitors the rain forest by satellite, says he was fired for defending the integrity of his agency's latest findings.
Climate change is also causing the ice to melt in Greenland in alarming amounts. Take a look at this, scientists say Greenland's ice sheet experienced its biggest melt in the summer. On Thursday, it lost 11 billion tons, that's equivalent to more than 4 million Olympic swimming pools, all gone in one day.
Experts say because of recent heat waves in Europe and around the world, July is one of the hottest months in history. Greenland's ice sheet is the second largest in the world. And this season's melt has raised sea levels.
Russia battling a climate emergency in the Arctic right now. Out of control wildfires have been raging in Siberia since June. And melting permafrost is releasing dangerous carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
HOWELL: Thank you for being with us. The news continues after this.