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Chinese Slump Sparks Global Selloff; More Arab Nations Cutting Ties with Iran; Regional Impact of the Saudi-Iranian Conflict; Obama Begins New Year Focused on Gun Control; Sweden Imposes ID Checks at Danish Border; Inside ISIS Tunnels in Ramadi; Oregon Standoff. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired January 4, 2016 - 10:00   ET




ROBYN CURNOW, CNN HOST: Hi, there, everyone. Welcome to the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow at the CNN Center.

Now global stocks are starting off the new year with a sudden major selloff. U.S. markets opened 30 minutes ago, plunging more than 300


Take a look at the Dow now. Down over 2 percent, down over 370 points.

Take a look at these pictures as well. You can see the horrified reaction in China, where the problem started. Trading was suspended after plunging

7 percent there.

Well, Maggie Lake is watching all of this from New York.

It has been a pretty violent selloff but really it is all about jitters over Chinese manufacturing, isn't it, Maggie?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is. That's the epicenter, Robyn. And I think we all kind of feel like grimacing when we

see these numbers. It is a hard reentry into the new trading year.

But there are concerns; manufacturing contracted again. To be honest, a lot of analysts are saying, listen, that's been happening. The contraction

wasn't so severe that it should have sparked this level of nervousness.

But sometimes that's what you get when you get everybody back, participating and those fears and emotions really come to the surface and

that seems to be what's driving.

Add to the concerns about the Chinese manufacturing and just how slow China's economy is or is not, add to that the rising tensions between Saudi

Arabia and Iran, a lot of investors have a hard time quantifying what that will mean. That is a concern.

And you have a new situation where central banks are on divergent paths. The Fed now increasing rates very, very slightly and they may take their

time in doing it. But it's a different era we're in now.

Put that all together and you just have investors that are very nervous; 7 percent to 8 percent drop, even with the market halt in China; Europe

followed suit, Germany down 4 percent across the board, 2 percent to 3 percent. And if you look at these numbers in the U.S., we are seeing a

similar reaction, 2 percent across the board.

No one is really being spared today except maybe gold. But a word of caution. It is the beginning of the day. We have a long few hours ahead

of us. We have sort of fallen those 350 points or so but seem to have stopped here, as people consider what to do. So we're going to be watching

it closely in the coming hours to see if we can rebound a little bit -- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. Let's talk about China. I mean, the Chinese authorities have been trying to instill confidence for a while now.

The question is, what does Beijing do next?

How do they respond to this?

LAKE: And what do they do next for a country that is sort of beginning to put into effect market reforms?

You know, there's not a long track record in dealing with these freewheeling markets. The holds they put in today was the first time they

used them to try -- they are very common here. Give a little breathing room, try to take some of that panic out when you see things move maybe

beyond fundamentals.

But there's always the question, does it make people more nervous and more anxious to run for the door when they're doing that?

These things take a while to build up confidence within a market. So the Chinese authorities are going to try to test these short-term things. But

longer-term, Robyn, they will make sure that they grow the service side of the economy. They are trying to do that. They are trying to move away

from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-led economy. That's a change that's big and it will not happen overnight. So this is something

that we are going to have to get used to.

Their markets also not as liquid, not as mature and sophisticated, frankly, as some of the more industrialized markets. So we have to keep this all

into perspective. It's a tough start but, again, keep your picture on the long term. Don't get too caught up in the turmoil, although it is hard

when you see we are now extending our losses again, down 400 points -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, exactly. As you were talking, it went over that mark and of course those so-called circuit breakers supposed to calm things but in many

ways perhaps made it worse today.

But either way, Maggie Lake, thanks so much for your perspective. Appreciate it.

LAKE: Sure.

CURNOW: Well, turning now to the growing rift between Middle East power players, Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is now spreading through the Arab

world. More nations are following Saudi Arabia's lead and cutting diplomatic ties with Iran. Bahrain and Sudan announce they're severing

relations earlier Monday. The United Arab Emirates says it's recalling its ambassador from Tehran.

Well, this started with Saudi Arabia's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric, one of nearly 4 dozen people put to death there over the weekend.

Outraged Iranians stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran, sparking the Saudi response.

The protests continue along with angry rhetoric between both countries; our Fred Pleitgen is following the story from CNN London.

Hi, there, Fred.

Dangerous times, worrying times.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Very worrying times and especially if you look at how fast the situation between these

two countries is escalating. There was another protest that happened today in Tehran, which was actually a lot more peaceful than the one that we saw

on Saturday night.

Now it seems as though the Saudis are once again upping the ante as the Reuters News Agency is reporting that the Saudi foreign minister has told

them that they are going to break off -- the Saudis are going to break off all economic ties with Iran. They are going to suspend all flights between

Iran and Saudi Arabia and are going to ban Saudi citizens from traveling to Iran.

However, the Hajj pilgrims from Iran would still be welcome to travel to Saudi Arabia. So certainly that seems as though there's more oil going

into the fire as these two nations really are kicking it off there in the diplomatic arena, if you will.

All of this, as you said, started when the Saudis executed some 47 people, including that very prominent Shia cleric, which then sparked that

demonstration in downtown Tehran, which culminated with the people there storming into the embassy and setting parts of it on fire.

Now the Iranians, for their part, at least parts of the Iranian leadership, have sort of tried to walk back from this a little bit. Some of them, like

President Rouhani, criticizing those who stormed the embassy, saying they would be brought to justice. Some 40 people have been arrested. But as

we can see, from what's going on right now, clearly that is doing nothing at this point to decrease the tensions between these two nations.

CURNOW: Well, that amount -- I mean, you've spent a lot of time in Iran.

How do you think -- what are the options for Iran?

How do you think this is going to play out?

PLEITGEN: Well, there's basically two options at this point. One is confrontation and then one is trying to go back to some form of diplomacy,

if that's possible in this current situation. What we've had over the past couple of years, Robyn, is an increasing conflict between Shia Iran and

Sunni Saudi Arabia, which really pits both of them believing that the other one wants domination in the Gulf region and in the greater Middle East.

So you have the conflict in Syria, where both of these countries are involved on opposite sides. You have the conflict in Yemen, where the

Saudis have accused the Iranians of meddling there, supporting the Houthi militias; the Iranians, for their part, have been very critical of Saudi

involvement there.

So clearly this is a conflict that's been brewing for a long time, that's been escalating for a long time and clearly one where a wider diplomatic

effort would be necessary.

Of course, one of the big achievements that we saw at the end of last year was when the U.S. managed to get the Iranians and the Saudis into the same

room to try and find some sort of solution for the Syria conflict.

So at least the relations between the U.S. and Iran at this point are at a point where maybe America has some influence that it could use to try and

bring these two sides back off this brink that we're seeing here and back into the diplomatic arena.

CURNOW: Yes, there's a lot to talk about. Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much for that.

And as Fred mentioned, there are fears this escalating rift could have wider implications in the region, from the conflict in Yemen to the Iran

nuclear deal to the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Now Robert Danin joins me now from CNN Washington.

Hi, there, sir. He's a senior fellow for Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

And our Fred Pleitgen kind of got to the point there, where he said the consequences here, the fallout for Syria, for Yemen, for the nuclear deal

are a real concern.

ROBERT DANIN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Absolutely. I think the first casualty of this escalation between Saudi Arabia and Iran are the

diplomatic efforts that have been launched in Vienna late last year, that brought together Saudi Arabia and Iran at the table to launch a diplomatic

effort to try to bring an end to the Saudi -- the -- rather the Syrian conflict.

I think that effort has been dealt a very serious blow. And the result is going to be that there is not going to be a diplomatic process for some

time. There are other areas as well where it's going to be much more difficult to see progress made.

The coalition against ISIS that the United States and other Western powers have been trying to lead is another casualty, I think, that will take a

blow as a result because one thing we have is a real disconnect.

On one hand, you have the United States, France, Western powers, very heavily focused on ISIS/daish and the terrorism they have been supporting

in the region and elsewhere. That is not the region's priority.

What we're seeing, this conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, is a manifestation of this very deep sectarian divide between the Sunni and Shia

world and all we're seeing now in the last 48 years is an intensification of that rift.

And that means that while we are talking about ISIS -- that is we in the West are talking about ISIS as the paramount concern in Syria, that's not

the region's discussion. The regional discussion is about this Sunni-Shia rift.


CURNOW: So how does this play out there -- play out, then, on the Arab streets?

DANIN: Well, you know, I don't think there's any sympathy for the Iranians. I think one of the biggest challenge are -- is in those

countries that have mixed populations, that have Sunni and Shia populations.

I mean, one of the reasons, I think, that the Saudis originally killed, assassinated, beheaded the Shia cleric was meant as a very strong message

to a number of fronts, first and foremost was the Saudi population.

We're entering a period where with low Gulf oil prices, there's -- we're entering a period of greater austerity. The situation on the ground for

Saudis are going to be more difficult. And I think the Saudi government wanted to send a message to its own people, both Sunni and Shia, that, as

the situation gets more difficult at home, don't even think about undertaking any unrest.

I think another audience though was very much Iran and, by extension, the United States, was a message to both of them that's saying, we know you're

trying to foster rapprochement. You have this Iran -- this nuclear deal that you've agreed to. You're trying to improve ties. We don't like it

and we're not going to help facilitate that.

And so I think there's a very strong message to both sides that the Saudis are going to pursue their own interests and their own approach,

irrespective of either Washington or Tehran.

CURNOW: Interesting. Thanks so much for your analysis, Robert Danin. Appreciate it.

DANIN: Thank you.

CURNOW: Well, the new year brings new vigor to the race for U.S. president. Republican front-runner Donald Trump releases his first-ever ad

campaign and he doesn't mince his words.

Surprise, surprise.

A live report is next.

Plus, the anti-government protest has been taking over a huge wildlife refuge. Our Sara Sidner is live with the latest on their demands and the

debate around what they are doing.




CURNOW: Hi, there. Welcome back. I'm Robyn Curnow.

Well, the newest politics the first week of the year is an important one for President Barack Obama and those hoping to succeed him. Hours from

now, Mr. Obama is expected to meet with Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Oval Office to discuss options for stronger gun laws.

Sources say he will announce an executive action this week expanding background checks on gun sales.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton hits the campaign trail, too, this week in his wife's, Hillary's, bid to become president. He will host two

rallies Monday in the key primary state of New Hampshire, where Hillary Clinton is trying to overtake Democratic rival Bernie Sanders.

This is the first time he's campaigning solo on her behalf.

And Republican front-runner Donald Trump released his first campaign ad a few hours ago.


CURNOW: It talks about what Trump calls radical Islamic terrorism. Says he will, quote, "cut the head off ISIS" and mentions his proposed ban on

Muslims entering the U.S.

Trump spoke earlier to CNN by phone and criticized President Obama's expected executive order on gun control. Take a listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, pretty soon you won't be able to get guns, I mean, it's another step in the way of not

getting guns.

It's supposed to be negotiated. You're supposed to cajole, get people in a room, you're supposed to deal with them, you have Republicans, you have

Democrats, you have all these people, they get elected to do this stuff.

And you're supposed to get together and pass a law. He doesn't want to do that because it's too much work. So he doesn't want to work too hard. He

wants to go back and play golf.


CURNOW: Well, he does have a way about him, doesn't he, old Donald Trump.

Our CNN politics senior reporter, Stephen Collinson, is here to unpack all of that.

You're in Washington. Let's get The Donald out of the way first. You heard that interview. Nothing new. He's speaking really to that core

group of voters, who want to hear stuff like that.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly. He does know his audience, that's for sure. He's talking to this -- Robyn, this

batch of Southern conservative voters, who could actually be very important in deciding who wins the Republican nomination.

We're at a point now, 60 days, next 60 days could decide which Republican and which Democrat goes forward to fight for the presidency in November.

And the first primaries and caucuses are just a month away. I think the campaign is really getting real now. And you're seeing Donald Trump today,

in fact, unveiling his first television ad of this campaign, which talks about cutting the head off ISIS and building a wall on the Mexican border

to keep illegal immigrants out.

So he's coming back to those core themes, which have powered his campaign, real simple clarity message and it's the message that has helped him lead

the polls at this late stage, to many people's surprise.

CURNOW: Yes, indeed.

With that in mind let's talk to an old player on a number of levels, Bill Clinton.

I mean, is he fair game?

We know that there's been that conversation.

But more importantly, will he help his wife on this campaign trail?

Last time around, he kind of hindered her, didn't he?

COLLINSON: That's a very good question, Robyn. In 2008, you're right. He was at least as much of a hindrance as a help. He didn't take very kindly

to attacks on his wife by other candidates, Democrat, including Barack Obama, and Republicans in that primary campaign.

He was a little bit out of practice. It had been some time since he was on the campaign trail.

But the one thing about the Clintons is they learn from their political mistakes and I think we might see a little bit more buttoned-up Bill

Clinton this time. Although, of course, he's always unpredictable.

He actually did play a big role in the 2012 election, when he was a key asset for President Barack Obama, explaining his economic policies at a

time when the president really needed someone to put forward a clear, succinct message to the American people.

So I think that the Bill Clinton we see in this campaign is probably going to be a bit different than the Bill Clinton we saw back in 2008 -- Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, you make some excellent points there.

Well, let's talk about what Mr. Obama does when he's not playing golf, according to Donald Trump. Let's talk about this executive order for gun

control. I mean, this is an issue that's really frustrated the U.S. president, hasn't it?

COLLINSON: That's right. Ever since the beginning of his presidency, it's been one of the president's roles, obviously, to come on television every

time there's a gun massacre or a shooting and bemoan the fact that Congress won't do more to enact gun control.

He's doing a CNN town hall meeting later this week, he's unveiling a series of executive orders, which, although they are going to be getting a lot of

publicity, it's possible they won't do much to change the situation of guns in America.

But I think this is a very interesting way to start the year for the president. It's a sign that it might be his last year, he might be

effectively a lame duck but he's going to stay in the middle of the political conversation, even though he's not running for re-election.

CURNOW: Yes, good point. Stephen Collinson as always, thanks so much.

COLLINSON: Thanks, Robyn.

CURNOW: Well, as Stephen mentioned there, join CNN for a special look at a story that we're doing, this exclusive one-on-one town hall event. See it

on Friday at 9:00 am Hong Kong time. That's with Anderson Cooper. You can also catch it at 1:00 am in London, only here on CNN.

Well, this is the INTERNATIONAL DESK. Ahead, life just got more difficult for some people trying to enter Sweden from Denmark. We'll have a live

report on that.





CURNOW: Well, new indications right now that ISIS is spreading in Libya. Islamic State militants reportedly have attacked an oil terminal on the

Mediterranean and set a storage tank on fire. A source at the facility tells Reuters that ISIS fighters have now retreated.

Meanwhile, ISIS is using a young boy who speaks English in new threats against the U.K. The new video also shows a masked militant, pointing a

gun at the camera. He addresses the British prime minister while speaking English with a British accent.

The video then shows the execution of five captives. Our senior international correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, joins us now from Beirut,


Hi, there.

What more do you know more about all this?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's important to address what actually is in this video, first of all. It's a British

accented man, masked, waving a pistol at the camera after we hear what are the lengthy, clearly forced, so-called confessions of five Syrian men in

orange jumpsuits, now typical for those ISIS, are imminently about to execute who give what are clearly confessions under duress, one man even

struggling to speak, in which they say that they were "spies," quote, for the British government inside Raqqah, the so-called caliphate of ISIS'

capital city.

Now, of course, we get their names in the video but we have no way of corroborating anything that they're saying, clearly under duress here.

When those statements end, there is a reasonably lengthy speech from this British-accented man, who talks how it's ridiculous for the United Kingdom

to threaten ISIS with what they call a handful of planes and says how British citizenship is under the feet of ISIS.

The kind of rhetoric, frankly, which we've heard many times before from ISIS. Britain's called it propaganda. David Cameron has said this is

desperate stuff from an organization that really does the most utterly despicable and ghastly acts.

And an organization that is losing territory. Now that's entirely true. They lost 40 percent of what they use to hold just last year. Of course,

the focus upon this video partly because the ghastly executions but also because it's reminiscent of really the first time, I think, ISIS gave

themselves a singular foreign face and that was a man called Jihadi John, who announced speeches ahead of the execution of Western journalists and

aid workers in some shocking videos last year.

The first, I think, hoved into Western view, quite how ghastly an organization ISIS could in fact be. We know a little about this man,

speculation as to who he is. At the very end of the video, for a matter of seconds, a very young child appears with an ISIS headband, in camouflage,

and seems to refer to until the imminent execution of other men he refers to as kafir or infidels, who seem to be trapped inside a car.

This one of the more chilling moments, I think I've seen, of ISIS propaganda but bear in mind it comes at a time where territorially they are

certainly losing. Yes, it's reminiscent of previous propaganda tricks like using a British-accented militant to make threats. But they are not, as it

were, expanding like they were when we first met Jihadi John on social media. They are, in fact, losing the ground that they so eagerly covered -

- Robyn.

CURNOW: In Beirut, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you.

Well, Europe's open borders policy is facing another big challenge, this time from Sweden. The country is now requiring identity checks for anyone

trying to enter from Denmark. Atika Shubert is following the story for us from Berlin.

Hi, there, Atika. This is a very big deal.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a big deal. This is Sweden's way of saying enough is enough and it's part of the legislation that have put

in place late last year when it was overwhelmed with the number of refugees coming in. Proportionally, Sweden --


SHUBERT: -- has taken more refugees as a proportion to its population than any other country in the E.U., at its height about 10,000 a day. And this

is why it has put in these border controls, particularly in its border from Denmark.

Now anybody who's coming in from Denmark needs to show ID, a driver's license or a passport; otherwise, they will be turned away. Now this will

have a big impact on commuters who are going from -- who live in Sweden but work in Denmark and are trying to come back and forth.

The commute is usually about 40 minutes so this now could double with the ID check. But the fears this would cause all kinds of traffic chaos on

that bridge between Sweden and Denmark and that there might be a backlog of refugees, it hasn't really happened.

But it has had a diplomatic knock-on effect which is that Denmark has now said that it is going to do random ID checks on its border with Germany.

Now these aren't the only two countries to put in these kind of ID checks. Germany, Austria, France are some of the other countries in the E.U. that

have also put in these kinds of checks and controls and basically it's all part of this refugee crisis that Germany has been warning for a long time,

if there's not a joint E.U. policy that it will affect these sort of free borders of Europe.

CURNOW: Indeed. And I think that's why something like this is, you know, watched with great intent, because Sweden and Denmark, clearly an example

of the challenges that countries are facing.

And, as you said, diplomatically, the Danes perhaps feel like this is a good neighborliness, whereas the Swedes are running out of options in how

to manage this. Really underscoring the complexities of this crisis.

SHUBERT: Absolutely. And what we're seeing now is actually a drop in the number of refugees coming over. But that's really for a number of reasons.

One is that the message is getting out that these border controls are happening; it's not as easy to get into Europe anymore and also the weather

conditions. It's minus 10 degrees here in Berlin. It's cold on the Serbian border, where many are trying to cross.

The weather is bad on the sea crossings in Greece. So the numbers have dropped for now but they are likely to continue in the spring. And it's

interesting to know that even though the numbers have dropped, people are still arriving. So the crisis is not as acute now but it is still ongoing

and it is something that countries here need to deal with.

CURNOW: Indeed. And the root cause, of course, what is playing out in Syria. Atika Shubert in Germany, thanks so much for that update.

Well, still ahead a first look inside the tunnels and battle stations that ISIS left behind in the Iraqi city of Ramadi. You want to see this report.

Stay with us.





CURNOW: Hi, there. You're watching the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. Here's a check of the headlines.


CURNOW: To Iraq now and the brutal fight for Ramadi. Iraqi troops are combing the newly liberated city for booby traps and bombs ISIS left

behind. Our Nima Elbagir was there and joins us now with her report.

Hi, there, Nima. You're in Baghdad. You're back from Ramadi. Just tell us what it was like.

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we went in with the Iraqi counter terror services, who were very much at the forefront of taking the city but

also they're at the forefront of this pretty unenviable cleanup task.

And they gave us a rare glimpse into the architecture of how ISIS manages to resist all these relentless onslaughts by the coalition from the air and

the Iraqi government forces on the ground. Take a look at this, Robyn.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): Ramadi: after months of ISIS rule, this is what remains. ISIS' occupation of the city leaving its mark, both above and

below ground.

ELBAGIR: These are the houses that the militants were hiding inside of. You can see what they were doing, is they were digging up tunnels so that

they were able to move from house to house without being seen by the coalition planes.

And so that this wasn't spotted from the air, they were hiding the dirt that they were digging up and keeping it inside the houses themselves. If

you come through here, we can show you one of the tunnels leading through.

Some of these tunnels, we're told, went as far as a kilometer. We're going to go have a look inside. It's not actually that wide but it does give you

a sense of the moving in the dark under the ground, out of sight.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Ramadi fell to ISIS in May last year. Since then, Iraqi forces have been battling to reclaim their territorial integrity and

their ravaged morale. The head of Iraq's counter terror force told us the liberation of Ramadi should be celebrated around the world.

FIRST LT. GEN. TAHIB SHAGALI AL-KARZANI (PH) (through translator): Defeating ISIS and this victory has impacted upon ISIS' plans and its very

existence for the weakness and desperation, the road to Mosul is now open and clear.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): Blindfolded and bound, captured ISIS fighters face the war. They were, we're told, attempting to blend in to what remains of

the local population, a reminder ISIS fighters could be hiding in plain sight.

Even as the road to Mosul is in the Iraqi armed forces' sights, a week on from announcement of liberation here in Ramadi and counter terror forces

battle to purge the city of the remaining militants' presence.

ELBAGIR: We're hearing some pops of gunfire. They're a little further across the other side of the river. The fighting is ongoing. The cleanup

operation is still going on. And that's why the helicopter is circling overhead.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): In spite of the threat of IEDs and roadside bombs, the troops continue their painstaking push, under every inch of reclaimed

territory, a possible death. Everyone here knows so much is at stake in this claimed liberation and not just for Iraq.

AL-KARZANI (PH) (through translator): This victory is a victory for humanity because ISIS is against Iraq and against all of humanity.


ELBAGIR (voice-over): It is also finally some palpable momentum in the battle.


ELBAGIR: And all this, Robyn, in addition to their attempt to extract hundreds of families still trapped in the areas ISIS exerts control.

CURNOW: Indeed. And when we've spoken over the past week since that push, there was that initial sense of triumph and momentum, as you say, but there

is still that concern that this modus operandi that you saw, these tunnels, it's going to surely make it as hard for Fallujah or any push towards Mosul

as well.

ELBAGIR: Absolutely. Every victory against ISIS, whether it's here or where the Kurds, the Peshmerga fighters have brought it along to cities

that they've liberated, you see the exact same infrastructure.

Every victory against ISIS is extraordinarily hard won, especially in situations like Ramadi, like Fallujah, like Mosul, where it's street-by-

street fighting and that's why the cleanup takes so long. And that's why even those we were speaking to on the ground, weren't willing to give us a

timeframe at this point. They say it could be days, it could be weeks. But what's important to them is that the central government district, they

say, is under their control.

CURNOW: OK. Nima in Baghdad, thanks so much.

Still ahead, taking a stand: armed protesters who have taken over a U.S. government building say they aren't going anywhere until their demands are

met. We'll have the latest from Oregon.




CURNOW: A small town south of Mexico City is mourning the death of its newly elected mayor, who was shot and killed in the doorway of her home.

Now gunmen killed her just a day after she was sworn in. She was shot in front of her family. Police killed two of her attackers and arrested three

others; one is a child. The state has taken over the city's police department.

An unusual anti-government protest is underway at a federal wildlife refuge in the U.S. state of Oregon. And there's a lot of controversy,

particularly on social media, over why the activists are being called terrorists.

Well, CNN's Sara Sidner has been talking with one of the leaders. She joins me now.

What did he tell you?

Hi, there, Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Robyn. Basically what they are saying is that they feel that the federal government -- not the local

government but the federal government -- has overstepped its bounds when it comes to land rights.

They feel as though places like this -- this is a wildlife refuge that the federal government took over, they bought land and made this a refuge for

people but not for ranchers, for farmers, for those who are trying to make a living off the land.

This was saved for animals and for people to come out and see it. And they're saying, look, this land once belonged to ranchers. The federal

government came in --


SIDNER: -- and bought that or took some of that land away, according to them, and they do not think that the federal government had the right to do

that. And so they've decided to take it over until it is given back to the local people.

Now let me give you an idea of what we're seeing. This is the first day that we've seen here on Monday. They basically put the American flag over

the federal government sign, which shows you that this is a wildlife refuge.

And then there are armed folks, there's a guy at the very top there, who is kind of the lookout, who is looking down to see who is coming and going.

This is a very remote area. We've also got guys over here, who are sort of sitting and standing outside of where the headquarters ISM if you drive

down that road. And they've and the over that headquarters, which is normally manned by federal employees.

Now basically what you have here is we're about 30 miles away from any town. So Burns is about 30 miles from here. They initially came here

because they were trying to support these two ranchers, a father and son, who had gotten in trouble with the federal government; they had been

convicted of arson. They went to prison and then were let out.

But then the courts decided that they had not actually served a long enough sentence and remanded them back to prison. Those two men, the Hammonds,

are supposed to go back to prison. And that's why this group has come out here. They say that it is absolutely inconceivable this family would have

to go through this again, that they had already served their time. They are local ranchers and they feel like their rights are being trampled and

they're here because they feel like their own rights have been trampled as well -- Robyn.

CURNOW: And, Sara, let's just talk about how they are being called because there is a sense, at least on social media and discussion, that there's

hypocrisy, not just in the language but also the government's reaction to this group's actions, that if this had been a group of Muslims or a group

of African Americans perhaps the conversation would be different.

SIDNER: Right. There's a lot of talk about that. That is pretty much all you see on social media, is how the government would treat if this happened

to be Muslims who had taken over a building or African Americans who had taken over a building and people have made all kinds of idea that ifs about

what would happen if that were the case.

But that isn't the case. And what's happened out here right now is there is absolutely no police presence. There's no government presence at this

point. They've been in place since Saturday. So we're talking we're going into the third day now.

They have said that they have not been contacted by authorities yet, that they are willing to speak with authorities. But bottom line is, there are

a lot of people saying, well, how is it possible that they are armed and they are out here taking over a government building?

And if this happened by any other group, that that group is usually faced a lot more police presence. It's a question that is a valid question to ask

-- Robyn.

CURNOW: OK. Sara Sidner on the ground there, thanks so much.

Well, we're getting our first look at the wreckage of that cargo ship, El Faro. Now the vessel sank, if you'll remember, near the Bahamas October

the 1st. It was caught in a hurricane while traveling from Florida to Puerto Rico. All 33 crew members on board died.

U.S. investigators are considering a search of the wreckage 4,600 meters down in an attempt to locate the ship's data recorder.

Well, that does it for us here at the INTERNATIONAL DESK. I'm Robyn Curnow. I'll be back in just over an hour with more on the Dow and the

tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, don't go anywhere, "WORLD SPORT" is next.