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Pro-Democracy Leader In Hong Kong Arrested; Bracing For Hurricane Dorian; Protecting Rohingya Women And Girls; Brexit Chaos; Currying Favor With Vladimir Putin; Israel's Warning To Lebanon; Iran And Hezbollah Trying To Build Missiles In Lebanon; CNN Freedom Project; Alex Trebek Is Back. Aired 3-3:30a ET

Aired August 30, 2019 - 03:00   ET


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Cracking down on protesters, police in Hong Kong arrest several high-profile pro-democracy leaders including prominent activist Joshua Wong.

Bracing for impact, hurricane Dorian heading towards Florida. Now on track to become a category four storm.

And later, protecting the most vulnerable, the CNN Freedom Project report on efforts to stop human traffickers from targeting Rohingya women and girls.

Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world, I'm George Howell. The CNN Newsroom starts right now.

Around the world, good day to you. One of Hong Kong's most prominent pro-democracy activists has been arrested. Joshua Wong was taken away early on Friday morning just as the city prepared for a 13th straight weekend of protests and he is not alone. Two other activists were also detained. Wong's party says the arrests are meant to quote, spread fear. And on the story our Paula Hancocks is live outside police headquarters. Paula, tell us more about this particular arrest.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, what we are hearing from Joshua Wong's group is that they say he was forcibly put into a minivan just outside the train station at 7:30 a.m. this morning. Now what we know from police is that they say they are holding him on charges of organizing, inciting and participating in an unauthorized assembly.

Simply not the first time he's been arrested. The group say this is the fifth time he's been arrested, he is also been in prison just been released last June as well, because of his involvement in the 2014 pro-democracy movement as well. Now another member of his team as well, Agnes Chao, she has been arrested and then a third individual, this is a man who is the head of a party that has been banned in Hong Kong. It's calling for the independence of Hong Kong from China, Andy Chan.

So more serious charges for him, suspicion of a rioting and assaulting a police officer. So we are really seeing a roundup of some of the very well-known names this Friday morning. Of course the ahead of what was expected to be quite a busy weekend of protesting, but none of them are any stranger to the fact that they've been arrested before. They have been in trouble with the law before, because of their pro-democracy and in Andy Chance case, pro-independencies.

HOWELL: Paula, given the fact that this is supposed to be a leaderless movement, what impact does it really have overall?

HANCOCKS: Well, George, this is one of the reasons that they wanted a leaderless movement this time around, because they thought if you don't have a figurehead, if you don't have the leaders at the top, then they can't be arrested. And the police and authorities can't cut the head off of the movement.

So, there are a number of different groups within these movement, it's not just one particular movement. So, the fact that these particular individuals have been arrested won't stop people from going out on to the streets, in some cases, it may even encourage more people to come out onto the streets.

But what we were expecting tomorrow, on Saturday, this massive rally from one of the largest and most peaceful protests groups, the civil human rights front, they have now been denied to have a march or an assembly by police. Police have said that they simply can't protect that rally. They believe that that could be civil unrested. They have denied for the first time any kind of assembly by this particular group.

So that group has now said that they can't call for their members to come out on to the streets on Saturday, because they can't protect their safety. Of course, what that could mean is that the families, the more peaceful protesters don't come out on the streets, but it's very unlikely to me that nobody comes out. There could be other elements that still want to come out and make their opinions heard, George.

HOWELL: We will keep on watch on you, Paula Hancocks live in Hong Kong, thank you.

All right. Here in the United States, people are bracing. In the state of Florida for a direct hit from a dangerous powerful storm that is gaining strength in the Atlantic right now. It is Hurricane Dorian. Now a category two hurricane, with sustained winds 165 kilometers per hour, but it's forecast to get even stronger and to make landfall along Florida's East Coast as a category four storm on Monday.

If that happens, this will be the strongest hurricane to hit that state since Andrew in 1992. Four days out and people are preparing, they're getting food, gas and other supplies, the U.S. President also announced that his canceling a long planned trip to Poland this weekend to instead monitor the storm.

Let's get the latest on where the storm is, the timeline now with our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam on deck. Derek? [03:05:02] DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, George, prepare for

the worst, hope for the best, I think that's the best message here. But what we have right now is a formidable hurricane over open ocean waters that are (inaudible), rather bath warm. We are talking 90 degrees or roughly 32 degrees Celsius. We are talking about jet fuel for hurricane development and this is going to allow for the storm to continue to strengthen over the next 48, 72 hours, 165 kilometer per hour sustained winds, according to the National Hurricane Center, 2:00 a.m. update that is equivalent to a category two and you will be able to see where it's going from here in just one moment.

But one thing that's interesting to note, if this makes landfall as a major hurricane which we expected to do on the Florida coastline here into Monday, this will be the third consecutive year with a major hurricane making landfall in the state of Florida. Think about the economic impact that has. Here's a forecast path. Look at the winds increasing in time, category four strength before making landfall and what's interesting to note here is that there's a large uncertainty in our computer models towards the end of our forecast cone here.

Because the forecast for that particular hurricane shows a dramatic slowdown. So this system could meander along the East Coast, running parallel, which would be a worst-case scenario. It could move across the central portion of the peninsula, it could move across Southern Florida and into the warm open waters of the Gulf of Mexico and reform, and re-strengthen.

So all cards are on the table, were watching all possibility, it's still four to five days out before the system really brings its worst component to the state, but nonetheless, we are preparing ourselves for an elongated time of heavy rainfall, strong winds and coastal storm surges as well. Comparison between the two models that we look at is quite dramatic, not in terms of the location.

You can see basically along the central and southern portions of the state, but it's really the timeframe, from Tuesday morning to Wednesday morning, depending on which model you are looking at. But one thing is, for sure we have the warm ocean waters and then the potential for that curve to the north and northeast that brings it either parallel to the coastline or over the open ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico.

So, time, will tell and we have time to refine our forecast here going forward. But given available knowledge that we have to us. The best guess, the best information that we have available, we do believe that hurricane-force conditions will start to impact the northern Bahamas by Saturday morning and then as we head into Sunday morning, we will start to feel tropical storm force winds for pace like Miami, West Palm Beach into the Jupiter inlet region.

You could see the significant wave heights associated with the system as well. This is really a triple threat and when the storm slows down, George, you know all too well from covering this in the field with me, when they slowdown it magnifies the threat of a hurricane for a tropical storm force winds as well as heavy winds. HOWELL: And Derek, millions of people in the path of the storm good

to have folks like you keeping an eye on it. The countdown is on. We will stay in touch with you. The countdown also on for Brexit and apparently the British Prime Minister is feeling the pressure. Reuters quote the saying that he is encouraged with discussions with the E.U., but is now calling on both sides to step up the tempo. That is seen as a way to calm nerves and to show that he wants a deal, this after he suspended parliament for more than one month before the Brexit deadline. But opposition leaders and some members of his own party, well, they have had enough, as our Hadas Gold explains from London.


HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Although Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that the suspension of parliament ahead of a queen speech is business as usual and it's not solely about Brexit the fallout has been swift. We've seen two notable resignations, today, Lords George Young, he has 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.

Rita Davidson was the leader of the Scottish Conservative Party, a very notable person, she also resigned today. Now there are two legal challenges booking their way through the courts, 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, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: We will be back in parliament on Tuesday to challenge Boris Johnson on what I think is a smash and grab raid against 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 are 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 nights and weekends in order to get it through.

[03:10:10] 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.


HOWELL: Hadas, thank you. The U.S. President Donald Trump is considering a new plan for Ukraine, but critics say it's another attempt to gain favor with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. CNN is live in Moscow with this story for you.

Plus, Israel has a stark warning for Lebanon. Could the latest developments inch that region closer to war?


HOWELL: The U.S. President Donald Trump is considering a plan to block $250 million in military aid to Ukraine. There's a strong bipartisan support for the aid in the United States Congress. Republicans and Democrats both agree that money is essential to counter Russian military involvement. CNN's senior international correspondent, Fred Pleitgen is live in Moscow. Fred, you know, I'm used to hearing Matthew Chance say that this could be music to the Russian leader's ears. What is the perception there, given this change from the Trump administration?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, I mean, it certainly could be, but certainly the Russians aren't making any inroads to actually say that it is. It's been quite interesting, over the past couple of weeks, George, to see the reactions that are coming out of Moscow. Especially to what we are hearing now with those $250 million apparently right now being held up by the Trump administration.

Officially there has been no comments at all from the Russian side. I mean, some lower level Russian politicians who have been commenting on this thing, they believe that a lot of this is for domestic political reasons inside the U.S. Because the U.S. wants to see obviously where its money goes and what happens with that money. There really hasn't been any sort of gloating on the part of the Russians.

However, the Russians certainly are letting their military do the talking, as far as that area -- as far as the area around Ukraine is concerned which of course, in itself is something that's very significant when you have these talks going in the United States about that aid being delivered. One of the things that we've seen, for instance over the past just few days, you've seen massive military maneuvers in Crimea, where the Russians said that they going to land 2,000 troops on Crimea.

Of course, that's the place that they invaded in 2014 and took away from Ukraine, something the international community has never acknowledged. And then overnight, if you're keeping up, very difficult to keep up with the amount of military action that's going on by the Russians at the moment. There were missile test for a brand-new version of a caliber cruise missile that went on at the Black Sea. There were surface to -- they were air to air missile tests by Russian jets that were also going on as well. And that comes after a week of a flurry of military activity.

I think, one of the things, George, that you're seeing right now and it's a fundamental thing that's going on with the Russians, I think the Russians still are extremely angry at the Trump administration at Washington for a U.S. missile test of a medium range missile that America conducted about two weeks ago.

[03:15:10] And since then, I've been keeping an eye on this. Since then there has been virtual silent on any sort of initiative by the Trump administration. President Trump, of course, making a case for Russia to get back into the G7. The Russians say we have absolutely nothing to do with it. Again conducting military maneuvers as well. Now we're hearing about the Trump administration is holding up that aide.

Once again, apparently trying to make good with the Russians, no reaction whatsoever in Moscow. I think there has been a fundamental shift on the part of the Russians right now. I think they are still extremely angry by the U.S. going out of the IMF treaty by that missile tests and I think it's something that the Russians are still showing despite the fact that you seemingly have this moves by President Trump and members of his administration, trying to really cool things down with the Russians, George.

HOWELL: All right. Fred, that context is definitely key, thank you for the reporting and pointing that out. We will stay in touch with you on it.

A stark warning from Israel to Lebanon, telling them to stop harboring Hezbollah terrorists who are helping Iran to developed its guided missile technology. It comes as Israel has been accused of recent attacks in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. CNN senior international correspondent Sam Kiley on this story. Sam, live in Jerusalem. Sam, it's not unheard of for Israel to threaten Lebanon, but is this threat to be a real threat?

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, I think that what we've seen in the last 24 hours certainly, in terms of the Israeli statements and indeed propaganda if you like is something of not a doctrinal shift, but a shift of emphasis. Basically saying to the Lebanese government, you need to get your house in order. You need to get control over Hezbollah or it's and then it's a dot, dot, dot at this stage, but the implication is very clear that this George is how it all unfolded.


KILEY: Israeli forces on Lebanon's border already on high alert, then this.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I told our enemies this week, be careful of what you do, and today I tell them direbolic, Arabic for watch out.

KILEY: A week ago, the IDF said that they have stopped this Iranian controlled Hezbollah team launching a drone attack from Syria into Israel. Two days later, the Israelis 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 base.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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 weapons systems, missiles, smart bombs and drones.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With this accurate weapon system, they can neutralize the infrastructure of Israel, and this is why it is so important not to let them have it, 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 it could risk a much wider war.


KILEY: Now, George, in that context -- in the context of that risk, there's always been -- or has for several years now been, if you like, an understanding that there is something close to mutually assured destruction between Hezbollah and Israel. And understanding that if there is going to be a conflict, it could be one that would be extremely devastating for both sides. Given that the Israelis estimates, Hezbollah's had a 130,000 dumb bombs, dumb rockets already in Lebanese's territory. But I think what we've seen now with this threat against Lebanon as such, a very clear warning. And George, the other thing is, they've also named three Iranians that they say are in charge of that Lebanese operation. A clear implications there that they need to start getting out of town.

HOWELL: And they have information on it as well, Sam. Now, look, here's the other question, Israel's actions, when you talk about understandings, are they consistent with its greatest ally in the region, because you've got airstrikes blamed on Israel by Iraq and keeping in mind the United States is an ally to that nation, as well as Israel?

KILEY: Yes, there had been and it's very interesting, the Israelis quite often don't claim responsibility for airstrikes, but they do with a nudge in the wing off the record. So we've seen hundreds inside Syria against Iranian back militias and indeed Iranian targets, but over the last four or five weeks there have been these mysterious airstrikes against Iranian backed militia, including one inside Anbar province over the weekend, blamed on Israel by the Iraqis.

[03:20:12] The Iraqis have signaled extreme irritation and anger over this, and interestingly the Americans have actually put out a statement saying that, effectively Iraqi air sovereignty should be observed by all parties, signaling to the Israelis, if they were indeed officially behind these airstrikes, that this represents a problem for them, because, of course, the Iraqi government, while still close to Iran, is also a key partner for the Americans in the fight against the so-called Islamic State.

HOWELL: Sam Kiley, live for us in Jerusalem. Sam, thank you.

Still ahead, people who have been tortured and forced to flee their homes, on top of that Rohingya refugees are being targeted by human traffickers, but there are organizations fighting to keep them safe. A CNN Freedom Project report is ahead for you. Stay with us.


HOWELL: This week marks two years since more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims were forced to flee Myanmar into Bangladesh. The U.N. calls them the most persecuted group of people on the planet. Now, legal advocates say human traffickers are praying on some of the most vulnerable Rohingya women and children. Our Matt Rivers reports for CNN Freedom Project.


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 dramatic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a huge population, they're being displaced from their own land. They have so many problems, women particularly in terms of trafficking.

FAWZIA FIROZE, BANGLADESH NATIONAL WOMEN LAWYERS ASSOCIATION: We have been working with the trafficking projects and we have been doing this very successfully.

RIVERS: Fawzia Firoze leads the Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association, a non-profit legal aid group that works on behalf of women and children in Bangladesh. For the past few years much of the group's work has centered on the Rohingya.

FIROZE: I hear every day hundreds and hundreds stories about the women's struggling with their lives. Struggling with their profession.

RIVERS: In the main town of Cox's Bazar roughly two hours from the (inaudible), there is chaos and congestion. But on a quiet side street, exists a secret shelter for abused girls. And 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 Ayisha must stay longer, trying to stitch together a life torn apart by violence and abuse.

Firoze says Ayisha left the camp to work as a maid, but the treatment she received made life unbearable. From there Firoze says, things only got worse. The man Ayisha thought would help her, instead took her to a hotel, were he raped her and started selling her body for sex. [03:25:10] FIROZE: 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 a hotel, and the police contacted the camp.

RIVERS: Complicating matters is her status, because she is Rohingya and without a proper national I.D. card, Ayisha is not allowed to leave these walls unless it means going back to the refugee camp on her own, but BNWLA and government officials overseeing the camp say they are doing what they can to stop other children from being exploited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our office has been very serious and very tough on this. We have tighten the border, the security has been tighten. And they are doing their best to protect this population from trafficking.

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

FIROZE: She, said I'm going to be out, it would be my life, if something happens I will face it, but I would like to have my freedom.

RIVERS: Matt Rivers, CNN.


HOWELL: And, be sure to watch our new Freedom Project documentary on the fight against trafficking in the Rohingya refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Stolen son, about the search for a kidnapped Rohingya boy, it airs throughout the weekend. You can see it Saturday, 6:00 pm in Hong Kong, 11:00 a.m. in London, only here on CNN.

Some good news for jeopardy fans, the beloved host Alex Trebek is now done with chemotherapy and back to work, just five months after he was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.


ALEX TREBEK, JOEPARDY HOST: I've gone through a lot of chemotherapy and thankfully that is now over. I'm on the mend and that is all I can ask for right now.


HOWELL: 79 years old, he is currently filming the shows 36 season, Trebek has hosted jeopardy now since 1984 and kept working during treatments over the past few months.

And in New Hampshire, a mother of four has won the right to keep her vanity license plate. Here we go, it features a message that most parents know very well to tell their kids, take a close look. Yes, you're reading it correctly. The plate basically reminds her kids to use the bathroom before they leave. The state asked her to get rid of it because it reference certain bodily act, but the mom argued that it was not offensive and apparently, the governor of the state agreed and he stepped in and convince the state to let her keep her plate. It says PB4WEGO, that is what it says.

Thanks for watching CNN Newsroom, I'm George Howell at CNN center in Atlanta. African voices is up next, but first your world headlines right after the break.