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Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Activist Joshua Wong Arrested; Dorian Now A Category 2 Storm As It Moves Toward Florida; U.K. Opposition Spoiling For Fight With Prime Minister; Brazil's Bolsonaro Fights Back Against Critics; Saudi-Backed Government Accuses UAE Of Attacking Its Forces; Trump Changes His Tune as Hurricane Nears Florida; Trump considers Cutting Military Aid to Ukraine; U.S. Environmental Agency to Change Methane Emission Rules; Protecting the Most Vulnerable Rohingya Refugees; Disney Considering Simpsons Spinoff. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired August 30, 2019 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: -- storm is hurtling towards U.S. State of Florida and it's just been upgraded. And after 30 seasons, could the time finally be right for a Simpson spin-off. The show's producers have hinted the spin-off will be without Homer, Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Maggie.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Joshua Wong, one of Hong Kong's most prominent pro-democracy activists has been arrested. He was taken away early Friday morning just as the city prepares for the 13th straight weekend of demonstrations.

According to police, Wong was arrested for organizing, participating, and inciting others to join in an unauthorized assembly. He's not alone. Two other activists have also been detained. Paula Hancocks is live this hour outside police headquarters in Hong Kong.

And Paula, these arrests, these detentions seem to have an immediate impact on protest which were planned for this weekend.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what we've just heard in the past few minutes is that a mass protest that was planned for Saturday, for tomorrow has now been canceled. Now, this was organized by the Civil Human Rights Front. This is the one that has really got the hundreds of thousands out on the street. It is a peaceful protest group.

And what we've heard is that the police have decided to deny the right to have this protest. They have said that they're concerned with public safety and public order so they've said that both a march and an assembly will be illegal. So this group has now said that they are not calling for their members to actually go out onto the streets because they can't guarantee their safety.

Now, what that means is that we are likely to see less people on the streets tomorrow, but we're likely to see less families, less of the peaceful protesters. We could still see some other elements wanting to come out and make their voices heard so we'll just have to wait and see at that point.

But that is really the first time that we've seen the police deny this particular group the right to have their protest. We've seen in recent weeks, they have had what they claimed to be between one and two million people on the streets. The police estimates have been much lower than that but it's an interesting development that they have now decided to call off their protest. John?

VAUSE: So you know, there'll be a direct link between you know, the arrests early today and this decision to cancel the protests on Saturday, but there is also the fact that Jimmy Sham who's one of leader -- leaders of the civil human rights front, apparently what he was set upon by a gag and beaten over the last 24 hours.

HANCOCKS: That's right, yes. Police say they're looking for two suspects in this attack. He was having dinner with a friend of his. They were attacked by masked men, by individuals covering their identity with -- who are wielding baseball bats and knives.

So we understand the friend had been injured. At this point, police are still looking for the perpetrators of that particular attack. And then on top of that, you also have this crackdown from police today who are targeting certain pro-democracy leaders and activists.

Now, bear in mind this is still a leaderless movement technically. This is being organized on social media, many of these groups, many of these different protests that are going out for the very reason that they didn't want leaders to be targeted by police. They didn't want the head to be cut off some of these protest movements.

But we are seeing Joshua Wong for example. He's certainly known internationally. He was very vocal during the 2014 pro-democracy movement. He was a very significant part of that and he has been very vocal during these protests as well. So he has currently been arrested as has another member of his party. And in a third very high profile pro-democracy, in fact, pro-independence leader has also been arrested. John?

VAUSE: Paula, we appreciate the update and seeing it all together, there's a lot of moving parts in the story, but thank you very much. Paula Hancocks live for us there in Hong Kong.

Florida bracing for a direct hit from a dangerous powerful storm which continues to strengthen in the Atlantic. Dorian is now category two hurricane, sustained winds of 165 kilometers per hour and forecast is strengthening even further and make landfall along Florida's east coast as a cannery for some time on Monday.

If that happens, it will be the strongest hurricane to hit that area since Andrew back in 1992. Four days out and people across the state are stocking up on food, gas, as well as other supplies. And while the path could change, the governor is warning everyone, everyone should be prepared.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We can't tell you exactly where this thing is going to go right now. It's been kind of here and there and it's not been a very -- I guess consistent path in some respects, but nevertheless, be prepared. And so if you're anywhere on that East Coast of Florida, you know, you want to have food water medicine for up to seven days.


[01:05:03] VAUSE: CNN's Nick Valencia has the very latest now reporting in from Daytona Beach in Florida.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cities all along the Florida coast bracing for hurricane Dorian.

DESANTIS: If you haven't acted at to make preparations, do not wait until it's too late.

VALENCIA: And Floridians are heeding the warning stripping shelves of the essentials. This Costco has dozens of people lined up to buy supplies and gas stations like this one near Miami Beach lines reach back into the main street. The governor signing an emergency declaration for every county in the state.

DESANTIS: One of the things that the state of emergency allows us to do is to get more fuel into the gas stations. I know people are going and looking. We've heard reports of there being fuel shortages already.

VALENCIA: But four days out, the path of the storm is still in flux.

LENNY CURRY, MAYOR OF JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA: If we get into evacuation situation, you don't know if it's going to be the flooding, the wind, the downed power lines, but you do know it's going to be one of those.

VALENCIA: A million gallons of drinking water and over a million meals will be available across the state. But residents should plan to have their own food and water for seven days, the governor says. Officials say they learn lessons from Irma which hit the area hard two years ago. The mayor of West Palm Beach says they're already sending out teams to nursing homes to make sure they have supplies and generators.

KEITH JAMES, MAYOR OF WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA: We don't want a repeat of some of the horror stories and I'm sure you heard from other communities in 2017 where folks literally died from heat exposure.

VALENCIA: Labor Day weekend is big business for these communities. In Daytona Beach, a tourist hotspot, this restaurant owner isn't taking any chances.

JASON ZELENAK, OWNER, CRABBY'S OCEANSIDE RESTAURANT: I plan to make sure that we're saying we're safe here and listen. You know, if they say to evacuate, I'm going to evacuate.

VALENCIA: In nearby Cocoa Beach, local officials say there are reports of hotel cancellations and cruise ships and flights are being rerouted from the coast. The Chamber of Commerce says they're confident they could bounce back quickly but Dorian could bring massive rain and flooding.

JAMES: A lot of times the real difficulties of these storms is not during the storm, it's the aftermath.

VALENCIA: When Dorian does make landfall, it will be the fifth major hurricane to impact the state of Florida in just the last four years.


VAUSE: Tracy Upchurch is Mayor of St. Augustine, the oldest city in the U.S. and one of many communities on Florida's east coast closely watching Dorian's every move for some indication of where and when it will make landfall. Mr. Mayor, thanks for being with us.

TRACY UPCHURCH, MAYOR OF ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDA: Thank you so much for reaching out to us.

VAUSE: Well, it'll be another day or so before there's a better indication of Dorian's final path. Right now, it seems the only thing we know for certain about Dorian is that we don't know where it will go. I guess that leaves you with no other choice but to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

UPCHURCH: No, that's exactly right. And this is a period of watchful waiting in our community. And we're preparing and it's fine approach to not overreact but of course to be prepared as well.

VAUSE: So in that worst-case scenario, what's your biggest concern in terms of threat to life and property?

UPCHURCH: Well, our biggest concern, this, of course, will be our third hurricane in four years and we were significantly impacted by both hurricane and Irma. We got a repeat -- reprieve last year and so our biggest concern is really flooding in our community. We're a relatively low-lying community and we have folks that have been flooded twice. And you know the last thing in the world we want for them is to be flooded a third time.

VAUSE: You also a city filled with beautiful architecture from you know, from hundreds of years and of course that's delicate at the best times.

UPCHURCH: Absolutely.

VAUSE: But if nothing else, you have time, and there is time on your side to prepare for this what could be a category four hurricane.

UPCHURCH: And that's true. And of course, the timeframe has slowed down from what we originally thought it was going to be. So it has provided more time but this is a very difficult period where you know, the waiting is almost worse, the indecision is almost worse than knowing what to plan for. And so everyone's just as I said in a period of watchful waiting.

VAUSE: And I imagine there is only so much you can do to get ready for a hurricane which is a category four strength.

UPCHURCH: Well, and that's exactly right. Now, there's no indication right now that hurricane of that strength will strike our city. The current projections are showing it significantly further south than where we are. We are very close to the Georgia border so the projections right now are showing it a good bit further south from us.

So -- but certainly if we were we're staring down the barrel of a category four hurricane there, there's not much you can do other than evacuate your people and be prepared to respond once the hurricanes come through.

What I think we are looking at right now is best anybody can guess is a long period of significant rain, certainly higher tides. We have higher tides today. We've got a full moon. We have a nor'easter off our coast so we're already having it higher tides. And so that's our big anxiety is really the rising water from the bay.

[01:10:42] VAUSE: And right now, the path of Dorian isn't changing a whole lot. But even the slightest movement here could mean a difference of who gets hit hard and who doesn't. But it's that path which seems to be adding to the intensity or you know building the intensity of Dorian as it continues to move towards Florida.

And that means that while you may not be the direct -- you know, sights here of Dorian, there will still be the other bands, and the rain, and that you know, the gale-force winds to come with it.

UPCHURCH: Exactly. And you know, this is a zero-sum game. What works for St. Augustine is something that does not work for another part of our state or another part of our nation. And so it's from our perspective we're concerned about a northward current. And the lighter that occurs the better it is for my community.

VAUSE: Yes, it has to land somewhere and someone, unfortunately, will I guess bear --

UPCHURCH: Exactly.

VAUSE: But we hope that maybe there will be this reprieve, this lifeline of reprieve that it will turn away from Florida altogether. We'll see. But sir, we wish you the best of luck and thank you for being with us.

UPCHURCH: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: The very now on Dorian's path from Meteorologist Derek Van Dam. OK, so what are the chances, what's the possibility because everyone is sort of waiting for that you know, that leftward turn as it suddenly heads north, that you know, that could just happen out of the blue. DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: Well, we'd like to

hope but we don't want to rely on hope at this stage because we want to plan for the worst-case scenario, right? OK, so I think that's probably our best bet going forward whether or not we put percentages on if it's going to happen or not.

It might not be the safest thing but regardless to say, our worst fears are coming to fruition here because the storm is quickly intensifying. We know it's a category two, 165 kilometers per hour winds at the center of the circulation. It's looking more and more organized as the minutes in the hour's clock on and the forecast path shows future intensification.

There is literally nothing but warm ocean bath waters to help fuel this storm. And what I'm particularly concerned about is the forward progression slowing down immensely as we get out towards Sunday into Monday and that is only going to prolong the potential threat of strong winds, damaging winds, as well as extremely heavy rainfall causing a flash flood event here.

So that's still several days down the line but there are several different computer models we're looking at, one riding a parallel with a coastline of the eastern portions of Florida. Does it move through the central portions of Florida into southern Georgia? Time will tell.

Or does it skirt along southern Florida into the warm ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico re-intensify and threaten the Gulf Coast states? All cards are at play here. We just do not know. But we are looking at all computer models, all the available information to us and it is becoming more and more likely that a dangerous major category four hurricane could potentially be impacting the southeastern United States as we head into a popular holiday weekend, that being Labor Day on Monday.

Look at the difference in timing. This is incredible. The American model that we see and the European model both showing a southern Florida landfall. But the Tuesday timeframe -- Tuesday morning for the American model and Wednesday morning for the European model. You can see the confusion.

The storm system expected to slow down and again that just maximizes the threat potential for southeastern United States as we head into Labor Day weekend, John. You know, not the best-case scenario here, unfortunately.

VAUSE: Yes. And this storm started out so small. You know, it wasn't really much of a threat for a while there. Now suddenly it's going to this monster. So I guess we'll just keep on it.

VAN DAM: Yes. It overcame so many obstacles to get to where it is today and it is only going to continue to grow in size and in strength. That's what we see.

VAUSE: That's bad -- that's bad news. Thanks, Derek. Good to see you. Britain's opposition parties will have just a few days in Parliament next week to try and stop a No Deal Brexit as well as scuttling the prime minister's plans for a five-week-long parliamentary suspension.

OK, so this plan is being described as a surgical strike which would start with an emergency debate and could end with a law which bans the U.K. from leaving the E.U. without a deal. And there is a final option, a no-confidence vote that could trigger an election.

The decision by Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament for more than a month, the longest since 1945 has seen even some of his political allies pulling their support. CNN Hadas Gold has more now reporting in from London.


[01:15:11] HADAS GOLD, CNN EUROPE CORRESPONDENT: Although, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that suspension of Parliament ahead of a Queen's speech is business as usual and is not solely about Brexit, the fallout has been swift. We've seen two notable resignations today, Lord George Young. He's been a longtime Member of Parliament, served in three prior administrations.

He resigned, saying that he did not agree with the timing and the reasons behind the suspension. Ruth Davidson was the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, a very notable person. She also resigned today. Now, there are two legal challenges working their way through the course, trying to seek an injunction to stop the suspension of Parliament. And also, the opposition Labour Party has said that they plan to start legislative action as soon as next week to try to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Here's what Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn said today.

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER, UNITED KINGDOM LABOUR PARTY: We will be back in Parliament on Tuesday to challenge Boris Johnson on what I think is a smash and grab rate against our democracy, where he's trying to suspend Parliament in order to prevent a serious discussion and a serious debate to prevent a no-deal Brexit. What we're going to do is try to politically stop him on Tuesday with a parliamentary process in order to legislate to prevent a no-deal Brexit. And also, to try and prevent him shutting down Parliament during this utterly crucial period.

GOLD: But, of course, the time that they have in order to get that legislation through will be very, very tight as a result of the suspension of Parliament. But a senior member of the House of Lords, a member of the Labour Party, told CNN today that many of them are willing to work through the nights and weekends in order to get it through. Of course, there's still the question of whether they will have enough support for that legislation. And if that fails, whether they will trigger a no-confidence vote and whether that could lead to a general election. Hadas Gold, CNN London.


VAUSE: And with that, we go to CNN European Affairs Commentator Dominic Thomas who's with us from Berlin. OK, Dom, good to see you, glad you made it.

Firstly, this plan for the anti-Brexit faction to, you know, strike ninja-like without warning and pass a law to change maybe an existing one and making a no-deal Brexit illegal. And you know, then starting a five-week parliamentary suspension. Kind of makes sense, in theory, but, you know, if you're thinking this will be Cary Grant To Catch A Thief, chances are it's going to be more like, you know, the two house burglars in "Home Alone".

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Oh, John, I mean, what greater -- great examples. I mean, yes, I mean, the big question is, can this opposition work together? Until a few days ago, they were -- had radically different, you know, positions, you know, when it came to Brexit, the Liberal Dems, the Scottish National Party unambiguously, you know, in favor of remaining in the European Union, whereas we know, the Labour Party's position, you know, at best is ambiguous on this.

I think what's happened here, with this whole argument around the no- deal promulgation and so on, is we actually see an opposition coming together here, because they are against something. In other words, against these actions enacted by Prime Minister Johnson rather than specifically for something. And so, the big question is whether or not that is going to be enough to keep them together as we go into parliament next week. And as they explore a whole range of legislative motions to try and potentially block a no-deal, or continue to sit in Parliament and debate the question of Brexit. So, a lot is going to become a lot clearer during the day to day and also as we head into next week's parliamentary session.

VAUSE: And while this is happening, it seems Boris Johnson has actually worked out what the date is. And with that, he's worked out that October 31st is not that far away. There's a new statement being reported by the British media. He says, "While I have been encouraged with my discussions with E.U. leaders over recent weeks that there is a willingness to talk about alternatives to the anti-democratic backstop that's setup for Ireland. It is now time for both sides to step up the tempo." which means U.K. and E.U. negotiators will be twice a week, apparently, now, not just once a week. A blistering pace. But does this suggest that Johnson is actually still serious about getting a deal with the E.U., you know, a deal which Parliament might actually pass?

THOMAS: Well, I mean, look, John, this has been going on as you know, for years. Theresa May went back and forth to Brussels. The big question really here is, you know, what kind -- what would those concessions look like, and is Parliament generally invested in passing some kind of deal? In terms of the Conservative Party side, many of the members of Boris Johnson's cabinet, and have been, you know, unambiguously responsible throughout this process for both the downfall of David Cameron, then-Prime Minister May were on the third Prime Minister around this specific issues.

And many of them have no interest in any kind of alignment with the European Union. And in order to get one of these deals through Parliament, they're going to have to bring the opposition, you know, some members of the opposition along with them. And the fact is that the kind of alignment they are proposing, whether it's around a customs union or single market are simply not going to be palatable for this Brexiteer cabinet that is surrounding Boris Johnson. So, it keeps hope alive, but as he keeps hope alive, the clock is ticking away, as we know.

[01:20:01] VAUSE: OK, let me give you this sort of the other side of the equation here, and because there's been a lot of high-profile Tory resignations over this parliamentary suspension, including the leader of the conservatives in Scotland, Ruth Davidson. And while she does not have a lot of love for Boris Johnson, she also seems have a very blunt message to her colleagues. Here she is.


RUTH DAVIDSON, MEMBER OF THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT: Prime Minister get as a deal in the European Union. I know what I say to people that say they want to avoid no deal is what I've just said, the Prime Minister brings a deal back to the House of Commons as I know he is trying to do. For God's sake, get behind it, and this time at the fourth time of asking, vote for it.


VAUSE: OK. So, could the plan here be that this is all big one big bluff by Johnson to convince the E.U. for (INAUDIBLE) status that he is actually willing to crash out of the European Union, all the damage that that will do to everybody, while at the same time, trying to focus the minds of your members of parliament, you know, and force both sides here, the E.U. and those members of parliament to make a compromise?

THOMAS: Well, I mean, the incredible thing here is that you do not have a united opposition that is against Brexit. So, the very fact that even amongst Labour leadership, they're still talking about agreeing to some kind of Brexit, you would think would tremendously help the cause of getting out of the -- of the European Union. But this has been the argument that Theresa May used all along, and the argument that Boris Johnson is now using, as he will come to Parliament next week is, if we take no-deal, if we pass legislation that will force us to ask for an extension in the face of no-deal or if we simply outlaw the possibility of even having a no deal, what negotiating power does that leave me -- Vis-a-vis the European Union.

So, this is the argument that he will be making. But of course, this time around, we said this on several occasions before when we got to those Brexit deadlines, one has to think that October 31st is really going to be the last time that Parliament has an opportunity to pass any kind of deal, or they will end up crashing out of the European Union, unless anything else happens. So, it's possible that this -- that this strategy could work.

VAUSE: October 31st, it will be over, maybe.

THOMAS: It's coming.

VAUSE: Thank you, Dominic.

Around the world, many are blaming Brazil's President and his pro- business policies with defiance, tweeting to the Amazon. When we come back, Jair Bolsonaro's new plan to prevent further fires, and chances are it might not do a whole lot to win over those critics.


[01:24:57] VAUSE: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro continues to push back on critics who say his lax enforcement of environmental regulations have helped fuel the fires burning across the Amazon rainforest. Shasta Darlington reports now from Sao Paulo.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Leaders of the South American nation straddling the Amazon are preparing to meet in Colombia next week to discuss the crisis there. According to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, they will also talk about sustainable development.

In the meantime, Bolsonaro has signed a decree banning the use of fires to clear land in Brazil for the next 60 days. Now, traditionally, farmers use those fires to clear their land and prepare them for next round of crops. But according to experts, many of the blazes tearing through the Amazon were started by farmers and cattle ranchers and loggers, clearing previously untouched tracks of rain forest.

According to the latest satellite data, some of those fires have abated, there are some regions where fire activity is now normal or even below normal levels. But experts say that nobody should let their guard down, yet. Historically, the peak burning season comes in September that's still a couple of weeks off, and it could also take weeks or even months until we fully comprehend how much damage has been done. Shasta Darlington, CNN Sao Paulo.


VAUSE: A rift between two supposed allies in Yemen's ongoing civil war appears to be growing. The president of Yemen's internationally recognized government is asking Saudi Arabia to stop the UAE from supporting separatist fighters trying to take control of the southern city of Aden. Two sides have been allies in the fight against Iran- backed Houthi rebels, but that coalition is showing signs of fraying, as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Fighting in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden has left dozens dead and wounded in fighting the pits forces backed by the United Arab Emirates against those supported by Saudi Arabia. Both of whom are the leading members of the coalition formed in 2015, that was supposed to fight the Iranian-backed Houthis in the north of the country. The Saudis are backing the U.N. recognized government of President

Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, which has accused the United Arab Emirates of using its warplanes to strike government forces, Thursday. The UAE's allies, the separatists Southern Transitional Council has clashed with Hadi's troops in the past. The Hadi government, Thursday, appears to have lost control of Aden. The Saudi-led coalition now teeters on the brink of collapse, exacerbating a conflict in the Arab world's poorest country that has left tens of thousands dead and millions suffering from disease and food shortages.

Observers say the Saudi and Emirati rift may spur international efforts to bring the Yemeni war to an end, but not before probably more death and destruction. I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN reporting from Beirut.


VAUSE: The Trump administration is planning on relaxing environmental rules to help oil and gas companies, but some of those businesses are not exactly on board with the idea. We'll tell you why when we come back.

Also ahead, President Trump changes his travel plan, and as well as his tone now that Hurricane Dorian is bearing down on the mainland. That's next on CNN NEWSROOM.


[01:30:47] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody.

I'm John Vause with an update now on the top news this hour.

Opposition leaders in the U.K. will try and prevent the Prime Minister from suspending parliament and also work to avoid a hard Brexit. They return to the House of Commons last week and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called Boris Johnson's plan to suspend parliament for more than a month a smash-and-grab raid against democracy.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has announced a two-month ban on fire used to clear land for livestock and farming. It's a common practice among developers making way for cattle and crops. More than 80,000 fires have scorched the Amazon this year, an 85 percent increase over last year.

Residents in Florida's East Coast are stocking up on gas, food and other supplies as they prepare for Hurricane Dorian, now a category two storm. But it's expected to strengthen to a category four by the time it makes landfall some time on Monday.

The U.S. President Donald Trump has canceled a weekend trip to Poland. He wants to stay in the White House and monitor Hurricane Dorian. His number one (ph) concern seems to have grown considerably since the storm passed Puerto Rico and is now heading to the mainland.

CNN's Pamela Brown reports now from the White House.


PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE OUSE CORRESPONDENT: Two hurricane targets, two very different responses from the President. Trump telling people in Florida their state's Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has it under control.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're going to be totally ready. We have a great governor there. He's incredible -- doing an incredible job. Very popular, too.

BROWN: A stark contrast to his reaction Wednesday, as Hurricane Dorian barreled toward storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, tweeting, "Their leaders are either incompetent or corrupt," adding he was the best thing that's ever happened to Puerto Rico. A reference to his two- year feud with Puerto Rico over the federal disaster response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Hurricane Dorian is now expected to strengthen to a category 4 and is on track to hit south Florida, where there are Trump Organization owned properties, including Trump's winter home, Mar-a-Lago, which last closed in 2017 during hurricane Irma after a mandatory evacuation order.

The Secret Service telling CNN though it does not maintain a permanent presence at his Florida properties, adding no classified materials are located there, and the Trump Organization is responsible for securing them.

Meanwhile the President saying he plans to reduce the U.S. presence in Afghanistan by almost half.

TRUMP: We're going down to 8,600. We're bringing it down. You have to keep a presence.

BROWN: That decision, despite lobbying for a complete withdrawal in the past appeases some of his closest allies who have been sending him a warning.

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He may be tired of fighting radical Islamic but they're not tired of fighting you. There will be another 9/11 if we pull the plug.

BROWN: But in a move sure to outrage his supporters and opponents on the Hill, Trump considering blocking $250 million in military assistance to Ukraine. Sources tell CNN, it's a move that would be seen as favorable to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Congressman Adam Schiff calling the potential decision destructive to our national security.

Now, administration sources say the Pentagon has recommended to the White House to raise the hold on this military assistance for the Ukraine. But despite that recommendation, the White House continues to put a hold on that aid.

Pamela Brown, CNN -- the White House. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Well, another roll back by the Trump administration of an Obama era policy which limits greenhouse gases. The Environmental Protection Agency says it will eliminate some regulations on methane.

One environmental group says it's an anti-science, anti-health proposal which will make the climate crisis worse. The EPA though says it's just simply getting rid of redundant rules and that methane will be monitored under existing regulations.

Details now from CNN's Rene Marsh.


RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: The Trump EPA would no longer require the oil and gas industry to install technologies that monitor and limit methane gas leaks from things like wells, tanks and pipelines.

Now, this move comes at a time when greenhouse gas emissions are at their highest and the world is obviously seeing the effects of climate change. We're seeing more severe storms. We're seeing wildfires.

[01:35:01] But what's really interesting here though is that the entire oil and gas industry is not in lockstep with the administration on this.

We saw big oil companies like Shell and ExxonMobil come out today warning that lack of regulations to curb emissions could actually undercut the argument that natural gas is a cleaner fuel.

And this isn't really an isolated incident. I mean when the Trump administration said it would relax fuel economy standards for cars, the largest automakers said, no, thank you. Many of them opting to follow stricter fuel efficiency standards and they're continuing to make more fuel-efficient vehicles.

So you're seeing a pattern here. An administration eager to roll back environmental regulations in such an aggressive way that not even the industry is always on board here.

Now the EPA says rolling back these Obama-era methane regulations would save the oil and natural gas industry some $17 million to $19 million a year.

Back to you.


VAUSE: Jess Phoenix is a volcanologist and host of the "Catastrophe" podcast. She joins us now from Los Angeles.

Ok. So Jess -- here's part of a statement from the EPA justifying this move. "The proposal would remove regulatory duplications and safety industry millions of dollars in compliance costs each year, while maintaining health and environmental regulations on oil and gas sources that the agency considers appropriate."

Essentially, the Trump administration has been arguing for most of the day that these methane regulations were so incredibly arduous that they didn't justify what they call a very small environmental payoff. So what's the reality here?

JESS PHOENIX, HOST, "CATASTROPHE" PODCAST: Well, as you can see, this is another one of the big business anti environment sort of situations that the Trump administration seems to favor so much. And we've seen historically that with only time we see reductions in emissions are when we have regulations.

And we've actually demonstrated that particularly with methane regulation over the last ten years or so. So this really is pretty obviously to those of us who have studied actually climate change as a push to give big business a very slight break on the money they have to lay out to make their very large profits. It's not actually going to help our environment whatsoever. In fact it's going to hurt it in the long run.

VAUSE: Yes. And methane, as a gas in terms of what it does to warm the planet compared to CO2 emissions, it's much more effective, if you like, when it comes to heating the globe, right?

PHOENIX: That's true. We do see it in lower quantities than we do CO2 but it is actually definitely a much more effective insulator than what we see CO2 or comparable gases do. So it is really a matter of concern.

VAUSE: Yes. So it does a lot more damage, you know, in comparison to what we have in equal supply.

Ok. So there's been a lot happening over the past couple of weeks. The government of California seemed to put all of it together with this tweet.

"The Amazon is burning. Hurricanes are headed our way. Hots are getting hotter. Wets are getting wetter. So what does Donald Trump do? Loosen regulations on methane, one of the most dangerous greenhouse gases. This is beyond reckless."

And this is a pattern of behavior that we've seen from the White House before. Roll back an Obama-era environmental regulation often in the midst or at the end of an environmental disaster which is made worse by climate change. And then the President goes out and says something ludicrous like this.


TRUMP: And I'm an environmentalist. You know, a lot of people don't understand that And I think I know more about the environment than most people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So at this point in this climate crisis, is there a bigger problem than this sort of us versus them approach which is, you know, taken by the Trump administration?

PHOENIX: I would say that the biggest problem is the treatment of people who reject the actual demonstrable science about the environment. The treatment of them as equal to a scientist sent to the scientific body of knowledge of which there is a consensus.

Like we know that climate change is real. We know that it's largely human caused. And we know that we have to take action to stop it. So whenever we see in the media, you know, on news stations -- when they give equal time to folks who are in a very, very, very tiny minority who reject the science, that does everybody a great disservice.

VAUSE: Well, Brazil's president, who they call the Trump of the tropics is issuing this 60-day ban on fires that clear the land in the Amazon. You know, on the surface, it seems kind of like a positive because he's doing something.

But the investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald who actually lives there, he had this take. He tweeted Bolsonaro's plan is to catch four or five small poor subsistent (ph) farmers who started small fires illegally, arrest them to show the world they caught the culprits, then continue aggressive deforestation of the Amazon for the large agro-industrial interests that own the government.

I mean that is what, you know, the point of o view I guess in many ways. But the point is, I guess, if Bolsonaro wanted to save the Amazon, if he wanted to be doing something, he would be doing a lot more than a 60-day fire ban.

[01:40:00] PHOENIX: That's exactly right. I mean we know that he is really the recipient of a lot of support from the beef industry there in Brazil. And when you've got backers who have a vested interest in destroying something or taking something from the environment, from an area that should be protected and kept as pristine as possible for all of us, they're going to push that through. And if the government in charge regardless of the country is more beholden to business interest than it is to society as a whole, this is what we are going to see.

VAUSE: Ok. So there's no shortage of opinion polls right now, around the world we show there's this level of concern about climate change which is growing. Also about the impacts that human behavior is having and the concern that a lot of people have about that.

In many ways, the corporate world is listening. Marriott Hotels, for example have announced they'll stop using those tiny little single toiletry bottles of shampoo and soap and that kind of stuff. And that will stop about, you know, 1.7 million pounds of plastic going into landfill. That is great.

But is it negated if the government of the country, of the biggest producer of greenhouse gases seem to be actively making this crisis worse?

PHOENIX: I wouldn't say it's negated but I would say it's a big problem because something that's well documented in the climate change world is that about 40 percent of everything you do in life in terms of climate change is something you can control. So choices you and I make every day. We have control of 40 percent of those things and our impact on the climate.

The other 60 percent comes from big business. It comes from the federal government. So we actually do have a lot of control at the personal level but unless we as a society pressure our leaders both elected and corporate to make these changes we are not going to see the change on the scale that we need to protect the planet for the future.

VAUSE: Ok. I didn't know that 46 percent -- 40-60 percent split. That's interesting. So there's a lot we can do and could still be doing on our own -- on an individual level which is actually good news.

Jess -- thanks.


VAUSE: good to see you.

PHOENIX: See you -- John.

VAUSE: They've been tortured and forced from their homes and add to that misery, Rohingya refugees are being targeted by human traffickers.

CNN "Freedom Project" report is up next.


VAUSE: Two years ago as Myanmar's military began a campaign of ethnic cleansing, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to run for their lives, leave their homes, their world and everything they knew behind to seek (INAUDIBLE) safety of the sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh.

It was at that point, when the U.N. described Rohingya as the most persecuted people on the planet. Now this incredibly vulnerable group which is already injured more than anyone should is being preyed on by human traffickers.

For CNN Freedom Project, here's Matt Rivers.


[01:44:56] MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh -- the largest refugee camp in the world. For the Rohingya Muslims who have moved here fleeing violence and persecution in neighboring Myanmar, life is difficult but for some who tried to leave, the results have been even more traumatic. MOHAMMED ABUL KAAM (PH), REFUGEE RELIEF AND REPATRIATION COMMISSIONER: This is a huge population. They're being displaced from their own land. They have so many problems. Women particularly in terms of trafficking.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have been working with the trafficking projects and we have been doing this really successfully.

RIVERS: (INAUDIBLE) leads the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers' Association -- a nonprofit legal aid group that works on behalf of women and children in Bangladesh. For the past two years, much of the groups work' has centered on the Rohingya.

FAWZIA FRIEZE (PH), BANGLADESH NATIONAL WOMEN LAWYERS ASSOCIATION: I hear every day hundreds and hundreds of stories about the women struggling with their lives, struggling with their profession.

RIVERS: In the main town of Cox's Bazar roughly two hours from the camp, there is chaos and congestion. But on a quiet side street exists a secret shelter for abused girls. In less than half a year, this shelter has cared for 141 rescued Rohingya girls. Most stay only for a few days before going back to their families but others like Aisha must stay longer trying to stich together a life torn apart by violence and abuse.

Fireze says Aisha left the camp to work as a maid but the treatment she received made life unbearable. From there Fireze says things only got worse. The man Aisha thought would help her instead took her to a hotel were he raped her and started selling her body for sex.

FIREZE: She doesn't want to tell that story of the darkest side of her story that she was violated and she was rescued by the police from the hotel and the police contacted the camp.

RIVERS: Complicating matters is her status. Because she is Rohingya and without a proper national ID card, Aisha is not allowed to leave these walls unless it means going back to the refugee camp on her own.

DNWLA and government official love overseeing the camp say that they are doing what they can to stop other children from being exploited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our office has been very serious and we have tightened the areas, the security has been tightened. They're also doing their best to protect this population from trafficking.

RIVERS: Despite the risk she and other Rohingya might face Aisha is still a young woman yearning for the day that she can simply go outside.

FIREZE: She said I am going to be out. It will be my life. If something happens I will face it but I would like to have my freedom.

RIVERS: Matt Rivers, CNN.


VAUSE: Be sure to watch our new CNN "Freedom Project" documentary on the fight against trafficking in Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

"STOLEN SON" is the story of the search of a kidnapped Rohingya boy. For viewers in Hong Kong tune in Saturday at 6 p.m. For our viewers in London that would be 11:00 a.m.

With that we'll take a short break. You're watching CNN. Back in a moment.


[01:49:55] VAUSE: The longest running scripted prime time series in American history, "The Simpsons" will see its 31st season premier at end of next month.

And by now it seems Homer, Marg, Bart, Lisa and Maggie are just a staple of American life and culture. They've always been there. It seems they always will be at least for this season and next

But if there's anything Hollywood loves more than a moneymaking machine like "The Simpsons" it's a successful spin-off from a money- making machine. That's often guaranteed gold and repetition, replication and rebooting -- one of the best examples is "Cheers".


VAUSE: From that Boston Bar came the even more successful "Frasier". Well, the mother of all spin-off makers would have to be "Happy Days".


VAUSE: The story of the Cunningham family set in the fifties and the sixties gave birth to seven spinoffs. For instance "Laverne and Shirley" which (INAUDIBLE) spin-off an animated series called "Laverne and Shirley in the Army". There was "Joanie Loves Chachi", it lasted one season.

"Mork and Mindy", believe it or not, was also a spinoff, Mork made his TV debut in season five of "Happy Days" and the battle with "The Fonz "and there were a lot more.

But you know, Disney owns "The Simpsons", and it seems the four- fingered folk of Springfield are heading to spin off city as well with the cartoon's executive producer telling "Variety", "I think Disney would be supportive of anything we wanted to do. Maybe a crazy limited series with a side character or a movie that we surprised you with. They've been really creatively supportive and is going to afford so many new ways to do the show than just a traditional format.

So, with more on that we head to the entertainment capital of the known universe and Sandro Monetti.

Ok, Sandro -- Disney, I can hear it now, they're already counting the money. It's a fair bet this is going to happen in some form. The question is will it be like traditional "Happy Days" model or will they come up with something new -- a new format? SANDRO MONETTI, JOURNALIST: Well, there's been so many questions

asked about "The Simpsons" over the years, especially is that thing is still on. But what's the big question now is who is going to be in the spinoff?

I was at Disney's big corporate convention D-23 when the production team first floated this idea about spinning off a character, likely outside the main Simpsons characters to get his own show. And yes, this is a real opportunity, it's called universe building in entertainment.

VAUSE: If I could choose, I would go with Kent Brockman, the anchorman for his own show. This is him, have a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing is for certain. There is no stopping them. The end will soon be here.

And I for one welcome our new insect overlord. I'd like to remind them that as a trusted Tv personality I can be helpful in rounding up others.


VAUSE: For some reason I identify with his character. But --

MONETTI: I see you as the Kent Brockman of CNN International only slightly grumpier though -- John.

VAUSE: Well, I am today. Who would you think would be a prime example of a good sequel, good spinoff in Simpsons characters?

MONETTI: It's obvious. I mean you mentioned in the intro there "Cheers". Mo -- from Mo's Tavern. Yes. You can set a sitcom there in most tavern. It's obvious.

But you know, when I look at Disney Plus and their programming lineup, I think what they're missing is a good crime solving series. So who better than Chief Wiggle (Ph), the police chief in Springfield who fail to solve a whole string of crimes?

VAUSE: OH yes.

MONETTI: And so --

VAUSE: He's got that disgusting kid, too.

MONETTI: Charlie.

VAUSE: Ok. But you know, reward does often not come without risk as noted by "The Guardian". "The Simpsons" has spent the last decade and a half struggling to make a decent product, even when it focuses all of its effort on a single series. By diluting its attention to multiple versions of itself, there's a real risk the whole enterprise would be run into the ground." That's a reasonable concern considering Disney's track record. You know, after buying the "Star Wars" franchise in 012, by the end of this year they would've released what five "Stars Wars" movies in four years. And they admitted it was all it was too much too quickly but that doesn't mean they won't make that same mistake again.

MONETTI: Disney's investment record is great. I mean their entertainment empire is expanding, they're ruling the entertainment business. Look at their success with Marvel, with the "Star Wars" franchise and what they've done with that, with the upcoming streaming channel Disney Plus is let's have lots of "Star Wars" spin-off shows. Let's have lots of Marvel spin-off shows. And this is the opportunity now for "The Simpsons".

I mean you talk about diluting the brand, but yes, you've got. it's different in the streaming universe. You know, you've got -- people can rediscover their love of the "Simpsons" having all these old episode out there and get some new product.

[01:54:51] I wouldn't be surprised to see a new "Simpsons'" movie. The last one was in 2007. It made $575 million dollars at the box office. So surely as Disney's going to say let's have another "Simpsons". Let's put it out there on Disney Plus to show, of course, will continue on the Fox television network.

But I think with "The Simpsons" like a lot of long running properties it needs something to reenergize it, to make it fresh. And these spin-off could be just the opportunity.

VAUSE: Yes. It does seem very limited in its role in its universe I guess right now where it could go. Everything's possible. So maybe this is a chance to reinvent. Thank you -- Sandro.

Finally here, the U.S. President well known for slapping his name on something and calling it his own be it Trump (INAUDIBLE), Trump vodka, Trump aftershave. You get the idea. Now the Donald is slapping his name on his e-car.

Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Who better to christen in his own time in the some than President Trump. After all --

TRUMP: I'm a very stable genius.

MOOS: -- modesty --

TRUMP: Thank you -- Mr. President.

MOOS: -- has never restrained him. So when he called his time in office the Age of Trump, it didn't take ages for Age of Trump to trend. Thanks to alternative suggestions, ranging from "The Age of Embarrassment" to "The Age of Insanity", and even to the "Age of Covfefe", with extra hamburgers, references to two of the Presidents classic Twitter malfunctions.

Very few Trump supporters play the game as critics take on other critics. What age would you name at. The Snark Ages. Or how about the Age of Nefarious. Oh no, that was Aquarius.

And though many Twitter users skewer the President, the age of Trump is a term you will often see used by magazines and think tanks and even in book titles. It's almost humble, compared to other presidential jokes.

VAUSE: I am the chosen one.

MOOS: How could you choose not to mark that.


MOOS: To the question what is the age of Trump literally? The Age of Trump is roughly 6.5. Age of Trump is 5. Four years old is the age of Trump. The Age of Nefarious sure seems to the opposite of the Age of Aquarius.


MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN -- New York.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN.

I'm John Vause.

CNN NEWSROOM continues with George Howell and Natalie Allen right after this. See you.