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Hurricane-Force Winds Stoke Flames in California; Viewers Can Vote for CNN Hero of the Year. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired October 31, 2019 - 00:00   ET




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.

California's fire emergency, hurricane-force winds and low humidity leave crews struggling to contain 10 major outbreaks. At one point the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library was under threat and tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes wherever they live, including these patients from a care facility forced out by the flames.

The Baghdadi raid, new video showed how the leader of ISIS was taken down by U.S. special forces soldiers.

And she says enough with the awards. Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg turns down a major environmental prize, urging reelection instead.


VAUSE: Firefighters in California appear to make little progress trying to contain 10 major wildfires fueled by hurricane force winds and dry conditions. Flames at some point reached 30 feet high, nine meters, moving so quickly fire crews at times were outflanked.

Right now they're burning to the north and the south of the state forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes. Stephanie Elam is near the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library where on Wednesday flames came dangerously close.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's terrifying up close. the flames are --

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Firefighters are battling raging wildfires burning across the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the wind these two homes right here are really a threatened at the moment. ELAM: Near hurricane-force winds and dry conditions are sparking new outbreaks and adding fuel to existing fires, forcing residents to make emergency evacuations and threatening the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can see the library is still sitting there, albeit the vegetation around it has all burned away.

ELAM: The former president and his wife Nancy are buried here of the many prices exhibits in the library, a retired Air Force One jet, all at risk from flames driven by gusts of up to 60 miles an hour.

Local residents are struggling with the new normal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's horrible. It's horrible. And you know, I've lived here all my life and we've always had the winds but never these fires.

ELAM: The first thing you notice when you get out of here are the winds which are blowing these blazers. Right here these fires race through here and firefighters are still keeping an eye on it and the reason why most importantly, homes right across the street.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Forty-eight hours or so ago we've declared a statewide emergency, 43 counties with red flag warnings and severe wind conditions that led to that statewide declaration.

ELAM: Twenty-seven million people impacted. In Northern California's wine country, the fires can be seen from space. NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan posted these photos of north of the Bay Area on Twitter.

On the ground near Sacramento, desperate drivers on the I-5 veering into the grass to escape. The largest of the fires the Kincade fire has been raging in Sonoma County for a week, torching 76,000 acres and 86 homes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's the first time I've been a shelter in my life. I have my own home in Hillsborough. I've been there for 37 years and it was a little scary at first.

ELAM: As the dangerous and unpredictable wildfires continue to burn an ominous warning from the Los Angeles fire chief.

RALPH TERRAZAS, CHIEF, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT: It only takes one ember so blow downwind to start another fire.


VAUSE: Let's go live to Los Angeles and CNN's Paul Vercammen.

Paul, where is the containment as far as these measure outbreaks?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with this Early (sic) fire here. Never has a neighborhood been so happy to be bathed in pink. Look at that car behind me and the streets. You can even see it got on the -- this was a genius understroke of fire retardant dropped right as this Easy fire was coming out of Simi Valley and jumped a fairway at one point.

It looks like the containment on this fire has not officially been announced but we don't see any active flanks of flame. on another front, you'll see there's a fire burning in (INAUDIBLE) right now. They say it's 10 acres and this is sort of a fire whack-a-mole if you will. They take a one out and another one crops up. And these winds play a big factor and you know, John, you were there 2017 in California.


VERCAMMEN: And throughout the Thomas fire zone. You hear this term being thrown around a lot but this does seem to be the new normal with the fire season lasting later and later in October. It is certainly a very severe fire. The month always has had Santa Ana winds but it seems like it lasts almost to mid-December -- John.

VAUSE: Paul, we appreciate the update. Some with that Kincade fire could be at least a week before they have it contained. That's a big one up but a lot to get to with this story. Paul, we thank you for that.


VAUSE: The Pentagon has declassified a video of the U.S. raid which killed ISIS leader Abu Baker al-Baghdadi. The U.S. general in charge of the operation giving a detailed account of how this went down this past weekend.

U.S. Special Forces took off in an overcast night sky, in the air for about an hour, flying from their base to Baghdadi's compound in northern Syria. On approach they came under fire.

Commandos entered Baghdadi's compound, five ISIS fighters, four women and one man were killed when they refused to surrender. Baghdadi was found hiding in a tunnel and with the ISIS leader cornered, he detonated his suicide vests, killing himself and the two children he had taken with him, not three as earlier reported.

Once the site was cleared, U.S. fighter jets and drones blew up compound, reducing it to a parking lot with very big potholes ensuring it would not be a shrine for Baghdadi's followers.

Even after the operation, the Pentagon depending is warning ISIS will try to strike back.


GEN. FRANK MCKENZIE, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: We suspect they will try some form of retribution attack and we'll -- and we are postured and prepared to -- and we are postured and prepared for that.


VAUSE: CNN national security analyst and former CIA operative Bob Baer is with us from California. The release of the images by the Pentagon I guess is significant in

itself and we'll look at that in a moment but the photos and videos they seem pretty standard stuff. There's a gunfight in the compound. There's no sign of Baghdadi.

Am I missing something?

What didn't I see?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: We didn't see the intelligence they were operating off of. Their decision for instance to breach the wall and the fact that they went to a hostile area that they could outshoot these people. We are not seeing a lot of that and are not seeing the backup forces.

But this is really a dicey operation. When you're doing an entry like this, the whole idea is to go in quietly with no warning and overwhelm the house with as little gunfire as possible and get out quickly. Clearly they had to fight their way in. It's a big deal.


BAER: And I think it was better planned and they did a better job than Abbottabad.

VAUSE: That is the point because I'm talking about the actual release of the images. The decision by the White House, with the Pentagon to put this operational video out there.

When bin Laden was killed back in 2011 there was the same debate within the Obama administration whether to release the images of his body as a proof of death. Obama decided not to go ahead with that and no video was released.

He told "60 Minutes" that "It is impossible for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool. That's not who we are. We don't trot out this stuff as trophies."

We hadn't seen his body yet and that may be the case eight years ago but it seems that President Trump is very keen for some trophy trotting. Do Obama's warnings still hold?

BAER: It does hold because what we are dealing with here in all of this violence, at the very core of it is humiliation. It is a people without power, humiliated and they turn to terrorism as an economy of force really and to humiliate them more, what you're ensuring is a lashing out.

What you want to do after a raid like this is simply saying listen it is done and this is not going to work. We need to all sit down and everybody has got to get away from this as soon as possible.

That's the presidential thing to do. But simply to talk about the man whimpering, which we don't know that he did; the military refuses to confirm that -- and the fact that he hid behind his children and the rest of it is unnecessary gloating, which is inviting more violence.

VAUSE: To that point, that was one of the reasons why I guess the images that were released by the Pentagon seemed almost underwhelming because the president had talked it up so much and set these expectations so high, talking about the whimpering and the crime. So far no one else has been able to confirm that and that was the case today with General McKenzie.


MCKENZIE: I can tell you this. He crawled into a hole with two small children and blew himself up while his people stayed on the ground. You can deduce what kind of person that is based on that activity.

So that would just be my empirical observation of what he did. I'm not able to confirm anything else about his last seconds. I just can't confirm that one way or another.


BAER: He's not going to lie for the president, I just don't know whether it happened or not but certainly if the commander of this operation does not know about it, I don't know how Trump would know about it.

And you look at it from -- the man blew himself up. In that terms, he is a martyr if you are a Salafi. That is what they do and to make this statement, go out and make such a dramatic, is that the word for it?

I don't know what it is. But gloating, he'd better back it up. I really doubt it happened.

VAUSE: To that point, apart from the fact that he may have ruined what should've been a good day for Donald Trump for making the stuff, quite possibly, what are the consequences of him doing that?

BAER: Well, everybody is a lone wolf who watched this whole sequence of events and simply steal a truck and run it through a Sunday market or something like that. I mean, the ISIS cells in the United States, if there are any left, or Europe, do not need this kind of event to launch an attack.

But it is the lone wolf who looks at this, as I said, as a humiliation, as something that needs to be taken revenge for. That is what concerns people in U.S. law enforcement right now.

VAUSE: We are out of time, thank you so, much good to see.

BAER: Thanks.

VAUSE: The U.S. impeachment inquiry about to go public and Democrats want to hear from the former national security adviser John Bolton. More on that in a moment.

Also ahead, California has had more buildings destroyed by wildfires than all other U.S. States combined, so why keep building in danger zones?





VAUSE: In the U.S., the impeachment inquiry will soon move to public hearings, which could mean former national security adviser John Bolton will be giving testimony live on national television in real time for all the world to see. He's been asked to appear by Democrats but reportedly will only show if subpoenaed. Sunlen Serfaty has more now reporting from Capitol Hill.



SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: House investigators have extended an invitation to former national security adviser John Bolton to testify next week according to a source familiar with the matter. Bolton would be the most senior official to testify in the impeachment inquiry though it's not clear if Bolton will agree to appear without a subpoena.

Sources also tell CNN Bill Taylor, the president's top diplomat in Ukraine is willing to return to Capitol Hill to testify in public, a potentially monumental moment in the House Democrats intensifying impeachment inquiry.

Taylor's testimony last week behind closed doors sent shockwaves through the Capitol where he completely undercut the administration's defense that there was no quid pro quo with Ukraine.

Meantime, two new witnesses testifying on Capitol Hill today. Christopher Anderson, aide to former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker speaking to lawmakers behind closed doors about the concerns voiced by Bolton over Rudy Giuliani's shadow Ukraine operations.

Anderson, according to his opening statement obtained by CNN saying Bolton cautioned Mr. Giuliani was a key voice with the president on Ukraine which could be an obstacle to increase the White House engagement.

Catherine Croft, a State Department special adviser for Ukraine, also appearing today. Corroborating the testimony, the committees have heard from other witnesses about the push to oust the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

And testifying today she was informed that acting White House Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney put an informal hold on security assistance to Ukraine, the only reason given was that the order came at the direction of the president, Croft said today. All this as a fallout continues from the explosive testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert.

Vindman who was on that now famous July 25th phone call between President Trump and the Ukrainian president directly contradicting Trump's public description of the transcript released by the White House.


TRUMP: I had a transcript done by very, very talented people, word of word, comma for comma, done by people that do it for a living. We had an exact transcript.


SERFATY: President Trump touting over and over again that it was an exact transcript of a phone call. The White House in September saying ellipsis that showed up did not represent missing words or phrases.

But not so says Vindman, who told lawmakers what the White House released was not exact and had at least two parts omitted.


SERFATY (voice-over): A reference to a Joe Biden tape and a specific mention of Burisma, the company where Biden's son Hunter was on the board.

Burisma according to Vindman, appearing in the transcript as just the company. Sources tell CNN Vindman testified that he tried to make changes to the rough transcript but his efforts were blocked.

And back on Bill Taylor and the potential for his public testimony. Sources tell CNN that an official request have not been made by the House committees but many Democrats certainly very eager and believe that he is an ideal first witness as they enter into the new phase of their impeachment probe -- Sunlen Serfaty, CNN on Capitol Hill.


VAUSE: Nathan Gonzales is a CNN political analyst as well as the editor and publisher of "Inside Elections" and is with us from Washington.

Some of those missing words, because according to Colonel Vindman's testimony, the name of the energy company where Hunter Biden was working, Burisma, was changed to simply the company and a reference to Joe Biden tape was removed altogether. The significance of that is that it changes the entire nature of the conversation from specifically focusing on a political rival, then talking about corruption in general, how does this work?

NATHAN GONZALES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think not only changes some of the specifics but it also casts more doubt about the document itself and what the White House, steps that the White House may have taken to obscure part of the conversation.

So in a way, I think it just reinforces the case that Democrats are trying to make, that there was wrongdoing, that this was an abuse of power, that the president was asking for things. And this just adds more details to the things that he was allegedly asking for in this conversation.

VAUSE: Potentially, are these missing words, are they on par with the missing audiotape from Richard Nixon?

GONZALEZ: We have a small sample size when it comes to impeachment proceedings. Unless there's just a groundbreaking revelation, I don't think we will get tapes and we will probably not get a precise word transcript, which is why this issue is so important because there is not going to be that word for word, so we are putting people's testimonies or words against each other.

VAUSE: Take President Trump at face, value that he's just this corruption fighter. In almost three years, has his administration shown the level of concern for corruption in any other country as they have about Ukraine?

It seems there is more focus on corruption in Ukraine than corruption within his own cabinet.

GONZALEZ: Yes, it is interesting that the president, particularly when it comes to Ukraine and other issues, his obsession with Russia and Vladimir Putin, you know, he tends to go down these very narrow checkpoints. He sets his mind on something, that is where he is and he wants to get more information.

And so it is -- I don't believe that there are accidents in politics. And I don't believe even though the president can be sometimes portrayed as kind of off the wall or saying things off the cuff, I believe there is an intentionality to him, when he has these conversations, he knows what he's doing.

VAUSE: Well, to go, with that in mind, the president was asked about the possibility of his former national security adviser John Bolton testifying before Congress. This is what he said.


QUESTION: Are you concerned that Bolton could be called to testify in your impeachment inquiry?

TRUMP: No, look, John Bolton I got along well with him. Some people didn't. Some people did not like John Bolton. I actually got along with him pretty well. It just did not work out. I don't know that he got along with Rudy Giuliani.


VAUSE: Bolton has now been asked to appear. Reportedly he will not show unless subpoenaed. But that from Trump seems especially telling now that we hear more details about hand grenade Rudy Giuliani and the right wing smackdown he had with John Bolton over Ukraine.

GONZALEZ: It is interesting that he did not completely throw Bolton under the bus. You know, the president always likes to portray confidence and, in that particular answer, it was not as confident as what you see, when you see him another settings, particularly on a rally stage.

So I feel like, with each witness or each person that comes forward to testify, I'm not sure there's anything that's going to sway the Democrats. I think they feel like they're adding on evidence to make their case; where as Republicans will not be persuaded by these individuals because they've already determined that the whole process is a scam.

VAUSE: Well, if Bolton does appear, it seems that his testimony will be public by the sounds of, things because on Thursday, the House will vote to formalize the impeachment inquiry, moving from closed door hearings to public testimony. What is interesting is that not every Democrat is on board with this. Listen to the House majority leader Steny Hoyer.


REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD.), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: We don't need the vote tomorrow, the court has indicated that we can proceed, as we have been proceeding. However, what Jerry did mention is that we are contemplating, changing from what is essentially the investigatory phase of this matter into the open hearing.


HOYER: The public hearing phase of the consideration of whether or not there is evidence to believe that the president has committed high crimes and misdemeanors.

And in that public hearing, we want to make sure that everybody understands this is going to be due process. It's going to be fair.


VAUSE: He also has kind of conceded that he was not too sure every Democrat would be on board with this.

Is this a reflection on divisions within the Democrats behind the scenes?

Because Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she is all for this move, it basically is kind of a Republican talking point.

GONZALEZ: Democrats have really rallied, are unified behind this next step, even in the last 24, hours some of those House members that represent some of the most vulnerable congressional districts that have been reluctant are largely on board. I think there is just a couple that have not signed on to this next step.

They have the votes to move to the next step but I think it is the right, move particularly for independent voters. Republicans have already made up their minds but Republicans, their argument is that it is secret and behind closed doors.

Republicans can't get in, even though that is not true; some Republicans have been in the process so far. But it's saying look, it is open, this is public now. The previous depositions are going to be made public. And I think that will go a long way to taking some of the air out of the Republicans' balloon for independent voters.

VAUSE: And we are out of time, Nathan, but many should be careful what they wish for.

Do they really want all this testimony out there for all the public to hear?


GONZALEZ: I think that the danger is that the media is going to latch on to this and so even if Democrats want to also talk about health care or other issues, this is going to be a media show. And that is what everyone will want to talk about.

VAUSE: It will be the only show in town for a very long time to come, I think. Nathan, good to see you. Thank you.

GONZALEZ: Good to see, you thank you.

VAUSE: Well, climate change expected to make wildfires in California even worse. Why local authorities are still approving residential developments in high risk areas, homes almost destined to burn.

Also, take your award and...

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg says no more accolades or prizes, please, and we will tell you why when we come back.




VAUSE: Welcome back everyone. I'm John Vause headlines this hour.



At last report, 7,000 homes in California's Simi Valley were under direct term from the so-called Easy Fire. And to the south, the Getty Fire, named after the famed museum, forced the evacuation of 6,500 homes.

To the state's north, the Kincade Fire, is slowly being contained, but already more than 200 homes and buildings have been damaged or destroyed, and that's just a snapshot of the current threat. The deadliest and most destructive natural disaster in the U.S. last year was the Camp Fire. Eighty-six people killed, and the town of Paradise in California burned to the ground.

The German currency company, Munich Re, put the losses from that fire alone at more than $16 billion. And yet, when the fires are out and the smoke and haze have cleared, many of them will return to their homes, rebuilt if they have to, and hope it doesn't happen again. And local authorities continue to approve residential developments in fire zones.

Across the state, more than a million homes now, one in 12, are in areas at high risk from wildfires. And while officials warned this is the new normal, they're continuing to build homes ill-equipped for a future with the fire season starting earlier and later, and causing more destruction every year.

So is there a solution, or at least a way to minimize the risk? Alice Hill is a senior fellow for climate change policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, and she is with us from Los Angeles.

Alice, good to see you. Thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: OK. Well, we're essentially dealing with two issues here, right? Where houses are built and how houses are built and, to a large degree, where should determine the how but there's a disconnect here.

HILL: Absolutely. It turns out people like to live near trees, but we are seeing that wildfire naturally occurring is exploding with climate change. We are using old means for choosing where people build, as well as how they build. Those choices look to the past, Chris [SIC], but of course, with climate change, the risk is getting bigger and bigger, and the houses are destined to burn.

VAUSE: There was a study done a couple of years ago by "The Malibu Times," which is a local newspaper to, you know, some of the most richest and most famous of L.A. resident. On average, each decade there have been two major fires.

In over four decades, the number of homes destroyed has more than doubled. What is notable, after 1993, building codes were changed. Homeowners became more active and vigilant about clearing flammable brush, for example, so the numbers decline.

But those numbers we're looking at right now, they're a reflection of increased development in that area. So eventually, it would see like the rising cost here, the growing risk and common sense would break this cycle of burn, rebuild, burn again, but that's not happening.

HILL: Well, the question is, ultimately, who pays? In California, there's still insurance available. So if these homes are insured, then it's the insurance companies. But as the risk grows, the insurance companies may choose to leave, and then the question is, will it be the federal government? And historically, in recent years, it's been the federal government who has come and stepped in when local resources have failed.

VAUSE: Then there's the issue of how to build. I want to read part of your op-ed, which was on You touched on this just a moment ago. "Building and zoning rules are generally based on historical extremes of wind speed and flood levels. But climate change is causing ever greater extremes. Reliance on the past can no longer safely guide our decisions for the future. The California wildfires vividly show why."

And the cost of prevention is always less than the cost of replacement, but the added dimension here is that, you know, the tougher building codes and the tougher regulations actually work. And that happened in 2008. Homes built after 2008 survive fires much better than those built before.

HILL: Well, that's true, but if you look at that study, there were 350 homes in the Camp Fire that were built after 2008. They did much better than the earlier homes. Earlier-built homes survived at a rate of 18 percent. The 350 homes, it was 50 percent.

But for those homeowners, it's certainly a surprise that you have a new home built to the new code and it will not survive these bigger, hotter fires that are facing stronger winds; the embers are flying further; and it's very difficult to construct a home under that code that you're assured will be secure from fire.


VAUSE: So I guess here's the question. Is there a building code, other regulations which could be on the books which will actually, you know, make homes? I guess they'll never be 100 percent fireproof but able to deal with this increasing fire threat, in those fire regions, that are actually at high risk?

HILL: It will be a very complex issue. There's currently virtually no building code that looks to the future. All of the building codes rest on historical records of fire or flood, whatever the risk is.

And that means they're not up to the job of whatever the new extreme is. So until we can adjust those codes, we really won't be able to answer that question. And then, it becomes should we allow as much development in these areas that have already burned? It's burned once, burned twice, burned three times. Much more likely that it will burn in the future.


HILL: And so we need to have an answer to the land use issues.

VAUSE: I was just going to say, you do call enough. I mean, how many times do people get this chance to go back and rebuild a home? Obviously, some of these people have lost everything, but eventually, I guess, maybe it's time to move on.

But one thing is that regulators in California have been very vigilant when it comes to retrofitting older homes to withstand earthquakes. You know, I bought a house there a couple times, and you always have to do some kind of upgrade.

Why has it not been the same kind of focus when it comes to wildfires? I mean, there are things that can be done that are low-hanging fruit.

HILL: Well, that earthquake, seismic retrofit is highly unusual in the United States. That was a bold move by California, recognizing that its building stock is highly vulnerable to earthquakes.

We haven't seen a similar move with regard to homes. And when you look at the building stock of homes with -- as it relates to wildfire, you've got wood shake roofs in California. That is like piling kindling on top of your house. It just is going to incinerate.

So we -- to retrofit those homes would be very expensive, and there simply has not been the will to do that yet.

VAUSE: Yes. I guess one of the easiest solutions would have been, I guess, you know, avoid the climate change catastrophe in the first place.

HILL: Yes.

VAUSE: But right now, it's a bit late. We have to take these measures, I guess, to try and save what we've got.

HILL: Yes.

VAUSE: Alice, thank you so much. It's an interesting read, everything that you wrote here on

HILL: Oh, thank you.

VAUSE: People should go and have a look. Thanks for being with us.

HILL: Thank you.

VAUSE: You're welcome.

HILL: Thank you very much.

VAUSE: Well, the teen climate activist, Greta Thunberg, wants action, not awards. She turned down the Nordic Council's environmental award and rejected the $52,000 prize. Thunberg thanked the council and explained her decision on Instagram, writing this: "The climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start to listen to the current, best available science."

There we go. Thunberg says the Nordic countries have a great reputation for climate and environmental issues, but she also called them out for their energy consumption. The council says it respects her decision and is deciding what to do

with the prize money.

Well, prepare to be inspired. After the break, CNN is honoring ten everyday people doing extraordinary things to make the world a better place. Meet the CNN Heroes of 2019 in just a moment.



VAUSE: Well, they're ordinary people who are doing extraordinary work for others. Here's Anderson Cooper with the top ten CNN Heroes of 2019.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. All year long, we've been introducing you to some inspiring individuals who are changing the world. We call them CNN Heroes. Now it's time to announce the top ten CNN Heroes of 2019. Here they are.

From Las Vegas, Nevada, Staci Alonso is keeping women and their furry loved ones together at her inclusive domestic violence shelters.

NAJAH BAZZY, ZAMAN INTERNATIONAL FOUNDER: How's your apprenticeship going? Are you learning a lot?

COOPER: Najah Bazzy is delivering hope in Detroit by giving basic necessities and job training to women and their children.

From Denver, Colorado, after seeing families lose their homes to California's worst wildfire, Woody Faircloth is providing refurbished RVs to displaced survivors.

In Ethiopia, Freweini Mebrahtu is changing the lives of women and girls. She's battling the stigma surrounding menstruation with her innovative work.

Donkeys across America suffer neglect and abuse. Mark Meyers from San Angelou, Texas, is saving these often overlooked animals by the thousands.

MARK MEYERS, PEACEFUL VALLEY DONKEY RESCUE: That's some good stuff right there.

COOPER: From Dallas, Texas, Richard Miles served 15 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.

RICHARD MILES, MILES OF FREEDOM: At the end of the day, be confident in your change.

COOPER: Today, he's helping other former inmates navigate the challenges of returning home.

ROGER MONTOYA, MOVING ARTS ESPANOLA: Long neck, just find the length. COOPER: In Espanola, New Mexico, an area devastated by the opioid

crisis, Roger Montoya is giving young people hope and healing through the arts.

Mary Robinson from Mountainside, New Jersey, is helping families who are grieving cope with the loss of their loved ones.

From Mumbai, India, Afroz Shah has inspired the world's largest beach cleanup and sparked a volunteer movement to save the ocean.

ZACH WIGAL, GAMER OUTREACH FOUNDATION: You want to play some video games?

COOPER: And from Ann Arbor, Michigan, Zach Wigal has turned gaming into therapy for sick kids in hospitals.

Congratulations to the top ten CNN Heroes of 2019. Now it's time for you to decide who should be named CNN Hero of the Year and receive $100,000 to continue their work.

Just go to to learn how to vote for the CNN Hero who inspires you the most. And be sure to tune into "CNN Heroes, An All- Star Tribute" as we celebrate all of this year's honorees live from New York, Sunday, December 8 at 8 p.m. Eastern.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. WORLD SPORT with Kate Reilly, my very own CNN hero, is up next. Thanks for watching.







VAUSE: Hello. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Studio 7 in CNN's world headquarters in Atlanta. Ahead this hour, California's fire emergency.