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Macron Announces Concessions, Holds Crisis Meetings; Russia Sends Strategic Bombers to Venezuela; Flynn Asks Judge to Spare Him

December 13, 2018

xfdiw CNN-NEWSROOM-18

<Show: CNN NEWSROOM>

<Date: December 12, 2018>

<Time: 09:00>

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<Type: SHOW>

<Head: Macron Announces Concessions, Holds Crisis Meetings; Russia

Sends Strategic Bombers to Venezuela; Flynn Asks Judge to Spare Him

from Prison; Arctic Warming Unlike Any Period on Record; Scientists

Sound Alarm on Climate Change after Deadly Wildfires; Pence Silent a

Trump and Democrats Spar; Hunt For Gunman Who Killed 3 At Strasbourg

Market; Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou Released On Bail In Canada; President

Clashes With Democrats In Heated Exchange; Two Reuters Staff Among

“Time Person Of The Year”; Philippines Targets “Rappler” Journalist

Maria Ressa; Time Magazine Applauds Those Fighting For Truth. Aired 1-

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<End: 01:59>

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hunt for a killer, hundreds of police and troops mobilized across France searching for a gunman who opened fire at a Christmas market and attack being treated as a possible act of terrorism.

Free on bail after being held for ten days. A Canadian court releases the CFO of China’s tech giant Huawei but the legal battles for Meng Wanzhou have only just begun.

And who wants the government shutdown? The U.S. President says he’ll own it if he doesn’t get a deal on his border wall in Mexico. All part of the back and forth for senior Democrats in a made-for-T.V. meeting.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I’m John Vause, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

France is now on its highest security alert and a massive manhunt is underway for the gunman who killed at least three people at a Christmas market in Strasburg. The shooter is known to police. 29- year-old man on a terror watchlist with the criminal past.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTOPHE CASTANER, INTERIOR MINISTER, FRANCE (through translator): Manhunt is underway to arrest the attacker. It is a man very well- known for many common law offenses for which he has already been convicted here and in Germany and for which he has already served his sentences. 350 people have been mobilized on the field to tried to stop his escape. 100 police personnel, two helicopters, the RAID brigades and services, the search and intervention Brigade, and also Sentinel troops are also on the field.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Witnesses say when the shooting started, shoppers rushed into nearby stores and restaurants to take cover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISSAM FARES, WITNESS (through translator): I was at the (INAUDIBLE) ground roof stop and I first heard several shots. I thought maybe it’s firecrackers or they’re attacking a store. I saw a lot of people running scared, crying kids, and all. Then I said in my opinion, it must be very, very serious. And then when I saw people crying and the crowd leaving, they said there was shooting right next door so I ran away. I went to hide in a restaurant not far from (INAUDIBLE).

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The gunman was reportedly wounded during exchanging gunfire with police and soldiers but he still managed to escape. Earlier, I spoke with CNN’s Law Enforcement Contributor Steve Moore, and asked him how in fact the suspect managed to get away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE MOORE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTRIBUTOR: I don’t know. He’s either the luckiest man in the world or people weren’t really watching carefully for him, John. I mean, look at what you’ve got. You know he’s on the terror watch list. You went to his house to arrest him today or the day of the attack. He’s not there but explosives are.

You’ve got to know at that point even if he hadn’t planned on something this day and it’s possible he hadn’t planned on it for that exact day, but he knows -- he knows they’re on to him so this will be the day he attacks whether it was planned or not. And maybe you know, I don’t know what plans they had in place, but if they had any, they were inadequate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: The market will be closed Wednesday as well as some schools. A court in Canada has granted bail to the chief financial officer of Huawei, one of the largest telecom companies in the world. Meng Wanzhou posted a bond of $7.5 million with five guarantor promising she will stay in Canada ahead of the hearing for her extradition to the United States where she’s accused of helping her Chinese company dodge U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Meng has also surrendered her passports, agreed to a curfew, as well as a 24-hour security detail. Her arrests though has sparked outrage in China. Delegations she’s being used as a bargaining chip in the ongoing U.S. trade war. CNN’s Andrew Stevens live in Hong Kong. And Andrew, China was already claiming that this is all part of -- this is all being staged by the U.S. you know, to use money as a bargaining chip during these negotiations. Trump is asked by Reuters if he actually believes Meng could be released if he’ll intervene. Why is this?

“Well, it’s possible that a lot of different things could happen. It’s also possible it will be part of negotiations. But we’ll speak to the Justice Department. We’ll speak to them. We’ll get a lot of people involved. It seems if the president there is actually referring to trade negotiations. It would be an indication that Meng’s fate is linked directly to those trade talks.”

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It would appear from what we’ve heard from Donald Trump that that is indeed the case. And we have to be careful here, John, that’s the Chinese state media have been linking the two saying it is politicization the arrest from the first place. When the Chinese government is always steered clear of drawing that line between the trade talks and the arrest of Meng.

Donald Trump has just trampled right over that line wearing hobnail boots saying that yes he would intervene in the Meng case if it helped the what he describes is the biggest trade deal ever. The trade deal between U.S. and China. So Donald Trump is made absolutely clear this is about -- the Meng arrest will be used as a bargaining chip.

[01:05:13] Now, Meng is theoretically facing some 30 years, multiple years in prison for these accusations that she committed fraud by lying to financial institutions about the relationship with a company called SKYCON which was selling telecoms equipment to Iran effectively sanctions busting of busting U.S. sanctions.

So Meng -- there’s 30 years potential jail time there. Remember she is the daughter of technology royalty. Her father started Huawei which is one of the favored companies in China. The outrage as you say has been very noticeable in China. There has been the arrests of a former Canadian diplomat on Monday night and many people are saying that’s linked to the arrest of Meng.

The arrest, we don’t know exactly what the charges are there. But certainly, this has been ratcheting up a lot and now Donald Trump has made it very clear that this issue -- these two issues trade and Meng are not going to be separated.

VAUSE: You know, at least once before Donald Trump has intervened on behalf of a Chinese company which has been penalized for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. He got a lot of flak for it but he’s done it before.

STEVENS: Absolutely. The company you’re talking about is ZTE. This was a company -- this is also a telecoms provider and it was also busting sanctions. It was supplying a telecoms both to North Korea and Iran. The U.S. found out they were doing that. They demanded that fines be paid and heads rolled. In fact, ZTE paid some minimal fines and gave bonuses to people who are involved in those sanctions busting. So the U.S. got tough and said right, we are banning the supply of all U.S. made components to ZTE which basically was as existential price that ZTE couldn’t have survived that. In fact, they announced that they’re closing down.

Donald Trump wrote in and said he would reverse that decision again all over trade, John. But I don’t think we should be surprised by this. It’s very, very clear that in foreign policy and trade, it’s all transactional. Donald Trump is treating this as deals as he did with deals in in property, deals around the U.S. It’s quid pro quo. I will give you something if you give me something back.

He’s made no bones about that. This is just more a very, very clear examples of a foreign policy under Donald Trump. It horrifies diplomats. It’s turning the system of negotiation on its head as far as International Affairs and geopolitics goes, but this is Donald Trump and he is plowing ahead on doing this. A one-to-one deals, I’ll give you this, you give me that. And you know, it’ll be all on personal chemistry why all this stuff we’ve known before, John, and he’s going ahead with it. So I think in many ways he’s running true to form on this.

VAUSE: OK, Andrew, thank you. Andrew Stevens live for us in Hong Kong. Donald Trump appear to be back starring his own reality T.V. show on Tuesday sparring with two senior congressional Democrats over his border war with Mexico and who was going to pay for it. Cameras were rolling for some must-see T.V. CNN’s Jeff Zeleny has details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will shut down the government. Absolutely.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: OK, fair enough. We disagree.

TRUMP: And I am proud -- and I’ll tell you what --

SCHUMER: We disagree.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A first look tonight at divided government in Washington.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: The fact is you do not have the votes in the House.

TRUMP: Nancy, I do. We need border security. It’s very simple.

ZELENY: A civics lesson short on civility, ending with President Trump’s vowing to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall.

TRUMP: I am proud to shut down the government for border security.

ZELENY: The President trying to gain the upper hand by inviting cameras in for his first meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, got something else entirely, ownership of a potential shutdown.

TRUMP: So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.

ZELENY: They talked past each other.

TRUMP: Then we have the issue on the wall. That’ll be the one that will be the easiest of all. What do you think, Chuck, maybe not? SCHUMER: It’s called funding, Mr. President.

TRUMP: And over one another.

PELOSI: I think the American people recognize that we must keep government open, that a shutdown is not worth anything, and that you should not have a Trump shutdown. You have the White House --

TRUMP: Did you say Trump --

PELOSI: A Trump shutdown. You have the White House --

TRUMP: No, we don’t have the votes, Nancy, because, in the Senate, we need 60 votes and we don’t have it.

PELOSI: No, no, but in the House, you could bring it up right now, today.

TRUMP: Yes, but I can’t -- excuse me. But I can’t get it passed in the House if it’s not going to pass in the Senate. I don’t want to waste time.

PELOSI: Well, the fact is you can get it started that way.

TRUMP: The House we can get passed very easily, and we do.

PELOSI: OK, then do it. Then do it.

TRUMP: But the problem is the Senate, because we need ten Democrats to vote, and they won’t vote.

PELOSI: But the fact is, is that legislating -- which is what we do --

TRUMP: Right.

PELOSI: -- you begin, you make your point, you state your case, that’s what the House Republicans could do, if they had the votes. But there are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall no matter where you start.

[01:10:07] SCHUMER: That is exactly right. You don’t have the votes in the House.

TRUMP: If I needed the votes for the wall in the House, I would have them -- in one session, it would be done.

PELOSI: Well, then go do it. Go do it.

ZELENY: At times it seemed more like a New York Street fight playing out in the Oval Office. Taunts at all.

TRUMP: And we’ve gained in the Senate. Nancy, we’ve gained in the Senate.

PELOSI: The moral -- TRUMP: Excuse me, did we win the Senate? We won the Senate.

SCHUMER: When the President brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.

TRUMP: I did.

PELOSI: Let me say this.

TRUMP: We did win North Dakota.

PELOSI: This is the most unfortunate thing.

ZELENY: As Schumer confronted the President on exaggerations and mistruths.

SCHUMER: The Washington Post today gave you a whole lot of Pinocchios because they say you constantly misstate how much the wall is -- how much of the wall is built and how much is there.

ZELENY: But it came back again and again to border security and the wall.

TRUMP: We have to have border security. We have to have a wall as part of border security. And I don’t think we really disagree so much. I also know that you know Nancy is in a situation where it’s not easy for her to talk right now and I understand that. And I fully understand that. We’re going to have a good discussion and we’re going to see what happens.

PELOSI: Mr. President --

TRUMP: But we have to have border security.

PELOSI: Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the Leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory. But let me --

SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President.

PELOSI: Let me just say --

ZELENY: Taking a page out of the President’s name-calling playbook, it didn’t take long for Democrats to brand a potential shutdown as Trump’s.

PELOSI: The Trump shutdown is something that can be avoided.

ZELENY: Was it any more productive behind the scenes Madam Speaker? Was it any more productive after the cameras left?

PELOSI: We don’t want to contradict the president when he was putting forth figures that had no reality to them, no basis in fact. I didn’t want to in front of those people say you don’t know what you’re talking about.

ZELENY: A few hours later back in the Oval Office, the President called it a very good meeting, a rare view in Washington.

TRUMP: I don’t mind owning that issue. If we close down the country, I will take it because we’re closing it down for border security and I think I win that every single time.

ZELENY: So at the end of all that sparring and shouting here at the White House, one question remained. Which side will blink if either an avert a government shutdown. Of course, the government does run out of funding a week from Friday on December 21st at midnight. Now, it’s unclear if Democrats will give the President more for his border wall. It’s unclear if he will accept less as he has before in the past. The only certainty is you got a look inside what divided government will look like next year here in Washington. Jeff Zeleny, CNN the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: After a frenzied day at diplomacy, a promise of clarification but no renegotiation of Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May is back in London with widespread reporting of a growing momentum within our own party to dump her as leader. The Prime Minister met with European leaders on Tuesday hoping for reassurances on her Brexit deal but the answer from the E.U. was clear, there will be no renegotiations.

By delaying the parliamentary vote on her Brexit agreement, the Prime Ministers seemed to delay what many thought will be a cathartic moment for the nation and all this is leading to increased levels of Brexit fatigue, And as Nick Name reports, the whole ugly process is still far from over.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Long, long shadows on Westminster Bridge and with them an abiding sense of weariness and fracture. The last few weeks of British politics have been both divisive and interminable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of my constituents would like Brexit to be over and done way.

GLASS: The cartoonists have been predictably merciless. Theresa May on a march going her way. Everyone else in the opposite direction. Both cartoons from a conservative newspaper.

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, U.K.: As I have made clear, my focus is on the vote that will take place in the -- on December, here in this house.

GLASS: And five days later --

MAY: This argument has gone on long enough. It is corrosive to our politics and life depends on compromise.

GLASS: The further six days later facing the prospect of a resounding defeat, she postponed the vote.

MAY: Does this house want to deliver Brexit?

GLASS: Those looks nothing else. Theresa May has been admired for her tenacity and resilience.

CROWD: Five, four, three, two, one!

GLASS: The week, as they say, is a long time in politics even at Christmas so the Lady is for turning exclaimed the Daily Telegraph. The fact as Britain still seems profoundly split over Brexit and so toxically are the two main political parties and tempers of praying.

[01:15:02] JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: The Prime Minister is trying to buy herself one last chance to save this deal. If she doesn’t take onboard, the fundamental changes required. Then, she must make way for those who can.

BRITISH CROWD: Yes!

YVETTE COOPER, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, UNITED KINGDOM: We still even now don’t even know when she wants to bring this vote back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That’s right.

COOPER: Or even what she wants the deal to be. Does she not realize how chaotic and ridiculous this makes our country look?

GLASS: The Guardian cartoonist has persistently pinion Theresa May to Moby Dick in the water and at the cliff edge. Like good old John Bull, we’re all now wondering what’s going to happen next.

On Labour M.P., in this place of historic ritual simply vented his frustration by briefly grabbing the ceremonial mace, he was asked to leave the House.

Of course, as everyone is aware, this is only the beginning of the Brexit process, a trade deal with Europe has yet to be negotiated. Outside parliament, the flags have been out both British and European. Protestors for and against Brexit had been encamped for days.

Some political commentators proceed to Britain in limbo, teaching on the edge of a precipice. A constitutional crisis in prospect. Nick Glass, CNN, Westminster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Up next, fighting against the war on truth. Journalists who risk everything to report the news and Time Magazine honors then, as Person of the Year 2018.

And two Reuters journalists among those honored by Time. Jail in Myanmar for reporting the truth about a range of massacre, leading a long agonizing day as their families wait for their return home.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Time Magazine has named a group of journalists targeted and persecuted for their work as the 2018 Person of the Year. They’re calling the issue The Guardians and the War on Truth. Time has put together four separate covers featuring four journalists and one news organization.

On one of the covers, says, “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, two Reuters journalists arrested in Myanmar for investigating a massacre of Rohingya Muslims. For their families, it’s a long, hard wait, agonizing days filled with uncertainty. CNN’s Matt Rivers traveled to Myanmar to speak with them.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[01:19:54] MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Thet Htar Angel is now four months old but she’s only met her father a couple of times, so far. Because her dad is Wa Lone, one of two Reuters journalists from Myanmar sentenced to seven years in prison.

“I want my daughter to know how her father loves her, she says. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo arrested a year ago were convicted of possessing state secrets in a trial widely regarded as a sham.

AMAI CLOONEY, LAWYER FOR JAILED JOURNALIST: They have no evidence. I mean if you actually read the judgment, you’ll see what a fast the whole trial was, and they had no intention to harm the state. They were not spies, they are acting as journalist.

RIVERS: Activists say they were targeted for investigating illegal killings in Rakhine State, implicating the military. It’s an area where the U.N. says the Burmese army and others committed genocide against the Rohingya people, a Muslim ethnic minority. Seven members were later convicted and sentenced to 10 years.

CNN visited the village of Inn Din which the two journalists reported on. Now, only the remains of the Rohingya side at town are left. All the houses burned down.

But innocent or not, Wa Lone sits in prison. And his wife Pon Ei Mon sits at home. “I feel like this is the moment I’m struggling.” Pon Ei Mon is stoic. She says she’s proud of his defiance and his calls for press freedom. But her daughter’s been sick lately and talking about the hospital trip she cracks.

“Others are with their husbands, but for me I’m alone.” She didn’t tell her husband, Angel was sick. Putting up the charade can be exhausting. Something Chit Su Win would know, her husband Kyaw Soe Oo is the other journalist in prison.

“I really want to tell him about my feelings, but I can’t.” She says. “I just tried to smile all the time.” It’s just her and her daughter now. She’s three, loves mango. Her dad used to cut it up for her. And she saw him in court during the trial. She’d think her with his handcuffs.

“She used to use her fingers as a key to try and unlock the handcuffs.” Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the pair’s conviction. The U.N. and rights groups have called for their release. Both have lodged an appeal, while their families keep hope and focus on what’s good

Moe Thin Wai Zin is a happy kid, she gave me some toy food. And baby Angel, Wa Lone’s daughter is a joy even if she doesn’t sleep enough. Her mom hopes that one day soon, after a nap like this one, her dad will be there when she wakes up. Matt Rivers, CNN, Yangon Myanmar.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Time’s announcement that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, were among the four journalists named Person of the Year, came almost a year to the day of their arrest in Myanmar. Accused of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says, 2017 was a record setter for a lot of journalists locked up worldwide. 262 in all. The final total for this year is expected to be higher still.

A former colleague from CNN. Maria Ressa was named by Time as one of the four Guardians. She’s the founder of Rappler, a new startup in the Philippines which has been under attack by the president there who seems determined to muzzle any critical reporting.

Ressa has been charged with tax evasion, and it’s also facing the possibility of jail time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA RESSA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, RAPPLER: For every single time that it is so apparent that the charges are politically motivated. That we are -- that we are targeted precisely because we keep telling the truth. Well, then, that challenges us to keep telling the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: For more, Steven Butler with the Committee to Protect Journalists is with us now from Washington. Steven, good to see you. Thank you for coming in.

STEVEN BUTLER, ASIA PROGRAM COORDINATOR, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALIST: Thank you.

VAUSE: There’s always a sort of cringe factor when journalists write stories about other journalists. But this seems different. It seems a lot of reporters are just trying to do their job day in and day out and now confronting very real dangers that was never there before.

And Time making this announcement of the four Guardians, you know, brings a lot of attention to this issue. Attention is good, but is it a solution?

BUTLER: Well, I have to say. I woke up this morning and saw that these four journalists had been recognized in this way. And I was very happy about this. Obviously, it’s not a solution in itself to the kind of pressure that journalists are facing. But I hope it will encourage people around the world to recognize how valuable it is to have information sources that they can turn to that are reliable. And that’s something that cannot be provided by government. It can only be provided by a free press. That is -- you know, free to do their job without intimidation. That’s what we fight for it, Committee to Protect Journalists. And I think, it is what people at- large should be fighting for. It’s very precious and this award underscores that.

VAUSE: And to do that reporting, journalists need to be on the ground, they need to see -- you know, the situation for themselves. Which is what these two Reuters reporters we’re doing in Myanmar. Here’s the editor of Reuters talking about their situation right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:25:03] STEPHEN ADLER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, REUTERS: The fact that they remain in prison for a crime they did not commit calls into question Myanmar’s commitment to democracy, freedom of expression, and rule of law every day they continue to be behind bars is a missed opportunity for Myanmar to stand up for justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes, all that is true. But then beyond that, it’s incredible to think that someone like Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s civilian leader, a Nobel Peace laureate, once fated as a champion for democracy and human rights can simply ignore what is happening to these two reporters.

BUTLER: Yes, it’s absolutely disgraceful. The evidence that was presented against these two journalists is so obviously fake, and so obviously planted. That it’s really ludicrous. And for her to embrace the decision of the court and say that it’s justified, suggest a level of personal corruption that no one could have suspected a few years ago when she was a human rights icon throughout the world.

VAUSE: And you know, the U.S. President Donald Trump, he has a bit of a thing for the Person of the Year Award. When asked about it last month, this is what he said. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: That’s up to Time Magazine. I’ve been there before. I can’t imagine anybody else other than Trump. Can you imagine anybody other than Trump?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes. Well, we can. He was actually runner-up this year. But the decision by time to name these four journalists, it was a not so subtle rebuke of a U.S. president who routinely labels the media, the enemy of the people, a man who mainstreamed the term fake news. But if then, again, you know, brings attention to an issue doesn’t necessarily resolve it.

BUTLER: No, it’s going to take a long time. It will be a long political process. You know, part of the forces that are undermining the press have nothing to do with Trump. It has to do with technology and the business models that have -- that have declined.

But, I would say what I said earlier. This award marks an important recognition of just how precious this is. And I hope the president feels stung by what’s happened. That his enemies of the people have been -- and received the award that he wanted to receive.

VAUSE: Yes, I don’t think Donald Trump feels any shame about anything, actually. To be honest, it seems impervious to all of it. We all said the situation with the late Jamal Khashoggi, making the list. He was the Washington Post journalist who was killed in the Saudi consulate. His editors from the Washington Post tweeted out, “Gratitude at a Time”. Also quoted Khashoggi saying, “Some depart to remain.”

Time has never named someone who’s died as their person of the year. But Khashoggi’s death seems to have resonated with so many people around the world. Why is that?

BUTLER: Well I think, for one, it was the sheer brutality of what happened. And the fact that you had a government, the Saudi Arabian government denying and changing their story every couple of days to what happened.

And now, of course, you know, Mohammed bin Salman is suspected of having ordered this or have been involved intimately in it. And the fact that this is someone who appeared to be very genuinely reporting and writing about what was happening in Saudi Arabia, I just think it has struck a chord for that reason, and because of the preciousness of this kind of free thinking, and writing.