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Reports Of Multiple Attacks In Burkina Faso's Capital; Global Markets Fall Amid Trade War Fears With U.S.; China Blasts Trump Tariff Announcement; America's Pastor To Be Laid To Rest Friday; Investigators Question Israeli Prime Minister. Aired at 8-9a ET

Aired March 5, 2018 - 08:00   ET



KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong and welcome to News Stream.


LU STOUT: Meeting Kim Jong-un for the first time. South Korean officials are in Pyongyang and they are talking directly to the elusive North Korean


Boosting military spending -- it's day one of the National People's Congress in China and there are already big announcements. We have

reporting and analysis from Beijing.

And Time's Up at the Oscars. We have more from Hollywood's biggest night, five months after major sexual assault allegations broke within the



LU STOUT: And we start with what's believed to be a first of its kind meeting in Pyongyang. This high-level South Korean delegation, they met

today and the meeting is underway with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Now the south is hoping to build on the solid relations that started during the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, and these talks could also be a prelude to

South Korean President Moon Jae-in visiting the North.

Kim's sister extended an official invitation for Mr. Moon to visit when she attended the Winter Games last month. Our Andrew Stevens is in Seoul

monitoring this diplomatic push.

He joins us now live. And, Andrew, this was the first known meeting between South Korean high-level officials and Kim Jong-un since he rose to

power. What do they discussed and what happened?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's pretty extraordinary, isn't it? That Kim Jong-un assumed power back in December of 2011. And this is

the first time that he actually officially met high-level South Koreans.

That really is quite extraordinary, Kristie. We don't know at this stage officially what was discussed between the delegation from South Korea and

Mr. Kim.

We know that there was a meeting and it was followed by a dinner, at which, Kim, was host. But all we've got to go on at this stage is what the head

of the South Korean delegation, a man called Chung Eui-yong, said -- he told reporters very briefly, just to call that border to play, that quick

30-minute flight to Pyongyang. Listen to what he had to say.


CHUNG EUI-YONG, SOUTH KOREAN NATIONAL SECURITY DIRECTOR (through a translator): I will communicate clearly the will and intention of the

president, who wants the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and create a lasting peace by utilizing the flow of the inter-Korean dialogue

and improvement of the relationship that was built during the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games.


STEVENS: So that inter-Korean dialogue with the goal, Kristie, of a summit, perhaps, between the leaders of north and South Korea has happened

before, but you should have to go back to 2007, and before that, 2000, when there was a summit between the two leaders.

But certainly, we are in a moment -- a rare moment, I may add, of diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula, between these two countries, which sit by either

side of the most heavily militarized zone in the world.

LU STOUT: Andrew, this is, as you called, a rare moment of diplomacy. North and South Korea may be talking right now, but what's the appetite for

talks between North Korea and the U.S.?

STEVENS: Well, that was something that the South Korean delegation also promised they would give -- they would bring up, at the discussions. And

that is talks between North Korea and the international community, including the U.S.

And that is the key -- this really the key to this entire trip, can they make any headway at all on getting North Korea and U.S. closer to sitting

across a table from each other?

The signs aren't good at this stage, Kristie. We had on Saturday night Donald Trump in off-the-cuff remarks telling an audience that the U.S. had

actually got a call from North Korea in the previous couple of days, asking for talks.

Donald Trump said, yes, we want talks, too, but there have to be -- you have to de-nuke before we go to the negotiating table. North Korea

responded to that by saying it was a preposterous idea to put that sort of condition on any meeting between these two.

So they are miles apart at the moment. North Korea has shown no appetite whatsoever relinquish any part of this nuclear arsenal or its nuclear

program. And the U.S., at this stage, certainly having no interest in talking in this that is on the table, as well.

So that is going to be very, very tricky, President Moon of South Korea is walking a very fine path. He wants to take the U.S. with him. The U.S. is

obviously a key military ally, and it's interesting, the leader of the delegation has very strong links with Washington.

In fact he and the head of the national security of South Korea, who is also in Pyongyang, will both be going to Washington to brief the

administration after this meeting.

[08:05:00] LU STOUT: Yes, a big rift between Pyongyang and Washington when it comes to the issue of denuclearization, a big challenge for the South

Korean president, as well. Andrew Stevens, reporting live from Seoul, thank you.

Now, China just wrapped up its first day of the 13th National People's Congress. And it has already set the tone for a big military focus. It is

raising the military spending budget by 8.1 percent, while setting an economic growth target of 6.5 percent.

This budget increase comes as President Xi Jinping sets his sights on a more sophisticated, modernized military. The Congress is also set to pass

a major constitutional change on presidential term limits in the coming days. Will Ripley has the latest from Beijing.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kristie, in the coming days, China's most important political gathering, the National People's Congress is expected

to improve a dramatic change to the country's constitution, effectively laying the ground work for Chinese President Xi Jinping to become ruler for

life, by abolishing presidential term limits.

Those term limits were established in 1982 by Deng Xiaoping. They were designed to prevent China from gearing back towards the dictatorship of the

Mao Zedong era.

He oversaw the Cultural Revolution that pulled many millions out of poverty. But also reportedly killed in people, they died of starvation.

Term limits were set up to avoid giving one person so much power unchecked that they could make decisions that could potentially lead China down the

wrong path.

But, instead, Xi Jinping, is un fact -- in the eyes of some analyst, moving China back towards this era of strongman leadership, a cult of personality,

centered around him, that he is the only person qualified in their view to lead China into the future.

Now the Chinese government also saying that this really isn't that big of a deal, their spin on it, that the other two pillars of power here, the

military and the party don't have term limits, so they say it only makes sense for the state also not to have term limits.

And they're going to move forward with their economic plan. They reported around seven percent economic growth last year. They're forecasting around

6.5 percent growth this year.

They're going to move forward with their geopolitical strategy to fill in and continue to grow China's prominence on the global stage.

And, of course, they also are dealing with relations with the United States, the looming threat of a trade war, and the always unstable

situation on the Korean Peninsula. And so it seems, Kristie, that at least for now, Xi Jinping will be the leader of this country for the foreseeable


LU STOUT: And, CNN's Will Ripley, reporting there from Beijing. Now, U.S. President Donald Trump reflected on President Xi's power move during a

lunch and fund-raiser at his Mar-a-Lago estate over the weekend. CNN obtained a recording of those closed-door remarks, which upbeat, lengthy,

and pampered with jokes and laughter.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't forget, China is great and Xi is a great gentlemen. He's now president for life.


TRUMP: President for life! No, he's great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day.



LU STOUT: Interesting comment there, but of course, context is key. Now, China says it does not want a trade war with the U.S., but a spokesman for

the National People's Congress added that China won't sit idly by and watch its interests being harmed.

The U.S. president is expected to formally slap new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as early as this week. The move risks retaliation, not

just from China, but America's neighbor and largest steel supplier, Canada.

Mr. Trump is defending the decision on, yes, Twitter. Earlier, he wrote this, we have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada.

NAFTA has been bad deal for the U.S. Tariffs on steel and aluminum will only come off if new and fair NAFTA agreement is signed. Also, Canada must

treat our farmers much better, highly restrictive.

For the first time since the Vietnam War ended more than 40 years ago, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is there in the country. The USS Carl Vinson is

anchoring just two nautical miles off the port city of Denang.

The United States is casting the visitors away to foster its friendship with Vietnam but analysts say it is a clear shot at Beijing. Now a CNN

team is on the ground in Vietnam. They attend the welcoming ceremony a short time ago.

Let's bring in CNN's Matt Rivers with more on the story. Now, Matt, this is an historic visit that you say is aimed straight at Beijing. How so?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, what Navy officials that we spoke to here today and as well as the ambassador from the United States to

Vietnam are sayings is what you said right off the top. This is an historic visit.

And it is -- it's the first time a U.S. aircraft carrier has made an official visit to Vietnam since the end of the Vietnam War. And what we're

hearing from U.S. representatives here, is that this is visit aimed at strengthening bilateral ties, strengthening a relationship that we have

seen evolve over the last several years.

[08:10:00] And so it certainly is about that, in a lot of ways. But when you look at the strategy, you look at the security situation here in the

South China Sea, well, why does the United States want to create a stronger bilateral relationship?

Of course, they want an economic relationship with Vietnam. This is a growing economy here but when it comes to the security situation, really,

it's all about China, and what's going on in the South China Sea, not far from where we are here off the coast of Denang.

China continues to build up its artificial islands and continues to militarize those islands. The United States does not like that. They do

not respect the Chinese territorial claims that Beijing says give it the right to build those islands and neither does Vietnam.

And so you have therefore, a common issue that both these sides, Vietnam and the United States agree on. So, they are strengthening this bilateral


This visit is historic. It is meant to increase that relationship. But when you look at the reasons why, there are certainly national security

issues behind the scenes.

LU STOUT: Yes, territorial disputes at the center or looming over this visit. And, up to now, what has the United States has been doing to rein

China's muscle flexing and island building in the South China Sea? And does the presence of this warship in Vietnam signal of course?

RIVERS: Well, with the presence of warship here in Vietnam signifies, according to all the U.S. representatives that we spoke to throughout the

day today, is that this is a message not only to China, but to all of the countries in this region, that the United States is committed to

maintaining a strong military presence in this part of the world.

It remains committed to doing what it can to keep international trade routes open. Trillions of dollars in trade pass through those waters just

behind me, each year.

In terms of what the U.S. has been doing, what we have seen is a bit of a continuation in the Trump administration following the Obama


What we saw under president Obama was the conduction of these operations called Freedom of Navigation Operations and so what that means is U.S.

warship sailing within 12 nautical miles of these artificial islands that China has built, signifying that they don't look at those islands as


And that has continued under the Trump administration. That's what we're going to continue to see, it's what we have seen. And really sort of going

into some sort of conflict than others, either side ones.

That is about what the United States can do, continue to exert those Freedom of Navigation Rights and also, try to strengthen its partnerships

with countries like Vietnam in the region to counteract what Beijing is doing here.

LU STOUT: Matt Rivers, reporting live from Vietnam, many thanks indeed for your reporting. You are watching News Stream. Still ahead on the program,

Syria said it is gaining ground in Eastern Ghouta as hundreds of thousands of civilians are still trapped in the Damascus suburb. What the president

of Syria is claiming about the humanitarian crisis there. That story is next.


LU STOUT: Coming to you live from a foggy Hong Kong, welcome back this is News Stream. Now, as reported on the other side of that break just now,

the National People's Congress in China is underway and China is poised to increase military spending, and abolish presidential term limits at the


Now both of these plans give President Xi Jinping, who is arguably the most powerful Chinese leader in decades, even more power. Let's take a closer

look at these changes with Victor Gao. He is a director of the China National Association of International Studies.

He was also the former translator of Deng Xiaoping. He joins us now live from Beijing. Victor, good to see you again. Welcome back to News Stream.


LU STOUT: Let's talk about military spending.


LU STOUT: China is boosting its military spending by eight percent. I don't want to get mired in talking about the numbers, but just what this

symbolizes. Does China want to be seen as a great military power now?

GAO: China is the large country in the world in terms of the population and third largest in terms of the size of the territory. And for China,

its national defense is mostly for self-defense.

And therefore, to increase its military spending is actually very logical at natural thing, compared with the budget of the United States in the

military said the Chinese military budget is only a fractured of that, of the United States.

Yes, indeed, the international tension is rising and China needs to be better prepared for any kind of contingency. And however, I still strongly

believe that after this increase, the Chinese military is still very much positioned for national defense, for self defense rather than for any

aggression opposition in the world.

LU STOUT: Got it. So the military boost in spending for national defense, for self-defense, in your view, not for any sort of military muscular

posturing directed at other nations.

I want to change the focus of our conversation to talk about something that a lot of people have been talking about for the last few days, that have

term limits.

The Congress Is set to remove the two-term presidential limit, allowing Xi Jinping to remain in office indefinitely. Why is this good for China?

GAO: Yes, indeed, the CPC Central Committee has already recommended to the NPC to review this particular two-term restriction and to have that


And I think given the nature of power from the Central Committee of the CPC, as well as the nature of power of the NPC, this proposed amendment

most likely will be adopted.

So back in 1982, this clause was written into the Chinese constitution for very obvious reasons. And I think those reasons were very valid back in


However, in 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China felt it is necessary to introduce this amendment to allow the incumbent

Chinese President Xi Jinping in this particular case, to serve longer than the two-term restrictions.

And I think his performance over the past five years has demonstrated in abundance that he is consider as a great leader, a leader of good

following, and people have goodwill for him, for his firmness in fighting against the corruption at home.

And for steering China on the global stage in a more powerful manner, and there is tremendous amount support with the Communist Party of China, as

well as among the people here in China.

Therefore, I think this proposed amendment, more or less reflects the goodwill and the support for the Chinese person in China. And it will help

once it is adopted, to maintain stability and continuity of the top leadership in China for many years to come.

LU STOUT: Got it. The political support is there. It's good for stability, et cetera, et cetera. You mentioned that date, 1982. You were

there, you we the translator for Deng Xiaoping in 1982.

He put the limits in place in 1982 to make sure that China under the cult of a leader, like Mao Zedong, would never happen again. What would Deng

Xiaoping think about what's happening now in China?

GAO: I think back in 1982, most of the Chinese leaders were in their 70s or 80s. And many of them were too senile to serve effectively as leaders.

However, in 2018 and in the years to come, I think this line of Chinese leadership is very young, dynamic, energetic and they are enjoying the

great support of the Chinese people.

I would say if Deng Xiaoping were with us today, he would say, keep stability, that is the most important thing for China, and also continue to

serve in an energetic and dynamic way.

[08:20:06] And however, don't try to remain until the last moment, because by then, you will be too senile and you will no longer he the energy and

the mental alertness to serve.

So there will be a time to retire. Therefore, I think abolishing the two- term limitation doesn't mean lifetime service of the Chinese presidency.

LU STOUT: Yes, but the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping, you don't want to stick around too long and be a senile leader. Victor Gao, always very

interesting to talk with you, thank you so much. Until next time, take care.

GAO: Thank you.

LU STOUT: The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, says the opposition in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta will go on, as his army fights what he describe

as terrorism. A Syrian state-run media, they say that the military has seized several villages and the war to an enclave.

The Damascus suburb has been bombed and shelled for weeks, killing hundreds of civilians, forcing thousands of people to flee. But Mr. Assad says that

progress is being made.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (through a translator): We haven't started from Ghouta. We have started since the first day in combating

terrorism in every place. We have started in Aleppo. The oration in Ghouta is a continuation of combating terrorism in different places.

There is no contradiction between the truth and combat operations. The progress achieved yesterday and the day before in Ghouta by the Syrian-Arab

army was made during this truce. Therefore, we must continue with operation in parallel with opening the way for civilians to leave towards

the state areas.


LU STOUT: And that was Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad here. Now, the hearing against Australia's highest-ranking catholic, Cardinal George Pell,

began Monday in Melbourne.

Now, he is facing charges of historical sex assault offenses from multiple complaints. The cardinal strongly denies all allegations. CNN's Anna

Coren reports.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With the sound of a car alarm blaring in the background, Cardinal George Pell arrived at Melbourne Magistrates Court

flanked by dozens of police for the start of his month-long committal hearing. But questions from the large media pack drowned out any

background noise.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you feeling, Cardinal Pell?

COREN: As did the angry protesters.

CROWD: Cardinal Pell, go to hell! George Pell, go to hell!

COREN: The 76-year-old cardinal has been charged with historical sex assault offenses from multiple complainants in his home country Australia.

He is the highest ranking Catholic official to be charged with sexual abuse.

It follows a two-year investigation by a special police task force, set up to investigate complaints of widespread sexual abuse in a Catholic Church

and other religious institutions.

On leave from his powerful position as the Vatican's treasurer, Pell, vehemently denies the allegations and through his legal team has told the

court he will plead not guilty.

Inside the courtroom, reporters were briefly allowed to listen to administrative proceedings, in which Pell's high-profile lawyer, Robert

Richter, managed to attack the police, claiming there was a presumption of guilt of his client.

Less than 25 minutes later, the media issued with strict reporting guidelines was kicked out. For the next two weeks, this will be a closed

court where the accusers will give evidence via a video link from an undisclosed location.

They will have access to a family member or the support of dog Coop, a black Labrador that helps vulnerable and traumatized witnesses give

evidence in court.

After more than seven hours, Cardinal Pell reappeared before the media throng, calmly making his way down the steps to his waiting car. How are

you feeling, Cardinal Pell? How did the first day go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the way.

COREN: The Magistrate is expected to decide before Easter whether or not there is enough evidence against Cardinal Pell for this case to go to

trial. Anna Coren, CNN, Hong Kong.


LU STOUT: And now to Germany, where Angela Merkel has been formally recommended as chancellor. The president announced on Monday that he was

suggesting her vote to parliament. No date has been set for that vote.

That announcement comes a day after the opposition social Democrats voted to renew a grand coalition with Merkel's Christian Democrats, ending months

of political deadlock and paving the way for Merkel's fourth term. Atika Shubert has more from Berlin.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, this is good news for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. You know, the country has been without a

coalition government now for five months since the election.

Now it's likely that they'll get one put into place within the next two weeks. But it won't be easy. Merkel has had to make significant

concessions to keep the social Democrats in the coalition including, the finance ministry, labor ministry, and foreign ministry.

[08:25:00] So you can expect push back in those areas where previously her own conservative party had dominated. Now, she will also face quite a bit

of resistance in parliament.

Now what the social Democrats have officially joined the coalition, it means that the largest opposition party is the far-right national

Alternative for Germany Party.

Now it does mean, however, that this is a major obstacle overcome for Chancellor Angela Merkel. She can now devote her full attention to the

running of the country. Atika Shubert, CNN, Berlin.


LU STOUT: All right. Now, a self-described seductress is sitting in a jail cell in Thailand, insisting that she has information that is critical

to the special counsel's Russia investigation. Ivan Watson spoke with her directly.


LU STOUT: I'm Kristie Lu Stout. You are watching News Stream and these are your headlines.


LU STOUT: South Korea says a high-level delegation is meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on a diplomatic visit to Pyongyang. Seoul is

hoping to capitalize on the goodwill from the Olympic Games and he is trying to discuss measures for inter-Korean dialogue that would hopefully

include the U.S.

For the first time since the Vietnam War, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier is in the country. U.S. personnel and their Vietnamese counterparts are to

share cultural exchanges, including culinary and sporting activities. Analysts say the visit is a clear shot at undermining Beijing.

China wants to modernize its armed forces. In its annual Congress announced it is beefing up military spending by just over eight percent

this year. The Congress is also set to remove presidential term limits, allowing Xi Jinping to lead the country for the rest of his life.


LU STOUT: The movement of refugees and other migrants from the Middle East and Africa has been a big issue in Italy's elections. No clear winner has

emerged from Sunday's vote, however, a center-right coalition brokered by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is set to make up the largest block

in parliament.

Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League Party, that part of the coalition, has claimed victory for the group. But the leader of the anti-

establishment Five Star Movement is also claiming victory, having won the most votes of any sine party.

Now, to help make sense of it all, CNN's Ben Wedeman joins us now. He's been watching this unfold in Rome. And, Ben, it was this populist surge

that led to what could become a hung parliament there in Italy. But what led to this populist uprising?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think a variety of things, Kristie. One of them obviously is the question of immigration. More than 600,000

refugees and migrants have come to this country since 2013. Italy appealed to the European Union to help and many times feel that help never came.

And of course then there is the question of the economy. The economy, even though in 2017, it did grow at 1.5 percent. Per capita income hasn't

changed in a quarter of a century. Now, I've been looking through the Italian press this morning, various different takes.

This is Il Fatto Quotidiano. It says, "cambia tutto," everything has changed. And certainly in the sense that between La Lega, the league of

Matteo Salvini, and the Five Star Movement, it's 50 percent of Italians have basically come out in favor of the parties that are very much opposed

to the establishment.

Now, one of the more amusing headlines is, in "El Tiempo," it says, "qhe bordello," what a whorehouse. This newspaper is sympathetic to Silvio

Berlusconi and the feeling among many is that Italian politics is a mess, is beyond being fixed, a bit like the government itself. The country which

has so much potential, but for so many Italians, feel it's so poorly managed.

The economy has been in such a bad shape for so long that basically they want to throw all the bums out. The problem is the people they voted in

possibly to take their place have very little if any experience in running anything.

Luigi Di Maio, the head of the Five Star Movement, 31 years old, never finished university, never held a steady job, except being a member of

parliament. And he of course could be one of the next leaders of this country. So, lots of questions, lots of amusing headlines, but not much

concrete that you can actually grab.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN NEWS STREAM SHOW HOST: And Ben, I'm getting a lesson in Italian politics as well as the Italian language. "cambua tutto,"

everything has changed. This election is a huge devastating blow to the ruling party in Italy. Is it a also a blow to the European establishment

and E.U. unity?

WEDEMAN: It's not a blow yet. The Italians have watched the train wreck that is Brexit and I think have learned that maybe you don't want to jump

into that abyss, that bottomless abyss of complication and mess that the British are now struggling with.

There's unhappiness with the E.U. with their handling of the migration crisis. There's unhappiness with the European Central Bank, which seems to

have more control over the Italian economy than the Italian government itself.

There's unhappiness with the euro, which the Italians feel, when it went into effect at the beginning of this century, prices all went up and they

didn't really get much out of it. But nonetheless, as I said, they're not quite ready to jump over the cliff when it comes to Europe, like the

British did. Kristie?

LU STOUT: Ben Wedeman, walking us through the results in Italy, live fro Rome. Thank you.

Now, the prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, he is set to hold talks with the U.S. president at the White House just a few hours from now.

Netanyahu says Iran and what he calls its aggression will be front and center at that upcoming meeting with Donald Trump, as well as plans to move

the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Back home in Israel, Netanyahu has been questiod eight times, in fact, in several corruption investigations. He continues to deny any wrongdoing. And

we have just learned of a major new development in this case. Oren Liebermann joins us from Jerusalem with that. And Oren, what have you


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A third close confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has just turned state witness, signing an

agreement with police, with the Israel Securities Authority, and with investigators to cooperate the ongoing investigations against the prime

minister and his inner circle.

This is a major blow to the prime minister, as you point out, just hours before he sits down with President Donald Trump. He wants to keep that

meeting focused on Iran. We said yesterday the investigations will hang over this entire trip to Washington and to New York, and now they certainly


The person who turned state witness just now, his name is Nir Hefetz. He is a former family spokesperson for the Netanyahu family and a longtime close

confidante of the prime minister, as well as a suspect in what's known as Case 4,000. That's an ongoing investigation against the prime minister, who

was just questioned under caution, meaning he is also a suspect in this case.

And what's crucial to point out, he's not the first, that Nir Hefetz is not the first state witness here, he is

[08:35:00] the third. Just two weeks ago, another close confidant of Netanyahu also turned state witness in this same investigation. So that is

where the focus is right now. What's known as Case 4,000 here. And this is another blow to the prime minister, who is already dealing with another

coalition crisis on a completely unrelated topic.

So, again, we'll ask the question, what are the political calculations here? And will the coalition partners who still support the prime minister

continue to do so, as the pressure on the prime minister grows?

LU STOUT: That's right. Pressure continues to build on Benjamin Netanyahu. Oren Liebermann reporting live for us. Thank you.

CNN has been speaking with a self-described Russian seductress who says that she is willing to give up Trump/Russia secrets in exchange for U.S.

help to get her out of a jail in Thailand. It sounds like the plot of a spy movie, but it's happening and it's raising important questions in the

ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the U.S. election and the Trump campaign's alleged ties with Moscow.

CNN's Ivan Watson is in Bangkok with much more on this story. Ivan, a bizarre tale, but what have you learned there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is certainly strange, but, yes, I went to the Bangkok Immigration Detention Center and

there, behind bars, was this 21-year-old, born in Belarus, named Anastasia Vashukevich. And she claims that she has information on Russian plans to

affect the U.S. election.

She claims she also has photos to back up those claims and that she has hours of audio recordings as well. And she says that she's willing to share

it if U.S. investigators can help get her out of this Thai jail.

Now, it could sound like a half-baked desperate plea to just try to get out of jail after getting in trouble, but the fact is that this young woman was

photographed, and she published photos of herself in a yacht, alongside a very powerful Russian billionaire with ties to the Kremlin, Oleg Deripaska.

She published this on Instagram. She published a book about allegedly seducing this man. And it was publicized in a video by an opposition

leader, Alexei Navalny. And that video was able to identify a high-ranking Russian official sitting next to this couple, a deputy prime minister of

Russia, Sergei Prikhodko.

So she has clearly been around powerful important people and she claims that during her affair that she claims lasted more than a year with

Deripaska, she witnessed meetings between him and unnamed Americans discussing the U.S. election.

Now, we haven't seen any of the proof to back this up. There have been denials from the Russian billionaire Deripaska that he had an affair with

her in the first place, but there is certainly photo evidence to indicate that she has been around some of these officials.

She and some of her Russian colleagues also behind bars have sent a letter to the U.S. Embassy here in Bangkok requesting asylum and they say they

won't release any information because they are afraid that they could be deported back to Russia and be punished for any evidence that they might

make public. Kristie?

LU STOUT: Russian model, jailed in Thailand, claiming to have secrets on Trump and Russia. Incredible story. Ivan Watson reporting live for us from

Bangkok. Thank you.

You are watching "News Stream." Still ahead, the elephant in the room at the Academy Awards. Hollywood looks to blaze a path forward after months of

sexual assault and harassment allegations.


LU STOUT: It is a misty Monday night here in Hong Kong. Welcome back. You're watching "News Stream."

Now, Hollywood's biggest night of the year was loaded with glitz, glamour, and political statements. Sunday's Academy Awards did not shy away from

shining a spotlight on the months of scandal and controversy plaguing the entertainment industry. Host Jimmy Kimmel encouraged award presenters and

recipients to use their speech to remind the world about issues close to them.

The "Me Too" movement grew out of complaints of sexual assault and harassment against, of course, producer Harvey Weinstein. And three of his

accusers, Ashley Judd, Annabella Sciorra, and Salma Hayek appeared at the ceremony together.

Musicians Andra Day and Common performed the political song, "Stand Up for Something" from the film "Marshall." They were joined on stage by activists

from groups including Black Lives Matter, the United Farm Workers of America, and Sandy Hook Promise, a group trying to reduce gun violence.

And of course, "Time's Up" had its own moment at the Academy Awards. The movement encourages more diverse voices in Hollywood. Stephanie Elam spoke

with Ashley Judd and Mira Sorvino. They are helping to lead the "Time's Up" charge.


ASHLEY JUDD, ACTRESS: Hollywood is able to set an example by saying, look, we have some very serious internal housekeeping to do, but we also want to

make sure that it's intersectional (ph) and that we help do what we can to set a positive example to the country.

MIRA SORVINO, ACTRESS: And it's not even just the country. I think it's the world. I think that movements are springing up everywhere, where people

are seeing that it's OK to speak out and it's OK to try and change this culture that basically women have suffered under forever.


LU STOUT: Absolutely. Now, Frances McDormand, she provided one of the brightest moments of the ceremony. She took the best actress award for her

role in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri."

During her acceptance speech, she asked all the female nominees in every category to stand and be seen. Then she sent a message to studios and

producers saying that women have stories to tell and projects to be funded, and encouraged producers to meet with them.

Now, let's get to some of the Oscar winners. Gary Oldman received the award for best actor in a leading role. He reincarnated as Winston Churchill for

his role in "Darkest Hour" with the help of Kazuhiro Tsuji who won for makeup and hair styling. And the fantasy sci-fi film "The Shape of Water"

swept the top award for winning best picture and best director as well as two other categories.

And that is it for "News Stream." I'm Kristie Lu Stout, but don't go anywhere, "World Sport" with Alex Thomas is next.