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Police & Protestors Face Off After Day of Violent Episodes; Apple Under Fire after Gender Discrimination Complaints; Apple Under Fire After Gender Discrimination Complaints. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired November 12, 2019 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause, live from Studio 7 at CNN World Headquarters.

Live across the U.S., it's the impeachment inquiry and days of blockbuster testimony which might decide the fate of the reality TV star turned president.

Will it convince Americans to send a message: you're fired.

The calm after the storm. Hong Kong, one day after some of the worst violence since the pro democracy movements began.

And ferocious winds and record drought make a catastrophic combination across Australia where bush fires are raging and have been for weeks.


VAUSE: Newly release transcripts of closed door testimony in the U.S. impeachment inquiry describe a Ukraine policy which confused and alarmed career diplomats as well as security officials. CNN's Lauren Fox reports there are new details about how military aid was held up and how the president's personal attorney was directing foreign policy.


LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some of the most stunning details coming from Laura Cooper, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and worked on issues related to Ukraine and Russia and she painted a picture of officials who were confused about what was going on with the withholding of U.S. military aid to Ukraine.

She learned about this in July and then, in August, she had a meeting with Kurt Volker, who told her he was working with the Ukrainians to get them to announce investigations that the president had sought.

That is a significant detail because for weeks what we knew was that Volker had testified there was no connection between the military aid had the announcement of the investigations.

A significant detail by Laura Cooper. We also have the testimony from Catherine Croft and another official, Christopher Anderson, who testified he was warned by John Bolton about Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, who is intimately involved in Ukrainian foreign policy.

New details we're getting just days ahead of this public testimony on Capitol Hill, which Democrats have been preparing for for weeks.


VAUSE: Lauren Fox with that report.

Those public hearing begin on Wednesday. First up, Bill Taylor, top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine. He's expected to talk about allegations the president pressured Ukraine into investigating his political rivals.

Deputy assistant secretary of state George Kent will be next. He's already testified about Giuliani's campaign full of lies aimed at the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. She is set to publicly testify on Friday.

CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein joins us now.

Good to see you. Just for context, Laura Cooper was the Pentagon official being deposed when Republican lawmakers invaded the secure room in the Capitol last month.

What's interesting, her testimony spells out this decision to withhold military aid came from the top and there was concern that the president had a legal right to do so and more importantly it would make it harder for Ukraine to negotiate a peace deal with Moscow.

Not exactly the blockbuster that Democrats need to win over Republicans.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: That might be an impossible bar to reach, given the way that politics has evolved. The cumulative body of testimony I think has far outpaced anything Democrats could have imagined that they would've received from officials within the Trump administration.

We were talking about everyone here, career diplomat or not, all the key details have come from people who are part of the administration. And the picture they have painted is internally consistent and devastating.

The real question I think this week is going to raise it is where are we in our politics and really in our relations to each other as a country, because it is possible that, starting with Bill Taylor, who was the most persuasive witness of all, that the evidence that is presented publicly is overwhelming to any kind of impartially minded listener and yet does very little to move public opinion, given how deep dug in people are.

VAUSE: Republican senator Lindsey Graham laid out some pretty tough new conditions for an impeachment hearing. Here he is.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I consider any impeachment in the House that doesn't allow us to know who the whistleblower is to be invalid because without the whistleblower complaint we wouldn't be talking about any of this.

I also see the need for Hunter Biden to be called to adequately defend the president and if you don't do those two things, it is a complete joke.


VAUSE: An impeachment hearing should not be thought of in terms of a criminal trial but it seems to be an extraordinary departure.

BROWNSTEIN: First of all, the identity of the whistleblower, we have long passed the point where that is relevant. The key, virtually every key element, if not every key element of their original complaint, has been validated by other testimony and evidence.

It's extraordinary, in fact, how much the testimony has aligned with the original allegations from the whistleblower. It's like saying you can't prosecute someone for a bank robbery, unless you know the identity of the person who made the 9-1-1 call from viewing it.

It's irrelevant to where we are now. And putting Hunter Biden on the stand, it's an attempt to do domestically what the president was pressuring Ukraine to do internationally, which is to advance his case.

However appropriate it was for Hunter Biden to be on the board of Burisma originally, it's not really relevant to whether Trump was extorting a foreign government. . The Pentagon official testified underscoring that what we were doing was weakening Ukraine's ability to defend itself against Russia, is the piece of the scandal that we don't focus on enough.

VAUSE: You talked about where we are as a country. You can always tell with the reception that Trump has received. Far-right activists actually booed Don Jr. when he was on a book tour. He was in UCLA over the weekend. They don't believe he's conservative enough. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP JR., PRESIDENT'S TRUMP'S SON: The reason it doesn't make sense to do the human eye, is not because you're not willing to talk about it, because we do. It's because people hijack it with nonsense and looking to go for some sort of stalemate. You people spreading nonsense, spreading hate, trying to take over that room.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: We also have the president who arrived to the sounds of boos on Monday in New York. You can hear it here as the band starts up. Listen to this.




VAUSE: There's also raucous cheers over the weekend after Donald Trump in Alabama. This is at a football game.




VAUSE: It tells a story of where this country is geographically on the president.

BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely. We have been divided before as a country, we were deeply divided in the 1960s and the 1850s and 1860s. What's different now is our social divisions, our cultural divisions now align completely with our partisan divisions. I like to say all the cherries on the slot machine line up.

We have a Democratic Party that is the strongest in metro America, among younger voters, more diverse voters, more secular voters, more white collar voters. And the Republican Party that is the opposite of that on every front. It's an older, non-metro, blue collar, Christian party.

The Republicans Who are white Christians are the same as they were 20 years ago, overall. What Donald Trump has done is lean into those divisions. The last three presidents may have failed to bridge those divisions. But all of them came into office promising to be a uniter, not a divider.

Trump has leaned into them, essentially governed as a president of red America and what that has done is created this incredible bond with a big portion of the Republican coalition, who says, whatever else I think about Donald Trump, he has picked the lock. He figure out how to win the electoral college and gain executive branch power and through that judicial nominations that can hold back all of the changes I think are threatening me and my vision of America.

And I think, as I said, this week is going to be a big test because it sort of is the moment that Trump talked about, whether you can shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and all of his supporters will stay with him. The evidence of what he did, that he tried to extort Ukraine to interfere with the American election, both ends of that, extraordinarily explosive, will that matter in any way to a meaningful portion of the Republican coalition and thus to Republican elected officials? I don't know.


BROWNSTEIN: I do think it will further harden the opposition he faces among voters who are skeptical of him, either they are satisfied with the economy or it makes this tightrope even narrower in 2020.

VAUSE: Two new books out, one by the anonymous source from the White House and from the former U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley. Why are they so concerned about the president's behavior, they were considering quitting in protest en masse, allegations Rex Tillerson and John Kelly tried to recruit her to undermine the president. Here she was on CBS "60 Minutes."


NIKKI HALEY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: It should have been, go tell the president what your differences are and quit if you don't like what he's doing. But to undermine a president is really a very dangerous thing. And it goes against the constitution and goes against what the American people want. It was offensive.


VAUSE: It's an interesting line she is walking here. She obviously has interests in the Republican Party and kind of critical of the president. But in a way it seems she is considering being a running mate to Mike Pence.

BROWNSTEIN: I think this is a more at building a bond with Trump than establishing separation from him while holding the whisper of that in 2024. It goes to this larger question, what is the obligation of all these elected officials?

Why is John Bolton going to court?

He's a former official. It's not clear the administration could stop him if he believed he saw actions that threatened American national security.

Why did Don McGahn not come to Congress during the Mueller investigation?

All of these figures are trying to retain viability with the Republican Party, maybe they feel loyalty to Donald Trump but at what point do their obligations exceed all of that?

And certainly with Nikki Haley, the balance is not that close. Maybe with John Bolton it's a little closer and we will see what he does, if there's not an expeditious ruling by the court.

Is he using that as a way to dodge testifying or is he genuinely trying to tell a story to the American people and the world?

VAUSE: Maybe we'll find out in the coming days. Ron Brownstein, thank you.

Former Bolivian president Evo Morales is on his way to asylum in Mexico. He led Bolivia for nearly 14 years but was forced to step down after weeks of protests over election fraud. His departure leaves a country in chaos, with no current leader and vandalism on the streets.

He tweeted that it hurts to leave the country for political reasons. Earlier, called for calms, to resolve any differences with dialogue. Matt Rivers has more on what's next for his supporters.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was news that many were expecting, given what we heard from the government already. After Morales resigned, Mexico's government actually called what happened a type of coup. They called it that because they felt that it was Bolivia's military that asked Evo Morales to resign.

In the view of the Obrador administration, it was a type of a coup. They said if he were to ask for asylum, it would be granted and that brings us to where we are right now. That also comes after we know publicly some 20 members of Bolivia's executive and legislative branches have already formally requested asylum at the Mexican ambassador's residence in La Paz, Bolivia.

As this goes forward we, can see more asylum cases for people that were part of the Morales government in Bolivia.

VAUSE: Thanks to Matt Rivers.

We have having breaking news. The Israeli military says it has assassinated a senior leader of the Islamic Jihad. Bahaa Abu al-Atta was targeted in Gaza, responsible for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and was plotting immediate attacks on Israelis.

This comes amid tensions on the Israel-Gaza. Militants have started firing rockets from Gaza into Israel. Oren Liebermann is with us.

Oren, the timing here is interesting.

Why now?

And I guess they're bracing for days of unrest.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question of why now is, of course, a important one. The Israeli military painted senior Islamic Jihad leader Bahaa Abu al-Atta as a rogue element within his own militant group. He didn't listen to commands of Iran, that funds and operates with Islamic Jihad and who did not listen to his own commanders.

They say he was responsible for the isolated rocket fire that we saw as the tensions rose and fell along the border. That they say in addition to other attacks he has carried out was why he was targeted him in what was the first targeted killing or assassination from the Israeli military in years.

Israel says it's not returning to a policy of targeted killings and assassinations.


LIEBERMANN: They said this was an isolated event but the consequences that were already seen, Gaza militants beginning to firing rockets after the killing carried out two hours, ago and we see the situation develops.

There already some civilian restrictions outside of Gaza, they will no doubt be measures taken inside of Gaza as the military prepares a response to this rocket fire and a tense situation could deteriorate.

The Israeli military says the operation has been planned for the last week and they were waiting for what they saw as the right situation. A statement from Hamas said they warned the killing what they call resistance leader Bahaa Abu al-Atta will not go without a response, what we're seeing carried out right now.

Where does this go from here?

We will be paying attention at the border in just a few moments here.

VAUSE: To be clear. All Islamic military groups are not created equal and Islamic Jihad is different to Hamas; there is some sort of rivalry there.

Where is the rocket fire coming from, Hamas or Islamic Jihad?

LIEBERMANN: That's not clear. Could be both at this point but we'll get those statements as the day goes on. And you're absolutely right, the differences between Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Hamas is the ruling power in Gaza and Islamic Jihad is a distant second. But this is important when it comes to the Israel and Gaza relationship. Israel believes it can reach a long term cease-fire with Hamas and not with Islamic Jihad, which is more radical and more militant, the one more likely to file rockets and more willing to trigger an escalation with Israel.

And they say that is largely because of the targeted killing of Bahaa Abu al-Atta. That explains some of the backstory of why Bahaa Abu al- Atta was so high on Israel's list in terms of problems inside of Gaza and targets in Gaza and, to an extent, the militant groups inside of Gaza, do operate and orchestrate together.

And that's why you'll see one group come to bat for another, which is why you see Hamas coming to Islamic Jihad's defense and standing by its side.

VAUSE: Publicly. Often interesting what happens there behind the scenes. Oren, we appreciate your report and your analysis, thank you.

Jimmy Carter, the former U.S. president will undergo surgery in Atlanta in the upcoming hours to release pressure on his brain. He is said to be resting comfortably with his wife by his side. He was in hospital twice last month after falling and has previously survived brain and liver cancer and we wish him well.

After the break, the bizarre case of a Napoleon reenactor charged with murder in Russia. What police found in his backpack when they pulled him from a St. Petersburg river.

Also catastrophic fire conditions and Australians are being warned to leave your homes now if you want to live.





VAUSE: Welcome, back when police in the Russian city of St. Petersburg, they had no idea what they were in for after they pulled a man from a river over the weekend. They found in his backpack the severed arms of a young woman, the romantic partner and former student of a prominent history professor. Details now from CNN's Matthew Chance.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We have learned some absolutely horrific details of how this 63-year-old university academic Alex Sokolov allegedly shot and killed his 24-year-old lover, one of his history students.

Then as he confessed in court dismembered her body with a saw in his apartment just a short distance from here.

Police say he then tried to dump her cut-up remains in this Moika River, which runs through the center of St. Petersburg.

Professor Sokolov is a distinguished expert on Napoleon and he is renowned for his reenactments of Napoleon voyeur of battles that passion he seems to have enjoyed with his victim Anastasia Yeshchenko, who was 39 years his junior. They two lived together. And today the court heard the couple had argued before Anastasia was shot dead. It's that relationship that's now coming under scrutiny.

Doesn't appeared to have raised any alarm bells at the prestigious St. Petersburg State University where the couple met, but CNN has learned that previous allegations against Professor Sokolov in which he said to have abused another female student with having an affair also went without any action taken against him.

The whole issue is drawing the spotlight on to the way in which Russia deals with domestic violence cases. It sweeps them under the carpet doesn't pay them enough attention, often, as in this case with fatal consequences. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Matthew Chance with that report.

VAUSE: Now to Australia where in Queensland and New South Wales have been facing catastrophic fire danger, the highest level possible. For the first, time Sydney has seen this threat level since the warning system was introduced in 2009. At least 71 bush fires are burning across New South Wales.

The smoke is so intense and so thick it can be seen from space and has drifted across to New Zealand. Fire crews are getting little help. The mainland did not get a single drop of rain for the first time since record keeping began.

With Australia facing unprecedented bush fire emergency across two east coast states, a political firestorm has erupted over the role of climate change. The co-deputy leader of the Green Party called on the federal government to enact a new climate change agreement and said the prime minister needs to act with the speed and urgency as one of his predecessors, John Howard, who within 12 days of the 1996 mass shooting in Port Arthur, announced sweeping new gun laws, called the National Firearms Agreement.

That brought a fierce response from the current deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack.


MICHAEL MCCORMACK, AUSTRALIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: That's what Adam Bandt and the Greens and all those other inner city raving lunatics -- and quite frankly, that's how he was carrying on yesterday - that's what they want, we're not going to go down that path.

We're going to do the right and responsible thing but at the moment, our focus is on making sure that we get these fires out. It's not about political TV cheap point scoring as Adam Bandt would want us to have.


VAUSE: Take a look at this map, because this is where the fires are burning now. It's across the entire country but around New South Wales, Sydney, Queensland, the state capital Brisbane. The greatest Sydney area, for the first time on Tuesday, the fire danger ranking was catastrophic.

Officials have declared a emergency across New South Wales, 42 local government authorities to the north of Queensland. The past 10 months have been the hottest on record in Australia and "The Sydney Morning Herald" is reporting that New South Wales could see 1 million hectares burn so far this fire season within days, if it hasn't already done so.

That is about the same as the past three fire seasons combined. And summer is yet to arrive. Rainfall deficiencies or what most call drought are already the worst on record for Northern New South Wales and parts of southern Queensland.


VAUSE: The New South Wales fires service has issued a very blunt warning.

"Due to the scale of the fires and the dangerous conditions, if you need help today, you may not get it."

And in the midst of this disaster, for the conservative government and supporters in the media, they are all insisting now is not the time to talk climate change.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is sickening politicking. They're looking to advance his political agenda on the back of lost lives and destroyed property. There's no one on this planet who is stupid enough to think that shutting down coal-fired power stations will put an end to bush fires.

There's no one on this planet stupid enough to think that Australian energy policies will have any impact on the global climate while global emissions continue to rise dramatically. There's no one on this planet stupid enough to think that if every person in Australia stopped using their cars and only used renewable energy you would make any difference to any climate, anywhere in the world.


VAUSE: Well, the 11,000 scientists who declared a climate emergency last week because of global warning are perhaps that stupid. Among their urgent recommendations, we should leave the remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground. Presumably so they don't get to those coal-fired power stations in the first place.

The reality is climate change does not cause bush, fires but it does lead to high temperatures, less rainfall and drought, especially in these parts of Australia and, recently California as well. That is what causes the tinder dry conditions which make bush fire season longer, more deadly and more destructive and, yes, that is unprecedented.

Charlotte Mortlock is a Sky News Australia reporter, joining us now from outside of Sydney.

The big picture, given, all the warnings of catastrophic fire danger and concern about the weather, has this Tuesday been as bad as expected?

CHARLOTTE MORTLOCK, SKY NEWS AUSTRALIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it has been. It lived up to the forecast and it was so intense that there were 600 schools that closed their doors across the state in anticipation.

The context, the catastrophic ranking was added back in 2009, that was after the Black Saturday bush fires in Victoria that claimed the lives of 173 Australians. The fire danger rating produced on that day, the algorithm number was so high, that it didn't fit on the scale.

That is when we saw the catastrophic category added and in Sydney it is the first time that has actually been exercised since its introduction since 2009. It certainly has lived up to its expectations. We see the temperatures around 38 degrees Celsius and the winds are gusting to about 80 kilometers an hour.

Low humidity, that with the extremely flammable and dry fuel on the ground, it is really the perfect storm.

VAUSE: Is there any idea at this stage of when they will get the upper hand or are they just simply triaging and containing it as best they can?

MORTLOCK: Certainly the threat today is going to ease that. We are expecting a cold front to move across later this evening and it's already starting to move through and will be hitting Sydney at around 6:00 pm this evening.

Before that, it creates a worse problem. We'll see the winds intensify ahead of that cold front which will exacerbate problems on the ground. Firefighters will have a chance to really try to gain the upper hand in the next few days but some of them are around 150,000 hectares in size.

And we've seen around 350 koalas die from one of the fires burning in a coastal town in New South Wales. Our local file services says this is quite cyclical; we'll see a few days of winds then a reprieve before it's going to pick up again.

VAUSE: Very quickly. Some areas not far from where you are have been asked to evacuate because the conditions were so bad.

Is there some concern about the numbers that stayed behind?

MORTLOCK: This is a concern in some way I guess. The decision to stay is respected by authorities in New South Wales but the problem seeing is really that people are saying they want to stay and defend their homes and then it gets very close to their house and they decide at the last minute that they want to leave.

With these fires in New South Wales, spot fires are some 12 kilometers ahead of the fire front. So imagine going out and looking at a road where you thought you had a clear evacuation route that then is decimated and you've got a fire rolling toward you and all of a sudden you can't leave.

That's why authorities are saying if you think at any stage you might want to leave, you should be leaving early.


VAUSE: Good advice. Charlotte, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it there. Charlotte Mortlock there from Star News Australia. We'll take a short break here.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. We'll be right back.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Protestors and riot police are facing off once again in Hong Kong, but right now, the streets appear to be calm, especially compared to 24 hours ago.

On Monday, there was the most violent clashes that we've seen during these pro-democracy demonstrations in the past five months. That included a police officer shooting a protestor with a live round at point blank range, practically. A man was set on fire after confronting protesters.

Hong Kong's China-backed chief executive spoke a few hours ago. Carrie Lam says selfish rioters were trying to paralyze the city by disrupting transportation and that the violence has exceeded protesters' demands for democracy. On Monday, she called them enemies of the people.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Hong Kong for us. Paula, you know, relative calm, but there are these reports of violence popping up around the place. For the most part, though, it seems to be relatively quiet. But you've got a sit-in behind you. So what's the situation there?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, that's right. Yes, John. Just in the last hour or so, there's been a number of protesters that have arrived here. This is central, so it's really central in Hong Kong. This is a very busy shipping area, usually.

They want to do really catch the lunchtime crowd. There's an awful lot of businessmen and women that are -- that are watching, some even taking part. So it's almost like a flash mob, the sort of protests that we're seeing.

Now, the police, the riot police were here a little earlier, they did threaten to fire tear gas but didn't. They have now retreated as there are a fair few thousand people here at this point.

Now, they have blockaded and barricaded some of the roads to try and make sure that -- that they can stay in this position.

We do have some new information, though, John. A police source telling CNN that that man who was shot by a traffic policeman on Monday has actually now been arrested. We understand he is still in critical condition in the hospital. Excuse me. But he has now, we understand, been arrested for unlawful protests, and also for robbery, as they believe he was trying to take the gun off that traffic policeman.

You can see here, they're pouring gasoline or some kind of flammable liquid along the front of that blockade. We need to move back a little bit here, as you might imagine. This is what we do often see. They're trying to set fire to these barricades to try and make sure that the police can't get to where they are.


There are a fair few protesters behind them, as well. These are really some of the frontliners, when you see those that are all dressed in black. They are the more violent members of this protest movement.

So you can see here the applause behind, as well. They're happy that -- that these individuals are carrying this out. You can see everybody here is wearing a mask, as well, completely defying the ban that the government brought into place on masks.

But we also did hear from the chief executive, from Carrie Lam, saying that no matter how violent these protests get, and she acknowledged that they are getting a lot more violent, that the government will not give in. They say that she says that if they give into the violence, then more violence will follow -- John.

VAUSE: Well, that's interesting. Because on Monday, Lam described the protesters as the enemy of the people. When she spoke a few hours ago, she sort of said they were just selfish. The language seems to have softened. Does that mean that, you know, these feels that local officials and police were about to ramp up their response and deal with this with a very heavy hand? Has that sort of fear gone away, or is it still very much real?

HANCOCKS: Well, the way I hear it, it was she was talking more the riotous acts, the acts that -- that they were carrying out, that were violent, were enemy -- the enemy of the people. So it's more talking about the riots and the rioters themselves.

But I don't think anyone here believes that there is a softening of -- of any tone. I mean, certainly, on Monday, John, we did see the -- one of the most violent days that we have seen in these Hong Kong protests over the past five months.

We haven't seen that level of violence yet this Tuesday, although we did see very early on that there was one of the universities, the Chinese university in Hong Kong. There were barricades being set there by students, by some of the frontliners.

And they were facing off against riot police, as well. So there will certainly still be face-offs, but at this point, we have not seen anywhere near the violence that we saw on Monday.

VAUSE: Yes. And let's hope it stays that way, but there are fears, of course, that it will not.

Paula, we appreciate the live report and update from the streets of Hong Kong. Paula Hancocks, live. Thank you.

Coming up, a new record haul proves Singles Day, as it's known in China, is a class by itself. Why the online shopping marathon is now the world's biggest.

Also, a look at why Apple's new credit card is being labeled as sexist. That's next.


VAUSE: Yet again, records has fallen during China's Singles Day online shopping bonanza. Sales at the country's e-commerce giant Alibaba topped $38 billion. Last year's total was nearly $31 billion.


Singles Day regularly regularly racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday put together. It all started out as an informal marketing tool for those who do not like Valentine's Day, and are also single. And it is now the biggest shopping event.

Apple facing accusations that's new credit card discriminates based on gender. A prominent tech entrepreneur found out that the company offers women, notably his wife, a lower credit limit than men, i.e. him. And now the New York Department of Financial Services is investigating.

CNN's Clare Sebastian has details.


CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, these allegations come barely three months after Apple and Goldman Sachs partnered on a new credit card, one that was marketed as easy, simple and transparent.

So here's how it all started. It started last Thursday with this tweet from a tech entrepreneur, David Heinemeier Hansson. He says, "The Apple card is such a" -- expletive -- "sexist program. My wife and I file joint tax returns, live in a community property state, and have been married for a long time. Yet, Apple's black box algorithm," he says, "thinks I deserve 20 times the credit limit she does." He says, "No appeals work."

So this became a viral tweet. It sparked a storm on Twitter, and into that storm weighed Apple's own cofounder, Steve Wozniak. He said, "The same thing happened to me. I got ten times the credit limit" of his wife. He says, "We have no separate bank or credit card accounts or any separate assets. Hard to get a human for a correction, though. It's big tech in 2019."

So Apple directed all of our questions to Goldman Sachs. They are the card issuer. Goldman Sachs said that they look at an individual's income and an individual's credit worthiness. They said based on these factors, it is possible for two family members to receive significantly different credit decisions.

In all cases, they say, "We have not and will not make decisions based on factors like gender."

So here at CNN, we did our own experiment. Two of our producers, one male, one female, similar high credit scores, but she earns more. In two minutes, they both got a decision. They were exactly the same. Credit limit of $9,000. The question is, how did the algorithm arrive at that decision? And should she have gotten a higher amount?

Obviously, a very small group, but this just exemplifies the point. There are going to be more and more questions as more and more companies automate more and more of these decisions as to how these algorithms are written and what they say about the social values and norms of our society.

Clare Sebastian, CNN, New York.


VAUSE: Before we go, some news from our solar system. Mercury made a rare transit, passing across the middle of the sun, as seen from Earth. It only happens 13 times a century.

NASA says it took the planet about five hours to inch its way along the solar desk, looking like a tiny inky dot. Anyone in Central and South America and along the East Coast of the United States would be able to see this entire transit. Get out your diaries, because it will not be visible again until 2032. Don't miss it again for another 13 years.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. WORLD SPORT is next.