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At Least 22 Confirmed Dead in El Paso Attack; North Korea Launches Another Two Missiles; Trade War Fears Return To Wall Street; Hong Kong Reeling After Day of Protests and Strikes; Inmate Disguised as Daughter to Escape. Aired 12-1a ET
Aired August 6, 2019 - 00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Is this the moment when Americans have had enough?
Two mass shootings, 13 hours apart, dozens killed and now amid the grief and sorrow, growing anger at Washington failing to pass gun reform.
North Korea carried out its fourth missile test and Pyongyang warns it may seek a new road forward.
And the U.S. president escalates his trade war with China, officially declaring Beijing a currency manipulator.
Hello and welcome to our viewers, great to have you with us, I'm John Vause and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
VAUSE: By one count there have been 250 mass shootings this year in the United States in 218 days. The coverage known by their location, like Sandy Hook, Orlando, Las Vegas. The shootings have become normalized. The country seems mostly numb.
For the past two days, it has been completely unprecedented. Two shootings leaving at least 31 people dead. That's nine in Dayton, 22 in El Paso.
The Texas shooter is a white supremacist. The case is being treated as domestic terrorism. The suspect has shown no remorse and has been cold to authorities.
Across the country in Dayton, Ohio, the killer was shot dead by authorities. The motive is unclear but there are signs he may have backed a far left ideology in what appears to be his Twitter account. The user retweeted an anti-police post and support for Antifa.
Since then, much of the conversation has been about gun laws and white supremacists but the U.S. president tried to focus on issues like mental health and what he calls a culture of violence.
Donald Trump did blame racism but he also blamed the media and the Internet, video games. The president is set to visit El Paso on Wednesday and that is where Ed Lavandera begins our coverage.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT(voice-over): Police say the El Paso Walmart shooter, 21- year-old Patrick Crusius is cooperating with investigators but showing no signs of remorse.
DEE MARGO (R), MAYOR OF EL PASO: I don't know how we deal with evil. I don't have a textbook for dealing with evil other than the Bible. I'm sorry.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The death toll for the El Paso Walmart Massacre jumped to 22. Officials announced two more victims could not overcome their horrific wounds and died in the hospital.
Gospel music filled this hospital waiting room as family and friends of 33-year-old Michelle Grady waited for her to come out of her second surgery. Grady's family tells CNN, Michelle was struck by gunfire three times. Suffered a shattered pelvis as well as serious intestinal and stomach injuries.
MICHAEL GRADY, MICHELLE'S FATHER: Michelle had the presence of mind to get shot three times and yet pick up the phone and called her mom and said -- and that's when she said, "Mom, I've been shot."
Of course, my wife became frantic.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Her father, pastor Michael Grady, says he raced to the scene and was heartbroken by what he saw.
GRADY: Then I finally saw my wife bringing Michelle on this cart and pushing her towards the ambulance and it was at that moment that I realized that this was not just something unbelievable that this was real.
LAVANDERA: You get emotional thinking of that image of your wife pushing your daughter.
What is it about that moment that just hits you so hard?
GRADY: That I couldn't get there quick enough to help.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): At that moment, these victims and the city of El Paso did not know about an online posting ranting about a Hispanic invasion of Texas. Court documents show the gunman has no income, has been out of work for five months and lived with his grandparents in Allen, Texas, for two years.
Across the city, there is an outpouring of grief. The question many in El Paso can't answer is how the gunman could drive more than 600 miles for 10 hours from Allen, Texas, and never feel a sense of doubt. But families like the Grady family are focused on healing the wounds.
Michelle Grady hasn't spoken since arriving at the hospital, but they've received a sign of hope. Michelle opened her eyes and gently squeezed her family's hand.
GRADY: It was an amazing moment because that meant that she could hear us.
LAVANDERA: Many El Paso residents are trying to figure out why the gunman picked this Walmart to carry out the massacre. El Paso police say they believe the gunman drove straight here to El Paso, making that 10- to 11-hour drive from the Dallas area, and arrived in this area, got lost in a nearby neighborhood --
LAVANDERA: -- and then picked this Walmart because he was hungry -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.
VAUSE: From Dayton, new surveillance video from that mass shooting. Among the gunman's victims, his own sister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE (voice-over): At the top of the screen is the shooter. He is wearing body armor just as he is about to open fire.
The next moment there is chaos. Police recovered as many as 41 shell casings. And now a warning for another video and this one is disturbing. It is graphic.
So with that the gunman seen here just before he was shot by police. Police responded within 20 seconds of the first shot being fired. Police are saying the gunman used a high capacity 100 round magazine. Here's the police chief talking about the kind of firepower used on Monday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF RICHARD BIEHL, DAYTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: It is problematic, it is fundamentally problematic to have that level of weaponry in a civilian environment unregulated is problematic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Donald Trump on Monday condemned racism, bigotry and white supremacy but made no acknowledgment of his own rhetoric, which even former White House staffers and Republicans in Congress have called racist or racially divisive.
But after a tweet, saying that background checks may be the solution, President Trump stayed away from any mention of gun laws or gun reform in his spoken remarks. Instead he had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Matt Littman, Democratic strategist and president of 97 Percent, a non-profit group working on gun reform.
Let's get to the focus of 97 Percent on smart technology and how that can reduce the death toll from gun violence.
Right now let's talk about -- there seems to be two different conversations taking place in this country. Republicans want to talk about video games and mental illness. Democrats are focused on access to firearms, background checks, the type of firearms available.
In terms of research and data from what you know and what you have done, what are the main factors behind this epidemic of gun violence in this country?
MATHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Let me say when you talk about Republicans and Democrats, Republican leaders talk about the video games; Republicans, 80 percent, believe in universal background checks; 97 percent of Americans believe in universal background checks. Most gun owners believe and universal background checks.
So one thing that we know is that -- there is no blanket solution on the gun issue. There are about 400 million guns floating around in the United States. That does not mean that everyone owns a gun. One of every four people own a gun but those people own a lot of guns. Right?
So what we have is, it is too easy to get a gun in the United States. It is way too easy to get these assault rifles in the United States. And we don't have universal background checks. The law varies from state to state.
For example in California, where there is a shooting just last week, the person bought a gun in Nevada and used it in California. You can go from state to state very easily with guns that are not allowed from one state to the other. So we need to close these loopholes so that we can have background checks and prevent the sale of these assault rifles.
VAUSE: One study suggests that half of the world's civilian owned firearms are in the United States. Here's more from President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The shooter in El Paso posted a manifesto online consumed by racist hate. In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy.
These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart and devours the soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The president spoke for nine minutes. It seems like an out-of body experience for him. But different from a energized Donald Trump at a campaign rally.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They have a word. It kind of became old-fashioned. It's called a nationalist and I say, really, we're not supposed to use that word. You know what I am, I'm a nationalist, OK. I'm a nationalist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: As one opinion writer in "The Washington Post" noted, you can't be the mourner in chief or healer in chief when you spent your entire political career stoking the hate and championing the white supremacy you now decry.
If Donald Trump wanted to put the white supremacist genie back in the bottle, could he or is it beyond his control?
LITTMAN: That's a great question and the answer is he cannot do it because people would not believe it. The white supremacists who follow Trump and look at him as their avatar would think he's saying that to appease the media --
-- and the Left. They believe he is on their side and they believed that for a long time and he showed it, that he's on their side.
It's not to say that he wants people to get shot. I don't think he wants that but he wants their political support. That much is clear. So when he talked -- you showed a statement before, where it looked like a hostage video. He is not saying that I am condemning white supremacy. He said we need to condemn white supremacy, is a speech writer that also gets my attention is definitely on the fact that he's not using "I" at all. That's a way of him not taking any responsibility.
VAUSE: The mass shooting did not come as a huge surprise. Listen to Christopher Wray speaking in April and just last month. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The danger of white supremacists, violent extremism or any kind of violent extremism is, of course, significant. We assess that it's a persistent, pervasive threat.
I will say that a majority of the domestic terrorism cases that we have investigated are motivated by some version of what you might call white supremacist violence.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: The shooter in Dayton seems to support far-left anti-police views, according to his Twitter account. On Monday, the American Psychological Association warned the combination of easy access to assault weapons and hateful rhetoric is toxic.
Is just a perfect storm that is just getting started?
LITTMAN: You have easy access to guns that can kill a lot of people very fast and at the same time you have this white supremacist movement in the United States. If you're really angry and you have a gun, you can use it. There's not a lot that can be done to stop you.
The person in Dayton shot a lot of people in one minute. The police were right on top of him and still nine people were killed in the shooting. So the easy access to guns -- and then you have people like Donald Trump saying that it's video games.
There's no evidence at all that video games have anything to do with people getting angry enough to shoot people. None at all. If that were the case, then in South Korea in Japan, you would see a lot of people, where they play video games all the time, you'd see a lot of that.
The reason why people play video games don't shoot people, it's because they're playing video games.
VAUSE: Absolutely. We're almost at a time. Your group spent some time talking with the gun owners and the type of gun reform they want. Listen to what Joe Biden told CNN just a few hours ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: So, to gun owners out there who say, well, a Biden administration means they're going to come for my guns?
JOE BIDEN, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Bingo. You're right if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is, they should be illegal, period. Look, the Second Amendment doesn't say you can't restrict the kinds of weapons people can own. You can't buy a bazooka. You can't have a flame thrower.
The guys who make these arguments are the people who say the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots, we need the protection against the government. We need an F-15 for that. We need something well beyond whether or not you're going to have an assault weapon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: A lot of people would agree with the vice president on that.
But is that what gun owners are telling you?
LITTMAN: As you know, I used to work with Joe Biden so I respect him very much. What gun owners also recognize, that there is a big problem. What gun owners believe -- and this is often the case -- is that they are talked down to -- which is true, that is true -- but that 99 percent of gun owners are very responsible. That's also true.
But they recognize that we need gun reforms in this country. What they don't want is to be mandated and told what to do. All things that are reasonable. But the problem is that we have two sides talking past each other, John. We have mostly Democrats and a lot of reasonable Republicans who believe in gun reform.
But we have a Congress, the Republicans in Congress, who will not act on the reforms. What we really need is -- we know where the Democrats are on this. But what we need is for gun owners in these purple states and in red states to push their elected officials towards reform.
VAUSE: It's one of those issues that so many people look at this from around the world and don't understand this country's love of firearms and weapons. But it is in the Constitution. It's a right, not a privilege.
Mass shootings like the one in Ohio and in El Paso shine a harsh light on the darker side of the Internet. Just before the El Paso attack, authorities believe the alleged gunman posted a hate-filled, anti- immigrant message on the website 8chan.
The site is known as a forum for extremist content. But the man who created it says it is time to shut it down. Fred Brennan, who cut ties with the site in 2016, appeared --
VAUSE: -- on CNN's Erin Burnett and pointed the blame at the website's moderators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FREDRICK BRENNAN, CREATOR OF 8CHAN: They could have done so much to prevent both the shooting being -- the manifesto being uploaded there and Cloudflare taking them, if they had just set up a few simple rules with the users. They decided not to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: A number of other Internet companies have also pulled their support for 8chan but many other sites fuel the same racist and xenophobic content. More now from CNN's Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Minutes before the chaos and terror unleashed on families shopping at Walmart in El Paso, the accused gunman may have spelled out why he waged war on innocents, a hate-filled manifesto railing against immigrants, calling it the Hispanic invasion.
The post also praises ideas set forth in another manifesto written by the person identifying himself as the Christchurch, New Zealand, shooter, who massacred 51 people as they prayed in two mosques in March.
And months later, police believe another suspect posted an open letter minutes before shooting up a California synagogue, all of them posting in the same place, 8chan, a public website that is a racist's virtual paradise.
KEEGAN HANKES, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: I think 8chan is among one of the more influential sites that plays a role in radicalizing young men when it comes to far right extremism.
SIDNER: It is one of many open forums that host hatred; 4chan, Gab and the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer are favorites of white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
JOANNA MENDELSON, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: What we have now are attacks that are not only designed to kill, but they're designed to be replicated online, to spread their poison across the Internet and to inspire others.
SIDNER: These Web sites and forums use companies that provide infrastructure for the sites to run smoothly online. Cloudflare, run by chief executive Matthew Prince, serviced the Daily Stormer until 2017, when he faced pressure to drop it after the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Last night, Cloudflare dropped 8chan, calling the site lawless and that it caused multiple tragic deaths. And another service provider, Voxility, also dropped 8chan.
8chan has not responded to CNN's inquiries. One of the administrators of 8chan has said on Twitter that "We will be moving to another service ASAP. Please excuse any downtime."
For their part, law enforcement is grappling with how to keep up with these forums. In July, the FBI put out request for bids for social media monitoring companies, so investigators can mitigate multifaceted threats. But if the sites are shut down, it could make it harder for law enforcement to monitor.
JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: The FBI can't complete troll through Web sites. There has to be a predicated investigation. But even if they could, they would be hampered by the fact that there is so much garbage out there on these sites.
Also, rarely do these shooters telegraph in advance the carnage that they're about to cause.
SIDNER: In a congressional hearing on domestic terrorism this year, Homeland Security officials were asked about how to deal with these sites.
An uncomfortable silence.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-AL): Do you have any recommendations for what can be done to address the viral hate speech and incitement to violence found on fringe sites like 8chan and Gab?
And that's for any of you.
You don't have any suggestions for us?
VAUSE: That was CNN's Sara Sidner, reporting from El Paso, Texas.
North Korea apparently protesting military drills between the U.S. and South Korea with more missile tests. Pyongyang fired two unidentified missiles off its east coast. It's the fourth launch in 12 days. North Korea has warned these joint military drills would cause backlash.
Pyongyang also claims (INAUDIBLE) and would block progress in denuclearization negotiations. CNN's Ivan Watson live from Hong Kong.
Ivan, these ballistic missile watches are clear that North Korea wants attention. There's a warning from Pyongyang saying they may seek a new route. We have heard this before.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They are telegraphing their displeasure without a question. Not only is this the fourth salvo of short-range ballistic missiles that they fired in less in two weeks, but they also timed a statement to the North Korean state news agency with quotes from a foreign ministry spokesman, who was denouncing the annual joint military drills that the U.S. and South Korea are expected to be conducting around this time and saying that basically these ballistic missile launches are in response to that, that if the U.S. and South Korea continue to argue that their joint military exercises are purely defensive in nature, then that gives North Korea the justification --
WATSON: -- to develop its own defensive military capabilities.
So you have this remarkable series of launches and this is actually the fifth salvo of short-range ballistic missiles that North Korea has conducted since early May but they have been coming every couple of days over the course of the last two weeks.
On July 25th, August 2nd, August 6th. What is truly remarkable is that South Korea has expressed warnings and concerns and scrambled meetings of its National Security Council and been tracking this, the Trump administration has been downplaying the missile launches, with President Trump saying I am not be bothered by these missile launches and perhaps that is because he's invested so much of his personal capital in face to face diplomacy with Kim Jong-un and is determined not to let these missile launches derail this face to face diplomacy.
One other note that is worth making here, John, is that the annual military exercises that the U.S. and South Korea are expected to be conducting have not been heralded with the kind of attention that the military drew to them in the past, when news organizations like CNN would be invited to document and report on them.
Definitely the U.S. appears to be downplaying these exercises perhaps in an effort to avoid overly frustrating North Korea, which is still showing its displeasure.
VAUSE: Ivan, thank you, senior national correspondent Ivan Watson, live for us in Hong Kong, we appreciate it, thank you.
When we come back, China and the U.S., more than just squaring off in a trade war, sending a shock wave down global markets.
VAUSE: Financial analysts are warning of the potential global fallout from the escalating U.S.-China trade war. It is going off the rails and global markets are shaken. Monday China announced that it would stop by U.S. agricultural products and allow its currency to weaken against the U.S. dollar.
The Trump administration responded by designating China a currency manipulator. It was the worst day of the year on Wall Street. The Dow sank almost 800 points. The S&P 500 closed down nearly 3 percent and then Nasdaq took a 3.5 percent hit.
This sell continues across Asia and we are looking at the Nikkei down by just over 0.5 percent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng down by 0.75 percent and the Shanghai Composite down almost 2.5 percent --
VAUSE: -- still, mild losses, considering everything.
Last week the U.S. president stunned investors by putting a 10 percent tariff on $300 billion of imports from China beginning September 1st.
VAUSE: Ryan Patel joins us now from Colorado. He is a global business executive and senior fellow joining us from Claremont Graduate University.
Thanks for being with us.
RYAN PATEL, GLOBAL BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: My pleasure, thanks for having me.
VAUSE: The dispute between U.S. and China had been a lot of bluster and threats and Donald Trump came in at the last moment and saying he has this great relationship with Xi Jinping.
Now it seems like it is going close to becoming a real fight with real world consequences. We saw this with the Dow falling 700 points.
PATEL: When we get to the point when we are messing with currencies, it is no longer checkers. This is really chess now. And when you are trying to affect what tariffs -- what he did last week was preemptive to what China was going to do, devalue the currency -- I hate to use a pun but the smoking gun from two years ago that China could always do this and be able to be competitive behind it.
VAUSE: Professor, before we get into why the U.S. made this move, could you explain in the easiest way possible while a weakened currency can help an economy, especially one like China, which is reliant on exports.
PATEL: China's exports for example going to the U.S. because of the weaker Chinese currency, it will be cheaper for consumers to buy it here in the U.S.
So what does that mean?
It means more people will buy those goods from China versus the U.S. local product, which then leads to China's companies being more profitable, increasing jobs. And again I'm trying to keep it simple -- in essence that would help the Chinese economy more and still stay competitive.
VAUSE: The price still remains as it is and it is all done in U.S. dollars. That price remains stable and when you send the U.S. dollars back to China the currency's weaker and it is a win for whoever sold it because they can put the U.S. dollars back into renminbi.
PATEL: Exactly and there is a downside to this too; in essence China is really doing this in a way that it negates the tariffs right devaluing the currency it really negates it, too.
Well, China's economic adviser Peter Navarro speaking to CNN last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER NAVARRO, TRUMP TRADE ADVISER: I'm telling you, Erin, flat out that you will not see significant consumer price hikes from a 10 percent tariff on these remaining $300 billion. The Chinese basically are handling this by lowering their prices and lowering their currency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So in other words they knew this was coming but it raises the question why did the currency manipulate?
PATEL: They wanted a justification. What I have wrong with Peter Navarro's statement, yes, he did say flat out that this 10 percent tariff is not a big deal.
But what about addressing everything else before that?
What about addressing perspectives behind how this is affecting both the U.S. and Chinese economy?
He specifically stuck to that market. He wanted to create a message or this bad guy perspective that while China is doing this wrong thing, this is what -- we're the good guys.
There is no good guys in trade wars, I'm sorry, this is both countries needing to deal. They're trying to paint a picture and I don't think majority of investors and consumers are really tired of this. They just want to get a deal done. They don't want to take sides, just get it done.
VAUSE: On Monday, the U.S. president tweeted this.
"China dropped the price of their currency to an almost historic low. It's called currency manipulation. Are you listening Federal Reserve? This is a major violation which will greatly weaken China over time."
The general consensus is China's stopped currency manipulation years ago. Right now the yuan is maybe at a decade low. Number three as Axios reports, in order for it to be a currency manipulator, the country needs to spend 2 percent of GDP on currency manipulation in a 12-month period. China is not doing this. If anything, China is keeping the yuan strong until Trump ratchets up the trade war.
Did Trump get anything right on Monday?
PATEL: No, yes he did. The devaluation of the Chinese currency a couple years ago was really minor and small. In the long term, the Chinese doesn't really want to devalue currency. It's pretty clear, during the trade war, they were holding that and they don't want to do this.
But with what happened last week President Trump doing that message with a 10 percent tariff and really China having no other weapons at this point to go to except for this, you felt it, the Wall Street felt the pain on Monday.
People are going after negative yields on bonds and I know you will go after that gold chain, gold prices that are going up since high 2013. They are causing a ruckus by just releasing this fact that the devaluation of the currency's having. It's amazing what's going to happen.
VAUSE: If I can sell my gold chain, maybe I can get into the clubs on Friday, Ryan?
PATEL: I don't know, but I think you'll get more gold chains later on down the road.
VAUSE: OK. Good to see you. We'll talk soon, I'm sure. Thank you, Ryan.
OK, a short break. When we come back, we're waiting to hear what Chinese officials have to say about the latest unrest in Hong Kong. Our next guest will tell us why he thinks Beijing is just playing a waiting game. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. I'm John Vause with an update on our top news this hour.
Two more people have died in hospital after Sunday's mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, bringing the death toll in that attack to 22. Nine others were killed by a different gunman in Dayton, Ohio, 13 hours later.
In a speech Monday, President Trump blamed hate and racism for the attacks, but not easy availability of semiautomatic weapons.
Asian markets are extending the global sell-off in Tuesday's trading as the U.S.-China trade war escalates. The Dow plunged almost 800 points on Monday. China allowed its currency to weaken against the U.S. dollar. The Trump administration in turn then labeled China a currency manipulator.
And Donald Trump stepping up existing sanctions against Venezuela, now imposing a total economic embargo, citing what he says is President Nicolas Maduro's power grab and the regime's human rights abuses. U.S. sanctions have already accelerated a collapsed in the country's oil outputs.
Chinese officials will be back before the cameras in the coming hours to address Hong Kong's escalating protests, now in their ninth week. Twenty-four people were injured Monday as police fired tear gas at pro-democracy activists. The general strike brought Hong Kong to a standstill, forcing the cancellation of more than 200 flight.
And with that, we go to Sydney and Ben Bland, director of the Southeast Asia Project at the Lowy Institute.
Ben, good to have you back.
BEN BLAND, DIRECTOR, SOUTHEAST ASIA PROJECT, LOWY INSTITUTE: Good to be with you, John.
VAUSE: OK. Here's Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's chief executive. She made her first public comments in two weeks. On Monday, she warned the city has become unsafe and unstable. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE LAM, HONG KONG'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Such extensive disruptions, in the name of certain demands, or uncooperative movements have seriously undermined Hong Kong's law and order and are pushing our city, the city we all love, and many of us helped to build, to the verge of a very dangerous situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: When you listen to the language, does it sound to you like they're building up to some kind of requests from Hong Kong's government to Beijing, maybe for military assistance, because the Hong Kong police, it seems, are struggling right now?
BLAND: Well, I think the Hong Kong government and the Chinese authorities have both said formally they don't want to bring in the Chinese army, the Chinese police, law enforcement anytime soon.
But I think, at the same time, they're playing a bit of a double game, where they want to hint this is possible, as a way to try and scare protesters into backing down. And also to try and peel off the most assertive protesters from the moderates in the democracy movement. This fear that if there is this nuclear option and it's coming, let's quiet them down now to stop things becoming much worse.
VAUSE: Article 14 of the city's Garrison Law is what would be used. It says, "The government of the Hong Kong Special Administration Region may, when necessary, ask the Central People's Government for assistance from the Hong Kong Garrison in the maintenance of public order and in disaster relief."
You know, this is a force of about 6,000 troops, I think, but that law then goes on to say, "When it conducts assistance in maintenance of public order and in disaster relief, the Hong Kong Garrison shall be under the command of the Garrison's highest commander."
So Carrie Lam wants to go down this road, in theory, the commander of the garrison could keep the troops on the streets of Hong Kong for as long as he deems necessary.
BLAND: There's that. There's also, interestingly, another provision in Hong Kong's basic law, which is the mini constitution of the special administrative region, which allows the Central People's Government, Beijing, to deploy the PLA unilaterally.
So it's not only done with the request of the Hong Kong government. It can actually be done unilaterally, if they deem that there's a national emergency and a threat to law and order.
So I think the legal framework is -- is all there, but in a way, conversely, the fact that, you know, we've seen these social media videos from the PLA and the defense ministry warning that this is a possibility, I almost think that means it's less likely that it's going to happen. Because I suspect, if it was, they wouldn't be warning about it. It would happen in a flash before you even knew it.
So I think, as I said, there's this tension there where they want to threaten something more to try and get people to back down, but they don't really want to do it, because it makes a local problem, a Hong Kong problem, into a whole of China problem, which in the end is much more threatening and damaging to Xi Jinping and the Communist Party, especially if things go badly.
VAUSE: It's a good point. If they call, they're usually not coming.
I want you to -- Here's part of a deep dive from Gordon Chang, writing for the magazine "The National Interest." He writes this: "In Hong Kong, revolution is in the air. What started out as an unexpectedly large demonstration in late April against a piece of legislation -- an extradition bill -- has become a call for democracy in the territory, as well as independence from China and the end of communism on Chinese soil."
That assessment may be a little premature, but even if that is the perception among dissidents in the mainland, then Xi Jinping doesn't have a lot of options here for a soft approach, does he? Because making concessions would prove to the dissidents on the mainland that unrest and upheaval gets results.
BLAND: I agree that concessions, meaningful concessions look unlikely for now, for all those reasons. But in a way, the good thing for stability in the short term for Hong Kong is that there isn't much support for this Hong Kong movement within the mainland.
And so, with the high degree of control they have over the media and over the public sphere, over social media in mainland China, you know, a lot of people have turned against the Hong Kongers, not standing up for them. And I think, so long as the problem is sort of hermetically sealed in Hong Kong, it's in a way, less threatening to the Communist Party, which means they're probably less likely to take extreme measures. So that's a rare silver lining, if you like.
VAUSE: The past few days have been very effective from the protestors' point of view, when it comes to the sort of civil unrest. How notable was it that, you know, there were teachers, airport workers and civil servants who all took part in this one-day general strike?
BLAND: I think that will be of great concern to the Hong Kong government and, potentially, to Beijing, as well, because I think they're happy so long as they know that the Hong Kong government is on their side.
If there was a sense that people within the Hong Kong government were starting to turn against Beijing. I think that's when they would really worry.
But I think it's a important shift, because there's always been this stereotype that Hong Kong is economically focused. They only care about making money. And we've seen that it's not just students and high school kids who go out into the streets and cause trouble and demand change, but it's, as you said, those middle-class professionals.
Among the people who have been charged with rioting, there's a pilot for Hong Kong's flag carrier, a teacher, a nurse, a couple who own a gym. So these are not your kind of standard rioters we'd see in other places. And I think there has to be concern for the future of the city from the government's perspective.
VAUSE: Yes. Ben, we're out of time. We could talk with this for a very long time, but we -- we're done for today. Good to see you. Thank you.
BLAND: Thanks, John.
Coming up, he almost got away with the great escape, but something just wasn't quite right about the disguise.
[00:41:29] VAUSE: This could be one of the most bizarre break stories you've heard. In Brazil, the leader of a gang -- a drug gang, actually, tried to escape prison by disguising themselves as his daughter. Apparently, there were even plans to leave the daughter behind. Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You'd think it would take a guard not wearing his glasses to be fooled by this disguise. Don't be distracted by the pink T-shirt with doughnuts. You're looking at an inmate, a drug lord in a Brazilian prison who tried to escape by impersonating his 19-year-old daughter, who had been visiting him.
Prison officials made him do this reluctant strip tease for the camera. --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shirt goes off (ph).
MOOS: -- after he almost made it to the door. Off came the T-shirt, exposing a manly chest and tattooed arm. Prison officials suspect the disguise may have been smuggled in by a pregnant woman, subjected to less rigorous inspection.
Finally, the intimate, nicknamed Shorty, made the long reveal.
Reuters reported it was his voice that gave him away, apparently, as he pretended to be his daughter, asking for her I.D. back. The daughter, left behind in the prison, faces charges of helping with the escape.
The mask had everyone making comparisons to "Mission: Impossible."
And though the drug lord's jailbreak may have been foiled, at least he didn't end up like this.
The Brazilian tabloids mocked the escape with jabs like, "'White Chicks 2 Coming to Cinemas Soon," a reference to "White Chicks" who weren't.
TERRY CREWS, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: It's you -- are not --
MARLON WAYANS, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Yes, I'm not a woman.
CREWS: -- white!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is some Jerry Springer [EXPLETIVE DELETED].
MOOS: But there was still some mystery behind the escape. Wondered one commenter: "Why did he need to put the bra on, though?"
Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Up next, WORLD SPORT. You're watching CNN.
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