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Trump Declares His Syria Policy A Great Success; Trump Lifts U.S. Sanctions Against Turkey; British Police Investigating After 39 Bodies Found In A Truck; Republicans Storm Pentagon Official's Deposition; Polls Show Support For Impeachment Growing; Kim Jong-un Blasts Condition of North Korea Resort; Pres. Morales Claims Coup Underway after Elections; Mystery Oil Spill Affects Dozens of Brazil's Beaches. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired October 24, 2019 - 01:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everybody. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Studio Seven at CNN's world headquarters. Ahead this hour, call it the Trump doctrine. As evidence mounts of Kurdish victims of war crimes, the U.S. President declares a great outcome in Syria.

Mass murder in the back of a truck. Mystery surrounds the dozens of dead bodies found in an abandoned lorry just outside London.

And possibly peak hypocrisy. Congressional Republicans storming a secure room of the U.S. Capitol demanding more access and transparency into an impeachment hearing. Access which plenty of those lawmakers already have.

As the U.S. President announced a permanent ceasefire in Syria, he said the end of the fighting between Turkey and the Kurds was a great outcome. U.S. forces are no longer in the direct firing line. Russia increases its footprint in the Middle East. Turkey gets its safe zone and U.S. sanctions are lifted. And it seems the Kurds get to be victims of brutality and mounting to war crimes. More on that at the moment.

They were the staunch American allies, partners in a long bloody fight against ISIS. But when the President unexpectedly announced America's retreat from northern Syria, Kurdish fighters were left to fend for themselves. The special U.S. envoy for Syria told Congress the Turkey invasion was a tragic disaster for the Kurds. There's growing evidence, many have been victims of war crimes committed by Turkish backed militias.


JAMES JEFFREY, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SYRIA: We haven't seen any widespread ethnic cleansing in that area. Since the Turks have come in, many people fled because they're very concerned about these Turkish supported Syrian opposition forces as are we.

We've seen several incidents which we consider war crimes. But we have as part of the agreement with Turkey specific language on the proper care of civilians and are monitoring responsibility that we have to work with the Turks to ensure that exactly that doesn't happen in that area.


VAUSE: Meantime, the Ukraine scandal continues to deepen around the Trump White House, even as Donald Trump declares his Syrian policy a huge success. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has our report.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This was an outcome created by us, the United States and nobody else.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Today President Trump took credit for a ceasefire in Syria, while announcing the U.S. will lift sanctions he imposed on Turkey.

TRUMP: Let someone else fight over this long bloodstained sand.

COLLINS: Trump imposed those sanctions after Turkey invaded northern Syria days after he decided to pull U.S. forces from the area, leaving Syrian Kurds and longtime American allies unprotected.

TRUMP: So the sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we're not happy with.

COLLINS: Trump says the ceasefire will save Kurdish lives even though just yesterday, Russia and Turkey agreed on a plan to push Syrian Kurdish fighters out of the region they want occupied.

TRUMP: Other countries have stepped forward. They want to help. And we think that's great.

COLLINS: The President also claimed that ISIS fighters who have escaped from Kurdish-run prisons have been largely recaptured.

TRUMP: A small number relatively speaking.

COLLINS: But as top envoy to Syria disputed that just hours earlier.

JEFFREY: Which the number is now over 100. We do not know where they are.

COLLINS: Trump ignored CNN's question about the discrepancy today.

Mr. President, you said that the ISIS fighters who escapes have been recaptured. But today your top envoy said that's not true, that they don't know where they are. Do you have a comment?

Today the President took no questions on Syria or the high stakes Impeachment Inquiry. Did you tell President Zelensky to publicly announced the

investigations, Mr. President?

His silence coming after he dismissed his top diplomat in Ukraine's testimony, quoting a Republican who claimed to Bill Taylor didn't say Ukrainians were aware that military aid was being withheld. Taylor testified that he was told a top aide to the Ukrainian President delivered a message making clear that it was.

Trump now saying the impeachment inquiry is dead, but members of his own party sound unsure, including the second-ranking Republican leader in this Senate who said the picture emerging from Taylor's testimony is not a good one.

Now the President's next line of defense was to accuse that top diplomat in Ukraine, Bill Taylor, of being a never-Trumper even though we should note that Bill Taylor is a West Point graduate, a Vietnam veteran, and someone who was recruited by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to return to that position. Though Pompeo has not issued any statement or respond in any way to what it was the President said about Taylor. Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.



VAUSE: For almost three years now, many have been asking how would President Trump cope when confronted by a real international crisis. That moment may have arrived, but it seems no one predicted that the crisis would be the result of the President's own doing.

Analysts, experts, retired generals, armchair generals have all made the point that apart from Turkey, the biggest winners from U.S. forces withdrawing from northern Syria have been Russia, Syria, Iran, and ISIS. One single decision by the President of the United States has benefited three major adversaries and a global terror group.

And before Monday's cabinet meeting, the Commander in Chief explained how he reached this decision which turned out to be of such consequence.


TRUMP: My largest cheer that night was two things. We're building the wall. That's number one. And number two and probably tied for number one was we're bringing our soldiers back home. That was our largest cheer in Dallas. When I said we're bringing our soldiers back home, the place went crazy. But within the Beltway, you know, people don't like it.


VAUSE: To Washington now and Josh Rogan, CNN Political Analysts and Columnist for The Washington Post. Good to see you again, Josh.

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Likewise. VAUSE: OK, have we now reach the point that American foreign policy

is being decided by what gets the loudest cheer in a Trump campaign rally?

ROGIN: Unfortunately, that seems to be where we are, and President Trump is saying it pretty clearly. And, you know, this has always been attention and U.S. foreign policy between political imperatives of whoever holds the office of president and the real national security needs of the United States and its allies.

But it used to be a bad thing. It used to be a situation where the President would try to deny that politics were influencing foreign policy or at least minimize that influence. And President Trump is embracing and bragging about it and we see the results.

And you know, when the United States pulls out of Syria, that may, in fact, be a political win for the president with his base the -- he may be right about the politics, but the consequences for national security are very dire.

VAUSE: And foreign policies are one of the few areas where a president can actually do stuff. I guess that's part of the appeal for Donald Trump. But what happens as he sort of views foreign policy through the lens of a domestic election, as we get closer to that election? What do you think?

ROGIN: Right. Well, it's interesting because if you look at the polling, not a lot of voters actually vote on foreign policy. It's very marginal issue, actually, when it comes to presidential decision making. Nevertheless, you're exactly right. This is something President Trump feels he can control. It's a campaign promise he feels he can fulfill.

And now that we see that he's done it on Syria and challenge the entire establishment and succeeded, we can expect that he'll feel only more empowered and more emboldened to do more. And so what the people inside the beltway that President Trump talks about are looking for next is that the prospect that he could withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, maybe surprise -- in a snap decision and not even tell anybody in the military advance. You see the bureaucrats scrambling to prepare for that.

VAUSE: You wrote about that in your column in the Washington Post. Here's part of it. "Several officials have told you that Trump has stops losing much less heeding the advice of large parts of the national security bureaucracy when making big decisions. That's why the Pentagon is scrambling to devise plans for a rapid U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, just in case Trump blindsides the military."

So you know, this explains, for example, why the U.S. is sending more troops to support a misogynist regime responsible for murdering journalist who wrote for an American newspaper that'd be Saudi Arabia, while betraying an ally, which was building a democratic society committed to empowering women. You know, there is zero consistency in all of this. ROGIN: The only consistency is that what gets Trump cheers at his rally crowds and that's really what he's aiming for. And for some reason, Trump is OK with the president making excuses for Saudi Arabia, but not OK with U.S. military intervention in Syria. That's not a rational calculation, it's a political calculation.

You know, this has been a long struggle between the President and the GOP foreign policy establishment including members of his own administration. And for years, there was this tension between the people who wanted to focus on national security and the people who want to focus on politics.

That's gone. The politics people have won out. And the most Stark example of this, of course, is the Ukraine example where we see unfolding before our eyes, the impeachment saga -- in the impeachment saga, the fact that the President chose to have Ukraine policy that benefited him politically and damage the United States' national security and that of our ally. After that, anything is possible.

VAUSE: But that has been moved by Republicans, you know, to condemn the president that, you know, the lower house pass a resolution condemning him over this year, cut and run and leaving the Kurds to the mercy of Turkey. Mitch McConnell, who's the leader of the Senate, the Republican, he wants to send it to go even further than the condemnation which was passed by the lower house. Here he is.



SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): My own view is that this is a good time to go beyond just Eastern Syria, and also express ourselves on the inappropriateness drawing down in Afghanistan, like President Obama did in Iraq, which clearly was a mistake and cause the rise of ISIS in that area.


VAUSE: At the end of the day, the question is, does any of this have an impact on an out of control president who's refusing to be controlled?

ROGIN: I think, but not the impact that Mitch McConnell wants it to have. I mean, here we have the senior GOP establishment defending the party's traditional foreign policy agenda. And it's going away and Trump is taking that away from them and they know it.

And every time they do it, it only makes Trump more angry. And if you looked at the President's twitter feed today, all you saw him doing was criticizing, "never-Trump Republicans," even the ones inside of his own administration. And you know, the President is -- for him, it's all about his own personal status and his own personal legacy.

So the more they push back against him, the more determined he is to stand his ground. And so, yes, I think Mitch McConnell and the rest of them are trying to insert a little bit of traditional Republican foreign policy thinking back into the equation, but it's not working and the president shows zero sign that he's being persuaded by them at all.

VAUSE: Josh, we're out of time, but good to have you. Thank you. Good to see you.

ROGIN: Likewise.

VAUSE: British police are trying to solve a horrific mystery, 39 bodies found in a truck's container outside London. The victims have not been identified nor where they come from. All were adults though except for one who may be a teenager.

This could be linked to human trafficking, but there's been no confirmation about that from police. The container arrived in England Wednesday morning from a Belgian port city. An ambulance crew found a vehicle about an hour later in an industrial park in Essex about 30 kilometers east of London and called police.

The truck's driver has been arrested on suspicion of murder. One local official identified him as 25-year-old Maurice Robinson of Northern Ireland. With that, we'll take a short break. House Republicans struggling to defend their president against the impeachment, so attack the process with a big stunt on Capitol Hill, but did it backfire? More on that in a moment.

Also ahead, dangerous mess on some of Brazil's most beautiful beaches with this oily black sludge. Where did it come from? Who's to blame? More of those details too.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Let's talk a little weather, Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. Quiet conditions across the eastern United States, there was a front on approach here, much cooler air back behind it, and enough cooler air with moisture in place into the Intermountain West where significant snowfall forecast in some of these areas.

But notice, there's some heavy rainfall that we had across portions of Oklahoma on into a Dallas area. And then beyond this, you'll notice plenty of golf moisture gets in train into the frontier and heavy rain becomes really the predominant theme from areas around Nashville, Tennessee down towards New Orleans, Louisiana. Some of these amounts could exceed some 250 or more millimeters which certainly would lead to flooding across the region.

And again, you get up into the higher elevations of the West, we're talking 45 or more centimeters of snow. So the skiing activity here quite a pickup and intensity over the next couple of weeks as the holidays quickly approach.

But notice this. Back towards the western United States, fire weather threat extremely high yet again across the region. Not only are humidities between 10 to 20 percent, but the winds are tropical storm force in a few spots. So you put that together and we have red flag warnings in place widespread across portions of Arizona, Nevada, and California as well.

In fact, look at the offshore winds in Los Angeles, highs climbing into the 30s the next couple of days before some cooler air finally filters in towards the region. In Dallas, 23 degrees, Chicago about 11, down towards Managua, highs there around 31.


VAUSE: Without actual facts to use to defend Donald Trump against impeachment, House Republicans turned to a little theatrics. On Wednesday, they forced their way into a closed-door deposition on Capitol Hill, a symbolic protest they said in the name of transparency and openness. It was also a made for television stunt. Here's CNN's Manu Raju.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then we're going to try to go in there and we're going to try to figure out what's going on --

MANU RAJU, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House Republicans today stormed the closed-door impeachment hearings.

After damning testimony revealed that President Trump may have stalled vital military aid to Ukraine in exchange for help with his reelection prospects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a sham and it's time for it to end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is happening here is not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does Adam Schiff trying to hide?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a total political hit job on the President of the United States.

RAJU: Roughly two dozen lawmakers taking part and refusing to leave, some even flouting House rules by carrying electronics into the secure space. As one Republican member screamed at House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff. Democratic Congressman Val Demings responded, shouting at Republicans and asked if they were trying to teach their children that it's OK to lie, steal, and cheat so long as you don't get caught? Leaving the hearing room, Republicans argued the process wasn't fair, saying the GOP is being kept in the dark. But republicans are involved. The ones who sit on the committees can ask questions and attend the hearings.

Few GOP members would talk about the damning testimony from Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who testified that U.S. ambassador to the E.U., Gordon Sondland, told him that President Trump held up U.S. military aid to Ukraine until that country agreed to reopen an investigation into the Bidens and the 2016.

(INAUDIBLE) Brooks, the opening statement says very clearly, this is not -- this is what --

REP. MO BROOKS (R-AL): The opening statement doesn't make any difference.

RAJU: Hold on. Let me -- let me finish what I'm saying. Let me finish my question. He says very clearly that --

BROOKS: You should not be relying on it. If you're --

RAJU: Why? Why should I not be relying on his public testimony?

BROOKS: If you're in a court of law -- if you were in a court of law, would you rely just on the opening statement of an attorney?

RAJU: Democrats called a protest a stunt to distract from Taylor's testimony.

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): It's a pathetic stunt. It's going to -- all of this is going to be forgotten very soon, because the real story is, what did the President do and why, and the harm that it's done to our national security.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Our Republican colleagues evidently have freaked out because they have nothing substantive to say about that. They're not denying it in any way, they're just trying to avoid it. And so, instead, they attacked the committee process of Congress. It's really a pathetic show on their part.

RAJU: GOP leaders stuck to the White House line, insisting there was no quid pro quo. Based on a rough transcript, the White House released of a July phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nowhere in that phone call is there a quid pro quo? Did the President ask just as America does every day to work on different cases?

RAJU: Now, Kevin McCarthy also said there's no quid pro quo because there's actually nothing exchange from the Ukrainian. He said, name me one thing that Ukraine did to release the money? Nothing. That's essentially a new line of argument that we're starting to hear from Republicans in the aftermath of that Taylor testimony. Now, also today in federal court, there was a setback for the Trump administration. The State Department ordered to turn over documents within 30 days to a watchdog group who had been suing for records, communications between the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Rudy Giuliani.


Now, Democrats on Capitol Hill have sought those same records, issued subpoenas. The State Department has not complied, Rudy Giuliani has not complied. But under a separate law, there -- this group is seeking those records. We'll see if they ultimately get compliance because that could add some more fuel to the Democrats' impeachment push if those records ultimately become public. Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Ron Brownstein is CNN's Senior Political Analyst and the

senior editor for the Atlantic. He's with us from Los Angeles. Ron, thanks for coming in.


VAUSE: Yes, so in case you missed it, the message from the Republicans, it's -- well, here it is. One more time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a sham and it's time for it to end.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is happening here is not fair.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does Adam Schiff trying to hide?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a total political hit job on the President of the United States.


VAUSE: Yes, this is unfair, opaque process. It's all being held in the shadows. Except a number of outlets have done the reporting on this. 48 Republican lawmakers sit on the three committees holding these hearings. So, they are allowed to participate in the impeachment process. On Tuesday, a press release from the Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz demanding increased transparency and inclusion. Listen, all GOP lawmakers who will be part of the sit in, the Washington Post reports 13 Republicans are on that list, members of the committees who have access to the impeachment hearings.

And lastly, a week ago, Republican Congressman Mark Meadows, a staunch Trump defender told you that the unlimited time he gets with witnesses the unlimited number of questions again from The Post, he told them, "Oh, yes, of the witnesses? Oh, we have, yes. You just keep going until you wear out." Meadows has attended all but one session according the Post. He said this on a break, Tuesday night. This is not your garden variety for hypocrisy. It seems like Republican lawmakers, or many of them, have crossed the Rubicon trying to defend the President.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, you know, I think viewers around the world who have, you know, experience with countries that theoretically have fewer democratic safeguards and structures underpinning their democracy, then we thought we had in America, would recognize what we're seeing. I mean, this is being played largely as farce. But I think it's something much more ominous than that. I mean, it shows house -- you know, a substantial coalescing of House Republicans toward Trump-like strategies and Trump-like behavior, which is essentially to try to discredit any institution that you see as a threat.

And this is an extraordinary escalation, I think, of partisan warfare to, you know, barge into a secure classified space to do so with cell phones in clear violation of House rules. And to do so with the goal of making this appear so partisan, so chaotic, that viewers and voters will tune it out. I mean, I think this is more a scary moment than a funny moment.

VAUSE: The President had demanded Republicans step up their defense of him. He got that. Bloomberg is reporting that he knew ahead of time that the sit-in and the storming of the barricades would actually take place. But here's the thing, during the sit-in, 13 Republican lawmakers spoke publicly, but none of them defended the President when it came to the issue, the heart of the impeachment process that, you know, this attempt by Trump to push Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and withholding military aid as leverage. They didn't go anywhere near it.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, well, it reminds me a little bit of the moment during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings when Lindsey Graham kind of turned around the -- you know, the testimony from his accuser, by basically saying, it really doesn't matter what she said. It's us against them. It's shirts against skins, it's tribal. And that's, I think, what the President is trying to do here. I mean, he is, you know, with the -- with the willing acquiescence of House Republicans. He is trying to basically make this into -- this is Democrats trying to undo our President as a way of consolidating rank and file Republican opposition to his impeachment and then making it tougher for Senate Republicans who are really the ultimate audience here to consider breaking from him if and when I think now the question after Bill Taylor's testimony is only when, when impeachment reaches that.

VAUSE: You know, one of the key lines of defense by Trump and his defenders has been, you know, no quid pro quo because Ukrainian officials they didn't -- they were not aware that the military aid was being withheld. So, how could it be leverage if they didn't know about it? Headline for the New York Times in the past couple of hours: "Ukraine Knew Of Aid Freeze by Early August, Undermining Trump Defense."

To me, the bigger picture here seems to be everything that went right for the president and his supporters when they went to war over the Mueller report and the Russia investigation. This time, everything is going wrong and the mojo is not there. It's not working bit by bit. It all seems to be falling apart.

BROWNSTEIN: Well, the evidence, you know, that they seem to be collecting and we are only seeing, you know, scraping the surface of it and what has been made public so far, seems to be devastating. Certainly, the testimony from Ambassador Taylor yesterday could not -- it's almost inconceivable to imagine anything more damaging other than attacks from the President to himself. You know, it is as clear a quid pro quo as you can get from a source that is really as unimpeachable as you can get, someone who served in presidents of both parties, who fought for the country in Vietnam, who's been in Afghanistan, who's been in -- you know, served in Iraq. It's an unimpeachable source really with an indefensible story.


And I think it leaves the Republicans, you know, in a position of either saying, we -- either we don't believe all of this evidence, which is really, you know, not a -- not a plausible (INAUDIBLE) or perhaps, that we don't believe it rises to the level of an impeachable offense. But, of course, this is not an impeachable offense as many people have argued what is.

VAUSE: What is. And a lot of people talking about that opinion it seems, the latest opinion poll, another one Quinnipiac shows support for impeachment and removal from office has surged 48 percent now say Donald Trump should be impeached and removed after 11 points in a month. 46 percent say he should not be impeached. This is interesting, the approval ratings for Donald Trump taking a hit. Only 38 percent approval, 58 percent disapprove. Will the President going to be more concerned though about the hit to his personal approval ratings as opposed to the impeachment numbers?

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, actually, that's a very, very (AUDIO GAP) point in time. This is a -- this is a bit of an outlier, obviously, and having him at a 58 percent disapproval, which is the highest they have ever had in his presidency and higher than we've seen in other polling. You know, I think opinion -- First of all, in the CNN poll, in the Gallup poll, even in the Fox poll, they hit 50 percent of Americans saying they believe he should not only be impeached or removed from office. So, people are respective on that. For Bill Clinton, it never got higher than about 35 percent in Gallup polling. For Richard Nixon, it only reached 50 percent in saying he should be removed once in the very last poll before he left office and resigning in August 1974.

So, we're talking about a pretty high number at this point, and it's converging with that approval rating, where you've got essentially 95 percent at this point of people who say they approve of his performance, saying he should not be impeached or removed, and 85 to 90 percent of those, depending on the poll who disapprove of his performance saying (INAUDIBLE). The importance of that is that even if he survives, you know, one of the cornerstones of the Trump vision -- campaign vision how to win in 2020, was that they were going to convince people who disapproved of him to vote for him anyway because they dislike the Democrats even more. If you believe that his behavior has been so egregious that he should be impeached and removed from office, it's going to be awful hard for Donald Trump to go back and talk to those voters in 2020. Even if he survived and convinced them that he deserves another four years.

VAUSE: We finally found out what would shake that Trump support, that rock solid support for so long. It looks like it's, at least in this poll, it's moving in the other direction for the President. Ron, thanks so much, appreciate you (INAUDIBLE)


BROWNSTEIN: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: With yet another report detailing widespread malnutrition in North Korea, Kim Jong-un, the (INAUDIBLE) seemed more concerned about the shabby conditions at one of his resorts.



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back everybody. I'm John Vause with an update on our top news this hour.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will no longer impose sanctions on Turkey after it announced a halt to its offensive against Syrian Kurds. Donald Trump calls it a great outcome.

But the U.S. special envoy to Syria gave Congress a grim assessment. James Jeffrey says the Turkish-backed fighters have committed war crimes against the Kurds.

British police trying to retrace the journey of a truck found with 39 bodies outside London. Many politicians are linking the case to human trafficking but police have not confirmed that. Police arrested the driver on suspicion of murder. A local officials identified him as 25-year-old Morris Robinson from Northern Ireland.

Chaos on Capitol Hill as dozens of House Republicans forced their way into a closed-door impeachment deposition. They were demanding more transparency but other Republicans are already part of the committee investigating President Trump (INAUDIBLE) its legal investigation from Ukraine.

What's seen as a symbol of inter-Korean cooperation will soon be heading to demolition. North Korea's Kim Jong-un has ordered all hotels built by South Korea at one resort to be torn down describing them as being like tents in a disaster zone.

And while Kim redecorates, a new report has found that nearly half of North Korea's population, 11 million people are malnourished.

CNN's Brian Todd has details.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kim Jong-un on a tear. The dictator not pleased police with the state of disrepair at his famed Mt. Kumgang resort, a once posh hideaway featuring gorgeous canyon, spectacular waterfalls, and beaches.

Maybe it was the public presence for the first time in several months of his alluring wife Ri Sol-ju that got him anxious on this visit. Kim compared Mt. Kumgang to a refugee camp. His news agency saying the buildings were quote "built like makeshift tents in a disaster- stricken area" and ordering that property be spruced up.

MARCUS NOLAND, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS. Kim Jong-un likes fancy things. He's built a ski resort. He's built amusement park. And so he has a sort of standard of luxury that he's familiar with.

TODD: A standard that has gone by the wayside at Mt. Kumgang. It was once the crown jewel of joint cooperation between North and South Korea. Built with a lot of South Korean resources, South Korean tourists would flock to the retreat until 2008, when a South Korean tourist was killed.

NOLAND: The lady woke up one morning. She went wandering down the beach and apparently she wandered too far and was shot and killed by a North Korean sentry.

TODD: At which point South Korea banned its citizens from going there. Kim so upset over the state of Mt. Kumgang, he said the almost unthinkable -- criticizing the quote, "very wrong dependent policy of the predecessors", an implicit jab at his late father Kim Jong-il who initiated the Mt. Kumgang project in 1998.

NOLAND: He's feeling very confident. And to take on this new title to implicitly criticize his father's development strategy. There is definitely a sense that he's building himself up, as perhaps the most important person in North Korea since his grandfather, the founder of the country.

TODD: This as the U.N. top human rights monitor for North Korea has issued a scathing report saying nearly half of Kim's people are undernourished.

GREG SCARLATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: They will do anything it takes to find food for themselves and their families during the worst slump (ph) in North Korea. They ate weeds and the bark of trees. If that's what it takes, they will steal. They're desperate.

TODD: While Kim spent hundreds of millions on the development of nuclear warheads, submarine launch missiles and other delivery systems, the U.N. says jarringly that because of the food crisis 30,000 North Korean children face an increased risk of death.

SCARLATOIU: This is the regime that he (INAUDIBLE) in high-rise risk (ph), nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and now yes, recently high- class resorts -- all they bring in the eyes of Kim Jong-un is more prestige for the regime at the expense of sacrificing the people of North Korea.


TODD: The U.N. human rights report doesn't only slam Kim's regime for the malnourishment of his people, it's also critical of the regime for its system of so-called peer-monitoring where citizens are forced to spy on neighbors and coworkers, report them for the tiniest or even made-up infraction which often leads to intimidation, imprisonment, even execution.

We reached out to North Korea's mission at the U.N. for response to the new U.N. report, we never heard back.

Brian Todd, CNN -- Washington.


VAUSE: Chaos has gripped Bolivia with protesters on the streets after the sitting president, Evo Morales, claimed victory in recent elections. And now he alleges a coup is underway.


EVO MORALES, PRESIDENT OF BOLIVIA (through translator): I've called this press conference to denounce before Bolivia and the whole world, a coup is underway. Although I want to tell you we already knew it was coming. The right has been preparing for a coup with international support.

Some confused young people, some confused sector should not be strung along by untrue messages on social networks.


VAUSE: Morales' political rival Carlos Mesa meanwhile is calling the election process a fraud. The results so far look tight.

CNN's Matt Rivers explains uncounted ballots could ultimately make or break Morale's hold on power.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He says that when the remaining two and a half percent of the vote which is going to come from the countryside comes in, it's going to push him over a 10 percentage point lead and that is key because if he doesn't lead Carlos Mesa by 10 percentage or more, it would force a December runoff. And that is what analysts are telling us he is afraid of because were it just an election between Carlos Mesa and Evo Morales -- right now there's other candidates -- but if there was a united opposition there's a very strong chance that Morales could lose.

And so that's why he saying this election is correct. This was done right. And he's hoping to get over that 10 point percentage threshold.


VAUSE: In Chile, a horrifying moment which was captured on camera. As protesters gathered in central Chile, an adult and a four-year-old child were run down by a car and killed. So far 18 people have died during protests across the country.

And in the capital of Santiago, police fired water cannon and tear gas and a curfew has been extended for the fifth straight night. Demonstrations began last week after the metro fares were raised and have gone to include other issues as well, it often does. Chile's president is promising economic reforms.

Black sludge polluting the scenic beaches of Brazil. What locals are doing to clean up this mess? But the bigger question -- who is responsible?


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VAUSE: A dark, oily sludge is washing up on the shores of nine states in Brazil ruining some of the country's most beautiful features and killing marine life.


VAUSE: Officials believe it's all from an oil spill but as CNN's Shasta Darlington reports, Brazil's president believes it could be an attempt to sabotage the nation's oil development.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The thick, black sludge is a struggle to remove, sticky and viscous. A sudden arrival of oil sits stubbornly on beaches like these, polluting nearly 2,000 kilometers of Brazil's shores.

Since September, hundreds of tons of oil have been washing up on the country's northeast coast, contaminating once picturesque beaches and threatening marine life. The exact origin of the spill or how to stop it remain a mystery.

FRANCISCO KELMO, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF BIOLOGY, FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF BAHIA (through translator): This is big damage. The longer the oil stays at the beaches, the more severe the pollution will be and more difficult to recover the environment.

DARLINGTON: Brazilian officials say tests show with certainty the oil is Venezuelan, but the environmental agency president was careful to clarify. "That does not mean Venezuela is necessarily to blame." Venezuela had previously denied any responsibility in the spill.

Brazil's environmental minister suggest the spill may or may not have been an accident, possibly by a foreign ship near Brazil's coast.

Brazil's president was more explicit. Jair Bolsonaro calls it a potentially criminal act, possibly designed, he says to sabotage a multibillion dollar oil auction in November, when bidders will compete for production rights in offshore areas of Brazil.

As the government investigate the cause, mostly civilian volunteers are the ones scrambling to clean the sullied shores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This tragedy is without precedent. It is unbelievable the lack of help from the state in all areas, from the municipal to the state to the federal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother, sister and grandmother come here to help. We've been asking for others to help on social media as well. We need the help of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is great to see all of these people who are mobilizing in front of a delay in action on a larger scale by the government.

DARLINGTON: The disaster comes just months after another environmental crisis when fires raging in the Amazon sparked fury over the president's response and scrutiny of his relaxed environmental policies.

Now, anger maybe rising again as images surface of locals struggling to clean up, marine life covered in oil, and kilometers of sand covered in sludge.

Shasta Darlington, CNN -- Sao Paulo.


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