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Hurricane Florence Weakens To Cat 2 Storm but Storm Surge Expected To Hit 'Catastrophic Levels'; European Parliament Votes To Punish Hungary; Apple Unveils Pricey New Phones And Smart Watch; Breaking Out The Bubbly In Zero Gravity; War in Syria; U.K.'s Messy Divorce. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired September 13, 2018 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A slow moving hurricane packing damaging winds is threatening several states in the American Southeast. While (INAUDIBLE) a super typhoon has already flattened homes (INAUDIBLE) landfall again.
Plus we'll look at what's behind the European parliament's decision to rebuke Hungary.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
CHURCH: For tens of millions of people in different parts of the world, this is the uneasy calm before two massive storms. Supertyphoon Mangkhut is roaring to Southeast Asia gathering strength as it nears the Philippines. It's headed for Hong Kong and Macao later.
And Hurricane Florence is barreling toward the southeastern coast of the United States. More than 1 million people have been ordered to evacuate. Local authorities have stressed the danger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you have the ability to move inward to the state of Georgia and Florida, we would recommend you that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The time to prepare is almost over. This morning's forecast shows the storm is only hours away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not going to be a glancing blow. This is going to be, you know, a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.
And what can our citizens do today which is the last good day to evacuate?
We really want to push that message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Also in the hurricane's path are six nuclear power plants. Federal officials are confident they're safe. But some experts aren't so sure. And we have George Howell and Derek Van Dam standing by in North Carolina on Hurricane Florence. Ivan Watson is in Hong Kong tracking the typhoon.
And meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is covering all of this from the World Weather Center.
Let's begin with George Howell, in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Good to see you, George. In a few hours from now, those that chose to stay and ride out the storm will feel the effects of Florence.
How prepared is everyone for its arrival?
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Rosemary, good to be with you. As prepared as people can be. We spoke to several, one man who decided to ride the storm out in his home. You'll see his story in a few minutes here.
Look, this is a major storm that is headed here towards Wilmington, North Carolina that, the eye of the hurricane. Some 400 kilometers away from where we are at this point. So where you see me standing here today, rest assured I'm dry now. But it'll be a different story here in the next 36 hours.
Here's another look at this story from outer space. Look at the storm. It is massive. This hurricane. The good news it has been downgraded several hours ago, downgraded to a category 2 storm at this point. That's good news for people here.
But there's more to it than the category. Don't get caught up in that. Florence will bring a great deal of rain and strong winds capable of causing great damage. There's storm surge that people have to watch out for, especially along the coastline.
And the nature of the storm, Rosemary, it is moving at a snail's pace that will lead to severe flooding throughout the southeastern part of the United States. The rain may stick around for several days to come, causing a great deal of flooding.
Let's get the latest of the particulars on this from Pedram Javaheri in the International Weather Center.
HOWELL: Also keeping in mind we will be on the dirty side of the storm, the northeastern quadrant, which is capable of tornadic activity. We'll continue to stay in touch with you as we monitor the storm coming in. Look, there are the metrics of the story, the storm that Pedram just
There's another, more personal story as well that plays out in situations like this. People have to make the decision, do I stay or go?
Either way, people say it is never an easy choice.
HOWELL: So you're literally going to lock yourself in there?
JOHN BENNETTE, RESIDENT, WILMINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA: Yes, once we get the storm starts, once the storm starts, then I'll put a couple of screws like this inside to hold the door shut.
HOWELL: John Bennette he hopes that experience will count this time around. He and his wife have been through hurricanes before in this house so he knows what to look out for.
BENNETTE: That's some problem when there's flood and the door blows open and we're ruined, we can't stop it. Once it comes in you're done, you might just go away to get a boat and paddle you way out.
HOWELL: You worried about this one, John?
BENNETTE: Yes, I'm worried about the storm. I'm worried about the flood.
HOWELL: And that's the common concern here, from those who decided to stay to the thousands who have already left, no one knows exactly the impact Florence will have on this community and what will be left behind and how bad will it be? Everyone seems to agree, though, this storm is a beast.
JEFF BYARD, ASSOCIATE ADMINISTRATOR, FEMA: This is going to be you know a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.
HOWELL: Despite blue skies across the Carolinas, officials are preparing for the weather to take a dramatic turn come Thursday. More than 25 million people are inside the forecast cone from the National Hurricane Center extending from the states of Virginia to Alabama.
On the roads, law enforcement is keeping traffic moving for those who decided to leave. Fuel is also limited with many gas stations at the region running low. The officials warn the window is narrowing.
GOV. ROY COOPER (D) NORTH CAROLINA: The time to prepare is almost over. Disaster is at the doorstep and is coming in. This storm threatens life.
BENNETTE: Can't afford to leave or can't to stay. You know, it is one of those things. It's like, we got to stay. This is our home. You know, we can't leave. One thing about leaving, you can't come back for a couple of weeks sometimes because there won't be no power. HOWELL (voice-over): It's a complicated call, John admits. Many of his friends he says are staying. But he knows very well the risks.
HOWELL: You worry about what it is going to be like in there when the lights are out, you're locked inside and you're hearing. I mean, you know what it's like. There's howling, screaming winds--
BENNETTE: Yes. When trees fall on your house you can't go out and look to see what's happening. When the tree limbs fall and you don't know if it went through it or if you're laying in bed and, you know, a tree, one of big trees could come through like submerge into your bed.
You don't know, you know, what's going to happen but you just got to give to the man upstairs and deal with it.
HOWELL: Throughout the Carolina coastline and throughout the Southeast, people are making that choice, do I stay or do I go?
Look, the window, the time to leave certainly narrowing, especially along the coastline and the one thing that seems certain here is there's a large stretch of coastline that will feel the raw impacts, the effects.
Following the storm from Carolina Beach, North Carolina, my colleague and meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, about 20 minutes to the southeast of where we are now.
Derek, what are people telling you in advance of the storm?
DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Authorities are asking and begging the residents in Carolina Beach not to become complacent and get this false sense of assurance just because --
VAN DAM: -- the storm has been downgraded. This is still a formidable storm and still poses a major threat to the area. The residents, they call this home about 6,000 people, a majority have left. But they're no strangers to hurricanes. They have been through Fran and Matthew and Diana and the benchmark storm, Hugo, back in '89, struck northwest of Charleston. Knocked a blow here through the southern sections of North Carolina.
This area is under an 8:00 pm mandatory curfew. That started late on Wednesday evening and we had some local officials move us away from the beach because that was an area they didn't want any media or anybody to be meandering or investigating.
This island that I'm located on right now is actually separated from the mainland by a bridge. That bridge has been closed and the time to evacuate has also closed for this area. The island that I'm on right now is about 14 kilometers long, about 6
kilometers wide. There's many natural and -- many natural and manmade lakes dotted around here. Authorities have actually been lowering the water levels in anticipation of the rainfall we're anticipating.
The threats going forward: we know storm surge is a major concern. They're anticipating to 3-4 meters of inundation above before what would be dry land along the coastal areas of North Carolina and specifically into the Carolina coast and the Carolina Beach area that I'm located at now.
Also the rainfall. We could be eclipsing previous record-setting events. We had tropical storms that have dumped upwards of 600 millimeters in the past. That was the record. But we have potential to bring more rainfall to the area.
It is going to be a one-two punch here with the long duration event, George. That's the key here. The storm is going to impact this area for several days. Back to you.
HOWELL: That's the question.
How long does it do this slow walk along the coastline and then move into the southeast part of the U.S.?
We'll wait and see obviously. Derek, thank you so much.
Back now to my colleague, Rosemary. We'll be here for the next several days following the storm, bringing our viewers the impact as it comes in and certainly brings rain and water with it.
CHURCH: Absolutely. More so, the slower it is, right, George. And we'll come back in a moment, so stand by. Thank you for that.
While the U.S. braces for Florence, an even stronger supertyphoon in the Pacific is take aim at the Northern Philippines. Supertyphoon Mangkhut is expected to hit Luzon in the coming hours before moving on to Hong Kong and Southern China.
Mangkhut has already torn through Guam, where it caused widespread damage, flooding and power outages and now Ivan Watson is monitoring the storm from his vantage point in Hong Kong. He joins us live.
This supertyphoon is massive, equivalent to a category 5 hurricane and threatened as many as 43 million people in its path.
How prepared in the Northern Philippines and Hong Kong and Southern China for a storm like this?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with Guam , the U.S. island hit Sunday and Monday. The latest update from there is they're still trying to restore power to that American island. About 84 percent of the electricity restored and 300 people still in shelters after their homes were destroyed or damaged.
The storm is heading to the Philippines, namely the northern island of Luzon. We're hearing from different disaster and emergency management agencies in the Philippines that they're on high alert and they're getting ready. It is expected to make landfall sometime on Friday.
We're probably a good 24 hours out from when that could happen. The Philippines Red Cross says they're most concerned about 10 million people in the area, particularly people that have already been forced from their homes by monsoon rains in July and August.
So the Philippines are accustomed to being battered by extreme weather. They've been hit by at least 15 typhoons this year alone since January. That said, they have suffered from some of these storms. Of course, Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, that storm surge killed more than 6,000 people in Tacloban. So people will watch that closely and hope there is much less --
WATSON: -- damage this time around. Now Hong Kong is taking this seriously of course. Officials here have been holding interdepartmental meetings to prepare for this. The weather right now is calm. I've been describing this as not the calm before the storm but, Rosemary, the calm in between the storms.
This morning there was still a low level typhoon advisory in effect in this city from the much weaker typhoon that just blew through here in the last 24 hours. That's Typhoon Barijat. So you had warnings going out on the public beaches. I saw last night, you had 3- and 4-meter waves, quite big in some of the areas but no damage as a result.
Macau suffered from a typhoon. It is in the typhoon's path. Last year, 10 people were killed in that typhoon. People in this part of the world, they take these storms quite seriously. And you better believe they're getting ready.
CHURCH: For good reason, too. Ivan Watson, thank you, joining us there live from Hong Kong. We'll check back in with you as well. Many thanks.
CHURCH: Still to come here on NEWSROOM, tens of thousands of Syrians are fleeing for their lives. We follow one family's journey as they leave their home. And rumors swirl about British prime minister Theresa May's future as the realities of Brexit sinks in. We're back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Warnings from the international community are growing with each
passing day. The Syrian army still appears ready to launch an all-out offensive on Idlib province. The last remaining rebel stronghold is home to millions and the U.N. has called on all sides to avoid a bloodbath.
We have two special reports for you, one covering soldiers on the front lines and the other, families fleeing for their lives. We begin with Fred Pleitgen.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Driving to one of the final frontlines in Syria's seven-year civil war. In the distance Idlib province, the last territory held by the rebels.
This artillery position is pretty much as close as we can get to the front line. Now the rebel held territory of Idlib province is about two kilometers in that direction, that fighters say.
They say of course there's been increased air strikes by the Syrian air force and the Russians. But they also say that the rebels have increasingly been firing back.
The Syrian military has cornered the remaining rebels, many hard line Islamist fighters in Idlib, while the U.S. and U.N. are concerned about a reported three million civilians also trapped inside, a commander tells me government forces want to defeat the opposition fighters.
"All of us have been letting blood for seven years," he says, "so that Syria can stand with its head held high and fight terrorism. And we're fighting it here to keep it away from Europe and America."
The U.N. has warned Idlib could become one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history. But this village about five miles outside Idlib is suffering as well. A recent rocket attack killing 10 here, folks tell us, including Lin and Salina Salud (ph) while they were running errands.
Their uncle grieving, the only one capable of speaking on camera.
"These kids were so young," he says. "They were flowers, they were angels. These children what crime did they commit to be killed by these rockets?"
Across the plain, Idlib province lies in the crosshairs of the Syrian army as the international community attempts to find a way to postpone or prevent a final assault -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Syria.
CHURCH: Now in this exclusive report, we want to show you the civilians who are desperately trying to escape from those front lines. Ben Wedeman has their story.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yet another Syrian family is on the move. Like millions of others over the last seven years who fled their homes as their towns and villages became battle fronts.
This family is fleeing for the first time from rural Idlib. They lived in an area that had been spared the fighting until now.
"It was the first time we saw bombing," says 15-year-old Leila. "We've seen it on television and on phones and now it is right before our eyes."
Syrian government and Russian aircraft have intensified air strikes in preparation for the much anticipated offensive to regain control of Idlib province, the last stronghold held by an armed opposition now dominated by Islamic extremists.
Leila's family has come to a camp, one of many near the Turkish border. The tent is ready. It's hot. They're tired. Others arrive.
More than 30,000 people have had to leave their homes in Idlib in the past week. Half the population here comes from other parts of Syria now under government control.
Leila's father, Abu Muhammed (ph) pitches in with setting up their tent. When it is done he goes to get Leila. She's been unable to walk since childhood. Their tent is bare. They left home in a hurry leaving behind most of their possessions.
"We escaped with only our lives," says Abu Muhammed, who worked as a stove repairman. "The U.N. gave us this tent, but nothing with it."
It's the new home Leila, handicapped and heartbroken, is finding difficult to --
WEDEMAN (voice-over): -- come to terms with.
"I didn't want to come," she says, "I didn't want to." -- Ben Wedeman, CNN.
CHURCH: British prime minister Theresa May said she's not going anywhere. Her Downing Street spokesperson says she will fight any attempt to ouster May's handling of the U.K.' planned exit from the European Union has sparked rumors about a leadership challenge.
Conservative politicians have denied their plotting to push her out. Many in May's own party are calling for her to abandon her plans for the U.K.'s future relationship with the E.U. The cabinet meets to address preparations on what's being called a no deal Brexit deal Thursday. Britain has agreed to pay the E.U. between 35-39 billion euros over
the coming decades. But as the prime minister told Parliament, without a deal, that government position changes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: It is very clear that we need to have a link between the future relationship and the withdrawal agreement. But we're a country that honors our obligations. We believe l the rule of law and therefore we believe in abiding by our legal obligations.
However, my honorable friend is right, that the specific offer was made in the spirit of our desire to reach a deal with the European Union. And on the basis, as the E.U. themselves have said that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. Without a deal, the position changes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, as it stands now, Brexit poses all kinds of challenges for commerce. Complex difficulties remain, including confusion, delays and tariffs. CNN's Anna Stewart reports.
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They glide into Britain's Felixstowe port, carrying cargo from all corners of the globe. Four million containers each year, filled with foodstuff and furniture and cars and consumer electronics. Three-quarters coming from beyond Europe.
What is this?
Where does it come from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is wooden flooring and it comes from China.
STEWART: George Baker (ph) is the customs broker. Matching groups like this up to the animal feed additive through the port.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a big responsibility to keep the ports and the airports moving along.
STEWART: Non E.U. imports, exports raising transits until levies paid and paperwork completed. The U.K. government says firms with business in Europe should prepare for.
Any events of a hard Brexit, all goods coming and going from the E.U. will have to clear customs. The container port like this one, the country's largest, that could mean severe delays and congestion come Brexit day.
The E.U. is the U.K.'s biggest trading partner. A hard break and British ports will have to clear about 200 million extra shipments a year. Four times on what they do today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would anticipate a 500 percent increase in the volume of work that we have to handle. If we have to suffer our Brexit and I say suffer, because it would be a difficulty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the commission invoice.
STEWART: An invoice from China, it leaves of just how one souvenir could stall the supply chain.
Dollar toilet roll, glasses, what do you do with it next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So far the coast, we go into the custom tariff here. This is -- this is -- this will tell me how much duty. This code is 95059.
STEWART: A 2.7 percent tax on a light up drink glass. That has to be paid before it leave here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
STEWART: Business like Nigel (inaudible) is the impact could be devastating. (Inaudible) is across the E.U.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A speaker is going to be a 25 pound charge and it makes it really difficult.
STEWART: a costly plans to pass it to the consumer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there lies the issue. We got competition in Europe, we got hard against a large German company and they got the rest of Europe to export it.
STEWART: He said he'll have to hire more staff and maybe open a Europe office to head off the red tape and taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would really affect our margins and make us less competitive.
STEWART: The waves of a no deal Brexit rippling far beyond the country's ports -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.
CHURCH: We'll take a short break and when we come back, time is running out. Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the eastern U.S. We'll have the latest from North Carolina that. Stay with us.
[02:31:34] HOWELL: Welcome back. I'm George Howell live in Wilmington, North Carolina following this major hurricane out there. The eye of the storm creeping at a snail's pace this night closer and closer to us hour by hour and it has been downgraded. That's the good news, downgraded to a Category Two storm but don't take too much comfort, too much solace in just that number alone. The National Hurricane Center says Florence remains life threatening
storm bringing with it massive storm surge several days of heavy rains and tropical storm forced winds all expected in a matter of hours to come. There is a significant threat from this storm to the southeastern part of the United States. More than a million people were ordered to evacuate. The Mayor of Wilmington spoke with my colleague Anderson Cooper about it. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR BILL SAFFO, WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA: I've seen power outages where we were without power for 10 days. And we may be talking about an event as I said, Anderson, that we could be here for 36 to 48 hours where you're basically locked down in your house while these winds and this hurricane comes through. I've never seen or experienced anything like this and I would venture to say that most meteorologists have never seen an event where a storm sits over us for 36 to 48 hours.
That's what this -- that's what's so nasty and bad about this particular storm. Most of the storms move in, they get through the area pretty quickly and this one is going to linger for quite some time and could cause a lot of havoc not only in North Carolina but also in South Carolina.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Bill Saffo there speaking with my colleague Anderson Cooper earlier. Let's now bring in Logan Poole. Logan is a field meteorologist with Weather Nation following the story now. And, Logan, look, you know, people talk about the category downgraded from three to two. That is good news. But I think the mayor just made the point. Maybe the numbers the people should be concerned with, 36 to 48 hours. I mean this big storm sitting on top of this region, 36 to 48 hours dumping a lot of rain, your thoughts.
LOGAN POOLE, FIELD METEOROLOGIST, WEATHER NATION: You know, we talked numbers a lot, category. But, you know, if you want to talk numbers, let's talk numbers. You're talking about rainfall that may have to be measured in feet. You're talking about several feet of storm surge still expected. You're talking about wind (INAUDIBLE) that expand for tropical storm force winds that expand across where say for example Florence were to come into North Carolina at the central portion of the coastal state, you would have tropical storm force winds extending across the entire coastline.
So if you want to talk numbers, we can talk numbers. But you really shouldn't focus on that category right now because Florence is absolutely massive. The wind field is massive and it's still coming.
HOWELL: And Logan, let's talk about the path because, again, we know that the coastline will feel the direct impact. But as it moves inland and as it sits there as it stalls out moving as our meteorologist described at a snail's pace. Let's talk about the danger there. I mean you see the Metro Atlanta area, Greenville- Spartanburg area, these major, you know, populated centers will see a lot of rainfall. POOLE: Well, absolutely. There's a number of conflicting things and
compiling issues that could cause that to be absolutely catastrophic. When you have a storm that sits that close to the coast, it may not weaken as rapidly as if it were to move inland even.
[02:35:02] That circulation will still be over the water. It's going to be -- still be pumped in by that warm Gulf Stream water providing a lot of energy to that storm still while it's over land. So it'll continue to weaken after it moves but it's going to continue to bring in that moisture from the Atlantic Ocean as that happen, you're talking about rainfall that's going to continue to pile up for several days out there in portions of, you know, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, (INAUDIBLE) and further inland with none.
HOWELL: Logan, play it forward for us here in Wilmington, North Carolina, the eye of the storm, some 400 kilometers away from where we are now moving very slowly but moving for sure here in the night. Play it forward for us the next several hours. How will conditions deteriorate?
POOLE: Surprisingly quickly. We talked a lot about when the center of the storm will come on shore. We try to predict as meteorologists and we try to relay that information and when we might have a landfall and then you look at -- we talked about those numbers a little bit ago. It just how widespread the wind is and just how strong the wind is well removed from the center. You're going to have tropical storm force winds, strong winds, enough wind to knock down trees and down power lines coming into the coastal sections of the North Carolina well before that center actually moves ashore.
So timing wise, conditions are going to deteriorate very quickly on Thursday into early Friday morning and it may stick around for a very long time and it's going to be a headache and perhaps, you know, a better term might be a nightmare for people here in the Wilmington area and points nearby over the next 24 to 36 hours.
HOWELL: All right. Logan Poole, thank you again so much for your time and perspective on the storm. We'll keep in touch with you. Again, the next step, a 24 to 36 hours are going to change. The saying, you know, the weather is good right now. Nice and dry. The weather is good until it's not good. The situation will change quickly and of course we'll continue to follow it live here on CNN. Now, back to my colleague Rosemary Church following the rest of news for the day.
CHURCH: Very well put, George. We'll come back to you next hour and get an update on what is happening there. But as you say, we'll look at some other world news now. And in the past few hours, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended what is billed as Russia's largest war games since the fall of the Soviet Union. At 300,000 Russian troops a thousand aircraft are taking part. Also joining in, thousands of troops from China and Mongolia.
According to a statement, Putin watched intently as forces from Russia and China practiced ways to counter an enemy offensive. Putin says Russia is peace loving but his country will continue to strengthen its armed forces for protection. Meantime, a well-known Russian activist is in intensive care in a Moscow hospital. Pyotr Verzilov is with the protest group, Pussy Riot. According to its Twitter account, his life is in danger and that account says he was poisoned.
CNN has not verified that claim. A member of the group says he is in the hospital's toxicology unit. Verzilov was one of the protesters who stormed the field during the 2018 World Cup. He was arrested and jailed for 15 days. And the group is known for its criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Well, the leader of Myanmar has faced a lot of criticism over the past year. Both for allowing a deadly military campaign that has driven a million Rohingya Muslims from their homes and for allowing two journalists to be sent to prison who had been reporting on the Rohingya crisis. Now, Aung San Suu Kyi has addressed those criticisms publicly. Here's CNN's Alexandra Field with that report.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de facto leader insisting that in her country, journalists are not being jailed for being journalist and that there has not been an attack on freedom of expression. That was the response when asked about a controversial ruling, a ruling that's been slammed by international voices. Just under two weeks ago, a judge in Myanmar sentenced two Reuters' journalists to seven years in prison saying they have violated the country's State Secrets Act.
Aung San Suu Kyi was asked the question about the case here at the World Economic Forum in Hanoi. She was asked by a moderator for a panel and here's what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUNG SAN SUU KYI, STATE COUNSELLOR OF MYANMAR: The case has been held in open court and all the hearings have been opened to everybody who wished to go and attend them. And if anybody feels that there has been a miscarriage of justice, I would like them to point it out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and other international figures, and U.N. officials have all called for the release of the journalists along with human rights groups.
[02:40:02] Reuters says that their journalists were framed while investigating the killings of 10 Rohingyan Muslims and the military's rule in those killing. Aung San Suu Kyi was also asked about the mass exodus of Rohingyan Muslims from Myanmar into Bangladesh after violence erupted in Myanmar just more than a year ago. Aung San Suu Kyi was asked whether she thought the military had handled the situation well. Here's what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUNG SAN SUU KYI: They are of course reason which we was hindsight might think that the situation could have been handled better, but we believe that from the sake of long-term stability and security, we have to fair to all sides. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: Aung San Suu Kyi answering that question just a few weeks after a U.N. mission released its report saying that Myanmar's top military officials should be investigated and prosecuted for genocide as part of their report on violence against the Rohingyan Muslims. That report went on to say that the state counsellor herself has limited scope to control military actions. But the report did say that Aung San Suu Kyi as the country's de factor leader failed to use her moral authority to stem or stop violence against the Rohingya. In Hanoi, Alexandra Field, CNN.
CHURCH: We'll take another short break. Still to come, the European Parliament taking a rare step singling out one of its own members for undermining democracy in Europe. We will have a guest on that topping. Back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. The European Parliament has taken the highly unusual step of punishing one of its members for violating the E.U.'s core democratic values. The disciplinary action is aimed at Hungary's prime minister. A spokesman for the Hungarian government dismisses the vote calling it a witch hunt. We get more now from CNN's Erin McLaughlin.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This is seen as the last resort. For years, E.U. leaders' key officials have tried to engage in an informal dialogue with the Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, to try and bring him back into the fold, bring him back in line with European values, principles as well as the rule of law. Wednesday's vote in parliament is in many ways an acknowledgement that informal process has failed.
Now, a formal process is underway that could potentially lead to the sanctioning of Hungary stripping of its voting rights by the European Council. The decision taken today to pass a report that calls out Hungary for any number of infractions undermining the independent judiciary. Undermining the freedom of press, mistreatment of refugees, and asylum-seekers.
All of that passed by some 448 MEPs who voted in favor of the action today. In terms of next steps, there is no concrete timeline as yet. The MEP who drafted the report, pushing the European Council to now take action, though that action is unlikely given that any sanctions against Hungary would require unanimous approval by all 28 E.U. member states. Remember, there is Poland.
Poland also has article seven procedures underway against it. Seems very unlikely that Poland would vote in favor of sanctioning Hungary. Erin McLaughlin, CNN, London.
[02:46:02] CHURCH: Now, the case against Hungary was authored by European Parliament member Judith Sargentini. A member of the Green Party. And you just saw her being congratulated there when the measure passed. At a news conference, she explained why she believes Hungary has abandoned the EU's democratic values. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to ask only a very simple question. What's your problem Ms. Hungary?
JUDITH SERGENTINI, MEMBER, EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT, NETHERLANDS: You asked me that before on a very unfriendly way. And see how polite I am that I still going to give you an answer.
Sir, I like Hungary. I like your wine, I like your culture, I saw a fantastic exhibition at the Amsterdam Jewish Historical Museum filled with paintings from the 19th and 20th century of Jewish Hungarians. It was fantastic. I go to holidays in your country or I would love to in the future.
There is nothing wrong with Hungary -- its citizens, its country. You have a government that takes away your rights and actually put you up to this kind of questions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Very clear message there. So, let's bring in POLITICO reporter Lili Bayer, she joins us via Skype from Brussels. Thank you so much for joining us.
LILI BAYER, REPORTER, POLITICO EUROPE (via skype): Thank you.
CHURCH: So, the European Parliament has voted to punish Hungary over breaches of the EU's core values. Let's look at what specifically has enraged the E.U.
BAYER: So, the European Parliament has been investigating the Hungary for years over breaches of the rule of laws. Specifically, concerns about independence of the judiciary, undermining of checks and balances. What critics say has been a government takeover of most of what remains of the independent media, as well as concerns about the rights of refugees and minorities such as Jews and Roma.
So, this has been a very, very long process. It has been a very long time coming. But at the same time, it has been a very symbolic vote. The European Parliament has never voted before to call for sanctioning one of its own members. But at the same time, as we heard of it earlier, it's unlikely that sanctions will actually be implemented.
And this puts centre-right politicians across Europe in a very awkward situation because the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban is a member of the centre-right European People's Party. The same party for example as Chancellor Angela Merkel.
And what this means is that right now, a lot of these centre-right politicians are questioning whether Hungary as willing party should continue being a member of their club. In fact, a lot of centre-right politicians including from Germany and Austria voted in favor of calling for sanctions.
CHURCH: So, if sanctions won't be imposed, and there will be no impact to -- or no, clear impact on Hungary, what is the purpose of all of this? What this achieve? Is this just symbolic sending a message to Hungary saying just beware we're keeping an eye on you?
BAYER: I think that the Parliament was trying to send a message not only to Hungary but to other countries across the E.U. where critics say that the rule of law is in danger. For example, Romania and Poland, where there have been concerns that the government are trying to take over or at least undermine some checks and balances.
And so, I think a lot of mainstream European politicians are recognizing that with the rise of populism and far-right parties. There is also a problem that was never really foreseen when the European Union came to be. And that is -- that some countries that were considered democracies are starting to have serious problems and the bloc which sees democracy is a fundamental value and almost a given for membership is a bit of a loss as to what to do.
So, I think yesterday's vote was a highly symbolic move to try to draw a line in the sand and to get back to those original values.
[02:50:13] CHURCH: But looking at that, the reality is that the European Parliament appears to be a toothless tiger. That's not I mean, just how worried would Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, be.
BAYER: I think he's more worried about the political implications than the legal ones. So, he is worried I think that members of the centre-right bloc will no longer want him to be a member. And that is problematic because right now in Brussels, this is the most significant and the largest political grouping. So, it has given him a lot of cover to do things that if he was a member of a different grouping perhaps, would not be as tolerated by Brussels.
And we have to remember that Hungary gets a lot of money from the European Union. And, in fact, the ruling party has been accused of mismanaging and at times it has also been accused of stealing some E.U. funds. E.U. funds are critical for Hungary's economic growth, and without it, job creation and a lot of business activities that happen in Hungary may no longer be possible.
CHURCH: Lili Bayer of POLITICO, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
BAYER: Thank you.
CHURCH: All right, time for a quick break. When we come back -- champagne that's really out of this world. Back with that, just a moment.
CHURCH: It is that time of year again. The big reveal from Apple touting its newest line of iPhones and smartwatches. The company unveiled three new iPhones, Wednesday. Though, most of the improvements were already expected. They are upgraded versions of the iPhone X with better cameras and the few new bells and whistles. The XS Max model with the most storage will be the most expensive, of course. Priced over $1,400.
Now, there are also upgrades for the Apple watch. The new series for watch has a larger display. It can alert emergency contacts if you fall as well as monitor your heart.
Well, going where no champagne has gone before, space. A special brand has been created to be consumed in zero-gravity. CNN's very lucky Melissa Bell got to investigate.
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Weightlessness is the most extraordinary feeling. Like being a kid again, of course, until now, astronauts were the only ones who got to experience it but that would be about to change.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must have American dominance in space. So important.
BELL: A new space race is on not only for superpowers aiming for controls but for businessmen looking for profit.
ELON MUSK, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, TESLA MOTORS: Really the key is, is making this affordable to almost anyone who wants to go.
BELL: It is that new breed of space consumer that Mumm has decided to target with his Cordon Stellar champagne, and its designer believes there is much to celebrate.
OCTAVE DE GAULLE, DESIGNED THE BOTTLE OF CORDON STELLAR CHAMPAGNE: We are at the dawn of this new era of spacing. There are so many competitors trying to send men into space. You could say that the -- that next big challenge is how to live in space. Not only to bring our -- what we need just to survive but what we need to deploy cultural rituals. And that is also the purpose of this bottle. You know is to -- is to bring a bit of what makes us human.
[02:55:17] BELL: For nearly 50 years on from the first moon landing.
NEIL ARMSTRONG, FIRST PERSON TO WALK ON THE MOON: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
BELL: It is mankind that will soon be able to celebrate with bubbles. Up here, you have no sense to what's up and what's down. So, the design of the bottle was crucial just getting the champagne to pour. If you can catch it, the champagne actually taste different up here.
Its texture, its taste, but still your mouth, quite differently than they do on earth.
The champagne took three years to develop and how much did it cost you might ask? Well, Mumm is keeping mum on that. So, was it worth it? Or will it all fall flat?
Jean-Francois Clervoy is a French astronaut who helped with the project.
JEAN-FRANCOIS CLERVOY, FRENCH ASTRONAUT, EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY: So, the best way to move forward is like Captain Kirk said, to explore strange new worlds, seek out new life, boldly go where no one has gone before.
BELL: This experiment certainly has provided that. Whether or not, it will translate into champagne sales anytime soon is unclear. But it does at the very least provide a sparkling vision of the future. Melissa Bell, CNN, somewhere above Frances champagne region.
CHURCH: Best assignment ever, righteous having a blast. So, Warner Brothers has killed Superman. Just want to get your attention. The actor who plays the Caped Crusader has been killed off.
The Hollywood reporter says Henry Cavill will hand in his cape and tights five years after making his debut as the Man of Steel. His manager tweeted this, "Be peaceful, the cape is still in his closet. Warner Brother's pictures has been and continue to be our partners as they evolve the D.C. Universe." The world awaits.
Thanks so much for joining us this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemarycnn. And I'll be back with another hour of news in just a moment. You're watching CNN.