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Wildfires Raging in California; Vietnamese Families Fear Loved Ones Among Truck Victims; Thousands Pack Streets in Anti-Government Demonstrations; Protests and Warnings of Economic Collapse in Lebanon; Hong Kong in Recession as Five Months of Protests Take Toll. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 29, 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): Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause, live from Studio 7 at CNN World Headquarters.

Ahead this hour. Buckle up: the U.S. impeachment inquiry is expected to be a bombshell testimony as administration insiders share knowledge about the Ukraine probe.

They tell us about why and how Baghdadi was killed and the choosing of the leader.

Multimillion dollar homes as neighborhoods in L.A. burn and now residents are told to flee.

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VAUSE: For weeks, the U.S. president and Republicans have been dying. Democrats called a vote on the impeachment inquiry, claiming it to be illegitimate and refusing to cooperate with Congress until it officially votes, a move seen by many as a delaying tactic.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has decided to call their bluff, scheduling a vote this coming Thursday. Lawmakers will hear from a parade of key witnesses this week, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will testify in the coming hours. He's the National Security Council's director of European affairs and a top expert on Ukraine.

According to his opening statement obtained by CNN, he twice reported concerns about Trump's pressure on Ukraine and that he did not believe the call was proper and leaning on Ukraine to investigate Trump's rival, Joe Biden would undermine U.S. national security.

Wednesday Lawmakers will hear from Kathryn Wheelbarger, the acting assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security.

And then come Thursday it's Timothy Morrison, the senior director of Europe and Russia at the NSC. A key witness in the inquiry was a no- show on Monday, Jessica Schneider has more on what lawmakers were hoping to hear from Charles Kupperman.

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JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A significant no-show on Capitol Hill as Charles Kupperman ignored a congressional subpoena.

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REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Witnesses like Dr. Kupperman need to do their duty and show up.

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SCHNEIDER: Kupperman was deputy national security advisor and John Bolton's number two at the White House. He filed a lawsuit Friday asking the judge to rule whether he had to comply with the House subpoena.

Kupperman saying today, "All parties would want judicial clarity." His attorney argued Kupperman was caught between competing demands from House Democrats and at the White House, which has told current and former officials not to testify, arguing the impeachment inquiry is illegitimate.

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SCHIFF: I think we can infer from the White House on position to Dr. Kupperman's testimony that they believe that his testimony would be incriminating of the president.

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SCHNEIDER: Democrats are eager to hear from Kupperman who was listening to that July 25th phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky where Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate the Bidens. Kupperman's no-show also calls into question whether testimony from other White House officials will move forward.

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RICK PERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF ENERGY: We're going to work with Congress and answer all their questions.

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SCHNEIDER: Outgoing Energy Secretary Rick Perry is now walking back what he said earlier this month, telling the Associated Press that he will not testify before Congress even though he's been subpoenaed. Now he's calling the inquiry illegal and improper.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have what are called the three amigos.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHNEIDER: E.U. Ambassador Gordon Sondland has referenced Perry as one of three officials, along with Kurt Volker who were in charge of U.S. policy towards Ukraine. Perry also now says he asked the president to make the July 25th phone call because it was important for the country's energy needs and had nothing to do with the Bidens.

Meanwhile, Vice President Pence is towing the White House line, denying any quid pro quo that predicated military aid or a White House meeting on Ukraine's promise to investigate the 2016 election or the Bidens.

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MICHAEL PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: What I know is that the transcript of the president's call with President Zelensky shows that there was no quid pro quo, he did nothing wrong.

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SCHNEIDER: And Democrats today threaten to hold Charles Kupperman in contempt for defying that subpoena and, of course, the question remains will others who are scheduled to testify this week actually refuse.

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VAUSE: Thanks to Jessica Schneider for that report.

New details on the raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The operation started just after 11:00 pm local, time a little more than two hours later, U.S. Special Forces declared jackpot to signify that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was dead.

U.S. Defense officials have been confirmed that his remains have been buried at sea. Earlier Donald Trump tweeted a picture of the heroic dog, who chased Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi into a dead-end tunnel where he blew himself up. The dog was injured but officials say he is recovering and already back on duty.

We are also learning how the U.S. tracked down Baghdadi.

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VAUSE: Nick Paton Walsh has the details.

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NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A press conference from the Secretary of Defense and U.S. chief of staff did not really give much more information about the, raid other than the quite vivid details provided by president Donald Trump.

They did say that two men were detained and there may be a release of video later. We are learning from some allies, remember, there is something of a push by allies of the U.S. in the region to show how helpful they were in tracking down al-Baghdadi. We're hearing from allies, different versions of how they assisted in

the hunt. Foremost, the Syrian Kurds, the main U.S. ally on the ground in the fight against ISIS, have come forward and said, in, fact they had an informant inside Baghdadi's inner circle, perhaps even in the compound itself, that was able to lead them there, provide plans of the compound and even take from that compound, dirty underwear and a blood sample from Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi so they could use that to match it with DNA samples the Americans had to totally prove it was Baghdadi in hiding.

Baghdadi was briefly a prisoner of the United States while he was in Iraq. We are also hearing from Iraqi officials and Iraqi senior intelligence officials that another aide to Baghdadi may have been useful in terms of tracking him down as well.

This man was called Mohammed Alid Sajit (ph) and he was apparently detained on the outskirts of Baghdad about two months ago. He then in turn led the Iraqi forces to a courier; in the raid the courier was killed but the courier's wife had documents that led them to the whereabouts of Baghdadi.

The U.S. has not commented on any of these versions directly but it does appear that they are continuing to hunt against some of Baghdadi's key assistants. A man called Abu Hassan al-Muhajir (ph) is likely thought Dead, according to one U.S. official.

Syrian Kurdish officials saying he was hunted down outside of a town called Jerablus, again like where Baghdadi was found, an area where Turkish backed militia exercise a lot of influence.

There are some gruesome pictures emerging of Muhajir's death and it does appear that he was a spokesperson and possibly part of the chain of succession after Baghdadi's death.

But U.S. officials say they are increasingly limited in their exposure territory inside of Syria. That's one of the main orders Donald Trump gave when the Turkish incursion began, giving the Turkish the ability to move in and that's limiting their visibility. So perhaps they're moving fast to take out as many ISIS leaders that they are aware of, particularly given there's no point giving them their freedom to leave with Baghdadi. They've already achieved that goal -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Irbil, northern Iraq.

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VAUSE: We are joined by Nada Bakos. She's a former analyst and a U.S. national security adviser.

Thanks for being with us. There's a fair amount of evidence out there, which indicates that a leadership decapitation of a terror group can be ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Bin Laden is dead, Al Qaeda is alive, regrouping and growing.

Is the death of al-Baghdadi any different?

NADA BAKOS, FORMER CIA ANALYST: It is different. Baghdadi had a much different role than bin Laden's. Even than his predecessor in the first iteration of this group, Al Qaeda in Iraq, Zarqawi, when he was killed, he actually had successors in place to take over his role.

It is yet to be clear if Baghdadi has done the same planning. But Baghdadi's removal from his leadership position is unique in that he considered himself a caliph. He was the religious leader that was needed to command the caliphate or the territory, so whoever is replaced by Baghdadi will have to, of course, assume a different type of leadership role.

And it will need to be somebody who can bring the group together. There is an ideological split in ISIS, that Baghdadi himself was having to grapple with. In addition to, as you mention, Al Qaeda is waiting in the wings to take over some of these willing fighters in case ISIS does not figure out how to coalesce.

VAUSE: Last year, there was an estimate ISIS had up to 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria. There have been some indications that they were rebuilding the caliphate.

Would Al-Baghdadi's death change those plans?

I guess it depends on who takes over.

BAKOS: It depends on who takes over, somewhat. Given the chaos that is happening inside Syria and Turkey establishing a safe zone with their incursion, I think there is a lot of questionable future ahead for ISIS.

But at the same time, as you mentioned, there's tens of thousands of fighters. There are people willing to continue on with ISIS' planning. They had a unique government structure that they can fall back on.

One thing that they may not have is that al-Baghdadi was able to bring together all of the former Saddam regime members under the Sunnis.

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BAKOS: And I think that alone is a large reason why he had so many followers.

VAUSE: We heard from the U.S. Defense secretary, conceding that ISIS would continue to be a threat, even though al-Baghdadi was dead. Here he is.

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MARK ESPER, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: It's a physical caliphate and defeat. It's hard to defeat an ideology. What we have to do is stay on top of this. We will have to make sure we have the capability to go in and destroy targets as they arise.

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VAUSE: What is the U.S. capability now that its forces have withdrawn from the region?

BAKOS: I think it has diminished. When you have to launch from outside of the country, it becomes much more difficult, you can't be as agile as you would be inside the country. When they are trying to action on the intelligence that gathered from this raid, it will be very difficult to do it extremely quickly, like you would if you were still inside of Syria.

VAUSE: We also heard from the Syrian Kurdish fighters, giving details of what they say were their role in the killing of Baghdadi's death. Here they are.

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KINO GABRIEL, SDF (through translator): As a result of the delicate joint work of more than five months between the military intelligence of the Syrian Democratic Forces and the U.S. forces and in coordination at the highest levels, the head of the Islamic State terrorist organization, Abu Baker al-Baghdadi was eliminated.

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VAUSE: Month and months of cooperation, they had been aware of his location for quite sometime, disrupted because of the Turkish military offensive.

Is there any way that the U.S. could've done this without the assistance of the Kurds?

BAKOS: No way. Given all the territory that the Kurds were able to recover and push ISIS out of, that's largely why ISIS was dismantled as much as it was today. Probably Baghdadi was sent into different parts of Syria. He probably would not have been there, given if the Kurds had not taken the action that they did.

VAUSE: Back in April, when ISIS lost that territory, Baghdadi's made his reappearance and announced there would be a war of attrition in an attempt to inspire his followers to carry out those attacks.

Now there's no caliphate and no caliph, so what's left to offer?

What does ISIS have to offer to inspire these people around the world?

BAKOS: ISIS still has its branding to fall back on. Even though their social media operator was killed also, they still have a lot of content that they could push out on the social media platforms. They still have a lot of followers.

So far, the franchise is still seeming to be intact, so I think just the mere fact that they have the branding, I think that will help them push forward. If Al Qaeda tries to take advantage of that, either forces some of the ISIS franchises to move back toward becoming aligned with Al Qaeda or it's possible Al Qaeda will extend their hand and offer an appeasement and some kind of joint organization that would probably be the most problematic for the Western world in addition to the region.

VAUSE: Very quickly, the U.S. president described the death in graphic terms. They're also planning to release the video and the photographs of Baghdadi, of his death.

What is to be gained by that and what is not to be gained by?

BAKOS: That's not clear to me. I can understand declassifying some of the information for the public to see. I was not aware that they would declassify, I would hope not, pictures of Baghdadi and some of that, in addition to the aftermath.

I do see why the public is interested and would like some confirmation but at the same time I think releasing the DNA evidence is probably a much better move than releasing any other photographs that will be graphic.

VAUSE: It's good to have you with us.

BAKOS: Thank you.

VAUSE: Another stinging defeat and more Brexit uncertainty in Parliament. That's for the prime minister Boris Johnson. MPs voted down his proposal that he wanted for an election in December. He needed two thirds approval of Parliament, that's 434 votes, he got 299.

Mr. Johnson says he will introduce a new so-called short bill, to try to get the election approved with a simple majority. But he is clearly frustrated.

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BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This House cannot any longer keep this country hostage. Millions of families and businesses cannot plan for the future. And do I believe that this paralysis and this stagnation shouldn't be allowed to continue. Now that no deal is off the table we have a great new deal.

We have a great new deal.

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JOHNSON: And it's time for the voters to have a chance to pronounce on that deal and to replace this dysfunctional Parliament with a new Parliament that can get Brexit done so the country can move on.

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VAUSE: It is one part of a very bad day of Boris Johnson's day. Boris Johnson said he would rather die than have that happen. It will give the U.K. until January 31st to finalize a deal. It's almost certain that the exit from the E.U. will not happen by the end of this month. That's a given. Fires seem to be stronger by the day in California, strong winds and

now some of the richest areas of Los Angeles are under threat.

Also young lives are on the line in the wake of a truck death tragedy. We'll take a closer look at a shadowy trafficking network in Vietnam.

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VAUSE: Firefighters in California have a reprieve from the intense winds fueling dozens of wildfires. But it will not last. The winds are expected to pick up in the upcoming hours and they're still threatening homes, forcing school closures and causing power outages. You see how many active fires are burning in both the northern and southern parts of the state.

The Kincade fire near San Francisco has forced 200,000 people from their homes. Burned 30,000 hectares and destroyed 100 buildings. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without electricity.

To the south the, Getty fire is burning at the art museum in Los Angeles and multimillion dollar homes owned by the rich and the famous. LeBron James had to evacuate, so did Arnold Schwarzenegger. An unhealthy air advisory has been made for the area and the L.A. mayor said the Getty fire is being investigated as possible arson.

Let's get our next guest reporting from the "Los Angeles Times," Brittny Mejia is from Los Angeles.

I want to start with a map of the zone for the fire. A lot of people don't know where this fire is burning. They have heard of places like Santa Monica and the sort of iconic names. But this is a wildfire in residential neighborhoods. Even the fire on the 27th didn't seem as destructive as this and this is not quite seen before.

BRITTNY MEJIA, "L.A. TIMES": It is very intense and I was reporting out there this morning that it broke out before 2:00 am.

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MEJIA: I was along a particular street in the Brentwood area and homes were burning. Even when I was there some neighbors were trying to get out and some people stayed behind.

VAUSE: At last report it was about 5 percent contained.

But what in particular has made it so hard to get this fire under control?

MEJIA: I think weather the, winds are really fueling it and there's a lot of hilly areas and I feel like that was a struggle today with the firefighters trying to get a handle on the blaze. As far as I know, it's 5 percent contained and burned more than 600 acres. VAUSE: With these huge blazes in California that happen sometimes and sometimes you get a break in a change of the weather something happens and they bring these fires under control. That doesn't seem to be happening over the last couple days in California.

MEJIA: It does seem constant. When I got the call this morning, I said, oh, it is another fire because it's a nonstop fires and we have reporters in northern California and are all across southern California as well.

VAUSE: There are tens of thousands of people under these mandatory evacuations.

Where they evacuating to?

MEJIA: Some of them are heading to the centers around the neighborhood. When I was there this morning, people had evacuated already, some went back to hotels or with family or some were staying at the Westwood recreation center. A lot of the workers were there this morning, coming into work and doing gardening or house cleaning.

VAUSE: Is there a concern that they will run out of places to put these people?

MEJIA: I feel they will continue to find places just because the amount -- it is a lot of people that are under the evacuations and people were asking me when I was out, in those areas, they were asking where to go. I think in some cases it's people that just don't know where they should be heading.

VAUSE: This is the Getty fire that was named after the Getty Museum; it's a multibillion dollar place housing some of the most precious artworks in the world. But it is built specifically to deal with fire.

Will it deal with a specific fire like this?

MEJIA: Staff at the museum have not had to evacuate but they basically said this is the safest place that this collection could be. And that they have a 1 million dollar reserve water tank that's on site. They are pretty secure and that everything will be fine.

VAUSE: The other question too arises with these fire crews in the north in the south and all over the state.

When does it get to a point of exhaustion?

When do they start to rest these guys and call for help?

MEJIA: I've seen this, I've covered several fires. And there's so much cycling through and so many firefighters getting sent and deployed everywhere and there is one particular year I saw a lot of firefighters coming for outside. If it continues the way that's going to happen.

VAUSE: The governor of California declared a state of emergency. That seems to be rare for the entire state to be under state of emergency.

What does that mean in terms of what the government can do?

MEJIA: It's in the hopes of getting aid to all of those places. So many fires burning right now and there's so many communities need right now across the state. I think the hope is with that to get the help there.

VAUSE: Lived in L.A. for a time and it is terrifying right now with the smoke and wherever you are. We wish you the very best. Thank you for doing this.

MEJIA: Thank you very much.

VAUSE: Investigators look to identify those 39 victims found dead in a truck container in England.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): "My son is dead. We have a huge debt and two grandchildren and one of them has never even met his father," he tells me.

VAUSE: Still to come. CNN heads to Vietnam why so many people there risked their lives to try to make it to Europe.

Also, unmoved by government promises, protesters again take to the streets of Chile's capital.

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VAUSE: Thanks you're watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm John Vause with headlines this hour.

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VAUSE: As anyone living in the California can tell, you these wildfires are getting worse and worse by the year. Climate change is one of the reasons why. Take a look at this. It shows the biggest fires and the state's history. Look at the top five. All but one in the past decade.

And in the top 10, all one but in the year 2003. One outlier, back from the 1930s. That tells the story, doesn't it? Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is right here. So I mean, that's the facts - is that the fires over the last couple years are just bad, are getting worse.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's explosive (ph) and certainly the behavior here is that we're seeing these fires comes through not only earlier and earlier in the season, but progress later into what is considered the wet season as well. So -

VAUSE: There's no winter it seems (inaudible) season.

JAVAHERI: Exactly. So this is the concern moving forward of course. We know it 's a multi-day event that's happening right now across southern California.

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VAUSE: The driver charged in the deaths of 39 migrants found in a sealed truck container in southeastern England has appeared in court. Twenty-five-year-old Maurice Robertson is facing charges, including manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. He remains in custody.

Prosecutors claim he's part of a global trafficking ring. Three other people have been arrested and released on bail. Investigators still do not know who the victims are or where they came from, but some families in Vietnam, including this one who spoke with CNN, say their loved ones may have been in that truck.

CNN traveled to a village in central Vietnam where three families have told local authorities their missing loved ones could be among the 39 victims. Ivan Watson met them and asked why so many young Vietnamese are willing to risk their lives with a smuggling network.

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IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A family in mourning. This grieving mother clings to her boys, all she has left, she says, from her husband, who she believes is dead.

TRAN THI HA, WIFE OF LE VAN HA (through translator): On October 22, he called and said he would go from France to the U.K., and he would not have any phone signal. Since then, I had no connection with him.

WATSON: Photos of the couple in much happier times. Thirty-year-old Le Van Ha left Vietnam to go to Europe three months ago, his father says. Le's second son was born after that departure.

Grandfather Le Min Twan (ph) believes his son suffocated to death in a shipping container in Britain last Tuesday, along with 38 other migrants.

"My son is dead. We have a huge debt and two grandchildren, and one of them have never even met his father," he tells me.

At least two other families in this farming community in central Vietnam also fear they lost loved ones in that shipping container in England. The question: why are Vietnamese risking their lives and enormous debt to smuggle themselves to Europe?

(on camera): Rice patties like this have been left abandoned, uncultivated, because residents say they just can't earn enough money growing rice any more. Instead, locals have been sending loved ones overseas, sometimes illegally, and they add that many of these new homes have been paid for with foreign remittances. "I sent my three sons to Europe," this man tells me. "After years

abroad, two of them were deported from Britain, sent home in handcuffs."

But, he says, their earnings paid to build this three-story house.

Everyone seems to know someone who smuggled themselves to Europe, and they call the shadowy network of smugglers who move people across borders "the line," as in assembly line.

This family tells me they're angry at a so-called high-quality line that promised 100 percent success at smuggling 29-year-old Vo Nak Nam (ph) across the English Channel to Britain. His mother prays he's not one of the migrants who died in the container.

Back at the Le household, there's already a shrine built to their missing son. Le's father says he mortgaged his house and farmland to pay the line $33,000 to smuggle his son to Britain. "He said, 'I will go to Britain to earn money for the family, to build a new house'," Le's father said.

Now, this grieving family is begging the British and Vietnamese governments to send their son's body back so they can hold a proper funeral.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Do Thanh, Vietnam.

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VAUSE: Still to come, a dire warning from Lebanon's central bank. The country just days away from financial collapse. We'll tell you why in a moment.

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VAUSE: Welcome back. Bloody clashes between anti-government protestors and police in Iraq have now claimed the lives of at least 82 people. A human rights group says more than 3,700 have been injured since Friday. A nightly curfew is now imposed on the capital of Baghdad. Students have joined the protest now, defying a warning from the prime minister, who has promised a lot but done very little to quell the unrest.

Protesters are angry over high unemployment, elected government corruption and a lack of basic services.

Chile bracing for another day of protests, despite the president there reshuffling his cabinet, also promising reforms. But as CNN's Matt Rivers reports, that's done nothing to cool the anger over Chile's economic inequality.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, after yet another day here in Santiago, Chile, with the Pinera administration, trying desperately to do anything to quell the frustration and the violence and just the anger at the government. The only thing that remains clear is that they have not found a solution to all of that yet. And the way I know that, take a look for yourselves.

There are still people out on the streets. These protests have gone on longer than a week now. And you can see people absolutely packing the streets, some peaceful, some not.

I mean, look all the way down there. These people generally are heading towards the main presidential palace, kind of right in the center of Santiago. And there are thousands, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, in the streets yet again.

We have seen quite a bit of violence. Just a few minutes ago, we saw a pharmacy being looted. The looting has taken place quite regularly during these protests. We've seen tear gas deployed. And we have seen water cannons deployed, and that has become a regular occurrence.

What the government tried to do today was take yet another step to appease these protestors. So we saw eight cabinet ministers in President Pinera's administration be replaced. That's just the latest move after a series of promised economic reforms, after the curfew that had been in place for a long time was lifted by the government. They have promised to increase pensions benefits.

And, yet, still the people are out on the streets. They would call them not real solutions, just fake promises, is what we've heard from people.

And their protest issues remain the same. It all starts and stops with economic inequality. They want pension reform. They want more funding for public education. They want wage growth. They think that the policies of this government for 30 years now have benefited the rich at the expense of the middle classes and the poor classes.

How this ends, how this all stops, when people stop coming into the streets, that's the open question at this point.

I'm Matt Rivers, CNN, in Santiago, Chile.

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VAUSE: An ominous warning from the head of Lebanon's central bank, telling CNN's Becky Anderson that the protests have disrupted the country for more than one week could cause the central bank to default on loans and collapse the entire economy.

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BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You say that you have enough reserves to ensure that this country can stave off economic collapse as long as the political situation here is sorted out. Are we talking days, weeks, months? RIAD SALAME, LEBANESE CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR: It's a matter of days,

because the cost is heavy on -- on the country, but more important, we are losing every day confidence. More and more confidence. And finance and the economy is all about confidence.

The banks are closed. The real asset of Lebanon are the Lebanese working outside our diaspora. If they don't see a solution, that gives hopes for -- hopes for the future, then these inflows, on which Lebanon relies, will diminish in an important manner. And in order to save this situation, we need immediately a solution.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets in protests across the country in what's being called the October Revolution. Many angry and frustrated by decades of corruption, and they're calling for the government to resign.

To Hong Kong, where months of pro-democracy demonstrations are taking a toll on the city. A financial toll. CNN's Sherisse Pham reports the financial hub is now in recession.

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SHERISSE PHAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hong Kong is headed for recession. Five months of mass demonstrations, sometimes in popular tourist areas, often ending in violence, are taking a toll on the city's economy.

The government here saying it expects to report negative growth for the third quarter on Thursday. That would be the second consecutive quarter of economic decline, which means Hong Kong isn't a technical recession.

Hong Kong had already been hit with a one-two punch of the U.S.-China trade war and China's slowing economic growth. A political crisis that hurts tourism and retail industries isn't helping.

Scenes of violence and tear gas have scared off many tourists. The number of visitors to Hong Kong fell nearly 40 percent in the third quarter over the previous year, and hotels are, on average, only two- thirds full.

Some protesters have targeted shops and restaurants they view as unsympathetic to their cause. Smashing windows and spraying graffiti on storefronts, leaving employees to clean up the mess.

And some shops have had to close early, simply because workers need to get home. Hong Kong's subway has been operating on reduced hours to repair damage caused by protesters. Hong Kong government expected to report official estimates for GDP on Thursday.

Sherisse Pham, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Mark your calendars. Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. WORLD SPORT is next.

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