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Prosecutors: Airline Mechanic Had ISIS Material on Phone; Texas Seeing Flooding, Tornadoes. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 19, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A do-over vote in Israel leaves Benjamin Netanyahu where he was five months ago, fighting for his political future as the attorney general prepares to indict the prime minister on charges of corruption.

A question of trust. The Trump administration considering military action on Iran, retaliation for an attack on Saudi oil production but so far there's little support in Congress or among U.S. allies.

And battered and bruised in the Bahamas, CNN on the ground with medics going door to door to find and heal a community badly wounded by Hurricane Dorian.

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

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VAUSE: First official election results are expected anytime now. Those results could mean trouble for Benjamin Netanyahu's future as prime minister. Exit polls show a tight race between the Blue and White centrist party led by Benny Gantz and the right-wing Likud Party, led by Mr. Netanyahu.

Gantz, a former military leader, says he intends to form a broad unity government. But Netanyahu, Israel's longest prime minister, is not giving up, saying the country needs a strong Zionist government. Gantz says he wants to include everyone.

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BENNY GANTZ, LEADER, BLUE AND WHITE PARTY (through translator): Starting tonight, I hope to create a wide unity government that is willing to return Israel its social values.

We are one people, one society. I'm calling on my political opponents, leave everything behind you, let's get together for a better and equal society in our country for the benefit of its citizens.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Live now to Jerusalem, CNN's Oren Liebermann is there for us.

An early morning, it seems the best indication of where this election stands right now is if you look at the demeanor of the two leaders of the two major parties. Benny Gantz, cautious optimism; Netanyahu on the other hand, when he appeared he seemed subdued, maybe even desperate.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's very much true. When we heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speak, it certainly wasn't a concession speech but it also wasn't a victory speech.

It seems he is waiting for the actual results and as they come in it shows this race remains very, very close largely as the exit polls projected. Though we will certainly wait for all the results to come in to this point.

As we heard right there from Benny Gantz, the rival looks to be positioned quite well at this point, he talked about reuniting and uniting all the different factions and all the parties and trying to bring them all together into a unity government that can represent a wide swath of Israel's population and try to move the country forward.

And heal what he sees as the rifts in Israeli society, a very different speech from prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said that what he wants to do was not the right-wing government he talked about for the last few months but now he wants a national Zionist government that doesn't include any of what he calls the anti-Zionist Arab parties.

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BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL: Israel needs a strong and stable and Zionist government, a government that is committed to Israel as a national state for the Jewish people. There won't be and there can't be a government that is being supported by anti- Zionist, Arabic parties.

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LIEBERMANN: There are certainly echoes there of the campaign that Netanyahu and his Likud Party ran, which largely targeted the Arab population, accusing of them of trying to steal the election and commit election fraud and there you heard echoes of that in his speech as he continued on the offensive, certainly no hint that he is ready to concede and no indication yet from the results that he is ready or in any position to declare victory. Meanwhile, how does this all proceed?

Well, the process is not simple at all. First we need official results.

Then the president will meet with all the different parties and see what they recommend and then we get to coalition negotiations and that's where this all fell apart last time. Let's not forget, for Netanyahu, there are ongoing criminal

investigations against him and he has his first preliminary hearing just two weeks away.

VAUSE: It's Israel, it's never simple, it's always complicated, Oren, thank you. We appreciate you being with us.

This do-over general election, as oren mentioned, was the direct result of Netanyahu's failure to form a coalition government after the first election back in April.

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VAUSE: And that is because a former Netanyahu ally turned nemesis, Avigdor Lieberman, refused to give his party's support to a government reliant on the religious parties for political survival.

During the campaign, Netanyahu reportedly struck a deal with the ultra orthodox party, granting him community from prosecution on corruption charges. In return as prime minister, Netanyahu would annex large parts of the West Bank, territory the Palestinians claim for a future state.

The hard right secular party could control as many as nine seats in the Knesset, an increase on the April vote. And it now seems he is very much the kingmaker. He is calling for a unity government that would include Likud, the Blue and White centrist party as well as his own Yisrael Beiteinu.

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AVIGDOR LIEBERMAN, FORMER ISRAEL DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Think again before you arrive at the voting station. Whoever wants to really see a unity government without ultraorthodox, without messianics, without all the radicals should think well about what they do before voting.

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VAUSE: Joining me now from Jerusalem, Amotz Asa-El is a felow at the Hartmann Institute and a senior commentator for the "Jerusalem Post."

So thanks very much for being with us. This all comes down now to Avigdor Lieberman. He has eight or nine seats if the exit polls are correct.

How likely is he keep that promise of government not depedentt upon the support of religion parties to survive, is he likely to hold firm to that?

AMOTZ ASA-EL, "JERUSALEM POST": Yes, he will definitely make the most of what is evidently a big victory for him. He gambled and the gamble worked. And I think he will be in a position to impose a broad government on the political system. The question is only on what conditions and who exactly it will include. VAUSE: We have his demands, basically no religious parties within a coalition, which hold the balance of power, if you like. That brings us to Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White Party. He has his conditions and one of them, the big one, he will not join a government with a prime minister facing indictment, clearly a reference to Netanyahu.

So how ironclad is that?

ASA-EL: Politicians will now demanded to be inventive and I think that something here somehow will in upcoming weeks be compromised, either Netanyahu's personal inclusion in this cabinet or the ultra orthodox parties.

But I think at this stage what we can already say about what we're seeing is that the Israeli mainstream voter has made an emphatic statement against Netanyahu's personal conduct. He lost in this election nearly a fifth of his following.

In other words, if we combine the 35 seats he won back in the spring plus the four of another faction that joined him, that was 39. He was down to 32, about 18 percent of the following with which he entered the election and nearly one-fifth of this following has abandoned him.

That's an emphatic statement first of all against his own conduct. Personally and I think beyond that, also against the kind of nationalist populism that is now popular worldwide from the United States to the Philippines.

VAUSE: Netanyahu has been political weakened, to say the least. Given that, what is the chance that the easiest sort of option is for Likud to dump him as leader so that they can go into this unity government?

ASA-EL: That's very true, theoretically. One should bear in mind in this regard that likud has a genetic code in which it does not abandon its leaders even after they fail. It lets them instead to draw their own conclusions, the way for instance Yitzhak Shamir did back when he was defeated by Rabin in '92 or the way Menachem Begin resigned in the course in the wake of the first Lebanon War, neither was deposed by his party.

They both went on their own volition. Netanyahu has an entirely different personal situation than those two predecessors. But I think Likud's inclination will be, if Netanyahu continues to fail to deliver the goods, as far as they're concerned, their inclination will be to have him in some kind of honorable way make way for a successor.

VAUSE: So they've held on through good times and bad. But much of Netanyahu's campaign this time was attacking and questioning the loyalty of Israel's Arab minority population.

But in the exit polls, they show you the Joint List of Arab parties projected to end up with the third most number of seats in the Knesset.

Is that an indication that Netanyahu's strategy backfired?

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ASA-EL: Netanyahu has once again very cynically tried to pander to that part of the electorate, which is that anti-Arab, in terms of his intentions, it has failed. In terms of the Arab united list's delivery, yes, they have risen but not as dramatically as they hope to.

And I think, at the bottom line of what we are seeing is that they will ultimately remain outside of the political game as they have always chosen to do. And I think that even the current circumstances, complex as they are, will in that regard not change.

VAUSE: OK, Amotz, it is a complicated election process and a complicated result, we appreciate you being with us to explain some of it. Thank you.

ASA-EL: Thank you.

VAUSE: A Pentagon official says the U.S. has images backing up the assessment that Saturday's attack on Saudi oil sites came from inside Iran. CNN has not seen the classified images but they reportedly include evidence of the weapons used in the attack.

Iran denies responsibility but its Houthi allies in Yemen say they are responsible. Sources tell CNN that the Pentagon has been ordered to plan potential responses but the White House is waiting for the kingdom's leader to decide on their own response before Washington makes a move.

The U.S. vice president made it clear, using the same language as his boss, that military action is an option.

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MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We don't want war with anybody. But the United States is prepared. We are locked and loaded. And we are ready to defend our interests and our allies in the region.

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VAUSE: David Sanger is with us from Washington, a CNN political and national security analyst, as well as a national security correspondent for "The New York Times ."

David, thanks for being with us.

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Great to be with you, John.

VAUSE: The vice president, talking locked and loaded, just like the boss said.

When it comes to Congress as well as U.S. allies and the American public, how much credibility does this administration have on the question of war, given this daily diet of lies and fabrications we've had over the last almost three years?

SANGER: I think this may be the moment when the president ends up paying the price for some of those tweets and exaggerations and outright untruths and so forth. He has three big challenges here.

One is to convince the public that Iran was behind this if, in fact, he believes it. Only Secretary Pompeo has said so.

Second, it's to try to make a case for common action, which the Saudis have already indicated that they want to do and I'm not sure the world is ready to go risk some sort of conflict in the Middle East for an attack, that while devastating the oil production, did not kill anyone.

Then I think the third big challenge for the president right now is to convince everyone that he actually has a bigger plan. The Europeans believe that he ended up provoking the Iranians into this kind of confrontation by leaving the 2015 Iran deal.

So I think that's the big challenge for him right now.

VAUSE: On that last point, assuming this attack was carried out by Tehran, what would happen if the Trump administration had stayed part of the nuclear treaty and not applied those really tough, crushing economic sanctions?

And when the British ambassador left Washington, one of his communications was that Donald Trump ripped up the nuclear treaty because it was Obama's signature foreign policy achievement.

SANGER: I think there's some proof to that. It was a statement by Kim Darroch that was leaked out in the British press and Mr. darroch ended up resigning. There is a sense in the White House that if it came out of the Obama era it had to be a bad deal and the president has been renegotiating NAFTA, turned it into something that was not a whole lot different or better.

We don't know in this case -- he ripped up the paris climate accord and we don't know in this case whether he's going to get anything out of the Iranians that would be any better than was President Obama had.

In fact, there's an argument to be made that the Iranians, now that they're breaking out of the agreement, may decide that in fact, something works. In othe words, they wil say that they are not constrained by any restrictions. You've already seen that begin to happen.

But the oter side of that is that Iran's behavior in funding terrorism and so forth was already pretty bad after the 2015 deal was signed. And so the Trump administration officials say it is ridiculous to blame President Trump for leaving the deal.

VAUSE: As always, there's a tweet for everything.

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VAUSE: Back in 2014, Donald Trump tweeted, "Saudi Arabia should fight their own wars, which they won't, or pay us an absolute fortune to protect them and their great wealth - $ trillion."

Now as president, he has said at least publicly the U.S. should go to war because the Saudis are a big client for high-tech American weapons.

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TRUMP: That was an attack on Saudi Arabia and it wasn't an attack on us. But we would certainly help them. They've been a great ally. They spend $400 billion in our country over the last number of eyars, $400 billion . That's 1 million and a half jobs and they're not ones, like some countries, where they want terms. They want terms and conditions, they want to say can we borrow the money at 0 percent for the next 40000 years, no. No, Saudi Arabia pays cash.

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VAUSE: Regardless of what the budget is, I always thought that arms sales were considered a benefit to the Saudis and it seems the president is redefining the terms of the relationship.

SANGER: What struck me about that statement is that it almost makes it sound like the United States should be a mercenary force to anyone who buys U.S. arms and whatever you think of the arms programs, whether you think they're a good effort or not, they are supposed to be designed to help a country defend themselves.

What was striking about what happened this weekend, no matter who launched the attack is that the Saudi air defenses were so weak they never saw this coming. And it appeared to have come from areas where they weren't looking.

But the bigger question is, how does a president decide to commit American forces?

It would be hard to explain that you're going to put American lives at risk and those American service men and women because a country like Saudi Arabia spends a lot of money here.

VAUSE: The point of the failure of those defense systems was not lost on the Russian president Vladimir Putin, who, earlier this week, made a sales pitch to the Saudis.

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VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): We are ready to provide respective assistance to Saudi Arabia to protect their country and their people and it would be enough for the political leadership of Saudi Arabia to make a wise government decision as the leaders of Iran did in their time by purchasing S-300 and as Turkish president Erdogan did by purchasing the latest S-400 Triumph air defense system from Russia. They will be able to secure any facilities in Saudi Arabia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Hassan Hassan, a contributor to "The Atlantic" made this point, "Amazing -- in a summer with two of Saudi Arabia's arch rivals in the region, Putin says Riyadh should buy Russia air defense to protect its infrastructure against any attacks. All while the Iranian foreign minister and president are giggling."

And they were laughing. They're lauhging at the Saudi crown prince and at the U.S. president. SANGER: What I found remarkable about the Putin statement is that it's almost like an Amazon ad. You are advertising your air defense systems and then you have two good reviews, one from the Turks and one from the Iranians.

So this may work for Putin. What he is seeking to do is use his own arms sales to fracture the alliances in the West. So he's sold to Turkey, a NATO ally. Now he is arguing for sales to Saudi Arabia. I do not think it will work.

But it is interesting that you are seeing the Russians be so aggressive in doing this. And using their arms sales for such political purposes, just as President Trump has in those statements that you heard before.

VAUSE: David, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much, good to see you.

SANGER: Thank you, John, great to be with you.

VAUSE: Hurricane Humberto is strengthening. Now Bermuda could be in its path. The very latest on the storm up ahead.

Also bringing hope and medical help to the Bahamas, a community in need of both after Hurricane Dorian.

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VAUSE: Hurricane Humberto is gaining strength as it heads towards bermuda. Now a major hurricane with sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour.

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VAUSE: Two weeks after Dorian hit the Bahamas, they are just starting to recover. So many in the hardest hit areas have yet to receive medical care. CNN's Rosa Flores is on the ground with medical teams making house calls amid the devastation.

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ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Two weeks after Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas, a U.S. team of medical professionals went door to door in communities around Freeport.

TIM LEYENDECKER, VOLUNTEER MEDICAL TEAM LEADER: We are a U.S. rescue team.

Are you OK?

FLORES (voice-over): Tim Leyendecker, a U.S. Coast Guard auxiliary officer who specializes in search and rescue operations, is leading this volunteer mission.

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LEYENDECKER: Initially it was major injuries and hurt people. Now it is just like they are living in no air conditioning, it's hot; they have no fluids.

FLORES (voice-over): His deputy is Dr. Patricia Harding. Word of mouth spreads quickly that doctors are making house calls on foot. This 81-year-old man was the first patient tended to. He complained of backache and a rash infection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It hurts?

Your body hurts?

FLORES: So we cannot ask too many questions. We have to keep moving for safety reasons. Tim has made it very clear to us that we have to stay very close to him.

FLORES (voice-over): Then Dr. Harding is asked to check a pregnant woman inside a home.

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DR. PATRICIA HARDING, LEYENDECKER'S DEPUTY: It's OK.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK, honey. You're going to be fine.

HARDING: We will find a way to do an ultrasound so we can make sure that the baby is OK.

FLORES (voice-over): Patricia Miller breaks down, the 20-year old says she is worried that the hustle and bustle of riding buses to evacuate and the stresses of the hurricane have hurt her baby.

Our cameras stay outside the door as Dr. Harding tries to find a heartbeat.

Those sounds you hear, they are coming from the portable machine Dr. Harding is using to find the heartbeat. While it is difficult to pick up the fetal heart tones, Dr. Harding, whose specialty is obstetrics, says she believes Miller is about five months pregnant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile, take your vitamins, drink lots of fluids.

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FLORES (voice-over): Supplies are limited so it's packed in the back of the car. Resourcefulness is a must. See how the team used a nail on the side of a house to hang an IV bag. After a day of consultation on roadsides...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you show us what they gave you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, this is (INAUDIBLE).

FLORES (voice-over): In homes and front porches, the response from Bahamians, who thought the world was beginning to forget about their devastating new reality, to the U.S. medical team was the same -- Rosa Flores, CNN, Freeport, Bahamas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're important. Yes. They are.

FLORES (voice-over): Rosa Flores, CNN, Freeport, Bahamas.

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VAUSE: Still to come a chaotic day of testimony on Capitol Hill. On one side, Democrats considering impeachment, on the other, Corey Lewandowski, a Trump loyalist and urging him on, Republican lawmakers.

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VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. Thank you for staying with us. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

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VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized after a photo emerged of him wearing brown face during a party at a school where he taught in 2001 Mr. Trudeau says it was racist and dumb. He should have known better. He's asking Canadians to forgive him as he faces a tight reelection bid in October.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calls the attack on Saudi oil facilities an act of war and says Iran will be held responsible, regardless of who actually carried out the strikes. Iran has denied any involvement, but the Saudi military says debris recovered from the attack proves the missiles and drones were made in Iran.

The latest projections from Israel's general election show a dead heat between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Benny Gantz. They show neither would have a majority in the Knesset. Final results expected Friday.

Now to the federal case in the U.S. against an aircraft mechanic, charged with sabotaging a critical system on an American Airlines jet. Initially, he claimed he did it because he wanted the overtime pay to fix the fault, but what came out in court paints a very different picture. Here's Rene Marsh.

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RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION AND TRANSPORTATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In federal court, prosecutors said they found an ISIS propaganda video on Abdul Majid Marouf Ahmed Alani's cell phone and that he shared it with someone else, saying he wished Allah would use divine powers to harm non-Muslims.

The revelation about the 60-year-old airline mechanic came during a bond hearing, where prosecutors argued to a judge that the alleged ISIS video and other disturbing connections should keep him behind bars until he goes to trial.

Alani is charged with "willfully damaging, destroying or disabling an aircraft" after prosecutors say he confessed to tempering with part of the navigation system of a Boeing 737. The American Airlines jet, with 150 people on board, was moments away from take-off from Miami International Airport on July 17 when pilots realized something was wrong and turned back.

Alani is not facing terror-related charges, and when prosecutors charged him earlier this month, they said Alani told them he was upset about a labor dispute and that he had hoped to earn overtime for fixing the plane he tempered with.

His lawyer said he never meant to heart anyone.

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: Whether or not this fellow is really involved with ISIS or not, now ISIS and other would-be terror groups have this possibility in mind.

MARSH: Prosecutors did not say today if they believe Alani was motivated by ISIS, but they did say he told a co-worker that he traveled to Iraq to visit his brother, who he said was a member of ISIS. Alani's roommate said he traveled to Iraq, because his brother had been kidnapped.

The U.S. attorney on the case also told the judge Alani had a news article sent to him from an unknown sender, referencing the Lion Air crash of a Boeing 737 Max and that the article made specific references to the roll of the plane's air data module system. That's the same system Alani is accused of dismantling on the American Airlines flight.

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Tonight, critics are asking if federal authorities are doing enough to screen mechanics.

JUSTIN GREEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: In terms of vetting, every mechanic has to have a clean criminal background. So they do a criminal search, and they also do drug testing. But once you're, you know, behind the lines, once you're in the business, unless you show signs of something going wrong, you're kind of trusted.

MARSH: An airline official tells CNN Alani was vetted before he was hired, and nothing derogatory was found in his background check. But today, prosecutors said, Alani allegedly told federal agents that his actions were due to, quote, "his evil side."

(on camera: Well, I spoke with an American Airlines official, and they point out that this man has been an American Airlines employee since 1988. He undergoes recurring criminal background checks, and nothing derogatory has come up in his background check.

He's not on any watchlist, or on a no-fly list, so although prosecutors have presented these links to ISIS, they do not, at least not right now, have evidence that this mechanic was motivated by ISIS. Otherwise, the charges against him would reflect that. That said, charges can always be added.

Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.

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VAUSE: We are following two major storms at the moment. In Bermuda, nearly 28,000 customers have no electricity. Rain and strong winds from Hurricane Humberto are lashing the island. The wind is so strong it just snapped that tree in half.

Tropical Depression Imelda dropped a tremendous amount of rain on parts of Texas, causing isolated flooding. More rain and the threat of flash floods are expected.

And in Louisiana, storms (UNINTELLIGIBLE) also bracing.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is with us with a lot more on this. So you know, a lot of water there in Texas and a lot of wind there for the Bahamas?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Houston, floods. Texas, floods. Right? OK. Look at these rainfall totals, John. I mean, we're talking over 500 millimeters since Monday in St. Bernard. Look at the Freeport, Texas, region, 450.

And what's often common with these tropical depressions that move from the water over land, the spin up, very short-lived, weak tornadoes. There were three of them officially in and around the southeast Texas region. You can see the funnel cloud there. And some light damage, as well. Here's the latest on Tropical

Depression Imelda. You can see the storm starting to back build towards the Houston region. This is a concern that we have, especially as we work into the early morning hours, rush hour, from 6 to 9 a.m. Some of the heavier rain bands could set up right over Houston.

But we are seeing that the heaviest rain going forward will be near the Texas and Louisiana border, Beaumont into the Shreveport region. We have another 300 millimeters of rain ahead of us, on top of what's already fallen.

Now, we also have other tropical disturbances and hurricanes we're monitoring. This is Hurricane Humberto. This storm is skirting just to the north of Bermuda. You saw some of the footage here, snapping some of the palm trees over. It is going to quickly race across the north Atlantic, over the several days into the weekend, potentially impacting the northern sections of Europe into the middle of next week, as an extratropical cyclone. We'll monitor that also.

Tropical Storm Jerry forming just east of Leeward Islands. We have, according to the National Hurricane Center, tropical storm warnings for this area, including Antigua and Barbados. Barbuda, I should say. This expected to strengthen over the next 24 hours.

So John, welcome to the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. You can see all five of the systems we are monitoring. It's not enough time to cover every single one.

Back to you.

VAUSE: Each season gets busier than the one before it, it seems. Derek, thank you.

VAN DAM: Yes.

VAUSE: Still to come here, with serious concerns over the safety of vaping, India's government has passed an emergency order which imposes a total ban on e-cigarettes, amid fear of a epidemic among young people.

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VAUSE: India's government has passed an emergency order to ban e- cigarettes. Just having an e-cigarette could be an offense punishable by up to six months in jail. First-time vaping offenders could be sentenced to a year -- to a year in prison.

India follows Singapore in a total ban, as concern grows worldwide over the potential dangers of vaping.

Amara Walker reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The vaping industry in India may have just gone up in smoke. The government announced Wednesday that it is banning the sale of e-cigarettes, saying they pose a health risk, especially to young people.

PREETI SUDAN, INDIAN SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE (through translator): There has been a 77-percent increase in addiction of e- cigarettes amongst school-going or college-going young adults, because nicotine addiction is quick, and it is harmful, as well.

WALKER: It's a blow to companies like Juul and Philip Morris, who has plans to expand into Indian market, which already has $266 million tobacco users.

The government says it will impose fines of up to $7,000 and jail time for repeat offenders and for anyone involved in the production, import, and sale of e-cigarettes. Critics say it will deprive local business of a lucrative revenue stream.

PRAVEEN RIKHY, TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: A hundred-and-fifty-billion- dollar opportunity. That's what is estimated the nicotine market is going to be. Why are we denying our farmers that?

WALKER: Advocates say vaping is far less harmful than smoking, which kills more than eight million people a year, according to the World Health Organization.

Doctors say they still aren't sure about the effects of e-cigarettes, although the U.S. is investigating their connection to several deaths there.

Still, some users in India say it's safer than the alternative.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no tar burned. There is no carbon monoxide produced. There are no thousands of carcinogens, which is there from cigarettes which is burned.

WALKER: The debate over vaping versus cigarettes continues for some, but not for shop owners in India, who must now hand over their vaping equipment to police.

Amara Walker, CNN.

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VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. WORLD SPORT starts after the break.

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VAUSE: Hello, everybody. Wherever you are around the world, thank you for joining us. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

Ahead this hour, the very liberal, the very politically-correct prime minister of Canada in damage control and publicly apologizing after an almost 20-year-old photo emerges, showing him wearing brownface makeup, a scandal which could take a toll on his run for a second term.

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