U.S. President Set to Announce Gun Control Measures; Kuwait Latest to Suspend Diplomatic Relations with Iran; Lyft, GM Announce Deal to Make

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to Suspend Diplomatic Relations with Iran; Lyft, GM Announce Deal to Make

Driverless Fleet; Faraday Shows off Potential Rival to Tesla at CES. Aired

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to Suspend Diplomatic Relations with Iran; Lyft, GM Announce Deal to Make

Driverless Fleet; Faraday Shows off Potential Rival to Tesla at CES.>

[08:00:47] KRSITIE LU STOUT, HOST: I'm Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And welcome to News Stream.

Now, the U.S. president is set to take executive action on gun control in just a few hours. But critics say his unilateral action is going too far.

Gulf nations are siding with Saudi Arabia against Iran as a diplomatic split grows wider.

And the ride-sharing company Lyft has a deal with GM to one day use driverless cars.

In the next few hours U.S. President Barack Obama is to tackle gun violence his way. Now Mr. Obama is going to use executive order to bring in a series of measures, including tightening the so-called gun show loophole that lets some individuals sell guns without conducting a background check.

But already some Republicans are saying he is overstepping his authority.

Now, the action comes after a series of mass shootings in the U.S. made international headlines. And CNN's Michelle Kosinski joins us now live from just outside the White House. And Michelle, President Obama will take executive action on gun control today. How is this going to play out?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kristie. Well, you see what the administration is trying to do and you're struck by how many ways and how many areas they're trying to make changes where they can. But you're also immediately struck by the limits that they're up against because, yeah, the president is acting on his own but he has to act within existing law.

And these changes are put out there as proposals or guidance or encouragement to states. Even the background check issue is basically just a clarification of who can be considered a private seller versus someone who is in the business of gun sales.

Clearly, the White House wants more and better enforcement, but there are plenty of questions on how that's going to work.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will potentially save lives in this country.

KOSINSKI: President Obama teeing up to announce a major overhaul on gun control this morning, giving congress a hard pass.

OBAMA: These are recommendations that are well within my legal authority and the executive branch.

KOSINSKI: The president set to lay out a series of executive orders, including clarifying that anyone in the business of selling guns must acquire a license and ensure background checks no matter the volume of guns sold or where.

The White House also urging more state reporting of background check records that could disqualify buyers with mental illness or a history of domestic violence, proposing beefing up the background check system itself, hiring more staff to operate it around the clock, and the president will ask for much more funding for mental health treatment.

The Democratic campaign trail buzzing with excitement.

HILLARY CLINTON, FRM. U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I am so proud of what the president announced today. The next president, on the very first day, could wipe it away. No, I won't wipe it away.

KOSINSKI: Oh, the next president could very well wipe it away. And that's exactly what the GOP 2016 hopefuls plan to do.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: But don't worry, when I am elected president on my first day behind that desk, those orders are gone.

DONALD TRUMP, 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will veto that. I will unsign that so fast, so fast.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KOSINSKI: So just this morning we saw one federal agency put out the guidance on what it means to be in the business of gun sales, thereby forcing background checks to have to happen. And it means you're spending time on it, you're making a profit, it's repetitive.

As the White House puts it, it doesn't matter if you're selling two guns a day or thousands of guns over the course of a year. They think that, you know, you're going to need to register and do the background checks.

The question, of course, is how is the federal government going to make sure that you register, how are they going to find you if you don't.

They are establishing penalties, though, if you don't. So that will be put in place, Kristie.

[08:05:09] LU STOUT: Yeah, so many questions and ultimately will the president succeed in this final year push for gun control reform?

Michelle Kosinski reporting live for us from the White House. Thank you, Michelle.

Now, President Obama will be joining us for an exclusive live town hall hosted by Anderson Cooper. You can see it 9:00 a.m. on Friday here in Hong Kong, that's 10:00 a.m. in the morning in Tokyo, only on CNN.

In the U.S. state of Oregon, armed protesters are hold up in a federal building for another day. Now, the gunmen are refusing to leave until their demands are met. They want two ranchers freed from prison and national forest land handed over to them.

Now, the ranchers, a father and son, turned themselves in on Monday. They were convicted for torching about 130 acres of public land. They insist they don't want anything to do with the protest.

Now, the dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia is becoming worse, and it's drawing in other countries in the region. The latest, Kuwait.

Just a few hours ago, Iranian media quoted Iran's president as saying criticism should not be responded to with beheading. Now, that is directed at Saudi Arabia's recent execution of a Shiite cleric for supporting terrorism.

Iran disputes that and angry demonstrators in Tehran stormed the Saudi embassy over the weekend. And Kuwait is now withdrawing its ambassador from Iran in protest following similar moves by Bahrain, Sudan and the UAE.

Now, let's take a look at the latest reaction from Saudi Arabia. Our international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson is in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. He joins us now live.

And Nic, this dispute has escalated and deepened into this regional dispute. What's the pulse there in Riyadh?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIOANL CORRESPONDENT: I've been talking to government officials today, Kristie. And they are saying that they believe that Iran has been meddling in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs, that what we have witnessed over the weekend, the execution of this Shia leader, a cleric, who the Saudis say was fomenting terrorism, of course, to overthrow the Saudi royal family here, that this is essentially the country showing that it is willing to take tough decisions even though it knows that there will be a potential big negative reaction from Iran.

They really feel at this time as well that it's time for Saudi Arabia's allies in the region to stand up and be counted as Saudi Arabia's friends. That's what we've seen in Bahrain, that's what we've seen in the United Arab Emirates, that's what we've seen in Kuwai, that's what we've seen in Sudan, all of them down-grading their diplomatic relations with Iran.

So what we're witnessing here by the continuing rhetoric, ramping up the situation, this cutting of flights, the cutting of economic ties as well, is really symptomatic of how deeply felt this situation is.

Saudi Arabia really feels under pressure not just as they're saying internally from what they call meddling internally from Iran, but also on their borders. They feel Iran is behind the Houthis in Yemen to the border to the south. Iran is getting more powerful in Iraq to the north. Iran's is getting stronger inside Syria where the Saudis are backing rebels to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. All of this and much more factors in, Kristie.

LU STOUT: There was already this deep underlying tension between these two countries. So the Saudis had to know that the execution of this Shiite cleric would provoke and angered Iran. So, why did they decide to go ahead and execute the cleric?

ROBERTSON: You know, I think a year ago when the new king, King Salman came to the throne, his son became the defense minister, we were all asking the question, what is this new leadership in Saudi Arabia going to look like, what's it going to feel like, how is it going to be different to the previous king, King Abdullah?

I think that question is being answered now. This is a leadership that has taken on its enemies in Yemen, an ongoing conflict there. It is backing the rebels whose interest they want to see pursued in Syria to overthrow President Bashar al- Assad. And they have done something over the weekend in the execution of the Sheikh al-Nimr, they've done something that they would know would potentially anger Iran.

And this is a style of leadership that is now in Saudi Arabia, a style of leadership that is willing to be tough and take decisions that perhaps previous kings here wouldn't have taken even though they know there will be a negative reaction.

But times have changed here in this country. People's feelings have changed. And there is, speaking to government officials, a really strong feeling that they are under pressure from Iran.

You know, you can look at this as politics. You can look at this as religion, but you can also look at this as a very big sort of economic, regional power battle, economic battle, if you will, over the future of this region.

Iran and Saudi Arabia, the two biggest countries, two most powerful countries, in this region here.

[08:05:15] LU STOUT: So many factors at play here -- economic, political. Nic Robertson reporting live from Riyadh for us. Thank you, Nic.

Now, after months of rule by ISIS in the Iraqi city of Ramadi, the grip of the terror group is slowly being loosened. It is a difficult operation, though, with civilians trapped in the middle.

Now Nima Elbagir takes us inside the city to show us what they're facing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Iraqi helicopters keep a watchful eye in the sky above. And all around what remains of Ramadi after six months of ISIS rule.

(on camera): Driving through here, you just really get hit by the desolation, the devastation that was visited on this city. What the air strikes and the ground offensives didn't destroy, ISIS rigged to blow.

(voice-over): Ramadi fell in May last year, and since then, the Iraqi counterterrorism services have battled to reclaim it. Every inch an advance through the unknown.

(EXPLOSION)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody OK?

ELBAGIR (on camera): Yes, we're OK.

The only way we can safely walk is in his footsteps. Even though they've cleared this area, even though they've held it for the last few days, there are still areas within this that are booby-trapped.

(voice-over): Ramadi was home to nearly one million people. Today, as troops continue their push, we're told possibly over 1,000 families remain, facing death amidst the rubble.

As the battle for Ramadi has raged, it's been hard to get a sense of the toll on civilians. But in this video, filmed for CNN, you can see soldiers race across a Sniper Alley to escort back a white flag-waving boy and his family. Those who can't walk are carried. All desperate to escape.

This man describes the horror his family faced.

"ISIS tried to take us away," he says. "Young, old, ill, they wanted to take us all."

In this clip, soldiers gather what remains of the dead. Some, like this woman, appear to have been shot, others, blown to pieces by IEDs.

Much of what was filmed is too graphic to show you, like the remains of a little boy carried to burial.

All over Ramadi, remnants of ISIS' rule still stand.

(on camera): This is what would have been an ISIS suicide car bomb. You can see the keys actually still inside the ignition. They climbed in through the top. There's a hole cut out of the roof. Around here, around the back, this is where they pack the explosives here in the bed of the pickup truck. Cars like these are what have been coming towards the Iraqi forces every single day. This is packed full of explosives ready to blow.

(voice-over): The head of Iran's counterterror force told us the liberation of Ramadi should be celebrated around the world, that this is just the first of the victories to come.

Here in Ramadi, night falls. More rescued families escape. This little girl can't stop crying.

(CRYING)

ELBAGIR: For her, for now, all that matters is she's safe.

Nima Elbagir, CNN, Ramadi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:32] LU STOUT: Welcome back.

Now, stock markets are sliding for a second day running despite China's central bank pumping nearly $20 billion into its financial system.

As you can see here, U.S. stock futures are slipping, and in Europe stocks opened higher but major markets are mixed this hour.

Now, here in the Asia Pacific region most of the big markets lost ground again after a pretty volatile session, but they avoided the dramatic losses that we saw on Monday, which triggered that worldwide selloff.

Now, Maggie Lake will have a lot more on this along with the opening bell on Wall Street, that is coming up on World Business Today, which starts in about 45 minutes from now.

Now, the ride-hailing service Lyft is teaming up with General Motors. GM said on MOnday it is investing $500 million into the main competitor to Uber.

Now, the two companies say that they will develop a network of on- demand, self-driving cars. It all comes as GM's plan to get driverless cars out onto the road.

And they are not alone in the mission, other companies like Google, Ford, Tesla and Uber are all said to be exploring their own driverless car technology.

But keep in mind, this is a peculiar position for the car-hailing firm to take. Lyft owns no cars. The basic tenet of its business model is that it depends on users driving other users around. So, to switch to driverless cars would have a major impact on the base of users who the company now depends on entirely.

Now, CNN's Laurie Segall caught up with the co-founder and president of Lyft to ask him about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN ZIMMER, CO-FOUNDER, PRESIDENT, LYFT: I'm really happy that our team and our company is going to be part of that transition, because we will ensure that it's done in the most responsible and respectful way going forward.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY: So, what does that mean?

ZIMMER: So you can imagine, you know, a lot of this depends on the time line which, again, we're not sharing, but there could be opportunities for drivers to be part of that transition and to make earnings from these vehicles that are going to be providing rides in cities across the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LU STOUT: So new opportunities. It doesn't really feel like a complete answer there.

Now, let's bring in CNN contributor and editor of the New Yorker.com, Nick Thompson. He joins us now from CNN New York. Nick, always good to see you.

GM and Lyft, they now have this alliance. Together they're going to be building this self-driving fleet of cars. So, what's going to happen to the Lyft drivers?

NICK THOMPSON, NEW YORKER.COM: So, this is very interesting. I mean, the Lyft -- this is -- it's a move that in certain ways goes against the core of Lyft's business, right, because Lyft is based on all these drivers coming in and driving these cars. And they're moving to a system where there won't be drivers in the cars.

And it also goes against GM's interest, righ. GM makes cars and they're moving towards a world where people don't buy cars anymore, there is just a network that drives us around everywhere.

So both companies are preparing for a future where the business is very different and they're relying on the strengths of others -- of their partner and the infrastructure of their partner.

So, they're sort of merging together to protect against the changes we all know are coming.

LU STOUT: So, GM is also doing this as a protective move, is that what you're saying? Just to spell it out again for audience. You know, GM is in the business of selling cars to people. Lyft and Uber and these ride-share programs, they fundamentally challenge that business model. So is GM m anticipating and embracing something so it can do it first before its rivals can?

THOMPSON: Yes, that's absolutely what's happening.

So, there are two big changes coming to the automobile industry and to the way we get around first cities and then the world.

The first is that we'll be driven by robots, by autonomous vehicles. The second is that the ownership model is going to change. Instead of everybody having a car in their garage, at least in urban areas, people won't actually own cars anymore, they'll just rely on fleets.

Now, when exactly this will happen, we don't know. But GM is preparing for that, because in the future they won't sell you one car or two cars, they'll need to be providing you a car for whenever you do get around, but you won't have a vehicle in your garage.

So, how does GM prepare for that? Well, one of the things they're going to do is partner with Lyft to try to build that infrastructure and to be at the center of that.

And every car company, as you say, thinks these things are happening. And they're all preparing for it. They're all doing stuff. They're all moving as quickly as they can.

LU STOUT: And there are so many different organizations moving as quickly as they can right now. We have GM and Lyft invested and working together. What does that mean for the others out there, the behemoths like Google, Tesla and Uber?

THOMPSON: Well, this is very interesting. We're going to learn later on today -- there's going to be a partnership announced at CES in Las Vegas between Ford and Google. We don't know exactly what it will be, but there will be some kind of a big partnership.

Uber working incredibly hard on this. It's hired tons of computer scientists. Uber is about 15 times the size of Lyft. They're going to be very deeply involved in this.

BMW is working very hard on this. Everybody is pushing.

So, this just means that there is another competitor that's going -- working fiercely on this and has combined.

You know, two competitors have combined in different ways and in interesting ways. So, I imagine that every car company is looking at this deal very carefully and thinking what does this GM-Lyft thing mean for us?

LU STOUT: Yeah, and we'll expect another announcement to come up pretty soon.

And Nick, you know, we have been talking about this, our driverless future for quite some time here, a few years. We've just taken another step forward to what's going to be perhaps inevitable. Leave it at that. Nick Thompson, New Yorker.com. As always, thank you very much and take care.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Kristie.

LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream -- and speaking of cars, check this out, this is being called the car of the future. We'll show you that and more of the year's hottest tech inventions. We've got a live report from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas later on in the hour.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LU STOUT: Coming to you live from Hong Kong, you're back watching News Stream.

Now we are now just over a month away from a special summit in the U.S. when president Barack Obama hosts the leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Now, ahead of that, CNN is taking a closer look at the impact those nations are having on the world stage, including in the field ofaviation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[08:25:23] LU STOUT: It's morning at Manila's International Airport, away from the terminals and passengers, engineers and mechanics are already hard at work.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When is it due?

LU STOUT: We follow Berkhard Andrich (ph) as he makes his morning rounds. He heads up the maintenance, repair and overhaul, or MRO, base. It's a joint venture between Germany's Lufthansa Technic AG and Philippines based Macro Asia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the perfect location for Asia.

LU STOUT: Part of it has to do with geography and lower labor costs. Philippines Airlines is their main client, but they also service carriers from places like Europe and Australia.

but when it comes to expansion, Andrich (ph) says the biggest opportunity comes from across ASEAN.

BERKHARD ANDRICH: All the upcoming countries like Vietnam, like Indonesia, like The Philippines, Asia is the growth market of the future, especially in aviation.

LU STOUT: And the data shows strong growth. According to the International Air Transport Association, a growing middle class means that within two decades the three countries will all rank among the top ten for domestic air passenger traffic. Indonesia is forecast to be the world's sixth largest aviation market.

An hour outside the capital the team at Famous Secret Precision Machining, also sees the potential.

DENNIS CHAN, PRESIDENT, FAMOUS SECRET PRECISION MACHINING: We do interior parts like for galleys, and we also do seats.

LU STOUT: Parts that eventually make their way to Airbus, Boeing and Embraer. Chan says his home-grown business started small, but is now betting big, working to increase its aerospace production from 15 percent of sales to 50 percnet over the next couple years.

CHAN: I think the only way that we can go for a better business in the future is to go for more technology oriented business.

LU STOUT: And to do that, Chan says, Famous Secret is thinking regionally.

CHAN: For example, Singapore, yes, they might be on a high-tech already manufacturing but they lack the people, the skill to do the parts. So if we can just work together, maybe we can all make our business even bigger and larger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: See this one is an Airbus 321, which goes to...

LU STOUT: Back at the maintenance control center, Andrich agrees the best strategy for Southeast Asia, he says, is thinking beyond any one country.

ANDRICH: Do we look for other sites? Always.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LU STOUT: You're watching News Stream. And still to come on the program, the fallout in a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran is spreading. The nations now taking sides in the disagreement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(HEADLINES)

LU STOUT: Now tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia seems to be soaring by the hour. Let's take another look with our senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen in London. And Fred, more countries are taking sides in this deepening dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia. It just seems that the tension just keeps on building.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. The tension keeps on building and the sort of war of words is certainly ramping up as well.

It's only today that Kuwait has joined a number of nations to recall their ambassador from Iran. You also, of course, have Sudan and Bahrain who have completely cut off diplomatic ties with Iran and the United Arab Emirates which has recalled its ambassador.

All those countries, of course, siding with the Saudis who really upped the ante yesterday when they cut off economic ties as well and stopped all the flights between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Now, the Iranians, for their part, are taking an interesting line on all of this. They're remaining very hard in their rhetoric towards the Saudis. The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani came out and accused the Saudis of, quote, covering up what he calls their crime, which is, of course, the execution of that very prominent Shia cleric by cutting off all ties with the Iranians.

Of course, the Saudis say that was all was due to the fact that there was the storming of the Saudi embassy in Tehran that took place on Saturday.

Now, the Iranians, for their part, are now saying, at least officially, that the storming of that embassy was wrong and that they are going to bring those involved in it to justice and they have guaranteed the United Nations that they will provide safety and security for embassies in their country, Kristie.

LU STOUT: Diplomatic ties have been cut, countries across the region are taking sides. What impact could this dispute have on efforts to end the war in Syria as well as the overall battle against ISIS?

PLEITGEN: Yeah, major, major impact -- potentially a major impact. We have to keep in mind that one of the main diplomatic achievements of last year was that for the very first time at the end of the year the Saudis and the Iranians sat together in the same room with a bunch of other nations trying to come up with ways to end the Syria crisis. There was even a position paper that was put out trying to end all this, trying to find some sort of diplomatic way forward that also involved things like cease fire.

All of that now is very much being called into question as the tensions between these two countries escalate. The Saudis were never comfortable with the Iranians there being at the negotiating table and certainly there are some who expect that both sides could up the ante on the battlefield as well. The Saudis, of course, for a long time have been supporting some rebel groups in Syria whereas the Iranians have been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It is going to make all of this a lot more difficult.

And you can really feel from the things the United States is saying, also from things, for instance, that Turkey is saying, they want these nations to sort this out so they can focus on defeating ISIS and trying to end the civil war in Syria.

LU STOUT: Yeah, Turkey, U.S. and the UN all urging for calm right now.

And what also are the ramifications for that nuclear deal that was recently struck between Iran and the U.S.? I mean, what's going to happen to that deal going forward?

PLEITEGN: Well, at this point in time yet it doesn't appear as though the nuclear agreement is in any sort of jeopardy. However, if, in fact, the diplomatic relations between these two countries deteriorate, if this happens, or this turns into more of a regional crisis, if you will, then of course it could have ramifications for the nuclear agreement as well.

At this point in time, it doesn't look as though this is the case. And these are also very important times for the nuclear agreement as well.

In the next couple of days, the next couple of weeks, it is expected that the first sanctions are due to be lifted, that the countries are going to see whether or not Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear agreement for its part. So it's a very, very important, very delicate time. And certainly, if you have been speaking to Iranians, as I have, over the past year, they're really looking forward to what they hope is fast sanctions relief.

So no one in Iran wants to see the nuclear deal in jeopardy.

LU STOUT: Yeah, a very delicate time indeed. Fred Pleitgen reporting for us, many thanks indeed for that, Fred.

Now, the French President Francois Hollande paid tribute to the victims of the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. It has been nearly one year since terrorists stormed the newsroom killing 12 people, including some of France's most famous cartoonists.

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