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CNN INTERNATIONAL: Ukraine Scrambles to Contain Damage to its Power System; U.S. Determines MBS is Immune in Case over Khashoggi Killing; North Korea Launches International Ballistic Missile; Are users Losing Confidence in Twitter; Cuba hopes to Attract Visitors with Shark Tourism. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 08:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN HOST, NEWSROOM: Hello, welcome to CNN "Newsroom", I'm Max foster in London. Just ahead a winter begins to bite inside Ukraine. Millions are without power after Russian attacks on infrastructure nationwide. Plus, the U.S. government determined Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince is immune, in a case brought against him over the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. And Twitter in turmoil again, the social media joins offices are shut today after many staff reportedly rejects a harsh ultimatum from Elon Musk.

We begin in Ukraine where millions of people nationwide are again without heat or electricity falling another wave of Russian missile strikes, and it couldn't come at a worse time. The power grid is under added strain due to a dramatic drop in temperatures, which has now fallen below freezing and parts of the country. President Zelenskyy says crews are doing everything possible to contain the damage and restore energy infrastructure.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE: The consequences of another missile attack against Ukraine continue all day. Again, there have been emergency power outages in addition to planned ones. As of now, more than 10 million Ukrainians are without electricity.


FOSTER: CNN's Nic Robertson joins me now live from Kyiv. And this is really harmful, isn't it to the people living there and it comes at a really difficult time?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It does and I think we got a sense of that last night when the power came back on in the Southern Port City of Odessa. People in the apartment buildings there were literally cheering out of their windows, because they were relieved to get power back and that's in the south of the country imagining in the north or in the countryside where the conditions are much colder. People there have been cut off from electricity for longer periods, often because it's sort of more at the end of the supply lines and that's the problem for the government.

It's not just the switching network, the big high voltage cables that you would be familiar with running around the country that have been locked out. It's the country's ability to know how much power is being used in different areas of the country, and therefore effectively manage the whole grid and know where to switch it and where to keep the power up and where to drop it back a little bit. That's what's been damaged by the Russian shelling and missiles.

40 percent the customers according to one of the energy providers here with without power. But it's not just the power, as we know that's what provides the heating. But it's communications as well that that major city in the East Kharkiv yesterday was cut off from the rest of the country until they were able engineers were able to reconnect the communications network to it because that, of course runs off electricity.

So slowly but surely through Russian attrition the ability of the country to function is being degraded. There's no indication that any one's about to change any of the political positions here or anyone's feelings on the street about how the country should continue to fight for its freedom fight for its independence, but it is having that very, very significant effect and yesterday as well.

It wasn't just electricity that was being taken out and knocking on the communications. It was the gas supplies as well which are vital, vital in this country for keeping some of the apartment buildings and these types of areas warmth, Max.

FOSTER: Making a very dark Kyiv tonight, thank you. Nic Robertson there for us live. And investigation, meanwhile, shows the explosions of the Nord Stream pipeline in September were an act of gross sabotage. That's according to a Swedish prosecutor.

Investigators have found traces of explosives at the site in the Baltic Sea. Swedish and Danish authorities are investigating four holes in the Nord Stream one and two pipelines which link Russia and Germany by way of the Baltic Sea. Officials say the probe will determine whether any suspects can be identified.

Now, the Biden administration has determined that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, should be granted immunity in a lawsuit brought against him by the fiance of murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. That's because Saudi Arabia's King has just been promoted the Crown Prince rather to Prime Minister in what some say was an effort to shield his son, since the new position would qualify him for immunity in the U.S. as a foreign head of government.


FOSTER: But according to U.S. intelligence, it was bin Salman who approved Khashoggi's murder. There's footage of Khashoggi entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul back in 2018 just before he was killed. Bin Salman denies any involvement we should say.

Meanwhile, Khashoggi's fiance says the journalist who was critical of the Saudi government, "Died again today". Let's bring in senior national security correspondent Alex Marquardt. He joins us from Washington, D.C. I mean, this is what happens under the diplomatic rules, but very difficult for the family today.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It is Max and the State Department is making clear that this is essentially about diplomatic rules. They're saying that it is long standing principle of common and international law that foreign heads of state and heads of government are given immunity from prosecution here in the United States. But the Crown Prince, as you just pointed out, he wasn't that until a couple of weeks ago, he was simply the Crown Prince, the son of the King, he did have senior government roles like the minister of defense, but just a couple of weeks ago, the Crown Prince was made the Prime Minister and therefore he became the head of the Saudi government, of course, the absolute power still rests with the King.

And so the experts, legal experts and activists who I have spoken with, they said that there was a ploy to get MBS as he's known immunity here in the United States, and that appears to have worked because in the filing that was made by the Justice Department last night in a federal court here in Washington, D.C. They said that because he is the head of the government, he should be immune. I also spoke with the State Department.

This is what they said to me and part of this statement. This suggestion of immunity does not reflect an assessment on the merits of the case. It speaks to nothing on broader policy or the state of relations. This was purely a legal determination. Across administrations, there is an unbroken practice of the United States recognizing immunity for heads of government while they are in office.

So Max, it's not because they believe he's innocent is because of what they call this unbroken practice. But we should note that this was not required of the State Department or justice department. They had been invited to weigh in, and they decided to weigh in because of what they are calling this past practice.

And now of course, we are starting to hear a lot of anger. We expect to hear more that day here in Washington D.C. is just getting started but also sadness. I heard from the fiance of Jamal Khashoggi overnight. She called this a devastating day and it is clear that she holds President Biden personally responsible.

She also tweeted that, Biden saved the murderer by granting immunity. He saved the criminal and got involved in the crime himself. Let's see who will save you in the hereafter? Max.

FOSTER: Yes, we will be hearing more about it for sure. Thank you, Alex. Now North Korea is facing a barrage of international condemnation after it carried out another missile tests early on Friday. This time it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew for about 1000 kilometers east.

And that's according to South Korea; Japan says it landed in the sea west of Japan. The Lord sparked outrage amongst world leaders gathered at the APEC summit in Bangkok, Thailand. U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris convened an emergency meeting and blasted Pyongyang's actions are a brazen violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. CNN's Paula Hancocks joins me now from Seoul. This is the language we've been hearing virtually every day, isn't it from Western leaders?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Max. I mean, there's not much more they can say. To be honest, what they are saying is what we heard from Kamala Harris today saying that this is destabilizing the region saying its unnecessarily raising tensions in the region, as well. But at this point, Pyongyang is completely closed its ears off to what international leaders say and doesn't seem to be swayed by anything at this point.

So what we've seen today is what appears to be the second ICBM test in just one month. Now, back on November 3, there was a test which according to a South Korean government source telling CNN, they believe that particular one failed, but this one today did appear to be at least in part successful. So they would have learned something from this.

Now we heard from Japan's Defense Minister, and he said that he believed that if it was a normal trajectory. So fired in a normal way, then it could reach Mainland, United States. What North Korea does is it fires these ICBMs up into the air, and awfully long way to make sure it's not going over other countries.

So it is a lofted trajectory. So if it was fired in a normal way it could they believe, hit Mainland, United States. Of course, it is all theoretical at this point, depending on what kind of payload these kinds of missiles would have. But these are the ones that do concern Washington, the much longer range that we have been seeing.

We saw one just in March of this year, and it's in keeping with what we're seeing from Pyongyang this year.


HANCOCKS: 34 days, we have seen a missile test from this country. It is unprecedented in North Korea's history we have never seen this level of missile testing and nobody expects it to end anytime soon.

FOSTER: OK, Paula Hancocks in Seoul thank you. Several public figures are walking through today after being released from Myanmar's jails in honor of the country's National Day. Economist Sean Turnell arrived safely home in Australia after 21 months of detention.

And here you see Japanese journalist Toro Kubota, who was met by welcoming trowel crowds as he arrived in Tokyo. Former British Ambassador to Myanmar, Vicki Bowman was also freed. Well over 6000 people were released on Thursday, as part of Myanmar's mass prisoner pardon.

Now, for the first time in two decades, the Democratic Party in the U.S. House of Representatives will have a new leader. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and that's Thursday, she is bearing out of the race to lead House Democrats. The 82-year old says it's time for someone new. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I will not seek reelection to Democratic leadership in the next Congress. For me, the hours come for a new generation to lead the Democratic caucus that I so deeply respect.


FOSTER: Pelosi has overseen some of the most important legislation in her time as first female House Speaker along the way of becoming a frequent target of the right, of course, as well. The question now is who will replace Pelosi as Democratic Leader. Let's discuss that with our Jessica Dean in Washington, I mean, very big shoes to step into. But there's one clear front runner isn't there?

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Max. That would be Congressman Hakeem Jeffries. He's from the state of New York. He is the Chair of the House Democrats and he is the likely successor.

It was quite a day yesterday, I'm standing just outside of the House chamber and this place was absolutely packed. We saw in some of the videos, she walked through the hallways and then to go in the chamber, there was certainly a sense of history being made, as you laid out. She has been just a central figure in American politics for some two decades now, and has been right here for four presidential administrations for huge legislation that she has ushered through the House of Representatives.

Most recently for President Joe Biden, she had this tiny majority in the House and was able to get through big pieces of bipartisan legislation and then obviously, the inflation reduction act over the summer that was Democrats only. So she has certainly left her mark here again, as the first and only woman to ever be Speaker of the House. Now should Jeffries take her place, he would become the first black man to ever be to hold power over any party to lead any party in any chamber here on Capitol Hill.

So he would be making history of his own that is for sure. And it's, worth noting Max, Pelosi 82 her second and third in command also in their 80s. They're going to likely be stepping aside as well.

So this really is a sea change a generational shift in leadership here for House Democrats as they look to the future. And it will be interesting because Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, her second in command, and also Jim Clyburn are all likely to stay in Congress, they just won't be in leadership anymore. So they'll just be one of the rank and files.

Imagine Nancy Pelosi is just a rank and file member of the House of Representatives. It's a hard thing for a lot of people to kind of get their arms around. But again, talking to Jeffries yesterday, he told my colleague that he wanted to make this all about Speaker Pelosi yesterday.

That was the same for any of the other people who will likely take over leadership positions. They really kept the focus on Pelosi; we're likely to hear from them today. We've already heard from Katherine Clark. She's a congresswoman also going to run for one of the lower leadership positions within the House Democrats and we will likely hear from Jeffries very soon, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Jessica Dean in Washington. We look forward to that. Thank you very much. Well, this is awkward, that was Budweiser's response too.

Now a deleted tweet to Qatar banning alcohol sales at World Cup stadiums Budweiser is a major sponsor of the tournament which kicks off in just two days. FIFA confirmed the late change in policy just today. Back in September, organizers said they would only sell beer three hours before and one hour after each match Qatar is known for its tightly regulated alcohol sales and they're even tighter now around the world cup.

Will have much more on this story in the build up to the World Cup in Qatar on "World Sport", that's in about 15 minutes from now. Still to come closed offices, a harsh ultimatum and a staff exodus what is going on inside Twitter? Do users really have the confidence anymore in the platform? Stay with us.



FOSTER: Welcome to you, now, is it safe to use Twitter? All are users slowly losing confidence or quickly losing confidence? That's a question. Many are asking as the social media giant is in chaos yet again, today.

Its offices are closed employee badges are suspended. This after many staffers reportedly rejected an ultimatum from the new owner, Elon Musk and they just walked out. This is on top of all the people they're fired so far.

This is how quickly things are happening. It was only on October the 27th that he took over and fired the top executives ended up firing half the staff and now even more are just leaving willingly because they're not happy to deal with his conditions of work. Let's say this is how he responded today.

This was a tweet, how do you make a small fortune in social media? Start out with a large one. He's losing a lot of money through this process. And here's another thought from him. The death of Twitter, perhaps he doesn't think so.

Let's bring in Senior Media Reporter Oliver Darcy, who is trying to keep up with this very rapidly moving story. First of all, he's losing more staff than he thought he was going to lose. Does that mean that there are parts of the platform that you're just going to stop working soon?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: It's possible. I think that's the big question right now is will Twitter continue to function? And no one really knows the answer, because right now it seems that there are parts of Twitter that are basically running on autopilot. They're not being manned by staff and according to some reports; there are some pretty critical parts of Twitter that are unmanned.

And so the question is really, is Twitter going to survive Elon Musk? How long is it going to continue being a platform? You'll remember when Elon Musk fired about half of the staff just two weeks ago or so that they fire too many people and they had to basically ask few people to come back because they realized they needed them to continue just operating the place.

This is a lot worse now that you've seen a mass exodus employee. So if you thought two weeks ago is bad. It's a lot worse now. I was talking to a Former Executive last night, who recently departed Twitter. And they were telling me Twitter's going to have a hard time just keeping the lights on at this point.

That's how depleted the staff is over there. And last night, I think the users really got a sense of this. The top trend worldwide was RIP Twitter so death is really in the air over there.

FOSTER: Users are losing trust in the platform, aren't they? Some of them feeling it are not safe for them anymore? Or what advice is being given to them?

DARCY: Well, there's a real question about security at this point, right? I mean, Twitter is a hugely important communications platform.


DARCY: Not only do people like you and I use it, but the Presidents of States is on there, world governments have leaders on there. And so it's incredibly important that this site is protected and I think there's a real sense that it's perhaps a little bit vulnerable right now, given this mass exodus of employees, and just the general disarray, even the people who are inside Twitter for instance, if they're not permitted to go into the offices today. They suspended badge access and close the offices and so this company is just in chaos.

What you tell regular users, be careful, I think about what you do on the site. I think some people are being told or advised that maybe you should download an archive of your tweets just so you have that available if you'd like to have that in the future. But I mean there's really not much people can do outside deleting or deactivating their accounts.

FOSTER: You should never underestimate Elon Musk, should you if you look back at his career, and he's turned all sorts of businesses around that no one thought he would be able to turn around. So a lot of his fans obviously saying today stick with it, but is he dealing with a completely different type of business here that he's not used to? And perhaps he doesn't realize that it's entirely built on trust. It's a media organization.

DARCY: That's exactly right, and outside just this staff exodus, which is the most immediate problem for him. He still has this looming advertiser crisis, right? So just keep in mind, like we've gone so far down this hole, but when he first took over when the site was running perfectly fine.

He had just taken over and was just generally talking about bringing back Donald Trump, rolling back some of the misinformation policies that scared advertisers, advertising for like, wait a second, let's put a pause on our advertisements for now, that was a whole world ago. I mean, the situation has descended into such a mayhem at this point that looks like a rosy Twitter and so even if he solves a staff Exodus problem, he has to figure out how to get advertisers back and that's based on trust.

FOSTER: Yes, OK, Oliver Darcy is going to be interesting to go into next week seeing the latest developments as well. Thank you very much for joining us. Still ahead for those of you who want an up close and personal marine experience will take you to the waters of Cuba, where you can have a Shark experience like no other.


FOSTER: The waters of Eastern Cuba are teaming with Sharks and the island nation is letting visitors swim with them in an effort to raise awareness and make money as well. Patrick Oppmann has that story.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Usually they are the last thing you want to see in the ocean. But Sharks are the reason why we have come here to the waters off Eastern Cuba. We're hoping to see the predators up close and with no cage.

Local Guides say this is the only place in Cuba perhaps one of only a handful in the world where divers can safely swim alongside bull Sharks. We are taking them at their world, praying the Sharks had a big breakfast. Bull Sharks are considered some of the most aggressive in the world, but the ones we see mostly curious.

Swimming around me for a closer look before gliding away, Guide Lasarow says they want to teach visitors to respect Sharks and to protect them.


OPPMANN (voice over): The Shark is the perfectly seen the perfect predator. He says its inspiring emotional satisfying to interact with him. Marine biologists say robust Shark populations are necessary to maintain healthy coral reefs. In 2015, Cuba placed restrictions on Shark fishing, one of an increasing number of countries in the Caribbean to realize that Sharks are not only important to the environment, but a way to track visitors.

OPPMANN (on camera): People in the Caribbean used to commonly catch and kill Sharks, either for food or because they were considered a nuisance. But warmer countries in this region are now taking steps to protect Sharks. It's not just about conservation Shark tourism visitors specifically coming to a country to dive with Sharks can generate millions of dollars in revenue.

OPPMANN (voice over): Just before her first dive with Sharks, Canadian tourist Carrie tells us she's been terrified of them. Ever since seeing Jaws.

CARRIE PREVOST, DIVING WITH SHARKS: I watched the movie very young, and I was even afraid to swim in pools, let alone the ocean. So this is a challenge to overcome.

OPPMANN (voice over): Guide Spearfish to attract the Sharks but are careful to use the minimum bite necessary. They say they've never had an attack involving a client or guide, and that people come to dive here gain a new perspective on Sharks.

It's the myth of the Shark being dangerous, a manager that is aggressive, he says. Then you manage to see a Shark, a meter and a half away from you and when you come out of the water, they say, this is the best time of my life. The Sharks we swim with are undeniably powerful, and also incredibly beautiful. At the top of the food chain, but never seeming to threaten us.

OPPMANN (on camera): And they said the shot of adrenaline in your arm they were not kidding. Nobody admit to being afraid, but they're very impressive creatures.

OPPMANN (voice over): Creatures that there are now more and more reasons to try and protect. Patrick Oppmann CNN, Playa Santa Lucia, Cuba.


FOSTER: Thank you for joining me here on CNN "Newsroom". I'm Max foster in London. "World Sport" with Alex Thomas is up next.