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Thousands Rally to Demand End of Mugabe's Rule; U.S. Warns It Will Shutdown Palestinian Office in Washington; Roy Moore Defiant Amid Misconduct Allegations; Arab League Meeting to Discuss Iran; Afghan Opium Production Increased in 2017 According to U.N.; 18 Cases Linked to Ex-cop Thrown Out; Puerto Rico Faces Food Shortages; Aired 5-6a ET

Aired November 19, 2017 - 05:00   ET

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


[05:00:14] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Time may be running out for Zimbabwe's president, Robert Mugabe, as his own party meets on whether to boot him from office.

A CNN exclusive investigation into modern-day slavery prompts protests on the streets of Paris against the auction of migrants in Libya.

And in the United States, Alabama's largest newspaper says don't vote for Republican Roy Moore as the candidate faces allegations of sexual assault that he denies.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

5:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast, the future of Zimbabwe could be decided at any moment now. That country's long-ruling president Robert Mugabe reportedly faces a no confidence vote from his own party.

This comes after Wednesday's apparent military coup. Mr. Mugabe has been under house arrest and so far he's resisted calls to step down. He's been in power for nearly 40 years. Many people, though, have had enough.

This was the scene in the nation's capital of Harare on Saturday, look at that. Thousands of people demonstrating, rallying in the streets and demanding that the president resign.

Let's get the very latest live from CNN's Farai Sevenzo following the story in Harare.

Farai, first of all, we know these negotiations are still ongoing between members of Mr. Mugabe's own party and the military. Do you understand or have any indication of where things stand at this point?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I can tell you, George, is that CNN team is currently at the ZANU-PF headquarters looking out for the ZANU-PF Central Committee who are indeed having a meeting today. What they will discuss, when that meeting will end or what will come out of it nobody knows. But, of course, all the headlines are about the future of President Robert Mugabe and of course his party's complete distance from him at this point in time.

And yesterday, George, November 18th, was an incredible day in Harare. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEVENZO (voice-over): This is not supposed to happen here. This is supposed to be Robert Mugabe's capital Harare. But Zimbabweans woke up to a new reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a celebration.

SEVENZO: They finally had a chance to tell the president what they really think. And we, as journalists, were freely allowed to record it, which was never allowed in Mugabe's Zimbabwe.

"Mugabe Out." "Gucci Grace Stop It." And "Thou Art Fallen." And, remember, in the past, these are thoughts a Zimbabwean would never have dared to say, let alone put on paper.

(On camera): What you see now is a great deal of jubilation. They all say that November 18th is independence day. Everywhere, they're coming from all over the place. It is unbelievable.

(Voice-over): Insulting the president's name would normally land you in jail. These guys don't care. It feels like the nation, as it once was, has finally emerged from the darkness, the young, the old, the black, the white, all Zimbabweans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We all came out together, we decided to have a chance, we need to use our voices.

SEVENZO (on camera): Are you usually this political?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to. How can we not be? This is Zimbabwe. It is our chance. We must speak. 27 years of silence. No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need all their liberties back. Their freedom, everything, which has been stolen by one person, one family, one dynasty, and they are saying enough is enough.

SEVENZO: What this feels like is that a massive 37-year buildup of pressure has suddenly been released and erupted like a volcano. The joyous scene here. People being able to express themselves for the first time in a very, very long time.

(Voice-over): Barbara says she's finally giving her father a voice. She tells us he was beaten up in 2008 by Mugabe's loyalists. Zimbabwe's hope this is a new beginning for them. And they also quietly pray that today's savior, the army, does not become tomorrow's Mugabe.

The president once said only the people could end his rule. The people now wonder if the old man heard their message.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [05:05:02] SEVENZO: And there you have it, George. It was one of those incredible days for us watching, for Zimbabweans, for the world. It became a massive story because simply it had not happened on the streets of Harare in such a long time, that the country comes together in a solidarity -- march, I beg your pardon, of this magnitude.

HOWELL: Farai, here is the question, though. So if Mr. Mugabe were to resign or be pushed out of office, who is his likely successor?

SEVENZO: George, that is a good point. Now remember why it is that Zimbabwean army went out onto the streets and confined Mr. Mugabe to his residence. It was because he had fired the vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was popular with all the security forces because he was basically their de facto commander after Mugabe himself. He was the man in charge of the Joint Operation Command.

Now where we are at the moment is a very sort of tricky and volatile position because constitutionally Robert Mugabe is still the president of Zimbabwe, despite the army being in control. What needs to happen now is for parliament to either get rid of him through an impeachment or for him to resign and then Mr. Mnangagwa and the generals will probably tell us the way forward.

At the moment, it's a very difficult call to take. But those characters does drama tonight will very much be at the top of what happens next.

HOWELL: You know, one thing to point out, though, and the question, how important is it for there to be a dramatic shift from Mr. Mugabe's inner circle, the person likely to replace him, nicknamed the crocodile? So the question, what will this mean for people if, in fact, that does happen?

SEVENZO: Well, at the moment, it's not going to happen that easily. What has been encouraging in the events of the last two days is the fact that the opposition, the movement for democratic change and other people like Joice Majuru and indeed ZANU-PF parliamentarians themselves have all been singing from the same hymn sheet, that they are all singing from the same page that, look, they think it is time the 93-year-old leader left.

So what will happen is going to be some kind of consensus, some kind of transitional kind of agreement between all the political parties and all the stake holders to see what comes next. Do we have an election in 2018 or do we not? These are all pertinent questions which cannot be answered until Mr. Mugabe's fate is decided and signed off.

HOWELL: And also invite our viewers and readers on CNN.com to check out the commentary that you wrote there, explaining some of your personal takeaways here, from a nation that -- where you were born. A lot of change happening very quickly.

Farai Sevenzo live for us, thank you for the reporting.

Let's get some context now on what's happening in this political crisis from South Africa with Redi Tlhabi. She is a talk show host and broadcast journalist joining us from Johannesburg.

It's good to have you here on the show to talk about what's happening. The nature of these negotiations, Mr. Mugabe, he could simply resign or he could remain defiant, he could try to remain in power. All of this would fall back on a process then to remove him.

Redi, help our viewers understand what that process would look like.

REDI TLHABI, JOHANNESBURG BROADCAST JOURNALIST: Well, George, thank you very much. I think what Zimbabweans and the negotiation and senior leaders ZANU-PF and Mugabe's government are trying to avoid a combative, confrontational exit for Robert Mugabe.

I think culturally they still got respect and deference for authority. You could make things simply easy by just stepping down. But knowing Mugabe, he's very stubborn, he is a very, very proud man, he's obviously holding out. And the question now is, what will that exit plan entail?

The easiest thing, of course, would be for him to step down. But this is what has happened. The army has appealed on him to step down, he hasn't listened. Comrades from the region, different countries, including South Africa, have appealed on him to step down. He hasn't done that. And now the only card left to play is for his own party, ZANU-PF, and we understand right now the ZANU-PF branches throughout Zimbabwe are turning their back, they're shifting loyalties. Once that happens, he will not have any support. And that has started to happen.

HOWELL: The question as to whether Emmerson Mnangagwa would be the person to replace Mr. Mugabe. The man nicknamed the crocodile in that nation. So how important is it? I ask Farai Sevenzo the same question. How important is it for there to be a very clear shift in leadership style, a shift away from Mr. Mugabe's inner circle for the people who we see rallying in the streets, demanding a change in leadership?

TLHABI: George, that's a very important question. I've been saying to everybody that Emmerson Mnangagwa was in the nucleus of Mugabe's inner circle. So every repression, every act of repression, of silencing of dissent has happened with his complicity.

[05:10:07] So he cannot be divorced from Mugabe's legacy. They have been comrades and colleagues for over four decades. So there is nothing that happened in Zimbabwe in terms of the violence, the silencing of objective media reporting. There's nothing that has happened in Zimbabwe without Emmerson Mnangagwa's hand.

But, you know, George, somebody has to be the president. And at this point, he is the most senior. The only way I think he can reclaim a positive legacy as it were is to invite the opposition leaders, who have been in the wilderness in the last couple of years.

So what I'm saying is, his legacy and his track record are questionable. They're not perfect. Personally from my work, my interviews with him, I don't think that he's a democrat. But I think he's reading the writing on the wall. 21st century democracy cannot afford to close out dissenting voices.

So I think the only way that he can earn respect from Zimbabweans is to collaborate and to invite opposition leaders to be part of the interim government and the future of Zimbabwe.

HOWELL: Redi Tlhabi, we appreciate your time and your perspective on this. Certainly a lot of things happening in Zimbabwe and we'll stay in touch with you to continue bringing context to the events there. Thank you.

On the streets of Paris now, protesters turned out in force Saturday shouting no to slavery. The demonstrations came after CNN's exclusive reporting on African migrants being sold into slavery in Libya. The protesters are demanding the Libyan government investigate which it says it will do. Riot police used tear gas to stop the marchers as they approached the Champs-Elysees.

Sparking the protest was a CNN investigation that uncovered recent slave auctions at multiple locations in Libya.

CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team pursued that story as part of CNN's "Freedom Project." Here's an excerpt from it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Seven hundred? Eight hundred. The numbers roll in. These men are sold for 1200 Libyan pounds, $400.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And Saturday's massive demonstration in Paris, it was a direct response to those shocking and inhumane images that you saw. Protesters could barely contain their anger about it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It feels like we're going backwards to four centuries ago. We have to mobilize. We can't let this kind of thing happen. Do we really need to see such shocking pictures before taking a stand? I don't think so. Now there needs to be a real struggle, a real fight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There is no difference between human beings, black people, white people, Arabs. Everybody is the same. It is the same blood in our veins. So why are we putting Africans in cages in Libya?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): How can it be that in the 21st century we're selling human beings like merchandise? I cannot get my head around that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Her question is the question of many people, how can it be?

The leader of the African Union condemned this barbaric practice. Alpha Conde released the following statement.

"On behalf of the African Union, I express my outrage at the despicable trade of migrants currently taking place in Libya and strongly condemn this practice of another age."

Here in the United States, the Trump administration is threatening to close the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the PLO's office, in Washington. It says that it will happen if the Palestinians don't enter serious peace talks with Israel.

And the U.S. State Department says Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas violated a U.S. law. Palestinian officials say they will cut off contact with the Trump administration if the office you see there is shut down.

Let's bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann following it all live from Jerusalem this hour.

Oren, this sudden move by the State Department comes from a rarely invoked law. Help our viewers understand this law and what comes next.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And because it is rarely invoked is what makes this so surprising. This is a fairly new law, goes back to 2015, that says that if the Palestinians make a move against Israel at the International Criminal Court, the ICC, then Washington will shut the PLO's office in Washington.

There is a way out here. And that is if President Trump decides that he wants to waive this, he wants to not close the office, because the Palestinians are in serious and direct negotiation with the Israelis. President Trump has 90 days to essentially say that, yes, these negotiations are happening, or he follows through on the State Department action and shutters the PLO office in Washington.

We know that the Trump administration is working on some sort of peace process for what Trump has called the ultimate deal. This may be a way, it's possible, of trying to put pressure on the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table or, George, it may be that the State Department and the White House are simply not on the same page here.

[05:15:06] HOWELL: Oren Liebermann following the story live in Jerusalem. We'll stay in touch with you. Thanks, Oren.

Still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, new concerns for the U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, who is fighting sexual misconduct charges that he denies. Now the latest newspaper in the Republican's home state, the largest newspaper, is endorsing his opponent.

Plus, if President Trump decides to launch a nuclear strike, the question, can anyone stop him from doing it? Can anyone stop it? What a top general in charge of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is saying about that as CNN NEWSROOM pushes on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

In U.S. politics there are new concerns for the Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. The editorial board of "The Birmingham News," Alabama's largest newspaper, it's now endorsing Moore's opponent. Democrat Doug Jones, in that race.

Moore is facing numerous allegations of sexual misconduct from decades ago. Allegations that he denies. The paper says, quote, "This election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders." It also says, "A vote for Roy Moore sends the worst kind of message to Alabamians struggling with abuse."

And now some religious leaders in Alabama say that he is unfit for office, but Roy Moore, he's not backing down as CNN's Nick Valencia reports for us.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been a difficult week and a half for Roy Moore and his campaign. In the face of these sexual assault allegations, however, the Republican Senate candidate has remained defiant as have his most ardent supporters.

It was just yesterday that his wife Kayla Moore was joined by about 30 or 40 women who say that they personally know Roy Moore, that the allegations leveled against him don't speak to the character of the man they know.

Well, just days before that the faith leaders here in Alabama gathered to testify to the character of Moore saying that his character is being assassinated and that he's being framed by the GOP establishment. They went so far as to allege the "Washington Post" paid the women to come forward.

The "Washington Post" denies those allegations as do the women, saying that they waited nearly 40 years to tell their stories because they felt at the time of these alleged incidents no one would have believed them.

It was today that faith leaders convened in Birmingham to echo the sentiments of his accusers, saying that Roy Moore is dangerous to the state of Alabama for his policies and his principles.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[05:20:08] REV. WILLIAM BARBER, PRESIDENT, REPAIRERS OF THE BREACH: It is unlikely that any of Roy Moore's accusers can definitely prove that he sexually assaulted them 30 years ago. A point the defiant former judge knows well. But even, and this is critical, particularly for the media to hear, and where we have to stand as Christian ministers. Even before these allegations made national headlines, it was clear that Moore's policy agenda endangered the children of Alabama.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VALENCIA: Moore's biggest supporter has been his wife Kayla. As she spoke at the press conference yesterday, she said she and her husband are in a political fight, a battle she says that will not end with her husband withdrawing from the race.

This special election is set to take place on December 12th.

Nick Valencia, CNN, Gadsden, Alabama.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Nick Valencia with the reporting.

Now let's bring in our "New York Times" chief diplomatic correspondent, joining us as a guest today, Steven Erlanger. Steven in Brussels this hour.

It's always a pleasure to have you on the show. Let's talk about the ongoing questions in the U.S. state of Alabama, the questions about the Senate Republican candidate, Judge Roy Moore. He said that the claims against him are false. He's gone as far as to blame "The Washington Post" and the national media for attacking his character.

But now we're seeing the hometown paper, "The Birmingham News" and its AL.com Web site endorsing his opponent Doug Jones. What impact could this have on people trying to make a decision here, especially given that this is the local paper?

STEVEN ERLANGER, CHIEF DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think it's quite important. Roy Moore has been a figure in Alabama for quite a long time. And he's been a divisive figure. Don't forget he was on the court twice and stood down twice from the court because of controversial, very right-wing views.

It will be up to the voters of Alabama. We have a long way to go, I'm afraid, until December 12th. I mean, it's -- we're not even at Thanksgiving yet. So we're going to be chewing this over for quite a long time. But it does seems to me that this is in the new climate of women talking openly about things that had happened to them in the past. This is another crucial moment in what feels to be a change in our society.

HOWELL: Steven, I want to talk about another story that's making headlines here in the United States. The nation's top nuclear commanders is laying out what would happen if President Trump orders him to launch a nuclear strike.

Listen here, to what he had to say, we could talk about it on the other side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GENERAL JOHN HYTEN, COMMANDER, U.S. STRATEGIC COMMAND: I provide advice to the president. He'll tell me what to do. And if it's -- and if it's illegal, guess what going to happen?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say no.

HYTEN: I'm going to say, Mr. President, that's illegal, and guess what he's going to he do? He's going to say what would be legal, and we'll come up with options of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is. And that's the way it works. It's not that complicated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So, Steven, during the campaign there were many people who questioned the president's ability to make a decision on this, his -- you know, his judgment. How does this come into play, hearing how that process might work out?

ERLANGER: Well, the general says it's very simple. I'm not so sure it's so simple, frankly. I mean, what is legal in this aspect? I mean, how would he decide what is legal and what isn't? If he decides something is disproportionate, then he could make an argument. But the president does have authority to use nuclear weapons. So it would be a constitutional question, which is, of course, a legal question, but one you couldn't resolve very quickly.

So I think it is confusing. It has always troubled me, frankly, that presidents have the sole authority to launch nuclear weapons. Now they don't have the sole key, other people have to agree, and it was a case in the former Soviet Union where a launch commander simply decided that an alert was fake and refused to send all nuclear weapons. So these things could happen. But legally it seems to me not so clear.

HOWELL: All right, Steven, the last thing I want to talk about, the president of the United States lashing out at his former opponent on Twitter, Hillary Clinton. He said this, quote, "Crooked Hillary Clinton is the worst and biggest loser of all time. She just can't stop, which is so good for the Republican Party," he says. "Hillary, get on with your life and give it another try in three years."

Clinton, of course, responding here. She says she's not going to start mincing words now. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON, 2016 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I'm going to keep speaking out. Apparently, you know, my former opponent is obsessed with my speaking out.

[05:25:03] Apparently there was another, somebody told me, tweet today. Honestly, between tweeting and golfing, how does he get anything done? I don't understand it. So maybe that's -- maybe that's the whole point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Hillary Clinton certainly much more public now and in the days and weeks, months after that election. But President Trump went out of his way here, here to take the first swipe at Hillary Clinton. The question, why is this president in your estimation so fixated on Hillary Clinton?

ERLANGER: Sure. He is fixated on Hillary Clinton. I would say he's more fixated on Barack Obama. But what he does is create temperature up for his base to be upset and excited. You know. He led the chants of lock her up during the campaign.

Hillary Clinton is a lot like CNN and "The New York Times." He is using them -- us as actors in a play he's created in his own head, but mostly for political purposes to keep his base angry and behind him. The more he has enemies like Roy Moore in the mainstream media, in his opponents, in the Democrats, the more nasty in a way he can be toward Mrs. Clinton.

The more he holds on to the anger that got him elected. And so I'm not sure he is personally so obsessed with her. But he uses her and the anger against her and the division that she has created sometimes in the country and that he's helped to create as a political tool for his own benefit.

HOWELL: Steven Erlanger, we appreciate your time and context today. Thank you.

ERLANGER: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: The decision by President Trump took members of his own party and administration by surprise. Late Friday, Mr. Trump tweeted that he'd postpone a decision on allowing hunters to import elephant parts from two African countries.

The tweet shocked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That is the agency that recommended the ban on hunting trophies be overturned. They say the recommendations came after more than a year of review.

Still ahead here, help is on the way for a missing submarine. Up next, a new ray of hope for the families of the crew members.

Plus, 22 Arab nations are gathering to discuss a neighbor, why Saudi Arabia requested this emergency meeting.

CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta, Georgia, this hour, simulcast on CNN USA here in the States and CNN International worldwide. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:31:14] HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It's good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe's own party is meeting to discuss a no confidence vote on his leadership. This according to a senior source. The reported gathering comes a day after thousands of people took to the streets demanding Mr. Mugabe resign. He was put under house arrest in an apparent military coup on Wednesday.

Protesters shouting no to slavery. They marched through the streets of Paris on Saturday. The demonstrations came on the heels of CNN's exclusive reporting showing African migrants sold as slaves in Libya. The Libyan government says it will investigate and it will try to rescue the victims.

Gerry Adams says that he will step down next year as the president of Sinn Fein. Adams has led the Irish Republican Party since 1983. During his tenure he hoped to broker a ceasefire in the 30-year-long conflict known as the Troubles.

The crew of a missing Argentine Navy submarine may have recently tried to reach out. The submarine has been missing since Wednesday with 44 crew members on board. It disappeared off Argentina's southern Atlantic coast, midway to its destination. Officials are now trying to locate the seven satellite signals they detected on Saturday. Various countries are helping with the search. The United States sending a rescue mission capable of searching under water.

Lebanon's prime minister Saad Hariri has spoken publicly for the first time since leaving Saudi Arabia. Mr. Hariri, who announced his resignation two weeks ago in Saudi Arabia, says that he will return to Lebanon this week and will explain his actions once he's there. He's in Paris right now where he met with the French President Emmanuel Macron.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAAD HARIRI, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I will return to Beirut in the next few days to participate in the Independence Day celebrations. It is there that I will make my position known and all the subjects after my interview where the president of our republic, the General Michelle Aoun.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Now whether Mr. Hariri -- when he unexpectedly announced his resignation, I should say, he said that he feared for his life. The Lebanese government said it cannot accept his resignation until he returns home.

In just a few hours time, the Arab League will hold an emergency meeting to take place in Cairo, Egypt. It's at the request of Saudi Arabia, which wants to discuss Iran's interference in regional affairs. Leading up to this meeting, Israel's Defense minister called on Arab leaders to join Israel in a coalition against Iran.

Let's talk about this with CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, reporting live from Amman, Jordan this hour.

Jomana, again, the meeting called at the request of Saudi Arabia. Is anything major expected to come of it?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, if you look, George, at the reasons or the time when this meeting was called for, it was called for at a time where we saw these serious developments taking place in the region. First, you had the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri from the Saudi capital Riyadh. And we saw this increased rhetoric against the group Hezbollah, the Lebanese faction that is backed by Iran. It also is the same time as we saw the Saudi capital of Riyadh

targeted by a missile fired by Houthi rebels from Yemen. Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for that missile attack.

What do we expect to come out of this meeting? Well, not much, really, if you look at the history of Arab League meetings. Not much action comes out of it. Maybe perhaps we could see a strongly worded statement against Iran.

[05:35:01] But again that could prove to be contentious because Arab nations are divided when it comes to that issue, while you have some who really back Saudi Arabia in its position and in this proxy confrontation between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Not many want to see an escalation as we have heard from different countries. If you look, for example -- you know, we're a few hours away from this meeting and we still don't know who will be attending and who will be.

There are some reports that the Foreign minister of Lebanon might not be attending, perhaps to try and avoid enflaming the crisis in his country. Also, Iraq, we spoke to the Foreign Ministry a short time ago. The Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari will not be attending. They will be sending a deputy. They say because of their schedule the Foreign minister doesn't allow him to attend.

They say that Iraq's position, keeping in mind of course that Iraq's Shia dominated -- Shia led government has very close ties to Iran. They say they don't want to see this escalate, that they want the crisis to be resolved through dialogue and they want to contain it.

And that is the feeling amongst many in this region, George. They are concerned about this -- the tensions between the two countries escalating and some would tell you they're worried that Saudi Arabia is pushing the region towards an open confrontation in Iran. Some say that there really isn't much of an appetite for that right now.

HOWELL: All right. Jomana Karadsheh, following this story live for us in Amman, Jordan. Thank you for the reporting today.

Despite years of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, the Taliban remains a potent force there. And opium is still one of the terror group's primary sources of cash. Helmand Province is the epicenter of opium production. The U.N. estimates the output doubled in 2016 and grew another 87 percent this year alone.

In a report filmed in July, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh explains how Afghan farmers have dramatically boosted their yields.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Heroin, setting Afghanistan aflame. Its opium fields targeted for eradication. Just as it tears up America's streets in the new opioid crisis. Both the misery and the money here.

(On camera): It's really beautiful at this time of night but below us are some of the richest, most fertile land for opium growth in all of Afghanistan. The river valleys that run through Helmand. This is the money pit really of the Taliban insurgency.

(Voice-over): Even the sparkle from solar panels bought by farmers rich from the annual opium harvest. But now a new twist to this ancient Afghan curse risks sending already record opium production out of control.

And it's just this. New opium seeds, yet different in one special way. They can be harvested three times a year, not just once. It's already changing the way these opium farmers in Helmand's Kajaki District go about life.

"Those seeds," he says, "called Chinese, are ready in 70 nights, a short time. Some are good in hot weather, some in cold weather. We cultivate three times a year," he says. "First season, middle and last."

"If you grow something like corn," another says, "we don't make a profit because we don't have proper water or electricity to maintain them. Smugglers go to every bazaar. We can even set it in front of our houses."

Afghan officials are testing the new seeds with U.S. and British scientific help to see where they're from and how they can be stopped.

JAVID AHMAD QAEM, DEPUTY MINISTER, AFGHAN MINISTRY OF COUNTER NARCOTICS: We also believe this year, we might have a bit higher amount of production. And one of the reasons would be because of this seed. The farmers you hear they'll tell you it's a Chinese seed but we don't know yet.

WALSH: Only about 1 percent of America's heroin is Afghan. Most of it hitting Europe. But that could change.

QAEM: It's an improvement in production. I mean, they would be finding themselves market and then it's not that far away that they could reach out to U.S. as well.

WALSH: Serene fields that hide a potential time bomb, the heroin spread in the West.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Helmand, Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Nick Paton Walsh, thank you for the reporting.

A group of men in the city of Chicago lost 10 years of their lives all for crimes they did not commit. Coming up, they'll talk about putting their lives back together.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:42:55] HOWELL: The city of Chicago, Illinois, hundreds of criminal cases there are under review after a police officer was convicted of corruption. Men who spent years behind bars for crimes they did not commit are now speaking out to my colleague Ryan Young who reports from the CNN Chicago bureau.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It may be a first in Chicago, 15 men exonerated of their crimes on the same day. Their felony drug convictions tossed four years after a corrupt officer's investigations were first called into question.

MARK ROTERT, COOK COUNTY CONVICTION INTEGRITY UNIT: These cases we concluded that unfortunately the police were not being truthful. And we couldn't have confidence in the integrity of their reports and their testimony. And so in good conscience, we could not see these convictions stand.

YOUNG: Leonard Gibson says Officer Ronald Watts framed him and took years away from his life.

LEONARD GIBSON, WRONGLY CONVICTED: I went to jail and did two years, 24 months for Watts. I came back home he put another case on me.

YOUNG: In 2013, Watts, then a Chicago police sergeant, was sentenced to 22 months in prison after pleading guilty to theft of government funds. An FBI-led investigation showed Watts and another officer stole money from a federal drug informant.

The conviction has led to review of hundreds of cases. Gibson like many other men whose cases were exonerated says Watts planted evidence on him.

GIBSON: If you're not going to pay Watts, you're going to jail.

YOUNG: CNN was unable to reach Watts for comment.

JOSHUA TEPLER, EXONERATION PROJECTION: It is the prime example of the phrases that we hear, the thin blue line, the code of silence, never -- I have been doing this work for close to 15 years. There is no case, no situation that I have ever seen that comes close to exemplifying the code of silence than this one.

YOUNG: Ben and Clarissa Baker spent 10 years apart as Ben sat in prison.

BEN BAKER, WRONGLY CONVICTED: It's torture like because you're thinking in your head every day like how did this happen?

YOUNG: Both faced drug charges connected to the rogue officer. At the time, no one would hear their cries of innocence.

[05:45:05] (On camera): No one would listen.

CLARISSA BAKER, BEN BAKER'S WIFE: No.

YOUNG: What would they tell you?

C. BAKER: There's nothing we can do. You need to call your alderman. Did that. Wrote the alderman. Talked to the FBI. YOUNG (voice-over): Help arrived in 2015 when lawyers with the

Exoneration Project took over Ben's case and helped overturn his conviction.

B. BAKER: Now I finally really feel vindicated.

YOUNG: The Chicago Police Department tells CNN seven more officers have been placed on administrative duty while the department's internal affairs unit looks into other cases connected to Sergeant Ronald Watts' team.

Ryan Young, CNN, Chicago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: All right, Ryan, thank you so much for that reporting.

It has been two months now since two hurricanes hit the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico. And Puerto Ricans are still facing food shortages there. Details on that situation ahead.

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HOWELL: In just a few hours time, thousands of people will protest in Washington, D.C., marching and demanding more help for Puerto Rico.

[05:50:05] They want the U.S. Congress to help alleviate the island's economic crisis. About half of Puerto Rico still has no electricity. This two months after Hurricane Maria hit. Puerto Ricans are now facing food shortages there.

Our Rafael Romo has more from San Juan.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first sight, it looks like a well stocked supermarket, doing brisk business. And then you notice people only buy enough food for a day or two.

(On camera): So how has the way in which you buy at the supermarket changed since the hurricane?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, basically you have to buy less ingredients, less quantity because if the power goes out, then you don't want to lose 75 percent of what you purchased.

ROMO (voice-over): It's been two months since Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. About half the island remains without power. Those with no refrigeration have had to adapt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stuff like milk and meat and eggs, they buy less quantity and more of stuff that's canned.

ROMO: Supermarkets have also been forced to adapt. Just take a look at this frozen goods section in this San Juan supermarket. Shelves are empty most of the time. (On camera): So the problem is that people are not buying these

things?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are not buying these things.

ROMO: How does this compare to what you had before?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm only selling 2 percent.

ROMO (voice-over): But there's also a distribution problem. A shortage of canned goods means this store has to ration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Used to have 10 brands. We only virtually have four brands of corned beef.

ROMO: Ten brands of corned beef before and only two now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four now.

ROMO (voice-over): They used to carry 20 different kinds of soft drinks. Now they have three. For Anna Josefina Perez, the hurricane revealed something that is hard to admit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Living in a country that actually goes through hurricanes not as often as we could, obviously, it is very sad to see that we're not prepared. I mean, whether it's the government or people in general.

ROMO: A hard lesson she hopes the island has learned as Puerto Rico slowly tries to recover from its worst natural disaster in decades.

Rafael Romo, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Rafael, thank you.

The same storm system that brought flooding rains near the capital of Greece is bringing more havoc to that area.

Let's bring in our meteorologist Derek Van Dam to talk about this situation -- Derek.

(WEATHER REPORT)

[05:55:09] HOWELL: That does seem pretty cool.

Derek, thanks. All right.

Monday marks Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's platinum anniversary. 70 years of marriage. Congratulations to them, of course. And to honor the royal couple, Buckingham Palace has released a new portrait, the Queen and Duke are posed at her favorite home, Windsor Castle, and in a sentimental touch, the British monarch wears a gold, ruby and diamond brooch given to her by her husband. Wow. Some news to tell you about regarding the former teen heartthrob David

Cassidy. He's been hospitalized and is in critical condition this hour. Cassidy, who is 67 years old, catapulted to fame in the early 1970s in that hit TV show "The Partridge Family." Cassidy's publicist says doctors are treating him for organ failure. He struggled with alcohol for many years and recently disclosed that he has dementia.

Meanwhile, fans of rock music around the world are mourning the loss of AC/DC guitarist Malcolm Young. He and his younger brother Angus put the band together back in 1975. They quickly became one of the biggest acts in rock 'n' roll history. The band announced on Saturday that Malcolm Young passed away after several years of declining health. Malcolm Young was 64 years old.

That's your news from around the world this hour. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, "TALK ASIA" is ahead.

We thank you for watching CNN, the world's news leader.

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