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CNN International: Trump Absent From Third GOP Presidential Debate; Actors Union Reaches Tentative Deal with Film and TV Studios; Ivanka Trump Testifies in Civil Case Involving Her Father; Palestinians Flee as Israel Tightens Grip on Gaza City; New Video, Testimony Depict Apparent RSF Abuses in Darfur; Panda Bears on Lona to U.S. National Zoo Headed to China. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 04:30   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Max Foster. Republicans held their third televised presidential debate last night in Miami. Six candidates qualified to the be on that stage, but only five showed up.

NOBILO: As he's done twice before, front runner Donald Trump skipped the debate to hold his own rally. CNN's Mike Valerio has our report.


MIKE VALERIO, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Among the five Republican presidential candidates on stage, the question of who's the strongest alternative to former President Donald Trump was pressing for both former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

NIKKI HALE, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You're trying to make up for it and act like you weren't -- you weren't a liberal when it comes to the environment. You were. You always have been. Just to own it.

RON DESANTIS, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She welcomed them into South Carolina, gave them that land near a military base, wrote the Chinese ambassador a love letter saying what a great friend they were.

VALERIO (voice-over): Joining them on the Miami debate stage, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswami and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. A major theme, foreign policy, with America's role in focus as war rages between Israel and Hamas.

DESANTIS: I would be telling Bebe, finish the job once and for all.

HALEY: Thet have to, one, eliminate Hamas. Two, support Israel with whatever they need, whenever they need it. And three, make sure we bring our hostages home. VALERIO (voice-over): The candidates also took stock of Tuesday's

election results, including key victories for Democrats in Virginia and Kentucky, as voters in Red State, Ohio, approved a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights.


CHRIS KRISTIE, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an issue that should be decided in each state.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think there's something deeper going on in the Republican Party here and I am upset about what happened last night. We've become a party of losers.

VALERIO (voice-over): Instead of debating the former president held a rally nearby in Hialeah, Florida.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And we will win because we will never stop fighting to save the America we love.

VALERIO (voice-over): I'm Mike Valerio, reporting.


FOSTER: Well, the months long actors strike is officially over. It ended just hours after the Actors Union reached a tentative agreement with the major film and television studios late on Wednesday. The group representing the studios praised the deal. Saying it provides the biggest contract gains in the history of the Union. It also gives extensive compensation protections in the use of artificial intelligence, which had been one of the main sticking points. CNN media critic Brian Lowry says the studios were ready to make a deal because they were losing money and content as the strike dragged on.


BRIAN LOWRY, CNN MEDIA CRITIC: The studios and streaming services, obviously they have much deeper pockets than actors and writers. Even well-paid actors and writers. But this dragged on long enough that the initial savings that they were enjoying from not spending money on producing movies and TV started to get to the point where they were worried that the pipeline was going to dry up and that some of their summer releases wouldn't be available for next year.

That there would be big gaps in the movie release calendar. That television networks would have no original programming, you know, come next spring. And I think they've really reached a moment where they felt like they had to make a deal, which was, you know, gave the guilds the leverage they needed to get some of the concessions that they were asking for.


NOBILO: The President of the Actors Union, Fran Drescher, posted on Instagram quote:

We did it! The billion plus dollar deal three times the last contract.

The agreement still has to be ratified by the roughly 160 thousand members of the SAG AFTRA Union.

Ivanka Trump took the witness stand in New York on Wednesday, testifying in the civil fraud trial against her father, Donald Trump. The New York Attorney General says Ivanka was cordial and very courteous in court and like her brothers and her father. But she says Ivanka's testimony raises questions about her credibility. Kara Scannell has the latest.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The New York Attorney General's office rested their case today after calling their final witness, Ivanka Trump. She was on the stand all day long, and the focus of her questioning had to do with her involvement in two loans that she shepherded at the Trump Organization for the golf course in Florida, as well as the old post office building in Washington, DC.

So Ivanka Trump testified that she was involved in the loans at a high level. But she said that the nitty gritty details, she didn't recall much of that information. And these loans are centered to the case because the Attorney General's office has alleged that they -- the banks received false financial information on their statements and that they provided better interest rates to enrich the Trumps. So that is part of the questioning today that they really focused her in on.

They also asked her about an apartment that she owns in Manhattan. She had an option to buy that apartment for about $8.5 million one year. On the Trump's personal financial statement, that apartment was reflected with the value more than twice as much -- north of $20 million. She was asked about that. She said she was at -- was not privy to her father's financial statements. Did not know what went into them. Distancing herself from them just as her brothers Don Jr. and Eric Trump did when they testified last week.


So after she completed her testimony, the AG's office rested their case. Here's what the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, said outside of court.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: At the end of the day, this case is about fraudulent statements of financial condition that she benefited from. She was enriched. And clearly you cannot distance yourself from that fact. The documents do not lie. The numbers do not lie.

SCANNELL: Trump's lawyers are going to begin their defense on Monday. They're saying that they might call back Don Jr. and Eric Trump to testify, as well as some experts and some bankers to bolster their defense.

Kara Scannell, CNN, New York.


NOBILO: Thousands of Palestinians scrambled to get away from fighting in Gaza City, while some of the civilians using the evacuation corridors set up by the IDF say they're encountering along the way.

FOSTER: And newly obtained videos and eyewitness accounts are shedding light on the atrocities underway in Sudan's Civil War. We'll show you the evidence in the live report.


FOSTER: The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights is accusing both Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes.

NOBILO: He accuses Israel of carrying out collective punishment on civilians in Gaza, which he says amounts to a war crime. And so does the forcible evacuation of civilians. The U.N. human rights chief says the atrocities committed by Hamas during its terror attack on Israel last month are also war crimes, along with the continued holding of hostages.

FOSTER: In response, Israel says its attacks on military targets are subject to international law and that it carries out assessments on whether the potential damage to civilians is excessive compared to the expected military gains.

NOBILO: Meanwhile, as Israeli troops tighten their grip on Hamas in Gaza City, Palestinian civilians are trying to flee south. The U.N. says at least 40,000 of them have made the harrowing journey since Saturday, using temporary evacuation routes created by the IDF.


But as Salma Abdelaziz reports, what they described seeing along the way is nothing short of horrific.


SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Taking only what they can carry, families are fleeing Gaza City. They wave white flags made of anything they can find. And as the sounds of war echo around them, they signal yet again that they are innocents.

Now we're supposed to be in the safe area, but you can hear the bombs behind us, he says. All of our houses are gone. Nothing is left.

The Israeli military has been calling for weeks on all those living in the northern part of the strip to southwards. Most recently opening what it called safe corridors for limited windows of time. Pushing thousands here to Salah al-Din Street, where evacuees describe a harrowing journey.

We saw along the road destruction, dead bodies everywhere. And the Israeli tanks with demand to search the youth, she says. We saw one young man stripped naked. We witnessed unbearable scenes.

The only way to reach the route is by foot or by cart for those who can find room.

There was heavy shelling on our neighborhood and we were forced to flee. We have to use these donkey carts because there's no fuel, he says. They cut everything off to force us out of our homes.

Israeli troops are now in the heart of Gaza City. As Israel's defense minister apparently declared the entire city, the whole of the enclave's largest population center, a legitimate target.

YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Gaza is the biggest terrorist stronghold that mankind has ever built. This whole city is one big terror base. Underground they have kilometers of tunnels connecting to hospitals and schools.

ABDELAZIZ (voice-over): The U.N. calls this exodus forcible displacement and accuses Israel of the collective punishment of some 2 million people. And many fear they will never be allowed to return home. Some here say this is reminiscent of the Nakba, the Arabic term for the expulsion of Palestinians from their towns during the founding of Israel.

We walked a very long way it felt like the Nakba of 2023, she says. We walked by dead people who were ripped to shreds, children were very tired because there was no water, people were dying, and there were elderly who couldn't walk.

And for those who do make it, bombardment and siege await them in the south too. There is no true escape.

Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, London.


NOBILO: If you would like information on how to help with humanitarian relief efforts for Gaza and Israel, please go to and there you'll find a list of vetted organizations providing assistance on the ground. That's at

FOSTER: Almost seven months into the Sudanese civil war between the RSF and the Sudanese army, we're getting new evidence and eyewitness testimony about the abuses millions of civilians are facing in western Darfur.

NOBILO: The evidence includes a series of newly obtained videos showing suspected RSF forces abusing ethnic minority civilians under their control. And numerous reports of mass killings and other attacks by the RSF and allied Arab militias that are driving hundreds of thousands of Sudanese across the border into Chad.

FOSTER: Senior International correspondent David McKenzie is tracking developments in Darfur. And you've been watching these horrendous videos as well, David. DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Max, it's a

very disturbing development in a horrific war that has lasted since April and in the western part of the country, in West Darfur, in fact. We've geolocated these videos of these abuses by the RSF, the Rapid Support Forces, gathering together, what appears to be men and younger boys, even elderly throwing insults at them, racial insults. So we believe these are mostly ethnic Africans from that area, possibly Masalit individuals that have been rounded up by the RSF after it attacked that zone in El Geneina in an area of that town on the outskirts called Ardmetta.

Now what we believe has happened based on these videos, is this rounding up. What we do not know for sure is what may have happened next. But there have been eyewitnesses and testimony from aid agencies saying that people streaming across the border say they were multiple incidents of killing of innocent civilians, of attacking civilians and young women and boys.

There is a sense that this is a major upswing in the ongoing violence in Darfur and a pattern of ethnically targeted killings, or at least the allegations of that.

We took the videos and the evidence to the RSF and they said for their part that we can confirm no evidence of ethnic cleansing or tribal conflict took place in Ardmetta. The RSF does not target civilians for their part that:


We can confirm no evidence of ethnic cleansing or tribal conflict took place in Ardmetta. The RSF does not target civilians and they are fighting side by side with the people of Sudan to restore democracy.

Frankly, the pattern of abuses over the last several months, including the U.N. investigating at least 13 possible mass graves in that region really does contradict the ongoing statements of innocence coming from the RSF. It must be said that there have been allegations of abuses from the RSF and the Sudanese Armed Forces.

The threat now is that the RSF, which has consolidated control over parts of Darfur is moving towards Al-Fashir, a major center of more than a quarter of a million people, and the fear is that these alleged atrocities will only continue and perhaps grow in scale -- Max, Bianca.

FOSTER: Senior national correspondent David McKenzie, thank you.

Well, right now, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on his way to New Delhi after wrapping up talks in Seoul. He met the South Korea's president and foreign minister to discuss growing military ties between North Korea and Russia and Pyongyang suspected supply of arms to Moscow for use in Ukraine.

NOBILO: He also thanked the president for South Korea's pledge to provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza. Washington remains focused on the Indo-Pacific region despite other global challenges, including of course the Israel Hamas war. Blinken's visit comes after a whirlwind trip to the Middle East and a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Tokyo.

FOSTER: Coming up, the U.S. says goodbye to some furry former residents. How diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and China may lead to the end of panda diplomacy.



FOSTER: A few of the most popular residents at the National Zoo in Washington are on their way to China. Get this. They were shipped by FedEx and the plane, dubbed the Panda Express.

NOBILO: It's a sign of the escalating tensions between Beijing and the U.S., and perhaps the end of what has been known as panda diplomacy. CNN's David Culver explains.


DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For weeks, visitors at the National Zoo in Washington have stopped by to say goodbye.

UNKNOWN: I want to make sure to see them before they leave.

CULVER (voice-over): The zoo's three giant pandas now headed to China. Zoo staff call this a hiatus in their five decade wildly popular panda program. But Chinese officials will not say for sure if the pandas will be back.

You might wonder why this even matters. There are of course far more pressing issues between the U.S. and China. But as we look deeper, tracking where pandas are leaving, and where they're going, you get a better sense of the new world order China's hoping to craft.

These cuddly creatures used for China's major political and diplomatic needs, especially in places where it hopes to gain. But China says its focus is on conservation and research.

Beijing's Panda Diplomacy with Washington, as it's called, kicked off in 1972, following President Nixon's historic visit to China. Chairman Mao Zedong gifted two pandas to the U.S.

Seeing their popularity rise amongst Americans, China sent more pandas to other zoos across the U.S., eventually loaning instead of gifting them, sometimes for up to half a million dollars per year.

At its height, there were 15 pandas in the United States, but in the last decade the numbers have dropped, coinciding with worsening U.S.- China relations. With the three pandas having now left the National Zoo, that only leaves four pandas in the U.S., currently at Atlanta Zoo. The contracts for those pandas expire next year. No word on any extension. CULVER: And that could mean that by the end of 2024, the only panda in zoos in all of the Americas would be Xin Xin, right here in Mexico City.

CULVER (voice-over): Xin Xin belongs to Mexico. She's 33. Old for a panda, but still a main attraction here. And they're bracing for a possible surge in visitors.

CULVER: What would you say to Americans who may not have a panda to visit at their zoo looking for a visit?


CULVER (voice-over): The pandas that leave the U.S. travel to China by plane. Their destination? The Chengdu research base of giant panda breeding.

Earlier this year, video surfaced on Chinese social media claiming pandas returning from the Memphis Zoo were being abused, a narrative partially fueled by Chinese state media. Chinese doctors defended the zoo's treatment of the panda, but others highlighting countries where pandas are seemingly living the life, like Russia.

Not surprisingly, China's northern neighbor got a new pair in 2019. President Xi Jinping alongside his so-called best friend, Vladimir Putin, at Moscow Zoo. China has also loaned out new giant pandas to other countries, including E.U. nations like Denmark, Finland and Germany. And in the Middle East, Qatar are getting their first panda last year.

Regions where China is looking to bolster its relations and increase its influence. Staff at the National Zoo hopeful China might one day send over more giant pandas.

BOB LEE, DIRECTOR OF ANIMAL CARE, NATIONAL ZOO: We're hopeful for the future. So we have submitted an application that's being reviewed.

CULVER (voice-over): But that is up to China to decide.

David Culver, CNN, Los Angeles.


FOSTER: Off the go.

NOBILO: And interestingly, Russia received a gift of pandas from China in 2019.

FOSTER: Interesting.

NOBILO: And some stories in the spotlight for you this hour. A moving tribute to the late Jimmy Buffett at the Country Music Awards in Nashville. Have a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wastin' away again in Margaritaville Searchin' for my lost shaker of salt



FOSTER: Country stars Kenny Chesney, Mac McAnally and Alan Jackson laid down the live version of Buffett's signature hit Margaritaville before an appreciative crowd. Buffett died in September. He won two CMA awards during his career and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2006.

Now, if you think the works of William Shakespeare are heavenly, you may be on to something. British filmmaker, Jack Dewar, sent this portrait of "The Bard," along with a speech from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the edge of space. It comes 400 years after the publication of Shakespeare's First Folio on November the 8th, 1623.

FOSTER: You remember that well.

A weather balloon with a camera and GPS tracker carried the portrait and the speech into the upper atmosphere, and the scene will be part of the short film "Lovers and Mad Men." About a young woman who enters an art contest by trying to send a picture of Shakespeare into the air.

FOSTER: Finally, we explained it. I didn't really understand what that was about.

NOBILO: Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?

FOSTER: Midsummer Night's Dream -- only because I appear that in school.

NOBILO: I felt like you'd say that. I'm far more of a Macbeth, a fellow type.

FOSTER: You can read our characters from that.

NOBILO: Yes, and Speaking of art, Pablo Picasso's 1932 painting "Femme A La Montre" or women with a watch, sold at Sotheby's New York for more than $139 million on Wednesday. It is the most valuable work of art sold at auction anywhere in the world this year.

FOSTER: But only the second most valuable by him apparently. The painting is a portrait of Picasso's lover, Marie-Therese Walter, seated in a throne chair -- thrown like chair against a blue background. It was part of the collection of the late philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau. And according to Sotheby's, Landau kept it above the mantle of her Manhattan apartment, hopefully not above the fireplace.

NOBILO: Hopefully not. But you know many, many a fireplace has a mantle above it.

FOSTER: It does indeed. Thanks for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max foster. Bianca is going away for two weeks.

NOBILO: I am. So, I'm Bianca Nobilo. It's been such a joy. "EARLY START" --

FOSTER: It's been.

NOBILO: Well, you know, for another two weeks.

FOSTER: It's almost third person.

EARLY START. I need a break.

FOSTER: What are going to be now?

NOBILO: I'll be something else.