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Microsoft Pushing Ahead with Talks to Purchase TikTok; U.S. Lawmakers to Resume Talks with White House; Some Renters Fear Eviction as Unemployment Bonus Ends; Brazil Reporting More Than 94,000 Coronavirus Deaths; Brazilian President Keeps Downplaying Threat of Pandemic; Kurds Displaced and Helpless Since U.S. Forces Abandoned Them; Baseball Player opts Out of Season Without Alerting Team; NASA Astronauts Splash Down in SpaceX Capsule. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired August 3, 2020 - 04:30   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone.

Microsoft says it's still discussing a possible purchase of TikTok. That follows President Trump's threat Friday to ban the popular video app from operating in the U.S. TikTok is owned by a Chinese startup.

Eleni Giokos is in Johannesburg, South Africa, she joins us now to talk more about this. Good to see you, Eleni. So, Microsoft still exploring the idea of purchasing TikTok in the U.S. But how will the security concerns be overcome?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I mean certainly a purchase of a Chinese owned company by a U.S. company would take away a lot of the national security concerns that the Trump administration has been basing the ban on, the potential ban on. Remember, that under Chinese law, if the government were to request any data or information that they wanted, then a Chinese owned company would have to be beholding to those rules.

Now what's interesting here is that Microsoft says they are currently in discussions with ByteDance which, of course, is the parent company of TikTok to purchase the U.S. operations. They're also looking to acquire the Canadian operations as well as Australian as well as New Zealand operations. And this is a really interesting twist in events.

On Friday President Trump says a ban could be imminent, that he's willing to issue an executive order to do so. We know that Microsoft then was on the phone with President Trump. The CEO then says, look, they've go to get this done by the 15th of September. They're going to move really quickly.

And when you have to look at various acquisitions, I mean you've got to think about valuations, you've got to look at the risks that are involved and, of course, the growth potential. Now whether ByteDance is going to want to give up its prized asset will be a very big one to watch. ByteDance for quite some time has been wanting to shake off the reputation of it being a Chinese owned company. It says that it's a global entity operating under global rules. But unfortunately, it is under the Chinese jurisdiction.

Now India has banned TikTok, which is interesting because they've also cited national security concerns. Australia has mentioned their worries and so, too, has South Korea.

So, this is definitely not an issue just endemic to the United States. But the big game changer here will be and of course the fate of TikTok in the U.S. really does hinge on an acquisition and a change in ownership. And for the millions of TikTok users in the U.S., they have cited their concerns and anger and they say they're heart broken. And of course, that is going to be an interesting one to watch. Because many of these people will be heading to the polls later on this year. And interesting what happens when you take away a favorite social media platform -- Rosemary.

CHURCH: Yes, certainly, an incentive for those young voters to get out there. We'll see what happens. Eleni Giokos, many thanks as always, appreciate it.

Well, U.S. lawmakers and White House officials will meet again in the coming hours to try to reach agreement on another stimulus plan. A key sticking point is the extension of the $600 weekly unemployment benefit that expired last week. Republicans view it as a disincentive for some Americans to go back to work and want it cut to $200. They also want states to move toward benefits based on a percentage of workers' wages.


NANCY PELOSI (D-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: The fact is they put on the floor the end of this week in the Senate $200. So, when you say, well, you end up doing the 600, they have no support for that in their party. We are unified in our support for the $600. They are in disarray.

STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Mark Meadows and I will be back there every day until we reach an agreement.


We understand there's a need to compromise but on the other hand there's also a big need to get kids into school, get people back to jobs and keep the economy open and keep people safe.


CHURCH: And for many Americans, that extra $600 helps pay the rent and if it's discontinued, they worry they could end up out on the street. CNN's Paul Vercammen has one family's story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tension on the streets of Los Angeles this weekend. Economic worry. People wondering how they're going to make ends meet. The $600 supplemental paycheck from the federal government gone and looming on the horizon, how to pay your rent or make up for rent that has not been paid?

There is a moratorium on evictions in the city of Los Angeles, but in the state some other eviction moratoriums may go away soon. We talked to the Alvarez family. They haven't been able to pay rent in three months and they are greatly concerned about what's going to happen down the road when someone comes to collect that rent check.

MARCOS ALVAREZ, LOS ANGELES RESIDENT: We needed real help, like to cancel the rent because it's -- because we live with the pressure that we can't pay the rent. And as soon as this is over, another one is today. Repay the month every given day. And how are we supposed to do that when we can barely pay for the month, we're living in.

VERCAMMEN: But also, at play here, landlords, many of them in Southern California relying on rental income to make their living. And one community activist said this is all such a double-edged sword.

CARLOS MARROQUIN, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: What we need to do is we need to not only explore but we need to act boldly to be able to put in programs in place that will not only protect the renters but also the landlords. We understand that.

Most of the renters that I speak with, if not all of them, you know, they want to pay their rents but if that's not happening, you know, again, the landlords will also suffer, especially the mom and pop landlords and that worries me a lot.

VERCAMMEN: And there are a number of bills working their way through the legislature that could giver relief to both landlords as well as renters. Stay tuned on that. California reckoning with both the COVID- 19 pandemic and its very serious consequences on health as well as all as all of these economic woes.

Reporting from Los Angeles, I'm Paul Vercammen, now back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks for that report.

Well, Japan reported more than 1,300 new cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, that marks the fifth day in a row that the island nation has recorded a daily increase of more than a 1,000 confirmed infections. Tokyo is requesting restaurants and bars that serve alcohol to close at 10 p.m. to help mitigate the risk of spreading the virus further.

Meanwhile, China announced 43 new COVID cases on Sunday. It says the majority of them were locally transmitted infections.

And Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he is re-imposing coronavirus restrictions in some areas starting Tuesday. The country now has more than 100,000 confirmed cases. The new restrictions will cover the capital city of Manila and nearby provinces. Anyone under 21, 60 and over, all those with health risks have to stay home. The only exceptions are for buying essentials and going to work. More than 2,000 people in the Philippines have died from the virus.

Well, the coronavirus death toll is soaring across Latin America and the Caribbean. Health officials there have now confirmed more than 200,000 fatalities since the pandemic began. Brazil accounts for almost half that total. Its outbreak is by far the worst in the region. More than 2.7 million cases have been reported in Brazil so far.

Well, despite the mounting death toll, some Brazilians are refusing to take this seriously. In fact, in some areas, life is starting to look much like it did before the pandemic.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in Rio with more.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: 94,000 dead now here in Brazil. A startingly high number for a country which on the surface at times appears day-to-day to be trying to act as though the disease

hasn't really taken a grip of its population.

And we've seen over the weekend, in the 24-hour period ending Sunday, the number of dead contributed to by just over 500 and 25,800 new cases. Startlingly high new numbers but for Brazil possibly because of reporting lag over the weekend, not as high as we've been seeing in the 50,000 or so cases that have been reported daily and some days over the past couple of weeks.

And the disease continues to tear its way through the high levels of government. The sixth cabinet minister, the comptroller general reporting himself positive late last week.


That comes after the first lady, Michelle Bolsonaro, said she in fact had tested positive and after her husband, President Jair Bolsonaro, the man whose behavior is so much the focus of Brazil's at times contrary response to this disease. After he recovered from a two-week infection from the disease.

He was seen in the south of the country meeting supporters in the town of Bage waving hydroxychloroquine again, a medicine which has proven ineffective in study after study, in fact may even be harmful to people with coronavirus.

He was seen, too, on Sunday leaving the Presidential residence in Brasilia, the capitol, on a motorbike at times not wearing a mask. It's, as I say, at times surreal to see particularly here, Rio de Janeiro, how daily life tries to carry on unimpacted by this virus. And how the government so many times appears to behave as though it isn't the most grave problem they face. In fact, President Bolsonaro was critical over the weekend about how local officials had been providing unemployment support to those affected by a lockdown.

Starling high numbers everyday as still Brazil's government doing its best to downplay the disease.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


CHURCH: And coming up, tens of thousands of Kurds on the Turkish/Syrian border have been displaced after their American allies abandoned them last year. We will have an update on the situation when we come back.


CHURCH: It has been about nine months since President Trump abruptly abandoned Kurdish allies of the U.S. on the Turkish/Syria border. Withdrawing U.S. troops allowed Turkish forces to move in. And now without U.S. support the Kurds are largely left to fend for themselves.

And CNN's Arwa Damon is in Istanbul. She joins us now live. So Arwa, talk to us about what the Kurds are facing now after being abandoned by the United States.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A very, very difficult conditions, Rosemary, and it's not just the Kurdish fighting force inside Syria, which is known as the YPG.

Now this force is considered to be a terrorist organization by Turkey given their close ties to the Kurdish separatist group, the PKK, that Turkey has been battling for decades. But the bulk of that fight is concentrated in northern Iraq and that is where now Turkey has launched a wide scale military operation.


DAMON (voice-over): You see that smoke? That's from our fields, Amir Nisan says, resigned and sorrowful. It's hardly the first time that Turkey has launched strikes in the Kurdish semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq, targeting the Kurdish separatist group the PKK strongholds in the harsh mountain terrain.

Amir lived in a small village nearby, fleeing with his family in the middle of the night. His elderly mother shows us how she used to shake with fear. For decades, the Turkish state has been war with the PKK, designated a terrorist organization not just by Turkey but also the E.U. and the United States. This is the largest air and ground offensive since the 1990s. Turkey says it's just trying to protect its borders and stop the Kurdish PKK fighters from moving into Syria.

In October of last year, Turkey invaded neighboring northern Syria, going after a related Kurdish group called the YPG, a sister organization to the PKK. What makes this situation so thorny is that the Kurdish force Turkey attack in Syria makes up the bulk of the fighting forces partnering with the U.S. in the battles against ISIS.

The Americans abandon their Kurdish allies withdrawing from key positions. The Turks swept in. Tens of thousands of civilians fled. Today, Turkey still occupies the border region, carrying out joint patrols with the Russians and the Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the presence of different forces comes the complication of the need to deal with each one of them separately, which each of them also has its own interest, its own goal.

DAMON: When it comes to the U.S., it's all about ISIS. They frequently tout their partnership fighting ISIS with the Kurdish YPG as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

COL. MYLES CAGGINS, U.S. MILITARY SPOKESMAN FOR OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE: And I want to describe how we are partnering with the SDF, the current threat from ISIS, and let you know of some other areas, some other topics where we are collaborating to help the people of this region.

DAMON: And yet when the Kurds need big brother America, or for that matter, anyone to step in and help them, all remain on the sidelines. In northern Iraq, Amir's beloved farmlands are charred, destroyed. His children miss running around outside and the cool breeze.

Blame is shared, he says. Our government can't do anything in the face of Turkey or the PKK. Countries need to get involved. It can't go on like this.

But it will, as it always has. The Kurds have a proverb that arose from their history of betrayal and abandonment. No friend, but the mountains they say.


DAMON: And, Rosemary, both the Syrian and Iraqi battle spaces are quite complex, to say the least, with multiple players and competing interests. And add to all of this, of course, the coronavirus pandemic where we have cases rising in both of these areas that already have a very lacking medical infrastructure and that has also impacted on access to humanitarian aid. So when it comes to the civilian populations in these areas, they're really feeling the brunt of multiple wars, whether it's actual fighting or whether it's the more invisible battle against COVID-19.

CHURCH: Awful situation. Arwa Damon bringing us up to date from her vantage point there in Istanbul. Many thanks.

Well, still to come, what lifts off must splash down. The SpaceX capsule carrying two astronauts has now returned safely to earth. The exciting details after the break.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CHURCH: Some breaking news into CNN, Northern Ireland's Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume has died. His death was announced by the Social Democratic Labour Party he once led. Hume played an instrumental role in the peace process and won his Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, the year the peace agreement there was signed.

Well, the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles is the latest member of the NFL to test positive for COVID-19. On Sunday, the Eagles confirmed that Doug Pedersen has an asymptomatic infection. They say he's doing well and is currently in self-quarantine. The team has notified anyone who was in close contact with him and asked them to follow the league's safety protocols.

And Major League Baseball player Yoenis Cespedes is opting out of the 2020 season over COVID related concerns. He made the decision on Sunday but did so without telling his team in advance. In fact, he skipped Sunday's game against Atlanta and went missing for part of the day. His team the New York Mets even sent security to his hotel room to look for him. Eventually they found out about his decision and called it a surprising move.

Well, a safe return to earth for two NASA astronauts Sunday.



ANNOUNCER: Splash down.


CHURCH: There it is. SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft safely splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico proving the first ever manned commercial flight to the International Space Station a success.

CNN's Rachel Crane takes us through the final moments before the capsule landed.


RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE REPORTER: NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, making history with Crew Dragon's successful splash down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola after a two-month stay at the International Space Station and 19-hour journey home.

Recovery boats were waiting nearby to attend to the astronauts and the spacecraft after the capsule parachuted into the ocean at around 15 miles per hour. A far cry from the 17,500 miles per hour it was traveling at just before reentering the earth's atmosphere.

The astronauts then making their way to Johnson Space Center where they reunited with their families and underwent some medical assessments.

The successful return means SpaceX has indeed made history becoming the first private company to put NASA astronauts into orbit and safely bring them home and finally returning U.S. human space flight to American soil after retirement of the shuttle program nine long years ago.

Now this technically was a test mission intended to certify SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft for future operational missions which could start flying as soon as two months from now. This is all part of a multi-billion-dollar contract SpaceX has with NASA to regularly run such missions ushering in a new era of space flight. One where private companies are the ones tasked with ferrying people to low earth orbit and NASA is just the customer. Back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks so much and thanks for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. EARLY START is up next. You're watching CNN. Have a wonderful day.