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Students Say No to Modern Day Slavery; Appeal Denied for Second Kim Jong-nam Murder Suspect; Interview with Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei; Massive Winter Storm; U.K. Parliament To Vote Thursday On Brexit Delay; U.S. Orders Grounding Of Boeing 737 Max 8 And 9 Planes; Manafort Hit With New Charges Moments After Sentencing; Trump Feels "Badly" For Manafort, Pardon Question Open. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired March 14, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Brexit plunges further into chaos. This as the Parliament defies Theresa May yet again rejecting her proposal to leave the European Union without a deal. Also grounded by Donald Trump. The U.S. leader follows the rest of the world by halting Boeing's 737 max jets.

Also ahead this hour, what makes you feel free? We show you how people around the world are joining the fight against modern-day slavery during My Freedom Day which is today.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers all over the world, I'm George Howell. Newsroom starts now.

Around the world good day to you. Just over two weeks to go now until Brexit and British lawmakers are running out of time and running out of options. They've already shot down the Prime Minister's withdrawal plan for a second time. Wednesday they voted against a No Deal Brexit.

Now there's another vote in the coming hours to try to delay Brexit until the end of June. But as our Bianca Nobilo reports, crashing out of the European Union on March 29th is still a very real possibility.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIANCA NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Prime Minister Theresa May has faced two defeats in as many days as lawmakers inside the House of Commons voted to reject a No Deal scenario under all circumstances. The Prime Minister had hoped that her motion to reject her no deals but still to acknowledge that Britain was leaving the European Union on the 29th of March would succeed but she didn't get enough support.

THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: These are about the choices that this house faces. The legal defaults -- the legal default in U.K. and E.U. remains that the U.K. will leave the E.U. without a deal unless something else is agreed. The onus is now on every one of us in this house to find out what that is. NOBILO: So now the Prime Minister has promised Parliament a vote on

whether or not to ask the E.U. for an extension of the negotiations. The government will present two options. Either to vote for Theresa Mays deal and then to ask the E.U. for a short time limited extension which would end on the 30th of June or to acknowledge that no deal has been passed.

And the fact that that would require asking the E.U. for a longer extension and needing a clear purpose for doing so, one which currently Parliament doesn't have. Bianca Nobilo, CNN Westminster.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Let's talk more about all this now with Dominic Thomas. Dominic is CNN's European Affairs Commentator joining this hour live from Los Angeles. Dominic, good to have you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: So look, even though Parliament voted against crashing out without a deal, it is still a possibility with March 29th approaching. We keep showing the clock here. I just pointed out of 15 days, 17 hours, 56 minutes, 46 seconds. It's just moving along. The fallout for such a move was laid out quite plainly. Listen to the finance minister Philip Hammond.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PHILIP HAMMOND, FINANCE MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Leaving with no deal would mean significant disruption in the short and medium term, and a smaller less prosperous economy in the long term than if we leave with a deal. Higher unemployment, lower wages, higher prices in the shops. That is not what the British people voted for in June 2016.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Dominic, that is a dire warning. What do you think?

THOMAS: Well that is. And in fact, there are within his own party that is not the view around which there's a lot of consensus. The far-right Brexiteers would actually embrace the option of leaving the European Union with no deal at this particular stage. They don't like Theresa May's deal because it is so aligned with the European Union over different institutions, regulations, and so on.

And so he's quite right to say that. And what we end up here you know, in this situation in Parliament right now is that as with that clock ticking down, Brexit is a runaway train. And the default legal measure is that on the 29th they will crush out of the European Union unless there is a mechanism put in place, in other words, an extension that will allow this to continue on.

So there are two options on the table. Theresa May's option which she is remarkably enough after already suffering these two historic defeats wants to bring it back to Parliament next week. And if that then passes, getting an extension through the European Union would be relatively straightforward because at least the agreement would have been -- would have been agreed to and it would just be in order to get the legislative matters sorted out.

But if they don't vote for that, it is not sure that the European Union where all 27 would unanimously have to support this whether they would, in fact, grant the U.K. an extension or would perhaps rather they just simply crashed out and left the European Union once and for all.

[01:05:28] HOWELL: You know, things are so unclear right, when it comes to Brexit. But one thing does seem quite clear when it comes to Parliament, they don't like Theresa May's deal, they don't want to crash out without a deal. And we heard this from the Labour Leader described it as well. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF THE LABOUR PARTY: The Prime Minister said the choice was retained her deal and no deal. In the last 24 hours parliament has decisively rejected both her deal and no deal. While an extension of Article 50 is now inevitable, the responsibility for that extension lies solely and squarely at the Prime Minister's door.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: So the issue of extension you know, that that's where we are now, Dominic. And you know, how do you see this going? Do you see this turning into that June 30th extension or do you see the attempt to be made to have a longer extension with a purpose?

HOWELL: Well, the European Union is going to absolutely and unambiguously want the clear purpose. And it's hard to think of anything outside of a second referendum so allowing the British people to weigh in on some kind of motion which is also a frightening prospect for different constituencies in the houses of parliament if it's a vote on say Theresa Mays Deal or a No Deal, or Theresa May's deal or leaving the European or not leaving the European Union.

All of these kinds of questions are problematic for the different constituencies. And if the polls indicated unambiguously that there would be a one particular outcome, you can bet your bottom dollar that you would have people screaming and shouting for that. But we're not seeing it. There's tremendous reluctance on the part of the Labour leader to do anything to support a referendum.

In fact, deep down this is a euro-skeptic and Theresa May wants to make sure that some kind of Brexit happened so that she can claim a victory. If anything, if the European Union over the next few days essentially says that they're not interested in providing any kind of long-term extension, then it might somewhat paradoxically help Theresa May get her deal through Parliament because the Brexiteers would then be looking at tremendous uncertainty as they -- as they move forward and they may turn around and back a deal.

But the problem right now is that the Parliament is so completely divided on every side of the of these issues within the parties, across party lines, and so on. But certainly tomorrow we expect as she brings this vote to Parliament. It's going to be interesting to see you know, how people go. But clearly, the word extension is the order of the day. No matter what happens, either they crush out or an extension becomes necessary.

HOWELL: Dominic, you touched on this but I'm curious to ask you, where does Remain go from here, because Remain did represent half the country and you know, you point out the political will doesn't seem to be there within Parliament, but you know, where is that sentiment of again what was half the country?

THOMAS: Yes. Well, I think that everybody is disappointed right now. As you pointed out earlier, they've been all these motions where folks in Parliament have been voting against things but essentially no one is really voting for everything. Crashing out, there is support for that. Theresa May's deal, there's support for that, support for Jeremy Corbyn's motion.

At the end of the day, we're still talking about Brexit. And I think that's what's been so difficult for the remain campaign is that the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Opposition is also talking about a Brexit deal, right? It's not as if he has taken the opposite position here and which would provide or shed some kind of a light on it too.

But having said that, the further we go down the road, and every time Theresa May's deal is not supported, and the withdrawal agreement is not supported, the greater likelihood is that the British people are going to be given an opportunity to weigh in on this. And I just simply do not understand why Theresa May feels entitled to bring her deal repeatedly for a vote in parliament and yet somehow or other considers it undemocratic to go back to the British people that are better educated than they were three years ago that are tired of the way this has been conducted in parliament.

The elected officials are unable to solve the deal. Let's give the British people a chance once and for all to weigh in on this issue three years down the road since the initial vote took place.

HOWELL: Dominic, thank you so much for your time today.

THOMAS: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: Now on other story were following, this took several days but now the United States is following the lead of the rest of the world grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes. Boeing's says the planes are safe. But in the wake of two deadly crashes, the company is supporting the suspension out of an abundance, I should say, of caution. Kaitlan Collins has more now from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[01:10:24] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: In a rare move late today, the President personally grounded Boeing's embattled 737 Max 8 jets in the U.S. along with the companies Max 9 models. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All of those planes are

grounded effective immediately.

COLLINS: Announcing that until the company can provide further answers on what led to Sunday's deadly crash in Ethiopia, the planes won't fly.

TRUMP: Any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and thereafter be grounded until further notice.

COLLINS: The move came shortly after Canada announced Wednesday it was following the lead of dozens of other countries and suspending the planes from Canadian airspace leaving the U.S. flying solo.

TRUMP: We were coordinating with Canada. We were giving them information. They were giving us information.

COLLINS: The President appeared to be reversing a decision made by US Safety officials who said Tuesday there were "no systemic performance issues with the planes." But tonight the FAA said it made the call to ground the planes based on new data from the crash.

A federal database accessed by CNN revealed several U.S. pilots had anonymously complained about problems controlling the planes, though U.S. airlines say they hadn't heard those complaints. Some experts believe a software problem related to controlling the plane may have brought down a 737 Max 8 a flown by Lion Air last October that crashed off the coast of Indonesia killing 189 people.

TRUMP: Pilots have been notified, airlines have been all notified. Airlines, they're agreeing with this, the safety of the American people, and all people is our paramount concern.

COLLINS: Trump said the airlines have been told of the move but Southwest Airlines, one of two U.S. carriers who fly the 737 Max 8 appeared surprised by the decision, issuing a statement saying it was seeking confirmation and additional guidance from the FAA.

The deadly crash in Ethiopia killed all 157 people on board just minutes after takeoff. The flight data and voice recorders on their way to Europe to be analyzed. Today, even as the President was grounding the planes he was voicing confidence in Boeing where his Acting Defense Secretary worked for decades.

TRUMP: Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very, very hard right now and hopefully, they'll very quickly come up with the answer. But until they do, the planes are grounded.

COLLINS: Now, the president also has a close relationship with the CEO of Boeing Dennis Muilenburg. They've spoken twice over the last few days. One conversation on Tuesday when Muilenburg told the President that these planes are safe and then a second conversation right before the President announced he was going to suspend the use of them.

Obviously, two very different conversations but we're told by sources that the White House viewed this situation as untenable especially after they got new satellite data and after Canada dropped its use of these planes for the time being. Kaitlan Collins, CNN the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Alan Armstrong. Alan, a pilot and aviation attorney joining here on set. Alan, good to have you with us. And you brought a model here to help us understand the mechanics of these planes. But before we get to that, I'd like to get your thoughts on the U.S. President announcing of the FAA s decision to ground this 737 Max 8.

ALAN ARMSTRONG, PILOT AND AVIATION ATTORNEY: I think it was appropriate given the circumstances. With two crashes in succession like this, I think that's the right call.

HOWELL: Because this plane, very important to Southwest Airlines. This plane very important to American Airlines.

ARMSTRONG: Right, correct.

HOWELL: The fact that it will be grounded will certainly be impactful to their business.

ARMSTRONG: And the fact that people will die if they don't is also impactful.

HOWELL: Right, right. Well, I want to talk about the model itself here. Help us understand the mechanics because we understand the officials, they overlaid the flight plans, and it's that upward lift that that's really one of the issues, one of the important similarities that drew concern.

ARMSTRONG: OK. An aircraft flies we know from Bernoulli's theorem, the wind goes farther at the top of the wing, and then on the bottom of the wing, the bottom wing is flat. But also an airplane flies because of the angle of attack. That is the angle of attack between the oncoming wind and the wing.

An aircraft can reach what's called the critical angle of attack, OK. If it does, that is going to depart control flight, OK. So you have a protection system of the aircraft to prevent you from exceeding the critical angle of attack or stalling, and that is normally associated with your automatic pilot system.

So the aircraft is flying on automatic pilot and then the AOA, Angle Of Attack indicator says, hey, your nose is too high, you're about to stall. First, the sticks start shaking, telling you, you're in a (INAUDIBLE) stick shaker. After that, it will actually command the nose downward. We just foot this flight crew encountered. And what they did is they make an -- they've made an incorrect conclusion about what was going on.

The airspeed indicator on the captain's side was wrong that led to the sense of confusion. It's not normally one thing that kills an airplane is normally two or three or four things. They reach the incorrect diagnosis, and they died.

[01:15:32] HOWELL: It really does come down to the training, Alan, right? So, do you get a sense that these pilots -- did they get the proper training from Boeing on how to handle these planes? And here is the thing, if the technology went down, could they go back to the old stick and rudder, you know, a methods to take control of that plane again?

ARMSTRONG: To answer your second question, first, no. Because stick and rudder skills are no longer that much a part of flying. Because the computer --

(CROSSTALK)

HOWELL: The morph -- because (INAUDIBLE) now, the technology, yes.

ARMSTRONG: The computer has taken over its effect.

HOWELL: Wow.

ARMSTRONG: It's not just Airbus, that's Boeing too. And why do I make a statement like that? What gives me the authority to say the computers taken over? Well, I'll tell you why. These flight controls, they're not manual anymore. It's not a cable when you pull back on the stick that a cable sends an input to the elevator to go up. It's in hydraulic system. It's 100 percent hydraulic with pumps. They're providing pressure to move the control surfaces up or down, OK?

And your ability to feel that as a pilot is taken away. The only way you get a feel is from a computer. And the computer, it gives you the sense or the impression of what the control inputs feel like.

HOWELL: OK, one other questions just before we go. Briefly, the U.S. president tweeted essentially that these planes are becoming too complex that it takes someone from MIT -- you know, to fly one of these planes. Do you agree with the president's assertion there?

ARMSTRONG: And -- the quick answer is yes.

HOWELL: OK.

ARMSTRONG: The quick answer is yes. Modern aircraft especially modern jet aircraft are extremely complex. Extremely complex. Many of the aircraft we see, no longer have anything that is not augmented or supplemented or boosted in some manner electronically or hydraulically, and so, if you've lost the kinesthesia, when you're learning to fly and teach you going to fly, I want you to get that feeling in the city or pants about whether the airplanes flying straight or not, whether your planes in your slip or not. That's what how to land the airplane.

I'm going to teach you kinesthesia. You're going to get that sense. You know it goes away.

HOWELL: Right. ARMSTRONG: It's all gone. It's all gone. That does not apply anymore, the computer is telling you and the airplane what to do.

HOWELL: Alan Armstrong, we appreciate the insight. And thank you for bringing us this model to understands the mechanics behind these flights.

ARMSTRONG: You're welcome. You're very welcome.

HOWELL: Thank you.

ARMSTRONG: You're welcome.

HOWELL: Still ahead, the legal problems are mounting for Paul Manafort. The president's former campaign chairman now facing more time in prison and new charges.

Also ahead, CNN is marking My Freedom Day around the world. How students from Hong Kong and London are raising their voices against modern-day slavery?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:20:51] HOWELL: You could say it was a rough Wednesday for President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort. A judge in Washington, D.C. sentenced him to more time in prison on Wednesday.

And then, a short time later, the legal news got even worse. Our Sarah Murray has this story for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: A federal judge in D.C. piling on to Paul Manafort's prison time today. Bringing the former Trump campaign chairman sentenced to 7-1/2 years in a federal penitentiary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's your flag.

MURRAY: After being convicted of financial crimes in Virginia, Manafort was already sentenced to nearly four years behind bars. Today, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, piled 43 months on top of that. For charges, Manafort pleaded guilty to in D.C., conspiracy against the U.S. and conspiracy witness tampering.

Dressed in a suit instead of an inmate jumpsuit, Manafort showed little emotion as he spoke from a wheelchair. "I am sorry for what I've done," he said. "Let me be clear, I accept the responsibility for the acts that caused me to be here today."

And a plea for leniency, Manafort said, "Your honor, I will be 70 years old in a few weeks." Adding, "Please let my wife and I be together." Manafort's lawyer also painted his client in a sympathetic light. Claiming, "But for the 2016 election, Manafort would not be in this situation." But Judge Jackson blasted that approach to the case, saying, "I'm sorry I got caught is not an inspiring plea for leniency." The judge spoke directly to Manafort about his foreign lobbying. Saying, he lied to Congress and the American people. "If the people don't have the facts, democracy doesn't work."

She later rebuked Manafort for lying to prosecutors after his arrest. Noting, "Court is one of those places where facts still matter. Judge Jackson also took issue with the assertion from Manafort's team that the charges Manafort faced weren't linked to Russian collusion. She dismissed those claims as a non sequitur in this case. Calling them, "Just one more thing that's inconsistent with the notion of any genuine acceptance of responsibility."

But with the possibility of a presidential pardon still on the table, Manafort's attorney was quick to step outside the courthouse and reiterate one of President Trump's favorite talking points. No collusion.

KEVIN DOWNING, ATTORNEY TO PAUL MANAFORT: Judge Jackson conceded that there was absolutely no evidence of any Russian collusion in this case. So that makes to ports.

MURRAY: Now, less than an hour after Paul Manafort was sentenced here in D.C., the Manhattan district attorney announced they were bringing state fraud charges against Manafort. They announced that in a 16 count indictment.

The thing to remember about those state charges, they can't be waived by a presidential pardon. Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now, with Michael Genovese. Michael, a political analyst, joining us from Los Angeles. Good to have you.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you. Good to be here.

HOWELL: Michael, Paul Manafort sentenced to an additional 43 months in prison, rounding out to a total of seven point five years behind bars. And President Trump weighed in. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I can only tell you one thing. Again, that was proven today. No collusion. There's no collusion. There's no collusion and there hasn't been collusion, and it was all a big hoax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: But Michael, here's the thing. Minutes after he was sentenced, he found himself facing a whole new round of charges. This coming from New York. Some suggested smacks is political. What do you make of the timing? GENOVESE: Well, it seems like a little bit of piling on, but I don't think that's the case. I think what you're seeing here is that Jackson -- it was part two of now, what's going to be part three of the Manafort dilemma that Jackson gave him the total of 7-1/2 years, and he was hit pretty hard with that.

Post-sentencing and your story suggested that Mr. Manafort's counsel -- lawyer went on a brief discussion of -- well, this proves as the judge said there's no collusion, there was nothing of the sort.

What happened was the judge said specifically, this is not a case about collusion, we're not dealing with collusion. So, why does his attorney say that?

Manafort's attorney is trying to show that Paul Manafort, will Mr. President, be a good soldier, he will continue to protect you as best he can. And so, we expect in the not-too-distant future a pardon out of this.

[01:25:05] HOWELL: And, you know, when asked about that directly, the president had this to say, listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I feel badly for him. I think it's a very sad situation. And I saw that just a little while ago. And certainly, on a human basis, it's very sad thing. I feel badly for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you pardon Paul Manafort?

TRUMP: I have not even given it a thought as of this moment. It's not something that's right now in my mind. I do feel badly for Paul Manafort, that I can tell you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Not giving it a thought as of that moment. But Michael, do you think he's given it a thought since?

GENOVESE: Well, I think it's natural and inevitable that the president in his position would think of such a thing as, at least, a possibility. At least, way that as one of his options.

I think it's especially true that Manafort has been trying, even though, he said he was going to cooperate. He really didn't cooperate with the prosecutors. And he's been a very good soldier, he has done his very best to be true to, and loyal to the president, and he expects something in return.

Now, the New York District Attorney has hit him with a sledgehammer, 16 charges. Some of which may be thrown out because of double jeopardy. But still, that's a powerful tool to wield against Manafort, 16 charges. And so, I think that he sees -- Manafort sees himself as the victim of this at this point that there is piling.

Whereas, I think, the prosecutors is saying, "Look, were -- we've -- you've got information, you're not delivering, you said you would." And so, it's not piling on, this is something that we need to get out of you, and we're going to keep going after you.

HOWELL: And finally, Michael, I want to talk about the Cohen e-mails showing concern about the possibility of Michael Cohen flipping, which he did. That e-mail from a man close to the president's attorney Rudy Giuliani. His name, Robert or Bob Costello, and in the note, the word pardon is never mentioned but the phrase, "Sleep well tonight" and "friends in high places" stands out being construed by many as suggestive of a pardon. What do you make of it?

Sleep well, tonight. You have friends in high places. Now, many would think that that's a suggestion that something good will result. That we have your back, that we have you covered.

Now, George, I speak -- I'm bilingual. I speak both English and mob. In English, something like sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places, probably means "We'll take care of you."

In mob language, it means, "We will absolutely take care of you, don't worry, sleep well, we've got your back covered." And so, I think it's very easy to interpret those remarks in that -- in that e-mail as telling or at least suggesting strongly to Mr. Cohen that if he remains loyal to the president, we'll take care of you.

HOWELL: Michael Genovese, we appreciate your time and perspective. Thank you.

GENOVESE: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: CNN is celebrating Freedom Day all around the world. That students are raising awareness about modern-day slavery through music and through action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:30:35] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

In the United Kingdom, parliament is set to vote again in the coming hours. This time, on whether to delay Brexit until June 30th. And so far this week, lawmakers have voted against crashing out of the E.U. without a deal. Once again, rejecting the British Prime Minister's plan to leave the E.U.

The United States has joined the rest of the world in grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 planes indefinitely. President Trump saying the administration shifted course based on new evidence from Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines crash. Boeing says that it has full confidence the planes are safe but is supporting the suspension out of an abundance of caution. Paul Manafort's prison time nearly doubled on Wednesday. President Trump's former campaign chairman receiving another three and a half years for federal conspiracy and obstruction charges. Minutes after the sentence -- sentencing though, New York filed more charges against him including mortgage fraud.

And right now, more than 40 million people around the world are living in slavery. The vast majority are women and girls. CNN is committed to ending the practice and today, we are marking My Freedom Day. CNN reporters have fanned out across the continents, at schools from India to Ghana and the United States. And young people all over the world are posting their messages on social media, describing what makes them feel free.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWD: What makes me feel free? --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What makes me feel free when I have the right to go to school. And have the right to do what, be what I want to be in the future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means being able to marry the person that I love not the person my family or society has chosen for me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What makes me feel free is the knowledge that I have the possibility to choose my own path in life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me, freedom is when I make my own choices, when I make my own mistakes. And I feel free when I play music. When I'm playing the piano and when I'm singing songs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom for me is the right to act, speak or think as I want.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom for me is being able to choose who I date and when.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Freedom to me is when people have the liberty of expressing themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me is when I can make my own decisions and choices. Happy freedom day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And, now let's bring in our correspondents around the world this hour. We welcome Kristie Lu Stout in Hong Kong and Nikhil Kumar also following us in India.

Kristie -- let's start with you.

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey George -- I'm here at the Hong Kong International School, one of many schools across the region that are marking My Freedom Day. And you really see it once you step into the classrooms here. You see it in badges, posters with anti- slavery messages of freedom, all those messages of hope behind me.

And what's been going on right around me and the library space here, something called the Socratic seminar where these middle school students are discussing the issue of human trafficking and why are there so many modern-day slaves living in the world today -- an estimated 40 million.

It's been really fascinating. Listen to this discussion.

Joining me now is a Jacob Kwan (ph) a middle school student here at HKIS to tell us more about what's going on here. So thank you for joining us.

JACOB KWAN, MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT, HKIS: No problem.

STOUT: Thanks for joining us for My Freedom Day.

KWAN: Yes.

STOUT: What have you been discussing so far?

KWAN: Well, we've been discussing modern day slavery and human trafficking, especially since it's My Freedom Day.

STOUT: Yes, absolutely. There are a lot of factors that we've been talking about. The number of modern-day slaves, why human trafficking continues these days. Is there something that you learned that really shocked or surprised you?

[01:34:59] KWAN: Well, this morning, we watched a video about human trafficking. And one specific I saw was that 99 percent of victims of human trafficking are never rescued. And since it's the second biggest crime industry in the world, I thought that was really shocking especially since it's a such a big industry.

STOUT: Absolutely. It's a big billion dollar criminal enterprise and it continues to thrive. And just the numbers, you know, 40 million people around the world enslaved today -- 25 million men, women and children are slaves in Asia. Are you optimistic that there can be a solution to this?

KWAN: Well, I believe our generation was born with voices and especially with social media and the Internet, I feel like our generation can really shed light on the issue. And it can be addressed appropriately.

STOUT: Bring it here. That was awesome. Jacob -- thank you so much.

And that is the kind of message that we find really, really inspiring here. That this is a generational that believes that they have a voice to really find an end to what's been going on.

Earlier, I spoke to a modern-day abolitionist who has in fact worked with students here in Hong Kong. She's a frontline activist working for domestic worker rights in Hong Kong. Her name is Victoria Ahn.

This is what she had to say about how critical this generation is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: So Victoria -- I know you've been working very closely with Hong Kong International School high school students on the issue of modern day slavery and the rights of domestic workers in Hong Kong. How critical is the next generation to advance your campaign and your cause? How important are they?

VICTORIA AHN, DOMESTIC WORKERS RIGHTS ACTIVIST: We need the system to change to work better for domestic workers. And the next generation is key to that. They need to keep asking the questions that will bring greater accountability and for the market to have ethical options for domestic workers to be hired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STOUT: That was Victoria Ahn of the Fair Employment Foundation based here in Hong Kong. And she works specifically with the issues of domestic helpers. And that is a problem that is in the backyard of these students here at Hong Kong International School.

There are 350,000 foreign domestic workers here. It's estimated one in six are victims of labor exploitation. That is top of mind for these students as they discuss it in this Socratic seminar, really move (ph) as part of what's happening this day.

Let's find out what's going on in India, with Nikhil Kumar, my colleague. He's standing by -- Nikhil.

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Thanks -- Kristie. So I'm in Kalinjar. It's a village in northwest Indian state of Rajasthan, a rural setting. We're hours away from the nearest city.

And I'm in a government-run school that's been set up with the help of a Canadian charity WE. Hundreds of students attend this school, girls and boys both.

The fact that this school exists here is really, really important for the community. This region, like lots of other parts of this country, has a problem with female illiteracy. And there's a problem with forced labor and child labor.

But because the school is here. They are all here studying and today, they are taking part in all these activities to celebrate My Freedom Day. They are decorating their blackboards right now, both in Hindi to mark My Freedom Day.

You can see all these girls putting up balloons on the other side of the classroom. I want to show. We've got the boys who are almost done now in fact, with their decorations. And they're going to spend the rest of the day working on making drawings, writing essays about what freedom means to them.

All of it comes together later in the afternoon in a mural that they're going to put up -- all in a celebration of freedom. All in a celebration of why institutions such as this, institutions that enable girls to go to school and allow communities like this to escape that cycle where too many children end up in forced labor. What that means to them, what it means to the community at large.

So as you can see, lots and lots of activity here. The declarations are up and now the activities to celebrate My Freedom Day are really going to get going in earnest -- George.

HOWELL: Wonderful. Nikhil -- just wonderful. Thank you again for showing us what's happening there.

Also, want to tell you about students celebrating My Freedom Day in London. They got a little help from their friends and from the royal -- the British royal family, I should say.

CNN's Isa Soares has this for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It looks like a pop concert but most of these are children. It's not a runway, even though super models took to the stage.

Instead, this is a regular school day. Thousands of students from all over the U.K. gathered to celebrate We ay. A charity event that aims to empower youth throughout the world.

Among them, five special agents for change --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amani.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Malku.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Isha.

SOARES: -- students from London's Yeading School, there support We Day, as well as My Freedom Day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm here because of We Day, and My Freedom Day. They both try to inspire people, and they both try to make everyone more happy, whoever you are.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom to me means having the right to do whatever you want to do, that benefits you whenever you want to do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My Freedom Day is a way to speak out for others who may not have a voice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For this campaign we want like people to be free, like being able to like make their own decisions.

[01:40:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a way to like connect with other people that don't have the right to like be heard.

SOARES: And their message was echoed on stage by a guest who received a very royal welcome.

PRINCE HARRY, DUKE OF SUSSEX, BRITISH ROYAL FAMILY: Guys, it is all connected. We are all interconnected. You in this room understand that and are already making this a safer, healthier, and more resilient home for all of us and for generations to come.

SOARES: He was even keen to share the spotlight.

PRINCE HARRY: I'm now going to try and drag my wife on stage.

Guys, I'm with, and we are with you. Get to work.

SOARES: And while the crowds roared inside, backstage it was time to get ready Yeading students. They are about to perform in front of their peers, telling the story of the former child slave who inspired We Charity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I was 10 years old, I decided it was time to escape the chains that bound me.

SOARES: At the end, a surprise as host Conor Maynard gives a shout out to My Freedom Day.

CONOR MAYNARD, MUSICIAN: The 14th of march is My Freedom Day -- a global one day event to raise awareness of modern slavery. And we want you to take part.

SOARES: A long day for everyone. But with kids like these backing My Freedom Day, the future couldn't look brighter.

Isa Soares, CNN -- London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: And we invite you to tell the world what makes you feel free. Share your story using the #My Freedom Day, and follow CNN's live blog up now on CNN.com.

Next here on NEWSROOM, an appeal denied for the second woman charged with killing Kim Jong-un's half brother. We'll have the very latest from the courtroom in Malaysia.

Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: A frantic scene to tell you about at a school near Sao Paolo, Brazil. Police say the two former students, inspired by the 1999 Columbine shooting in the United States, that they opened fire on Wednesday, killing five students and two school officials before then killing themselves. At least 10 others were injured.

[01:45:01] Before the school shooting, police say that one of the gunmen shot and killed his uncle at a car rental agency where they stole a vehicle. Venezuela's information minister says that the countries power grid is completely restored now. And CNN teams on the ground say that power is back in many places throughout the capital of Caracas.

But not everywhere. Much of the country has been in the dark now for six days. And for others, water is still a problem. Residents in one state posted video of pitch-black water -- look at that -- coming through their faucets.

The local mayor blames human error and says crews are working now to clean up the pipes.

In Malaysia, the trial for one of two women charged with killing the half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has resumed. It comes after charges against the second woman were suddenly dropped earlier this week.

Our Ivan Watson has been following this story at the court house and is in Kuala Lumpur. And Ivan -- where do things stand now?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there was a very visibly distraught Vietnamese woman named Doan Thi Huong, the key suspect in this murder trial after the prosecutor rejected an appeal to have the murder charges that she is facing dropped.

So in the courtroom, she wept. She was crying. She was clasping the hands of the Vietnamese ambassador in the courtroom. After the brief hearing and her defense testimony has now been postponed by a judge until April 1st on humanitarian grounds, because she argued that she was ill. And he ruled that she was not mentally or physically fit to take the stand.

The Vietnamese government has been lobbying hard to try to get this suspect released and to escape the threat of a possible death penalty if she is found guilty.

And I caught up with the Vietnamese ambassador and asked him about this. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Mr. Ambassador -- are you disappointed (ph) today?

LE QUY QUYNH, VIETNAMESE AMBASSADOR TO MALAYSIA: Yes I am disappointed.

WATSON: And how did she look to you when you spoke with her>

QUYNH: She's nervous and weak. And I advised her to keep good hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WATSON: Now the defense made the case to try to release Doan Thi Huong after another key suspect, an Indonesian woman named Siti Aisyah was abruptly released on Monday from the same courtroom and is already back safe and sound in Indonesia. That came apparently as a result of direct lobbying, George, on behalf of the Indonesian government, which argued that she was not guilty, that she believed she had been participating in some kind of a reality TV prank show at the time when the half brother of the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-nam was poisoned in Kuala Lumpur Airport in February of 2017.

And these two women, or at least somebody that appeared to be them, were caught on security cameras apparently involved in smearing the poisonous substance on the victim's face -- George.

HOWELL: Ivan -- there is this theory that is out there, that both of the women were somehow scapegoats to all of this.

WATSON: and that is exactly what the defense attorney said today. That North Korea has made this Vietnamese woman a scapegoat in this brazen assassination that took place in the main international gateway to Malaysia.

And that as a result of fairness, she should be released, much as the Indonesian woman has been released. But the judge and public prosecutor, they didn't seem to really be paying attention to that line of argument at least right now. Though perhaps now the Vietnamese government has a few more weeks to try to put pressure on the Malaysian government to try to release their citizen.

It has certainly been a strange trial that has had a bombshell on Monday. And people will be watching closely to see whether anybody will face justice for this incredible assassination that took place, which -- with a substance that could be categorized as a weapon of mass destruction -- George.

HOWELL: Senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson -- following every twist and turn of this case in Kuala Lumpur. Thank you for the reporting. We'll keep in touch with you.

The founder and CEO of the Chinese tech giant Huawei says the U.S. President Donald Trump is a great leader specifically, for cutting U.S. taxes on businesses. But his words weren't so glowing on some other matters as our Matt Rivers reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[01:49:55] MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A counterattack from Chinese tech giant Huawei. It's billionaire founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, sat down with CNN for a rare interview with a clear message -- Huawei is not the national security threat the Trump administration says it has.

REN ZHENGFEI, CEO, HUAWEI (through translator): His tactics are wrong. If he intimidates a country today, threatens a company tomorrow, or wantonly arrests someone, then no one would dare invest in the U.S.

RIVERS: Huawei, China's largest telecom company, is facing an all-out assault by the U.S. and in Europe. Federal prosecutors have accused it stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile, and violating sanctions on Iran which all lead to the arrest of Ren's daughter, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada. But chief among U.S. concerns that Beijing could use Huawei to harm U.S. national and economic security.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: The prosperity that drives our economic security is inherently linked to our national security. And the immense influence that the Chinese government holds over Chinese corporations like Huawei, represents a threat to both.

RIVERS: The FBI also says they've obtained e-mails revealing that Huawei offered bonuses to employees based on the value of information they stole from other companies around the world. The U.S. has banned Huawei products from use in federal agencies and 5G networks. Ren says that's unconstitutional. Huawei is suing the U.S. government over the ban.

(on camera): But if the United States clearly feels that Huawei products are a national security threat, does the United States not have a legitimate right to protect its own interests?

REN: They have to have evidence. Everybody in the world is talking about cybersecurity, and their singling out Huawei.

What about Ericsson? What about Cisco? Don't they have cyber security issues? Why is Huawei being singled out?

There is no Huawei equipment in the U.S. networks. Has that made the U.S. networks totally safe? If not, how can they tell other countries that your networks would be safe without Huawei?

RIVERS (voice over): Today, the U.S. hasn't produced public evidence of Huawei's spying on China's behalf, but says it could easily happen. If Beijing demanded access to Huawei equipment, the U.S. says the company could not say no.

Ren says, not true.

REN: I would rather shut down the company. In our 30-year history, we have never received such a request. If there are future ones, I'm making it clear today, I will firmly reject them.

RIVERS: That hasn't stopped the U.S. from lobbying governments to shun Huawei, a huge player in building up 5G, the next generation of mobile networks worldwide. The U.S. told Germany this week that if it uses Huawei 5G equipment, it would limit intelligence sharing between the countries.

Huawei is a company is worth hundreds of billions. It's one of China's national champions and it has global ambitions. For the U.S., that makes it a target. By suing the U.S. government, Huawei says it's ready for a fight.

Matt Rivers, CNN -- Shenzhen, China.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: Next here on NEWSROOM, a rare blizzard called a bomb cyclone strikes the central part of the country with the ferocity of a major hurricane. You can see the results there.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: At least one person was killed from a reported rare winter storm called a bomb cyclone. A state trooper was struck and killed by a car in Colorado while he was helping another motorist.

[01:54:55] Driving almost was impossible in these white-out conditions, you see there at the peak of this blizzard leading up to this 100 car pile-up. Colorado officials say that more than a thousand motorists were stranded along the interstates.

The storm affected most of the central part of the United States from Canada to Mexico. Hurricane-force winds toppled mobile homes, large trucks and even freight trains.

Our meteorologist Derek Van Dam is following it all in the International Weather Center -- Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. George -- the sheer ferocity behind this storm is just astounding from a meteorological perspective and just on onlooker perspective.

This is one person's stand at a terminal at the Denver International Airport. I wouldn't want to be boarding that flight. There were over 1,200 flights that were canceled on Wednesday alone, a thousand of them alone from the Denver International Airport. And it's all because of this impressive storm system.

And it looks like somebody plopped a hurricane right in the central parts of the continental United States. I mean this is an incredible storm just on satellite imagery alone.

And they talk about bomb cyclone genesis, a bomb cyclone. That happens when the central pressure of a low pressure drops 24 millibars in 24 hours. This storm dropped 30 millibars in 24 hours.

Some records were broken for lowest central pressure, recognized at the center of this. And by the way, those pressures are what we would equivalent to see in a Category 2 Atlantic hurricane, for instance. Just gives you an idea how powerful it is.

The wind gust here in excess of 150 kilometers per hour. It's still ongoing. You pick up the snowfall and of course, you reduce the visibilities and you get full-on white-out blizzard conditions -- that's exactly what's happening.

This is incredible. When you look at the watches and warnings blanketed across the central U.S., the square kilometers that this covers is about 2.59 million square kilometers. You add up the U.K., France, Germany and Ireland -- all that together, that entire land mass and that's how much of the central U.S. is covered by watches and warnings. So the cancellations continue -- Denver, Dallas, Chicago, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City -- if you are traveling to those locations, over the next 24 hours expect delays and if not, cancelations.

The storm system moving eastward, it continues to wind itself up. It's actually (INAUDIBLE) meaning that it's wreaked its most powerful point but still has a potential to bring tremendous amounts of snowfall across the plains to a foot of snow possible across Fargo, North Dakota and other locations throughout that area. They will be digging out for weeks.

Back to you -- George.

HOWELL: All right. Derek -- thank you so much.

And thank you for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm George Howell at the house that Ted built, CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta.

The news continues with Rosemary Church after the break.

[01:57:47] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END