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Trump Signs Sweeping Order On Refugees; "Extreme Vetting" Measures Being Put In Place; Google Advises Some Employees To Stay In U.S.; Trump Meets With First Foreign Leader; Trump, Pena Nieto Speaks By Phone; Donald Trump To Speak With Putin; Europeans Taking Stock Of New U.S. President; Actor John Hurt Dies At Age 77; Syrian Refugees Seeking New Life In The U.S.; Lunar New Year Celebrations Begin; Serena Williams Wins 23rd Major Final; Miss Sierra Leone Makes Miss Universe History. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired January 28, 2017 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:05] DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm establishing new vetting, measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: An executive order signed Friday by President Donald Trump has produced outrage and a great deal of questions. More than 100 million people now banned from entering the country. This comes as he meets with foreign leaders, including the British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Plus this, the year of the rooster. A live report from Beijing on how millions of people around the world are celebrating the lunar New Year. From CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN "Newsroom" starts right now.

It is 5:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. In just a few hours time, the new president of the United States, Donald Trump, will be talking with a number of world leaders. He's set to speak by phone on Saturday with the leaders of Russia, Germany, France, Australia and Japan.

In his first week as president, Mr. Trump is already reshaping U.S. policy with this, especially on Friday, signing an executive order barring anyone from seven Muslim majority nations from coming to the U.S. for at least three months. Syrian refugees are barred indefinitely. Mr. Trump insists this will make America safe.


TRUMP: I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don't want them here. We want to insure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas. We only want to admit those into our country who will support our country and love deeply our people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: A White House official says that number of countries on the U.S. visa suspension lists will likely grow. CNN's Jim Acosta has more on sweeping measures just put in place by the new president of the United States.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPODENT: These are some very sweeping actions coming from the new president. He signed this executive order earlier in the day over at the Pentagon. We just got our hands on the executive order. This is it right here. But, the actions are fairly dramatic. He's talking about suspending visas for people coming into the United States from seven countries that have links to terrorism. Iran, Iraq, Syria, the Sudan, Somalia are among those seven countries.

Those visas have been suspended for 90 days as part of this action. They're also implementing what they are referring to as extreme vetting methods for people coming into the United States from terror- prone parts of the world. That would include biometric scanning, a more lengthy interview process. It's going to a much more draconian step that's being taken here as part that extreme vetting process.

And then, I think that the part that is really going to send shockwaves around the world and that is the suspension of the U.S. refugee program. This is for political refugees, religious refugees coming into the United States. That program is suspended for 120 days, while they get these new measures up and running.

And permanently ended by the Trump administration is the Syrian refugee program, which was bringing in people from that part of the world under the Obama administration. That program now ends. And so, you will not have Syrian refugees coming into this country as part of this executive order. So, it is a very sweeping decision coming from the President.

HOWELL: Jim Acosta reporting for us.

Again, this has regarded a great deal of reaction. More than 2 million Syrian refugees have fled the neighboring Turkey since civil war began in their homeland, almost six full years ago. Some of them were hoping to come here to the United States. CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Istanbul, Turkey, following the story.

Ben, if you could explain to our viewers around the world the reaction there from the region.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT CORRESPONDENT: A reaction is one of shock. I was in touch, for instance, this morning with the Syrian refugee who leaves near the -- in Turkey, near the Syrian border. He described this executive order as racist and shameful.

I was also in touch with an Iraqi currently who's currently in Baghdad scheduled to flight to the United State tomorrow. He has a green card but this is what he sent me, I'll read it to you. "I honestly am a bit scared. I'm not sure if they will let me in. I would never imagine this would happen in the U.S. since it's one of the few countries letting in immigrants from across the world to start a new life there. I am shocked." And shock really is best description to the reaction of many people who have helped the United States, served the United States in countries like Iraq.

[05:05:10] I have another friend, who, for years served for -- with the United States military in dangerous situations, side by side with American soldiers. He has been waiting now for years to get into the United States, coming from a part of the country that ISIS controlled. His family has been threatened. His wife has had a nervous breakdown as they've waited for some sort answer from the United States.

It's important to stress that the measures already in place for people applying for people applying for refugee status in the United States we're extreme. It takes years to get a refugee visit to the United States after a long series of interviews, background checks and so forth. So, this really -- these many people in the state of utter, utter shock. George.

HOWELL: Ben, it is interesting to get your insight. You've spent many years reporting in that region. You've spoken to many people who this affects directly. Many of the people as you reported put their lives on the line, risked their own lives in the past years to aid the United States.

But, the president of the United State also pointing out that some Christians in the region in Syria could have easier access to the U.S. at the same time. Let's listen to what he had to say.


TRUMP: They've been horribly treated. You know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very, at least, very, very tough to get into the United States. If you're a Muslim, you could come in but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible. And the reason that was so unfair is that the, everybody was persecuted in all fairness, but they were chopping off the heads of everybody, but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So, we are going to help them.


HOWELL: And we have been drawing again on your experience in the region, your reaction to that.

WEDEMAN: Well, he's makes these statements, but does he back them up with facts, with statistics? It appears that, in fact, that the number of Christian refugees let into the United States is proportional to the population of Christians in places like Syria and Iraq where the population, the Christian population, is not very large. It's also important to point out that the total number of people killed by ISIS, whether beheaded or thrown off of buildings or whatever, the vast majority of them are Muslims. George.

HOWELL: Ben Wedeman, live of course in Istanbul, Turkey. Ben, thank you for the reporting.

CNN's U.S Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem served in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the former President Barack Obama. She told my colleague Cyril Vanier that the U.S has never seen anything quite like this before.


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: This is a order or series of executive orders by President Trump that are using national security and 9/11, the memory of 9/11. Attack 9/11 is referenced three times in the executive order to just sweeping refugee ban, immigration ban, country-specific ban that we've never seen proposed before, that we've never seen anything quite like it in the United States. It's a pretty historic moment and not in a good way, I would say, for the United States today.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Did the vetting process for the immigrants or refugees deserve to be tightened in any way?

KAYYEM: Well, look, I think any vetting or immigration process is constantly changing having served in the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that does this work. They're constantly trying to make things better, make them tighter, a quicker and more efficient as well. So, there's no question any of the programs could get better. But the idea that you end it in the process of trying to reform it would never have crossed, I think, anyone's mind either in the Bush administration or the Obama administration.

For one, is, you know, obviously the statement it makes to the world about who the United States is and who they'll accept but the other is the terror threat, even assuming that that's what this is about. The terror threat is not country-specific at this stage. France certainly knows that. Belgium knows that. Germany knows that. And we know that a lot of the terror threat is actually coming homegrown and we've seen it in the United States.

VANIER: But have there been instances where either refugees or immigrants posed a terror threat or helped a U.S. national who posed a terror threat?

KAYYEM: No. There's not to this -- the only case that you have actually in the last couple of decades is of course the San Bernardino case where she came in on -- not on a refugee visa but actually on a marital or fiance visa, the wife of -- in the couple that killed in San Bernardino. That's one case out of millions.


[05:10:07] HOWELL: Here's a look at the number of immigrants the U.S. accepted last year from seven countries whose citizens are subject to the 90-day ban. They include more than 12,000 refugees from Syria, more than 9,000 each from Iraq and Somalia, much smaller number, though, coming from Iran, from Sudan and from Yemen and just one coming from Libya. The U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer even made the quote, saying, "Tears are running down the cheeks of the Statue of Liberty".

Google is warning its employees who come from those countries to stay inside the United States. CNN obtained an internal advisory that addresses the issue at a Frequently Asked Questions, FAQ format. One question asked this, "I am a national of a listed country and in the U.S. Should I cancel my trouble abroad?" Google goes on to say "Please do not travel outside the U.S. until the ban is lifted."

Another question asks, "What if I have urgent international business trouble plans?" Google then says, "Please cancel your trip as you will not be able re-enter the United States until the ban is lifted."

Donald Trump has had an incredibly busy week as -- his first week, engaging with world leaders. And it's not done yet. Our Jeff Zeleny has details for us.


TRUMP: Actually I'm not as brash as you might think.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump welcomed British Prime Minister Theresa May to the White House pledging to uphold the special relationship with the United Kingdom.

TRUMP: Madam Prime Minister, we look forward to working closely with you as we strengthen our mutual ties in commerce, business, and foreign affairs. Great days lie ahead for our two peoples and our two countries.

ZELENY: The world was watching the East Room of the White House for Mr. Trump's first meeting with a foreign leader. Yet, it was the more challenging diplomatic test he's facing with the Mexico and Russia that took center stage.

The President taking steps to cool an escalating standoff with Mexico. He spoke on the phone for nearly an hour today with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto who canceled a trip to the U.S. over Trump's demand that Mexico pay for a border wall between the two countries.

TRUMP: I have great respect to Mexico. I love the Mexican people.

ZELENY: Yet, he stood his ground insisting that Mexico would, one way or another, pay billions.

TRUMP: As you know, Mexico with the United States has out negotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders. They've made us look foolish. The United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies and millions and millions of people losing their jobs. That won't happen with me. We're no longer going to be the country that doesn't know what it's doing.

ZELENY: A statement from the Mexican government said, "The Presidents also agreed at this point not to speak publicly about this controversial issue." That line does not appear in the White House statement about the call. A week into his presidency, Mr. Trump said it's too early to say whether he will lift sanctions imposed by President Obama against Russian President Vladimir Putin. He's set to talk with Putin by phone on Saturday. After being criticized for his praise of the Russian leader, Mr. Trump took a more measured approach today.

TRUMP: How the relationship works out, I won't be able to tell you that until later. I had many times where I thought I get along with people and I don't like them at all. And I've had some where I didn't think I was going to have much of a relationship and it turned out be a great relationship.

ZELENY: Standing by his side, Prime Minister May conceded America's election had taken the world by storm.

MAY: I'm delighted to be able to congratulate you on what was a stunning election victory.

ZELENY: It was also Mr. Trump's first time taking questions from the foreign press, like this one from the BBC.

LAURA KUENSSBERG, BBC CORRESPONDENT: What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?

TRUMP: This was your choice of a question? There goes that relationship.

ZELENY: The President said he believes waterboarding and other forms of torture work but would follow the lead of Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired general who opposes such extreme measures.

TRUMP: I don't necessarily agree but I would tell you that he would override because I'm giving him that power.


HOWELL: That was CNN's Jeff Zeleny reporting for us.

Mr. Trump has had a very busy Saturday, has a busy Saturday ahead, chatting with several world leaders. This comes after hosting the British Prime Minister Theresa May.

For more, let's go to CNN Politics Reporter Eugene Scott who joins live in London this hour.

Eugene, a pleasure to have you. The British Prime Minister had a lot to accomplish in this meeting with President Donald Trump from reassuring that there is a strong relationship between the U.S. and U.K. and also reaffirming that these two nations solidly, I should, say support NATO. How is that meeting being perceived across the pond?

[05:15:02] EUGENE SCOTT, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Well, it's being perceived differently from different segments of the population. There are many people who are very interested in seeing the Prime Minister move forward in trying to establish a stronger trade relationship with the United States, considering that the United Kingdom will eventually be leaving the European Union. And they want to make sure that the United Kingdom is -- continues to be a priority for the United States when it comes to doing international business.

There are other individuals, primarily those among the Labour Party, the Labour Party are very concerned about some of the comments that Donald Trump made on the campaign and as he's been in the White House is he's related to torture and climate change and some of his opinions on women. And so, they wanted the Prime Minister to be more aggressive in addressing those issues when meeting with him.

HOWELL: You point out torture there, climate change. Look, the two leaders don't exactly see eye to eye on several things, Donald Trump even saying that his defense secretary could override him on the issue of torture. But the British Prime Minister actually chimed in to say it's OK for these two leaders to disagree and still maintain a strong relationship.

SCOTT: Certainly. We certainly see multiple heads of state disagree on major issues. But, the reason why this issue of torture is such an importance to people on both sides of the pond is that when it comes to fighting global terrorism, the United Kingdom has been one of the main allies of the United States. So, there was a need to find common ground on this issue as we move forward and as we, perhaps unfortunately, have to face comparable situations in the future.

HOWELL: Eugene, Mr. Trump has also been invited to visit the United Kingdom. What more do we know about the visit soon to be for the president of the United States?

SCOTT: Well, we do know that he's quite excited. He said that his mother who was born in Scotland was a "big fan of the Queen." The invitation that came from the Queen went to both Donald Trump and his wife Melania. They will not be able to fulfill it until later this year. Details of it are not quite clear but they're still in the planning stages.

This is significant to Donald Trump and to the American people because despite there being at least more than 10 U.S. presidents during the Queen's reign, only about half of them have been actually invited to Buckingham Palace to meet with the Queen. So, it's quite well received by Donald Trump and his supporters.

HOWELL: Eugene Scott, live in London at 10:17 in the morning, better hours for you Eugene.


HOWELL: I know you're usually with us in New York or D.C. where it's much earlier. Eugene Scott, thank you so much for your insight.

SCOTT: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead here on CNN "Newsroom," the U.S. President Donald Trump is set to speak with the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. What this could mean for U.S. sanctions against Moscow? Still ahead.

Also, we will hear how U.S allies in Europe are reacting to Donald Trump's first week in office. Stay with us.


[05:20:36] HOWELL: Welcome back too CNN "Newsroom." I'm George Howell. We are covering the first week of the U.S. President Donald Trump. He is set to speak with the host of foreign leaders this weekend including a phone call with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. For more, let's bring in CNN's Ivan Watson live for us in the Russian capital this hour.

Ivan, a pleasure to have you with us. So the Kremlin has really played down the significance of this phone call more as proper protocol rather than looking for any significance changes. Donald Trump also saying that it could be too early to talk about sanctions. What more do we know about this phone call and how important it is?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it'll be the first direct communication between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin since he was inaugurated to Kremlin. You're right, downplaying expectations, saying it's largely an opportunity for the Russian President to congratulate his American counterpart and saying it's unlikely that real substantial issues would be discussed in this first conversation between the two presidents.

As for Donald Trump, he was asked about the possibility of lifting U.S. sanctions against Russia. Recall that the outgoing Obama administration in its final days imposed some additional sanctions, targeted some top Russian officials, expelling some Russian diplomats who were accused of engaging in intelligence gathering activities. And this is what Donald Trump had to say on Friday when asked about that.


TRUMP: As far as the sanctions, very early to be talking about that, but we look to have a great relationship with all countries ideally. That won't necessarily happen. Unfortunately, it probably won't happen with many countries.


WATSON: The Trump administration has made it very clear that it would like to try to cooperate with Moscow on battling against ISIS and battling against terrorism, but Donald Trump has seen significant opposition from senior members within his own party, in Congress, who've made it clear that they do not want to see Trump going soft on Russia for the role it has played in intervening and in annexing parts of Ukraine. And they want to ensure that the Trump administration continues to support European allies that are part of the NATO military alliance.

HOWELL: Well, there is that difference of opinion between Donald Trump and the people in his cabinet. But here's the question. So, the U.S. President has suggested he would like to see the U.S. and Russia work closer together against terrorism. But again, Russia, a nation that has been accused of essentially carpet bombing cities like Aleppo, resulting in a number of civilian casualties in its support of the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Could the U.S. find itself conflicted if working closer with Russia in that fashion?

WATSON: Yeah, I mean there are whole host of areas where Russia and the U.S. have traditionally disagreed. And what the Trump administration has made clear, well, they want to find areas where they can cooperate together. And it seems, you did have an outspoken voice in the Russian parliament coming out with a series of tweets today saying, hey, we can work together in Ukraine, on resolving the Syria conflict, on battling against terrorism.

Also, this is (inaudible) are also taking digs against long time critics in the U.S. of Russia, such as the Republican Senator John McCain, calling him a foe of Russia and saying that he was panicking at the possibility that sanctions could be lifted.

You also had this intriguing tweet coming out from the Russian embassy in London, of course. The British Prime Minister was meeting alongside Donald Trump and indicated she didn't want sanctions lifted until Russia moved forward with a peace process in Ukraine. And this tweet is saying, "Engage but beware," Prime Minister said, "As far as we're aware, Cold War was long dead."

So, there are real tensions still between Russia's critics, both in the U.S. and in Europe. And certainly, we see that the Kremlin would like to see Trump moving away from some of those critics, to opening up in their eyes, hopefully, a new era of detente between Moscow and Washington. It's still far too early to see whether or not Trump will be able to move forward. And whether that is in fact his vision. George.

[05:25:00] HOWELL: A statement from the British Prime Minister Theresa May, "Engage but beware." The evolution of the statements from the President Reagan back in the '80s, "Trust but verify."

Ivan Watson, live for us in Moscow. Ivan, thank you so much for reporting.

His first week in office, President Trump's actions are already being felt across European capitals. Our Atika Shubert has more on that from Berlin.

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well a message of solidarity from both the French President Francois Hollande and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel as they face a dramatically different political landscape now especially with President Donald Trump. Take a listen to what Francois Hollande had to say.


FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): There are challenges posed by the new U.S. administration in regards to commercial roles, in regards to the conflicts in the world. We, of course, have to speak to Donald Trump since he was chosen by the Americans to be their president. We have to do it with a European point of view and our interest and values.


SHUBERT: Just some of the challenges they face from President Trump during trade agreements but also saying NATO was obsolete and that the European Union was merely, "a vehicle for Germany," and that other countries in the E.U. would soon follow Great Britain out the door.

So, Merkel and Hollande are already looking to see how they can unify the E.U., make sure it stands strong. Well at the same, they face their own internal challenges, populist parties that are espousing anti-immigrants and anti-E.U., policies have gained in recent polls. And of course, there are elections coming up in both France and Germany. Merkel, especially, is feeling the pressure because she is running for reelection again.

Now incidentally, both Hollande and Merkel will be having their own telephone calls with President Trump where they will be able to discuss those issues.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.

HOWELL: Two-time Oscar nominee John Hurt has died. The British actor played wand maker Garrick Ollivander in the first two Harry Potter movies. He started as a stage actor. He had a breakout role in historical film "A Man for All Seasons" in 1966. During his six- decade career, he had extensive movie and T.V. credits to his career, including "The Elephant Man," "Midnight Express," "1984," "Alien" and "Indiana Jones." Hurt was honored with numerous awards over a six- decade career. He was knighted in 2015. No specific reason was disclosed for his death, though. John Hurt was 77 years old.

An honor student in the United States, she is also a Syrian refugee, coming up. We'll introduce you to an 11-year-old girl, hoping to make America better at the organization working to help refugees to rebuild their lives.

We are live from Atlanta at this hour broadcasting to our viewers across the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN "Newsroom."


[05:31:23] HOWELL: A warm welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You are watching CNN "Newsroom." It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

The U.S. President Donald Trump is tightening his country's borders with a move that he says is necessary to keep out terrorists. He signed an executive order baring people from at least seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. for 90 days. That order also prevents Syrian refugees from entering the U.S. indefinitely. Britain's Prime Minister says Mr. Trump will make a state visit to the United Kingdom. Theresa May was speaking at the White House where she became the first foreign leader to meet with President Trump. At their news conference, Ms. May voiced her support for sanctions against Russia while Mr. Trump said that it was too early to talk about sanctions with Russia.

Mr. Trump says that he had a very warm phone call with the president of Mexico, Enrique Pena Nieto. The leaders agreed to work out their differences over Mr. Trump's plan to build a border wall. The telephone conversation came a day after Pena Nieto cancelled the face- to-face meeting with his American counterpart.

Billions of people around the world, they are celebrating the Lunar New Year. 2017, it is the year of the rooster. China and other Asian cultures welcome the Lunar New Year with two weeks of celebrations ending with a lantern festival.

The U.S. President Donald Trump says that extreme vetting of immigrants is aimed at helping to keep American safe but critics had been quick to condemn his new executive order that includes the youngest ever Nobel Laureate. In a statement from Malala Yousafzai, she said this. "I am heartbroken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants, the people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at new life."

One family of Syrian refugee says they're trying to do exactly that, to do their part and to build better lives right here in the U.S. State of Georgia. Our Nick Valencia talked to them and the mayor of the city where they settled, he says refugees are the economic backbone of his community.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You are one of the best students, huh?


VALENCIA: Looking at all her school merit awards, it's amazing to think that 11-year-old Nawroz has only been in the U.S. for a year.

Why are you such a good girl?

NAWROZ: I don't know.

VALENCIA: In fact, it's only been a few months since she learned English. But if you ask her, she's already making America better.

NAWROZ: My name is Nawroz and I am a Syrian refugee and thank you for welcoming us to our new home in America.

VALENIA: That's her reciting this letter that she recently read at a nearby church. Her family says, an estimated half of those in attendance were Donald Trump supporters. Why does that matter? Nawroz and her family are Syrian refugees. Under President Trump's newly proposed immigration plan, families like hers wouldn't be able to come to the U.S. or she says they wouldn't be able make America better.

NAWROZ: My dream is I want to become a doctor because I want to help all of the children in the world and I want to make America better.

VALENCIA: Her family fled war-torn Syria three years ago. They've asked us not to use their last name because they're still nervous after all they've been through. Life has been especially difficult for her 14-year-old brother Allen who has cerebral palsy. It's because of him, Nawroz says, that she wants to be a doctor.

For two years, Nawroz and her family lived in a refugee camp in Turkey. They resettled just outside of Atlanta, Georgia with the help of Paedia Mixon at the Georgia nonprofit New American Pathways.

[05:35:08] PAEDIA MIXON, NEW AMERICAN PATHWAYS CEO: We are actually, proactively going to refugee camps, working with the United Nations, setting up resettlement centers and going through a careful thought out process.

VALENCIA: Mixon says Americans who fear terrorist refugees coming to the U.S. have legitimate concerns. But she says the strict 18 to 24 months vetting process for refugees headed to the U.S. should temper any worries.

TED TERRY, CLARKSON, GEORGIA MAYOR: We've been receiving refugees for the past 35 years so --

VALENCIA: Ted Terry is the mayor of Clarkson, Georgia. Population 13,000, half of the town's residents are foreign born, many of them are refugees, who, he says, are the economic backbone of his community. He sees them not as a burden but as an investment.

TERRY: If you are thinking about the people around you as assets, as truly valuable and contributing members of our community, it's not draining at all. It's actually very, very energizing.

VALENCIA: Nick Valencia, CNN, Clarkson, Georgia.


HOWELL: Nick Valencia, thank you so much for the report. The queen sisters of tennis had been dueling it out in the Australian Open. We'll tell you which Williams came out on top, ahead.

Plus, a character featured in a James Bond films gets a real life twist. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN "Newsroom." I'm George Howell.

Millions of people around the world are spending the next couple of weeks celebrating the Lunar New Year. Beijing started off the year of the rooster with a massive gala. Look at that. Beginning the first day of Lunar New Year.

[05:40:06] Our David McKenzie joins us now live in the Chinese capital, we'll talk more about it. David, a pleasure to have you. So, what is the significance of the year of the rooster?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, hello. The significance is we're moving out of the year of the monkey into the rooster, George and these are the zodiac signs, the 12 zodiacs that really designate the lunar period, the lunar calendar here in China.

So if are you born in the year of the rooster which comes around every 12 years of course then you are generally thought to be punctual, friendly, popular, a pretty good year to be born in. And as that year is entered into, many Chinese, 700 million of them gather around the T.V. to watch this gala on state T.V. with 40 different acts, mostly dancing and singing but also Chinese opera and comedy. It's rarely a patriotic times propaganda-filled celebration of the start of the new year and some of it has been going on for many years indeed. George?

HOWELL: So we've heard about fireworks celebrations, a look from Beijing to New York. I mean, it is becoming a worldwide celebration. How is China working to export the New Year celebration outside of its borders?

MCKENZIE: Well, certainly since the time when I was based here, you've seen the shift in the way that the Chinese government promotes the Lunar New Year. It's of course the most important holiday here in China but increasingly seeing embassies, Confucius institutes across the world, I've seen there was celebrations as far flung as Ghana and Cuba as a way to push the new year, a kind of soft power push. And the state media here in China even explicitly says it's their way to push soft Chinese power.

You have the prime minister of Britain, Theresa May, extending a congratulatory note to the Chinese, the U.N. Secretary-General. This is becoming a global phenomenon and that certainly is something that the Chinese government and the Communist Party is looking to promote across the world.

Ironically, CCTV's a global spectacular, I mean, the New Year's spectacular was on YouTube and Facebook, both banned here in China better way to get that celebration out to the rest of the world, certainly and to Chinese in the Diaspora. George?

HOWELL: David, so a new year, new beginnings, but a great deal of uncertainty coming with many countries, China included with a new president of the United States. How is that being perceived in China as they start this new lunar year?

MCKENZIE: Well, certainly, it's a wait and see attitude from the government's perspective. I think ordinary Chinese are just getting on with the Lunar New Year's celebrations. But on the government level and the party level, there is nervousness or at least concern about where President Trump might go next with his foreign policy and his trade policy. He's surrounded himself with several very, one might say, anti-China economist who have said that China is the root of many ills in the U.S. economy. Most economists say it's a lot more complicated than that. But they are anticipating, potentially, a move from President Trump to push up tariffs between the world's two biggest economies.

The Chinese, state media and the government has urged President Trump to be cautious and to talk particularly on areas of trade and geopolitics rather than do anything rash from their perspective here in Beijing. George?

HOWELL: David McKenzie live for us in Beijing. David, thank you so much for your reporting today.

Switching now to weather. Recent storms are paying off for residents in the U.S. State of California, people who have been suffering under an extreme drought now for a couple of years. Our meteorologist Julie Martin now joins us live to talk more about that. And Julie, this rain, it is quite welcomed there.

JULIE MARTIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's been a series of storms, George, and it's been a long time coming. This drought really stretches back over three years for the residents of California, so every little bit is helping. Now, for the first time in three years in fact, they are not in the highest category of drought in California. So that's significant.

Let's take a look at some of the storms that have pushed in all of this welcomed rain and snow for that matter, two places in California. The entire state now most drought-free since 2011. So again, the ground water level still critically low but that's going to take some time for all of the snow pack to really work its way back into the system and eventually help the residents who have been really struggling for a water supply for so many years.

I'll take you out to the map. Now taking a look at just how much rain California has got. In fact, places like Los Angeles picked up about seven and a half inches of rain in January. That's about 190 millimeters.

[05:44:58] Just to give you some perspective, L.A. usually gets about 14 inches or so a year. So, a tremendous amount of rain coming in, again, much welcomed, much needed. This parade of storms really just coming in one after another over the last couple of weeks, dumping the heavy rain along the coast, the snow in the higher elevations here in the Sierra.

All this is great news as we take a look back in time. This is January 17th, exceptional drought. This is the worst category. You see just north of Los Angeles into Santa Barbara, that area in exceptional drought. That not the one you want. Going forward, one week, we are now down to zero. And it's been a long time coming. So certainly things are looking up in California.

If you look the perspective of this drought, it really stretches back all the way to 2012. The height of it really beginning in 2014, that's when the governor declared a state of emergency and that's when all of the water restrictions went into effect. Those restrictions by the way, still in effect, not quite over yet t. The snow pack is there. It's going to take a while, as I mentioned, to get into the water supply systems. So for now, everything is status quo.

George, let's talk a little about the Santa Ana winds. We are expecting a very windy day in Southern California. Those Santa Anas kicking up over the Ventura and L.A. county mountains, so if you're waking up, expect some very blustery conditions. In fact, we have high wind warnings in effect just north of Los Angeles, in and around Santa Barbara as well.

Already George, we've been seeing reports of winds gusting up over 60 miles per hour in the L.A. area. And, you know, that's enough to bring down some power lines and generally folks who live in this region. They're familiar with the Santa Anas. They know when they're coming and they know what they need to do to hunker down and they do so. But, just a little warning as you wake up might catch you by surprise.

HOWELL: A little windy there. Julie, thank you.


HOWELL: All right, let's talk tennis just a bit. Serena Williams just won the Australian Open, the first major tournament this year. She beat her sister Venus Williams in straight sets for a record 23 grand slam title. This was Serena's first chance to pass Steffi Graff's 22 titles since Serena tied that mark at Wimbledon last year.

When we come back, more history in the making. What makes this beauty queen so special to her country? Stay with us.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORTS: Hi there, I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN World Sports headlines. You know, the English F.A. Cup is not just the oldest football competition of them all, it's also traditionally famed for gaint-killing act sets and intense local rivalries too.

On Friday, a pair of East midland foes going head to head as second to Derby County, hosting Leicester, and the Rams looked like they were going to pull off the upset of holding at two-one lead until four minutes from time. That's when Leicester skipper Wes Morgan spared his team's blushes toward (ph) the end. They head to a replay at the King Power.

[05:50:13] Arsenal head coach Arsene Wenger learns his fate after last weekend's confrontation with a fourth official in closing stages of the Gunner's last cup win over at Burnley. The Frenchman handed a four-match touchline ban and given a $30,000 fine, this, after admitting. An English F.A. charged him misconduct. It had been alleged the 67-year-old Wenger verbally abused and made physical contact with the official in question. After he's sending up the ban, starts with immediate effect. Tiger Woods' quest to make the cut in his first start from the official PGA tour event since August 2015 will have to wait after an opening round of 76 at this week's Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego. Woods falling up with a level par of 72 in round two. That means he's cut from the tournament in his first stop of the year after ending at four-over.

That's a look at your World Sports headlines. I'm Patrick Snell.

HOWELL: All right, if you know James Bond movies, you know "Q" who's played a memorable role in those movies for decades. That character, he is the person involved with gadgets, he is a bet nerdy, sometimes sarcastic, sometimes exasperated. But the head of British Intelligence says the real-life Q, you'll find is quite the opposite. Brian Todd reports for us.


BEN WHISHAW AS Q, ACTOR: I'm the new court master.


WHISHAW: Why, because I'm not wearing a lab coat?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's the young I.T. genius played by Ben Whishaw in "Skyfall" and "Spectre". The spy master who steers James Bond through his equipment challenges.

WHISHAW: Zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds. Fully bulletproof, a few little tricks up his sleeve.

TODD: Or he is the commodity gadget guru in the older Bond films played by Desmond Llewelyn constantly admonishing 007.

DESMOND LLEWELYN AS Q, ACTOR: Bring that car back in pristine order.

TODD: The character "Q" for Quartermaster has been a Bond legend for more than 50 years. Who could forget the underwater car or the exploding pen? But now the image of Q as a bookish Oxford-educated gentleman is shattered. The real head of Britain's overseas intelligence agency MI6 reveals, "I'm pleased to report that the real- life Q is a woman. Her actual identity, of course, is top secret."

JONNA MENDEZ, FORMER CHIEF OF DISGUISE FOR CIA: Glass ceilings have been broken. We saw that at CIA when I was there.

TODD: Jonna Mendez worked in the CIA's version of Q's division and specialized in disguises. She gave me a convincing looking bruise to show her expertise. Mendez's husband is Tony Mendez, the CIA agent portrayed in the movie "Argo." She's thrilled that Q is a woman.

What sensibility does she bring as a woman that maybe a male Q would not bring the spycraft?

MENDEZ: An empathy and ability to communicate with people, a kind of a softness, not so much of an edge, but a natural ability to work with people that a lot of the male leaders in these organizations seem to lack.

TODD: As far as we know, a woman hasn't yet reached the very top of MI6 other than Dame Judi Dench's role in the Bond films.

CRAIG: Are you going to complain the whole way?

JUDI DENCH AS M, ACTRESS: Oh, go on then. Eject me. See if I care.

TODD: The ejector seat, Bond's go-to-gadget when things got heated inside the Aston Martin.

VINCE HOUGHTON, INTERNATIONAL SPY MUSEUM CURATOR: So this is the Aston Martin DB5, the famous car from the movie "Goldfinger."

TODD: Vince Houghton is curator and historian at the International Spy Museum. He showed us real spy gadgets Q's team might have actually used.

HOUGHTON: This is the spy wristwatch, the idea behind this is you can have a secret way to take photographs making a coin that is hollowed out to where you could put like a microchip or you could put a small document.

TODD: But as for the suit-up spy gadgets in the movies.

HOUGHTON: If you find yourself needing an ejector seat, if you find yourself in a shootout or a car chase in a foreign country, things have gone really, really badly. Your operation is blown.


TODD: Rather than machine guns and ejector seats on sports cars, Vince Houghton says what Q and her team at MI6 really spend a lot of their time doing is creating things like fake I.Ds, fake documents, even fake receipts to show that an agent may have really shopped at a Staples in a given city, creating all the tools that agents need to effectively operate in their target cities and to stay alive.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

HOWELL: Brian Todd there, giving us the real deal on Q.

And now to Sierra Leone, the small West African nation has had more than its share of troubles since gaining independence in 1961. Troubles from a bloody civil war there to Ebola. That nation has been trying to bounce back. And right now, its future seems just a bit brighter with Miss Sierra Leone Hawa Kamara. And she wants you to see that for yourself.


[05:54:59] HAWA KAMARA, MISS SIERRA LEONE: This is very important, I mean, to be a part of the Miss Universe because, you know, we have been going through so many tragedies in the country. So many thing unfolds, so many problem. Now, Ebola virus and, you know, our world before. So, this is an opportunity to shed a good light on us. This is an opportunity to not only let the world know about me personally but then for the world to no more about our country, that we have all this great opportunities there as well. And I am welcoming everyone to come to Sierra Leone. So I am here to tell people Sierra Leone is (inaudible), Sierra Leone is faith. You can come anytime.


HOWELL: Kamara's title is a history-making accomplishment in itself. For the first time ever, Sierra Leone is represented in the Miss Universe pageant. Kamara says her beauty is in her diversity. Listen.


KAMARA: I mean, I'm confident the way I am. For example, now my hairstyle, you know, most of them they say, beauty pageant you have to get your hairstyle, you have to do all these extra things. But I'm just me, you know. I just want to give the world me. I don't want to look like somebody else. So that has been one of my advantages.


HOWELL: The new Miss Universe will be crowned Sunday. Kamara says she hopes that she wins so that she can better advocate for AIDS and HIV awareness.

That wraps this hour of CNN "Newsroom." I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States "New Day" is next. For other viewers around the world "The Best of Quest" starts in a moment. Thank you for watching CNN the world's news leader.