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U.S. Diplomatic Difficulties; Pope's Rohingya Challenge; U.S. President To Meet Libyan PM At White House Friday; Catastrophic Human Suffering After Years Of War; South Korea: North Korean Missile Can Likely Hit Washington; Disney Casts Actress For Lead Role In "Mulan". Aired 1-2a ET

Aired December 1, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Ahead this hour, America's top diplomat could be out of a job within weeks, just as a diplomatic rift grows between Washington and London.

SESAY: Delicate mission in Bangladesh. The pope gets set to meet with some of the world's most persecuted people.

VAUSE: Later, an Asian actress cast as an Asian character by Disney -- blatantly obvious to most instead of a major breakthrough for Hollywood.

SESAY: Hello and thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause. This is NEWSROOM L.A. There have been some big developments in the past few hours on a number of major stories out of Washington, including new reporting about the U.S. president pressing Senate Republicans to end their investigation into the Russian meddling in last year's election. According to New York Times, the president met with a number of senior Republican lawmakers repeatedly earlier this year.

SESAY: Now, the president reportedly told the Senate majority leader, the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and others to end the investigation quickly.

VAUSE: The White House says; the president did not apply any undue influence on committee members.

SESAY: There are also reports, the president may soon replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. When asked about it Wednesday, Mr. Trump said simply, Rex is here. A source tells CNN, the White House actually wanted the reports out there to shame Tillerson.

VAUSE: Also, British Prime Minister Theresa went before the cameras on Thursday in a rare public admonishment of President Trump, over his retweeting of three violent videos from a far-right U.K. extremist group. Mrs. May is under pressure to revoke Mr. Trump's invitation to visit the U.K. next year. SESAY: And lest we forget, North Korea launched an Intercontinental

Ballistic Missile Wednesday that it says can hit the entire U.S. mainland. And then, there's the president's tax reform plan, it has made great progress -- well, it certainly had, but it's now facing some hurdles, such as adding a trillion dollars or more to the U.S. deficit. There was some talk, the plan would be voted on in the Senate, Thursday night. That is now not going to happen. We will all be watching what happens on Friday.

VAUSE: I hope everyone was taking notes.


VAUSE: Let's bring in Conservative Commentator, Alexandra Datig, she's Editor-in-Chief of Frontpage Index; and Mo'Kelly, Host of the Mo'Kelly show here in Los Angeles. Guys, thank you for being with us.

Alex, let's start with that reporting from The New York Times about the Russia investigation. I say this a lot, if the president and those around him, have done nothing wrong if there's nothing to hide if this whole Russia meddling in the election is all about Democrats whining because they lost the election, then why not just let the investigation play out? Why would the president be putting pressure on lawmakers, to end this investigation, to wrap it up quickly?

ALEXANDRA DATIG, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR AND EDITOR IN CHIEF AT FRONTPAGE INDEX: Well, it seems like a lot of minutiae to me, anyway. I mean, this is nothing is -- I mean, basically what we know is there were Donald Trump Jr. and a woman names Veselnitskaya and an Azerbaijani pop star met with a Russian official about something or other.

VAUSE: Oh, Alex, we know so much more than that

DATIG: No, but I'm just saying, I mean, it just seems like -- there's no smoking gun. Where is the smoking gun? Where is the smoking gun? I just don't see the smoking gun. I don't see what the big deal is.

VAUSE: Well, then, if this is no big deal, then why meet with Republican leaders in the Senate and try to get them to wrap up the investigation?

DATIG: Well, I mean, I just think he's tired of hearing about Russia. And I think the whole country is sick of hearing about Russia.

MO'KELLY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I wouldn't say the whole country is sick of hearing about Russia. We know that Mueller has convened at least two grand jury panels, we know that there are indictments against a number people directly connected to the Trump campaign/administration. We know that most likely there's something that's getting ready to happen with -- from his cabinet. I'm Sorry, just left.

VAUSE: Oh, we got Michael Flynn.

KELLY: Michael Flynn, and possibly his son. VAUSE: National Security Advisor, and Jared Kushner.

KELLY: Yes, we know that there's more to be revealed. And, if there is a smoking gun, then it will be found later on in the course of this process.

[01:05:11] VAUSE: I mean, look, there are so many names. I'll forgive you, you know, forgetting one because it's hard to keep track of so many moving parts. But getting back to this story out of The New York Times, Mo, the White House says the president did not apply any undue pressure on these lawmakers regardless. Was this a breach of the separations of powers by the president?

KELLY: He may not have given undue pressure, but at the same time it's the president of the United States. Everything he does from tweeting to formally contacting the head of the nation, it should be looked at in under a different lens; it carries a different weight. And I know that's the spin they're going to put on it. But ultimately, when the president calls and asks you to do something there is obviously pressure for you to do it.

VAUSE: Because of the certain weight. Alex, would you agree to that or no?

DATIG: I don't know. I just -- I look at the contrast of, you know, Paul Manafort, you know, he, he, you know, gets indicted. And there's $10 million bonds but gets house arrest, you know. So, it's like, I mean, it's just kind of very chicken little kind of the sky is falling with this whole thing. I just -- I really don't think there's anything there in terms of going after the president. I don't think it's the president's fault that, that he didn't know what Paul Manafort did, or whether he did or didn't know, I don't think he had anything to do with it just because Paul Manafort or owns real estate and Trump Tower. What does that have too with anything?

KELLY: Who fired James Comey, which goes back to wanting to end this Russia investigation --

VAUSE: Which the president --

KELLY: Which could, which could be obstruction of justice.

DATIG: OK. But I mean, we could get into a whole thing with James Comey, like, you know, the, $9 million going to a law firm that's missing, that now the DNC paying for the Trump dossier, that's a fake dossier. That Comey might have gotten that FISA warrant with, you know.

VAUSE: Let's get ourselves out of this rabbit hole, OK. There's great pressure also on the Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to resign. Tillerson's relationship with the president has gone from bad to worse over recent weeks. So, the plan is actually to have him pushed out of his job by early next year. And Donald Trump didn't do a whole lot to end the speculation when he was asked about Rex Tillerson on Thursday. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President! Would you have Rex Tillerson on the job, Mr. President?



VAUSE: Well, he's here today. I guess we don't know what tomorrow will bring. CIA Director Mike Pompeo is set to replace Tillerson. But Alex, I guess Pompeo will have a better relationship with the president, does that mean that U.S. Foreign Policy will be more effective?

DATIG: I think it probably will be. Because, I do think that there's a criminal justice law enforcement, you know, mindset with Mike Pompeo, he's very much tied into the the military, and, and, you know, and, and law enforcement. So, I do think that whenever he, whenever the president has the military type of leaders around him, he tends to be more focused on getting more serious about what needs to happen. I do think that Mike Pompeo will have a good influence on that. I do think he's a good choice for him.

VAUSE: Very quickly, because Tillerson could be just one of many senior officials rushing for the exits at the 12-month anniversary. If he does go, he joins a very long list which includes: Michael Flynn, James Comey, Mike Dubke, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Katey Walsh, (INAUDIBLE), and, of course, who can forget the Mooch? Mo, that does include the Democrats who fired and all bunch of those, why is there such a high turnover with this administration?

KELLY: Well, there are two things. There's high turnover, and there's a low reinsertion rate in terms of people which are still missing from the State Department. There's been a slowness of the Trump administration to appoint the necessary people in a lot of these positions. And the people that, who have been appointed, he -- Donald Trump burns very brightly. And it's very difficult to stay that close to the sun for that long without getting burned.

VAUSE: OK. We're almost out of time. Let's mention this, a huge day for stocks -- a part of a huge year for stocks are surging 300 points. It's closing a record-high, cracking 24,000 for the first time. Alex, a lot of that gain has been delivered on the expectation of tax cuts. We now have the Senate bill stall over the deficit. This is going to be the big achievement for the Republicans and for the president. In fact, they're only achievement.


VAUSE: If this doesn't get through, where does that leave the president? Where does that leave Republicans? What can they tell their constituents?

DATIG: Well, I don't think it's all bad if it doesn't go through. Because the -- it hasn't paid down any of the debt. I'm sorry. VAUSE: I say, I think (INAUDIBLE), that's what, you know. But it's

gone tax plan.

DATIG: I mean, it doesn't -- it doesn't, you know, pay down any of the national debt. And that's the problem with it, it doesn't pay the dealt. And we've got student loan -- anyway, we have student loans. So, you know, I mean, I'm really happy with 35 percent to 20 percent in terms of the corporate tax rate. I think that's a really good thing. I like getting rid of the mandate for Obamacare, I like getting rid of Obamacare because I really don't think it serves a purpose especially to, like, consultant people, pay the consultant tax, the 1040s. It's a very unfair system, the 1040 system. And a lot of people get stuck paying really big taxes when they're consulting some stuff. So, I do think we do need to take a really good look at the tax code. And if doesn't go through, it doesn't have to be a rush to get through and jam it up. We need to get it right.

[01:10:17] VAUSE: Very quickly, Mo, 30 seconds.

KELLY: If that's the case, that we shouldn't rush through. Then, why are we trying to rush it through right now? Why is Steve Mnuchin and the Treasury Department, have they not weighed in on this bill as far as what it will and will not do for Americans? It's nice if corporations are happy, but I'm worried about the millions of Americans who are more directly impacted

VAUSE: OK. Yes, I mean, The CBO, the Commission Budget Office, didn't do this tax plan any favors. Mo and Alex, good to see you both.

KELLY: Thank you.

DATIG: Thank you, John.

VAUSE: OK. British Prime Minister, Theresa May, on Thursday again criticized President Trump for retweeting anti-Muslim videos from a British hate group. Some lawmakers in the U.K. are so incensed by Donald Trump's actions, they want an invitation to him for a state visit to be rescinded, and the U.S. president maybe arrested. CNN Nic Robertson has the latest from London.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: What began as a special relationship, Prime Minister May rushing to D.C., holding hands with Trump right after his inauguration has come to this. Trump's utterly undiplomatic personal put gam of the British leader, his closest ally, after her criticism of his far-right retweet. "Theresa, don't focus on me. Focus on the destructive, radical Islamic terrorism that's taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine." Traveling in the mid-East may took time out to respond

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER OF UNITED KINGDON: The fact that we worked together does not mean that we're afraid to say of when we think the United States has got it wrong, and to be very clear with them. And I'm very clear that retweeting from Britain First was the wrong thing to do.


ROBERTSON: Back home, in the House of Commons, a less diplomatic response.

DIANE ABBOTT, SHADOW HOME SECRETARY OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: The fact that the 45th president chose to retweet material from Britain First is not just offensive to British people of Muslim heritage, it is not just offensive to British people of Black minority ethnic heritage, its offensive to all decent British people.

ROBERTSON: It's a new low in the relationship that's been sinking since that D.C. hand-holding when May gave Trump the queen's invite for a state visit. In the days after, May, took the heat at home over Trump's travel ban announced during her visit. 1.8 million people signed a petition rejecting his invite to meet the queen.

A few months later, following a U.K. terror attack, Trump initiated a Twitter spat with London's Mayor Sadiq Khan. And after another U.K. terror attack in September, Trump drew a mild rebuke from May that his tweets criticizing British police, criticizing Muslims, even leaking elements of the investigation were unhelpful.

A month later, Trump used British crime statistics to wrongly tweet the rise was a result of radical Islamic terrorism. Winston Churchill's grandson, MP Nicholas Soames, called Trump a daft twerp. But Trump's continued criticism of the U.K. government, an apparent support for right-wing, racist fringe groups is triggering an unprecedented backlash against the U.S. leader.

DENNIS SKINNER, BRITISH LABOUR MP: Action its needed now, not a slap on the wrist. Cancel the state visit.

PAUL FLYNN, BRITISH LABOUR MP: If he's allowed to come to this country, now, he should be treated as anyone else who breaks the law and charged with inciting racial hatred.

ROBERTSON: At a time when Theresa May is on the political ropes, Trump's criticism of her and apparent support of British right-wing extremists is just a sort of damaging distraction she doesn't need. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


VAUSE: With us now from London is an Annabelle Dixon, she's the Political Correspondent for Politico E.U. Good to see you, Annabelle.


VAUSE: You have absolute (INAUDIBLE), but, you know, deep down, there's the smile, she's kind of jumping for joy just a little bit. She's never had this much support, she's never been this popular. You know, standing up to Donald Trump, it's been a godsend. DIXON: Yes, absolutely. I think she's -- the decision was taken

quickly and decisively, which is something that, that -- the U.K. government hasn't been great at. And in the last few months, sort of, been on the back for a very lot of things. And on this day, we're on the front. A soon as -- it was clear the story was gaining momentum on Wednesday morning. Downing Street took major action: her spokesman managed to get a hold of her on this trip that she's been on in the Middle East. By the afternoon, we have this condemnation of Mr. Trump tweet.

[01:15:16] VAUSE: You know, I was, I was surprised -- even Nigel Farage, you know, Trump's bestie in the U.K., the fore leader of the far-right UKIP. He was critical of Trump -- mutually, yes, but, you know, there was even criticism from him.

DIXON: Yes. Usually, Nigel Farage isn't afraid to jump to the defense of his -- of one of his best pals in his eyes in the U.S. that, I mean, that is probably is some ways, even more, telling than the -- the reaction from Theresa May.

VAUSE: You know, I guess the tricky part now, though, for the prime minister: there's a lot of support or demand for Donald Trump's visit to Britain to be canceled. She hasn't said if she will, she hasn't said if she won't. He said an invitation has been issued, it has been accepted -- a date is yet to be set. If that trip goes ahead, I imagine there'll be fairly widespread protests. And all the love she had today, she won't be feeling it when Donald Trump comes to visit.

DIXON: Yes, that's right. It's one thing, condemning a tweet, and saying he was wrong to do it. But, you know, she did it, and that's of slightly softer language, you know. You can tell -- you can tell it to your friends when they're wrong. But actually, the cancellation of a state visit which, you know, it would be hugely damaging for the relationship with the U.S. And I think the people at the U.S. -- it is one thing to have a sort of personal row with Donald Trump. But actually, the kind of office of president is, is a much harder thing once you, once you issued that invitation for a state visit it.


DIXON: But yes --

VAUSE: I can say --

DIXON: -- that would be a huge opposition.

VAUSE: Sorry, I need to jump in here. I'm just going to say, you know, officials have stressed that you know, this row, this spat, this won't hurt the bigger U.K-U.S. relationship. But let's assume that visit goes ahead just in the, you know, short to medium term, will there be fallout? Will there be problems from this? Will it make, you know, relations or just, you know, dealing with these two governments more difficult in any way?

DIXON: Yes. No, exactly. It's not going to make it easier. And you know, there has already been the thing that has been tricky in the special relationship. You know, the Trump starts on the Iran deal -- it's an example of that. And this is a general issue, but they should just instead of the added fact that Theresa May could've done without. But Theresa May wants to save it, you know, this is a personal relationship.

But you've got to remember, there are networks of ambassadors, they still have a very strong relationship. We have, you know, very close. We've got the S-35, joint strike force, jets that are coming, and air base within the U.K. There's been intelligence and security relationship, which will endure. But you know, it does matter that there is this personal, this personal brought out between the two countries.

VAUSE: Hey, Annabelle, what, it's 18 minutes past 6:00 in the morning. Thanks for getting up early. Go and have a cup of tea. We appreciate you being with us.

VAUSE: No worries.

SESAY: All right. Well, the latest now on that breaking news coming into us from Pakistan. Police there say all three attackers who stormed the Agriculture Training Institute in Peshawar have been killed. Army troops are on the site and in the process of clearing the school -- at least 30 students who were believed to inside the university during the attack. A police superintendent tells CNN, 11 people were wounded -- a faction, rather, of the Pakistani Taliban is claiming responsibility.

We're going to pause here and take a quick break. Pope Francis is in Bangladesh where he mentions the Myanmar's refugee crisis but still doesn't utter the word human right activists want him to say.

[01:19:25] VAUSE: Also ahead, after CNN's exclusive reporting on human slavery auctions in Libya, the European Union and African leaders are taking action.


VAUSE: Pope Francis is expected to meet with the 18 Rohingya refugees in the coming hours. After visiting Myanmar, the holy father is down in Bangladesh, where he's been celebrating mass and ordaining new priests.

SESAY: Earlier in Dhaka, he urged the international community to solve the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar with more than 600,000 Muslims have fled since August, but he refrained once again from using the word Rohingya. Our Delia Gallagher joins us now from Dhaka with more on the pope's trip. Delia, as we just told our viewer, he hasn't used the word Rohingya there in Bangladesh where they have hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who fled from Northern Rakhine state. Give us a sense of the welcome the pope has received since arriving there.

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, from what we've been hearing on the ground, Isha, there's been a warm welcome, this is a predominantly Muslim country, and yet they say they feel honored to have the pope here, because he's drawing attention not only to the refugee crisis but to some of the other important issues in this country. Like, this is one of the most vulnerable countries for climate change. It was one of the most -- poorest countries in the world, the economy is now developing. But there are other themes, which the pope's visit here is drawing attention to. Of course, we have heard also from Rohingya activists who were disappointed that the pope did not use the name Rohingya.

They say, you know, a name is important. One of the first things that any oppressor does is try to take away your name. We've seen that in many instances on countries that have been colonized and their names are changed, their street names are changed. It's a way to take away identity and history. So, for them, it is a valid point that the pope failed to name them as Rohingya. Instead, what is interesting to see is that the pope is using the terminology, the refugees from the Rakhine state which is acceptable to the Myanmar government. And that points to kind of what the pope is trying to achieve here, which is a help, a political solution. I don't think there's any I.D. on the part of the Vatican that they can solve it. But he's calling on the international community to come in and try and help negotiate this very difficult problem, and try not, therefore, to upset the Myanmar's leadership so that they will sit at the table and talk about. Isha.

SESAY: Delia, I know that earlier the pope had a celebrated mass and ordained a number of Catholic priests. Also on the agenda is that he'll been meeting a number of Rohingya. Do we know, in essence, you know, the form that the meeting will take? Will it be a substantive meeting? Will it be a sit-down? I mean, what do we know?

GALLAGHER: What's going to happen, Isha, is the pope has an already scheduled interreligious meeting. So, he's meeting with a large number of leaders of different religions. And at the end of that meeting, there will be a group, 18 of them, we are told, from three families who will be present at that meeting. So, they will go up on to the stage and have a moment to chat with the pope. The pope is not expected to make public remarks. He will obviously say something privately to them. So, it will be a brief encounter, probably, more symbolic than anything that the pope has in mind. Of course, he has been speaking about them; we're concentrating on he hasn't said the word Rohingya, but he has obviously been speaking about their plight both in Myanmar and here in Bangladesh. Isha.

[01:25:04] SESAY: I know that the Vatican Spokesperson, Carnal Burke, has said that the pope's moral authority cannot be questioned simply because he did not publicly use the word Rohingya. But as you well know, Delia, as you made mention, some Rohingya there in Bangladesh are disappointed. Human rights activists around the world, some are also disappointed, and that is exactly what they're doing in terms of questioning the pope's position here -- at least what he did on this trip. How much attention is the Vatical paying to those criticisms?

GALLAGHER: Well, what's interesting is the Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke said that you know, he didn't think that the pope's choice diminished his moral authority because the aim going in is this political aim. And so, you know, the pope has dealt with military regimes before. We know he's a savvy negotiator. And so, although, even with the Rohingya activists, they say, actually, they're more upset with the people who advised the pope not to use the term. But they understand also that there is a political angle here, which is going to eventually, hopefully, give them a long-term solution.

So, yes, there is, a certain disappointment. But I would say that many people are -- understand, kind of, what the pope is trying to accomplish here. And that is extremely important to get Myanmar's military. He met in the kind of breach of protocol for the first time when the pope comes to a country -- supposed to meet with government leaders. Instead, the military had -- of Myanmar decided he wanted to be the first meeting, and the pope accepted that. So, I think this is, kind of, we see the pope's experience in dealing with these complicated situations here. And most people, I think to understand that that's where he's trying to go -- for a long-term solution, even risking personal criticism. Isha.

SESAY: Delia Gallagher with some important perspective there. Delia, always appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, the U.S. president with meet with the Libyan Prime Minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, at the White House, Friday. Among other things, they're set to talk about counterterrorism. But the meeting comes on the heels of international condemnation against human slavery in Libya.

VAUSE: This after the CNN's exclusive reporting exposed slave auctions at underground markets where migrants are bought and sold -- reminiscent of a dark period in African history. United Nations is urging Libya to take decisive action to end the slave trade.

SESAY: Well, French President, Emmanuel Macron, says the U.N., E.U., and African Union all agreed to address the dire situation of migrants in Libya. Macron said CNN's footage of slave market in Libya showed the crime against humanity.

VAUSE: France held emergency talks with its E.U., U.N. and African Union leaders on Wednesday on the sidelines of a Europe-Africa summit. As most of our reports, discussions of slavery dominated the day.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This long-planned meeting of the African Union and the European Union had not been organized around the idea of talking about the slave markets in Libya. But that is an issue, a scandal that has really imposed itself on the agenda of the meeting. In fact, it came to dominate the meetings between European and African leaders over the course of the last couple of days.

Now, so often these sorts of summits lead to empty words, many of the sub-Saharan African leaders that we've spoken to over the course of the last few days were determined that that should not be the case this time. They said to us over and over again, those pictures were so shocking that something absolutely had to come out of this -- some concrete actions to help those most in need.

LOUISE MUSHIKIWABO, RWANDAN FOREIGN MINISTER: For something as outrageous as what is going on in Libya, nothing is ever fast enough for drastic enough.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When states behave in this manner, there should be consequences. Especially when you belong to an organization that is trying to promote the observance of human rights, that is trying to promote good governance, these are all enshrined in the E.U. charter et cetera.

ABDOULAYE DIOP, MALIAN DIPLOMAT: Frankly, maybe none of us have really realized the magnitude of what was happening. That's why these images really came as early Monday, for all of us that we have maybe crossed the line, that something needs to be done to stop it.

BELL: The question, then, is how that indignation will translate on the ground and what numbers we're talking about in Libya. Tonight, the Chairman of the African Union, Moussa Faki, spoke about those numbers. He said that he believed that 400,000 to 700,000 migrants were currently in Libya. He spoke of the figures given to him by the Libya, 3800 migrants in one single camp near Tripoli, and 42 camps dotted around the country. The question is, now: how the African Union and the European Union will be able to get together with the international office for migration to get to those migrants and quickly to end the suffering that's been so spectacularly exposed. Melissa Bell, CNN, in (INAUDIBLE)


[01:30:05] SESAY: So many measures put in place soon to end the suffering. Let's take a quick break. Next on NEWSROOM L.A., millions of people in Yemen are suffering after years of war, famine, and sickness. What the world needs to do to help Yemen's desperate people.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.

SESAY: And I'm Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour: U.S. President Donald Trump may be looking to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, so far, there's no decision on the timing. Asked about Tillerson Thursday, President Trump said simply, Rex is here. CNN has learned the White House wanted the report out there to shame Tillerson.

VAUSE: British Prime Minister Theresa May is publicly admonishing President Trump for retweeting those three violent videos from a far- right extremist group. Mrs. May says it was wrong to share the videos. She's facing intense pressure now to cancel Mr. Trump's upcoming state visit to the U.K. So far, though, number 10 tells us that visit is still on.

SESAY: Pope Francis is in Bangladesh where he's been celebrating mass and we're hearing he will meet with some Rohingya refugees in the coming hours. Earlier, he urged the international community to solve the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar where thousands of Muslims have fled since August. VAUSE: Saudi Arabia's official press agency says its military intercepted a ballistic missile launch from Yemen on Thursday. They say it was heading towards a city on the southwestern border. It's the second time in a month the Saudi military stopped a ballistic missile launch from Yemen where Houthi rebels have been locked in a war with the Saudi-led coalition since 2015.

SESAY: And Yemenese are suffering without measure, as the airstrikes rained down on civilian targets. The U.N. Human Rights Office has so far counted close to 14,000 civilian casualties. People are starving and on the verge of famine and cholera has affected some 500,000 people, one of the largest outbreaks in modern history. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May spoke out Thursday.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Today, almost a third of Yemen's entire population is at risk of deep food and security. This dire situation must end. The U.K. will work with our partners to do everything possible to achieve this. But I'm also clear, that the flow of commercial supplies on which the country depends must be resumed if we are to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe.


SESAY: So, let's get more now from Geert Cappelaere in the Hague. He is the regional director of UNICEF, Middle East, and North Africa. Geert, thank you so much for being with us. Much of the focus in recent weeks has been on the block -- on the blockade and that Saudi Arabia imposed on Yemen on land, sea, and airports. They supposedly have lifted it, loosened it, give me a sense of where things stand in terms of getting humanitarian supplies into Yemen and distributing them to those who need them.

[01:35:20] GEERT CAPPELAERE, REGIONAL DIRECTOR OF MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA, UNICEF: Well, first and foremost, let me reiterate how catastrophic the situation in Yemen already is. 11 million Yemeni children today are facing acute humanitarian needs and a need to blockade the imposed since the 6th of November has further exacerbated the already a dramatic situation. We have foreseen a partial lifting of that blockade over the past few days. We at UNICEF have been able to fly in an aircraft with 1.9 doses of vaccines that were urgently needed because the vaccine stock in the country was getting completely depleted. However, we are still having two more ships carrying medical supplies, carrying rapid use -- rapid to use therapeutic food and chlorine tablets who have not been yet cleared to enter the Port of Hodeidah. As you mentioned, it's not only humanitarian supplies that are urgently needed but also commercial supplies need to come in, particularly food, particularly fuel and medicine.

So, one of the biggest concerns for us for the moment is to help ensuring that people have access to drinking water. The outbreak of cholera affecting close to a million people already today is to a big extent caused by the lack of access to safe water. People need to pump groundwater and therefore need fuel. The price of fuel has come up dramatically in certain places for the moment in Yemen. The price of water is costing 600 times more than it did cost a month ago. And that's when people are suffering really deep poverty, water becomes unaffordable. So, the situation is truly dramatic.

SESAY: I mean, with that being said -- I mean the situation is horrific. We're talking about children, adults with barely enough to eat, mounting rubbish, a failing sewerage, and water supplies. I mean, it is literally falling apart. How much is UNICEF able to do to ease the suffering there in the country?

CAPPELAERE: Well, UNICEF is there every single day and throughout Yemen to do our utmost to ease in at least a little bit the suffering of the children. We play a major role in treatment of the acute water diarrhea cholera gray cases. We are working incredibly hard to stop these 2 million children who are suffering of acute malnutrition from their situation to get worse. We even try little by little to get children also the opportunity to go to school, not given in a country where many schools have been destroyed; where in many parts of the country, teachers have not been paid their salary for over a year. We try to get people access to drinking water but at an incredible cost. And we have since several months also started with this -- with the assistance of the World Bank, a cash program for the most vulnerable people reaching 8 million people with a little bit of cash that at least some of the basic life-saving commodities become again affordable for them.

SESAY: So, Geert, with this level of hardship that people are dealing with, which I think is hard for a lot of people outside of Yemen to even really fully comprehend. Talk to me about some of the decisions families are being forced to make in order to survive and what that means for their children.

CAPPELAERE: Well, some of the most heartbreaking decisions families are making is what we call negative coping mechanisms. And children are rather than having the opportunity to go to school, are sent to work. At least to generate a little bit extra income to help the family to survive. We see a problem of child marriage. That was already important in Yemen before, but we see that number of girls being married at very early ages, only increasing, 30, 40 percent more girls are getting married simply because parents are not able to take care anymore of all their children.

[01:40:10] And therefore, may have to make this tough decision to marry their girls at least to have a mouth less to feed. So, people going to negative coping mechanisms. So -- and children are suffering, once again, big, big time.

SESAY: Yes, it is surely heartbreaking. It's abhorrent that this is -- has gone on for so long. Geert Cappelaere, we really appreciate you speaking to us. Thank you so much.

CAPPELAERE: Thank you.

VAUSE: Well, next here on NEWSROOM L.A., after a string of missile test from North Korea, Hawaii is preparing its defenses, putting a Cold War measure back to work against the new threat.


SESAY: Well, South Korea is on the same page when it comes to the assessment of Pyongyang's missile program and the same page as the assessment from the United States which says that North Korea's latest missile test was likely a success that can reach the U.S. capital of Washington. Pyongyang has been boasting for days about Tuesday's launch. And North Koreans are even dancing and singing about it. The regime released this video, describing the intercontinental ballistic missile as its most powerful yet.

VAUSE: U.S. military (INAUDIBLE) the missile a new designation, KN 22, suggesting it is a new type of ICBM. CNN's Paula Newton is in Seoul this hour. She joins us live for the latest. You know, Paula, each day, it seems the experts are learning more about that missile. And it seems each day, there's more concern about how quickly the missile program is advancing.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And many people are wondering why. You know, some people point out it's all technology. It doesn't matter, John, as you know, it's going to work and it's showing more and more indications it will work even though the actual trajectory that we've seen now has gone straight up for 4500 kilometers. It doesn't mean they can't test another trajectory. And that is really what is alarming everyone. You know, in pouring over the assessments from both the videos and the photos, the experts just came to the conclusion that this was just so much different from the missile that they had previously launched just a few months ago. And it means that it will go further, do more damage because the warhead is also larger and perhaps, capable of actually holding more warheads and perhaps if they get to that point, holding a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

VAUSE: Yes. Add to this, we now like a, what, I think a new twist of more essentially an old story. Earlier this year, Kim Jong-un's half- brother, he was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur Airport. He was killed with poison gas. And now, there's some evidence that he may have known what was coming.

NEWTON: Yes. So perfect, John. I mean, the story just gets more and more bizarre. So, in the court case that is going right now, there are two women who are charged with his murder. They deny that, they say that they were duped. They actually had wiped him with a nerve agent on his face. They thought it was part of a T.V. prank. But instead, he did, in fact, died quite suddenly from this. He had, in fact, 12 tablets that were an anecdote (ph) to that type of a nerve agent. From what experts --

[01:45:01] They thought it was part of a T.V. prank but instead he did, in fact, died quite suddenly from this. He had, in fact, tablets that were an anecdote to that type of a nerve agent. From what experts look at this, they say to themselves, "Look, must have known what was coming and was prepared at least to try and survive something like this."

He knows what his stepbrother, pardon me, his half-brother is capable of. What's interesting, John, is that, in just speaking to the experts, they say, "Look, the tablets would not have done him much good. He would have had something more likely that could have been injected immediately into is bloodstream.

And yet, if this is all that he could get he had some insight to know first that he was a target for his half-brother. And secondly, the kind of death he could expect to have." And that trial continues.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The Kims of North Korea, they're quite the family. Paula, thank you.

ISHA ESSAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Let's pause for a quick break. In the face of the North Korean threat, the U.S. State of Hawaii is set to restart its nuclear attack warning signal.

VAUSE: Isha, we're being (INAUDIBLE) staying with the story here. No break.

SESAY: Oh, Indeed. We are not.

VAUSE: But -- it's OK. This alert will be sounded statewide. The system was muffled after the Cold War. Officials bought, back then, thought it was no longer needed. CNN's Sara Sidner reports out from Hawaii.


SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is the sound of a test Hawaii hasn't done since the Cold War era. The attack warning siren once used of Russia's nuclear capabilities, now reintroduced because of North Korea's.

LT. COL. CHARLES ANTHONY, STATE OF HAWAII DEFENSE DEPARTMENT: You could see where they were going with their development and we want to make sure that we got ahead of that.

SIDNER: Officials in Hawaii watch closely as North Korea's capabilities increase rapidly. And as rhetoric escalates between leader Kim Jong-Un and President Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, we're stuck between inflammatory and off the cuff rhetoric by two relatively unstable leaders that put us all at risk.

SIDNER: In 2016, Hawaiian Emergency Management officials began revising plans to get the public prepared in the remote chance of an attack. For Hawaii timing is everything. How much time do you have once North Korea launches?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From launch to impact is 20 minutes.

SIDNEY: What do you say to skeptics who say plan, no plan, we have 20 minutes, nothing is going to save me?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're wrong. If they know what to expect and what to do they can save themselves. SIDNER: In Hawaii, experts estimate that more than 90 percent of the population would survive a nuclear tack outside of ground zero. Even though experts now believe North Korea possess a warhead 10 times more powerful than the bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. So far, there is no evidence North Korea could launch a nuclear warhead that far.

Hawaii is taking no chances. Deep inside the Diamond Head crater of the National Guard and Emergency Management Agency make critical decisions. How long ago was this built?

ANTHONY: All of the complexes inside Diamond Head crater were built before World War II. It's part of the coastal artillery defense of the entire island.

SIDNER: The public can't get in here but they used to have official fallout shelters. That was 30 years ago. What are the big problems with the fallout shelters that exist today?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, most of them aren't labeled. Most of people don't even know the -- where they are. And it's important to know where they are not only for survival but for extrication after an event.

SIDNER: It was the nuclear fallout that killed the majority of people in Hiroshima. Mitsuko Haedtke survived the horrors of that bombing 72 years ago.

MITSUKO HAEDTKE, HIROSHIMA SURVIVOR: We see people coming all burned or skinned, you cannot even tell man or woman.

SIDNER: She now lives in Hawaii and it's beside herself that it's even a possibility again.

HAEDTKE: Really scare me. Yes. For -- not for just myself but for my children, my grandkids. Not only mine, everybody's.

SIDNER: Sara Sidner, CNN, Honolulu.


SESAY: Well, Japan's Emperor Akihito set to abdicate in 2019. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made the announcement earlier. The 83-year-old emperor said last year his age could make it difficult for him to carry out his duties.

Lawmakers this year pass bill allowing him to step down. He'll become the first Japanese emperor to abdicate in more than two centuries.

VAUSE: Well, next here on Newsroom L.A., the age on Hollywood practice of racially insensitive casting, but could Disney Mulan reboot mean whitewashing days may actually be coming to an end?


VAUSE: As long as they've been making films in Hollywood they'd be whitewashing as well. Like in the 1930s when a Swedish-American actor named Warner Olan was cast, who else, as Detective Charlie Chan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, pop, come here, quick. Hurry up. Hurry up. Right down there, look.

DETECTIVE CHARLIE CHAN: NC203R, undoubtedly, missing plane. Run to nearest telephone and notify authorities.



VAUSE: And we got lots of roles. In 1945, Rex Harrison, well, he got rave reviews for his role in Anna and the King of Siam.


KING MONGKUT: How old shall you be? You do not look like scientific person for teaching of school. How old shall you be?

ANND OWENS: I am 150 years old, Your Majesty.


VAUSE: There's also -- OK. But this is -- this is by far the most outrageous of them all. Legendary actor Laurence Olivier playing Othello, the 1965 movie. He did it in blackface.


OTHELLO: Why? What art thou?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your wife, My Lord. Your true and loyal wife.

OTHELLO: Come, swear it. Damn thyself. Lest being like one of heaven, the devils themselves should fear to seize thee. Therefore be double-damned. Swear that thou art honest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, heaven does truly know it.

OTHELLO: Heaven truly knows that thou art false as the hell.


VAUSE: And no one said a word. The (INAUDIBLE) times said, "Oh, it's really adventurous because it was black instead of brown." OK.

They're among the most egregious examples but -- of racially insensitive casting as it continues to this day. It's a little more subtle, it's a little more nuanced but it keeps going. I mean, now it was considered a major breakthrough, a major breakthrough.

Disney cast a Chinese actress Liu Yifei also known as Crystal Liu in the lead role of a Chinese heroine, Mulan in the live action movie based on the Chinese legend. OK. Here's the trend here. Rebecca Sun broke the story for "The Hollywood Reporter".

She is with us now here in Los Angeles. Oh, my God, it was just horrendous going through this. Always great. OK. Stay with me on this.

OK. So we have Chinese actor, Chinese role, Chinese story. This seems to be pretty obvious but somehow, you know, this is like Disney went all the way out of this and it's like a big deal?

REBECCA SUN, SENIOR REPORTER AT THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: Yes, this is definitely, I guess, a triumph, a victory --

VAUSE: Thank you.

SUN: -- now, you know.

VAUSE: Thank you. She's good.

SUN: But yes, I know. And Disney, to their credit, were -- they were very adamant not only about casting an Asian actor in this case but they were -- they were like chance to be ethnically Chinese. And this is such a classic Chinese legend. This is, you know, we all know it from the 1998 cartoon. But this is a pretty beloved folktale from China. And so they really, really definitely did have to get it right.

VAUSE: So that's why everyone's, sort of, breathing a sigh of relief, just like, "Oh, thank God I didn't, like, cast Angelina Jolie or something."

SUN: Well, you know, it's funny because some of the immediate snarky Twitter reactions were like, "Oh, Scarlet Johannsen not available. Was Emma Stone busy?" You know, so it's an ancient history.

VAUSE: Adding to that, there was this petition more than a hundred thousand people signed it to banning the lead role is Mulan wasn't whitewashed. OK. Look, the fact that Disney listened to this kind of stuff it's notable, but how much is this petition based on, you know, doing the right thing and finding the right actress and how much is it based on the decision to appeal to the Chinese market which is (INAUDIBLE) and getting bigger and the revenue just continues to increase year on year?

SUN: Yes. I think it's definitely both. You know, I've had conversations with the studio where they were definitely very concerned with the public perception. They didn't want to get slammed the way that Paramount was slammed for Ghost in the Shell.

[01:55:01] You know, doing a Japanese anime starring Scarlet Johannsen. You know, nowadays in -- with the social media climate there's a lot of really bad publicity you can get. However, in this case, yes, the Chinese market they want Mulan to be a success in China. And that's one of the reasons why they tapped Liu Yifei who is one of the brightest current stars there now.

VAUSE: What about the male lead, Matt Damon available to be cast? SUN: Yes, yes. Hopefully, he'd be, you know, not quite right, age wise as well ethnically. But, you know, there was an original script for Mulan that -- the cause of controversy last year that did feature a white male lead. That quickly got slapped down. Disney said that they will have -- all the lead characters will be Chinese.

VAUSE: OK. But some of the -- some of the forums out there on social media, Chinese movie-goers they're not that impressed with Liu. Here's some of the reaction. "Oh, Disney, you fail.

She is the most famous box office poison in China and sucks in acting. "Liu Yifei is bad, but it could have been worse." I actually found this really encouraging because they're actually talking about her ability as an actor and not like getting into the whole racial issue. So it's, sort of, I feel like the conversation has moved forward.

SUN: Yes, I mean, I think that, so Chinese medicines, that's what they call like the Twitter, they make American Twitter just look like --


SUN: It's like one billion people. So, you know, you're going to get reactions from all, kind of, section, but I do think that they would have had a problem if they didn't cast anybody Chinese in this role specifically.

VAUSE: We should say that there has been some positive, you know, remarks about the Liu Fei being cast in this role. She's got a pretty good resume in China already and that's one of the reason why Disney went with her?

SUN: Yes. She's really popular in China. I mean, although everybody has their detractors. I mean, she has lots --

VAUSE: Especially in China.

SUN: Especially in China. But she's got luxury brand partnerships so she's a popular spokesmodel. The other crucial thing is she speaks English. So Mulan's live-action film will be in English. And so she was one of the actors -- I mean, Disney looked at a thousand candidates. They looked at a thousand people.

VAUSE: And a lot of places.

SUN: And a lot of places all over the world. And she speaks fluent English. You know, she's done -- she did a Jackie Chan, Jet Li movie about 10 years ago where she acted in English, so she can do it.

VAUSE: You know what, take what you can get.

SUN: We'll take it one step at a time.

VAUSE: Rebecca, good to see you.

SUN: Thank you. VAUSE: Thanks for coming in. OK.

SESAY: I was watching that with my mouth open.


SESAY: What planet are we on? (INAUDIBLE) a quick break.

VAUSE: OK. Ten seconds, we got to go.

SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

SESAY: We'll be back.

VAUSE: In a bit.

SESAY: Soon.

VAUSE: Hopefully.


[02:00:11] VAUSE: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

SESAY: Ahead this hour. Time may be --