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Hezbollah: Two Israeli Drones Crash in Beirut Suburbs; Puerto Rico Braces for Hurricane Wednesday; Giant Pumice Stone Drifts Towards Australia's Great Barrier Reef; Markets Dive Over Growing Trade War Concerns; Worries Over Tariff Hikes Send Markets Plunging; Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif Makes Surprise Sideline Appearance; Johnson Says, U.K. Will leave E.U. Whatever The Circumstances; Demonstrations Match Duration Of Umbrella Movement; World Leaders Agree To Help Fight Amazon Fires; Cricket, England Stun Australia With Historic Win. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired August 26, 2019 - 00:00   ET



CYRIL VANIER, CNN NEWSROOM: Asian markets tank. The Chinese currency hits an 11-year low as the U.S.-China trade war escalates.

A surprise guest, the Iranian Foreign Minister makes an impromptu appearance at the G7 in France despite tensions over the Iran nuclear program.

And it's the size of Manhattan, a huge massive volcanic stone is adrift in the Pacific Ocean. Maybe it's actually a great thing. We'll tell you why.

Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta. CNN Newsroom starts right now.

So growing concern over tariffs in the U.S. -China trade war, along with confusing signals at the G7 Summit sent Asian markets plummeting on Monday. Is it the first market response since Friday when President Donald Trump announced new tariffs.

So let's look at the numbers. The Nikkei is down almost 2 percent, the Hang Seng is down almost 3 percent and the Shanghai Composite down almost 1 percent.

The news wasn't better in the U.S. futures. The Dow, Nasdaq and the S&P all down around 0.5 percent at this hour.

Many foreign leaders blame the trade war for dragging down the global economy. President Donald Trump was asked at the G7 Summit whether he was having second thoughts, this is what he said.


REPORTER: Do you have second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes, sure, why not? I might as well.

REPORTER: Second thoughts, yes?

TRUMP: I might as well.

REPORTER: Do you have second thoughts about escalating the war on China?

TRUMP: I have second thoughts about everything.


VANIER: The U.S. treasury secretary was quick to emphasize to reporters that the president's stand on tariffs remains strong.


REPORTER: The president was asked a couple of times, and he said a couple of times that he's having second thoughts.

STEVE MNUCHIN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: I think we're not cleaning anything. I want to be clear at, the president -- we saw how this was being reported. The White House put out a statement today --

REPORTER: Have you spoken to him directly about it?

MNUCHIN: Yes, absolutely.


MNUCHIN: Again, he said he was not having second thoughts about putting on the tariffs. If anything, he was thinking about raising them.


REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) are creating confusion for leaders who were here at the G7 --

MNUCHIN: I don't think there's any confusion. Let me say, these meetings have been going great.


VANIER: Andrew Stevens joins us from Hong Kong, he is looking at the markets this morning. Andrew?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, pretty ugly, aren't they, Cyril, those markets in Asia following on from what we saw on Wall Street on Friday, the S&P down something like 2.5 percent, so no surprise that the Asian markets are rattled.

And Donald Trump's line about tariffs, his plan to increase tariffs yet again on China, China's response, particularly we are seeing today what you referenced, the Chinese yuan, the value of the Chinese yuan against U.S. dollar is weaker, down at 7.18 against the U.S. dollar. And there had always been this line that China would defend yuan around about seven. So it's letting that go. That already incurred the rough of the White House administration, China said, it didn't go further.

So what's really happening here, Cyril, is that things seem to be in a spiral. And the fear and the markets is that negotiations, whatever form they are in at the moment, are only going to get more and more fragile and the spiral will is going to get ever steeper with retaliation on both sides of the world's two biggest economies, hints we're seeing this because sell-off.

The Dow -- a glimmer of hope in the Dow. It was down 200 points futures for it to kickoff on Monday. It's down now at 118 points. So it's come back a little bit. But, certainly, these are very, very uncertain times and it's a cliche, but it's true, markets just hate this sort of uncertainty.

VANIER: Donald Trump says that the U.S. can outlast China in this trade war because the U.S. economy is just stronger and bigger. What's the perspective on that in Asia?

STEVENS: Well, it's a difficult one to answer because we've got to see where this ultimately ends up, this trade war. Because there is no doubt that the Chinese economy is being affected. Manufacturing in China has been affected, manufacturing output has weakened. That's putting stress on jobs. Jobs creates wealth. Wealth creates consumer spending. Consumer spending is so important now in China. Something like three quarters of the Chinese economy is driven by consumer spending.

You can say the same thing about the U.S. as well. Consumer spending is absolutely key there. At the moment, U.S. consumers spending is holding up okay. But if this continues, most analysts will tell you it won't hold up. And if that happens, the U.S. economy starts looking very weak.

And in some ways, Cyril, that's what China is sort of gambling on, if you like.


They think they can wait this out because Donald Trump will be facing an election in a year, whereas obviously there're no elections in China.

But the Chinese economy is, weakening at 6.2 percent now. It's probably going to get to down to around about 6 percent at the end of the year. If these tariffs they're talking about go to full strength or full length, it could go under 6 percent in China. That's a big blow to the Chinese leadership. They've got tools to use to pump up the economy, but they don't particularly want to at this stage because it does create this massive credit bubble, which they're already dealing with a massive credit bubble.

So the short answer is that it's hurting China probably more than it's hurting the U.S. China has bigger reserves on how to deal with the economy than the U.S. does.

VANIER: All right. Andrew Stevens, thank you so much. I know you're going to be watching markets throughout the day with a keen eye. It's the first day that markets really got a chance to tell us how they feel about what happened on Friday, and this sharp escalation in the trade war. Andrew, thank you.

There was a surprise guest at the G7 summit in France. U.S. officials say that the appearance of Iran's foreign minister for sideline talks was a curve ball for President Trump, although they said he wasn't upset by it.

Jim Bittermann is in France.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR EUROPEAN CORRESPONDENT: The appearance of the Iranian foreign minister was certainly the big surprise of the day, but it was a day full of surprises. Zarif's appearance came without any warning, at least as far as journalists were concerned, Mr. Trump apparently, according to the Macron people, was given a warning yesterday at lunchtime that the French were going to invite the Iranian foreign minister and he was going to appear on the sidelines of the summit.

What's unclear is what the French intent was. What were they trying to do? I know that they want to de-escalate the entire conflict with Iran that the U.S. has been escalating over the last few months. But the question is what did they really mean to happen by inviting Zarif here. Was he supposed to meet with American officials and maybe even Mr. Trump himself? Well, that definitely was not going to happen because Mr. Trump said when he was asked about this question about Zarif coming here, he said, no comment, very abruptly for the president.

And then as Zarif was leaving, he Tweeted this. Iran's active diplomacy and pursuit of constructive engagement continues, met with Emmanuel Macron and sidelines at the G7 and extensive talks, and a joint briefing with U.K. and Germany. The road ahead is difficult but worth trying.

So a lot of surprises here. There's one more day ahead, meetings between these leaders, we're not sure where that's going to go. But they're going to be talking about, among other things, the biodiversity in the planet, that they may be talking some more about the Amazon, where all the leaders are quite concerned and the promised resources for that. And then there's going to be some final news conferences to end it all.

Jim Bittermann, CNN, Biarritz, France.

VANIER: Samantha Vinograd joins me. She is CNN National Security Analyst. Sam, let's start with what happened Saturday morning at the G7. Listen to this.


REPORTER: Do you have second thoughts on escalating the trade war with China?

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Yes, sure, why not? I might as well.

REPORTER: Second thoughts, yes?

TRUMP: I might as well.

REPORTER: Do you have second thoughts about escalating the war on China?

TRUMP: I have second thoughts about everything.


VANIER: So Donald Trump appears to say that he has second thoughts about his trade war with China, which the White House and various cabinet secretaries then immediately walked back. Your thoughts on all of that.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, having served under two U.S. presidents, promoting this notion of uncertainty and embracing second thoughts isn't really what you want to hear from the leader of the free world, right, especially when it comes to issues that royal markets.

This sounds like an off-the-cuff remark from the president but it's not the sort of thing that staff would have encourage President Trump to do, again, because we see such a direct market impact. Typically, before these meetings, the president is prepped with talking points on a range of issues, said he does not do things off-the-cuff. What I think happened is the president said the first thing that came into his mind, which is often what he does because he doesn't prep with staff.

And then we saw his team do what they try to do best, which is clean up his mess. His team doubled down and said what he really meant was that he wanted to put higher tariffs on China, but the macro takeaway is that this trade war is continuing and President Trump and his team are publicly, at least, doing things to inflame it. President Trump and President Xi Jinping aren't scheduled to even be in the same city until late September for the U.N. general assembly.

So at this point, we don't see any likelihood that the two leaders are going to sit down and at least, at a strategic level, call a trade war truce.

VANIER: Markets in Asia on Monday morning, Asia Time, opened down over this. World leaders we at the G7, we saw, are sour about the tariffs and they said so with varying degrees of exasperation.


But Donald Trump's argument has always been that, short-term, yes, it might hurt, whether it's the U.S. or the global economy, but, long- term, it's better for everyone if China plays fair or fairer on trade. What do you think of that argument? VINOGRAD: Well, it's not so short-term anymore. President Trump's actions with respect to China and the trade wars are starting to be long-term at this point, right? I mean, it hasn't been a couple of weeks. It's been a much more attenuated.

VANIER: No. But he says he's trying to do something that several past administrations should have done, right, the last three or four presidents should have done. And he said, if it takes another -- I don't know if he's put a timeline on it but he says, the time that is needed to do it is time that is well invested.

VINOGRAD: Well, we have two different issues here though. We have what President Trump is trying to negotiate, which he is right. I mean, I worked under Obama. We tried to address intellectual property theft and cyber espionage with China and we failed. We did not get them into a place where they actually upheld commitments to not do all of these bad things. So --

VANIER: So maybe it's not possible if you don't threaten China then.

VINOGRAD: Well, it's a negotiating strategy question to a certain extent. It is unclear to me, Cyril, whether President Trump is really fixated on a grand bargain with China, the full range of issues that are currently under negotiation, or whether he's really more narrowly focused on addressing the trade deficit.

When China has agreed, supposedly, to buy more U.S. agricultural products, President Trump has backed away a little bit. So it is really unclear what he is really hard and fast on with respect to a trade deal with China.

And the negotiating strategy question that presents itself to me at least is, should President Trump instruct his team to break off pieces of these issues with China to try to do this in more of a step-by-step fashion so that we stop -- we start at least to mitigate some of the extreme pressures that the trade war is having on the United States, on China and on the global economy.

World leaders in the G7 Summit this weekend were certainly worried about the trade war that President Trump is engaged in, but they're also worried about the protectionist policies that he is pursuing against them as well. So it's both of these issues, I think, that world leaders were addressing with the president.

VANIER: Talk to me about Iran then. I woke up this morning and with ten different news alerts that the Iranian foreign minister had landed in France for an impromptu visit to the G7. Now, that's a diplomatic coup for Emmanuel Macron. Is it anything more than that?

VINOGRAD: I think it may be. I think it was a gamble by Macron. He is trying to -- he has tried to position himself as a mediator and, really, to establish a French connection between Iran and other world leaders, including President Trump.

Now, the United States historically has worked through intermediaries when it comes to Iran. Trump has said this is time that Macron does not speak on his behalf. But it is no secret that President Trump likes these made for T.V. moments and historic handshakes with rogue officials. Macron may have taken that into account.

The question in my mind is less what's on President Trump's mind and more what's on the Iranian's mind. President Trump has more recently said that there are no preconditions that he has in place before he will talk to Iran, but Iran, the supreme leader has said that Iran won't negotiate with the United States and has really criticize Foreign Minister Zarif, the foreign minister showed up in Biarritz earlier, has criticized Zarif for negotiating with the United States in the first place. So we may find out more on Monday in France.

But perhaps Zarif's presence at the G7 to meet with the French officials, at least, is a signal that the Iranian regime is more open to talks.

VANIER: And do you read anything into the fact that the U.S. delegation that Donald Trump apparently went along with this plan of bringing in the Iranian foreign minister?

VINOGRAD: I think -- I mean, President Trump, again, more recently has made no secret of the fact that he wants to speak with the Iranians. I think he's even Tweeted about it and told Khamenei to call him. So President Trump going along with this is not a surprise.

One of the issues is that President Trump did not have his lead negotiator on Iran, Secretary of State Pompeo, present with him at the G7. He did have the national security adviser, but Pompeo really has been his brain trust on Iran. So it is unclear how President Trump would make an informed decision about how to react to Macron's imitation to Zarif and Zarif's presence on the ground unless he is coordinating behind the scenes with Pompeo.

VANIER: All right. Samantha Vinograd, as always, a pleasure to talk to you.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

VANIER: Thank you.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson held several key meetings at the G7 Summit, including a Brexit discussion with the European Council president. Now, Mr. Johnson told Donald Tusk that Brexit will happen on October 31st, the deadline, whatever the circumstance is. He says he would prefer to leave the E.U. with a deal but also acknowledged to the BBC that he might not get one.


BORIS JOHNSON, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: It depends very much on the willingness and to cooperate and the common sense of our friends.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And if you detected more of a willingness?

JOHNSON: Look, I think -- I mean, I'm an optimist. [00:15:00]

But I do think that they understand it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's going to say, more than a bit of optimism, isn't it?

JOHNSON: I do think that they understand that there's an opportunity to do a deal. But I think they also --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it's more likely than it was, do you think?

JOHNSON: I think it's going to be touch and go. But the important thing is to get ready to come out without a deal.


VANIER: The prime minister also discussed future trade negotiations with U.S. President Donald Trump. He expressed optimism over trade talks, saying the U.K. had huge opportunities in the U.S. markets.

Protesters and Hong Kong are gathering at this hour to hold a plan to sit in. It marks the 79th day of pro-democracy demonstrations. And that's a benchmark because it means the current protest movement has now lasted as long as the 2014 Umbrella movement.

It's been yet another weekend of unrest in Hong Kong. Police say they arrested at least 36 people after clashes on Sunday. At one point, several officers drew their guns when demonstrators surrounded them. One of them fired a warning shot into the air. Here is what happened.

So Hong Kong police defended this, saying that the officer was left without any other choices.

Will Ripley is in Hong Kong.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This moment playing out now on the streets of Hong Kong pretty much underscores the division in this city. That man is waving the flag of Mainland, China and he has basically ignited anger and the crowd of protesters. A small crowd that gathered around the sidewalk across from the police station, they have been shouting for hours at the police. At times, they block the roads. Police came out trying to move them away.

But now the police are staying behind their walls of the police station. We've seen a couple of first this weekend and this is now the 12th consecutive weekend of protest here in Hong Kong. We saw police fire a live round of ammunition into the hair, it didn't hit anyone. We also saw police deploy water cannons, firing at protester's barricades and in the direction of protesters, although we don't know if any people were actually hit.

But what all of this continues to show is that the situation here in Hong Kong is touch and go, outbreaks of violence can happen really at any moment as protesters move around the city, find roads to block off. Police clear them out and then they turn up somewhere else. Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.

VANIER: World leaders are promising action to fight the Amazon fires. We'll take you to the heart of the fire zone next.

Also, brilliant comeback off the Ashes, England pulls off what some say is one of the greatest innings ever played.



VANIER: Scientists keep warnings us that the fires burning across the Amazon forest are an environmental crisis. They have been burning at a record rate for weeks across Brazil. The flames are also spreading into neighboring countries. Thousands of people are battling the blazes.

G7 leaders meeting in France are working to send additional support, as French President Emmanuel Macron explains.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: There was a true convergence that we all agreed to help as quickly as possible the countries that were affected by these fires, there were several.

This morning Colombia called out to the international community that we must be present and we will finalize this.


The Amazon is often referred to as the planets lungs producing 20 percent of the oxygen in the earth's atmosphere,

Our Nick Paton Walsh is in Brazil tracking what's being done right now to fight these fires.

NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Three hours we spent above the Amazon rain forest in the worst affected area here, I have to tell you, at times, you could feel your eyes sting. We turned the air vents off inside the aircraft, had to fly high because the density of the smoke generated by these fires.

It is quite extraordinarily how they burned, raged, uncontrolled and how numerous they are. Here's what we saw.


WALSH: There is little below but ghost. And even they seem to being given up on. These are the newest fires in the worst hit state in the Amazon.

We didn't see below us any of the 43,000 troops Brazil's president has pledged to the fight. In fact, in some places, it's so bad you can't even see how bad it is. That will suit just fine those who would rather ignore the world's most urgent environmental crisis.

No matter how you are, you can't escape the smoke. We even close our air vent inside the plane to stop it. The sun made this green paradise over millennia but now barely peeks through to smoke of its destruction.

Well, these apocalyptic sites are kind of like the warnings about what might happen if the world doesn't do something about the climate crisis that you keep hearing, but instead it's right below us right here and right now.

What's startling is how much of this immense jungle people have managed to destroy in so short of time. They had help, fires they lit and it happened naturally in the dry heat, but usually peaked to later in the year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not just a forest burning. This is almost a cemetery because all you can see is dead. Amazon, it's extremely fundamental for the water system for all over the continent. So if we cut off the forest, in some years, we're not going to have rain on the south of the country.

WALSH: We find another area where the damage fresher and easier to see raging in straight lines, swallowing everything left on the plain.


And when you look at this, you learn something about yourself, do you see a crisis impacting every fifth breath you take and killing the future or do you see what man must do to nature to enrich himself and live better?

The answer means a little below, where the fire burns our heritage and suffocates our future regardless of how we feel about it.


WALSH: Now, Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, has accepted the help of Israel. They're sending some specialized aircraft to assist. A phone call from Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, offered that.

Will he accept the help of G7 nations? Well, frankly, many of them have been openly critical and in dispute with Brazil over Bolsonaro's policy towards the Amazon and the environment in general. Will possibly he accept their assistance? Will they offer it in ways which are meaningful here? Will it arrive in time to slow the march of these fires down?

We've seen rain tonight. It's unclear if it's winds will fan the flames or if its water will put them out. But an urgent challenge here for Brazil, frankly, and the world to stop its lungs from being on fire.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Porto Velho. VANIER: It's being called one of the greatest innings ever played in cricket, Ben Stokes leading a one-man charge to carry England to an exhilarating one-wicket victory over Australia and keep the battle for the Ashes alive.

When Stokes began batting, England had only one wicket remaining and needed 73 runs to avoid defeat to Australia, a defeat which would have meant Australia retained the Ashes title. But England completed the epic comeback as Stokes knocks the winning boundary. And the two teams will begin the fourth test September 4th in Manchester.


BEN STOKES, ENGLAND BATSMAN: You know walking off there in the end when the whole of Headingley was standing up and celebrating. It was a very special moment and something I had to try and take in, I think, because moments like that don't come along very often and, you know, it was just an amazing game to be a part of, to be there at the end and still keep our Ashes hopes alive. It was a pretty special feeling coming up at the end here.


VANIER: There is much more on England's thrilling win ahead in world sport definitely about 15 minutes.

Israel admits to attacking sites in Syria over the weekend, but so far it's not commenting on alleged drone activity in two other countries. We'll have details on that when we come back.



VANIER: Hello, welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. Let's look at your headlines this hour.

Stocks in the Asia-Pacific region are having a dismal day. Take a look. The Nikkei, the Hang Seng, the Shanghai Composite down between one and 3 percent. Growing uncertainty over the U.S.-China trade war has markets on edge, following tit-for-tat tariffs and confusing signals from the Trump administration.

U.S. officials say the unexpected arrival of Iran's foreign minister at the G-7 summit was a curve ball for President Donald Trump, but they added that he wasn't upset by it. French President Emmanuel Macron has been pressing President Trump to soften his stance on Iran since the U.S. withdrew from the nuclear deal.

Hong Kong police say they have arrested at least 36 protesters after new clashes broke out Sunday. It happened when a small group of demonstrators separated from the main march and threw objects at authorities. Police say six officers drew their guns when protesters surrounded them. One of them fired a warning shot into the air. Iran denies any of its targets were hit Saturday by Israeli air

strikes in Syria. Israel has released these images and says they show Iranian operatives in Syria carrying a drone. Israel's military says the strikes stopped the drone attack by Shia militia and Iranian forces.

There's no doubt Israel launched Saturday's airstrikes in Syria. What's murkier is what, if any, role it played hours later in Lebanon. The Lebanese government and Hezbollah say two Israeli drones crashed Sunday near Beirut. Israel so far isn't claiming responsibility, but there are signs it is expanding operations against Iran and its allies.

CNN's Ben Wedeman has more from Beirut.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two Israeli drones crashed into Beirut's southern suburbs earlier Sunday morning, according to a spokesman for Hezbollah.

One of the drones trafficked onto the building that houses Hezbollah's media office and about 45 minutes later, according to the Hezbollah spokesman, another much larger drone crashed and exploded in an adjacent lot, causing material damage, including damage to Hezbollah's media office, but no casualties.

Israel has yet to comment on this incident. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrullah, in a televised speech Sunday evening, said that the first drone was hovering between buildings in that area when local residents brought it down with stones.

He said the second, much larger drone was intentionally crashed and exploded.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the incident as a violation of Lebanese sovereignty. Also, on Saturday evening, there was an Israeli airstrike on targets outside of Damascus. Israeli officials claim the operation was to prevent an Iranian drone attack on Israel. But in his speech, Nasrullah said the real target was a building that was housing Hezbollah members. Two of them, he said, were killed.

He said that Hezbollah will avenge the killing of Hezbollah fighters in Syria, and he warned Israeli soldiers on Israel's northern border to beware.

Nasrullah in a speech warned that Hezbollah will not allow Israel to regularly carry out air strikes on targets, as it has in Syria for the past years and, it's believed recently, that in Iraq. He warned that if Israel follows the same course of action and Lebanon, Hezbollah will do all it can to shoot down those Israeli drones.

[00:35:06] I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Beirut.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VANIER: And on top of alleged Israeli activity in Lebanon, a largely

Shia paramilitary group says it was also targeted by Israel Sunday in Iraq. The popular mobilization units say Israeli drones killed at least one of their members in a town near the Syrian border.

An Israeli military spokesman has declined to comment.

Mother Nature may have her very own solution to help heal the Great Barrier Reef. It comes in the form of this giant floating pumice stone. We're live from Sydney, next.


[00:37:51] VANIER: Puerto Rico and the Caribbean's Lesser Antilles are bracing for a hurricane in the coming days. Meteorologists say Tropical Storm Dorian is expected to slowly strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane by Wednesday, bringing with it strong winds, rain and storm surges as it moves west.

With disturbing memories of 2017's Hurricane Maria still fresh in people's minds, Puerto Ricans are flocking to stores to buy water, food and other supplies ahead of this coming storm.

Dorian is the fourth named storm of this hurricane season, which typically reaches its peak in early to mid-September.

Now, really compelling video, and even more compelling science for this story. A giant pumice stone is drifting towards Australia now, and apparently, it could help heal its endangered Great Barrier Reef. All right. Look at this. This is a massive sheet of volcanic rock. We're in the middle of the sea, the ocean right now, by the way. Sailors spotted this earlier this month, days after an underwater volcano is believed to have erupted near the Pacific island of Tonga, and what you're seeing is estimated to be the size of Manhattan.

Screen left is the pumice stone. And just to scale, we put Manhattan on the right. The pumice stone is actually bigger.

Scientists say it could have a positive effect on microorganisms at the Great Barrier Reef, which has seen half of its coral killed in recent years due to climate change.

Let's bring in Shani Tager, live from Sydney. She's a Great Barrier Reef Campaign manager with the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Explain to us how this is going to work. You know what? Let me backtrack for a second. When you see that, are you excited for the possibility that it carries?

SHANI TAGER, GREAT BARRIER REEF CARRIER MANAGER, AUSTRALIAN MARINE CONSERVATION SOCIETY: Absolutely. Look, it's phenomenal, and it shows just how incredible our oceans are. But at the same time, you know, they're still not up to the challenge that climate change poses to the reef.

VANIER: So explain to us how this is going to work, then, in the best-case scenario.

[00:40:00] TAGER: Sure. So these -- these pumice stones are -- they're like aerated rocks. They're surprisingly light when you pick them up. So they've got all these nooks and crannies in them. And when they travel across the oceans, marine organisms can latch onto them. So you'll see curls (ph) and marine sponges and algaes that travel with the pumice stones and will eventually end up on the shores of Australia on the Great Barrier Reef.

The hope is and the potential is that it will bring more biodiversity and new species into areas of the Reef.

VANIER: And we're talking about -- about what, repopulating the Great Barrier Reef. And what stretch of it, how much of it do we think might be helped?

TAGER: The thing with the Great Barrier Reef is it's massive. It's really big. And so while this -- this float of pumice stones is also large, the size of Manhattan as you said earlier, the reef is about half the size of Texas. So, you know, it's a large area to cover.

And I think when you look at it that way, you know, it will be more of a dribbling, a sprinkling of pumice stones, as opposed to a downfall that hits the reef. So there's a lot of scale there, which is why, you know, it's good news, but we can't -- we can't bank on it, really.

VANIER: OK. Just because -- just because of the size, Manhattan versus Texas, Manhattan is not big enough, that's what you're saying?

TAGER: That's -- that's definitely a key part of it, the size. It doesn't stack up.

But the other factor is, you know, as long as we're continuing our carbon emissions, the warming ocean waters just make it hard for our coral reefs to survive. So we really need to be dealing with climate change, as well.

VANIER: What's the -- what's the timeline? I understand what you're saying. This is not a silver bullet. We can't just expect this to fix problems that are manmade and that -- that have been there for years. But what's the timeline, No. 1? And No. 2, are we sure it's actually going to get to the Great Barrier Reef?

TAGER: Look, the timeline is about, you know, the next seven to eight months. So it will take a little while for it to come across the sea and the way that the current and the tides work is -- you know, we're -- we're pretty confident that it's going to land on the shores of Australia and land on the Great Barrier Reef. But we're still quite a few months away from that happening.

VANIER: All right. Shani Tager, thank you so much for joining us on the show today. These pictures are just amazing, frankly. I would have been a little concerned if I had been on that boat, not knowing what that was. And we're going to have time to talk about this again, because as you say, a seven-month wait time, roughly, until it gets to the Great Barrier Reef. Also, the message you put across today. Don't expect this to be the

silver bullet.

Shani, thank you so much for joining us on the show.

TAGER: Thanks for having me.

VANIER: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. WORLD SPORT is up next. Then I'll be back with another hour of news from around the world. You're watching CNN. Stay with us.


[00:48:38] WORLD SPORT)


[00:59:55] VANIER: Asian markets tank. The Chinese currency hitting an 11-year low as the U.S.-China trade war escalates.

Petrol bombs, water cannons, live ammunition. The protests.