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Hong Kong Rally Cancelled After Activists Arrested; Hurricane Heading for Southeastern U.S.; Trump White House; Brexit Chaos; Boris Johnson's Challenger. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired August 30, 2019 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: In Hong Kong, three high-profile activists arrested, and now pro-democracy protesters are cancelling plans for mass demonstration on Saturday.

A hurricane headed for the southern U.S. gaining strength in the Atlantic. It could be the strongest storm to hit Florida's east coast in almost 30 years.

Also ahead this hour, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is calling on Brexit negotiators to step up the tempo on talks as he faces backlash over plans to suspend Parliament.

We are live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, and we want to welcome our viewers all around the world. I'm George Howell. "CNN Newsroom" starts now.

One of Hong Kong's most prominent pro-democracy activists has been arrested. Joshua Wong was taken away early Friday morning just as the city prepares for -- 13 now -- the 13th straight weekend of protests. He is not alone. Two other activists have also been detained.

Following the story, our Paula Hancocks is live outside the police headquarters in Hong Kong. Paula, we understand by all accounts, this was a forceful arrest. What more have you learned?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: George, what we are hearing is from Joshua Wong's pro-democracy group itself. They said that they believe he was forced into a minivan while he was heading to a train station at 7:30 this morning. We don't have more details than that confirmed from the police.

What they have said is that he is facing certain charges, facing charges of organizing, inciting, and participating in unauthorized assembly. Another individual from his group has also been arrested.

The third individual, this is Andy Chan, he is head of a movement which is actually banned in Hong Kong. He's calling for independence of Hong Kong from China. He's no stranger to being arrested, same with Joshua Wong, he was only released from prison just a couple of months ago for his involvement in the 2014 Umbrella Movement, the pro- democracy movement. So we are really seeing here a crackdown from police of the more well- known elements of these protests movements, George.

HOWELL: You know, these protests, again, supposed to be leaderless, Paula. So, given the latest arrests, what impact does it really have on the movement?

HANCOCKS: That's the thing. They are leaderless movements. They are organized primarily on social media. There are many different groups. There is not just one group that is pushing these protests. There are many different groups that are coming on to the streets of Hong Kong. It's a very fluid movement.

So, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will make any kind of difference to the protesters themselves. It may make more people want to come out onto the streets to protest these more well-known figures being arrested.

Certainly, this was the desire of these movements. The fact that they did not want the leaders, they did not want to give the chance for the police to cut off the head of these movements and impact them in that way.

It's also worth noting, George, there was going to be a very large rally for Saturday, for tomorrow. This was the civil human rights front which has brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the streets and has been peaceful.

That has been denied by police. They have not allowed the march or the assembly because they say they can't -- they are worried about civil unrest on the streets of Hong Kong. So that particular group has called for its members not to go out on the streets because they can't guarantee the safety.

So what we could see tomorrow, instead of these very large numbers of peaceful protesters, we could see different elements coming onto the streets, not the families that we have been seeing in recent weeks, but certainly there is an expectation that there will be some protesting these arrests, protesting the extradition bill, protesting the lack of the Hong Kong government meeting demands that they have met on the streets instead. George?

HOWELL: Paula Hancocks, following the story live in Hong Kong, thank you.

Here in the United States, people are keeping an eye on Hurricane Dorian. That hurricane now is a Category 2 storm, look at it there, turning in the Atlantic, now with sustained winds of 135 kilometers per hour.

The storm is already the strongest storm of this Atlantic hurricane season. The forecast have it growing stronger, intensifying even more with winds of up to 225 kilometers per hour as it nears landfall in Florida.

[02:05:04] Across that state, people there have been racing the stores. People are stocking up on gas and food, trying to get ready for it. Officials encouraged everyone there to have supplies that last at least seven days. Florida is already under an emergency declaration.

Our Leyla Santiago is there along Florida's east coast and filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will get it for you.

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Dorian is barrelling towards Florida, expected to be a Category 4 storm. It's already causing hurricane force issues for the Sunshine State.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were supposed to stay until Monday but we had to make some sudden changes --

SANTIAGO (on camera): Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- to the itinerary because of the hurricane.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): As Floridians prepare to hunker down or get out, the coming storm is forcing others to stay away during the Labor Day weekend, usually a vacation season money maker for hotels and cruise ships.

(On camera): In terms of money, how much will you lose here?

DEBRA GREEN, GENERAL MANAGER, INTERNATIONAL PALMS RESORT COCOA BEACH: This hotel, in excess of -- excess of $120,000.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Debra Green said she's had a steady stream of cancellations at her hotel on what was to be a sold out holiday weekend. Florida officials say better safe than sorry.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: The time to act is now. If you haven't acted, act to make preparations. Do not wait until it is too late.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Dorian has already pummelled the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and lashed Puerto Rico with rain. But since it has moved back out into open waters, it is picking up steam and could now pack winds as high as 115 miles an hour by the time it makes landfall early Monday, prompting Floridians to take action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're just getting ready for the hurricane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just getting prepared for the storm.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just want to protect against what is coming potentially.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): The rush to fill up at the gas pump is underway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saturday, I'm going to put my shutters up. The prying has already begun.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): In Daytona Beach, they're also filling up with sand, and lining up at hardware stores so they could board up at home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What you don't want is to have a situation where you can't keep your family and friends safe because you didn't take the time to prepare ahead.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Floridians are being warned to have seven days of food, water, and medicine on hand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just trying to be prepared. I have a one year old at home and may daughter. It's not the first hurricane I've been through.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): Meantime, even NASA says it is not taking any chances either, moving its mobile launch platform back inside.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously because the mobile launcher is so tall, it will be affected by the wind.

SANTIAGO (voice-over): A feat that will take at least eight hours, using a six-million pound vehicle to slowly roll the platform three and a half miles to safety.

(On camera): And as I talk to folks here, people are quick to say it is still a bit early but they are keeping a close eye so that they can make educated decisions on how they will handle this. The interesting thing is I've asked a bunch of people here, you know, what is your biggest concern? Every single person has responded saying a direct hit.

I'm Leyla Santiago, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Leyla, thank you. That is the big concern. Let us bring in our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, at the International Weather Center. Derek, this storm headed right towards Florida.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Yeah, George. If it does make landfall in Florida as all computer models suggest, this would be the third consecutive year where a major hurricane strikes the shoreline of Florida. Can you imagine the economic impacts that have on that state and the U.S. in general?

Here is the latest information from the National Hurricane Center. Hundred and 65 kilometer per hour sustained winds. The storm is located just north of the Dominican Republic, nothing between here and the Southeastern United States, but open warm ocean bathwater to help fuel the storm.

We do, however, have the Northern Bahamas. We can't forget about Nassau on the surrounding areas here that will be impacted likely by a powerful if not major hurricane sometime by Sunday evening. I want you to take note of what is called the forecast path of uncertainty. Look how large it is towards the end of this computer model because this is really important information because it is expected to slow down as it approaches the coastline of Florida.

And you can see the models spread here between the two different models that we look at. Both show a landfall hurricane right along the southern portions of the Florida peninsula. But look at the spread and the time. That means Tuesday morning for the American model, Wednesday morning for the European model.

So quite a spread there, but one thing is for sure, as it slows down and approaches the U.S. east coast, the potential to magnify -- the threats exist. That means a longer duration wind event, a longer duration rain event, and a longer duration coastal storm surge events as well.

[02:10:00] This high pressure is really dominating our flow. Here are the various models that we continue to look at. The water temperatures here are playing this critical role. What it will do after it reaches land? That is the big question.

Will it arrive parallel to the coastline of Florida? Will it move across Central Florida and into Southern Georgia? Will it move across the southern portions of Florida, re-emerge into the warm ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico?

All options are on the table. We are assessing all of them. The best thing that we can do now is plan for the worst, hope for the best. You can see the arrival time of tropical storm force winds potentially by Sunday morning across Southeastern Florida, including Miami, West Palm Beach into the Cape Canaveral region, and again into Saturday night for the Northern Bahamas.

So, we got a difficult next few days and to make matters worse, George, it is a holiday weekend. Many beachgoers flock into that part of the country, but hopefully they've heard the warnings.

HOWELL: Indeed, hopefully. Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: OK.

HOWELL: People are surely preparing for this storm along the Florida coastline and one of them, the mayor of Palm Bay, Florida. William Capote is joining us on the phone. It's good to have you with us, sir.

MAYOR WILLIAM CAPOTE, PALM BAY, FLORIDA (via telephone): Thank you for having me, George.

HOWELL: So as the storm moves closer and closer, tell us what people are doing, how they are preparing, because you've been through something like this before.

CAPOTE (via telephone): Yes. I was here in Palm Bay for 2004 hurricane, so I experienced Frances and Jeanne. There's quite a few residents back then that are still here, and we have new residents. What I asked for the new residents, talk to some of your neighbors and understand what you need to do prepare for this.

We go through hurricane preparedness every year. We try to educate our residents. So, our staff right now had been discussing plans. We are just waiting for the final tally because right now the diagram takes it south or takes it over here. So, it's still premature to decide where it will make landfall.

HOWELL: Mr. Mayor, a Category 4 storm potentially. You are planning to stay there, right?

CAPOTE (via telephone): Yes, yes, yes. I'm going to weather the storm because we've had Matthew, it was Category 4, and then it died down. It came in as Category 2, Category 1.

Gene and Frances, I remember when Jeanne and Frances were both Category 5 when they hit the Bahamas in 2004, and then hit the waters right before, and then it slowed down and lost all its momentum. It came in as a Category 2.

So, I've had experience through this. All I can do is pray, pray for my residents, pray for my family, that we get through this in one piece. All that I asked for the residence is that the one that do want to leave, evacuate -- start your evacuation plan if you want to leave ahead of time because you don't want to be caught up in traffic and be in traffic when this thing hits.

HOWELL: Indeed, the traffic builds certainly these hours before when these big storms are coming in. So, what's the situation right now like at the different stores, you know, the hardware stores, people boarding up? What are you seeing?

CAPOTE (via telephone): Early today, I saw a lot of people making lines at gas stations, prepping up for generators for their cars. Walgreen was out of water because I visited two Walgreen and kind of visited some of the other Winn-Dixie, Walmart to see the activities and there's a lot of activity. A lot of people have concerns because they've been through this before and they want to make sure that they have supplies to last.

HOWELL: There are really three different stages when dealing with these storms, the preparation before the storm. There is when people are, you know, as you will be waiting to storm out there in your city, some people leave of course.

CAPOTE (via telephone): Mm-hmm.

HOWELL: Many people are leaving. Then there is the aftermath when people want to come back to their homes. What do you advise people who do decide to leave? What do you advise them, you know, as far as officials, you know, waiting, asking them to take some time to make sure that the roads are safe? What would you advise?

CAPOTE (via telephone): To make sure to listen to the news. And when you get the 'all clear,' that you're able to come back to the area. I know that some people are going to feel scared because they're going to be leaving property behind, but we have a very good police department here.

[02:15:02] As soon as the winds die down, the first responders will be out there surveying the area and making sure that our city is safe. And we've gone through this scenario before. We've survived it in the past. I am looking forward to being able to get on the other side of this. You have the anxiety of the unknown, but I pray that we will come on the other side fine.

HOWELL: And we wish for your safety as well as for the residents there as the storm continues to get closer. Mayor William Capote of Palm Bay, Florida, we appreciate your time today. Thank you.

CAPOTE (via telephone): Thank you, George. Have a good night.

HOWELL: And because of the storm, the U.S. president says that he is changing his plans. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To ensure that all resources of the federal government are focused on the arriving storm, I have decided to send our vice president, Mike Pence, to Poland this weekend in my place. It is something very important for me to be here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: That is a sharp contrast from Wednesday. When the storm was headed towards Puerto Rico, the president tweeted this. "Puerto Rico is one of the most corrupt places on earth." Mr. Trump has been criticized for his handling of Hurricane Maria. Take a look at that. The storm devastated the U.S. territory in 2017. You may remember him throwing rolls of paper towels at people.

Critics say that he seems much more concern now that the Hurricane Dorian is headed towards Florida. It is home to at least nine Trump Organization-owned properties. They include his winter home Mar-a- Lago.

President Trump is also weighing in on Afghanistan, saying that he plans to reduce the number of U.S. troops there to just under 9,000. He announced that in an interview with Fox News radio. This comes a day after the U.S. defense secretary and joint chiefs chairman briefed reporters for the first time in a year.

They spoke as Taliban and U.S. negotiators are reportedly near a deal that could lead to the total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The top U.S. general made it clear any agreement will contain conditions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH DUNFORD, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I'm not using the withdrawal word right now. I'm using -- were are going to make sure that Afghanistan is not a sanctuary, and we are going to try to have an effort to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: Keep in mind, there are currently about 15,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan alongside NATO troops training and advising Afghan forces.

Mr. Trump is also considering a plan to block $250 million in military aid to Ukraine. Members of Congress say that money is essential to counter Russian military involvement there. Several officials tell CNN the Pentagon wants to keep the aid flowing. Some U.S. lawmakers say Mr. Trump is more concerned with appeasing Russian President Vladimir Putin than standing up for U.S. interests.

The U.K. Parliament returns to work next week and Brexit is at the top of the agenda. As things stand now, the opposition will have a very narrow window to try to end the prime minister's ambitions plans to move forward with a no-deal Brexit.

Plus, we will hear from the man who wants to replace Boris Johnson in Parliament. Around the world, you are watching "Newsroom."

[02:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: The Brexit countdown, it is on, and apparently the British prime minister is feeling the pressure. Reuters quotes him as saying that he is encouraged by his discussions with the E.U. and calling on both sides to step up the tempo on Brexit talks.

The British opposition party, they are doing that as well. When Parliament returns Tuesday, the opposition plans to call for an emergency debate to outlaw, leaving the E.U. without an agreement and to fight Parliament's suspension. They're furious the prime minister suspended Parliament for more than a month before the Brexit deadline.

They say that they condemned the undemocratic actions up Boris Johnson following his suspension of Parliament until October 14th. They say there is no mandate from the public for a damaging no-deal Brexit.

The decision to suspend Parliament for five weeks shocked many people, even the prime minister's political allies. For some members of his own party, it was too much.

CNN's Hadas Gold has this report from London.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HADAS GOLD, CNN MEDIA AND BUSINESS GLOBAL REPORTER (on camera): Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted the 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 have seen two notable resignations today. Lord George Young has been a long time member of Parliament and 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 courts trying to seek an injunction to stop the suspension of Parliament. 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 is what Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said today.

JEREMY CORBYN, U.K. LABOUR PARTY LEADER: 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 is trying to suspend Parliament in order to prevent a serious discussion and a serious debate to prevent a no-deal Brexit.

GOLD (voice-over): 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.

(On camera): But a senior member of the House of Lords and 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 is 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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: The U.K. opposition party rarely agrees but they seem united right now. We spoke earlier with CNN European affairs commentator Dominic Thomas. Here is what he had to say on it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Big question is, can this opposition work together? Until a few days ago, they had radically different positions when it came to Brexit. The Labour's Dance (ph) has called this national party unambiguously, you know, in favor of remaining in the European Union, whereas as 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 prorogation 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.

[02:24:57] 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 whole range of legislative motions to try and potentially block a no-deal or continue to sit in Parliament -- the question of Brexit. So, a lot is going to become a lot clearer during the day today and also as we head into next week's parliamentary session.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: That threat of a no-confidence vote and a general election has hung over Boris Johnson from almost the moment that he became prime minister. If it comes down to a vote, a 25-year-old Muslim immigrant is already campaigning to replace him. CNN's Anna Stewart has the story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Uxbridge and South Ruislip, a quiet suburb area in West London you probably haven't heard of.

ALI MILANI, LABOUR PARTY PROSPECTIVE PARLIAMENTARY CANDIDATE: My name is Ali. I'm a local parliamentary candidate here, so I was standing against Boris Johnson. We're just going around saying hello to everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello.

STEWART (voice-over): But it could be a key battleground in the next general election. The residents have the power to topple the prime minister. Just 25 years old, Ali Milani, has been selected by the Labour Party to contend this area.

MILANI: Someone likes Boris. Make a note of the day and time. It will go down in history.

STEWART (voice-over): Milani's family moved to U.K. from Iran when he was a young child. He lives here. He was educated. He has worked here. As a result, he thinks he can beat Boris Johnson.

MILANI: People here deserve leaders who understand what it is like to live like us.

STEWART (on camera): And Boris Johnson doesn't?

MILANI: And he doesn't. He doesn't -- I mean, if you drop him off at the end of the road, he wouldn't be able to find his way home.

(LAUGHTER)

STEWART (voice-over): Despite this traditionally being a conservative safe seat, Boris Johnson's majority halved in the last general election and Labour were hot on his heels. If Milani wins, he will be the first MP ever to unseat a current prime minister.

MILANI: No one thought Brexit would happen. No one thought Trump (ph) would happen. Well, now, I think it is about time that the biggest upset in political history actually opens the door for a positive new era in politics.

STEWART (voice-over): Taking a break from canvassing, we sit down to discuss some of Boris Johnson's controversial comments.

MILANI: To have an MP that (INAUDIBLE) the racist offensive comment is shame for this community. STEWART (voice-over): Johnson has apologized for some of his past comments. However, he isn't the only one coming under fire for what he said. In the past, Ali Milani himself made anti-Semantic comments on social media.

MILANI: The comments you raised when I was a teenager and when I was very, very young, that doesn't make them right. It is not an excuse. I have apologized. Actually, I've tried to take some really serious steps to (INAUDIBLE) trust, going on trips to Auschwitz and Birkenau all the way to reaching out to the community doing training.

STEWART (voice-over): Despite past controversy, Ali Milani is the Labour candidate, but do voters know who he is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not especially know.

STEWART (voice-over): Clearly, Milani has more doors to knock on. He may not have Boris Johnson's celebrity --

MILANI: I think I need a haircut. I think people are looking through the door and not opening. I need a haircut.

STEWART (voice-over): But he has plenty of charm.

MILANI: Must be the hair.

STEWART (voice-over): If the resident of Uxbridge and South Ruislip would only open their doors to hear it.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: It has been three years now since Columbian rebels made peace with the government. So here is the question: Why is a former guerrilla leader issuing new arms (ph). We will look into that story for you.

Plus, CNN is on the frontlines of the fires in the Amazon rainforest with indigenous communities leaving their farms to fight the fires there. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:31:01] HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers all over the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

Hong Kong Police have arrested three pro-democracy activists ahead of the 13th straight weekend of protests there. One of them, Joshua Wong, a prominent leader and chair of the -- of a party there that's certainly been in play. Police arrested Wong on suspicion of organizing, inciting, and participating in an unauthorized assembly.

Nine weeks remain until the U.K. leaves the European Union. And right now, there's no withdrawal agreement in place. According to Reuters, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says it is time for the E.U. and the U.K. to step up the tempo of negotiations. That's seen as a way to calm nerves and show that he wants to deal after he suspended Parliament for more than a month before the Brexit deadline.

People along Florida's East Coast are stocking up on gas, supplies, anything they can in preparation for the hurricane that's in route there. Hurricane Dorian now a Category 2 storm. It is expected to strengthen to a Category 4 by the time it makes landfall along the east coast of Florida on Monday.

Brazil's President has announced a 60-day nationwide ban on fires to clear land for livestock and farming. Jair Bolsonaro denies that his lax environmental policies and pro-development stance have contributed to the destruction of the Amazon, the 80,000 fires so far. This year, they've destroyed about 1-1/2 football fields of rain forest every minute of every day. That's an 80 percent rise in deforestation over the last year. With so many fires in the Amazon, everyone is pitching in to try to fight these fires.

Our Senior International Correspondent Nick Paton Walsh is there and made the dangerous journey to the front lines.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the 60-day decree is federal, it's across the country, and it's kind of a way to try and to tighten the restrictions on the use of fire to clear lands that were already in place. There were limited occasions when you could do that. Now, there are even more limited occasions. And many people are asking, frankly, now after a week of international condemnation, about how the Brazilian government is dealing with Amazon forest fires. Why this particular rule right now.

But when you're on the grounds in the savanna in the Amazon, near indigenous communities, where these fires often rage like a wall passing through the dry ground there, it's extraordinary to see how few people are involved in fighting the fires, how limited their resources and how vital and dangerous their work is.

Dusk isn't when you rest as the Amazon burns, it's when the day cools enough to give firefighters a chance. Everything we see and a bumpy hours' drive to nowhere turn to ashes in the last four days. This is how, the wall that marches across the bush and into the trees when it can. It feels a bit like the end of the world, doesn't it? And when flames rage like this, the firefighters actually have to pull back, and there's nothing they can do really, until the wind dies down.

Destruction that overshadows an entire branch of our species here. The Tenharim are an indigenous community, 1000 strong, who say they legally own nearly a million hectares nearby.

"The next generation will have a darker future," he says. "Since this president came to power, these things are happening a lot more."

President Jair Bolsonaro is keen to bring what he calls progress to the Amazon, even pushing to let these areas be commercially farmed for the first time. The raging fires, all of which, here have burned since he pledged to send 43,000 troops. Clear land for farming, too.

[02:35:06] The sun rises again on a little bit less of this marvel. The Tenharim didn't want to be part of our world, but now it wants part of them. All around, signs of what's fueling the inferno, land clear for cattle, so we can eat more beef; logging and deforestation to enable crops like soy to grow line the busy roads. The firefighters that tackle the blaze here, a three hours' drive from the nearest village.

This is the land we flew over four days before, but the devastation is more final from the ground. Fires do occur naturally in the brush like Bolsonaro says, but it was startling how nearly every policeman, firefighter, or official we spoke to said very many, of course, deliberately.

To clear land to farm, to alleviate poverty, or just make the rich richer, yet don't have the water here to put the fire out, only stop its spread. Damage limitation only with the most basic tools on the front line for this global environmental crisis.

More or less, possibly a human solution to all of this, it doesn't lie with those brave firefighters doing that thankless task often out in the middle of nowhere. It may simply be about asking people who are setting some of these fires. Yes, some occur naturally, but some are definitely manmade to stop doing that, and persuading the Brazilian government to change its rhetoric that the Amazon isn't really a resource to enrich the people, it could, in fact, be a resource for the world to try and retain and sustain.

But that's a long political debate. The urgency of the fires is clear, and we're heading towards September where they normally peak. A lot of difficult weeks ahead for Brazil. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN Porto Velho near the Amazon, Brazil,

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: A former rebel leader is threatening to reignite the long and bloody civil war in Colombia. He's calling on the group known as the FARC to take up arms and, "awaken the consciousness of the population." He says the government is not living up to its commitments made in a 2016 peace agreement. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IVAN MARQUEZ, FORMER COMMANDER, FARC (through translator): All of this, this trick, this betrayal, the unilateral modification of the text of the accord, the unfulfilled commitments on the part of the state, the judicial setups and insecurity have obliged us to return to the mountains.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: And Colombia's President went on national T.V. to declare

that the country will not be threatened by drug traffickers. FARC rebels began their insurgency, they began it in 1964, and 50 years of civil war claimed more than 200,000 lives and forced 5 million people from their homes.

A rift between to supposed allies in Yemen's ongoing civil war is getting deeper. The country's U.N.-recognized government is accusing the UAE of attacking its forces over the past few days, killing a number of soldiers and civilians. Both sides are part of the Saudi- led coalition and are usually united in their battle against Iran- backed Houthi rebels. But now, the Yemeni government accuses the UAE of supporting separatists who are trying to take control of the southern city of Aden, and they're asking Saudi Arabia to intervene.

A stark warning from Israel to Lebanon telling them to stop harboring terrorists who are helping Iran develop its precision guided missile technology. It comes as Israel steps up its operations to stop Iran from spreading weaponry. CNN's Senior International Correspondent Sam Kiley has the latest on developments that could inch the region closer to war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Israeli forces on Lebanon's border already on high alert, then this.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translator): I've told our enemies this week, be careful of what you do. And today I tell them "dir balak" Arabic for "watch out". A week ago, the IDF said that they had stopped this Iranian-controlled Hezbollah team launching a drone attack from Syria into Israel. Two days later, the Israeli said that they flattened this compound in Syria to prevent more drone operations and was accused of attacking Hezbollah sites with their own drones in Beirut. Now, a warning of possible attack from Israel against Lebanon where Hezbollah is based.

JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF SPOKESMAN: Iran and Hezbollah are endangering the Lebanese state by trying to manufacture precision guided missiles in Lebanon.

KILEY: Increased tensions play well with Mr. Netanyahu. He's campaigning for elections due next month. But Iran has recently been showing off new weapon systems.

Missiles, smart bombs, and drones.

[02:40:03] YAAKOV AMIDROR, FORMER ISRAELI NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: With this accurate weapon systems, they can neutralize the infrastructure of Israel. And this is why it is so important not to let them have that. It is very, very important not to let the Iranians to build this capabilities in Lebanon.

KILEY: Israel has warned that it will strike to stop just that. But doing so could risk a much wider war. Sam Kiley, CNN Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: A new report says former FBI Director James Comey broke the rules by leaking memos about the U.S. president. How the White House is responding to that. Standby.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: The former Director of the FBI, James Comey, is back in the headlines. U.S. Justice Department report says that he broke the rules when he leaked secret memos about his meetings with the U.S. president, but he's not likely to face any consequences. Our Jessica Schneider has this report for you.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The former FBI Director found by the Inspector General to have violated FBI policy and his FBI employment agreement. The Justice Department watchdog in an 83-page report digging into James Comey's handling of seven memos, detailing his interactions with the president before he was fired, determining that Comey's release of portions of one memo to the press through his friend and the storage of some of those memos in a safe inside Comey's home set a dangerous example for FBI employees all in an attempt to achieve a personally desired outcome.

Comey has said he had specific reasons for getting the content of his memos out to the public.

JAMES COMEY, FORMER DIRECTOR, FBI: I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn't do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel. And so, I asked a close friend of mine to do it.

SCHNEIDER: The I.G. concluded that Comey never released classified information to the media himself, but did determine that Comey's memos were official records and should not have been removed from the FBI. It also said that one of the memos Comey shared with his attorneys was later found to contain information classified as confidential, the lowest level of secrecy. Comey contended before Congress in June 2017 that everything he wrote down was unclassified.

REP. ROY BLUNT (R-MO): I think you said, you'd use classified -- a classified --

[02:45:01] COMEY: Oh, yes, not the classified documents. Unclassified. And my view was that the content of those unclassified -- the memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.

SCHNEIDER: Comey swiftly took to Twitter to respond to the report and take a not-so-veiled shot at President Trump who was persistently labeled him a leaker.

"And to all those who've spent two years talking about me going to jail or being a liar and a leaker, ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president."

The Justice Department decided not to prosecute Comey after reviewing these findings, in part, because prosecutors didn't believe there was evidence that Comey knew and intended to violate the laws dealing with classified information.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Republicans are seizing on the I.G.'s conclusion that Comey mishandled those memos, and they're comparing it to the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mail servers. Of course, Comey unilaterally announced the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. And then, the DOJ I.G. later faulted Comey for essentially going rogue on that announcement.

Well, now, top House Republican Jim Jordan is saying, well, after Comey cleared Clinton, he decided to miss handle sensitive information too, so the partisan battle here continues.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.

HOWELL: Jessica, thanks. The Trump administration is taking some heat for new rules affecting the way children obtain U.S. citizenship. The change would make it harder for kids of some government workers and military personnel, serving overseas to gain citizenship.

CNN's Alex Marquardt reports, there is been a lot of confusion about exactly who will be affected in this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The new policy is being met with confusion, fear, and anger. As it takes aim at new and non-U.S. citizens who are serving the United States overseas.

WILL GOODWIN, DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT RELATIONS. VOTEVETS.ORG: So, we have service members at work today, who didn't sleep well last night because they're worried about their families. They're worried about the citizenship of their own kids as they're supposed to be doing their jobs to protect the rest of us.

MARQUARDT: The policy is complicated at its core, it takes away a residency exception made for some people serving the U.S. only because they're overseas.

The kids of natural-born citizens or those who have spent longer than five years in the U.S. won't be affected. Those who are impacted, fall into three main groups.

The children born to American parents serving overseas who have lived in the U.S. under five years will now need to apply for citizenship.

The new children of parents serving the United States who only become citizens after the child is born, they too, have to apply.

And if U.S. citizen parents serving overseas adopt a foreign child while serving, that child also has to apply.

MARTIN LESTER, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY, CHATTANOOGA: This has nothing to do with people coming across the border without authorization. This has nothing to do with people who are threats to the United States. This is a specific policy to keep certain children of active duty military members from being U.S. citizens.

MARQUARDT: The Pentagon, says this will impact around 100 people per year. The Department of Homeland Security are used that it's far lower around 25. Thousands of immigrants serve in the U.S. military risking their lives. Troops and their families don't have much of a say over where they're deployed. So, the new policy is, in essence, a punishment.

GOODWIN: They having served alongside immigrants who felt that patriotic call to serve, it's a total insult to their service.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: The Trump administration defends the move and the way it was communicated. Saying that it was done to comply with law and will not remove any avenues to become a citizen.

Earlier, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting director spoke about it with my colleague Dana Bash.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is what you, you all released, the half a page, which did link to a longer policy manual. But on it, this is what created, the concern and the chaos among military --

(CROSSTALK)

KEN CUCCINELLI, ACTING DIRECTOR OF UNITED STATES CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: And I, I fully -- well, no, what created, it was the firestorm. That no military members went reading the policy manual --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Firestorm was created by the confusion in what you all were doing. Fair?

CUCCINELLI: No.

BASH: Do you think it was clear?

CUCCINELLI: What the firestorm is created -- no, I don't think it was clear. I just said it was a policy manual. This is like a reference manual for the career professionals who process this paperwork. And they had paperwork to do before this change takes effect and they have paperwork to do after.

The -- again, the last comment wasn't accurate. Again, these are people who have just changed the process. No one is denied citizenship who has access to it before. It doesn't apply to anyone born in this country. It doesn't apply to people born to American citizens overseas. And you all have zeroed in on the military. But it doesn't just fit for military members, it applies to civilians and others as well.

(CROSSTALK)

[02:50:04] BASH: Fair, fair, but the military --

CUCCINELLI: Including expatriates.

BASH: OK. But it is members -- people who are serving the U.S. military asked to go overseas by the U.S. government in service of America.

CUCCINELLI: And those folks actually have a statutory provision just for them that all that time overseas under orders counts as if they were in the United States for purposes of their children's citizenship.

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: So, that's the case, then why the -- again, this is -- this is chaotic. I mean this is -- this is not the first time we have seen this kind of path.

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: It is. I freely can see -- oh, and you -- as I heard "THE LEAD"-in that's all President Trump's fault. This is a complicated area of law. Paperwork is required to comply with the law, it only applies to children born in another country who were not born U.S. citizens.

So, it, it doesn't affect birthright citizenship, it doesn't affect anybody born in the United States. Legal or illegal parents doesn't matter, doesn't affect any of them. These are children born who when they were born were not U.S. citizens, who were trying to be made U.S. citizens by their parents.

And it's the paperwork they have to file. That's it.

BASH: But it also delay -- but it does delay the illegibility.

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: No, it change -- it changes what they have to do. They have to have -- OK. So, there's a -- what this was about legally was the definition of in residence.

BASH: Right.

CUCCINELLI: So, you're not residing in the United States if you're on a military base --

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Right. So, if they're sent by the U.S. --

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: Can I finish, please?

BASH: Sure.

CUCCINELLI: If they're -- if you're in another country, you -- on a military base, that is not in residence under the statute. Congress set these rules. We didn't set these rules. We've been breaking the rules for the -- to make it easier for people, and then, they couldn't get passports.

So, now, we're meshing all of that together, so, when they get their documentation through USCIS, they will smoothly be able to operate with the State Department, and those children will more easily travel back to the United State.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

HOWELL: All right, and still ahead. The supreme leader of North Korea gets a new title. Ahead, we'll explain why Kim Jong-un is now officially known as the head of state of his country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Kim Jong-un has cemented his role as North Korea's official head of state. On Thursday, North Korea's parliament approve the title. The change to the country's constitution. CNN's Brian Todd explains why this move is so significant.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His thirst for absolute power has never been in questions. But tonight, Kim Jong-un's hand-picked Parliament has solidified the strong man's rule, just in case anyone might be questioning it.

The Supreme People's Assembly just adjusted North Korea's Constitution to formally make him the "Supreme Leader of the party, state, and armed forces of the DPRK." A symbolic move, analysts say. But one which could be important inside North Korea.

MARCUS NOLAND, DIRECTOR OF STUDIES, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Internally, the country is hitting a little bumpy air, economy is not doing too well. He doesn't have anything to show for his diplomacy with Washington. So, it's to reaffirm that he is in control if anybody had any doubts.

TODD: A statement from Kim's media arm, says, at least, four times that the parliament's move establishes the "monolithic guidance" of the supreme leader. It's not clear if Kim gets a formal new title. But he has already given himself enough to tumble off the side of any business card. Among, his official designations are dear respected comrade, chairman of the Workers Party, chairman of the State Affairs Commission, and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army

Titles one might expect of a man who was anointed as a third- generation dictator when he was a child.

[02:55:15] ANNA FIFIELD, AUTHOR, THE GREAT SUCCESSOR: At his eight birthday party, he was presented with this little general's uniform -- an olive-green uniform with epaulets and brass buttons. And he was called the little general, comrade general, and real generals came into his birthday party, and saluted him, and bowed to him.

TODD: Analysts say his newly bolstered authority follows the structure set up by his revered grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the founder of North Korea, who many believe Kim Jong-un tries to emulate.

Opinions vary as to whether Kim is now more powerful than his grandfather was or not. But experts believe this latest move could boost the 35-year-old in his dealings with President Trump.

NOLAND: This could be seen internally as reaffirming his primacy and dominance, and giving him kind of extra status for any negotiations with the United States.

TODD: Trump and Kim have met three times. The first in Singapore ended with promises but no action. At the second, their failed summit in Hanoi, Trump walked out. And this summer, they had a handshake and a brief chat at the DMZ, where they simply promised each other to keep talking. Experts say, Kim, like Trump, is under serious pressure to strike a nuclear deal.

JOSEPH YUN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Tremendous pressure. I mean, in Hanoi, as you know, Kim Jong-un went back very, very angry. He changed his team and say was an abject failure for Kim Jong-un. And, by the way, in a North Korean leaders, don't do failures.

TODD: Could this latest adjustment to Kim's authority be designed to head off any threat from inside North Korea? Analysts say it's not likely that the dictator is facing any significant threats at the moment.

But they say that could change if North Korea's economy really spirals further or if Kim leads North Korea into some kind of military conflict which might lead his generals to turn against him.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: Brian Todd, thank you. And thank you around the world for watching NEWSROOM this hour. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta.

Let's do it again. More news after the break. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Cracking down on protesters. Police in Hong Kong arrests several high-profile pro-democracy leaders. Including prominent activist Joshua Wong.

Bracing for impact. Hurricane Dorian, heading toward Florida, now on track to become a Category 4 storm.

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