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North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Over Japan; Japan And U.S. Call For Security Council Meeting; South Korea Responded With Its Own Missile Launch; Desperate Pleas For Help Across The Caribbean; Nursing Home Under Investigation After Deaths; Trump's Response To North Korea; Trump Again Blames Both Sides For Charlottesville; Trump, Top Democrats Working On Deal For Dreamers; Trump Humiliated Sessions After Mueller Appointment, Reports NYT; Irma Responsible for at Least 10 Deaths in Cuba; Hurricane Jose Brewing in Atlantic; U.N.: 280,000 Rohingya Have Fled Myanmar Violence; Trump Seeks to Reverse Obama Environmental Policies. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired September 15, 2017 - 02:00   ET


ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: Let's welcome our viewers from all around the world. I'm Isha Sesay.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause. Great to have you with us. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM LA.

Our breaking news this hour. North Korea responding to tough new UN sanctions with another missile launch. By our count, this is number 22 for this year alone. And for the second time in less than a month, this missile flight path took it over Japan.

SESAY: Well, Pyongyang's illicit missile program has been in high gear since mid-February. A total of 22 missiles have been fired.

VAUSE: On July 4th, North Korea testified its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile and now North Korea has sent a second missile streaking over Japan.

SESAY: The missile flew over Japan more than 700 kilometers above. Japanese authorities sounded an alarm, known as a J-alert. Residents also warned to stay away from anything that could be missile debris.

Well, the newest missile launch comes on the heels of punishing new UN sanctions and just 12 days after Pyongyang detonated its most powerful nuclear device to date.

Let's bring in our correspondents from across the region, Phil Black in Tokyo, Paula Hancocks in Seoul and Matt Rivers in Beijing.

Phil, to you first, we just heard those sirens that went off as that missile approached. How much more has this latest test, which took the missile over Japan, how much more has that raised tensions there in Japan?

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Significantly, Isha. There's no doubt. The Japanese officials say they worked out pretty quickly that this was not a threat to Japanese territories specifically. That's why they didn't try to shoot it down.

But, as you saw, they let off those sirens, they sent out text message alerts to vast numbers of people across the north of the country because they were worried about falling debris.

They're believed to have determined that this missile was the same sort of intermediate range ballistic missile that North Korea fired over a similar track back at the end of August, what the North Koreans call a Hwasong 12, only in this case it went further. About 3,700 kilometers it's believed to have traveled, more than 2200 miles.

That's significant because Japanese officials believe that North Korea is showing that, if it wants to, it could have fired that missile south over Japan, towards the US territory of Guam, which would have been an even greater provocation.

No one in the region wants to see that happen because they believe it will raise tensions even further and make the possibility of military conflict in this region more likely.

Now, since then, the Japanese government has released a statement and has been commenting in its usual sternway, denouncing this, condemning the test, insisting that these actions stop, calling for international unity and also saying that it will express these frustrations at the United Nations Security Council.

It wants maximum pressure from the international community to be applied to North Korea diplomatically to try and get it to reverse its behavior. It is frustrated because that's all it can do at the moment, is push for that sort of unity and pressure at the moment.

The pressure has been coming not to the degree the Japanese government would like. And as we're seeing, what pressure that has been applied has been ineffectual in getting North Korea to stop its behavior in this way, Isha.

SESAY: Well, Phil, the Japanese government, the prime minister looking to the international community and the UN Security Council, but there are those in Japan and some lawmakers, who are really pushing to see a change in Japan's constitution, a change in their pacifist constitution.

Do we expect to see louder calls for that, louder calls for Japan to develop its own unilateral means of the deterrents for Pyongyang?

BLACK: You're right. Article IX of the Japanese constitution renounces this country's right to wage war, renounces its right to even possess weapons that can be used offensively. So, all of its weapons so far are really all about self-defense.

It is no secret that Prime Minister Abe wants to change that clause of the constitution. It's widely accepted that he does not have the national support required through a referendum to change that.

So, he's been reinterpreting it in recent years, broadening it in ways that some critics believe may not be constitutional, but what he has been doing is increasing spending on defense significantly, but largely in ways that are aimed at dealing with potential action from North Korea.

So, investing significantly in anti-missile systems. Those sorts of steps are not significantly unpopular with the Japanese population, particularly as North Korea continues to throw its weight around show off its increasing capabilities in this way.

But it is still broadly accepted that, while some people may be talking about developing some sort of first-strike capability for Japan, the government does not yet have the popular support in order to change the constitution in order to make that a reality, Isha.

[02:05:02] SESAY: Phil Black, we appreciated the insight. Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. From Tokyo, let's go to Seoul now and Paula Hancocks is there. And, Paula, there is this report in "The Washington Post" that a delegation of South Korean lawmakers were in Washington on Thursday, making the case to the Trump administration that they want tactical nuclear weapons deployed in South Korea.

Many there from the opposition, but, clearly, they are directly opposed to the president on this issue, but there are some who believe that this is what the South Koreans need right now.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, it's interesting because this time last year no one was talking about tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea. It just was such a minority issue.

There was such a tiny percentage of the population who actually thought that it was viable, thought it was sensible. But, quite recently, it has really picked up steam, mainly because one of the main opposition groups has taken it as one of its policies to try and work against the president that they believe that South Korea does need its own tactical nuclear weapons.

A recent Gallup Poll also showed that, of those polled, more than 60 percent wanted nuclear weapons within South Korea.

But we spoke to President Moon Jae-in just yesterday, on Thursday, and I asked him very clearly do you want nuclear weapons and the answer was very clear. He said no.


MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOERA (through translator): South Korea and the US have firm combined defense capabilities to neutralize a threat in the early stage, if North Korea actually make nuclear or missile provocations.

However, we do not have a hostile policy towards North Korea. We do not have the intention to attack North Korea and we do not have the intention to reunify the Korean Peninsula in an artificial way or in the manner of absorption.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HANCOCKS: Now, it is still believed to be the minority view, even though that recent poll showed that people were concerned here in South Korea, more concerned than they've been before.

They usually have an ability to absorb this kind of pressure from North Korea, these kind of threats, but certainly the concerns have been increasing here in South Korea recently.

But there's certainly a sense among experts that you can't exactly call for the denuclearization of North Korea when you are nuclearizing South Korea. So, many experts saying that it is simply not practical when you are trying to ask the North Koreans to give up their nuclear weapons if you're going to allow their neighbor that they are technically at war with to create their own nuclear program.

And, certainly, when the US President Donald Trump mentioned this that South Korea and Japan cold have their own nuclear weapons during the campaign to become president, there was horror in South Korea. There was utter surprise. Many people had not even considered it.

So, what the president is saying is they need to build up this capability in the military sense. We saw that this morning with this live-fire drill, firing two missiles, one of them failed and fell into the waters off the east coast, but they said that that was to show that they could fire down a missile from North Korea if need be. John?

VAUSE: Paula, thank you. Paula Hancocks live in Seoul.

SESAY: All right. Let's go to Matt Rivers now in Beijing. Matt, all eyes on Beijing to see how they will respond to the latest missile launch by Pyongyang. Have we heard from Beijing? Any indications as to how they will respond?

MATT RIVERS, SENIOR CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Now, at this point, there is really sort of a standard game plan when it comes to responding to North Korean provocations here in Beijing.

Usually, there isn't a statement put out right away. They usually wait until - if it happens on a weekday that is, they usually wait until the daily Ministry of Foreign Affairs press briefing. That happens at 3:30 PM local time.

That's usually when they come out and they give more or less the exact same statement every single time, saying that they urge all relevant parties to not take any provocative actions. They urge both sides to return to the negotiating table.

Really, this has become a standard response from the Chinese, which is interesting in the sense that we're really in an unprecedented situation. The Chinese have signed on to different sanctions, different increasingly tough rounds of sanctions from the UN Security Council.

But one thing that has remained consistent from China is that they consistently show an unwillingness to cross a certain line when it comes those sanctions. Any line that the Chinese government feels could destabilize and potentially cause the Kim Jong-un regime to collapse is something that they will not consider.

So, consider the latest UN sanctions. The initial draft circulated by the US after that latest North Korean nuclear test called for, for example, a complete embargo on all oil exports to North Korea.

That is something that China said was a nonstarter and it wouldn't vote for any sanctions that called for such a ban, which is why you got a watered down round of sanctions.

So, the Chinese definitely have a very practiced response to this. We're not expecting anything different today. And as of now, their calculation remains that they won't do anything they feel will cause this regime to collapse.

[02:10:07] SESAY: Our Matt Rivers there with some insight into the likely response from Beijing. Appreciate it.

Thanks to Matt and thanks to Paula Hancocks there in Seoul and Phil Black in Tokyo. Many thanks to you all.

And tune in this weekend for an exclusive look Inside North Korea's secretive borders with CNN's Will Ripley. Watch "Secret State" Saturday at 1 pm in London, 9 pm in Seoul only on CNN.

VAUSE: A week after Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean, many residents there are trying to salvage what's left of their home. Some say their neighborhoods look like warzones.

SESAY: Well, our CNN teams have been across the Caribbean, covering the hurricane's shocking aftermath. Clarissa Ward has this report now from St. Martin Island.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: From above, you can see the true scale of Irma's violent force. Roofs ripped off, trees battered bare.

Down on the trash-clogged streets, locals work to rebuild their lives with little more than their bare hands. Time here has stood still since Irma hit six days ago.

DAVID RICHARDSON, ST. MARTIN RESIDENT: Right now, at the moment, it is desperate. We're desperately in need of help.

WARD: President David Richardson says garbage is the biggest threat.

DAVID RICHARDSON, PRESIDENT OF ST. MARTIN: We used to see lot of rats. And now, we've seen a lot of the rats are now coming out and those carry some diseases that we don't really need at this time now. And that's my biggest concern. If we get (INAUDIBLE) what are we going to do?

WARD (on-camera): Things like this are playing out across many parts of the Caribbean. House after house, street after street largely devastated and the basic aid that is trickling in is just dwarfed by the scale of the need.

(voice-over): Christopher Terrasse says many feel abandoned.

CHRISTOPHER TERRASSE, ST. MARTIN RESIDENT: On top of a child, a wife who has cancer, she needs help and we don't get any help because we have no roof, we have no water, we have no electricity, no medication. You know when you have a cancer, you know you're going to die. I wish to die better than that.

WARD: Every day, desperate families are trying to get out. The military has set up a checkpoint where they wait just half a mile from the airport. After more than 14 hours in the steamy heat, a lucky few are chosen to go, leaving behind the battered remains of Irma's wrath. Most have no idea when they will be able to return.

Clarissa Ward, CNN on the French side of St. Martin.


SESAY: Well, days after Hurricane Irma, Florida officials are investigating how eight people died at a nursing home for the elderly.

VAUSE: The facility says it will cooperate with the authorities. It's also expressed its deepest sympathies. We have more about from Kyung Lah.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Growing questions tonight about how so many elderly people could die inside this nursing home in Hollywood, Florida without the facility ever calling for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need this police investigation to go forward to determine exactly what took place.

LAH: Police looking into the conditions inside the rehabilitation center.

RAELIN LOHSE-STOREY, SPOKESWOMAN, HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA: The initial investigation has determined the facility had some power. However, the building's air conditioning system was not fully functional.

LAH: The nursing home first alerted Broward County that it had lost power on Tuesday morning, but officials say the center did not request assistance at that time. On Tuesday evening, one resident was found dead and taken to a funeral home.

But it wasn't until Wednesday morning after two 911 calls from the nursing home that authorities were first notified about the horror inside. Six of the residents died from heat-related issues. The cause of the other two deaths is under investigation.

Across Florida, crews are racing to restore power as temperatures hover around 90 degrees with high humidity. More than 2.5 million are still without power. The lack of any utilities especially felt in the Florida Keys.

BERNARD WELHAM, MARATHON KEY RESIDENT: No power, no water, nothing.

LAH: And no phone. Bernard Welham borrowing our sat phone to leave his first voice mail to his daughter in New York.

WELHAM: I said, "It's dad, I'm OK. The house got destroyed, but we're OK."

LAH (on-camera): How long are you going to make it within these conditions, sir?

WELHAM: As long as I can.

LAH (voice-over): Surviving on donated water from the Red Cross and the military, he refuses to leave the town of Marathon. It's a central island in the Florida Keys. US1, the only road in or out, is closed off to any residents trying to return here.

[02:15:02] This is the reason. Search and rescue still going door to door hoping to find survivors amid the demolished homes. Three died during the storm in Marathon. No others have been found since.

CHUCK LINDSEY, MARATHON CITY MANAGER: It's not safe to come back right now. We've got downed power lines and transformers. There is no sewer, no water, no power and no gas. But to all of our Marathon residents, we are going to get this place open as soon as we can.

SESAY: But patience is in short supply outside the roadblock into the Keys.

JUDITH SILVA, MARATHON RESIDENT: It's not right. It's not right. We are running out of money, we are running out of place to say.

SESAY: Judith Silva lives in Marathon and has two businesses in town. Stuck outside the roadblock, she doesn't know what happened to anything she owns.

SILVA: How am I feeling? I'm feeling frustrated. I'm feeling angry. I'm feeling impotence. I'm feeling loss. It's hard.


VAUSE: And it's just feeling started.

SESAY: I know.

VAUSE: There is so much to do, so much ahead.

SESAY: We're going to take a quick break. And then, President Trump has been talking tough against North Korea from the beginning, but so far his voice doesn't seem to be making an impact. More on the US response next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SESAY: Hello, everyone. Back to our top story. North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan for the second time in less than a month, according to South Korea.

In response to Friday's launch, Seoul carried out a live-fire drill that included its own missile launch, capable of striking Pyongyang's missile test site.

VAUSE: The UN Security Council will meet in the coming hours. Before the launch, US President Donald Trump said he is working with China to try and rein in North Korea.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are working on different things. I can't tell you, obviously, what I'm working on. But, believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.


VAUSE: Democratic strategist Caroline Heldman and Republican digital strategist Austin James joins us now here in Los Angeles. Good to see you both.

SESAY: Welcome.


VAUSE: OK. Donald Trump, he's a man with a plan. Doesn't want to give away the details, but since fire and fury, locked and loaded, North Koreans, they fired two missiles over Japan, they've carried out the strongest nuclear test so far.

Austin, at the time when Donald Trump used those words, used that tough language, there was praise for him by some saying he is talking the tough language that Kim Jong-un understands. Well, Kim Jong-un may understand it, but he doesn't care, right? He's called his bluff every time.

VAUSE: We were just talking before we came on. And I said, listen, I think someone's ready to call someone's bluff. I think Tillerson recently - he probably came on and said, he's calling on Russia and China to kind of make the first move here.

I think this is just - this is one of those opportunities, right? If someone is going to be caught with their pants down, so to speak, and so, I think, Trump has to actually kind of back up his words now unfortunately.

SESAY: Caroline, you were very critical of President Trump when he used that kind of language, the bellicose rhetoric. So, bearing that in mind and where we see Kim Jong-un right now, what's your thought as to the next move by the administration?

[02:20:07] HELDMAN: Well, I am hoping that it is something that is not unilateral. I'm hoping that it's something that is global, right, so we have a lot of nations involved. And, indeed, Tillerson said that they're calling upon China once again and perhaps Russia because of all of the North Korean migrants that that might be a point of pressure.

But, at this point in time, this is the third president who has had to deal with this problem and it has rapidly escalated probably because of the personalities involved where the North Korean leader believes that they are under threat. Where is that tension coming from? That's likely coming from the bombastic language of Donald Trump.

So, now, we are in a position where it is escalating and we really have four options, right? We have decapitation, which is taking out the leader. We have a surgical military strike on nuclear sites or potential nuclear sites. We have an all-out military expansion. Or we're doing what we're doing, which is the sanctions that the UN has just approved, putting pressure economically, perhaps cyber warfare. But at this point in time, as unfortunately quoting Steve Bannon, right, there's nothing there.

VAUSE: Look, we've got to move on. But, look, they contained Cuba, they've contained USSR missile crisis for generations and we didn't destroy each other. So, maybe containment could work, but anyway.

It took two of the biggest natural disasters to ever hit this country for the tone out of the White House to seem relatively normal over the last couple of weeks.

There is almost a sense of normalcy going on. But now - today, (INAUDIBLE) Thursday happened and we're back to blaming both sides for the violence in Charlottesville. Listen to what the president said.


TRUMP: I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what's going on there, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that's what I said.

Now, because of what's happened since then with Antifa, you look at really what's happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying - in fact, a lot people have actually written, gee, Trump might have a point. I said, you've got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true.


VAUSE: And these comments came after he was receiving a lot of criticism because he had dinner with Chuck and Nancy - Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the Democrats, reached a sort of tentative, maybe, maybe not deal over the Dreamers, the young immigrants, undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as kids.

The deal - the Obama-era deal, which allows them to stay, the tenure runs out, the Democrats come out with a plan.

So, Austin, to you, he does this with the Democrats, maybe, maybe, gets a lot of blowback for it. And then he suddenly - (CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: But then, he gets all this criticism from his hardcore base, so he throws them at a couple of white nationalists, Nazis and we're all good to go?

AUSTIN JAMES, REPUBLICAN DIGITAL STRATGIST: Well, I mean, listen, I think we're also overlooking the fact that - I think it Resolution 49 came to his desk and he signed that. He actually had some very great kind of fluffy language. I think that's what people wanted to hear from him. I haven't seen any of those sound bites or those clips. So, we're kind of jumping back on the red meat.

I will say this, though. I think you're absolutely right. He is definitely a man who - what these - this Antifa stuff, he's basically going back and saying, look, I was right, violence is wrong. And you're right, I think a lot of that pointing to hey-I-was-right comes from the backlash he got unfortunately with the meeting with the Democrats.

SESAY: Yes. But I'm not sure even that would quell the anger that came from conservatives over that proposed deal, ongoing talk.

So, we put some of these up because they were heated. Ann Coulter tweeted this. "At this point, who doesn't want Trump impeached."

Sean Hannity suggests Dems have duped Trump. "Weak Rs have betrayed voters. @POTUS needs to stay the course and keep his promise or it's over! Pelosi and Schumer can never be trusted," although they are negotiating with the Republicans.

Breitbart headlines, "Trump caves on DACA, wants quick amnesty for 800,000 illegal aliens."

VAUSE: Amnesty Don.

JAMES: He is a passionate individual. He is an emotional, very into what he's trying to accomplish, large, sweeping changes. I think they're playing right into it, though.

They understand that one negative tweet from Sean Hannity, who he adores, is basically the red cake to the bull. So, I think that will spur some action. And I think they have to go really hard against him to get him to move it back.

VAUSE: I just want to move on very quickly (INAUDIBLE) to the relationship between the president and the Attorney General Jeff Sessions. And he seems to be really happy now (INAUDIBLE) Jeff Sessions. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is your relationship with the president these days? JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: He is great. We had a good time with him yesterday. And his positive leadership just comes through. I wish that American people could have seen him as he focused on these issues. He's asked the right questions and he sends messages that are clear. He expects us to perform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you two are good?

[02:25:00] SESSION: We had a great time and had a good time yesterday with him and, of course, we're working on a number of issues before that.


VAUSE: Oh, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. OK, their relationship strained because Trump blamed Sessions for the appointment of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

SESAY: Because he recused himself.

VAUSE: Because he recused himself, though complicated. But "The New York Times" had this really interesting report today that when the president heard that the Special Counsel Mueller had been appointed, almost immediately, Mr. Trump lobbed a volley of insults at Mr. Sessions, telling the attorney general it was his fault they're in the current situation.

Mr. Trump told Mr. Sessions that choosing him to be attorney general was one of the worst decisions he had made, called him an "idiot" and said he should resign.

Caroline, this dressing down was in the front of the vice president, it was in front of the White House legal counsel, there were aides in the room. This is not a happy White House.

HELDMAN: No. And this is what Donald Trump does to his most loyal supporters. That's what makes it so shocking. I mean, leave it to Donald Trump to make me want to give Jefferson Beauregard Sessions a hug.

JAMES: You guys have (INAUDIBLE).

SESAY: I think his parents' surname is probably Beauregard.

HELDMAN: I think it speaks to this issue of obstruction of justice, right? We have a lot of evidence mounting aside from the fact that the president actually said in an interview that he fired Comey and was considering the Russian thing.

Now, we see that he's incredibly upset because this is the moment that - the appointment of Mueller is the moment at which he loses control of the investigation, right? And this has a lot to do with Sessions recusing himself as he needed to because he was not honest with Congress during his confirmation process.

So, he didn't want all of that garbage or all of that dirty laundry out in public, and so he recused himself. And the president knew that he was losing control at this point.

So, I really think this is just a siren call that there is something that Donald Trump is trying to cover up, and this is yet another - more evidence.

SESAY: He looked perplexed.

JAMES: I'm sitting here thinking through this and I'm thinking, listen, we've worked campaigns, I have a business, we're in business, what is he supposed to do, sit him down and pour him a cup of tea and talk about it.

VAUSE: But if he's got nothing to hide, why is he so upset?

JAMES: I think what he's kind of getting at is - again, we're not going to sit here and talk about his tact or his wordsmithing, but I think what he's getting at is, listen, if I'm going to accomplish some of the large monumental things that I said I was going to accomplish on the campaign trail, I need people who don't need to be micromanaged and who are loyal.

VAUSE: Interesting spin. OK. Austin and Caroline, thanks so much.

SESAY: Thank you.

VAUSE: OK. Coming up after a short break, Irma may be long gone, but it's left behind another deadly threat in Cuba. All the details in just a moment.


[02:30:09] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.


The headlines this hour --


SESAY: Hello, everyone. "I don't know if I can make it," one woman says on the Caribbean island of St. Thomas as Hurricane Irma tore through a week ago. St. Martin paints a haunting picture of the massive destruction. There is still no power. Food and water are running low and there's little sanitation.

VAUSE: Police are trying to end the looting of shops and homes, but international help has yet to arrive. On the U.S. Virgin Islands, on St. John, one mother said, "There's nothing left of my home."

U.S. forces and volunteers are trickling in, bringing aid with them as well as security. But many residents are evacuating, leaving their shattered lives behind.

Let's get more on this from Shep Shepherd, in New York. He's part of the management team for St. Martin Resorts and joins us via skype. Shep, thank you so much for being with us.

Tell me about your experience of riding out Irma.

SHEP SHEPHERD, MANAGEMENT TEAM, SONESTA RESORTS: Good evening, Isha. We were lucky in St. Martin because we had a thorough hurricane preparedness plan in place. With that in mind, I guess nothing could have prepared us for the magnitude of Irma. And the sheer destruction I think has been unprecedented. And, you know, it was a long time that we were in our bunker, certainly, even longer when those conditions that she submitted us to. When you leave the bunker and you see what remains, and the damage and destruction afterwards, it's a real adjustment. It takes you a while to really process that. It's left the island devastated. People without any of the basic living necessities, running water, food, sanitation, shelter. And surviving the hurricane itself is really only the beginning. The aftermath now is, I think, perhaps even more dangerous.

SESAY: Shep, I understand that the resorts have been used as kind of a hub for relief efforts. Talk to us about how that has been playing out, how smoothly that process has been, or has proceeded.

SHEPHERD: We've been very lucky. The Sonesta Resorts here are located right next to the airport, where the planes land over the beach. Within hours, of Irma having hit, Samaritans First landed with a first DCA jet full of supplies, a team of humanitarian aid. They're, along with Sonesta Resort and along with the support of the Dutch Marines who have been instrumental in securing provisions, getting to the right place and securing safety and good communication across the island. That's exactly it. The Sonesta Resorts have become a hub from which we can hope to help with the aid across the island. But it will take a lot. We'll need a lot of support, a lot of generosity from the international community.

SESAY: You're talking about the efforts that have been at your Sonesta resorts. Talk about the federal and local response. There's criticism it hasn't been smooth. It's been adequate. What's your assessment?

SHEPHERD: Listen, I don't know how anybody really can fairly measure the response to a natural disaster, a catastrophe of this scale. What I can tell you is that as harrowing and as terrifying as the hurricane was, the response locals, from the community, the community leaders, the government officials, from the Dutch Marines, from Samaritans First, and from the property owners has been inspirational. I've seen people coming together, working together. Of course, it's a stressful time, people are panicked. People are worried and scared. But from what I've seen in my experience is people doing their best and working together. I think that we've see a lot of people evacuated to safety very, very quickly. And not a huge loss of life, which is staggering when you look at the destruction that's been caused. And again, I think that's down to the level of preparedness and the cooperation. St. Martin is a simple island. It's not a city. It doesn't have all the means and facilities that maybe some places might, to cope with this. Without proper communication, with plumbing and electricity down, it makes all these things much harder to deal with. [02:35:38] SESAY: Yes. Shep, obviously, tourism has been a life

line for St. Martin and many of the Caribbean islands. That, obviously, is on hold while these places are devastated.

I mean, what is your sense of -- first, of all, how long, it will take to get back on your feet, St. Martin that is, and whether these places will ever be the same again?

SHEPHERD: OK. Well, tourism, yes, you're right, for St. Martin, for many of the island communities, it's the sole industry. We're not going to see any business on that front for a year or two at least. What I hope, where St. Martin and many of the islands are concerned, that the cruise industry continues to support us. If we can get the ports into good order, hopefully, people can still come by and spend their money and invest in the local economy, which is critical to the islands, their industry.

In terms of are they going to be the same? No, of course not. This is a near-fatal blow for a lot of the islands. But what I believe is that they'll come back stronger, if 're given the right support now. And the desperately need it. Because they don't have the basic living necessities, fresh water, food, sanitation, clothing. And these things very quickly disappear on remote islands that don't have ease of access. We're so grateful to the Samaritans First. And we'll need the support going forward.

SESAY: We're grateful you could join us. Shep, you know, thank you for giving us the reality check of the conditions on St. Martin. Thank you so much on all you've done there on the island and we'll continue to check in with you. We wish you the very best.

We do, indeed.

Cuba is one of the many countries recovering from Hurricane Irma this week. The monster storm is responsible for at least 10 deaths there.

VAUSE: Five were killed in the capitol, Havana, far from where Irma made landfall.

We get more now from Patrick Oppmann.

And a warning, his report contains some graphic images.



PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is just one glimpse of the living hell that Hurricane Irma inflicted on Cuba. Two women lie dead on a street in Havana after the storm knocked loose a slab of concrete four stories up causing it to crash down on the bus they were riding in directly below. A man tried to take one of the women's pulse. She is already dead a bystander tells him.

Days later, rubble still lines the street. And no one here will talk to us on camera, not wishing to be seen as criticizing the Cuban government's response to the storm.

Ten people here died after the category five monster barreled into Cuba, the island's government says.

While the eye of the storm hit far from Havana, the strong winds and flooding further weakened the city's already failing infrastructure.


This woman shows me where two of her neighbors died in the downtrodden area of Havana after their ceiling collapsed on top of them.

"What you see up there, that fell from the other building," she says, "is what struck the man who was upstairs. And then he and all of the pieces, fell done here, killing both of them."

The men were brothers, according to a statement issued by the Cuban government.

What was their home is now rubble. A pair of jeans, a half-buried flip-flop is all that's left of the lives here. Cuban rescue workers removed the bodies, but the other residents are still living in the ruins.

(on camera): Walking down the hallway of their building, there's water leaking in from the roof. The floor here is completely buckled. It moves when you walk like you are on a ship. This building could go at any minute. And there are countless others just like it all over Havana.

(voice-over): After Irma struck, Cuba's president, Raul Castro, said no Cuban would be abandoned.

This woman shows me letters, going back 10 years, asking the government for new housing for her family. She says she supports the government and that her father fought in the revolution. But since the storm, she says, local officials have only brought some food, but no answers about where people here will now live.

"I don't want my family or anyone else to die. While they live and sleep fine in their houses," she says of local officials, "we don't sleep because we are afraid we won't wake up."

Irma is long gone, but the wounds she left behind may never heal.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.


[02:40:26] VAUSE: After the one-two punch of Irma and Harvey, there is another powerful storm brewing in the Atlantic.

SESAY: Yes, there is.

Karen Maginnis is tracking Jose and joins us from the CNN Weather Center from Atlanta for the latest. Karen, how is it looking

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It's confusing. It has been out here for weeks now. It made a little loop-de-loop. It is in the open in of the Atlantic. But it's got some interesting characteristics that will take place over the next several days. Looking a little better, not conformed, if you will. It was having a little trouble with some sheer in the vicinity. But now we've got warm water temperatures. There's no sheer. So it has the potential to develop into hurricane strength. Now, the spaghetti models are in fair agreement as to what's going to happen over the next couple of days or so. We keep them all together, start to move more towards the north. That looks pretty good. Theoretically, speaking. But we know what happened with Irma. Initially, the spaghetti models were saying the east coast of Florida, in the middle of Florida, in the west coast. So we know that this far out, it's not going to be in good agreement as to whether this is going to affect the east coast of the United States, other than there's going to be a fairly heavy surf. It looks like we could see a rip current. Don't be surprised if you are vacationing down in Florida, if you live down here, maybe in coastal Carolinas, up to the mid-Atlantic through the next several days, it's going to be a pretty choppy surf, because Jose is trying to maneuver more towards the north. As it does, it looks like it will gain category 1 intensity hurricane strength as we go certainly within the next 12 hours to 24 hours. But beyond about three days, you guys, it's going to be hard to say where Jose's target will be, if it, indeed, does have a target across the eastern seaboard.

Back to you guys.

VAUSE: OK. They say it would be a busy hurricane season this year, and they were right.

Thanks, Karen.

SESAY: Karen, thank you.

"Ethnic cleansing" are not words used lightly, but that's what the U.N. and now a major rights group are calling the violence in Myanmar against Rohingya Muslims. More ahead.


SESAY: Hello, everyone. The human rights group, Amnesty International, is echoing the U.N., calling the violence against Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims "ethnic cleansing." The government acknowledges almost 40 percent of Rohingya villagers in the country have been abandoned.

VAUSE: The government says it's because potential terrorists were ordered to leave. But the U.N. says the Rohingyas are fleeing brutal violence. Almost 20,000 a day are seeking refuge in Bangladesh.

Many refugees are telling horrific stories of villages burned to the ground and innocent civilians gunned down.

SESAY: CNN's Alexandra Field has heard some of these stories.

And we must warn you, her report contains graphic images.


[02:45:19] ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): There's nowhere the pain hurts worse than here. This man was running for his life when a land mine ripped his body apart.

(on camera): We just got here and he's saying over and over again -- what is he saying?

UNIDENTIFIED PHYSICIAN: He lost both his eyes. Time and again, he's saying, open my eyes so I can see.

FIELD (voice-over): This woman took bullet. That hardly compares to the pain of watching her two young sons shot to death at her side.

They are among the most badly injured refugees who made it to Bangladesh. Nearly 400,000 streaming across the border since August 25th, fleeing a violent military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims, a minority group in Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist country.

"Textbook ethnic cleansing," says the United Nations. It's now feeling a humanitarian catastrophe.


FIELD (on camera): Tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees are arriving here in Bangladesh from Myanmar every single day. Most of them saved nothing but their own lives. When they get here, they're finding that the official refugee camps are already full, so they're setting up any kind of shelter that they can find. But they need food, they need water, they need help.


FIELD (voice-over): Local aid organizations are underprepared to meet the needs of a mass exodus. And Myanmar's leader, global human rights icon, Aung San Suu Kyi, is under fire for failing to stop it. Her supporters say the military retains overall power.

A thousand people left dead since the military launched a violent campaign against Rohingya. They say they're targeting terrorists following a militant attack in late August on border posts that killed 12 police officers.


FIELD: Umi Sama (ph) is 13 years old. She tells us she was shot by the military. So was her mother.

UNIDENTIFID PHYSICIAN: After walking for 10 days, she was in almost at the border of Bangladesh.

FIELD: The Rohingya are often called the world's most persecuted people. They have lived in Myanmar for generations and never been recognized as citizens. Now their towns are burning to the ground. The exodus has left 40 percent of their villages empty.

Alexandra Field, CNN, Bangladesh.


SESAY: They've been described as the world's most persecuted people.

VAUSE: It's not letting up.


Week by week, North Korea escalates its nuclear and missile threat. Our Will Ripley, often the only Western TV correspondent inside the country. And the premier of his new special report, "Secret State, Inside North Korea," is just hours away.

VAUSE: Here's part of the documentary showing what North Koreans are taught about Americans.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): I've reported from North Korea more than a dozen times over the last few years. Each time, we open the door a little more --


RIPLEY: -- and see this country and its people in unexpected ways.



RIPLEY: Just like this. Yes, even in North Korea, kids love video games. For these 14 and 15-year-olds, these are not just games. This is practice for real life. Most of these boys, and a lot of the girls, will spend their first years of adulthood in the Korean People's Army, like their parents and grandparents before them.

(on camera): What do you like about this game?

(voice-over): "Killing the enemy."

(on camera): Who's the enemy?

(voice-over): "Americans."

This hatred of Americans stems from the Korean War. North Korea contradicts Western historians, saying that America started the war that killed millions of civilians and divided the Korean peninsula.

(on camera): Who do you want to fight?

(voice-over): "We fight the sworn enemy, Americans." (GUNFIRE)

RIPLEY (on camera): What do they teach you about Americans in school?

(voice-over): "They forcibly invaded us, slaughtered our people, buried them. Buried them alive. Buried them alive and killed them."


RIPLEY (on camera): So they teach you that Americans are the enemy and you need to shoot them, to fight them?

(voice-over): "Yes."

Here's where things get awkward.

(on camera): What if I told you I'm an American? Do you want to shoot me, too?

(voice-over): "Yes."


[02:49:54] SESAY: Tune in this weekend for the exclusive look inside North Korea's secretive borders with CNN's Will Ripley. "Secret State," watch it Saturday, 10 p.m. in London, 9:00 p.m. in Seoul. You'll see it only on CNN.

Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, President Trump visits Florida, climate change, and the connection of two major stories.


VAUSE: For the past two weeks, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, has received mostly praise for the initial response to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Everything at least everything appeared to go smoothly because of lessons learned in Hurricane Katrina. That was 12 years ago, and the response became a textbook example of government mismanagement.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Again, I want to thank you all for -- and, Brownie, you're doing heck of a job. The FEMA director is working 24/7.


BUSH: They're working 24 hours a day.


VAUSE: "Heck of a job, Brownie." One of the really obvious lessons to almost everyone after Harvey and Irma is that climate changes is causing these storms to getting bigger and more destructive. So the government and emergency responders need to take that on board and be prepared.

But for the past eight months, the Trump administration has been steadily undoing the environmental protections, especially the rules to fight climate change, which were established by President Barack Obama.

Here's President Trump on Thursday when specifically asked about climate change.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we've had bigger storms than this. If you go back into the 1930s and 1940s, and you take a look, we've had storms over the years that have been bigger than this. If you go back into the teens, you'll see storms that were as big or bigger. We did have two horrific storms, epic storms. But if you go back into the'30s and '40s and into the teens, you'll see some storm that were very similar and even bigger.


VAUSE: Joining us now from San Francisco is Daniel Kammen, professor of energy and society at U.C., Berkeley.

Good to see you.

What happens in the next few years if government agencies this trend and prepare for the next Harvey or Irma, which will be bigger and more intense? You know, the next hurricanes that roll over these places?

DR. DANIEL KAMMEN, PROFESSOR OF ENERGY & SOCIETY, U.C., BERKELEY: I think you said it. The real word is larger and more intense. We saw record rainfall from Harvey. We saw record storm surge. We saw record warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. Record damages in the Keys. Record damage in the Caribbean. That exactly what the new normal is becoming. That's exactly what the science of climate change says. The storms we get will be more intense. We may or may not get more storms. It will simply bankrupt the budgets for the agencies. In fact, they're already far overbudget dealing with the storms we have had.

VAUSE: Here's some of the policies that have been rolled back over the last few months. Social costs of carbon is one of them, which looks at the impact that climate change will have on new regulations and the impact global warming will have for future generations. There's been an endless moratorium on coal leases on federal land. Now environmental impact studies for major projects must be completed within a year and run no more than 300 pages. Here's a look at the EPA climate change page. Work in progress.

What's the collective impact here, these policy rollbacks?

KAMMEN: It's sad to see. Because these policies under President Obama really prepared us. And they arguably laid t groundwork for the good responses we've seen. And if you contrast these blank web pages too China, where I was yesterday, where they've just put a record $300 billion into energy as well as adapting to climate change. That's really a strategy that will minimize your long-term costs. Not just financial costs. We've seen great costs to the poorest communities. We've seen deaths in nursing homes. We've seen the most vulnerable people the most impacted. That's exactly what we expect from in climate change. To roll back these programs that are just plain good insurance is really financially as well as ethically the wrong way to go.

[02:55:35] VAUSE: And we just heard from President Trump talking about, oh, there were big storms in the '30s, go back a few decades, beyond that, there was big storms as well. Getting politicians to focus on anything beyond the next election is tough. You say we should not just be looking to the next 100 years, but thousands of years into the future for what will actually happen to this planet.

KAMMEN: That's right. I almost have to chuckle, but a sad chuckle to hear Mr. Trump say this. If you go back to the '30s to find comparable storms, we've had Sandy, Katrina, Harvey, Irma, all these storms in a very short time. So his own statement grasping at straws to go back decades to a hundred years speaks to climate change. To deny it shouldn't be a partisan Democrat or Republican issue. It should be, let's learn from the science, let's invest where we need to go to make a change here. And so I really think that the president's own words are highlighting that this is climate change. And the degree to which we're now seeing the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy not being asked to use the words climate change, when there's very clear and very steady science documenting that these costs we're seeing in society are coming directly from our inability to plan for these longer time horizons that we need to do.

VAUSE: You know, Daniel, I would like to speak longer, but I'm told we are out of time.

Thank you so much for joining us.

KAMMEN: It was a pleasure. Thank you for having me on.

VAUSE: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

Follow us on Twitter, @CNNnewsroomla. There are highlights and clips from the show.

Stay with us. The news continues with Natalie Allen after a break.


[03:00:08] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A terrifying wake-up call. Warning sirens in Japan after yet another ballistic missile launch from North Korea.