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Iranians Warned before Seizing U.K.-Flagged Ship; Trump Says He'd Vouch for A$AP Rocky; High Temps Scorch the U.S.; Audio Released from Iranian Vessel and British Warship before Tanker Seized; AOC Says Trump's Policies Are About "Ethnicity And Racism"; Tulsi Gabbard Joins Puerto Rico Protests; Seventh Week of Mass Marches in Hong Kong; Apollo 11 Anniversary. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired July 21, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Iran warns the U.K. against escalating tensions over its seizure of a tanker in the Strait of Hormuz as Britain accuses Iran of illegal interference.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And the U.S. president trying to help free an African American rapper A$AP Rocky, who's detained in Sweden.
ALLEN (voice-over): Also, celebrating 50 years since Apollo 11. How the mission to the moon may help us get to Mars.
HOWELL (voice-over): We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.
ALLEN: The U.K. is accusing Iran of illegal interference when it seized a British flagged oil tanker. In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, the U.K. says the Stena Impero was in Omani waters when Iran's military captured it. The U.K. says there's no doubt it's retaliation because Britain seized an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar two weeks earlier.
But Britain's foreign secretary says Iran is flat wrong.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: They see this as a tit-for-tat situation following Grace I being detained in Gibraltar. Nothing could be further from the truth. Grace I was detained legally in Gibraltarian waters because it was carrying oil against E.U. sanctions, to Syria and that's why Gibraltarian authorities acted totally with respect to due process and totally within the law.
The Stena Impero was seized in Omani waters in clear contravention of international law. It was then forced to sail into Iran. This is totally and utterly unacceptable. It raises very serious questions about the security of British shipping and indeed international shipping in the Straits of Hormuz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And this tweet from Iran's ambassador just a short time ago, warning the British government against escalating tensions, calling it dangerous and unwise.
NATO, France and Germany have all condemned the Iranian action but the U.S. secretary of state says Tehran does not appear willing to change its behavior.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: To date we've seen no indications that the Iranians are prepared to fundamentally change the direction of their nation.
If they do the things we've asked them to do on their nuclear program, their missile program, their malign behavior around the world -- I mean, you can just watch their actions.
These are actions that threaten. We saw the statements of Foreign Minister Hunt. Hunt; I spoke to him yesterday -- with other actions, these are not the actions of a country that looks like it's headed in the right direction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: About one-quarter of the world's oil passes through the Strait of Hormuz. The U.K. has advised British ships to avoid the narrow waterway. And the U.S. Maritime Administration has warned ships to exercise caution.
HOWELL: Matthew Chance is following the story for us in the UAE.
Good to have you with us, Matthew.
The U.K. is rejecting Iran's explanation for why its shipping vessel is detained.
Is there any sense of what is next and any resolution at hand?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think a resolution is some way off at this point. British officials are talking about possible next steps and have not ruled out sanctions.
In fact, they will be speaking with their allies and partners about measure to secure the release of this ship and to protect any other British flagships that may come under threat in the future in this Persian Gulf region.
They're moving in another Royal Navy, British Navy warship into the region to provide that kind of additional protection. Of course, this is a very dangerous situation and it's not a bilateral
dispute between Britain and Iran. To have to set it against that backdrop of escalating tensions in the region, particularly between the United States and Iran, with the downing of each other's drones and the escalating military tensions, the U.S. putting extra forces in this region. At one point, being minutes away from a confrontation with Iran, we're told.
It's a dangerous environment at the moment. And it's easy to see how an episode like this seizure of British flagship could spark things --
CHANCE: -- in a much more volatile way. The irony, running through all of this, George, is Britain was one of those countries that had been against imposing more sanctions on Iran. It's a signatory to the Iranian nuclear deal. The U.S. unilaterally pulled out of it last year.
Britain was trying to save that deal with its European partners and to keep Iran within the international fold. Those efforts will have been damaged by this latest spat and this seizure of the oil tanker.
HOWELL: And that leads right into my next question, Matthew.
The question, this divide, now, certainly Iran and the U.K., this tit- for-that, does this push the United Kingdom closer to the United States now?
CHANCE: It could well do, couldn't it?
You can easily see, how if not -- the will in the United Kingdom, to pursue this idea of keeping alive the Iranian nuclear agreement, would be undermined by this latest episode.
And all along, the United States has been saying Iran is a malign force that has to be confronted in this region, in the Persian Gulf region. I expect this latest episode will have given some sympathy to that point of view in British circles that might otherwise have had a contradictory point of view to that.
HOWELL: Does it push the U.K. closer?
Does it push Europe closer to the U.K.?
Matthew Chance for us live. Matthew, thank you.
ALLEN: Want to talk about it with Richard Dalton, Britain's former ambassador to Iran. He joins us from London.
Ambassador, thanks so much for being with us.
RICHARD DALTON, FORMER U.K. AMBASSADOR TO IRAN: Good morning.
ALLEN: Good morning to you.
What is your threat assessment of Iran right now?
It has shot down a U.S. drone, seized a British tanker and the British government says there will be consequences if it's not returned.
How dangerous has this become?
DALTON: This has become slightly but only slightly more dangerous. The confrontation between the United States and Iran is the one we need to be watching. And that's currently in abeyance.
Your correspondents are right, that we're in a period of waiting to see just what the U.K. bottom line and the Iranian bottom lines are going to be upon resolving these linked incidents.
The British are making a strong case that they are not linked in the sense that the Iranian seizure was against international law. But the one in Gibraltar was done in accordance with relevant law.
But that distinction is going to be lost in the next phase because it's a practical negotiation. Each side wants to see their property released. So it is an issue that can be resolved.
Relations are bad between Britain and Iran. And it may be necessary for a third party to assist. That third party wouldn't be the United States. And I don't think this issue is going to significantly increase any interest in the U.K. in being close to current United States policies.
ALLEN: Right. The U.K. has threatened serious consequences if the tanker is not returned. Its foreign secretary says they're not considering a military operation.
What could their response be?
DALTON: Well, I think sanctions is the area they're going to look at. They are obliged in the U.K. to respect the collective decision of the European Union, to suspend nuclear sanctions on Iran because Iran is in full compliance with its major obligations under the JCPOA. That's the Iran nuclear deal.
The infractions which Iran has recently entered into are reversible and not being considered by the European Union and the U.K. as significant enough for the reintroduction of those nuclear sanctions.
It's a difficult area to find a sanction that would bite, that keeps distinct, this very important maritime crisis from the, frankly, rather more important and long-term significance of the nuclear issues that still have to be resolved. So it's not clear what serious measures the U.K. is currently thinking about.
ALLEN: Well, we heard from Secretary Pompeo of the U.S. saying of Iran, these are not the actions of a country that looks like it's headed in the right direction but we hope they will sit down and discuss the items with us.
Could more sanctions get Iran to the table? DALTON: Well, frankly --
DALTON: -- the United States is not in the position to talk about moving in the right direction or Iran not being a normal country. The United States' behavior has been in the wrong direction. And it has not been normal. That's the reason we're in this pickle.
Of course, the disparity of power between the United States and Iran is immense. And Iran is retaliating for the misdeeds inflicted on them, as they see them, with some justification, using the power they have.
That involves taking liberties with international law, which, of course, is wrong. But this is a political situation, which has to be addressed politically, through negotiations. First, defusing the maritime crisis. Then moving on to resume the nuclear de-escalation talks, which were led a fortnight ago by President Macron.
And finally, if we get through those two stages and have still got a JCPOA in force, eventually moving on to dealing with the long-term strategic questions which so vexed the United States and all of the states in the region, including Iran.
ALLEN: And you've been ambassador to Iran. You understand Iran more than most. We know that hardliners are taking these positions that we've seen. We've seen video of the Revolutionary Guard taking over the British tanker. Give us a sense of what we're dealing with here, as far as those making decisions about this in Iran.
DALTON: You're dealing with a united government; the tone and the principle decisions are taken by the supreme leader. He has been vindicated in his suspicion of the United States and the international community because the United States reneged on the nuclear deal, totally unjustifiably.
And the rest of the international community have not been able to make good on the economic promises to Iran contained in the nuclear deal. So the supreme leader is riding high at the moment.
He's able to say to the moderates, I was right to distrust these people. You were wrong to think that you could irreversibly change Iran's situation for the better by compromising so far on nuclear questions.
So at the moment, when it comes to the desperate situation of the Iranian people, under the U.S. economic war on Iran, there's unity, that Iran has to walk tall, has to show the international community that, when an important international agreement falls apart, through no fault of Iran, that those consequences visited on Iran aren't going to spare those who have supported this.
And that is why we've seen this measured response by Iran to what has happened to it, in totally unjustifiable acts against marine navigation, amongst other things. So this is a serious situation. And defusing it is not simply a matter of insisting Iran calms down but a compromise on all sides.
ALLEN: That sounds like something that does need to happen, doesn't it?
We really appreciate your insights. Richard Dalton, former ambassador to Iran. Thank you so much.
DALTON: Thank you.
HOWELL: British Airways announced Saturday it is suspending flights to Cairo for seven days.
ALLEN: Yes, it is a security precaution. The airline did not cite a specific threat. But the U.K. foreign office is warning of a heightened terrorism risk to aviation. German airline Lufthansa also suspended flights but said trips would resume on Sunday.
HOWELL: We're following the story of an American rapper who sits in a Swedish jail. But the U.S. president is trying to change that. How Donald Trump is trying to help A$AP Rocky.
ALLEN: Also a heat wave is making this weekend miserable for millions of Americans. And officials have one message: take the heat seriously. Our Ivan Cabrera will have the forecast coming up.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.
The U.S. president, Donald Trump, is trying to get an American rapper, A$AP Rocky, out of a Swedish jail.
ALLEN: However, Sweden's prime minister says their court system is completely independent and won't be swayed by outside pressure. Mr. Trump told the prime minister the rapper is not a flight risk and personally vouched for his bail. A$AP Rocky has been jailed for weeks on assault allegations.
HOWELL: Let's go to our London bureau and CNN correspondent David Culver. Good to be with you. Our first time together.
What do we know about the rapper?
Why is he being held there?
DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, George. We know this stems from a fight that dates back to exactly three weeks ago today. It was a street fight in Stockholm. For three weeks now the rapper has been in jail. And it looks like he will stay in custody until at least Thursday. That is according to a ruling from a Stockholm district court.
I've gone through the videos that appear to show this confrontation from three weeks back. The problem is, some of them have been edited. So that point, prosecutors say they need time to investigate and determine whether or not to formally charge the rapper.
CULVER (voice-over): With all the pressing matters U.S. president Donald Trump has on his foreign policy agenda right now, including rising tensions with Iran and North Korea, he's also using his political sway for this.
TRUMP: The situation in Sweden.
CULVER (voice-over): "The situation in Sweden" that the president refers to involves jailed American rapper and music producer, Rakim Mayers, who goes by A$AP Rocky.
TRUMP: I personally don't know A$AP Rocky but I can tell you that he has tremendous support from the African American community in this country.
CULVER (voice-over): A$AP's more than 10 million Instagram followers have not heard from him for nearly three weeks now. The Grammy- nominated artist is in custody in Stockholm.
Swedish authorities detained him on suspicion of assault in connection with a brawl on June 30th.
This edited video posted by TMZ appears to show A$AP in a confrontation in June. But additional edited videos uploaded onto A$AP's Instagram paint a different story.
A$AP ROCKY, RAPPER: Look, this what the shame is (ph), we don't want no problems with these boys. They keep following us. Look at them. They keep following.
CULVER (voice-over): A$AP telling his fans that these men kept following him and harassing him and his entourage, even alleging they threw headphones at his bodyguard.
The Stockholm district court decided Friday that A$AP Rocky should stay in custody until July 25th as the prosecutor continues to investigate, claiming that he is a flight risk.
The rapper's lawyer says the court's decision was expected but unfair, according to a report from Reuters. The lawyer says his client, quote, "believes he was assaulted and has acted in self-defense."
President Trump tweeting Saturday that he called Sweden's prime minister and told him that A$AP, quote, "was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail," despite the Scandinavian country --
[05:20:00] CULVER (voice-over): -- not having a bail system.
It's earned the president praise from some celebrities, Kim Kardashian thanking Trump for helping A$AP and his commitment to justice reform.
Singer Justin Bieber weighing in, too, tweeting to the president, "I appreciate you trying to help him. But while you're at it, can you also let those kids out of cages?" a reference to the migrant crisis along the Mexican border.
CULVER: As for how Sweden's leader is responding, through a spokesman, the prime minister acknowledged that he spoke with President Trump. He characterized it as a friendly and respectful 20- minute phone call Saturday but telling the president that his government neither can nor will try to influence the judicial process with respect to A$AP Rocky's case. Both sides say they will likely talk further on the matter in coming days.
HOWELL: But politics is never far from this. Critics would raise questions about the timing around all of this, after a very rough week for the president on the issue of race. Tell us more about that.
CULVER: No question. This past week, he not only received a lot of criticism for the racist comments and the chants that surfaced at a Trump rally, from folks within the country but here in the U.K.
U.K. leaders are among the first world leaders to condemn those comments. But it seems that the president may be using this as an opportunity to push past that racist rhetoric and take action.
This would be the action that would show, perhaps, those were not intended to be racist remarks. Several times Friday, George, he was speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, he made reference to the African American community, he says has a lot of interest in this case. They have a lot of support for A$AP Rocky.
And he goes on to say, not only the African American community but everybody in the country, the president says, he says, we are one. So it seems this is an attempt to bring some unity.
The question is, does it heal some of the wounds that surfaced this past week?
HOWELL: Indeed. Keeping in mind the African American community is many, many people thinking many, many things. Not a monolith for sure but it's interesting to see where this goes from here. David Culver, we appreciate your time, thank you.
ALLEN: Millions of people across the U.S., as we've been telling you, are feeling a potentially dangerous heat wave, from the Great Plains to the East Coast. Huge swaths of the country face temperatures well over 100 degrees.
HOWELL: But the numbers don't tell the whole story. There is also the heat index, making things even worse, feeling even hotter in places like New York and Washington. Police in Massachusetts are even asking would-be criminals to hold off in committing crimes, at least until Monday. They suggest people say -- that's what they're saying.
HOWELL: That's what they're saying.
ALLEN: How about just stop doing crimes, period, in all weather?
Oklahoma is feeling the heat, too, so much so that this road couldn't handle it. Police say it buckled under the extreme temperatures. So, yes, would-be thieves, please don't use that road.
HOWELL: If you're going to rob the bank, just wait a few days, until it's cooler, I guess.
HOWELL: A new voice on Capitol Hill, calling out racism. What one lawmaker is telling the leader of the free world.
ALLEN: And protesters in Puerto Rico are not backing down until the island's governor is out. We'll tell you why they have completely lost faith in his leadership.
HOWELL: Welcome back for viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from the ATL. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here's our top stories.
ALLEN: The U.K. says a British oil tanker was in Omani waters when it was seized by Iran's military. In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, the U.K. accused Iran of illegal interference in commercial shipping. The tanker and its crew remain in Iranian custody.
HOWELL: This in to our NEWSROOM. We want you to listen to audio we've received of radio messages from an Iranian vessel and a British warship to the British flag tanker, before it was seized. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you obey, you will be safe. If you obey, you will be safe. Alter your course to 360 degrees immediately -- over.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stena Impero, this is British warship Foxtrot 236. I reiterate that as you are conducting transit passage in a recognized international strait, under international law, your passage must not be impaired, impeded, obstructed or hampered.
Please confirm that you are conducting transit passage in a recognized international strait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Foxtrot 236, this is a navy patrol boat. No challenge is intended. No challenge is intended. I want to inspect the ship for security reasons -- over.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
ALLEN: Our Matthew Chance, covering this for us from the United Arab Emirates.
There we have it, Matthew, actual audio of how this came down. It is really chilling especially when you consider what happened next.
CHANCE: Well, exactly. You heard then, the Iranian captain informing the British warship that no challenge was intended. That had been literally moments before the fast patrol boats circled the ship, the Stena Impero. Then, special forces descended on fast ropes from a helicopter, that was hovering above its deck. The special forces, with their faces covered in balaclavas and wielding weapons to take control of it.
They were ordering that ship to change course and presumably enter Iranian waters. And what the British warship was trying to do -- and it was too distant from the Stena Impero to actually take any physical action. It was first of all, informing the Stena Impero of its rights, saying, you don't have to do this, essentially.
You are plying a totally legal, legitimate trade in these international waters. And the British warship addressed the Iranian navy as well and said, please confirm you're not trying to impede this legitimate British flagged vessel.
So an extraordinary exchange that has emerged, leading up to the eventual seizure by the Iranian military of this British flagged oil tanker.
ALLEN: And that U.K. warship as you mentioned, wasn't close enough to intercede anymore, because as you say, these fast boats moved in and they rappelled from helicopters, as they seize this ship. But now, I do believe that the U.K., the United States, are considering beefing up their Navy resources in that area.
CHANCE: Certainly, the British are. They have already sent a second warship into the area to beef up that security for British flag vessels. But from an British domestic point of view, there's questions being asked, as to why, with a threat level so critical against British shipping in the Persian Gulf region, more wasn't done to provide the kind of protective convoys, the extra British forces in the area that could have provided protection for that shipping.
They've done it in the past, why didn't they do it this time?
That is the question that is going to have serious consequences in Britain. What we're waiting for now, is the announcement by the British government as to what the next steps are going to be. They're consulting with their allies and partners to decide on what measures to take, the possibility of sanctions has been floated in the British media. British officials have refused to rule that out. They haven't confirmed that's what they are considering, either.
So this has the potential to escalate into something much broader, much more dangerous, even though the British say they want a diplomatic solution to this and not a military one.
ALLEN: Matthew Chance for us. The latest on this audio we just received of that exchange before they took over that vessel. Thank you so much, Matthew.
HOWELL: Back here in the States, one of the U.S. congresswomen on the receiving end of racist attacks by the U.S. --
HOWELL: -- president is firing back.
ALLEN: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed him at a town hall event on immigrant held in her hometown, New York. She accused the president of policies of ethnicity, after the racist tweets this past week targeted her and three other Democratic congresswomen of color.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Once you start telling American citizens to, quote, "go back to your own countries," this tells you this president's policies are not about immigration. It's about ethnicity and racism.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: We know that he has been thinking this the entire time. But he's been keeping it in here. And this week, it went out here. When he started telling American citizens. Where are we going to go? We're going to stay right here. That's where we're going to go. We're not going anywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: They are American citizens. President Trump seemed to single out congresswoman Ilhan Omar, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Somalia. She was the focus of racist chanting in North Carolina on Wednesday from a crowd that Mr. Trump has once described as patriots. Our Boris Sanchez reports.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It appears that President Trump wants to have this both ways. Just a few days after saying that he tried to hush the crowd, that he tried to speak and interrupt the people who were chanting "send her back" at his Wednesday night rally in North Carolina, the president now tweeting that those people are great patriots. This is what the president sent out via Twitter.
"As you can see, I did nothing to lead people on. Nor was I particularly happy with their chant. Just a very big and patriotic crowd. They love the USA."
Two important things to point out. In that tweet, the president is retweeting someone who is supportive of those chants, suggesting that "send her back" is the new "lock her up," the chants we heard in 2016 about Hillary Clinton and that we still often hear at Trump events.
Secondly, these supporters are echoing something that President Trump tweeted himself a week ago. He was contradictory about whether or not this was politically beneficial for him. Just a few days ago he said he was winning the political fight on Friday night before he left for a weekend at his estate at Bedminster.
The president said it didn't matter whether he was winning or losing but that he had to speak up. I want you to listen why.
TRUMP: I don't know if it's good or bad politically. I don't care. But when people are speaking so badly, when they call our country garbage. Think of that. That's worse than deplorable. When they call our country garbage, I don't care about politics. I don't care if it's good or bad about politics.
SANCHEZ: Critical to point out that, in the public record, there's no indication that any of these four progressive congresswomen said that the United States is garbage or that Americans are garbage. The president is trying to paint them as extreme and try to elevate them and make them the face of the Democratic Party, thereby to paint the Democratic Party as too extreme going into a tough election in 2020 -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
HOWELL: Protesters in Puerto Rico are taking demands straight to the governor's mansion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL (voice-over): On Saturday, dozens of people, sang, they chanted and banged pots and pans just blocks away from the governor's residence. They are demanding that the governor resign. But he is refusing to do that. ALLEN (voice-over): The public outrage was sparked by a leak of offensive text messages between the governor and his aides. Protesters say Ricardo Rossello and his administration are corrupt. The island is suffering from high poverty rates, crushing debt and an incomplete recovery from Hurricane Maria.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: U.S. Democratic presidential candidates are supporting the protesters. Tulsi Gabbard is in San Juan to join the chorus of voices demanding that the governor resign. She spoke with CNN's Nick Paton Walsh there on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI): I'm doing what I can to lift this up to the national conversation and calling on leaders in the United States of America to stand with the people of Puerto Rico against corruption and for the people.
You're right. This is not about partisan politics. You're seeing bipartisan call to action from people here in Puerto Rico against the corruption across their government. That's same kind of call of action we need to support here and that we need support in the United States government as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Candidate Cory Booker tweeted this, "It's clear the protesters' confidence in the island's leadership is gone. And they're right to demand the leadership they deserve."
ALLEN: Pete Buttigieg wrote that Governor Rossello --
HOWELL: -- must resign and allow the healing process to begin so Puerto Ricans can have a leader they trust.
And Kamala Harris said, the only path for justice in Puerto Rico is to speak truth against divisive and corrupt leaders.
ALLEN: We'll hear more from the candidates next when CNN hosts the next set of Democratic presidential campaign debates. The first night features progressive senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. They will be joined on Tuesday, July 30th, by South Bend, Indiana, mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
HOWELL: And the second night will be a rematch between Kamala Harris and the former vice president Joe Biden. That's on Wednesday, July 31st. Joining them, Senator Cory Booker and former Housing Secretary, Julian Castro.
Still ahead here, the extradition bill is suspended. But Hong Kong protesters are not giving up. This live image in Hong Kong, 5:40 in the evening and people are out on the streets. (MUSIC PLAYING)
ALLEN: Demonstrators are not backing down in Hong Kong. You're about to see how many have come out again. They are in the streets, protesting that same controversial bill.
HOWELL: At 5:44 pm in Hong Kong, people are out in force, a big show of force there. The measure would have allowed extradition to Mainland China. Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announced that the bill was suspended last month.
But that's not good enough for many of these protesters that you see here. They want the bill completely withdrawn and they want Lam to resign.
ALLEN: For more, CNN's Anna Coren is --
ALLEN: -- live in Hong Kong for us.
Anna, there's been weeks of these protests. You've been in them.
How does this one compare?
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Natalie, the protests have been extremely peaceful this afternoon. For the last few hours, it has been a march from Causeway Bay to where we are now. The protesters have diverted and have now occupied this major thoroughfare.
The protest was not supposed to come here. And if we bring our camera, our cameraman is going to swing the camera around, the protesters are marching towards the final court of appeal.
That is about 500 meters, from where we are standing, if not further. That's where the original march was supposed to go to. That's what the civil rights front wanted. However, the police said no, it was unsafe to do that.
Protesters are defying police orders. And it's interesting. In the last half an hour, you're getting a sense that things are changing. Protesters are putting on their face masks. They have their goggles and gas masks. They are anticipating what lies ahead.
We also walked past the police headquarters here in Hong Kong. There were dozens of riot police outside, clearly visible, to the protesters. If you come over here, as Brad is bringing the camera over here, this is LegCo and the police are now erecting these two- meter water barriers around the complex. They, too, are not taking any chances.
This time, obviously, in the past, protesters have managed to make their way through where the barricades have been erected. But this seems to be a different situation. It's taking on a bit of a darker tone, if you like. Protesters are anticipating that the police are only going to tolerate this for so long.
This is a major thoroughfare in an international city. It is Sunday afternoon. And so far, police are allowing the protesters to occupy the streets. But this is not going to last. We should note that it is, obviously, Sunday afternoon.
But coming into Monday morning, police are going to make sure that these roads will be cleared.
As to how long the protesters are willing to hang around for, Natalie, we just don't know. I should note that, over the weekend, three men were arrested. It was the largest seizure of explosives here in Hong Kong. It was TATP, which is what ISIS and Al Qaeda have used. It was found in warehouse in the New Territories. Three men have been arrested.
We don't know if there's any connection between the explosives and the protests. But police are asking everybody to remain vigilant, Natalie.
ALLEN: Anna Coren in Hong Kong. Thank you, Anna.
HOWELL: History was made 50 years ago this weekend. We look back at the mission that brought the first man to the moon.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BUZZ ALDRIN, APOLLO 11: Contact light. OK, engine stop. ACA, out of detent.
NEIL ARMSTRONG, APOLLO 11: Out of detent.
ALDRIN: Mode control, both auto. Descent engine command override, off. Engine arm, off. 413 is in.
CHARLIE DUKE, CAPCOM: We copy you down, Eagle.
ARMSTRONG: Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.
DUKE: Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We're breathing again. Thanks a lot.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HOWELL: That was the moment a major leap of faith and focus, the hope it took for them to forever change history. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the moon, a first for humanity.
The 50th anniversary of this historic mission is being celebrated this weekend.
ALLEN: Aldrin was honored at Cape Canaveral on Saturday with a standing ovation led by U.S. vice president Mike Pence. Armstrong died seven years ago.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, three, two, one. And liftoff. 50 years after a small step for man, the Soyuz rocket and its multinational crew take a giant leap.
HOWELL (voice-over): What would the anniversary be without a space launch?
This was the blastoff Saturday of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan. It carried three new members to the International Space Station.
ALLEN (voice-over): Good timing there. There were fireworks, too, over the NASA Space Center in Houston, Texas, on Saturday. They were set off at the exact time of day that Armstrong made his small step and giant leap.
HOWELL (voice-over): Then, there's the spacesuit that Armstrong wore. It's on display at the Smithsonian Museum. It underwent 13 years of restoration work.
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HOWELL: What does that hold for the future of space exploration?
ALLEN: For one group of experts, it is the mission to Mars. That's next. CNN CNN's Paul Vercammen with that.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 1957: the Russians launch the first satellite into space. And it rattles John Casani, then a young American aerospace engineer.
JOHN CASANI, JPL: Walking out after work, it was like 4 or 5 o'clock and we were going down the steps. And we actually saw the doggone Sputnik going across the sky and that was a -- that was sort of a devastating blow. We realized we were nowhere near that.
VERCAMMEN: So the United States began its ambitious quest to put a man on the moon. In California at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, they leaped into the unmanned Ranger and Surveyor programs.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that Surveyor did land on the moon and worked.
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VERCAMMEN: They wanted answers on the surface.
CASANI: Whether the astronauts sink over 14 feet into talcum powder or would they stay on the surface?
That was the purpose of the Ranger and the Surveyor programs that --
CASANI: -- demonstrate that the moon surface was a reasonable place to put a spacecraft down.
VERCAMMEN: And the manned Apollo program would follow. And now JPL is riveted on the Red Planet.
KATIE STACK MORGAN, DEPUTY PROJECT SCIENTIST, MARS 2020: We look at the Ranger-Surveyor missions and we learn from their reconnaissance of the moon and we apply those same kind of lessons to reconning Mars, understanding it from an orbiter perspective.
VERCAMMEN: Eight times JPL has landed unmanned craft on Mars, including InSight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liftoff of the Explorer 5.
VERCAMMEN: And the Curiosity Rover. They're working on a new six- wheel drive wonder, the 2020 Rover.
MORGAN: So, these missions to Mars, they have a science focus. The robotic missions. We're learning about the geology of Mars and its potential for hosting life in the past but each one of these missions makes a small contribution towards the goal of getting humans to Mars.
VERCAMMEN: Instruments on the 2020 Rover including Sherlock which will search for signs of microbial life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a replica of the MOXIE instrument.
VERCAMMEN: And MOXIE testing how to turn the Mars atmosphere into vital oxygen astronauts can breathe and rocket fuel.
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ARMSTRONG: That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
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VERCAMMEN: The plan is to put humans back on the moon.
CASANI: People said, well we've already done that. Yes, we've already done that but we didn't then stay more than a day or two. What's really important is sustainability. Can we get to Mars or the moon or anyplace and stay there on a more or less permanent basis. That's the challenge.
VERCAMMEN: So the massive brains here at JPL predict that their heavy lifting, their unmanned missions will lead to putting an astronaut on Mars and when that happens, they want to remind everyone that they think they are indeed, the center of the universe -- Paul Vercammen, CNN, Pasadena, California.
ALLEN: That's our show. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues after the break.