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Catalonia's Leader Appears to Step Back From the Brink; Trump's EPA Scraping Obama Clean Power Plant; Liberians Head to Polls to Elect New President; Loving Vincent. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired October 10, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET



[14:00:20] NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN HOST: Tonight Catalonia's leader appears to step back from the brink in a prime time address. We get the latest from


Plus, the Trump administration rolls back emissions rules. The critics say leave power plants free to pollute.

Liberia's outgoing president on leadership on the day of her country's election.

And the world's first movie animated entirely with oil paintings.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What brings you over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to do something.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not going to stir things up again, are you? I've had quite enough weeping over that case.


ELBAGIR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program.

I'm Nima Elbagir seating in for Christiane Amanpour in London.

Catalan's leader finally addresses the world after a day full of suspense. Carles Puigdemont criticized Spain and defended the results of its

controversial independence referendum. But he stopped short of declaring independence, throwing the ball into Spain's court.


CARLES PUIGDEMONT, CATALAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The government and myself, we suggest that the parliament suspend the effects of this

declaration of independence so that over the next few weeks we might undertake a dialogue without which it is not possible to reach an agreed


We understand at the moment does not only need to de-escalate attention, but we also need a dialogue in order to move forward with the will of the



ELBAGIR: It was a pretty long address, but no one is watching or waiting more closely than those, where you are, Atika Shubert.

What's the feeling out there tonight?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, there's still tremendous support here among these independent supporters to hear some kind of

declaration of independence. The fact is they didn't get it today.

There was a tremendous cheer that went up when they heard Puigdemont say we have earned the right to independence. You saw people hugging each other,

kissing each other, believing that that declaration may soon come.

They quickly realize, however, that was not going to happen. But nobody seemed disappointed or upset about it. I think for many of the people

here, they were realistic. You know, before we heard the speech from Puigdemont, a number of people told us, we trust the parliament, we trust

the president. We wan$ to seek independence as soon as possible, but we will leave it to the government to determine how and when that happens.

What the time frame will be.

So it does seem as though at least these people out on the street tonight have taken the news in stride. I think the question is going to be in the

coming days, is there any sort of dialogue, how will this change the feeling on the street? For now they're giving their full support to


ELBAGIR: Clearly, a lot of mixed feelings there. Thank you so much, Atika.

Now for the view for Madrid.

Cayetana Alvarez de Toledo is a Spanish journalist, historian and former MP. She joins me now.


ELBAGIR: Cayetana, thank you so much for joining us on the program.

So, the view from Madrid. Was this a step down? Was it a fight for more time or did Puigdemont walk away the victim?

CAYETANA ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO, SPANISH JOURNALIST AND HISTORIAN: Well, certainly it's not back down, though some people are seeing it that way.

I mean, he's being deliberately not ambiguous but sort of messy as his usual and must have pushed them all.

What is done today is in effect declared the Catalan independence, but say that he wants now to die initially, sort of time for dialogue with the

Spanish government, which is obviously sort of a grotesque position to be defending.

ELBAGIR: It's interesting that you pick up on the ambiguity because he seem to take a lot of time and a lot of words to say not that much that was


Is that intentional to allow him to kind of create the ground underneath him as he is walking over it?

ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO: Well, it's probably quite a lot of that. I mean, the situation in Catalonia now is extremely tense as you've probably been


I mean, last weekend, a million Catalans and people come from other corners of Spain will mobilize in defense of Spanish democracy, defense of

constitutional rights so it's not an easy call.

And he knows that if he goes the full way, which to an extent he has done today, there has to be a very strong, firm response from the Spanish


I mean, you can't declare unilaterally independence as part of a European modern democracy and expect nothing to happen. And that's what he seems to

expect. Nothing to happen, but it has to happen.

ELBAGIR: There were specific echoes in that speech that seemed to attempt to kind of call back to that nationalist feeling.

Take a listen to this.


[14:05:00] PUIGDEMONT (through translator): Today, our relationship does not work. And nothing has been done to go back in a situation to reverse

the situation that is no longer sustainable.

The Catalan people will no longer -- does no longer want us (INAUDIBLE) that does not find them. There is democracy beyond the constitution.

Ladies and gentlemen, with the results of the referendum of the 1st of October, Catalonia has earned the right to be independent today.


ELBAGIR: So, conscious effort to maintain stoked those fires that he'd managed to get brightly burning.

Is there a sense that given that the European Union was so unequivocal about the fact that Catalonia or an independent Catalonia would be

essentially be economically cut off from the rest of the European mainland, is this an opportunity for him to show willing, we are mediating, we are

trying to work towards a solution with the Spanish government so work with us if independence happens.

ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO: Well, maybe that's possible.

I mean, Mr. Puigdemont is a purely post truth politician and an extreme nationalist. And extreme nationalist sometimes seem very civilized, or

some very civilized but are very dangerous.

Like Ms. Le Pen, like Mr. Wilders, like Mr. Taraj (ph), they whip up and bent, they whip up on sentiments, on passions, on feelings, on emotion and

in this case to try and destroy a Democratic system with very, very severe consequences, which are being felt and seen now in Catalonia.

Not only the profound rift and divide between Catalans. Half of Catalonia, at least half of Catalonia is thoroughly and strongly against this move,

but also economically.

I mean, Mr. Mario Vargas Llosa who is Nobel peace -- Nobel literature prize was in this rally on Sunday and said something very, very clear about this.

He said this look -- they want to turn Barcelona and Catalonia back into medieval city hit by the plague.

People are running away. Business is running away from Catalonia. And that's an absolute disaster in terms of prosperity, freedom and liberties.

And, Europe, of course, cannot just sit back and say this is an internal issue of Spain that they have to deal by themselves.

I mean, Europe has to stand firm and it has its beginning to stand firm in defense not only of the economy of Catalonia or Spain, but of democratic

rights in the European Union.

ELBAGIR: We're showing live pictures from one of the public squares in Barcelona.

Is there a sense that he could possibly lose that momentum, that fervour that we're showing you right now?

ALVAREZ DE TOLEDO: Everything is possible. If the Spanish government does what it should do, which is restore constitutional law and order in

Catalonia, then Mr. Puigdemont will be just a footnote in the pages of history.

Catalonia has a long history of struggles and difficult moments at this -- 1614, 1714 and the early 20th century. And I just hope this is one of

those sort of bad momentums and not actually gorging the situation as well as they should have done. And the restoration of the constitution, of

democracy over rule of law in Catalonia be restored as soon as possible. I mean, that's the Spanish government's mission and its responsibility now.

And I hope it does that as soon as possible.

Well, it was interesting that he attempted to build a continuum between what was happening in Spain right now and what is happening in the UK post-

Brexit. Clearly, he is looking for permanence in this.

Thank you so much, Cayetana, for joining us. Fascinating insight.


ELBAGIR: When we come back, we turn our eyes to the environment.

After a series of extreme weather events, why President Trump is rolling back Obama's green legacy.

Plus, we bid farewell to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as she prepares to leave office. More after this.


ELBAGIR: Welcome back to the program.

Wildfires are raging across Northern California's wine country scorching more than 100,000 acres of countryside, leaving tens of thousands of

residents homeless and at least 11 people dead.

The fires come after an exceptionally hot, dry summer in the western United States raising inevitable questions about the impact of human caused

climate change.

This is the background for a major policy move by Scott Pruitt, head of President Trump's Environmental Protection Agency. Today, he signed a

proposed rule scrapping the clean power plan, an Obama administration initiative to cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 30 percent by 2030.

Christine Todd Whitman is a former EPA administrator. She held the post under Republican President George W. Bush.

Governor Whitman, thank you so much for joining us.


ELBAGIR: Well, let's just get straight to it.

President Trump said the clean power plan is, boomed, gone. But is it really that simple? Is the plan, do you believe, officially now repealed?

WHITMAN: No, and that's the good news to all of this. It takes a long time. They have to propose an opposing rule. They have to justify why the

science behind the original rule is no longer relevant and they have to answer all the questions that they are going to get because you put it out

there the next propose rule and you get comments. And you have to answer every one of them. And, of course, this is going to be in court for a long


So it's not a, boom, done. But, unfortunately, what can happen is slowing down of the process of implementation and enforcement of the regulations

they already have in place. And that's what we've been seeing this administration do right along anyway.

ELBAGIR: Yes. I was going to say as we've often seen with this administration, they've made very big moves, but in reality what it's done

is it kind of incrementally changed things on the ground.

So let's turn then to another Scott Pruitt promise. The war against coal he says is over.

Do you think that will do anything to revive the coal industry?

WHITMAN: No. And the sad thing is that this is a bait and switch for the people who live in the coal-producing countries in Kentucky and West

Virginia, because coal is dying, not because of environmental regulation so much is because of the low cost of natural gas.

And so to say that you're going to bring back coal, beautiful coal as the president called it, is just wrong. It's not going to happen. The

companies are already moving on. They're creating jobs in other areas and they're moving away from coal.

But at the same time, this administration is rolling back regulations on water and allowing companies -- coal companies that are still producing to

put their slurry right next to the rivers that are water sources for so many of the people who live in those area and those are pollutants. Those

were going to hurt their health and you're not bringing back -- those kinds of moves are not going to bring back coal. So I think that's a bait and

switch and I think it's very dangerous for the future.

ELBAGIR: We heard Secretary Clinton say unequivocally that there is a link between the horrible ravaging wildfires we've seen in California and

climate change.

Do you agree with that?

WHITMAN: Well, certainly. Scientists while they used to say you won't -- say any one particular storm is due to climate change, they will say

absolutely this is what you can expect. The kinds of hurricanes we have seen. The kinds of droughts that we have seen. But the really important

thing here is just before this California wildfire and that's going to add to the cost incrementally and before really trying to restore Puerto Rico

from what happened in the devastation there, from the three major hurricanes that we had already and the some 67 fires in nine states, it has

cost -- what it's going to cost us to bring those back is over $300 billion.

And if you put that in perspective, that's enough money to pay for four years in a public institution for every student that's currently in a

public college or university.

[14:15:00] That's the kind of trade off we're making, not to mention human health, which is of course paying an enormous price there of 200,000 deaths

in the United States every year from dirty airborne related causes.

All of these things are what EPA is designed to try to prevent and what are being rolled back and putting us in grave danger.

ELBAGIR: So realistically, what can we expect from this administration, because even if they repeal the clean power plant, of course, they still

have a legal obligation to reduce carbon emissions.

WHITMAN: Right, they do. The Supreme Court has reaffirmed that on multiple occasions. They have said that they -- it's called an

endangerment finding, what the agency, the Environmental Protection Agency says something is bad for human health and the environment and the Supreme

Court has upheld that.

And then the agency would have far preferred to have Congress act. But since Congress can't seem to act on anything that's the slightest bit

controversial, they haven't. And then legally the agency had to design these kinds of regulations. It was their legal requirement under the Clean

Air Act.

So we're still going to have these protections. What we're not going to see is enforcement. And that is really a tragedy for us and a tragedy for

the world.

I'm just talking to someone in San Francisco, not in the path of those fires and the smoke is discernible there. The smoke is making things

uncomfortable and that just speaks to the fact that Mother Nature doesn't care about geopolitical boundaries. And what happens in one part of the

world migrates and so we all need to be concerned about these trends.

ELBAGIR: Lastly, I don't want to ask you to rate your successor, Scott Pruitt, but I do want to ask you if you were still sitting in that chair,

given the loss of life that we have seen from Mother Nature over the last few months, the devastation, what would you be looking to put in place.

WHITMAN: Well, I'd certainly be looking to implement something along the clean power plant lines.


ELBAGIR: rather than repeal?

WHITMAN: Rather than repeal, because it was, in fact, one of the most open regulations that the agency has ever done in that. It allowed states to do

-- to reach the goal. The targets that were set in whatever way best worked for their economy.

It wasn't just you have to shut down coal mines. They said if you want to put in more mass transit, and that would help you reduce your emissions.

That's the way you could go.

If you wanted to put a little more into nuclear or to the renewables. That would be a way to go clean. If you want to put more money in the clean

coal technology, even though it's not clean-clean, it's something. That was the way they could go.

So this is one of the better rules that the agency, I think, as far as flexibility goes that the agency has written.

They worked hard at it. It was a long time coming. And they're not going to -- we're not going to get anything better frankly than this.

Can it be improve? Sure.

Every regulation can be improve and tweet in the margins, because wholesale rollback just speaks to what I think is almost an obsession that this

administration has. Anything that had Obama's name anywhere near it is gone. Good, better and different, not based on science, certainly as far

as the EPA is concerned.

ELBAGIR: Governor Whitman, thank you so much for being on the program with us. Fascinating. Thank you.

Africa's first female president is stepping down.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has served as Liberia's leader for two terms. But, today, people across the country are heading to the polls to pick her


While she's been credited with restoring stability to the once war-ravaged nation, she also faces accusations of nepotism and failing to root out

corruption, which continues to plague her country, one of the poorest in the world.

In a recent speech to the United Nations, President Sirleaf warned of a race against time to provide young Liberians with economic opportunity and

a brighter future.

Christiane Amanpour asked her about the challenges when they sat down together recently in New York.


ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF, FORMER LIBERIAN PRESIDENT: The risk is impatience, that we're not going to deliver at the pace anticipated and that their

impatient voice is over into protests. And we've seen some of that.

Those demands begin to pile up. They get louder and that could lead to violence. We've had the effects of violence. It can easily get out of

control. It can easily attract external elements into it. So, you know, that's why we have to -- we have to pace the sequence the plan we have for

making this transition, for making this transactional progress in our country. You know, to make sure and to manage it properly. It could go

out of hand.

[14:20:00] CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: I touched on corruption as being one of the, you know, eternal challenges in Africa, but especially your

country. You have spoken about it.

Why do you think it is so endemic in many countries which have so much natural resources, human resources and potential?

SIRLEAF: It's so difficult. I can tell you, you know, from Liberia. We've actually put in place all the integrity institutions. We built them.

We put in the laws. You know, we put in all the things.

But when you get down to being able to enforce it, every institution whether you're dealing with the courts, whether you're dealing with

prosecutors, they're all the microcosm of the very problem you're trying to solve, and then it becomes difficult to get that final action that

imposes the penalties.

Dealing with the mind set, dealing with the psyche in our nation, a psyche that has a sense of entitlement, because of too long period of deprivation.

How do you convince them that anything you take must be earned through hard work? You know, when they see you neglected. Now is the time. It's very

tough, I can tell you, but we have made progress. Sometimes the progress is not well recognized.

AMANPOUR: You know, you have very few critics. Most people praise you a lot, but they are there are some critics and they talk about nepotism. In

view of what we've just been talking about, why then did you appoint your son to head the national oil company and give two other children senior

government posts?

SIRLEAF: I don't think people know the whole story on that. In the case of the oil company, the management of the oil company was in the hands of

professionals. Professionals that I did not appoint. That came through a process.

My son had been very well -- first, having been a banker in the U.S. where he had all the contacts with the oil companies. He was made chairman of

the board. And the record of their performance is there for people to see. And that story needs to be written.

Today, I mean, we've not been able to find oil. And people forget that. That one drop of oil has left Liberia. So whoever worked in the oil

company, my son or otherwise, have all they've done is provide the basis for group of oil exploration and oil exploration hasn't happened. So the

next government will take that.

And when you talk about my son was in a -- I was -- I didn't put one of my sons in the banking. He lived in the country the whole while I wasn't

there. He moved up in the institutions.

Should I have fired him? Well, maybe. One can say that. But he's doing a good job and was not in any way competing with anybody who would have lost

that opportunity because of him.

He was already there, and already liked and already performing. And, you know, we don't -- we don't have a large queue of technical skills.

Sometimes we have to use them, which is available.

AMANPOUR: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, thank you so much indeed for giving us this exit interview. Thank you.

SIRLEAF: Thank you.


ELBAGIR: And after a break, an audacious work of beauty. Imagine recreating Van Gogh in his own signature swells. That's next.


[14:25:40] ELBAGIR: And finally tonight, imagine a modern take on an old master. Neil Curry explains.


NEIL CURRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Loving Vincent" is a movie about an artist which is itself a work of art. A stunningly beautiful who

done it about the mysterious death of the painter known to Americans as Van Gogh, to Brits as Van Gough and to his Dutch compatriots as Van Gough. To

keep the peace, I'll stick with Vincent.

Shot with live actors against a green screen, 94 of the artist's works are animated by a team of more than a hundred hand-picked artists who

painstakingly painted each of the 67,000 frames in oils. It took them over two years.

Lending a new meaning to an art house movie, London Film Festival appropriately presented at the UK premiere at the city's national gallery,

where several of Vincent's works are on display.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We went to like 100, 200 different financiers and distributors, and the answer was, you know, well, it looks very

interesting, but has anyone done a film exactly like this before that was really successful? And I had to say, no, it hasn't been done before and

that's why maybe people are going to like watching it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's on oil. Should you know it, which I know not very much about painting. It rarely dries. So they constantly, they would

paint a frame and then slightly alter it and slightly alter it and slightly alter it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't know much about Van Gogh's work at the time. I knew he was a really famous painter and his paintings have got a lot of

money and that he was a bit of mad. But the film actually went into his character and found out a little bit more about him and read a lot of his

letters. I was just so moved by his work. You know, he doesn't just paint what he sees, he paints what he feels. And I think that emotion really

comes through in this film.

CURRY: Tragically, Vincent sold just one painting in his lifetime and only gained recognition as a father of post-impressionism after his death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To have a film like this, which is based upon an artist's actual painting and to then bring those to life in such a

realistic manner, I hope even more people would start to understand what it's like being an artist and what his paintings look like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of a good way into appreciating art. Once people understand a little about it, they actually, they get a lot of

rewards out of it.

CURRY: Today of course there are absent computer programs to help convert video to paintings. But for the real artist working on "Living Vincent,"

that would be tantamount to forgery compared to the cinematic masterpiece they helped to create.

Neil Curry, CNN, London.


ELBAGIR: Fantastic. That is it for our program tonight. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.