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Brazil's Pres. Now Says Ranchers Could Have Set Amazon Fires; U.K. Prime Minister Angling For New Brexit Deal; South Korea Ends Intelligence Sharing Deal With Japan; U.K. Seeks Information on Hong Consulate Staffer; Economic Indicators Could Spell Trouble for Trump; Qantas Ponders 19-Hour Non-Stops; Ty Herndon Offers New Take on 1995 Hit Song. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 23, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello! Thanks for joining us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest, and a present fire emergency in the area known as the planet's lungs, and this could make climate change even worse.

Also head, Boris Johnson's E.U. tour moves to the coast of France for his first G7 summit as British Prime Minister. Brexit is not on the agenda. He's unlikely to find much support anyway except perhaps from Donald Trump.

Also correcting the record 25 years on. Ty Herndon's mega country hit in the 90s was based on a lie, but now he's living history.

Well, the fires raging in the Amazon could be yet another devastating setback in the fight to minimize the impact of climate change. France's President Emmanuel Macron is among the world leaders sounding the alarm tweeting this. Our house is burning literally. The Amazon rainforest, the lungs which produces 20 percent of our planet's oxygen is on fire. It is an international crisis. Members of the G7 summit, let's discuss this emergency first order in two days."

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro responded with a tweet as well. I regret that President Macron seeks to instrumentalize an internal issue of Brazil and other Amazonian countries for personal and political gains. The sensationalist tone with which he refers to the Amazon appealing even to take photos does nothing to solve a problem.

Mr. Bolsonaro without stating any evidence suggested nongovernmental organizations are trying to overthrow him and they may be complaining for the fires. But he has slightly tweaked his view, now suggesting ranchers also may have set the fires particularly the land. That's something which environmentalists have been saying since these fires to begin.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam joins us now with more on this. So Derek, just take us to actually the ground zero if you like, into the area where these fires are burning right now. What can we see especially in terms of the intensity of the fires and the scale of the fires?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, just since last week, we've seen an additional 9,000 erupt across the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. And what we're seeing is more and more evidence that this is a planned, plotted, coordinated deforestation attack on the actual rain forest that situates itself across this portion of South America.

We know that deforestation is key to this region's success. We believe that cattle ranching is one of the reasons why deforestation occurs here, soybean production, we know that also logging is a big industry here. But unfortunately, these large companies are taking advantage of the dry season. They know very well that they can scorch the land faster than they can, bring in heavy machinery to help clear these lands for those purposes.

And if you need more proof more evidence, we've got a close-up satellite imagery view, and I want to show you this. Here's the direction of the wind coming out of the west. You can see the burning fires out of the Amazon. But what's interesting is we're seeing these burns take place at right angles. That just does not happen in the natural world.

So this is clearly being ignited by a likely a human cause. And the unfortunate thing here is that the Amazon is so incredibly important to the health of the world. We know that. We've talked about how this is about 20 percent of the world's oxygen coming from this part of the planet.

Rainforests are a carbon sink. They take in carbon dioxide. In fact, there is 127 cubic meters of carbon dioxide that is stored underneath the Amazon, and if we were to deforest it, for instance, we would release an equivalent of 140 years of human-induced greenhouse gases, not something we want to be in the business of, John.

VAUSE: OK. So what are we looking here just in terms of you know, the forecast and trying to breathing fires under control. Because we've heard from Brazil's president who says the country doesn't have the resources to try and battle these places. So what are we looking in terms of I guess humidity and possible rain in the days and weeks ahead?

VAN DAM: Well, we believe that the potential of these fires could get worse before they get better because these companies are taking advantage of the dry season. We have the driest months July, August, and September. So again, these fires could get worse before they get better before the rain moves and helps douse the fires.

Now, there is some good news out here, John. There are things you can do go. to cnn.com. There's lots of information to help talk, to donate to nonprofit organizations that allow you to help with the reforestation efforts across the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. And you can buy rainforest safe products believe it or not. You can buy things that have no soy within them and just try to aim to live a sustainable lifestyle. That's important especially when you buy coffee, when you buy soybean products, something that we can all consider when we go to the supermarket. John? [01:05:12] VAUSE: Yes, it's good advice. It just seems sort of I guess you know, enough at this point but you know, maybe if it helps, I guess. Thank you.

VAN DAM: Not futile efforts, right.

VAUSE: Yes. Thanks, mate.

VAN DAM: OK.

VAUSE: OK, well, Daniel Lavelle is the U.S. Program Director for Survival International. He joins us now from Oakland, California. Daniel, thanks for being with us. The scale of these fires right now it's kind of hard to grasp because you know, this -- we take a look at the location of all the major fires which are burning right now.

These ones that are on fire right now, of course, an area almost as big as Europe. But there have been a record number of fires this year in the Amazon. We're looking at more than 70,000. You know, wildfires are part of the natural ecological cycle of the Amazon but not like this. So how many have been deliberately started? How many have been caused by an increase in temperatures and dry conditions? So is it -- is it possible to break down those numbers?

DANIEL LAVELLE, U.S. PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SURVIVAL INTERNATIONAL: Not at this point. This is a record number of wildfires. And like you said, 80 percent sent over last year. It's really incredible and most of these are in the Amazon. But I just like to highlight that this is both an environmental and a human crisis to kind of touch on what you were saying about some of these fires being deliberately set.

And what is also especially worrisome is that these fires aren't an isolated event but they're really indicative of increasing threats the Amazon and to the indigenous people who live there. And this includes massive rises in deforestation, attacks against indigenous peoples and their rights that we've seen in Brazil ever since Jair Bolsonaro became president in 2019.

VAUSE: You know, cause and effects arguments are often misleading but this guy takes office in January. He has a policy of getting like you know, reducing regulations which are in place to you know, avoid these kinds of stuff in the Amazon forest. He cuts the agencies, the governor agencies which are there to protect the Amazon rainforest. He gives a nod and a wink to the loggers and the ranchers who use fire as a tool of deforestation. Last year there were 40,000 fires all up in the Amazon region but now looking more than 70-thousand this year alone.

I mean, it's hard to you know, come to any other conclusion apart from the fact that Jair Bolsonaro the new president of Brazil is responsible for what we're seeing right now.

LAVELLE: Well, that's exactly right. Bolsonaro has not been shy about expressing his interest in opening up the Amazon for business as it were. And so not even winking and nodding but pretty much giving the green a green light to go ahead to ranchers, loggers, companies, and others to go further incursion into indigenous areas which by the way are the best barrier to deforestation that we've seen where their indigenous territories rights are recognized. We see swathes of green territory.

And Bolsonaro knows this and he sees them as an impediment to opening up the Amazon to plunder. So really all these policies that he's done have really explicit aims. They're to destroy indigenous people as coherent people to forcefully assimilate them to basically open up their land for plunder. And these fires are just one really stark example of this.

But it's -- you can't be saying isolation. It has to be seen in the broader context of what Bolsonaro means for Brazil, the Amazon, and its indigenous people.

VAUSE: And Bolsonaro, in turn, has hit back at those who blame him with a unique brand of paranoia and a lot of Narcissism. This is what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAIR BOLSONARO, PRESIDENT, BRAZIL (through translator): The NGOs lost money. The money that came from Norway and Germany to here. They're unemployed. What do they need to do, try to overthrow me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, as crazy as it may sound to an international audience, you know, blaming these international NGOs to starting these fires or being responsible for all this. It rings true with a lot of his supporters and that's why he remains a popular leader in Brazil.

LAVELLE: Well, Bolsonaro was very savvy in mobilizing right-wing populism to his own ends. And of course, that sort of thing does have some purchased but it's really ridiculous on its face. He didn't offer any evidence that any NGOs were involved.

And it would be quite on the contrary, we know we have reports from the field of indigenous peoples and other peoples on the front line of this destruction who have seen fires being set. It's really an active tool of displacing people in opening up these lands for cattle ranching, etcetera.

VAUSE: You know, the bigger picture here though is what the impact this will have on basically all of us. The wild -- the World Wildfire Fund is warning as habitat destruction trends interact with climate change, the concern is that the Amazon will be caught up in a set of feedback loops that could dramatically speed up the pace of forest loss degradation and bring the Amazon biome to a point of no return.

In other words, what we're looking at here is a dieback scenario where the trees absorb less carbon and become more flammable. They eventually release billions of tons of carbon back into the atmosphere. So when we look at just these fires alone, what are we looking at the impact here on climate change? [01:10:13] LAVELLE: Well, it's -- the Amazon is very critical for the climate of the planet. As you mentioned before, it's 20 percent of the Earth's oxygen. So there's a giant carbon sink. It really is a vital resource and would accelerate climate change dramatically if deforestation continued. Of course, I have all sorts of downstream effects and feedback loops that would be quite dire.

And so I think that's why we really need to support those who are on the ground in Brazil, the social (INAUDIBLE) who are on the front lines are resisting the destructive policies and who are risking their lives to defend indigenous territories from this increasing aggression that we've seen including violence against people within Brazil.

And the evidence is really quite clear where you have indigenous territories, you have five times less deforestation, excuse me, you have nine times less wildfires. And these are really critical spaces for the planet as a whole. But let's not lose sight of also these are people's homes, these are people's livelihoods and lands. These are -- the entire culture's face of way of producing their culture, their livelihoods.

VAUSE: You know, this is an international crisis. This is going to affect all of us, and we had the French President Macron saying that this should be on the agenda at the G7 which is I guess in a way understandable but then, Bolsonaro hits back you know, with this argument which actually you know, a lot of levels makes sense.

The Brazilian government remains open to dialogue based on objective data and mutual respect. The French President's suggestions that the Amazonian issues to be discussed at the G7 is the point. Without the participation in the countries of the region evokes a misplaced colonialist mindset in the 21st century.

You know it's hard to argue in the last part of his statement that you know -- because this is the problem which cannot be solved without the involvement of those in the region.

LAVELLE: No. Of course, it has to include Brazil. But Bolsonaro is not Brazil. He's the President of Brazil. But of course, there's millions of people in Brazil who are actively fighting against this deforestation that aren't represented by Bolsonaro.

And luckily his support has been slipping since he's been in office due to a lot of international tension that's come on including for these fires of just what these policies have met within Brazil or to the people and the environment.

So I -- well, it's true, you need Brazil but you also need a global effort and that really what I think our role in the United States and Europe is not just through the G7 or other efforts, it's really supporting those on the front lines again, the indigenous peoples that are putting their lives on the line and are really there at the point of the spear fighting the destructive policies. And that's what Survival International has done for 50 years support these types of struggles and that's we're going to continue to do. VAUSE: Daniel, it's one of these stories which is sort of crept up on

everybody. These fires have been burning for some time, but now clearly, it's reached a point now that everyone realizes that this is a real emergency that needs to be dealt with and it's not being dealt with. And I appreciate you for being with us. Thank you.

LAVELLE: Yes, thank you.

VAUSE: Well, as you mentioned, the host of this weekend's G7, the French President Emmanuel Macron wants the fire emergency in the Amazon at the top of the agenda for the two-day summit. That remains to be seen if, in fact, it will happen.

As for Boris Johnson, this will be his first G7 as the British prime minister. He's been traveling across the continent for last few days. He's looking for support to renegotiate the Brexit withdrawal agreement. European leaders have been everything from polite to stern but overall not encouraging.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Of course, I want to deal and I think we can get a deal. Let's get Brexit done it get it done sensibly and pragmatically and in the interests of both sides and let's -- well let's not wait until October 31st. Let's get on now.

EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT, FRANCE: Now, I am going to be very clear. In the coming months, we will not find a withdrawal agreement that will be far from what we have now. If in the framework of what has been negotiated by Michel Barnier, some things can be adapted and fit with our two objectives that I just mentioned which is stability in Ireland and integrity of the single market. We have to find them in the coming months.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: If there's nothing else to show for this week, at least the British prime minister seems to be enjoying his time hobnobbing with European leaders. And at least he can go back to Parliament and said he tried. More now from CNN's Nina dos Santos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: The U.K. Prime Minister's first European tour was a relaxed affair even if it wasn't ultimately rewarding. In Berlin, he and Angela Merkel may have sat side by side. He even spoke German.

JOHNSON: We seek a deal and I believe that we can get one. We can do it. (INAUDIBLE) I think is the -- is the phrase.

[01:15:07] DOS SANTOS: But on Brexit, they were poles apart and singing from different hymn sheets.

JOHNSON: Withdrawal agreement. DOS SANTOS: Over the working dinner, his glass was half-full, hers

half-empty, as the Chancellor refused to scrap the Irish backstop, instead offering Jonson 30 days to come up with incredible alternatives.

ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR, GERMANY: We always said we probably will find a solution in the coming two years but possibly you may find a solution in 30 days, why not.

DOS SANTOS: In France, the welcome was warm that came with a warning.

MACRON (through translator): I've always been depicted as toughest of the group but it's because I've always said very clearly a choice has been made and it's pointless to try and not implement it thinking that since of the last for a while, you will not apply the will of the British people in the end and go around it. I think our democracies suffer from the lack of efficiency and clarity.

DOS SANTOS: Johnson tried to put his best foot forward suggesting the U.K. would never impose a hard border in Ireland. But if the handshake was anything to go by, President Macron wasn't letting him off easy.

Boris Johnson's visit to Europe was never really about getting explicit agreements, rather it was about building a rapport with the two most influential figures in the E.U. And moreover, showing the British people that he at least tried to negotiate in person less the U.K. crash out in 70 days' time without a deal.

Johnson may have more luck making headway on trade deals this weekend, but seven of the world's biggest economies gather in Biarritz, among them, Japan, Canada, and the United States who the U.K. is keen to court.

However, considering that summit has scratched the tradition of issuing a draft communique this time, it's unlikely that firm commitments will be forthcoming there either. Nina dos Santos, CNN London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: CNN European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas is with us once again from Berlin. Good to see you, Dominic.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Hi, John.

VAUSE: OK. So ahead of this G7, it's a great strategy. Let's not have a disagreement like we did last year. Let's just scrap the communique all together. French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday, he told a private briefing of reporters no one reads the communique. Let's be honest. And in recent times you read the communique only to detect disagreements.

I know the points of disagreements with the U.S. If we draft an agreement about the Paris Accord, President Trump won't agree. It's pointless. You know, expectations are so low. If they make it through the main banquet without spitting each other's food, that'll be considered a success. So take Macron's point one step further, the entire gathering it seems is pointless.

THOMAS: Absolutely. I mean, look, the whole point of the G7 summits going all the way back to 1975 is to try and bring what are called you know, like-minded leaders together to be able to move the global political agenda along here. And what we're seeing here and this really goes back to the G7 in Canada where Donald Trump essentially refused to endorse the final communique is rather than push for greater consultation and so on is to avoid doing that.

And in fact, we see here how the G7 has changed so dramatically this organization that was so eager to defend the global and liberal democratic order now has sitting at the table Donald Trump with him Boris Johnson from the U.K. And let's not forget that the Italian Prime Minister has just resigned under pressure from his coalition partner from the far right.

So the very makeup of this organization has changed dramatically just in the last few years and it's making it increasingly obviously complicated for them to agree on just about any of these global issues.

VAUSE: And you actually mentioned this will be Boris Johnson's first appearance at the G7 as the British prime minister. Brexit is not on the official agenda but of course, it will be discussed on the sidelines. And basically, he wants something from everyone here. He wants you know, from the Europeans about Brexit deal from everybody else especially the U.S.

He's looking for free trade deals and the U.S. president sees a friend in Boris Johnson. He was on Thursday or Wednesday, the president tweeted out. Great discussion with Prime Minister Boris Johnson today. We talked about breaks it and how we can move rapidly on a U.S.-U.K. free trade deal. I look forward to meeting with Boris this weekend at G7 in France.

Here's the thing. How will Boris Johnson be able to keep Donald Trump on the side locked into a trade deal while at the same time not alienating European leaders on issues where the U.K. is a much closer to Europe than it is to the U.S. like on Iran and climate change? You know, it seems the U.S. President is looking at Johnson as a friend and ally here.

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, this is it. And you can guarantee that he'll be on Twitter stirring things up you know, already arriving in Europe as a whole range of controversy with over whole series of European issues. But I think you know the funniest way I've heard this characterized is that Boris Johnson is actually going to end up at this summit sandwiched between two Donald's.

On the one hand, Donald Trump, President of United States is going to be supporting and has been supporting Brexit, and on the other Donald Tusk the President of the E.U. Council who will be there representing the European Union. And so Boris Johnson has been on this sort of European tour visiting

Germany, visiting France, to try and get support for the withdrawal agreement changes, the backstop and so on, and yet, on the other hand, is going to be buoyed up by Trump. And I think that really what we end up here is both sides are under pressure.

[01:20:33] Donald Trump comes off as the willing partner to the U.K. that's open to doing trade and the European he looks back. But at the end of the day, all that this is about for Boris Johnson is demonstrating back home to his party, to the Brexiters and to the Brexit party of Nigel Faraj that he is the one person who can deliver Brexit over what has become the single defining issue of British politics today. And it's all about optics therefore for him.

VAUSE: Here's the thing though. Donald Trump and Boris Johnson may be of like mind, you know, they may be on very friendly terms, but Donald Trump is not going to give the Brits a good free trade deal without a heavy price.

THOMAS: Yes. I mean, that's absolutely -- and that's what the opposition has been fasting on. The debate has shifted particularly in the Labour Party not so much around remain or leave but avoiding a no-deal and avoiding, of course, this idea that the U.K. becomes essentially the 51st state that Donald Trump -- and we can see this. It's a pattern every unilateral decision by you know, bilateral agreement that he's trying to strike has not been favorable to the person sitting on the other side.

And for Boris Johnson to somehow expect that things will be different with Donald Trump is, of course, nothing that delusional here.

And you know, we see that sort of unbridled optimism from Bojo as he's called despite being repeatedly rejected across the continent. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHNSON: Of course, I want to deal. And I think we can get a deal. Let's get Brexit done. Let's get it done sensibly and pragmatically, and the interests of both sides and let's -- well let's not wait until October the 31st. Let's get on now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: But despite that, Johnson, as we said repeatedly, he wants to deal, we can get a deal, we can get a deal long before October 31st. You know, enthusiasm, and optimism, and energy all very good qualities but they are not a replacement for a plan in our policy.

THOMAS: Well, that's it, and for a real reality check. But since he took over from Theresa May, absolutely nothing has changed. The Parliament is unambiguously opposed to a No Deal. The opposition is increasingly galvanized around challenging Boris Johnson over these issues.

And the fact remains though which is really so complicated about this is that as Boris Johnson keeps talking about the fact, it's a wishful thinking, a magical thinking that somehow Brexit is going to happen it, hasn't yet, and there's no evidence that anything has shifted along those lines.

And Boris Johnson and his Brexiters could have had a Brexit by now if they had gone along with the withdrawal agreement, signed by the European Union and proposed by Prime Minister May. But the fact remains that those Brexiters want no alignment whatsoever with the European Union and that therefore means that the Irish backstop, that the insurance policy that will protect with Good Friday Agreement and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland remains on the table, and there is no way out of that unless the U.K. maintains closer alignment with the -- with the European Union.

So for Boris Johnson, nothing has changed in this dynamic. And I think that actually now that he's at the helm is beginning to realize that this Brexit issue which he is behind is not that easy to solve.

VAUSE: Yes. Dominic, thanks for being with us. I appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: Two key U.S. allies in Asia are now at odds in just a moment. We'll explain why South Korea will no longer share intelligence with Japan and what that could mean for the illicit nuclear and missile programs in North Korea. Also, we have new reporting on Donald Trump's plans for another tax cut. That's still ahead right here on CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:25:00] VAUSE: South Korea has ended a key intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan. This all began as a trade dispute but could now have a global impact because these falling outcomes just as North Korea ramps up missile testing. CNN's David Culver joins us live from Seoul in South Korea.

David, first up, specifically what sort of intelligence are we talking about here? How will this impact what is already a scarcity of good intelligence on North Korea?

DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's a concern for defense military experts that I've spoken with, really over the past several days about this issue. And they fear that, for example, Japan holds the key to really surveying a lot of northern part of the Korean Peninsula. They've got these satellites that typically the South Korean military can tap into with their assistance and figure out what's going on with their northern neighbors.

But I was speaking to the retired Army General, the U.S. Army General who's the commander of the 650,000 combined us South Korean forces up until November of last year, and he's got a lot of concern about this because he says this goes beyond military intelligence, this is all sorts of data that also includes movement of certain forces. So it could be very damaging if this is not communicated directly from South Korea and Japan and vice versa. Now that general also has concerns with how the U.S. is responding to

this. I want you to hear what he says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. VINCENT BROOKS (RET), FORMER COMMANDER, U.S.-ROK COMBINED FORCES: So, I do worry quite a bit about how the U.S. will react and we're in government right. Certainly, my military advice would be to stop, take a breath, talk to the Koreans in private and understand it is going and why they did what they did.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CULVER: He says understanding the motivation for South Korea could potentially allow that sometime over the next 90 days as this agreement is still in place, mind you, perhaps South Korea and Japan can reach a deal to allow that information to flow again between the two nations, John.

VAUSE: OK, David, we appreciate it. Thank you. David Culver there, one of our reporter live in Seoul, thanks. Another crisis filled week at the White House but two of Donald Trump's top advisors are MIA. Where in the world are Jared and Ivanka next on NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:31:28] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Brazil's president Jair Bolsonaro has hinted that ranchers could be responsible for the fires raging across the Amazon. But he also continues to blame without any proof international non government organizations who he says are trying to overthrow his government.

Environmentalists have said some of the fires were in fact set by loggers and ranchers who have been emboldened by the President's pro- business policies.

Britain's new prime minister has been spending time with European leaders hoping to find a way to reopen Brexit negotiations. But the message Boris Johnson is hearing is not encouraging. The French president tells him minor adjustments could be made to the agreement if they benefit the U.K. and the E.U. but also changes the (INAUDIBLE).

South Korea has ended a key intelligence sharing agreement with Japan as relation after Japan limited exports from materials used to make computer chips. But it comes as North Korea revs up its missile testing. The U.S. is urging both countries to work out their differences. Japan has summoned South Korea's ambassador to lodge a formal complaint.

British (INAUDIBLE) are seeking more information on a Hong Kong consulate staffer detained in Mainland China. The Chinese newspaper is reporting that Simon Cheng is being held for soliciting prostitution. Cheng disappeared two weeks ago after visiting a mainland city, Shenzhen. His friends and family fear he was arrested for supporting the Hong Kong pro democracy protests.

Tommy Cheung (ph) joins us now from Hong Kong. He's a friend of Simon Cheng. We should note that Tommy, you were part of the Umbrella protests back in 2014. You were arrested for public nuisance and sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

Now with that out of the way what d Do you think has happened to Simon if the allegation of solicitation of prostitution is not true then what has happened and why?

TOMMY CHEUNG, FRIEND OF SIMON CHENG: That accusation is not the truth. From the message I have received from his family and also his girlfriend that it's totally not the truth. I think his accusation is just trying to destroy his credibility. And also he's (INAUDIBLE).

We all know that they don't have any Chinese (INAUDIBLE) and also he is a hardworking people. He loves his job very much. So that we don't think it is the truth.

And also we can see that he had just (INAUDIBLE) so the accusation after two weeks actually the evidence of the accusations are weak.

VAUSE: So let me just stop you there. Ok. He works hard. He is a nice guy? What does that have to do with this accusation of why he is being detained? I mean what is it about Simon that the Chinese authorities find particularly troublesome or dangerous or concerning that they would detain him if not for the charge of soliciting prostitution.

That's what I'm trying to work out. What's the motivation here for the authorities in Beijing to have him detained?

CHEUNG: Actually we have received another -- several cases besides Simon's case because we have noticed that several Hong Kong people entering China and then they got detained by the mainland police also without any kinds of reasons has been given.

So that we think that Simon's case is not a singular case. And also we can see that Simon has been arrested in the border, in the mainland border inside the West Kowloon high speed rail station.

[01:35:01] And so we can see that they're trying to switch the focus on arresting and, of course, they want to play it down because this is morphing (ph) the diplomatic issues between China and also the U.K.

VAUSE: Ok. So what -- again, just so we are trying as much as we can to cover as much ground as we can here. So what you're saying is that Hong Kong residents are sort of being arrested or detained at random by the authorities on the mainland, the Chinese authorities on the mainland simply because they are Hong Kong residents who happen to be on the mainland?

CHEUNG: Yes, because at the very beginning some people have their mobile phones to be checked and they are forced to delete some photos.

VAUSE: Do you have any numbers on who many people were being detained?

(CROSSTALKING)

VAUSE: Do you have any numbers here or the numbers -- what numbers are we talking about here?

CHEUNG: At least so far as we know, at least five of them have been detained in mainland China. Of course it's just only a levels (ph) rumor because no one wants to stand out and also they have receive some facts and also they are forced not to tell the (INAUDIBLE) that they have been detained.

So that is -- but of course, we have solid evidence that can prove it is what is happening in Hong Kong and also what's happening inside mainland China. Especially after the protest of the extradition bill we can see actually that mainland China don't want the message and also some photos about the protests could be sent inside mainland China. Of course they have the monitoring on the message also the social media inside mainland China Internet.

VAUSE: Tommy -- what I'm trying to -- sorry to interrupt you again but what I'm trying to get a hand handle on here is the reason why, you know it's one thing to put that allegation out there that Hong Kong residents who visit mainland China are being detained and arrested at random for trumped up charges. But why? Why would the Chinese authorities be doing this?

CHEUNG: The Chinese authorities said they got alerted by those messages may be spread inside mainland China because some maybe political influence inside mainland China so that's they have seriously checked your mobile phones.

So far as I know like inside the West Kowloon high speed rail station and actually two people that would be one person would have their mobile phone checked and to see whether they have such photos or messages, even mobile apps, like discussion forums and also some news apps and force them to delete it and not allow these kinds of messages.

Maybe they think these kinds of messages will be the facts for the Xi Jinping to rule China and also they are faced of seeing some truth on the protests could be spread inside the mainland China.

VAUSE: Yes. Tommy -- thank you so much for coming in and, you know, expressing, you know, what you think has happened there because it is a mystery. You know, obviously their family and friends do not believe this charge that is coming from the authorities there of solicitation of prostitution and right now it's sort of one of those things that we just don't know specifically what is going on.

But we appreciate you being with us to give us, you know, your thoughts on that. We wish you all the best. Thank you.

CHEUNG: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, new signs point to potential trouble for Donald Trump economically and politically. For the first time in nearly a decade America's manufacturing sector shrank. And get this -- the Labor Department has revised downward job growth from April last year to this March. Half a million fewer jobs were created than previously reported.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports how this is all adding up to confusion and chaos in the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So the jobs numbers have been really good. The economy has been really fantastic, if you look at the world economy not so good. Thank you very much, everybody.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: As economic warning signs are flashing tonight President Trump is sending mixed messages on his game plan.

TRUMP: We're not looking at a tax cut now. We don't need it. We have a strong economy.

COLLINS: Part of the confusion -- whether or not the President is considering a payroll tax cut to ward off an economic downturn.

TRUMP: President Obama did that in order to artificially jack up the economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much -- Mr. President.

COLLINS: That is a reversal of what he said only days ago.

TRUMP: Payroll taxes -- I've been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time.

COLLINS: The President's flip-flop coming as congressional budget forecasters say more red ink is to come. The Congressional Budget Office now says the federal deficit will balloon to $960 billion this fiscal year, and average $1.2 trillion for the next decade.

[01:40:05] TRUMP: We're going to wait for a formal --

COLLINS: The President's most consistent economic message has been a contradictory one. Today he insisted the economy is doing really well but he spent the week calling for a big federal rate cut, a move typically made when an economic dip is on the horizon.

TRUMP: If he does it, you'll see a rocket ship. You'll see a boom. If he doesn't, we have a very strong economy.

COLLINS: The whiplash in the west wing is widespread.

TRUMP: I have an appetite for background checks. We're going to be doing background checks.

COLLINS: Trump now says he will push for background checks and claims he never told the NRA he wouldn't even though he spent the week repeating the gun group's talking points after a long phone call with the NRA chief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is an NRA talking point.

TRUMP: Some talking point.

COLLINS: Sources tell CNN White House aides are working on gun control proposals for when Congress returns to Capitol Hill, but what the President will support and whether or not that support will waver remains to be seen.

As Trump bobs and weaves between controversies, two of his top advisers are noticeably missing in action. Following a weekend vacation in Wyoming, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have remained under the radar this week staying publicly silent as the President digs in on his accusation that Jewish voters who support Democrats are being disloyal to Israel.

TRUMP: If you vote for a Democrat you are being very disloyal to Jewish people.

COLLINS: From skiing in Aspen as the administration's attempt to repeal Obamacare collapsed to vacationing in Florida during the Christmas government shutdown, their absence in times of trouble has become a pattern of the Trump presidency.

Despite the President saying this week he was considering a payroll tax cut his top economic adviser Larry Kudlow just told reporters that the President is not looking to do any kind of tax cuts in the near future though he did say they are looking at tax cuts 2.0, as he called it, which he said could be another set of tax cuts in addition to the ones in 2017 that the administration could unveil during the 2020 election.

Of course there are going to be questions about that because it was those 2017 tax cuts that the Congressional Budget Office said added to the fact that we saw the deficit balloon more than expected.

Kaitlan Collins, CNN -- the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Who doesn't love a middle seat? Well Qantas is now looking at 19-hour nonstop flights. They're the people who will hate the middle seat.

But first it wants to know if we can actually, you know, stand up to it and endure it and deal with it, maybe just not (ph).

[01:42:44] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Here's a question, can you go the distance? When it comes to a long-haul flight, how long is too long? Can you do eight hours, 14 hours? Well, buckle up sports fans -- how about 19 hours? Australia's national carrier Qantas is planning direct nonstop flights between Sydney and New York, as well as Sydney and London. But first comes a few small details like the impact those long hours in the sky will have on the human body.

Here's CNN's Richard Quest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RICHARD QUEST, CNN MONEY EDITOR AT LARGE: Imagine sitting here for 19 straight hours. Well, Qantas want to see exactly how people handle some of the world's longest routes.

It's running tests like -- do you mind -- long flights, commercial services. It's called "Project Sunrise". Now the tests will be in two stages. There will be two flights from New York nonstop to Sydney and one flight from London to Sydney. And it will be done over a period of three months.

There will only be 40 people on board and most of them will be Qantas employees. The planes they're going to use for these flights will be 787 900s which will then go into commercial service with Qantas International. Longer term, the plane intended for this are the A350 Airbus and the Boeing 777 X.

Now, Qantas is interested in the effects on health. It's going to be monitoring brain wave patterns, alertness movement, and basically what the airline is saying is if they can run this commercially, economically they will introduce it. A decision is expected by the end of this year.

However, the CEO of Qantas Alan Joyce has made it clear. While it sounds lovely to run "Project Sunrise". If you can't make any money at it, well the sun will have set before the plane even takes off.

Richard Quest, CNN -- New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Yes. 19 hours on a plane is not lovely -- Richard.

Well, coming up, a new spin on a 1990s country music mega hit. Ty Herndon will join us next to explain why it matter to him to remake what "What Mattered Most".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

VAUSE: That's Ty Herndon's 1995 mega country hit "What Matters Most", the debut single from at the time an almost unknown singer with a chart-topping sensation.

Aa it turns out though this ballad about love lost and epiphany, as well as all the success that came with it was essentially based on a lie. Almost a quarter of a century later and Herndon is setting the record straight, releasing a new version. Try and spot the difference.

[01:49:54] (MUSIC)

VAUSE: There is nothing quite like the power of a pronoun and by changing "she" to "he", Herndon is not only righting a wrong but clearly revealing much about who he is and who he was 24 years ago.

The man himself, Ty Herndon, is with us. So welcome. Thanks for coming in.

TY HERNDON, MUSICIAN: Good to see you, mate.

VAUSE: Did you recognize that young guy there? The young fellow singing that song?

HERNDON: That's 25 years of love for that young man from the beginning to now but he loves himself so much more now. I was just thinking. Thinking though -- looking at that -- it's been a minute since I've seen the new version. And I know so many kids have seen that now because I go out and speak to so many kids around the world. And it's amazing to hear them talk to me now.

VAUSE: That was 33 year old Ty Herndon. And I think what people don't realize about this song is how big it was at the time and what a huge success it was.

(CROSSTALKING)

VAUSE: I mean here's -- it was huge. Here's part of a report from (INAUDIBLE) news. "April 1995, his first single, What Mattered Most, continues to explode all over the radio and the national country charts. In its first week, the song received 133 ads, meaning 133 radio stations across the nation played the tune out of the box. His debut album also titled What Mattered Most hit stores Tuesday with advance orders of a whopping 200,000 copies."

And so the most part at that time -- everyone was seeing this as the love song in a traditional sense.

HERNDON: Yes.

VAUSE: Everyone, that is, except for you --

HERNDON: Right.

VAUSE: -- and presumably your partner of what -- at that time, 14 years.

HERNDON: Yes. A long time.

VAUSE: What did he think of the new version? Have you been in touch with the person who, you know, was sort of the focus of the song?

HERNDON: He just said, congratulations man. Congratulations on your 100 percent authenticity and being able to tell your story the way you've always want to tell it. And congratulations on the minds and hearts you're going to change.

VAUSE: How did you justify it?

HERNDON: There was no way I could. I knew that I was going to be out there singing to millions of people and this is an amazing song. So we fight for amazing songs. We do it today.

The song was tailor-made for me. And it's such a beautiful production of it and I was excited to have it. And you know, I've been in this business for a long time. I won Texas entertainer of the year which finally got me to just got to Nashville. And they gave me that song and I was so happy to get it.

VAUSE: You know, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the first openly gay candidate for president. He gave a very emotional speech earlier this year where he, you know, he sort of addressed the issue of being gay and coming out and he took it head on.

HERNDON: Yes.

VAUSE: And he said a couple of really, you know, pertinent or very sort of moving things during this speech. I want you to listen to part of that speech. Here he is.

HERNDON: Absolutely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you had offered me a pill to make me straight I would have swallowed it before you had time to give me a sip of water. It was a hard thing to think about now.

It's hard to face the truth that there were times in my life when if you had shown me exactly what it was inside me that made me gay, I would have cut it out with a knife.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You know, I see you nodding along. So can you obviously -- you can relate to that especially as a (INAUDIBLE)

HERNDON: It's hard to see that and talk about it because I feel the same way. You know, there were times I definitely didn't want to live. I wanted the same knife. I wanted to cut it out. That would have taken, you know -- I said this. It's interesting that I saw this when it was on. I said oh my gosh we wanted the same pill.

VAUSE: Yes.

HERNDON: I wouldn't have hesitated to take it.

But my journey today, that was not my story. This is my story. And the fact I had get to be out there and sing to millions of people and create music and do what they need to do and to know that that 11- year-old kid sitting there at home watching TV and watching YouTube, who wants to come to Nashville and be an entertainer sees my face and knows that we can do this and you're not alone.

(MUSIC)

VAUSE: Times have definitely very much changed now from 1995. You came out on 2014.

HERNDON: Yes.

VAUSE: And once you came out, you never stopped coming out. You had to shout it out over and over again, right.

HERNDON: That's very true.

VAUSE: So you made this conscious decision since going public that you would support teenage gay kids and their family.

HERNDON: Yes. Even younger.

VAUSE: You sort of want to give them the structure and the environment of safety environment and the support that, I guess, you didn't have.

HERNDON: Exactly. If I would have had the community that these kids are putting together today, especially coming out as young as ten years old. And some of them know exactly who we are and others are confused.

But to put the community together of these kids that are going through the same thing I just stood up a whole brand new video with a group of kids in Nashville called the Rainbow Squad. and they're amazing.

[01:54:58] And just to watch them, how happy they are and with this community they get together every two weeks from all around Nashville. And I wanted to show the world just what a happy kid looks like what.

(MUSIC)

HERNDON: I think Nashville change so much. Oh my gosh, the community is so wonderful. It is filled with all kinds of folks from all walks of life. And we're really feeling the pressure to grow.

VAUSE: Right.

HERNDON: And I'm happy to be one of those people pushing that. And we have a lot of us that are in Nashville from Shelley (INAUDIBLE), Shane Mc'Omalley (ph). So many - -so many wonderful people that are -- they're out and pushing.

VAUSE: You have a new album coming out on Friday. "You've Got It Covered". There's a lot going on.

It has a new update version of "What Mattered"

HERNDON: "What Mattered Most.

VAUSE: And there's also another track there, it's what I want reference. It's so small, from Carrie Underwood here.

Here's a clip.

(MUSIC)

VAUSE: Lots of kids, lots of rainbow flags. Who is this guy at the end? What's going on here?

HERNDON: Ryan -- now you've made me cry. Congratulations.

VAUSE: Thank you very much.

HERNDON: With tears rolling, you guys. Oh my gosh, you know, thank you Carrie for writing and recording such an awesome song but i8 had that to make a long story short, I had gone back to Nashville and was kind of milling around, trying to do music.

And I actually stand up for Earth's (INAUDIBLE).

VAUSE: You're going to be a real estate agent.

HERNDON: A real estate agent. Right.

Sitting in my truck, you know, on a Saturday morning I heard the song for the first time. And I'm a firm believer that songs are put out there in the universe for people to hear exactly at the right time in their life. And I lived by that rule so of course it happened to me and it was just I have not heard anything like this from the radio in a long time. It was spiritual. It was powerful. And it was life- changing for me. I didn't take the class. I turned around and I got my butt busy getting back in the music business. And I wanted to do music like that. Music that mattered, music that changed hearts and minds. And music that just hit people in the face. So that's what I've been trying to do.

I hope I did it on this new record.

(MUSIC).

VAUSE: I think that's a good point to finish up on. So thank you so much.

HERNDON: Thank you so much. Bless you. It's been great.

VAUSE: It's a great story, a very personal journey. So thank you for sharing with us.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Stay with us. A short break now.

When we come back, the news continues with my colleague George Howell.

(MUSIC)

END