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CNN NEWSROOM

Crowds of Demonstrators Gather before Hong Kong March; Multiple Arrests at Dueling Protests in Portland, Oregon; Dozens Dead after Blast Hits Kabul Wedding; Elizabeth Warren's Evolution from Conservative to Liberal; Teen Activist Sets Sail on Zero-Emissions Yacht. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired August 18, 2019 - 04:00   ET

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


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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The scene live in Hong Kong at 4:00 pm that time. Thousands of people there on the streets. Activists hope to show city leaders their movement still has massive support entering its 11th weekend straight. CNN is live in Hong Kong covering this story.

Plus in the United States, far right and far left activists face off. The extremist groups hold dueling demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.

Also ahead this hour, tragedy in Afghanistan. A deadly suicide bomb attack targets a wedding in the nation's capital, Kabul. Women and children among the dozens killed there.

Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, welcome e welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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HOWELL: 4:01 here on the East Coast. We are watching the streets of Hong Kong this hour, where thousands of pro-democracy of protests are on the streets. Look at that, all the umbrellas there. It's raining a bit there in Hong Kong. Thousands of people have come together this day, out marching in the heart of the city.

This is the 11th straight weekend of pro-democracy rallies. It is a clear message to city leaders, these protesters are saying they are not backing down. CNN covering all angles of the protests. Will Ripley joins us by phone and Paula Hancocks will be live with us there on the ground.

Will, first to you.

Well, we'll start with you, Paula because we see your signal and we see so many people on ground. Tell us about your location.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: George, it's a logjam at the moment. This is the spot where people were coming from the metro station toward Victoria Park, where this rally was going to be held. But Victoria Park is full. People simply can't get in, that's the sheer number of people we're seeing.

Organizers have been saying don't come to the park, go elsewhere. Police have started to block off a couple of roads to traffic so that it is safe for people to be able to walk elsewhere.

The key point was the rally itself in the park was approved by police. So that is legal. The march, which many people wanted to do, was denied by police. So that part is illegal.

But the fact is, the sheer number of people means that they have to allow people to walk. They're giving chants like, "Stand with Hong Kong," "The five demands are important," calling for an independent investigation of what they believe is excessive force used by police.

The police say if certain elements of these protesters didn't use violence, they wouldn't have to use force. So it is a struggle on the streets of Hong Kong and also a fight for public opinion.

We're heard far more from the police in recent days than before. This shows the passion that, 11 weeks in, still is here on the streets of Hong Kong the feelings that people have, pushing for democracy, the one country/two systems that many of them fear is in jeopardy at this point -- George.

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks live for us. It really is about show of force. We're looking at this image beside you, what seemed to be thousands of people there on the streets with their umbrellas.

Let's bringing in Will Ripley who joins us now by phone.

Will, as I mentioned, it's about show of force. We see what's happening with these pro-democracy demonstrators. But at the same time, we understand the other side of this equation is also in that effort to make sure that they make clear what show of force could mean for them.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you definitely see two types of force kind of playing out in a very short distance from each other here. I'm standing in the middle of Victoria Park. It is the force of the crowd.

There are so many people here packed in the park that it is standing room only. It's been pouring rain. People are standing, shouting, "Open the roads," wanting police to open the route that has been traditionally used this summer to march from the park to the garden.

Looks like there's crowd movement as I'm speaking. People starting to move towards the entrance. We'll see if this large crowd currently kind of jammed up inside the park moves onward. In Shenzhen, just along the border with Hong Kong --

[04:05:00]

RIPLEY: -- the Chinese state media just today releasing a new video of their armed military police conducting large-scale training exercises.

If you look at it, it is quite brutal, some of the force China could unleash if they decided to deploy mainland military assets in Hong Kong.

It's that kind of alleged brutality, what the protesters call mainland style police oppression, that brought so many people out here. They feel the police have used similar tactics and feel China may be preparing for its own intervention.

HOWELL: We see some of that video right now as you were explaining it, showing exactly what could happen if you know, they were to be brought into this equation. Will Ripley is live for us by phone. Will, thank you. We'll stay in touch with you as we continue to monitor what's happening on the streets of Hong Kong.

With us now, we have Wong Yik Mo, the vice convener for the Civil Human Rights Front from Hong Kong.

Good to have you with us.

WONG YIK MO, CIVIL HUMAN RIGHTS FRONT: Hi.

HOWELL: Look, we see these protests for 11 straight weekends with no sign of letting up. Given the long list of demands that seems to grow, is there any indication this movement will bring about the change that it wants?

WONG: Right. We can see very clearly that the government is nervous. And it's changing its tactics to crack down on the protests. You know, the -- October 1st will be the national day of China. And we see the speeding up of crackdown on the protests.

So we think that will be a day where, at least, we have to persist until that day and then we'll see what happens next.

HOWELL: You know, one thing we have seen and keeping an eye on, of course, the paramilitary staging in Shenzhen.

Are you concerned about the mainland sending security forces over into Hong Kong?

WONG: Right. I have to make clear that security forces are not allowed in Hong Kong, black and white. Only armies can be sent upon request of our chief executive.

If I tell you I'm not worried, then I must be lying. We always are worried. But at this moment, we think the armies -- sorry, the forces in Shenzhen, they are trying to create this atmosphere that they're trying to protect the innocents, the injured, from what they've been doing, is that they fight against rioters and they protect the injured.

But then the case in Hong Kong is actually that the police, they violently treat peacefully -- our peaceful protesters and until that girl, she was shot on her face and she lost both of her eyes. And we know that there's no way to justify what the police have done.

And so the Chinese authority has been using this tactic to create a positive image of the Chinese supporting Hong Kong police. And we think this is propaganda, at least for the time being.

HOWELL: Overall, we've seen several different protests. We've seen pro-police protests; of course, pro-democracy protests, as well.

How representative would you say are these protesters?

Do they have the support of most Hong Kongers?

Who is winning the battle for hearts and minds?

WONG: Right, for the pro-police protests, they claim to have like 470,000 protesters, which is -- which is nonsense because we know that venue. They could not fit in so many people. Although, in the past weeks more young protesters are they have been taking actions in the streets.

At Civil Human Rights Front, we have received very large number of demand to organize a peaceful assembly so that everyone can join. Everyone can show support to the protesters although they cannot physically be there to, you know, to support the actions because they don't feel safe. But then deep inside, they know we are one.

We are Hong Kong. We have to unite. That is the only way that we can win this movement.

[04:10:00]

HOWELL: It is good to get your perspective of this pro-democracy movement. We'll continue to follow it. Wong Yik Mo, thank you again for your time.

WONG: Thank you very much.

HOWELL: Now to Afghanistan, families who should be celebrating, they're instead burying their dead. Authorities say at least 63 people were killed on Saturday when a suicide blast targeted a wedding, the attack killing women and children among the victims.

This blast comes after a new round of U.S.-Taliban peace talks. A Taliban spokesperson has condemned the attack and says that his group wasn't involved. Let's get the latest from David Culver, tracking the story from Seoul, South Korea.

What is the latest you're hearing about this attack that took place at a wedding?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's incredible to think about that, a joyful atmosphere there, George, that was shattered by this suicide bomber. The Afghan president tweeting out just a few minutes ago that this is a day of mourning here.

And for good reason. When you look at these images and you see what was supposed to be a celebration, a gathering of family and friends, instead, it's the aftermath. It's tables that were decorated, left empty, meals left uneaten.

The latest numbers, 63 dead, more than 180 wounded. Women and children, as you mentioned, among those who were injured and killed. All of that coming from the interior ministry.

And it comes as there's hope for peace in that area. Yet, it seems hope is seemingly far off and farther when have you attacks like this. When we go to the ground there and we see some of the images and hear from some of the witnesses, it brings home the pain they're feeling there. I want you to hear from one of the residents nearby.

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MOHAMMAD HASAN, WITNESS (through translator): We were sitting in our home when a strong sound of the blast came up. We came to the site of the blast and I saw that many women and children were screaming and crying. Many martyrs and injured people were transferred by the ambulances and it was a really terrible situation.

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CULVER: The Taliban is condemning this latest attack. They say they had nothing to do with this. They are not claiming responsibility for it, just the opposite. They're saying this is something done by another group.

It's not clear who is responsible for this. Afghanistan's president has come out to say that, even though the Taliban has condemned this, he believes that they still provide a lot of support for terrorists. And all of this comes 10 days after another deadly attack, 14 people killed, 145 injured.

This after three suicide bombers were suspected to have detonated explosives outside of a police station in that same part of the city where this wedding attack happened. So a lot of uncertainty, unrest and grieving right now -- George.

HOWELL: David Culver, live for us following the story. David, thank you.

Now to the capital of Bangladesh and a scene of destruction to tell you about. A large fire roared through a slum on Friday night. You see the images here in Dhaka that left hundreds of people homeless, according to national news media there. The flames completely destroyed that area.

All that was left, a field of ash and debris. Afterwards, dazed residents. At a temporary shelter, the mayor of the city's northern district hugged and tried to console victims. He said that more help is on the way.

In Portland, Oregon, a tense scene played out on Saturday, as rival groups held dueling rallies. We'll show you what police did to keep the peace there. Plus cheering factory workers greet President Trump in the state of

Pennsylvania. But some of those workers say they were forced to be there or lose their pay. Stand by. We'll be back.

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HOWELL: Dueling protests in Portland, Oregon, led to arrests, injuries and tensions across that city. Police arrested 13 people during the demonstrations that pitted left-wing anti-fascist groups against right-wing groups there.

The charges include disorderly conduct and weapons violations. By Saturday afternoon, police ordered all demonstrators to leave the downtown area of Portland. Our Sara Sidner was there and filed this report.

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SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Portland was on edge for most of the day and the protests still aren't over. They started late this morning by a group named the Proud Boys, who are a right-wing group, who came here to engage anti-fascists or Antifa, as they're called here, who are a left-wing group.

What is happening now, the right-wing group has left. They came here. They protested. The police have been very adamant to keep the two groups from coming together because they were worried about a large amount of violence. That did not take place.

What you are seeing again are the police in the streets. They've been standing between these two groups all day long. Now that the Right has left, there is the Left that is left here. Members of Antifa are here but there are other groups here.

Portland residents who just want to come out and show they do not want these right-wing groups here nor do they want white supremacist groups to show up here in this city. The police still following them around, trying to make sure they're not in the streets.

If people block the streets, they will be arrested. So far more than a dozen people arrested, one injured. But for the numbers of people that showed up here, the biggest worry has not come to fruition, that there was going to be major violence. That is partly because the police have kept people apart. That was by design.

Eighteen Agencies from across the state of Oregon, as well some of the federal agencies, law enforcement agencies, have been keeping eyes on this, have been involved in trying to make sure these groups do not come together. So far, so good.

The mayor was very adamant that he was concerned about the city, told people not to come downtown --

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SIDNER: -- and usually on a Saturday, lots of folks out at Waterfront Park. This has moved a little bit into the downtown area. But so far, again, major violence did not erupt here in Portland as feared -- Sara Sidner, CNN, Portland, Oregon.

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HOWELL: Sara, thank you.

In a tweet, the U.S. president said that he is considering naming Antifa an organization of terror and that he hopes that Portland's mayor Ted Wheeler does his job. He gave no such warning to the far right group protesting against the left-wing activists. The head of the Proud Boys responded to our Sara Sidner.

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SIDNER: At a time when the government here and the people here who live here are extremely concerned about what's going on, to have the president just pick one group when the right has also been arrested and not to mention it --

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ENRIQUE TARRIO, CHAIRMAN, PROUD BOYS: This weekend, would you be tweeting right now -- right now, you're not covering white supremacy, are you?

You're covering -- you're covering this event, right?

So when El Paso shooting happened, he tweeted about El Paso. Today, the event is Antifa. So --

SIDNER: Is it Antifa, though?

You guys are the ones that organized the event.

TARRIO: Yes.

SIDNER: So how --

TARRIO: Did anything go wrong with the event today?

SIDNER: Nothing went wrong with Antifa either. Nothing went wrong with you guys. It has so far been peaceful. Is that what you are planning on doing coming here? I guess, the question is, why come here?

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TARRIO: As long as Ted Wheeler keeps pandering to Antifa and not calling them out by name, we're going to keep coming out here.

We're going to keep wasting his resources. He's going to call the agencies he's called. He's going to call the National Guard, the FBI, all of those people and we're going to keep coming out until Ted Wheeler does something.

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HOWELL: Portland's mayor, Ted Wheeler, said President Trump's tweet was not helpful and added to the noise of a potentially volatile situation.

By the way, designating Antifa as a terror organization would be difficult, since the U.S. has no domestic terrorism law and the group itself has no centralized headquarters or leader.

Controversial information has come to light about President Trump's speech last week that took place at a chemical plant in the state of Pennsylvania. It now appears the plant workers there felt they had to attend the speech or risk losing pay.

A memo also instructed them not to protest the president. But it's not clear who exactly wrote that memo. The company says that it wasn't them. CNN's Kristen Holmes explains what we know so far.

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KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Shell is denying they wrote that memo and they are taking particular issue with the line about how workers were not allowed to protest President Trump, saying that any language about worker conduct was not something that came from the company.

But when it came to that line about overtime, it was a little bit different of a response. The spokesperson from Shell saying this, "It was understood some would choose not to attend the presidential visit and were given the option to take paid time off instead.

"As with any work week, if someone chooses to take PTO, they are not eligible to receive maximum overtime."

Essentially, it's only mandatory if you want to get paid. We have reached out to the White House, we have not heard back -- Kristen Holmes, CNN.

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HOWELL: Let's now talk more about it with Scott Lucas, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham, England.

Good to have you with us.

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Morning, George.

HOWELL: Given what we know about this memo that went around and there are still questions who exactly wrote it, what do you make of all of this?

LUCAS: Well, bottom line is the show must go on. Donald Trump went to Shell for a set piece. He actually didn't speak about energy for much of that but insulted others, like the Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren, calling her a derogatory nickname, insulting Native Americans.

He wants the spectacle, the show and workers were expected to be part of this. Whoever sent this memo, however it was circulated, the bottom line is, you get paid for going to that rally. You, in other words, get rewarded, not because you necessarily support Donald Trump but simply because you put yourself in the place where he wants you to be for that hour and a half.

HOWELL: We've seen the president weigh in on the far left with the anti-fascist protesters, wanting to label them as terrorists. But the far right groups have been accused of carrying out violence in the past.

What is the impact of the president condemning only one side of the equation here?

LUCAS: Here's the playbook. And this continue all the way through the 2020 election. A far right group says it will march through a city like Portland, Oregon. Donald Trump goes on Twitter not to say to the far right group, don't march, don't stir up trouble but to immediately say, I'm going to call out Antifa possibly as terrorists.

The far right group then marches. Antifa --

[04:25:00]

LUCAS: -- responds like responding to a red flag. There are some skirmishes, there are a few people who are arrested. The majority of the protests against the right-wing march are peaceful.

But of course, the headlines on many media sites, especially right- wing attack sites --and I will name them -- is that Antifa, Antifa is terrorizing is people thus feeding back into Trump's language not only about Antifa but that the idea that his political opponents are all extremists.

It is a very effective tactic at one level if the media continue to play into Trump's hands and continue to give space to the far right group, the Proud Boys, who say we're going to do this over and over again, even if it means wasting resources that could be use the for things like, oh, I don't know, hospitals, education.

HOWELL: And you know, we've talked about this before but the politics of division looking ahead to 2020, to your point, do you believe that this us versus them binary is a winning hand for President Trump?

Or might it backfire in this cycle?

LUCAS: That's up to the American people. All I'm going to say is that, if you were to conduct this election on the details of the issues that matter to so many of us, on whether you can get decent health care, on whether you get decent education, on whether you can deal with climate change and the environment, on whether you get a sensible foreign policy and perhaps, most importantly to all Americans, whether they're going to have money in their pockets and jobs and a roof over their heads, Donald Trump doesn't do issues or details. He does sound bites.

The sound bites is, portray your opponents as they hate America. Nothing positive about all Americans. But just simply they hate America. That division worked in 2016; will it work next year?

I'm afraid we have to wait and see.

HOWELL: Scott Lucas in Birmingham, England. Thank you for your time.

Still ahead, we'll delve in deeper into this attack that happened in Afghanistan at a wedding. The Taliban says they were not involved. But the Afghan president says they can't absolve themselves. What the blast means for peace talks that are taking place there.

Plus, Elizabeth Warren's fascinating evolution from staunch conservative to progressive liberal. You'll hear in her own words why this 2020 Democratic candidate's views have changed. Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. Are you watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

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HOWELL: For more on this, let's bring in Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics, also the author of "ISIS: A History," joining us in London.

Thank you for your time. So we're seeing another attack, another violent attack in Afghanistan, this time at a wedding. These critical talks are underway right now.

Do you expect to see more violence?

FAWAZ GERGES, DIR. MIDDLE EAST CENTER, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Oh, absolutely. In fact, according to United Nations, Afghanistan remains a very deadly battlefield.

For your own viewers, George, in the past years, more than 3,800 civilians have been killed or were killed in Afghanistan, including 900 children just in the past 12 months as a result of the clashes between the Taliban, the American forces in Afghanistan and the Afghan government -- and also ISIS.

ISIS, the so-called Islamic State, has a affiliate in the Afghanistan. In the past year, the Taliban have increased their attacks in Afghanistan. In order to really strengthen their position with the talks with the United States, the Taliban are negotiating by blood and fire.

And so far, yes, a bit of progress has been made in the peace talks between the United States and the Taliban. But of course, the violence; almost every week you have a major attack in Afghanistan.

HOWELL: The president of Afghanistan condemned the attack and called out the Taliban on it, saying this in a tweet. I'll read it.

"The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide the platform for terrorists. Today is the day of mourning, hence state builders have canceled today's gathering at the Loya Jirga tent."

Politically this response speaks volume.

Do the internal divide between the government and Taliban, which doesn't recognize it, is there a path for peace here or do we continue to see deepening division?

GERGES: Well, I mean, ironically, the United States has been engaged in the so-called peace talks with the Taliban. Yet, the Taliban refuse to talk to the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

Literally, the Taliban say, we will not talk to the Afghan government in Kabul unless American forces depart, exit Afghanistan. This tells you a great deal about the contempt that the Taliban have for the Afghan government. They don't take it seriously. They believe it's a stooge of the United States.

And the reality is, if you ask Afghanis, on the whole, Afghanis, the everyday Afghani is torn between his aspiration or aspirations for peace and stability and her or his fears of the return --

[04:35:00]

GERGES: -- the Taliban to power. Because Afghanis do not really know how the Taliban will behave once they are in power. No one knows.

But the reality is, George -- and here is really the bottom line. The Taliban know they have a golden opportunity with president Donald Trump in power because they realize Donald Trump would like to disengage militarily from Afghanistan. So it's a golden opportunity for the Taliban to gain the upper hand.

Ironically, President Trump used to criticize his predecessor, president Barack Obama, for setting a timetable for pulling American -- pulling out American forces from Afghanistan. Yet, President Trump has advertised to the world that he would like out of Afghanistan.

That's why the Taliban know very well, at the end of the day, they probably will likely take ownership again of Afghanistan once the American forces pull out of the country.

HOWELL: To your point, the president has been very clear from the start, he wants out of what has become America's longest war by pulling the majority of troops out of Afghanistan.

What do you expect will happen there?

GERGES: Well, I mean, no one knows. Of course, the deal that the Americans and the Taliban are working is as follows: it's a power sharing agreement. The Taliban will likely share power with the U.S.- supported Afghan government.

In return, that the Taliban will make sure that Afghanistan will not serve as a launching pad, a launching station, for extremist attacks against the United States.

But we know that the Afghan government is very fragile. The Afghan government is very weak. It has not really been able to consolidate its power in Afghanistan. That's why, once the Americans gradually begin to pull out their forces from Afghanistan, my take on it is that the Taliban will gain the upper hand.

The question is, on the table, will they honor the power sharing agreement with the Afghan government?

Or will they basically go for the whole thing?

But the reality is, President Trump has told the Taliban he wants out. And the Taliban are not fooled. If I were a Taliban, I say, well, look, this is my moment. I'll promise President Trump and the Americans whatever they want because I know they will be out in a year or two. And then the country itself will be under their grip.

But to come back to your point about the attacks last night against the wedding, against -- historically even though the Taliban have denied responsibility for the attacks last night, historically, the Taliban and ISIS -- ISIS has an affiliate, we're told in Afghanistan, have repeatedly targeted the Shia Hazara community, the Shia in Afghanistan represent a small minority.

And in the past few years, the Shias have basically been bled by both the Taliban and ISIS. So I mean, just in July, this July, an ISIS affiliate in eastern Afghanistan targeted a Shia wedding and killed scores of Shias.

So yes, the Taliban might not be responsible for this particular attack. I would say that either the ISIS affiliate or extreme elements of the Taliban or other Sunni extremists were responsible for the massacre last night.

HOWELL: Fawaz Gerges, giving perspective and context, thank you.

GERGES: Thank you.

HOWELL: 2020 Democratic candidates are reaching out to African American voters, especially younger Millennials. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both hoping to cut into front-runner Joe Biden's lead.

They traveled here to Atlanta on Saturday, speaking to young black Christians. Warren later hosted an event in South Carolina, making her pitch to college students there.

Many voters know Elizabeth Warren as a die-hard liberal and a standard bearer of progressive issues but that wasn't always the case. Not long ago, Warren was much more closely aligned with conservative values. The American political spectrum had a different side for Elizabeth Warren.

We get more now from MJ Lee, who examines the dramatic shift to the Left.

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SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have the power to make big, structural change in this country. And that's what I'm in this for. Big change.

MJ LEE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER (voice-over): As a U.S. senator and 2020 presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren is --

[04:40:00]

LEE: -- calling for big systemic changes to the country. But there is one change from her past that she doesn't often talk about, her own political evolution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were registered as a Republican until 1995.

WARREN: I was.

LEE: While exhaustively studying bankruptcy as a law professor in the 1980s and '90s, Warren repeatedly wrote and spoke about government overreach. Her outlook was unquestionably conservative.

According to copies of speeches obtained by CNN's KFILE, Warren appeared at conferences hosted by conservative groups like the Federalist Society. In one speech, she argued in favor of the federal bankruptcy system, saying it wept kept losses contained to the private sector.

In a paper published in the 1980 Notre Dame Law Review first reported by "Politico", Warren argued that utility companies were overregulated writing eliminating regulatory lag will end the need for frequent rate hearings. And will thus reduce the administrative costs of regulation.

A 1993 "Philadelphia Inquirer" profile on Warren quipped that she sounded like an entrepreneur. She warned against government red tape saying, regulations have stretched and grown beyond all imagination. And regulations are a tax as real as reaching into your pocket and taking 33 percent for the IRS.

WARREN: I believe in markets. And I believe in the value that we get out of markets. But it's got to be markets with rules. You know, market without rules is theft.

LEE: Twenty-six years after complaining that regulations are a tax, Warren now argues that the financial markets need rules to prevent corporations from steamrolling consumers and small business. So, what explains the gradual but striking policy shift?

WARREN: I didn't think much about politics.

LEE: At a CNN town hall in April, Warren addressed her swing to the left away from her conservative roots.

WARREN: In late mid-1990s, I've been working over and over on what's happening to America's working families, to America's middle class. This is my life's work.

LEE: Warren described how her research into bankruptcy abuses spark the beginning of her political transformation.

WARREN: I looked around the middle of that fight and I realized all the money was on one side and all the hurting was on the other. And that's when I jumped in politically.

LEE: Warren began advocating for the middle class.

WARREN: America families who need your help.

LEE: Ultimately spearheading the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for what she now calls economic patriotism.

WARREN: These giant multinational corporations they're not patriotic. They don't have any loyalty to this country, to these workers. They have loyalty to exactly one thing. And that is the profitability of the bottom line. That's it.

LEE: And today, the one time Republican is leading the progressive charge as a Democratic contender for the White House.

WARREN: I'm tired of billionaire freeloaders. I want everybody to pay a fair share to keep this government going.

LEE: Fast forward to 2019, Elizabeth Warren has been rising in the polls lately and she clearly has political momentum behind her and she's about to confront an issue that has been pretty tough for her to deal with and that is the issue of her family ancestry.

On Friday she put out a number of proposals aimed at helping the Native American community and then on Monday, we're going to see her in Iowa participating in a Native Americans conference. We'll see whether questions about her family ancestry come up at that conference -- MJ Lee, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: A young activist takes on a daring voyage across the Atlantic to raise awareness about climate change. But the most difficult part of the mission could be after she arrives in America. We'll explain. (MUSIC PLAYING)

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HOWELL: The climate crisis, the issue of climate change, many people have sounded the alarm. But teenage activist Greta Thunberg has elevated the conversation more than many. Next month she plans to address the U.N.'s Climate Action Summit here in New York, rather and to get there she's sailing across the Atlantic on a special yacht. CNN's Lynda Kinkade has her story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Climate activists Greta Thunberg, may be embarking upon her most challenging mission yet. The 16-year-old is sailing across the Atlantic from the English coast to New York City to attend the U.N. climate summit in New York.

GRETA THUNBERG, ACTIVIST FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: I feel a bit seasick and it's not going to be comfortable, but that I can live with.

KINKADE: She's refusing to fly in order to make her voyage emissions- free. Instead, she'll spend about two weeks at sea. And the conditions she's prepared to live with, well she'll have to live with no toilet.

THUNBERG: We will have to do it in a buckets, but I mean that's fine.

KINKADE: There's also no running water. And here is where Greta will spend each night, makeshift sleeping quarters with curtains to create a sense of privacy.

THUNBERG: I don't see any problem with that, really. It's just -- and if it's really hard then, I just have to think it's only for two weeks. And then I can go back to as usual.

KINKADE: This is an old racing yacht. 60 feet long and equipped with sails. The Malizia II is also fitted with solar panels and underwater turbines that generate electricity. The 16-year-old has become a leading voice in the global campaign for action against global warming.

Before setting sail, Wednesday, Greta said she would ignore criticism from climate change skeptics, arguing that science was on her side.

THUNBERG: There are always going to be people who don't understand or don't accept the united science. And I mean, I will just ignore them because, I mean, I'm only acting and communicating on the science.

KINKADE: Greta is traveling with her father, a filmmaker and two other crew members and plans to address the U.N. summit in New York, September 23rd -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: All right. Greta has been sending updates of her voyage. So far she's sailed about 600 miles from England. She still has about 3,000 miles or 4,800 kilometers to go to reach New York. She describes the experience as "camping on a roller coaster."

The Alaskan salmon population is in trouble and the culprit: hot water. We'll explain right after the break.

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HOWELL (voice-over): All you can say is wow there. Take a look at that. Two kayakers in Alaska say they are lucky to have survived after ice on a glacier collapsed right in front of them. You saw the video there, pieces of the ice broke off the glacier. It happens all the time but it's never been as hot as it's been in Alaska.

And we saw exactly the result there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're lucky to be alive.

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HOWELL: The summer heat wave in the Alaska is also impacting fish in the region.

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HOWELL: Thanks for being with us for in hour of NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. More news right after the break. Stay with us.

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