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CNN NEWSROOM

Massive Blizzard Hitting Northeastern U.S.; Turkey/Netherlands Diplomatic Tensions Worsen; WH Officials Reshaping Trump Wiretapping Accusations; Ryan: CBO Report Confirms Plan Will Lower Premiums; My Freedom Day in Abu Dhabi; My Freedom Day in Hong Kong; Queen Elizabeth to Sign Off on Brexit; Scotland Asking for Independence Vote Ahead of Brexit; Geert Wilders Gains Traction Ahead of Crucial Dutch Election. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 14, 2017 - 02:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:00:14] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles.

(HEADLINES)

VAUSE: Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Good to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

We start with a massive blizzard affecting millions of people and shutting down much of the northeastern U.S. New York, New Jersey and Virginia are all under a state of emergency.

VAUSE: Around 6,000 flights have been cancelled across the U.S. Baltimore is getting hit hard. And in Washington President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are postponing their meeting until Friday because of the storm.

SESAY: Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri will join us in a moment from the Weather Center.

But let's start with our Rachel Crane out there in New York with an update on conditions.

Rachel, what's it like now?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Isha, as you can see, the snow is really starting to come down now. Also, the winds really picking up. The blizzard warning went into effect in New York City about two hours ago. And it will be in place for 24 hours. Now, New York City is expecting to see up to 20 inches of snow. And they're also expecting later today winds that are 40 miles per hour which could cause whiteout conditions. A state of emergency has been declared in New York as well as New Jersey and Virginia. And public schools are closed here in New York City as well as Boston and Philadelphia.

And officials all across the region are urging people that if they can, to stay inside, to stay off the roads.

And, of course, the travel delays that you spoke of are affecting, the storm is affecting the entire country, 6500 flights have been cancelled. And Amtrak has been suspended between New York -- oh, I told you the wind was picking up -- between New York and Boston.

I was not expecting to be wearing this many layers. Spring is just one week away, the start of spring. And we have been experiencing unusually warm weather the past couple weeks in the northeast region, but unfortunately, winter is not gone just yet -- Isha?

SESAY: No, indeed, it isn't. It's hanging over the northeast.

Rachel, stay warm.

VAUSE: That advice to stay indoors, everyone except reporters working.

SESAY: Sorry, Rachel.

CRANE: I know.

VAUSE: Let's go over to Pedram Javaheri for an update on the forecast.

Pedram, you were expecting the nor'easter to be 24 hours. A lot of snow. Is that still on track?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: It looks like it will be moving through a little quicker, John and Isha, and it looks like it will favor the coast a little more. That means a lot more rain out of this mixed in with some snow. That will reduce the snowfall potential for some of the cities but could be among the snowiest March snowstorms on record.

We'll show you what could play out here. The I-95 corridor, the most densely populated corridor of the country. That's where the wintry weather is coming in. Philly seeing some of the snow. And New York snow coming down. That's the beginning of this where we think it will enhance and get heavy at times, through 4:00 to 6:00 a.m. We touched on the record warmth so far this year. In fact, 9,000 record-high temperatures versus about 1300 record-low temperatures in the winter season. A lot of people thought it was done with. We're not going to get much of a winter, but it's changing in the last couple of days of the season.

You notice south of Philadelphia, that's where we think the narrow band is going to be in place where a lot of rain could come in. So the accumulation north of New York City, could be seeing up to 60 centimeters or two feet of snowfall just outside of the city. If that shifts south, that could be an entirely different story as far as the significance of it. But you notice that is an incredible area there where we have millions of people living where you have the potential for a significant snow accumulations near the top of the charts. We'll see exactly how this ban sets up here. Again, the snow just beginning to fall and we think only about 7 to 8

hours of snowfall time in places like New York City before it becomes rain later into the morning hours. That will dictate what comes out of this. It was about 21 Celsius on the fist of March. Now potentially, over a foot of snow in the forecast. This roller-coaster ride continues. Factor it in with the winds up to 50 miles per hour per hour, this could have coastal beach erosion for communities. And we know over 6,000 flights have been cancelled. With this sort of a pattern, it will be dangerous on the roadways and no flying anywhere across the northeastern U.S., at least on Tuesday, guys.

[02:05:57] VAUSE: Yeah. There is cold, and then there's, "oh, my house has just been covered in snow and I can't find my way out" kind of cold.

SESAY: I hope everyone stays in and they've made preparations and stay safe.

Pedram, appreciate it. Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Thanks, Pedram.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

SESAY: Diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the Netherlands are getting worse by the day. Turkey is suspending high-level relations between the countries. Police sealed off the Dutch embassy in Ankara Saturday and are refusing to let the Dutch ambassador back into the capitol.

VAUSE: Protests broke out in the Netherlands when the Dutch government refused entry to high-ranking Turkish officials who traveled there for a rally with expatriates. Turkey's president compared the Dutch government to the Nazis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Dominic Thomas is the chair of the French and Francophone studies at UCLA. He joins us from Amsterdam.

Dominic, how serious is this move by Turkey to suspend high-level diplomatic relations with the Netherlands?

DOMINIC THOMAS, CHAIR, FRENCH & FRANCOPHONE STUDIES, UCLA: It's incredibly serious. Turkey has been a member of NATO since the 1950s. It's been working closely with the European Union since 2016, in particular, over the management of the migrant crisis. And the level of discourse has escalated. You mentioned in the intro recourse to Nazi and Fascism, and so on. And with the election pending, the referendum next month in Turkey and the election this week in the Netherlands, as well as other important elections in Europe, it doesn't seem this is going to go away any time soon. VAUSE: How much is domestic politics -- and you mentioned the

election there in the Netherlands and the referendum in Turkey on presidential authority. How much of this playing into this high level diplomatic spat?

THOMAS: It's an interesting situation. Folks in the Netherlands are stunned by the tremendous international attention that has been brought upon the Netherlands in the last few months. Brexit, the election of Trump, and the key role that Wilders is playing here with his Freedom Party and shaping questions in the election around Islam, border control, the European Union, and so on, and so the question with Turkey has brought visibility to the substantial and Turkish Muslim and ex-pats and bi-national populations living here and has allowed folks like Wilders to question the allegiance to those folks to Dutch values and Dutch society, and as they expressed their interest in voting in the elections.

And it's interesting. Domestic policies have been shaping most of the election, questions of health care, pension reform and so on. But this really plays into it. When we consider the fact that the number of undecided voters is considered to be around 30 percent to 40 percent, the turnout has been on decline in recent years and there's a remarkable number of political parties running in this election, 28 by the last count. It means that the outcome is unpredictable. Since so much of the run-up to it has been organized around this crisis and fear, it leaves the outcome unpredictable.

VAUSE: Earlier on CNN, the Dutch foreign minister said there was no other choice but to turn those high-ranking Turkish officials over the weekend. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BERT KOENDERS, DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER: When you have the health minister that comes, in fact, without sovereign immunity on their own to Rotterdam in a very tense situation on the ground, that is, of course, not a very good situation. So then you to try to find a solution. And we did. But I'm just telling you we take sharp measures. As the Netherlands, this is our country. We decide on our public safety, but also on the rule of law and democracy. It's now up to all of us, I think, to make this a reasonable relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: As to the last part of what the Dutch foreign minister said, will the countries move beyond this and have any kind of reasonable relationship any time soon?

[02:10:03] THOMAS: I think that what's happened, particularly since things have escalated, you've seen a number of other countries step into the fray. The other day, Denmark and Switzerland more recently. And there's something highly problematic about this. The foreign minister was allowed to conduct a rally in France, which has fueled and all sorts of anger from the far right, and campaigning in communities in ex-pat communities is not something that's that uncommon. This one had a particular flavor, because of the question of Turkey. Just last month, Fillon, one of the leading candidates in the French election, traveled to London to speak to a constituency of an estimated 7,000 French people who live there and held campaign rallies. This is not uncommon. This one has gone out of control. They've used the excuse of security, public safety and so on as a way of preventing this and as a way for the current prime minister, Mark Rutte, to seem as if he's being tough on these kinds of external interventions into the country. But, of course, all these are fed directly into the kind of campaign strategies of the far-right populist, Wilders.

VAUSE: Dominic, thank you for being with us. Dominic Thomas there from UCLA, right now in Amsterdam. Appreciate it, Dominic, thank you.

From Seoul to London to Rio, students around the globe are celebrating My Freedom Day. CNN has partnered with more than 100 schools worldwide as they hold events raise awareness oh of modern-day slavery.

SESAY: Driving this national event is the question, what does freedom mean to you. Take a listen to some of the responses.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHILDREN: What does March 14th mean to you?

CHILDREN: My Freedom Day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe that freedom is having the right to be who you are and being comfortable in the environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is about being yourself and not confined to the restrictions.

CHILDREN: Education is the key.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm an Indian living in Jamaica. Freedom means the right to do or say anything no matter your age, gender or race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to us is the right to do whatever you want, no matter what you like.

CHILDREN: Freedom is knowing that you're safe anywhere in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going the to tell you what freedom means to us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is having the liberty to do whatever they feel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For us, freedom is to act on your own will and choose your own career.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To us freedom is the ability of expressing their own ideas without being judged. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means being able to do what you want to

do, and not have anyone stop you as long as it doesn't harm anyone else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means I can love whomever I want.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me freedom is to be empowered to love freely and have the courage to become my own person.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Katrina Suarez. I'm 18 years old. And freedom to me is being able to laugh freely and experience happiness.

CHILDREN: Hash tag "My Freedom Day."

(CHEERING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: Great stuff. We'll have more on My Freedom Day in a few minutes.

Coming up next, the White House is basically pulling back a bit. What senior officials are saying about the president's explosive wiretapping claim.

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[02:16:24] VAUSE: Well, up until this point, White House officials have tried to dodge questions about President Trump's accusations against the former President Obama saying he ordered his phones to be tapped last year.

SESAY: But now they're reshaping the accusations.

Jim Acosta has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ask President Trump if he has any proof Barack Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, an allegation he made a week ago --

(CROSSTALK)

ACOSTA: -- and the room goes quiet. White House officials sound as if they're walk back the president's accusation.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think there are two things that important what he said. I think recognizing that Obama -- he doesn't really think President Obama tapped his phone personally.

ACOSTA: The answers don't get much better from top White House advisers.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you know whether Trump tower was wiretapped? KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR TRUMP ADVISOR: I can say, there are many

ways to surveil each other now. There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their television sets, any number of different ways. And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera.

ACOSTA: On CNN's "New Day," White House counselor, Kellyanne Conway, insisted she wasn't suggesting that she had evidence the president was being spied on through his appliances or otherwise.

CONWAY: I was answering a question about surveillance techniques generally.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN CO-ANCHOR, NEW DAY: He didn't ask about generally.

(CROSSTALK)

CUOMO: That was true in the transcript. You may have answered it generally, but you were asked specifically.

CONWAY: I'm not Inspector Gadget. I don't believe people are using the microwave to spy on the Trump campaign. However, I have -- I'm not in the job of having evidence. That's what investigations are for.

(MUSIC)

ACOSTA: The president took to his favorite gadget to bristle at the continuing questions, tweeting, "It is amazing how rude much of the media is to my hard-working representatives. Be nice. You will do much better."

Even fellow Republicans are demanding answers. On CNN's "State of the Union," Senator John McCain explained the president has two options.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R), ARIZONA: Either retract or to provide the information that the American people deserve, because if his predecessor violated the law, President Obama violated the law, we've got a serious issue here.

ACOSTA: After meeting with FBI Director James Comey, House Speaker Paul Ryan is still waiting to see the proof.

(OC): Have you seen anything to suggest there are wiretaps?

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No.

ACOSTA: Democrats contend the wiretapping allegations are more about what's bugging him.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY, (D), CONNECTICUT: When news gets bad for the Trump administration, they consistently try to say something outrageous.

ACOSTA: Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Talk radio host, Ethan Bearman; and Shawn Steele, California Republican National Committee.

Glad you guys could stop talking long enough to join us.

(LAUGHTER)

We're talking about what Sean Spicer said about don't take the president literally because he put wiretapping in quotes. It was wiretapping. Here's the tweet from the president a couple weekends ago. So because wiretapping is in quotes, don't take it literally.

Shawn, the problem is that Sean Spicer has said when he was asked about this, he said he spoke directly to the president and the tweets speak for themselves. So now they don't speak for themselves. So which one is it?

SHAWN STEELE, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN FOR CALIFORNIA: We're parsing over a concept --

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: They're parsing over it, the White House.

STEELE: Steve Colbert has the answer. I'll tell you what he had to say. When WikiLeaks came out a few days ago, with 8,000 pages of CIA evidence of having --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: -- of having the ability to keep track of everybody in the world and blame it on somebody else. The CIA is very good at this stuff except keeping secrets themselves. The point is we have the most wired government in the history of mankind, and plus the other nation states, that are keeping track of everybody else. And Obama is the one that invented surveillance on a massive scale. George Bush --

[02:20:19] ETHAN BEARMAN, TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: That's not true. Absolutely not true.

(CROSSTALK)

BEARMAN: Who passed the Patriot Act?

STEELE: Unfortunately, Republican and Democrats.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: We're hoping one thing. Maybe Trump has learned something about this national surveillance state we're living in.

(CROSSTALK)

BEARMAN: And he enjoys it as well.

STEELE: I don't know. Apparently, he didn't like being surveilled? BEARMAN: President Obama didn't order a wiretap on Trump when he was

running --

STEELE: Neither did he tell Lois Lerner to use the IRS --

(CROSSTALK)

BEARMAN: Where is your evidence?

STEELE: Here's the evidence. Every administration has a deep state, going back to Jefferson and Adams. There's always holdovers from the prior administration that don't like the new guys. This has been going on for 200 years. This is an American tradition. Andrew Jackson takes over, he had to take out all the John Quincy Adams people.

BEARMAN: Are we going to review the Whisky Rebellion while we're at it?

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: We should.

SESAY: You can take on the deep state, which continues --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: It's a phenomenon. It's nothing mysterious. It's nothing new. When Reagan took over, he had to take care of the Carter people. It takes about six months to find them and fire them.

BEARMAN: That's called --

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: It's called a transition.

VAUSE: And when you have a transition and people are ready to go and to be employed in these positions, which most campaigns do.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: They're not ready to go. The trouble is they have to be ferreted out, found out, exposed and fired.

VAUSE: OK. All this leads to the question of oh when the president says something, can he be trusted? Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you say affirmatively that whenever the president says something, we can trust it to be real?

SPICER: Every time he speaks, he's speaking as president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: OK. So, Ethan, Sean Spicer was saying when he's speaking authority, he's speaking as the president. When he's joking, he gets out of jail for free. It's not a controversy. This seems to be, every time there's a controversy now, oh, he's joking.

BEARMAN: Right. This is what is so dangerous. We've been talking about this dating back to the race where he tweeted out foreign policy, critical foreign policy decisions, whether we are supposed to believe it or not? This is dangerous territory for the world. Again, wars have started over these kinds of small things. Let's go back to World War I and how it began. Shawn wants to talk about history. The point is it's dangerous and unsettling to everybody in the world, let alone to America.

STEELE: It's unsettling to liberals, particularly. What the mainstream media and liberals don't understand is that Americans take Trump seriously but not literally. Mainstream media, including Ethan, takes him literally but not seriously. There's a total disconnect. We're in different worlds. When Trump speaks it's interesting but you don't take it literally. That's the lesson tonight. Keep that in mind.

BEARMAN: So we shouldn't believe what he says?

STEELE: No. You have to understand what he says.

(CROSSTALK)

SESAY: OK, in the absence of providing evidence to support --

STEELE: "The New York Times" is his best evidence.

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: They're not? They're not?

SESAY: We've asked them to provide a list of the publications that support the claims and to date we haven't received it.

STEELE: We need a careful investigation about the people engaged in the surveillance against Trump in his building, and that information should come out, but it's not going to happen overnight.

SESAY: In the absence of that information coming out, would you accept with each day that goes by, his credibility is taking a hit?

STEELE: Not at all. It's going to take a long time to -- look, first of all, do you doubt he wasn't surveilled and his people weren't surveilled? You doubt that there was surveillance taking place?

(CROSSTALK)

BEARMAN: He said it was President Obama that did it.

(CROSSTALK) VAUSE: That I don't know. I don't think so.

STEELE: By the way, there's only within definition of what wiretapping is, and it doesn't mean, well, I don't know, Sean Spicer said we don't know what wiretapping -

(CROSSTALK)

STEELE: -- one thing.

BEARMAN: You're doing the literal scheme again. We know surveillance is the problem.

(CROSSTALK)

VAUSE: Let's get to the repealing of Obamacare. The Congressional Budget Office report is out. Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan likes this report. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Well, of course, the CBO is going to say, if you're not going to force people to buy something they don't want to buy, they won't buy it, but at the same time they're saying our reforms will kick in and lower premiums and make health care more accessible. This, compared to the status quo, is far better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Ethan, the House speaker likes it, but the 24 million Americans who could lose their health insurance over the next 10 years may not like it.

BEARMAN: Yeah, they're not going to like it. I would clarify that 24 million might include a few who choose not to buy insurance. Insurance works as a risk pool. So if the young healthy people choose not to participate, it will be much higher premiums for older people and people who aren't well. This will be terrible for people with illnesses and older people, and also for people in lower income brackets. All way around bad news.

By the way, for those who want to attack the CBO, Keith Hall was selected by the Republicans, including Secretary Price himself.

[02:25:23] SESAY: We have to call time. Gentlemen, thank you.

VAUSE: OK, now for something completely different.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god, I don't know where to go.

(SCREAMING)

(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Yes. A moose. Running down the slopes at a ski resort in Colorado over the weekend.

SESAY: The snowboarder thought she was being chased by the animal. She was able to get out of the moose's way as he continued his trek down the mountain.

VAUSE: The moose is loose. And off he goes.

SESAY: Off he goes.

VAUSE: OK, a short break. When we come back, students around the globe are taking part in My Freedom Day. We'll be live in Abu Dhabi in a moment where one school is standing up against modern-day slavery in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

We'll check the headlines this hour.

(HEADLINES)

[02:30:36] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: My Freedom Day is here. Students around the globe are taking part in this special day, including in Bangalore. CNN has partnered with people in more than 100 schools worldwide as they celebrate freedom and take a stand against modern- day slavery.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: We've received more than 19,000 submissions on Twitter with people telling us what freedom means to them.

Here's what students in Cambodia said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom is being able to choose without fear.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is the power to express yourself, both physically and emotionally.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom means you have the right to make your own decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom means to go anywhere you want without any fear.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SESAY: We are following events around the world. Students marked My Freedom Day.

Becky Anderson joins us now from Abu Dhabi where students at the American Community School are performing a theater piece right now.

Over to you, Becky.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Here ACS in Abu Dhabi, 10, 11 and 12-year-olds performing a play written themselves, which is based on a true-life story of a woman trafficked into the UAE. It has a happy ending. But so many lives of women and children around the world, their lives are blighted by this modern-day slavery.

As we continue with the play here, I also want to go introduce you to Nor, a student here at the ACS School who's written a wonderful piece based on some of the most vulnerable in life. Refugees.

Talk to me about the work you've been doing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So my performance was really inspired by the crisis that's been happening over the past two years. I'm Syrian, so I really wanted to take the voices of these children that are being silenced and being displaced. I wanted to put them on the front line. I wanted to show people that kids are more than just a 15-minute news story or a picture online. They have voices, and they have nothing to do with the crisis that's happening. They're thrown into it. I wanted to put them on the front lines.

ANDERSON: My Freedom Day is about handing over the mantle to students like you to discuss the issues of human trafficking, vulnerability around the world, and then for you guys to talk to your peers and to get the message out. What sort of impact has this project had on you? And what's your message to our viewers out there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This project in terms of impact, it's been -- it's been buzzing for around a week at this school, and it's -- wherever you go, you're hearing about it. People are talking. The it's provoking conversation which I think is a vital and important part of spreading awareness. And I really think that it's increased the awareness in terms of the student population.

ANDERSON: A message to anybody of your age out there about getting involved, raising awareness, about modern-day slavery? Your message would be what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My message would be don't be afraid. Get out there and speak, act, perform, tweet it is. Get out there. There's nothing to be afraid of.

ANDERSON: Students here are remarkable. The work that they've been doing, Isha and John, in raising awareness among their peers has been phenomenal. I spoke earlier on, year six, the choir from year six wrote their own song about freedom. We played that out with them for our viewers earlier on today.

I think it's absolutely clear that the students here understand that they have a responsibility to a certain extent. If these guys are talking, in talking to your peers, it can help get the message out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yeah.

ANDERSON: Right.

Guys, I want you all to get involved in this. As these guys continue, can we just do a hash tag My Freedom Day for our viewers?

Three, two, one. Hash tag My Freedom Day.

(SHOUTING)

ANDERSON: Back to the play.

[02:35:22] SESAY: Thank you, Becky. Interrupting the play there, but just such an amazing conversation, and some young people doing some incredible things.

We appreciate it, Becky. Thanks.

VAUSE: They're also celebrating it in China. These students at the Western Academy of Beijing posted a video on Facebook saying they've been working to raise awareness about human trafficking as well. And there is that video.

CNN is covering these events with our correspondents around the world.

Let's go live now to Hong Kong. Kristie Lu Stout joins us from the Hong Kong International School -- Kristie?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm here at Hong Kong International School to mark My Freedom Day, a global student-led day of action to combat modern-day slavery. Students have been making signs, paper chains with anti-slavery messages and works of art with anti-slavery themes. They've been sharing stories about their service trips around the world. Some of the students visiting populations vulnerable to human trafficking.

Let's talk more about the problem of human trafficking and the role students can play with the modern-day abolitionists.

We have the Matthew Friedman, the CEO of the Mekong Club, joining us.

Thank you for joining me.

You run an amazing workshop to get students in the shoes of modern-day slaves.

MATTHEW FRIEDMAN, CEO, THE MEKONG CLUB: We bring the students into the gym. They're not told anything. They're given a nut and bolt, and I say I own a company. I'm going to have you for the next five hours, take the nut, put it on the bolt, on and off for five hours. Don't look at me or talk. You do any of those things, you'll get detention. The students do it. We get aggressive saying you're not going it fast enough. As a result, they get confused. The they think it's going to last five hours. It's going to be horrible. After about 30 minutes, we say sit down. They kind of experience that loss of control in a way that helps them to feel like this is what forced labor must be like. We ask them the question what if you had to do this for 14 hours a day seven days a week and that was your life? They get the point.

STOUT: It's good to help you get empathy and awareness. But how critical a role do these young people play to do your work at generation from now?

FRIEDMAN: The world is helping about 78,000 of people in slavery. That's 0.2 percent. We're not winning the game. We need everyone to step up. Why do we use students? They have the energy and the insight and the imagination. And they have the time. The other thing is students aren't afraid to try new things. Adults, sometimes we say maybe it's not going to work. They don't have that spirit. They're aggressive at going after things. Tremendous creativity.

STOUT: You mentioned this statistic that's so daunting. And it's so scary. 46 million people living in slave-like conditions today. Two- thirds of them, according to the global slavery index, here in Asia. The challenge is so immense. How do you keep the optimism up so the next generation can fight the fight?

FRIEDMAN: Start the star fish analogy. You have a father and son walking down the beach. And it's about a 10-mile beach. The father is picking up the star fish and throwing them in, the son looks at the father and says why are you doing that? You can't possibly save all those star fish. Father looks at the son and says, well, for every star fish that makes it into the water, we have achieved a wonderful thing. You have to do this one kind of person at a time. If we look at the 45.8 million we get overwhelmed. We look at just helping one person at a time, it makes a difference.

STOUT: One person at a time, every life counts.

Thank you very much for that, Matthew Friedman.

FRIEDMAN: Thank you.

STOUT: It is incredible because young people and children are often the victims of modern-day slavery but I've seen they're some of the biggest activists fighting this despicable multi-million-dollar criminal enterprise.

I'm going to leave you with a song that the middle school choir here has prepared with an anti-slavery theme. Just listen in.

Take it away.

(SINGING)

[02:40:31] SESAY: Kristie, thank you.

The middle school choir at the Hong Kong International School on this My Freedom Day.

We'll have much more on air and online for you. It's all at CNN.com/myfreedomday.

(SINGING)

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VAUSE: In the coming hours, Britain's Queen Elizabeth is expected to give the royal assent to Theresa May's Brexit bill.

SESAY: The British parliament passed the bill Monday after the House of Lords backed down on two amendments rejected in the House of Commons. That's clearing the way for the prime minister to push the button on formal talks to leave the European Union.

SESAY: But Scotland's first minister is balking because Nicola Sturgeon say her country risks being forced out of the E.U. against its will. She plans to ask the Scottish parliament for a second referendum on independence.

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NICOLA STURGEON, SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER: It is important that Scotland is able to exercise the right to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now but before it is too late to decide our own path.

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[02:45:08] SESAY: Just a reminder that in the 2014 referendum for independence, the yes vote got walloped, 55 to 45 percent for Scotland to stay a part of the United Kingdom. At the time, many feared they could also lose E.U. membership if they voted for independence.

VAUSE: Two years later, look at how Scotland voted in the Brexit referendum. An overwhelming 62 percent voted to remain and 38 percent voted to leave the E.U.

SESAY: Our London correspondent, Max Foster, joins us now from the British capital.

Max, if we can start with the Brexit bill. Now that it's passed, why are we looking at the end of the month to trigger Article 50? One might expect it to happen immediately.

MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT: There's a couple of big E.U. events coming up. One is the Netherlands election. The feeling is why take the limelight away from the E.U. events. Also, Theresa May is a person who doesn't just suddenly sign the paperwork today. She has until tend of the month so she's more likely to do that and weigh up public reaction to that. We're looking at the 27th of the month, probably when she will sign that bill of paper which starts the two- year process. Two years after that, exact date Britain will be out of the European Union. It depends what deal she manages to get.

SESAY: Indeed. Well, let's talk about Scotland. The minister wants no part of it. She's calling for a second referendum on independence. Theresa May insisting people don't want another vote. Is Scotland ready for the divisiveness?

FOSTER: We got lots of polling. It's neck and neck. It shows more Scots are more pro independents. They're wrong on Brexit and most things these days. The it's difficult to tell. What it does do is for a massive span into the works. It makes it more complicated. To give you a sense of the reaction, these are the sort of things you're seeing in the papers. You have the daily mail saying hands off our Brexit. Showing she can derail the process. May's Brexit plan upstaged. A political career has been about independence in Scotland, and she's picking her moment. She can't afford to lose this. Her career will be over. She's picking her moment. Sturgeon ambushes may. That's on the front page. A lot of questions about how Scotland plans to go forward with the process. You have countries like Spain that doesn't want to encourage independence movements. They'll block any Scottish independence if they can, and all the E.U. countries have to agree to Scotland becoming independence, and also the economics. The last independence campaign when I was up there was about we can afford to run Scotland as we want because oil prices are high. They're now low. And they will also lose all that money coming from London as well that subsidizes the Scottish economy.

SESAY: They could get independence but what comes next?

Max Foster joining us from London. Appreciate it. Thank you.

VAUSE: As Max mentioned, voters in the Netherlands are getting ready for a crucial vote. When we come back, we'll hear from a man that some call the Dutch Trump about his plans for the country

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[02:51:12] SESAY: Hello, everyone. Voters in the Netherlands goes to the polls on Wednesday and the election could determine much more than who leads the country.

VAUSE: It also pits the country's reputation for tolerance against a growing wave of nationalism in Europe.

CNN's Atika Shubert reports.

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ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Netherlands. Quaint canals and windmills an easy-going country famed for liberal thinking.

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SHUBERT: And this is also the Netherlands, home to one of the biggest Muslim populations in Europe.

Islamization, or the fear of a growing Muslim minority, is the buzzword of the upcoming election.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) GEERT WILDERS, DUTCH FREEDOM PARTY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at the Islamization of our country. Once again, not all can, but the residents in Holland who makes the streets unsafe.

SHUBERT: Anti-Islam politician, Geert Wilders, is campaigning to ban the Koran, halt migration, and return to what he calls Dutch values.

Voters are asking themselves, what does it mean to be Dutch?

The port city of Rotterdam is in a unique position to answer that question. Muslims make up nearly 20 percent of the population this.

(on camera): Is this an election on identity and Dutch values basically?

AHMED ABOUTALEB, ROTTERDAM MAYOR: Yeah. The answer is yes. The elections will be the most central theme, is the identity of the Netherlands. It will not be about the economy or jobs.

SHUBERT (voice-over): Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, is a walking, talking example of the multicultural identity of the Netherlands. Born in Morocco, raised in the Netherlands, Aboutaleb identifies himself as Muslim and Dutch both.

And he presents me with a true Netherlands tradition, raw herrings and onions.

He bolstered his reputation as a Dutch truth teller at the attack on "Charlie Hebdo" in Paris.

ABOUTALEB: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

When you come to the Netherlands and are an immigrate, it's your free choice. It's up to you to be part of that society. There is a kind of a mixed feeling among citizens thinking maybe that the fact that a lot of immigrants and a lot of immigrants are still coming, refugee crisis from the Middle East, and are concerned about their own future. And these people are always, on the other hand, maybe also the losers when it m comes to the economy.

ROANLD SORENSON, FOUNDER, LIBERAL ROTTERDAM PARTY & FORMER TEACHER: I saw that there was no immigration whatsoever.

SHUBERT: Ronald Sorenson spent 30 years teaching minority kids in inner city schools. But what he saw spurred him to start the conservative Liberal Rotterdam Party. It launched the career of another anti-Islam politician, and laid the groundwork for Geert Wilders.

(on camera): Do you think Islam is incompatible with Dutch values or is there a ground between?

SORENSON: I don't think there is something -- (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SHUBERT (voice-over): The imam at Rotterdam mosque see no such contradiction.

UNIDENTIFIED IMAM, ROTTERDAM MOSQUE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SHUBERT: For this imam, talk of Islamization is stoking fears. He says anyone is welcome to attend prayers. And he, of course, teaches friendship and tolerance. Which is why it was shocking to receive these Neo-Nazi threatening letters just weeks before.

[02:55:21] UNIDENTIFIED IMAN: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SHUBERT: The mayor, however, is not worried at all.

ABOUTALEB: The best cleaning machine we know in our system is democracy. We have nothing with extremes to the left or the right. It's always the power in the center that created such a great nation, and I really believe and Muslims believe also in the people of the middle.

SHUBERT: The Dutch pride themselves on compromise, centuries of coming together to fight water, their common enemy. How much of that moderation survives this extreme election remains to be seen?

Atika Shubert, CNN, Rotterdam.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SESAY: Big questions to be answered.

VAUSE: The election on Wednesday. We'll be covering it.

SESAY: Indeed.

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

VAUSE: I'm John Vause.

The news continues with Rosemary Church and Max Foster.

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[03:00:11] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.