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Justin Trudeau Apologizes for Wearing Brownface 18 Years Ago; Saudi Oil Field Strike Drones, Missiles, Manufactured by Iran; Israeli Election Still Too Close to Call; Tokyo Court Reportedly Clears Executives of Negligence in Fukushima Disaster; Airline Mechanic Had ISIS Material on Phone. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 19, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

Coming, up political scandal in Canada. The prime minister forced to apologize for an offensive photo just weeks before his reelection bid.

Saudi Arabia's elaborate show and tell, presenting evidence to the world that the weapons used to attack their oil facilities were made in Iran.

Plus, a major court decision in Japan on negligence charges over the 2011 Fukushima disaster. We will take a look.


CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was already locked in a tight reelection race when his campaign took a hit on Wednesday. This 18- year-old photo emerged of him wearing brownface makeup in 2001.

CNN affiliate "Time" obtained the photo from the yearbook of West Point Academy, the private high school where Mr. Trudeau was a teacher. Now, at the time, the future politician was attending an Arabian night's theme party. Mr. Trudeau admitted it was a quote, racist and dumb thing to do and said he was deeply sorry.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER, CANADA: I take responsibility for my decision to do that. I shouldn't have done it. I should have known better. It was something that I did not think was racist at the time, but now I recognize and it was something racist to do and I am deeply sorry.

I have worked all my life to try and create opportunities for people to fight against racism and intolerance and I could just stand here and say that I made a mistake when I was younger and I wish I hadn't. I should have known better then, but I didn't and I did it and I am deeply sorry for it.


CHURCH: Now, he also admitted that he wore makeup when he's singing the Jamaican folksong "Day-O" during a high school talent show. Mr. Trudeau's main opponent Conservative Party leader Andrew Scheer says Mr. Trudeau is not fit to lead Canada.


ANDREW SCHEER, LEADER, CANADIAN CONSERVATIVE PARTY: Wearing brownface is an act of (inaudible), mockery and racism. It was just as racist in 2001 as it is in 2019. What Canadians saw this evening, they saw what a complete lack of judgment and integrity and someone who is not fit to govern this country.


CHURCH: Well, joining me on the line is Teresa Wright a reporter for the Canadian press.

Thank you so much for speaking with us. I know you have been on the campaign plane with Justin Trudeau. It just landed in Winnipeg, I understand, but earlier on that same plane, we saw that he told the assembled media he was really sorry and should have known at the time that it was offensive.

What impact is this likely to have on his reelection campaign?

TERESA WRIGHT, JOURNALIST: Well, obviously this is quite a bombshell to be happening just one week into the campaign. It so far has been going quite smoothly for the prime minister, really a lot of negative things that have been coming up in the campaign had really been at the expense of his political opponents.

But this landing on this day, it was something unforeseen by the media that had been traveling with him. And it is something that he clearly was not prepared for at this point in the election.

CHURCH: Now Trudeau also admitted that he wore blackface makeup in high school to sing "Day-O" and says he deeply regrets that. He also agreed the photograph of him in brownface as an adult was racist but said he did not considered racist at the time but now he says he knows better.

Will most voters accept his apology and explanation, given we are talking about 2001 and given his history?

I mean, people know his dedication to minority groups and the work he has done over the years will be evidence that someone can grow, they can understand mistakes they made back in 2001.

WRIGHT: That is really the question that we are all going to be asking over the next coming hours and days. I think, as you mention, he has really been -- diversity of promoting multiculturalism has been a key platform of, his, a key plank of his, a talking point of his.


WRIGHT: And so him having to face that situation right now, especially in the middle of an election campaign, is obviously very damaging to his political brand.

And I think that he is hoping that all of the work that he has done over the last number of years, including coming out in the last election campaign four years ago in the middle of the Syrian refugee crisis, in the middle of all of that, after that photo of the young boy who washed of on the shores of Turkey, that photo that had devastating impact around the world.

He responded to that right away and said, if I am elected, I will accept 25,000 Syria refugees, that number ended up being closer to 60,000 at the end of the day.

He's hoping all of that work he has done is probably going to help him weather this political storm but that is really the big question that all of us are going to have as this plays out.

CHURCH: And finally, as we mentioned at the start there, you were on the campaign plane. You would have got a sense of the mood.

Did you feel that Justin Trudeau was obviously shocked by this bombshell but did you sense he felt beaten by this?

WRIGHT: You, know it is interesting, because he had a different campaign plane when this all, started one that had a separation between ourselves and him and with the branding of his political party on the outside.

But on the very first day of the campaign, there was a mishap with the media bus driving under the wing of the plane so we have been flying in a backup plane. So we are in the same cabin now. And so I was able to sort of see him up front after we did our scrum with him and after we filed our stories. They did give us time to file our stories.

And he was sitting there quietly, just by himself with headphones on. And then when he was leaving the plane, I could see he looked very tired. Obviously this has been a very long day for him and it is going to be a number of long days going forward.

We normally have been given an itinerary of what's happening the next day. We don't actually know what is happening tomorrow, so clearly this has derailed whatever plans there were going to be for tomorrow. And so we are all kind of on a wait and see of what will happen next.

CHURCH: No doubt some moment of reflection as they consider how to deal with this bombshell, Theresa Wright, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate. It

WRIGHT: Thank you so much for having me.

CHURCH: Now to the mixed signals from the Trump administration over how the U.S. might respond to that attack on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities. U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo calls it an act of war. He met with crown prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah on Wednesday and said, no matter who carried out the attack, the U.S. will hold Iran responsible.

President Trump was a bit more hesitant to talk about a military response. Take a listen.


TRUMP: There is plenty of time to do some dastardly things. It is very easy to start and we will see what happens, we will see what happens. I think we have a lot of good capital. If we have to do something we will do it without hesitation.


CHURCH: The president did announce plans to toughen sanctions on Iran but the government in Tehran continues to insist it was not behind the attack.

Saudi Arabia was doing its best to try to implicate Iran. The defense ministry laid out a roomful of evidence, saying Iran's fingerprints are all over it. CNN's Nic Robertson has our report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: According to Saudi officials, 18 drones and seven cruise missiles used in this attack over the weekend, three of the cruise missiles missed their targets, providing much of the evidence that has led the Saudi officials to say that all these devices are of Iranian manufacture.

The blue missiles at the back, those are the cruise missiles and on this side here, what are known as the delta wing drones, these are, the Saudi officials say, definitively Iranian manufactured. They're familiar with these.

The one in the center here, the drone in the center, used in an attack on a Saudi oil facility in May earlier this year. No doubt in their minds, none of these weapons systems, have the range, the long range, 700 kilometers or more, to get to these petroleum facilities all the way from Yemen, discounting completely, categorically the Houthis' claim that they fired these weapons.


ROBERTSON: But the key question is, where were these missiles fired from?

Interestingly, the coalition spokesperson saying, they were able to use some of the GPS locating systems on the drones to backtrack the data and find out, where the drones took off from. That investigation is not complete and interesting as well that he

said even while the Saudis have these devices, the Iranians indicated they're trying to scrub the data, from them.

Pressed on what they will do, if it's discovered the missiles were fired from Iran or just the fact that these are Iranian made missiles, the coalition spokesman said, it's essentially above his pay grade. That is a political decision.

But this laid out here, this is the evidence the Saudis said they would lay out for the world, proving, in their minds at least, that this was Iranian manufactured equipment -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, in Yemen, Houthi rebels put on a show of their own in an effort to prove they carried out the attack. A military spokesman offered up photos which he says show the Saudi facility before the airstrikes and he explained how decoy aircraft distracted Saudi air defenses while the real drones and missiles hit their targets.

For their part, the Iranians continues to deny playing any role in the airstrikes on Saudi Arabia and they are warning any U.S. military action will bring immediate retaliation. Here is Nick Paton Walsh reporting from Tehran.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of (INAUDIBLE) it all seems to make a peaceful resolution to this crisis a little more distant and Iran's been reacting to a lot of it, continuing their consistent denial that they had nothing to do with this and even echoing back to their original assertion that this was the work of the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who themselves have claimed responsibility, saying they used 10 drones to launch these attacks.

But today after hearing the Saudi defense minister's press conference, adviser to the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, said, this simply proved what Saudi Arabia cannot prove or does not know, essentially saying, they lack the conclusive evidence to back up, the claim made very early by secretary of state Mike Pompeo, that Iran was behind. This.

Also hear from the Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif, reacting to U.S. president Donald Trump's suggestion there will be "substantial new sanctions" against Iran in the days ahead.

He said this is continued economic terrorism -- I'm paraphrasing here -- targeting ordinary people inside Iran.

It's difficult to know frankly, what these new U.S. sanctions could target. They have been ratcheting up pressure on Iran's oil sales, causing them to drop substantially, certainly the ones the world knows about. And many countries, allies to Iran or close to it or certainly appreciate its oil are struggling out how to continue to buy it. But the real question, about sanctions, they don't really work, if the world and people dealing with Iran choose to stop, because they fear a reciprocal response from the U.S.

We will have to see what else the U.S. administration can do to damage the Iranian economy here, already reeling. We've also heard about the possibility of diplomacy further distant. We know the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, has said there is no negotiation with the United States at any level. The possibility of even covert or sideline talks at the U.N. General Assembly in New York seems even more distant because state media today said they thought it's unlikely Iranian officials, the president, the foreign minister, would get the visas necessary for them to travel to this vital summit.

So while we hear strong words from Mike Pompeo in Riyadh, blaming Iran, calling it an act of war, Iran continues to maintain the same line, saying they believe this was the Yemeni Houthi rebels, that they fear the impact, possibly of further sanctions against ordinary people.

But the Iranian people here, wondering quite what comes next and exactly when that conclusive evidence may emerge to back up what the U.S. has been saying for a number of days now -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Tehran.


CHURCH: And be sure to tune in as Nick Paton Walsh sits down with the Iranian foreign minister. There will be an in depth interview with Javad Zarif at 11:00 am in London, 6:00 pm in Hong Kong, only here on CNN.

There is still no clear winner from Tuesday's general election in Israel and it is raising doubts on whether prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu can maintain his grip on power.

The latest projections show Mr. Netanyahu's Likud Party trailing Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party by just one seat. But neither man has the 61 seats needed to form a governing coalition. Our Oren Liebermann has more now from Jerusalem.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The political deadlock remains in Israel and, if anything, it has only become more apparent with the final results expected on Friday.


LIEBERMANN: Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, former chief of staff Benny Gantz, are in a race that is too close to call. Neither man can claim victory but neither man has any reason to concede defeat. And in that sort of political limbo, Netanyahu went on the offensive

and said he has united all of the orthodox and religious Zionist parties under him as one bloc and that he will stand at the head of this national. Group.

He continued his campaign rhetoric against the Arab parties, saying there are only two options for, Israel a national government with him at the top or a weak government that relies on the Arab parties for support.

But his political future is no more clear that it was 24 hours ago and he is two weeks away and counting from his preliminary hearing in ongoing criminal investigations.

Meanwhile, his rival Benny Gantz says he is looking forward to forming a national unity government and he will begin discussions with all of the political parties to that end. But there remains no clear path to victory for either Netanyahu or Gantz.

So how much trouble is Netanyahu in?

Well, he canceled his upcoming trip to the United Nations General Assembly and that has been his favorite podium to rail against Iran over the past decade. He also would have had the chance to meet president Donald Trump there.

And you know he's a tight spot if he is missing a photo op with Trump. Meanwhile, Israel is in for long weeks, maybe months of political wrangling -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


CHURCH: We are learning more about what sparked a whistleblower complaint the U.S. intelligence community inspector general, which was deemed, quote, "credible and urgent."

A source tells CNN that U.S. president Donald Trump's communication with a world leader prompted the complaint. What is not known, who the other world leader is and exactly what was discussed.

"The Washington Post" reports Mr. Trump made a promise of some type to the other leader and that promise bothered the whistleblower so much that the inspector general was notified.

The Director of National Intelligence appointed by the president had refused to hand over the complaint to the House intelligence community, which is mandated by law.

A Tokyo court has cleared three former executives of negligence for the 2011 Fukushima disaster. They were accused of negligence for failing to implement safety measures. Let's bring in CNN's Will Ripley with more details.

Will, this was the only criminal case to come out of the Fukushima disaster, a trial that started back in June 2017.

So how did this all play out?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a very unusual case for a number of reasons. First of all, Japanese prosecutors did not want to take this to trial because they did not think they had enough evidence. They did not think they could get a conviction.

And Japan, which has a 99 percent or so conviction rate, it is very unusual for a case like, this unless prosecutors think it is locked in, solid to actually go, forward. But there was a citizen judicial review back in 2015. And people wanted justice. They wanted somebody held accountable criminally, because there are number of civil cases as well.

Because even though no deaths have been directly linked to the Fukushima valves, down more than 40 elderly patients who had to be evacuated died during that evacuation process, it was very traumatic and a lot of people say they want justice.

And so understand we now there are protests and outrage by some who say that this is all for nothing, that nobody is going to be held accountable for what is viewed as negligence in the leadup to the Fukushima meltdown, the fact there were meetings warning executives that tsunami waves could overpower the aging infrastructure at Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the kind of power outage that would trigger the meltdown.

They argue that all of that intelligence was ignored but the executives claimed their jobs as the chairmen and two vice presidents, both now retired and in their 70s and late 60s, they argued that their jobs were not directly involved in the day-to-day safety operations and they simply were not aware that the danger existed.

The fact is that 46-foot tsunami waves overpowered the capabilities of the Fukushima Daiichi plant and now you have this catastrophic nuclear disaster, this scale of which is still not fully understood, with the company still tried to apologizing, to clean up and figure out what they're going to do with more than 1 million tons of radioactive water as they run out of space to store on the site.

But the big news today, the three, people the only people who would have been held criminally accountable for this disaster, which has still left some areas near Fukushima uninhabitable. It's a place I visited many, times, Rosemary, they are like ghost towns. People's entire lives had to be abandoned in a matter of minutes and they have never been able to return.

And now for those people, they still are left wondering when they are going to have any justice and who is going to be held accountable and the answer it looks like, it's frankly nobody.


CHURCH: Yes, indeed. And protests and outrage continue, as you point, out and many thanks to you for your live report. We appreciate that. New developments and disturbing links to ISIS in the case of an airline mechanic accused of sabotage. His, target an American passenger jet. What prosecutors in federal court are saying now.




CHURCH: Disturbing developments in a U.S. federal court about an aircraft mechanic charged with sabotaging a critical system on an American Airlines jet. Now at first he said it was because he wanted overtime pay to correct the damage. But what came out in court paints a far different picture. Rene Marsh reports.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In federal court, prosecutors said they found an ISIS propaganda video on Abdul- Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani's cell phone and that he shared it with someone else, saying he wished Allah would use "divine powers" to harm non Muslims.

The revelation about the 60-year-old airline mechanic came during a bond hearing where prosecutors argued to a judge that the alleged ISIS video and other disturbing connections should keep him behind bars until he goes to trial.

Alani is charged with willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft after prosecutors say he confessed to tampering with part of the navigation system of a Boeing 737.

The American Airlines jet with 150 people on board was moments away from takeoff from Miami International Airport on July 17th when pilots realized something was wrong and turned back.

Alani is now facing terror-related charges and when prosecutors charged him earlier this month, they said Alani told them he was upset about a labor dispute and that he had hoped to earn overtime for fixing the plane he had tampered with. His lawyer said he never meant to hurt anyone.


MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Whether or not this fellow was really involved with ISIS or not, now ISIS and other would-be terror groups have this possibility in mind.


MARSH (voice-over): Prosecutors did not say today if they believe Alani was motivated by ISIS but they did say he told a coworker that he traveled to Iraq to visit his brother, who he said was a member of ISIS. Alani's roommate said he traveled to Iraq because his brother had been kidnapped. [02:25:00]

MARSH (voice-over): The U.S. attorney on the case also told the judge that he had a news article sent to him from an unknown sender, referencing the Lion Air crash of a Boeing 737 MAX and that the article made specific references to the role of the plane's air data module system.

That is the same system Alani is accused of dismantling on the American Airlines flight. Tonight, critics are asking if federal authorities are doing enough to screen mechanics.


JUSTIN GREEN, AVIATION ATTORNEY: In terms of vetting, every mechanic has to have a clean criminal background. So they do a criminal search and they also do drug testing. But once you're behind the lines, once you're in the business, unless you show signs of something going wrong, you are kind of trusted.


MARSH (voice-over): An airline official tells CNN Alani was vetted before he was hired and nothing derogatory was found in his background check. But today prosecutors said Alani allegedly told federal agents that his actions were due to, quote, "his evil side."

MARSH: I spoke with an American Airlines official and they point out that this man has been an American Airlines employees since 1988. He undergoes recurring criminal background checks and nothing derogatory has come up in his background check.

He is not on any watchlist or on a no-fly list, so although prosecutors have presented these links to ISIS, they do not, at least not right now, have evidence that this mechanic was motivated by ISIS. Otherwise, the charges against him would reflect that. That said, charges can always be added -- Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Deep divisions at the U.S. Federal Reserve as it cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point for the second time in two months. Three of the 10 Fed officials rejected the move.

In a speech on Wednesday, Fed chairman Jerome Powell said there are still risks to the strong U.S. economy and he left the door open for another cut this year.

But President Trump wants rates at zero or negative.

And he tweeted this, "Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve fail again. No guts, no, sense no vision, a terrible communicator."

Still to come here on CNN, the last votes of the Israel elections are still being counted but some feel they are not really a part of this political process. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel also my identity as (INAUDIBLE) in Jerusalem is also like demolishing slowly and wiped -- is wiped out slowly.


CHURCH: And President Trump puts the brakes on California's tougher emission standards. The state's response when we come back.





CHURCH: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is apologizing after a photo emerged of him wearing brownface during a party at a private school where he taught in 2001. Mr. Trudeau says it was racist and dumb, and he should have known better. He's asking Canadians to forgive him as he faces a tight reelection bid in October.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls the attack on Saudi oil facilities an act of war, and says Iran will be held responsible regardless of who actually carried out the strikes. Tehran denied any involvement. But the Saudi military says debris recovered from the attack proves the missiles and drones were made in Iran. Israel's general election is still too close to call. The latest projection show Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party trailing Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party by one seat, and neither has the 61 seats needed to form a governing coalition.

Well, final election tallies are expected on Friday and if the results are as tight as expected, it may take weeks before Mr. Netanyahu or Gantz form a successful coalition government. And while we wait to see what happens, listen to these controversial remarks from the Prime Minister.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): After we established a right-wing bloc, only two options are left, either a government under my leadership or a dangerous government dependent on the Arab parties.


CHURCH: Well, despite Mr. Netanyahu's warnings, there was a surge in our voters in Tuesday's election. CNN's Becky Anderson spoke to an Israeli activist and a Palestinian entrepreneur living in East Jerusalem to gauge their reaction to these developments. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Palestinian authorities published an official announcement, and I quote, go out to vote to topple Netanyahu.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: These words from the Israeli Prime Minister on the eve of the vote. Earlier in the week, he claimed the Arabs tried to steal the last election. And a post from his Facebook messaging service said that Arabs, quote, want to annihilate us, end quote. Netanyahu said he did not authorize that. But scare tactics his critics say are part and parcel of his strategy, portraying the 2 million or so Arab citizens they say as enemies of the state.

Despite that, this election has seen a high turnout by Arab voters. I sat down with Israeli citizen Shaindy Ort and Adnan Jaber, an entrepreneur living in East Jerusalem to get their thoughts on what is behind that voter surge.

SHAINDY ORT, ISRAELI STUDENT ACTIVIST: The environment in Israel in general with so much hatred and so much racism, and the fact that the journalists unified and created a very, very clear statement that in this election, it's a fight for life. And it doesn't matter what your specific views are, but if you are against occupation, if you're against racism, if you're against (INAUDIBLE) you believe in equality, democracy and justice, you're going to vote for the journalist.

ANDERSON: And then you live in Jerusalem, you both live in Jerusalem, and yet you can't vote. Why?

ADNAN JABER, PALESTINIAN ENTREPRENEUR: Because I'm not resident of Israel, I'm not a citizen. I don't have the Israeli passport. I have a document, it's red color. It's called Israel travel document. I need a visa to go anywhere. And I can't vote for Israeli government, for the Knesset.

ORT: I think -- I mean, I think the apartheid reality that you're describing, I think this is why people who could vote went out and voted because I think a lot of people, including myself, who Israel is not a democracy, there is no democracy here, when millions of people who live under Israeli-controlled can't vote. That's not democracy. And yesterday was our celebration of democracy. And with this -- and with that, there still is a limited amount of people that do have the right to vote and those of us who are voting and are trying to vote with people like you in mind, hoping that one day there will be democracy, or hoping that one day we can vote --


ANDERSON: How do you feel about that? Will there be democracy here one day for you, Adnan?

JABER: I don't know how much time will it take to have this and who will force the democracy? Is it going to be Palestine, going to have the democracy for me in East Jerusalem or is it going to be Israel who's going to give me democracy in East Jerusalem. I still don't know.

ANDERSON: Adnan, do you feel valued by members of the Knesset who are Arabs?

JABER: I think that I'm not included in their agenda. I don't -- I don't hear anything much about me. And I can't do anything about this, as is just a night with the plan of Judaizing Jerusalem. I feel also my identity as Palestinian in Jerusalem is also like demolishing slowly and wipe -- is wiped out slowly.


ORT: And the current situation he's describing is -- it's worse than I could ever, ever imagine. I grew up in the United States, I live here in Israel today, and the things that me and my -- and all the activists and obviously the Palestinian activists that we're working with see every day are things I don't think most people sitting at home in the United States have any idea are happening in Jerusalem.

ANDERSON: How optimistic are you that things will change here?

JABER: I'm a hopeful person. I want to make impact. And I'm not waiting for any government to support me or stop me. I want to work towards improving people's lives. And that's what I'm going to keep on doing. As Palestinian in Jerusalem, I had to go through checkpoints every day to go study and -- for example, in Birzeit University, I had to cross checkpoints every day. I struggle, but I -- but I want to achieve something. I want to change the status quo. And that's how I -- how I live now. And that's what I want to do.

ORT: One thing I think, I've learned we can learn from the Joint List in terms of the future, in terms of optimism, in terms of a future reality that's better for all of us, and I think that the one thing that the Joint List does, it dismantles the entire structure of the current -- the current state of Israel relies on, and that is the division between Arabs and Jews and even with amongst different groups of Arabs and Jews constantly trying to incite hatred between people. Once you dismantle the idea that somehow there has to be a conflict in this land, I think that -- that's like my only hope then actually one day getting to a more peaceful and more better future.


CHURCH: And we thank Becky Anderson for filing that interview. Well, California leads the way in reducing emissions from cars and trucks, but President Trump is putting the brakes on that leadership. And critics say it could come at a big cost for drivers and the environment. California's defiant response, next. And a teenage climate activist delivers a blunt and powerful message to U.S. lawmakers, it's time to listen to science.


[02:40:13] CHURCH: California officials are calling President Trump's latest move desperate. The President announced he is revoking the state's authority to set its own tougher vehicle emission standards. They have been adopted by 13 other states and have become a nationwide standard by default because automakers don't design different vehicles for different states. As Nick Watt reports, it's the President's latest shot fired in his battle with California.


NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Even before President Trump announced this move in a Twitter flurry from his Los Angeles hotel, California officials said, Mr. Trump, we will see you in court. The background to this is since 1970, California has been allowed to set its own emission standard. That's because emission standards existed in California before there was even federal legislation in place, so they have a waiver. And around 13 states follow the Californian guidelines, as well as do a number of auto manufacturers.

But the problem for President Trump is, in his bed to try and roll back Obama-era environmental legislation, this California waiver is a little bit of a wrinkle. So, he has decided that that waiver will go away, but it is going to take years in the courts for this to be finally resolved. There is, of course, also a political aspect to this. The President is no fan of California, which is one of the most democratic-leaning states in the country. And also, there is this public feud that he is fighting with Governor of California, Gavin Newsom. Gavin Newsom said that Trump's move was quote a political vendetta and lambasted the president for trampling on state's rights and also not taking the climate change threat seriously. And doing this, removing this waiver purely to throw a bone to big oil. Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHURCH: Meantime, the United Nations is urging governments to make stronger pledges to cut emissions. The U.N. is convening a summit Monday that aims to boost support of the Paris Climate accord, which will start being implemented next year. Current emissions pledges are not enough to meet the accords target of keeping the global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, SECRETARY GENERAL, UNITED NATIONS: What do we expect from the commitments in the summit? We expect countries to commit to carbon neutrality in 2015. And there is already a meaningful number of countries that have done so, and I hope that in the summit there will be even more. And we can meet countries to present a strong -- and we will -- we have asked countries to present strong commitments in relation to the improvement of the national determined contributions as defined in the context of the Paris Agreement, and that are supposed to be reviewed in 2020 according to the Paris Agreement.


CHURCH: A-16-year-old Swedish climate activists will attend that summit after a busy week in Washington. But first, Greta Thunberg brought her message to Congress. She is the founder of Fridays for Future, the weekly school walkouts to demand climate change action from governments. Bill Weir has more on her appearance on Capitol Hill, Wednesday.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: She is by far the smallest human in these committee rooms, but everybody is leaning in to hear every soft-spoken syllable. I have met her recently, she admitted that her Asperger's diagnosis is a kind of a superpower on the subject. It allows her mind to stay super focused on this topic. And because she doesn't care what other people think about her, this unflinching ability to speak truth to power. And we saw it today in a setting normally reserved for snappy sound bites and bloviating opening statements. This is how Greta began.

GRETA THORNBURG, CLIMATE ACTIVIST: I am submitting this report as my testimony because I don't want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to the scientists. And I want you to unite behind the science. And then, I want you to take real action.

WEIR: It's so incredible when you realize it's been less than a year since she was inspired by the kids at Parkland who walked out of school to demand gun reform. She plopped down in front of Parliament, within four months, she was scolding some of the richest most powerful people from the U.N. to the World Economic Forum in Davos to speak to the U.N. General Assembly next week as well. She inspired about 1.4 million kids to walk out of school last March. They're expected to at least double that on Friday.



CHURCH: What an inspiration she is. And Thunberg is so committed to reducing emissions, instead of flying to the states, she sailed across the Atlantic on a zero-emissions sailboat. Incredible.

Well, the World Health Organization, says more than a million people in India die every year because of tobacco products. And India is the second-largest consumer of tobacco in the world.

As a way to stop smoking, many people turn to electronic cigarettes or vaping. But now, questions over the safety of vaping are being raised. So, India has decided to ban not regular tobacco products but e-cigarettes.

The manufacturing transport sale and advertisement of them could result in fines and possible jail time. Well, India is not alone. Some 39 countries have banned the sale of e-cigarettes or nicotine liquids.

In the United States, at least, seven people have died after getting sick from vaping. And study showed the use of vape products is on the rise among teenagers.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains the difference between vaping and smoking and how each affects your body.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Juuls, vapes, pens -- they're all e-cigarettes -- electronic nicotine delivery systems. Some say there are safer alternative to smoking, others say they represent a new hazard. But what really is the difference between vaping and smoking?

Well, when you light up a cigarette, you're burning a mix of tobacco leaves and hundreds of other ingredients. At that moment, you create more than 7,000 chemicals. Some of which are known to cause cancer. Others are simply toxic.

E-cigarettes work by heating a solution, sometimes known as vape juice or e-liquid, into a vapor. It's usually nicotine or cannabis mixed with added flavorings -- thickeners, and other chemicals.

Now, some of those additives, like the flavorings are considered to be generally safe to eat by the FDA, but we don't know if they're safe to inhale. And that's a critical point.

Breathing in these chemicals instead of eating them could have very different effects on the body that we still don't fully understand. Also, when inhaling this heated aerosol, these substances could cause irritation and even inflammation in your lungs.

Unlike cigarettes, vaping doesn't leave behind the same tarry tobacco residue that contributes to lung or throat cancer. But they do contain nicotine salts. That's a concentrated form of the highly addictive substance.

In fact, just one small pod can deliver as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. And the CDC says vapors may also be inhaling heavy metals, like nickel or lead.

So, just how dangerous are e-cigarettes? Well, it's difficult to say. That's because it's early days, and there still isn't a lot of data. Scientists are now studying potential links between vaping and lung disease, vaping and seizures, and vaping's impact on addiction.

But remember, it took decades of data on smoking before we knew the real dangers of cigarettes, and it may be decades more before we know what e-cigarettes do to the body.


CHURCH: Well, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson got an earful Wednesday while visiting a hospital in London. He was confronted by an angry father, who says his seven-day old daughter nearly died because of staff shortages.

He told the prime minister what he thought about the current state of the country's National Health Service and how it's affected treatment for patients.


OMAR SALEM, PARENT OF SICK CHILD: There was one registrar covering -- one registrar covering the entirety of this ward and the neonatal unit. That is just not acceptable, is it?

Would you like that for your own children? There are not enough people on this ward, there are not enough doctors, there's not enough nurses, it's not well organized enough.


SALEM: The NHS has been destroyed, it's been destroyed, it's been destroyed. And now you come there for a press opportunity.

JOHNSON: Well, actually there's no press here.

SALEM: What do you mean there's no press here! Who are these people?


CHURCH: Well, as Brexit looms over Europe, a Japanese retail giant is warning of chaos as it tries to navigate the economic challenges that Brexit would raise. We're back with that and more in just a moment.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, Hurricane Humberto is taking its toll on Bermuda. And you can see in these pictures the effect of the wind there. This along with heavy rain from the storm have been hitting the island.

Some 28,000 customers are without power. And that means 80 % of Bermuda has no electricity at this time. So, let's turn to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, who joins us from the international weather center.

Pedram, talk to us about the impact so far and how bad this may get?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: OK, you know, it's the worst of it for right now when it comes to Humberto. It has skirted about 100 kilometers or so to the west of the island. But still, such an impactful system, such a large feature that it impacted the island quite significantly.

But, I want to show you another area of interest here when it comes to incredible tropical disturbances. This is just the tropical depression that has parked in place the last couple of days across the eastern corner there of the state of Texas.

Flood watches, flood warnings have been prompted as a result. The amount of rainfall is absolutely staggering across this region of a very densely populated Texas and Houston metro area. Because look at this, upwards of a half a meter has come down since Monday across portions of Texas. 190 millimeters in Houston's Hobby Airport. And, of course, as you have tropical systems come ashore, you often get some of that friction associated with these storms that spin up several tornadoes.

And as a result, three reports of tornadoes across the Houston metro as well. And images looking quite like this here as the tornadoes touched down in around that region.

We want to show you what is in store moving forward with this particular storm system because certainly, the flood concern remains high, and the system still very slowly pushes out of this region and brings potentially another 200 plus millimeters of rainfall.

And when you take a look at a city like Houston, we know, of course, it is a concrete jungle. In fact, go back since the 1950s, the city has expanded in size by 650 percent in its urban environment.

And when you get rainfall on a soil area, of course, a lot of that gets absorbed into the soil. But in a city like Houston, we get rainfall on top of concrete that becomes a major flooding concern, which is exactly where we stand across that region.

Now, farther out into the Atlantic, there is Humberto, skirting by Bermuda. I want to leave you with some of the images here, as far as, what has occurred. Because again, 100 kilometers away from land when it pushed to the west of the island. But wind gusts across the island as much as almost 200 kilometers per hour.

So, really speaks to the significance of this particular storm because, if you can imagine, if this was much, much closer to land, the destruction, the damage would be far more significant than what we saw with its skirting the island over the past a couple of days.

And there is, of course, another tropical system. This is Jerry. Forecast models do take this north of Antigua over the next couple of days. But, at this point, a little sharp turn here. But you think sometime around Saturday into Sunday, potentially pushes away from the Turks and Caicos in the Bahamas. But look at Bermuda once again in the path of potentially another system. Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right, thank you so much, Pedram, for keeping a very close eye on all of that. Appreciate it.

JJAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: One of the world's richest business leaders is warning that Brexit is practically impossible. He says it's hurting the U.K.'s reputation for being an open economy and that could prompt talented people to look elsewhere. CNN's Simon Cullen has the interview.


SIMON CULLEN, CNN FIELD PRODUCER: Tadashi Yanai is Japan's richest man. A household name in the global retail industry, he leads clothing empire Fast Retailing, which includes Uniqlo. London has a special place in the company's history, it's where the first store opened outside of Japan. But a lot has changed in the past 18 years. The U.K. is now in a very different position as it struggles to navigate our way through the economic and political challenges caused by Brexit.

TADASHI YANAI, FOUNDER, FAST RETAILING (through translator): I think Brexit is practically impossible because the old borders will be shaky, and the U.K. has a Northern Ireland issue and the Scotland issue.

Therefore, I think Brexit is difficult to realize, even if the U.K. wants to do it.


CULLEN: If it's not a possibility, would it be better for the business community for Brexit to be canceled?

YANAI: Well, if Brexit does happen, the U.K. could revert back to the former situation before the Margaret Thatcher era, when the U.K. was referred to as the sick man of Europe. I'm afraid that could happen again.

CULLEN: And he's worried about what impact this would have on U.K. shoppers.

YANAI: I do not think it's good for U.K. consumers. London and the U.K. have been such open markets. That's why the U.K. can lure a lot of talented individuals from around the world. These people would leave.

CULLEN: Despite the uncertainty, Uniqlo remains committed to the U.K. It's a long-term perspective, Tadashi Yanai says. He also has grand ambitions for where the company is positioning itself as a leader on climate change.

YANAI: Environmental issues are the most important current issue in the business world. This is the common issue for all companies. And unless we can solve this issue, there is no meaning to run a business.

CULLEN: Is it possible for Uniqlo or Fast Retailing to be zero- emissions?

YANAI: I believe that should be doable in the future. And we have to do it in a hurry. Otherwise, the environment on Earth is in imminent danger.

CULLEN: Now at 70 years of age, Tadashi Yanai is beginning to talk publicly about his successor. He says it makes sense for a woman to take over his role as chief executive.

YANAI: Female leaders tend to be more talented individuals. Female leaders are better suited to do apparel retail business. And I expect to see more female leaders in business management. Women have a better ability to adapt when getting into the global market. CULLEN: A transition, he believes, that will help strengthen the company as it seeks to expand its reach in China and the U.S.

Simon Cullen, CNN, London.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter, and I'll be back in just a moment with more news for you. You're watching CNN. Do stick around.


CHURCH: Political scandal in Canada. The prime minister forced to apologize for an offensive photo just weeks before his re-election bid.

Saudi Arabia's elaborate show-and-tell, presenting evidence to the world that the weapons used to attack their oil facilities were made in Iran.