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White House Climate Change Denier On Fires; Two Year's Worth Of Fire In A Week; High Flood Risk In Mississippi And Alabama; 2024 To Achieve Global Inoculation Says Vaccine Make; Bahrain, UAE to Sign Normalization Pacts with Israel Tuesday; Trump Administration to Block More Goods from China Suspected of Being Made with Slave Labor; Growing Number of Hong Kong Residents Fleeing; Russia's Putin Announces $1.5 Billion Loan to Belarus; U.S. Open Champ Naomi Osaka Finds Her Voice. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired September 15, 2020 - 01:00   ET



JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. I'm John Vause.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM. Climate crisis in real time. Unprecedented wildfires in the U.S., a monster hurricane season in the

Atlantic. A massive ice melt from Greenland.

And the U.S. president doubts the science, linking all of it to global warming.

A blistering report calls out a total lack of cooperation and preparation among world leaders for the coronavirus pandemic.

And the desperate escape by sea for many in Hong Kong as Beijing tightens its grip.

Right now, every country, everyone is facing two global emergencies.

The most immediate threat is from the coronavirus pandemic with a worldwide death toll approaching one million.

And then there is the climate crisis. On its current path, every credible scientist and expert has warned this will mean disaster, the likes of which we have never seen before.

And the so-called leader of the free world has publicly doubted the science and the experts on both.

In California on Monday, Donald Trump downplayed the impact from climate change on the record-breaking wildfires which have left at least 35 people dead on the West Coast.

Instead, he blamed poor forest management, a long debunked argument.

And for the record, just three percent of state land is owned by the California government, more than 50 percent is under federal control. And then there was an awkward exchange with the head of California's

Natural Resources Agency.

Watch this.


WADE CROWFOOT, SECRETARY, CALIFORNIA NATURAL RESOURCES AGENCY: And we're seeing this warming trend make our summers warmer, but also our winters warmer as well.

If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians.


CROWFOOT: I wish --

TRUMP: You just watch.

CROWFOOT: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Yes. Well, I don't think science knows, actually.


VAUSE: The man challenging President Trump for the White House in November accused him of being more than just a climate change denier.

Joe Biden said Donald Trump is a climate arsonist.


JOE BIDEN, FMR. VICE PRESIDENT AND DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more America ablaze?

If you give a climate denier four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?

We need a president who respects science, who understands that the damage from climate change is already here.


VAUSE: And experts warn climate change is contributing to an intense hurricane season.

Right now, Hurricane Sally is approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast as a category two storm. That's less than three weeks after Hurricane Laura made landfall as a category four.

The latest on the storm in a moment but we'll begin with the wildfires out West with CNN's Martin Savidge. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's being called a once in a generation event.

More than a dozen large fires burning in the state of Oregon. About an hour and a half south of Portland, the Beachy Creek Fire is devastating the area.

Signs melted, structures bent to the will of the flames.

This week alone, the governor says over a million acres have burned in Oregon. That's double the amount that burns in a typical year.



SAVIDGE: Seventy-year old Kathy and her two cats have been in this Portland Red Cross shelter since Thursday, when they were forced to evacuate their home.


TAPIA: The police came knocking at the door within two hours and said we needed to go now. This is the worst experience. Scary.


Half a million Oregonians living in now what are evacuation zones. Tens of thousands of them have already been forced to flee, and there are growing concerns that the death toll can rise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the truck that would be down there.


SAVIDGE: Parts of Oregon's rural areas remain too dangerous to search for the nearly two dozen missing. Like George Ataya [ph].


SCOTT FOGARTY [ph]: His home is completely lost, and his shop.



Scott Fogarty, his friend of more than 20 years says Ataya [ph] would have fought till the end.


FOGARTY: If anybody could do it, he could.

SAVIDGE: Do you think he's still alive out there?



SAVIDGE: Across the western part of the U.S., more than 80 major fires are burning.

Smoldering structures left by this wildfire in Washington State.

At least 35 people have now died in the wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington this season. Twenty-four in California alone, where resources are stretched.


NANCY HAMILTON, FOUNDER & CO-OWNER, GOLDEN EAGLE FILMS: They really are a beast with their own identity. They move at their own whim, they're terrifying. And they move extremely quickly.



SAVIDGE: Three of the largest fires in California's history are still burning.

President Trump visiting today to get a fire briefing on the ground.

Against a backdrop of thick smoke, he emphasized the need to strengthen forest management.


TRUMP: This is one of the biggest burns we've ever seen, and we have to do a lot about forest management.


SAVIDGE: An astonishing 3.3 million acres have charred in the state since the start of the year.

California Governor Gavin Newsom says climate change played a key role.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CALIF.): It's self evident that climate change is real and that is exacerbating this. SAVIDGE: Martin Savidge, CNN. Lyons, Oregon.


VAUSE: As the West Coast burns, Americans on the Gulf Coast bracing for Hurricane Sally in what is turning out to be a very busy hurricane season.

Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri joins us now.

You make an interesting point. We're at the S's, and it's September.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, exactly. This is the time of year you begin to see the activity.

But, of course, we're running out of letters here when it comes to the number of storms we've seen already. And of course, within about three letters, we move on to the Greek alphabet.

And that is where we sit here in the middle portion of September with a category two hurricane just offshore of the Gulf Coast of the United States.

The concern with this is not only that it's a strong category two and it potentially strengthens a little bit more as it approaches land within the next 24 to 36 hours but it's that slow progression.

You'll notice by this time, say, Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the system could still be offshore and then finally we think by Wednesday morning it begins gradually making landfall somewhere across portions of the eastern area of the state of Mississippi or western area of the state of Alabama, Biloxi up towards Mobile.

Very densely populated area. Population densities when you put the metros together exceed 800,000 people.

So again, when you're looking at a high risk here for the tremendous amount of rainfall from a storm system that potentially could be one of the wettest we've seen in quite some time really going to be a lot of devastation left in place here.

Of course, the storm surge also gets funneled into the land here as the storm gradually sits in place.

But you'll notice, 250, 300, even up to 500 millimeters forecast in some of these areas right along the Gulf Coast in a two-day span.

Which would make it a one in a 100-year event if that is how much rainfall comes down.

And I did the math on this. Just 375 millimeters of rainfall in a city such as Mobile with a land area of about 500 square kilometers is the equivalent to about 70,000 Olympic-sized pools being dumped over the city in a matter of two days. Over 170 million liters of water.

So again, a tremendous amount of water with a storm that is going to be very, very slow to move.

And notice the activity. We have Paulette, Rene, Teddy, Vicky. This will be Wilfred our final storm of the season before we go to the Greek letters of Alpha, Beta and so on.

But you notice the western U.S. also a big story developing there.

But we do have some better news for the first time in several weeks as we're getting more of a marine influence, an onshore flow here. A couple of weak systems trying to finally push into the Pacific Northwest, so some showers possible there.

California looks almost largely excluded out of this. So unfortunately there, don't see much relief.

But at least in Oregon and Washington some relief in place, John.

VAUSE: Pedram, thank you. 70,000 swimming pools. That's a lot of swimming pools.


VAUSE: Despite traveling to California for a first-hand look at the state's unprecedented fire season, Donald Trump still doubts the science linking the increased frequency and intensity of these fires to climate change.


TRUMP: It'll start getting cooler.

CROWFOOT: I wish --

TRUMP: You just watch.

CROWFOOT: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Yes. Well, I don't think science knows actually.


VAUSE: Well, the vast majority do not agree with President Trump. Among those who do is David Legates, a well known climate change skeptic.

Here he is in 2011 arguing the sun's natural cycles are to blame for global warming.


DAVID LEGATES, CENTER FOR CLIMATE RESEARCH, UNIVERSITY OF DELAWARE: The sun is the key ingredient to climate, 99.9 percent of the energy on the earth that goes into the climate system comes from the sun.

Humans do affect our environment and one of the ways they do that is change the constituents of the atmosphere. I think the biggest driver is going to be other natural fluctuations.

And carbon dioxide plays a small role in that.


VAUSE: Three years after that, Legates made the same bogus claim before Congress.

And all of this matters now because the Trump Administration has appointed Legates to a senior position with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. NOAA, the agency that produces much of the climate research funded by the U.S. Government.

And joining us now is Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University and author of "The Price of Civilization."

Jeffrey Sachs, thank you for being with us.

And I want to let you know the reason why I mentioned Legates in the beginning. It seems symbolic of the past four years of this Trump White House and an open hostility towards science and everything which was done by the previous president to deal with climate change.

Is it possible to say at this point that the rollbacks we've seen over the last four years is making the situation in 2020 even worse than it should have been?

JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: Of course. Everything Trump is doing is based on lies to feed the trough, the cronies.


Whether it's in the oil industry or in other sectors.

I don't think we should take seriously what Trump says as a matter of how ignorant he is. What we know is that he is a liar.

So when he says it's going to get cooler, he doesn't know what science is, this is his game. It's sickening.

VAUSE: Along with the situation in California which is devastating right now, we're also seeing a situation with the ice shelf, with Greenland.

Scientists believe that Greenland's ice melt is now beyond the point of no return. Also a 44-square mile chunk of ice about twice the size of Manhattan has broken off the Arctic's largest remaining ice shelf in the northeast.

Now, two years later, leaving scientists fearful of its rapid disintegration.

And then there's the very active hurricane season in the Atlantic.

Is it fair to say to see that we're now just seeing the outer bands of this looming climate catastrophe which is heading our way?

SACHS: We are seeing what happens, as scientists have been warning us for decades, in fact. And certainly with as loud and clear message in recent years.

That we're seeing massive impacts and feedback effects that are accelerating the warming now and accelerating the consequences.

With the possibility of many meters of sea level rise, even within this century as both Antarctica and Greenland contribute to massive sea level increases then massive storm events, droughts, heat waves that are unprecedented.

Invasions of eco-systems causing more and more emergent diseases like COVID-19.

Every catastrophe, this president just blinks and say oh, the virus will go away, oh, it's going to get cooler. Oh, that's nothing.

VAUSE: Is it possible for a Biden White House to implement the change needed to reverse the impact of the last four years?

SACHS: Of course it is. What Vice President Biden is saying is that he will take the science seriously.

Whether it's stopping the pandemic, which is completely stoppable -- if Trump would have listened to any of his scientists, we would not have so many deaths. And Biden is talking about a massive transformation of our economy which is going to create more jobs, more prosperity and a safer environment.

Because Vice President Biden has it right. And he's not in the hands of big oil that is driving so much of this through the corruption of our politics.

Biden is telling it straight and will listen to what the scientists say.

VAUSE: Jeffrey Sachs, thank you so much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

SACHS: Pleasure to be with you .

VAUSE: Donald Trump also publicly ignoring the expert advice on how to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

For the second day, he held an indoor campaign rally.

Thousands gathered Monday in Phoenix, Arizona, few wearing face masks. And forget about social distancing, that is CURNOW: for the president who was onstage. Six feet away from everyone else.

And the company that hosted Sunday's rally in Henderson, Nevada facing $3,000 in fines for violating the state's guidelines.

And the U.S. fast approaching 195,000 COVID 19 deaths. More than six- and-a-half million have been infected.

And now CNN has obtained another exclusive recording of President Trump speaking with author, Bob Woodward.

This from a month ago.



TRUMP (VOICE OVER): Nothing more could have been done. Nothing more could have been done.


TRUMP: I acted early. Acted early (inaudible) and we'll see.

WOODWARD: -- this will be the history that we start the first draft of. And it will continue and --

TRUMP: So you think the virus totally supersedes the economy?

WOODWARD: Oh, sure. But they're related, as you know.


VAUSE: To Los Angeles now and Michael Genovese, president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University.

Michael, thank you for being with us.

I want to get very quickly to another exchange between Woodward and Trump. This is part of the back and forth when Trump claims nothing more could have been done.

Listen to this.


WOODWARD (VOICE OVER): It's a tough book, sir. And you have your say, and there's going to be a lot of controversy about it, I expect.

I expect the whole business with the COVID and dealing with that is laid out and so it's close to the bone. And you helped me get there. And I appreciate that.

TRUMP (VOICE OVER): All right.


Well, we've done better than most countries with COVID, you're starting to see that.

WOODWARD: I mean, there are parts of the book you're not going to like --

TRUMP: What won't I like, Bob?

WOODWARD: Well, just -- there is -- it's tough times.

The virus as you repeatedly told me, and as you've said publicly, it's derailed things. And it's a big reality in people's lives, as you know.

So I will get it to you. And --

TRUMP: You know the market's coming back very strong. You do know that.

WOODWARD: Yes, of course. And you know --

TRUMP: Did you cover that in the book?

WOODWARD: Oh, sure.


VAUSE: If you listen to these two soundbites together, they say a lot about this president, how he sees the virus, the impact. And what he believes is truly important.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a Churchillian moment for Donald Trump.

In the middle of this crisis, this pandemic, instead of being Churchillian and saying we have nothing to fear but fear itself, as FDR said, or we're going to fight this, we're going to beat it, we're going to confront our fears, we're going to beat this, he's worried about oh, how will the market be, how will I look in the mirror, how are people going to see me?

Instead of worrying about solving the problem, he's worried about the cosmetics of this.

And that's been a fault of Donald Trump's from the beginning. How do people see me, do they like me? Do they like what I'm doing?

And it's a sign not of his Churchillian wisdom and leadership but a sign that he's an ostrich sticking his head in the sand.

If the market's OK, everything's OK. Well, it's not.

VAUSE: Also from these tapes, what is obvious from the very beginning, that Trump has a preference for autocrats and dictators.

Again, here's President Trump and Bob Woodward.


TRUMP (VOICE OVER): I get along very well with Erdogan, even though you're not supposed to because everyone says, "What a horrible guy. But you know, for me it works out good.

It's funny the relationships I have, the tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them. You'll explain that to me some day, OK. But maybe it's not a bad thing.

The easy ones are the ones I maybe don't like as much or do think get along with as much."


VAUSE: The leaders he likes are serial human rights abusers openly hostile to the values of democracy.

And again, this is a lot more than when you lay down with dogs you get fleas.

GENOVESE: And you can tell a lot about the person by the friends he keeps and the company he keeps.

And Donald Trump is comfortable with people who are bullies and thugs. And he's very uncomfortable with people who have to manage the democratic process of give and take, of bargaining, of compromise.

He's very uncomfortable with democracy. He likes the efficiency of a dictatorship.

Now in his defense, he is accustomed to that because in his business, as a family businessman, he ran it. He was the dictator, he told people what to do. In a democracy, you can't always do that.

And that has run against Donald Trump's instincts, his experience. And that's one of the reasons why he's failing so badly as a leader.

VAUSE: We also have confirmation from the spokesman from the health department that he actually did make the statement that there's an anti-Trump faction of scientists at the CDC working to undermine the president, fixing the science. And then he went on to warn of a shooting rampage by left-wing groups if Trump was reelected.

In any other administration, the White House chief of staff would have fired this lunatic by now. But not this one.

GENOVESE: Well, first of all, people like that wouldn't get hired in almost any other administration.

He has a history of saying truly bizarre and somewhat frightening things. Nothing more frightening than what he said yesterday about buy your ammunition because it's going to be hard to get.

And then the inauguration when they try to push Donald Trump away, that's when the guns are going to have to go off.

It is a call to armed insurrection against the United States Government. In legal terms, there is a definition for that.

The president, instead of being outraged and firing this guy, this guy's doing what basically Donald Trump wants said.

He is basically saying, not a dog whistle, he's saying get your arms, get your guns ready, get the ammunition ready because there's going to be trouble. And we have to defend Donald Trump, no matter what.

VAUSE: It is a terrifying message, as you say, Michael. And we appreciate you being with us. Thank you for that.

Michael Genovese in Los Angeles.

GENOVESE: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: And a programming note right now. Bob Woodward will speak with Anderson Cooper about those 18 conversations he had with President Trump.

That interview at 1:00 am Wednesday, London time, which is 8:00 am in Hong Kong.

You'll see it only here on CNN.

VAUSE: Well, here's the good news. A coronavirus vaccine could be approved for use within months. Up next, the bad news. It could take years before everyone gets it.

Also, new coronavirus restrictions in U.K. will mean most will have to be a lot more judicious in who's included in their immediate social group.



VAUSE: In the coming days, the world is expected to record more than 30 million coronavirus cases.

And a new report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation finds the pandemic has set the world back 25 years in 25 week, in terms of achieving the UN's Sustainable Development goals.

A surge of cases has led Israel to approve a second nationwide lockdown set to begin on Friday. Schools, dine in restaurants and entertainment venues will all close for at least three weeks.

Brazil is reporting another 500 COVID deaths, bringing its nationwide death toll past 130,000, the second highest globally.

And Turkey recording its most fatalities since early May. More than 60 died within 24 hours. And that comes after restrictions were eased around the same time.

And the U.K. has imposed new restrictions on the size of social gatherings. CNN's Scott McLean has details.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) birthday.


SCOTT MCCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Summer is not quite over yet in England, but the party officially is.

After one last weekend of relative freedom, strict new rules are now in effect. Limiting the maximum size of a social gathering from 30 people down to just six.


BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF BRITAIN: I'm sorry about that. And I wish that we did not have to take this step.


MCCLEAN: As coronavirus cases rise sharply, fueled mostly by younger people, the British Government is trying to avoid mass infections turning into mass hospitalizations and rising deaths.

Spain and France are now seeing both.


CHRIS WHITTY, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, ENGLAND: We're following a pattern extremely similar to what France followed.


MCCLEAN: The new rules come after police complained that the old ones were too difficult to enforce with limits on the number of households, indoors, different rules for outdoor get togethers and business gatherings. And a dizzying array of exceptions.


JOHNSON: I know that over time the rules have become quite complicated and confusing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are confusing, yes.


MCCLEAN: In central London, we couldn't find anyone well versed in the old rules, but almost everyone we met knew about the new ones.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it's gone down to six people.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't gather in more than six.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number seven's very dangerous or something. I get the impression having seven people's a no no. But other than that...



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The message is so confusing, but if people just use their common sense I think that they'll be OK.


MCLEAN: Even on a Monday, we found one group of seven sitting outside a pub. But most people said they've always been careful to follow what they knew of the rules.

Enforcement, though, has been rare.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've never seen it, no.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People are still going to meet up. I don't think it's going to change anything.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To tell the truth, I've not seen no police enforce anything.


MCLEAN: The prime minister is promising the new rules will come with stricter police enforcement.


If that doesn't work, he may have to take more drastic measures to stem the tide of Britain's second wave.

Scott McLean. CNN, London.


VAUSE: The world's largest vaccine maker warns it could take till the end of 2024 before everyone is inoculated for the virus.

The Serum Institute of India says that assessment is based on everyone needing two injections -- do the math, a total of 15 billion worldwide.

Right now all leading vaccine contenders require two separate shots.


DR. JORGE RODRIGUEZ, INTERNAL MEDICINE & VIRAL SPECIALIST: All of the studies are showing that to get an adequate immune response it is going to require two doses, probably spaced a month apart

But what we need to keep in mind is that it may not require, first and foremost, everyone in the world to get vaccinated to slow down or even stop the spread.


VAUSE: Thirty-five vaccines are in human trials around the world right now. No guarantees any of them will work.

To Los Angeles and Anne Rimoin, professor of epidemiology at UCLA.

Professor, thank you for being with us.

The reality is not everyone will need a vaccination which means maybe that timeline for global inoculation is not four years, as we heard from the head of the Serum Institute. But maybe closer to this prediction from Dr. Anthony Fauci in the U.S.

Listen to this.


DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: I believe that we will have a vaccine that will be available by the end of this year and beginning of next year.

But by the time you mobilize the distribution of the vaccinations and you get the majority or more of the population vaccinated and protected, that's likely not going to happen till the mid or end of 2021.


VAUSE: So it seems, in other words, they're both saying pretty much the same thing.

Whenever a vaccine is approved be it tomorrow or next year, we're going to be a lot closer to the beginning of the process than the end.


Just having a vaccine that is safe and effective is step one in the process of being able to get the world vaccinated.

If you think about just the logistics of getting these vaccines to the places where they will be distributed, it's going to be massive.

These vaccines actually require very, very cold temperatures and storage that is not just readily available everywhere.

We are going to have to rethink what we think of as cold chain, keeping that vaccine at the right temperature from the time that it's made to the time that it's delivered.

This is a very serious issue. So we're going to have to be making sure that these vaccines are kept cold and then distributed.

And then, as Dr. Fauci said, these vaccines, the ones that are the candidates right now, these mRA vaccines, they require two doses one month apart. So if you think about the logistics of being able to vaccinate so many people, this is going to require a lot of time.

So I think we should be optimistic, we should be thoughtful about how -- what will happen -- but we need to be very thoughtful about what's going to happen next once we have a vaccine that is proven to be safe and effective.

Then we also have to think about vaccine hesitancy. This issue that we're finding, that people are very nervous about the vaccine.

We've lost a lot of trust in the FDA, in the CDC, in all of these federal bodies that we normally look to for advice. And so if we do not have good vaccine acceptance, we're going to be in big trouble, here.

VAUSE: Worldwide, there is a surge in daily -- daily case counts, sorry, counts and new infections.

We had this new report came out from the World Health Organization and the World Bank. A blistering assessment of a failure of international cooperation and preparation, describing -- "a collective failure to take pandemic prevention preparedness and response seriously and prioritize it accordingly."

Many country's leaders "have struggled to take early decisive action based on science, evidence and best practice."

And if there is one leader around the world who seems to sort of symbolize this more than any other, it is Donald Trump.

And what he says really has an impact on what his supporters believe.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why aren't you wearing a mask.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care for it. It's really that simple.



TRUMP: I don't see it for myself.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am young, and a lot of people who are here are not --



TRUMP: Young people are very strong against this horrible disease.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am not wearing a mask because I had my temperature taken already. And I'm not sick.



TRUMP: Not necessary here. Everybody's been tested, and I've been tested.


VAUSE: It is unbelievable. This is the man in charge of the country, in charge of the pandemic response.

RIMOIN: Well, I think that we've got a big problem where we do not have our leaders being the absolute example for good public health behavior.

The fact that masks have become politicized, it's just utterly ridiculous. These are just blunt public health measures that are going to save lives.


And we're in big trouble when we have our leaders not taking this seriously and not doing everything that they can in their power to actually preserve life and to be able to do the right thing. So yes, I agree with you completely, John. JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. And we are out of time, Anne but you know, it's seems the one scenario that the health experts did not plan for was an American president deliberately lying to the public.

Maybe we can correct (ph) that next time.

RIMOIN: Absolutely.

VAUSE: Anne Rimoin in Los Angeles.

Thank you so much.

RIMOIN: Thank you.

VAUSE: A major TV moment at the White House just hours from now when the U.A.E. and Bahrain officially normalize relations with Israel. So what exactly has been achieved and what is being left out? That is coming up.

Also, the U.S. takes action against the use of slave labor in China's Xinjiang Province. What the U.S. is actually doing. We'll explain in a moment.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause.

The White House has not seen too many days like the one expected on Tuesday. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two Gulf Arab nations will sign separate agreements with Israel to normalize relations. The deals should improve the economies of all three countries, fortify regional security by presenting a united front against Iran.

And a senior White House official says this may not be the last signing ceremony. The Trump administration hoping to broke a similar deal through Israel with Oman, Sudan and Morocco.

Let's get more of this from CNN's John Defterios, live in Abu Dhabi. And you know, John, if you look at the pace of the business agreement between Israel and the U.A.E. it would suggest the normalization agreement has been in the works for quite some time and maybe not such a close-held secret, at least for those in the know.

JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Yes, that's understated. Those of us in the region kind of saw it coming, John. In fact when I was in Bahrain last year, I saw Jared Kushner meeting with the crown prince of Bahrain at an event that I was chairing there.

And they didn't get that wider peace for prosperity deal but they did get Plan B here. And that is GCC Israeli alliance, which could broaden that into the wider Arab world. So this is a Sunni shield together with Israel against Iran.

But then, if you look at the business flow, it's not about the dollar amount, or the dirham (ph) or the shekels here. It is about the intent, right?

So let's take a look at what I'm talking about. It is medical, technology and banking, three strategic areas where they can collaborate. The only thing that stands out for me in this agreement at least for the U.A.E. and Israel is they do not step on each other's toes when it comes to business. It's actually complimentary.


DEFTERIOS: Group 42 and NanoScent actually announced this agreement before the normalization process, to your point, about the fact this has been in the works for a while.

What are the next stages of this collaboration? U.A.E. sovereign laws, of course, going into Israel and still going to (INAUDIBLE) that you know about, John? Their technology belt in Israel, the pipeline, security technology for these alliance between the U.A.E. and Israel and then the broader states.

And finally you have to think about the expo of 2021. Everything can proceed with regards what we're faced with COVID-19. You can see a coming together here of Israel in Dubai for that expo.

And it is a common enemy that brings them together at a rapid pace, John. It is Iran and almost an insurance policy, Donald Trump is not there. Israel and these gulf states and perhaps other states as the White House is indicating have this front against Iran. So this will dial up the tension in the region.

VAUSE: You mention this alliance between, you know, the Sunni Arabs and Israel in terms of containing Iran. How does it work best here? Are we talking about economic isolation or military isolation? Or a combination of both?

DEFTERIOS: I think you put it perfectly, John. It's a combination of both. And I would have to say that Lebanon is flash point from sources that I've been speaking to and Hezbollah. Taking a very tough line if Lebanon wants support from this alliance going forward in the future in the gulf state, money -- then Hezbollah has to be out.

That is kind of the view here. And that of course involves Iran. And it's going to isolate Iran even more. Let's take a look at some of the key figures that have been out there in terms of their economics.

A contraction this year of 6 percent, John, that's bad. But over three years, we are looking at nearly a fifth of their economy wiped out by U.S. sanctions. The unemployment rate 16 percent, much higher of course amongst the youth.

The third line is interesting, because Iran is pretty resilient. It still produced 1.9 million barrels a day even though the U.S. is trying to push for exports to zero. That has not been successful. It has partnerships with Russia and China. But they were producing 3.5 million barrels a day prior to the sanctions in 2018. So again, another painful threshold for Iran. I'm not sure if it makes this region more peaceful, even people say, better to have the conflict and get it out of the way. But right now, let's just look at the alliance that is formed. If you asked this question six, seven months ago, that it would come together this quickly, I would have to say no.

VAUSE: Have the conflict, get it out of the way and move on. John, thank you. John Defterios --

DEFTERIOS: Unbelievable. Yes --


VAUSE: Absolutely. Thank you, John.

Well, trade tensions between the U.S. and China have taken a new turn. The Trump administration has issued new restrictions on Chinese imports from companies suspected of using slave labor.

Let's go to Beijing one more time. Steven Jiang is there for us.

Steven, you know, the export ban, it will target Xinjiang as well as the nearby Anwei (ph) Province -- it seems to be very narrow in its focus. And there seems to be a wiggle room, if you like, wide open, you know, for anyone who wants to get around this in a way, I guess. It raises questions of how will this be enforced and a lot of other questions as well?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER: That's right. This is a much weaker initiative than many people have been expecting, because as you say, these new five orders from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency are targeting companies that manufacture cotton, hair products, computer parts and clothing in this one industrial park in Xinjiang. In this one particular internment camp that they say that are using forced labor from ethnic minorities.

But of course the Chinese government has always insisted these are so- called vocational training centers that offer job training and reeducation as part of their counterterrorism and counter extremism efforts.

But the U.S. government has said otherwise. These are places where ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are subject to abuse and torture and often forced to work in heinous conditions. That is why these five new orders are targeting companies in this one part.

But there is actually a wider initiative that is going to ban -- potentially ban all tomato and cotton products from Xinjiang. That is going to be a much stronger and much wider kind of border targeting the whole region of Xinjiang but according to U.S. Customs officials because this is the first time they were going to do that, this is still under legal review.

So this latest initiative from the Border and Custom Agency probably disappointing many, but this is they say the right direction and they're getting increasingly serious and aggressive about it, John. VAUSE: Steve, very quickly, the U.S. ambassador there in China Terry

Branstad, he is stepping down. He has been there since the Trump administration appointed him in the very beginning. Apparently he had a great relationship with Xi Jinping from a much earlier time. Is this an expected decision from Branstad?


JIANG: You know, the departure itself was not entirely shocking, because many sources have told us he had always intended to serve only one term because of his age. He is 73. But the timing of this announcement and the fact that he is leaving before the election has called the attention of a lot of people because he is indeed the top U.S. government representative in the country and leaving his post at a time when relations are at an all-time low.

But of course we have learned now that part of the reason is now he has been asked by Mr. Trump to go back to Iowa to campaign for the president not only in his home state, but also in other midwestern states where he is popular and potentially becoming a very ideal candidate to talk about how getting tough on China be good for the American people.

But as you mentioned, he has an interesting story because he does sound very proud of his relationship with President Xi Jinping. This is one of his favorite books. It's called "Old Friends: The Xi Jinping/Iowa Story". It's a copy he gave to me. In it he has a photo of the two them back in 1985.

But it seems like despite this relationship, he has been a unable to leverage this to really benefit this overall relations because according to many he is really not a central player in the decision- making process of the Trump administration's China policy. That would be Pompeo and Lighthizer among others.

So that is why I think people say leaving right now, he is simply leaving a largely symbolic post, John.

VAUSE: Steven, thank you. We appreciate the update. Steven Jiang, live in Beijing.

Still to come, Hong Kong was once the destination for those escaping Beijing's oppression. But now many are fleeing what was a sanctuary as China tightens its grip.

And a friend in need. Vladimir Putin propping up the man they call Europe's last dictator. Details ahead.


VAUSE: Through the European Summit on Monday, the E.U. directly warned China's President Xi Jinping to step back from a crackdown on Hong Kong, citing incidents like police tackling a 12-year-old girl to the ground, which recently raised grave concerns in Europe for that Hong Kong's controversial national security law. No kidding.

Live now to CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson. The rain has stopped, thank goodness.

You know, the Europeans may be concerned but, you know, people that are in Hong Kong are downright terrified of how this new security law will change their life in particular.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and if you want evidence of kind of the historic shift here, just look at the role shifting and transforming for Hong Kong, from being this safe harbor for Chinese for generations who fled communist rule to reach this former British colony, in some cases swimming across the bay to get to this island city.

Now, we are starting to see signs of Hong Kongers trying to flee Hong Kong to the relative safety of the self-governed island of Taiwan. And some so desperate to escape law enforcement that they are actually taking to the water to try to make their escape. [01:44:55]


WATSON: Hong Kong has always been defined by the sea that surrounds it. But for Hat Su-yen (ph), the ocean is much more than just a pretty backdrop.

This was how he escaped to freedom. One night in 1975, he tells me, he and a friend fled Communist China in a homemade rubber dinghy and started paddling toward the lights of Hong Kong.

Han made it to Hong Kong, then a British colony, and built a life here. But these days, he no longer equates the city with freedom.

"They promised us 50 years with no changes," he says, referring to the agreement China made before the British handover of Hong Kong in 1997. "But now, they are taking away more of my freedom every day."

A growing number of people are fleeing the port city that once served as a sanctuary.

This is one of the last islands before Hong Kong gives way to international waters, and this is, locals say, a well known smuggling route. The new phenomenon here is that people are starting to try to escape the territory by sea.

Last month, the Chinese coast guard intercepted and arrested a boatload of 12 Hong Kongers who illegally crossed into Chinese waters, officials say. The detainees were almost all fleeing criminal charges linked to last year's increasingly violent anti-government protests.

Their families gave an emotional press conference Saturday, calling for China to treat them fairly, and return the 12 to Hong Kong.

MRS. WONG, WIFE OF DETAINEE WONG WAI-YIN: I want to tell my husband don't worry, I'll wait for your return. Whether it will take 10 years, 20 years or a lifetime. We will not give up on you.

WATSON: Earlier this summer, the Chinese government imposed a national security law that strips away part of Hong Kong's autonomy. Security forces began rounding up opposition leaders as well as anyone who tries to peacefully protest.

The boatload of fugitives was captured by Chinese authorities while trying to make the more than 700-kilometer or 440-mile journey to Taiwan.

A source who spoke on a condition of anonymity, fearing prosecution, says at least two other activist boats have successfully made a similar escape.

Taiwan says the number of Hong Kongers requesting to settle here, more than doubled this year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, everyone somehow is trapped in Hong Kong, they can't find other way to escape.

WATSON: Among the new arrivals, some activists who don't want to be identified because they fled criminal charges in Hong Kong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is much safer here.

WATSON: People like this 19-year-old now face a lifetime in exile, perhaps never seeing their families again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the most, I really, really want to go home.

WATSON: Back in Hong Kong, 73-year-old Hat Su-yen says he sympathizes with the younger generation now fleeing the city.

"I support them," he says. Adding "I know what it means to fight for freedom."


WATSON: But John, one of the consequences of this is that you've got a cottage industry of the Hong Kong opposition movement now taking root in Taiwan, that self-governed island that Beijing views as a breakaway piece of Chinese territory. There's a cafe there, for instance with an entire Hong Kong protest theme, and the workers there are Hong Kong activists in exile.

There is a book store run by a man who used to run a store here in Hong Kong that published books critical of the Chinese leadership. And he has relocated to Taiwan, and runs his bookstore there. And all of these individuals, they show the slogans and the chants and flags of last year's Hong Kong protest movement, which now can get you arrested for saying those things or waving those flags in public.

And the Taiwanese government is walking a fine line here, kind of showing ongoing support for Hong Kong's protest movement, but also trying not to anger the Chinese government too much and not create kind of a drag or a magnet effect that could bring more Hong Kongers to that self-governing island, John.

VAUSE: Yes, Ivan, thank you. The trip to Taiwan is kind of mind-blowing when you think about it, but thank you. Ivan Watson there, live for us in Hong Kong.

Kremlin critic and Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny is now off of ventilator. He's being treated in a German military hospital after he was poisoned last month before boarding a flight from Siberia to Moscow. Doctors say Navalny is able to leave his bed for at least short periods of time.


VAUSE: And the French President Emmanuel Macron has pressed his Russian counterparts for answers during a phone call on Monday. Vladimir Putin says it is unfounded and inappropriate to accuse Russia of having anything to do with the poisoning.

Putin hosted the embattled president of Belarus in Sochi on Monday, promising financial and military aid.

Alexander Lukashenko has held power for decades and is now under pressure to step down from protesters who say the last election was rigged.

But as CNN's Matthew Chance reports, the man they call the last dictator of Europe has a friend in Vladimir Putin.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For the embattled Belarusian leader, Alexander Lukashenko is looking for a lifeline from the Kremlin. He's facing huge protests at home after declaring victory in presidential elections last month, marred by allegations of widespread fraud.

Publicly at least, the Kremlin appears to be standing by the man who has ruled Belarus for the past 26 years. Despite his bordering of a crackdown about protesters which has seen horrific scenes of police brutality, mass arrests and allegations of detainees being beaten and tortured, President Putin of Russia who recognized the election as legitimate, has now offered the Belarusian leader a loan of $1.5 billion, as well as first access to Russia's Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine, currently in Phase 3 trials.

Putin has already announced he'd put (INAUDIBLE) of special riot police on standby to deploy to Belarus if they're requested by the authorities there. The big question though is what will the Kremlin want in return for this support?

You know, perhaps that's (ph) ahead from Lukashenko in these face-to- face meeting with Putin. These events, he said in the meeting, have shown that we need to stick closer to our older brother, a reference to Russia. There's been much discussion in recent years about Russia and Belarus becoming more closely integrated.

It's possible that that could be on the table, although there's been no other public statements about it. But the Kremlin is likely to be wary because it knows that the protesters in Belarus are not anti- *Russian, only anti-Lukashenko. And by supporting Lukashenko, they face turning ordinary people in Belarus against them too, something that they may want to avoid, believing Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (ph) issued a stark reminder of the situation as the talks between the two strongman leaders got under way.

"Any agreements they make will be illegitimate," she said in a statement, "because the Belarusian people withdrew their support and trust from Lukashenko at the elections."

Matthew Chance, CNN -- Moscow.


VAUSE: Well, se was known as one of the shyest and quietest players in pro tennis. Now with another Grand Slam title, Naomi Osaka has found her voice with a powerful message.


VAUSE: Well, after winning the U.S. Open, tennis star Naomi Osaka is hinting that she will become more socially active. Osaka report (ph) attention to the fight for racial justice on and off the court, but she was not always so outspoken as CNN's Christina MacFarlane explains.


CRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: She was the shy girl of tennis, a two-time Grand Slam champion not always comfortable in the limelight.

But this tumultuous year has brought about a change in Naomi Osaka. A staggering sporting and public transformation in just four months that began during lockdown in early May.

I want to ask you about something you posted on Twitter. You spoke about the fact that you are done with being shy. What prompted you to tweet about that?


NAOMI OSAKA, PRO TENNIS PLAYER: No, no. I want to also take like the quarantine time to just think about everything. For me, I have a lot of regrets before I go to sleep. And most of the regrets is due to like I don't speak out about what I'm thinking.

MACFARLANE: She put an end to that when she boarded a plane to Minneapolis to join the protests over George Floyd's death.

In numerous tweets that followed, Osaka became a constant and leading athlete voice against systemic racism.

OSAKA: Black rights are human rights. And this movement is not a trend. If our humanity makes you uncomfortable, get used to it. MACFARLANE: Even voicing support for police reform. But her voice grew

louder when lockdown ended and tennis resumed, forcing a 24-hour pause on the Western and Southern Open semifinal as part of a wider protest after the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.

In a tweet she said watching the continued genocide of black people at the hand of the police is honestly making me sick to my stomach.

At the U.S. Open, her fight went global without having to say a word. With seven masks displaying the names of black victims of alleged police or race violence, one for each match to the finals, Osaka had to keep winning to wear them all, fuel for her to stay focused and comfort for the victims families.

SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN'S MOTHER: We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the U.S. Open.

MACFARLANE: Would Osaka recognize herself now discussing her shyness just a few months ago?

OSAKA: There's a lot of ones where I see myself in situations where I could have like put my input in, but instead I have held my tongue and then things kept moving in a way that I did not really enjoy. And I feel like if I asserted myself, then maybe I would've gotten the opportunity to see what would have happened.

MACFARLANE: In the past four months, some of the hardest any of us can remember, this U.S. Open champion has found her best game and her voice. Just imagine what the years ahead may have in store.

Christina MacFarlane, CNN -- London.


VAUSE: And 2020 isn't done yet. Now it comes with a possible alien life on Venus. Scientists has detected traces of a gas called phosphine, which is toxic to humans but could be evidence that microbes live in the clouds of the planet, little organisms that would be a big deal. NASA calls it the most significant development yet in building the case that there's life out there.

It, of course, would be the start an alien invasion, which will be here by New Year's. Maybe not.

I'm John Vause. My colleague Rosemary Church takes over after a short break.

You're watching CNN.