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Mass Starvation Predicted in Yemen; Children Killed in Yemen Strikes; Russia Nust Remove Terrorists from Aleppo; Trump Gining Momentum in Swing States. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired October 28, 2016 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN NEWSROOM SHOW HOST: ISIS underground. CNN explores the tunnels militants are using in the fight for Mosul.

A devastating toll in Yemen's war. Aid workers warn of mass starvation for millions of people.

Plus, less than two weeks to go and the political race is tightening between republican Donald Trump and democrat Hillary Clinton. Though, Trump still faces a steep climb in the race to become the next president of the United States.

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

The fight to retake Mosul, Iraq pushes on. Now the U.S. coalition forces say they have killed up to 900 ISIS fighters so far.

Right now they are circling the city and attacking areas from the air and on the ground. You see here that attacks, these attacks are intensifying. ISIS has started sending in suicide squads to Mosul from Raqqa, Syria.

That city, the militant group's symbolic capital and its believed to be the place where the militant group plans overseas attacks. The coalition is going after that city soon.

CNN's Michael Holmes is following it all live from Erbil, Iraq this hour. Michael, it's always good to have you with us. First, what more can you tell us about the coalition push and the progress that they're making so far on the ground?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Iraqi and Kurdish and for that matter American spokes people, George, are all saying that this is still on or ahead of schedule. The problem is that some units are very close to Mosul.

There's one counterintelligence unit from the Iraqi force that is within eyesight of Mosul and there's a Kurdish unit, for example, only a few kilometers from Mosul. But there are others that are still 20, 30 kilometers away.

We were near Bashiqa yesterday and saw it getting pounded from the air. A couple of 500 pound bombs dropped on it. An extraordinary sight. Also artillery and mortar fire going on in there. Now, Bashiqa is 20 kilometers, for example, from Mosul.

There's also another town called Hammam Al-Alil which Iraqi forces have surrounded. It apparently has a number of foreign fighters. Very capable fighters, Chechens and Tunisians and Moroccans. Inside that too, is about 15 kilometers away.

What they need to do is to clear those areas and get those units all up in a closer more uniform circle around Mosul before any campaign can begin. And then of course, before they go in they got to really have a good plan to protect those many civilians who are inside Mosul and deal with the defenses in there. George?

HOWELL: And talking about going in, what do we know of ISIS inside Mosul? They have had several years, Michael, to really gain footing in that city and to dig in. What do we know about their movements right now, preparing for what is an inevitable showdown?

HOLMES: Yes. That's right. They have had a couple of years to make preparations. And it would appear a lot of those preparations are being put in to place. You mentioned the hundreds of suicide bombers that locals reported seeing coming in from Syria, dressed in distinctive uniforms, wearing their suicide belts. Obviously there to fight to the death.

We are getting more snippets of information, too. An entire neighborhood in the northeast that has been booby trapped obviously to slow any advance. Networks of tunnels that run throughout and outside of the city, perhaps for resupply, also perhaps for escape.

We're told of dozens of truck and car bombs that have been prepositioned around the city even Katyusha rocket launchers prepared around the city. There's signs of a resistance inside of Mosul. And perhaps prematurely one of those groups acted the other day and took on ISIS fighters. Killed about five of them apparently from the rooftops in a densely populated neighborhood in the west of the city.

Now what we've also been hearing in the last day or so is ISIS retribution for that. We've heard as many as 600 people have been rounded up by ISIS in the wake of that resistance attack. And as many as 50 summarily executed. Some of them outside of their own houses.

There are million, perhaps 1.5 million civilians inside of Mosul. And we're told ISIS has been bringing in even more civilians from the villages immediately outside of the city.

So those civilians very important to the ISIS campaign. Their tactics and how they are going to operate when this assault begins.

[03:05:00] And civilians obviously, something that ISIS does not care about. But Iraqi forces are going to have to. And it's going to make a big difference when this campaign begins how that aspect is treated. George?

HOWELL: Indeed. Michael, when it comes to the civilians that are still trapped there and civilians that could very well be used as human shields. This is a very difficult, and complicated situation that these forces are dealing with.

Michael Holmes, live for us in Erbil. Michael, thank you for the reporting. We'll be in touch with you. And Michael touched on this, but the discovery of a massive tunnel network that provides a way for militants to hide among civilians that has been discovered. Troops there are using that.

And CNN's Arwa Damon has reporting from inside to show us.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Inside a residential home. All of the rooms have been filmed in the dirt they dug out from underneath so that no one could see what it was they were up to.

They have dismantled some IEDs, explosives that they found -- found inside as well. When they came, they saw that this ladder was already in place. They found a couple of drills and wheelbarrows that they've removed.

Look at this cable. They are even running electricity down here. This is another of the tires that the counterterrorism soldiers burnt inside this tunnel to try to suffocate any ISIS fighters that may have been inside. And that's why there's this black suit that's covering everything.

It's sort of a staircase that they've carved out. That goes all the way up to the road. It's pretty narrow and hard to move through here.


DAMON: If this goes all the way up, into a hole that opened up onto the street that we were just walking down, and ISIS fighters were able to use this to move up and launch surprise attacks on troops as they were advancing.

But they are saying that it also serves as a way to circulate oxygen because this tunnel complex is pretty far underground and it goes off and yet another direction.

Wow, they have a fan down here as well. This distance that we just came through underground, how they'd been able to complete it that sort of opened up on the other side of the main street.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Bartella, Iraq.

HOWELL: Arwa, thank you for that report. And we wish you safety as well along with Michael Holmes there bringing us the report.

Now on to Syria and very strong reaction from the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon saying that he is appalled at repeated attacks on a school compound in the northern part of that country.

A bombing on Wednesday killed at least 20 children in Idlib. UNICEF's Secretary General took it a step further saying in part,

quote, "This is a tragedy, it is an outrage and if deliberate, it is a war crime. This latest atrocity and maybe the deadliest attack on a school since the war began more than five years ago."

CNN's Ivan Watson has the very latest for us.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rescue workers and activists are describing a horrific bombardment of an opposition- controlled village in northern Syria near the rebel-held city of Idlib.

And videos from the scene show at one point what appears to an explosive device floating down over the village hanging from a parachute and then detonating with just a terrible mushroom cloud.

Now members of the White Helmets rescue workers were killed in this series of air strikes which hit a school. Among those killed at least 20 children. And some of the video from the scene shows children's backpacks next to the demolished shell of the school building.

Now this, of course, isn't the first time that we've seen atrocities like this committed in Syria throughout this five-year civil war.

[03:09:52] And in fact, a top United Nations official he testified in fact of the United Nations Security Council this week and he basically denounced both Syrian rebel groups, as well as the Syrian government and its Russian allies for a breakdown in negotiations over the course of the last week for the evacuation of some of the tens of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged eastern rebel-held Aleppo. Take a listen.


STEPHEN O'BRIEN, EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: The Aleppo offensive by Syrian and Russian military forces has been the most sustained and intensive aerial bombardment campaign with and since the beginning of the conflict more than a half decade ago.

The results in human terms have been horrific. Aleppo has essentially become a kill zone. I can't help but be incandescent with rage. Month after month, worse and worse and nothing is actually happening to stop the war, stop the suffering.


WATSON: Stephen O'Brien said that air strikes had killed at least 400 people in a month in rebel-held east Aleppo and that rebel mortar attacks that killed perhaps another 100 additional civilians on the Syrian government controlled side of the front lines.

Ivan Watson, CNN, Istanbul.

HOWELL: Ivan, thank you.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says that his country has no other option but to clear terrorists out of Aleppo, even though civilians are still living there. Listen.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (TRANSLATED): Bill should toll for all innocent victims. I agree with you. We hear all the time Aleppo, Aleppo, Aleppo. Yes. The question is we either leave with terrorists there or do everything possible to minimize to avoid civilian casualties to clear out this terrorist nest.


HOWELL: The Russian President there, president there speaking Thursday. Russia and Syria claim that they put up humanitarian ceasefire, put that in place last week, creating corridors so that people could get out of Aleppo. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations says that Russia just wants credit from the U.N.

Still ahead here on Newsroom, the race for the White House continues and the polls are tightening. We will show you where Donald Trump is gaining ground on Hillary Clinton and why Clinton, though, still has the greater advantage.

Plus, they call her the not so secret weapon. What the first lady, Michelle Obama brings to the Clinton campaign. As Newsroom continues.


KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Kate riley with your CNN World Sport headlines.

We start in Singapore for the WTA finals where a minor miracle was needed for Dominika Cibulkova to reach the semifinals. After (Inaudible) the first three months the Slovakian needed a straight sets win over Simona Halep and then would need the help of Angelique Kerber to beat Madison Keys in straight sets.

[03:15:05] Well, it was Cibulkova's day as she creates past Halep in the first set, 6-3 before winning the second set and the tie breaker of 7-5. Playing Kerber would beat Keys in straight sets sending Cibulkova through to the semis.

Rory McIlroy is once again targeting golf's peak money race to Dubai prize which is down to the last four tournaments including this week as WGC/HSBC Champions in Shanghai, but as one under 71 found himself at fourth seven shots back from the leader.

And that assist (Ph) man Sweden's Rikard Karlberg who's nine birdie top 10 to an 8 under 64, helping a star-studded field that included all four of this year's major winners at Bay heading into Friday.

And to the United States Anthony Davis did something Wednesday night just three other players has ever done in NBA history. Davis join the elite by scoring 50 points in a season opener. That problem was that is New Orleans Pelicans would go on to lose 107-102.

And that's a look at all your sports headlines. I'm Kate Riley. HOWELL: A scare on the campaign trail for republican vice

presidential candidate Mike Pence when the plane that he was on skidded off the runway in New York, at La Guardia Airport.

Reporters on board say they could feel the plane fishtail as it touch down in a rainy weather there. No one was hurt. Donald Trump phones his running mate after that incident and make sure that everyone was OK.

Pence is still expected to resume campaigning Friday in the state of Pennsylvania and in North Carolina.

The latest poll shows Donald Trump gaining on Hillary Clinton but Trump stoll faces an uphill battle in the race for the White House. CNN's electoral map shows two key states. The state of Florida and Nevada have gone from leaning democrat to now is tossup states.

The new Quinnipiac poll showing Clinton polling even in Georgia and Iowa. More than 12 million people have voted early in the U.S. so far.

Donald Trump is keeping up his hectic campaign schedule with stops in New Hampshire, Maine and Iowa. On Friday, he is focusing on battleground states where he hopes to pull ahead of Hillary Clinton.

CNN's Sara Murray reports.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In 12 days we're going to win Ohio. And we are going to win back the White House.



SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Donald Trump is barn storming the buckeye state with one target in mind.


TRUMP: I mean, I've been doing six, seven, eight things a day. Every single day. She's home sleeping half the time. I say, she's definitely a low-energy person.


MURRAY: Seizing on the latest revelations from hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks outlining how Bill Clinton generated personal income through Clinton Foundation contacts.


TRUMP: If the Clintons were willing to play this fast and loose with their enterprise when they weren't in the White House. Just imagine what they'll do given the chance to once again control the Oval Office. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MURRAY: The GOP nominee hoping a last ditch effort to stay on message and jam pack his campaign schedule might be enough to clinch a victory come November. But even as he accused Hillary Clinton of being dangerous on foreign policy.


TRUMP: Now Hillary wants to start a shooting war in Syria and conflict with a nuclear power Russia which could very well lead to World War III.


MURRAY: He again appeared to come to Russian President Vladimir Putin's defense.


TRUMP: She has speaks very badly of Putin and I don't think that's smart. You know, you could be very tough but you shouldn't be doing what she's doing.


MURRAY: And while he claims he no longer wants to focus on the lawsuits he's threatened against women who've accused him of unwanted sexual advances.


TRUMP: You know, I hate that you waste time when we're talking about ISIS and we're talking about jobs and you're still bringing that up, everybody wants to bring it up. Look.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was just Saturday.


MURRAY: Trump still lobbing sharp attacks at a People magazine reporter who allege he pushed her against the wall and kissed her without consent.


TRUMP: She was afraid? Give me a break. She was afraid to write it. She would have gotten the Pulitzer Prize. Give me a break.


MURRAY: Trump making a rare appearance with his wife Melania. She says she is more focused on raising their 10-year-old son Baron than hitting the campaign trail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MELANIA TRUMP, DONALD TRUMP'S WIFE: My priority is our son Baron. And I support him 100 percent and I'm there for him every time he needs me. And I might join him.


MURRAY: But her husband has other ideas.


TRUMP: She is amazing when she speaks. She's an amazing public speaker. So, she has agreed to do two or three speeches. And I think it's going to be big speeches, important speeches. This is going to be great.


[03:20:03] MURRAY: And with less than two weeks before Election Day republicans are still grappling with how to deal with their nominee.

After pulling his endorsement of Trump weeks ago.


JASON CHAFFETZ, REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: I can answer to myself and my wife and I got to feel good about what I do.


MURRAY: Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz now says he'll vote for Trump after all. Tweeting, "I will not defend or endorse Donald Trump but I am voting for him. HRC is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA."

Sara Murray, CNN, Geneva, Ohio.

HOWELL: Sara, thank you. The first lady Michelle Obama appeared for the first time on the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton in the state of North Carolina on Thursday. The first lady says that Clinton is the most experienced U.S. presidential candidate ever.

The event drew one of Clinton's biggest crowds yet. Mrs. Obama took aim squarely at republican rival Donald Trump without ever mentioning his name. Listen.


MICHELLE OBAMA, U.S. FIRST LADY: So, when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn't matter, that the outcome has already been determined and you shouldn't even bother making your voice heard.

They are trying to take away your hope. And just for the record, in this country, the United States of America, the voters decide our elections. They've always decided. Voters decide who wins and who loses, period, end of story.



HOWELL: Well, the crowds came together for Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is seizing on another round of hacked e-mails released by WikiLeaks. They offer a glimpse into Clinton's campaign staff in crisis mode.

CNN's Jim Sciutto has this report for us.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN'S CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Newly released stolen e-mails show the Clinton team reacting with disbelief and frustration.


SCIUTTO: As news broke of her private e-mail server. In March 2015, the campaign chair John Podesta wrote to campaign manager Robby Mook, "Did you have any idea of the depth of this story?" "Nope," Mook replies. "We brought up the existence of e-mails in research this summer but we're told that everything was taken care of."

Later in July, a Clinton surrogate and now transitioned co-chair Neera Tanden wrote Podesta. "Do we actually know who told Hillary she could use a private e-mail, and has that person been drawn and quartered before it more colorfully calling the whole thing expletive insane."

A 2011 memo also stolen, shows former Bill Clinton aide Doug Band taking credit for generating money for Bill Clinton by arranging paid speeches and leveraging contacts with corporations that donate to the Clinton Foundation.

Activities that he dubbed "Bill Clinton Inc." In the memo he goes on to say, quote, "Since 2001, President Clinton's business arrangements have yielded more than $30 million for him personally."

There is, however, no evidence in the e-mails of any quid pro quo between the businesses and then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. That has not stopped Clinton's opponent from pouncing.


TRUMP: Mr. Band called the arrangement unorthodox. The rest of us call it outright corrupt.



SCIUTTO: Band, seen here playing golf with Bill Clinton and President Obama, wrote the memo after Chelsea Clinton who was then taking a more active role in the foundation expressed outrage over Band's actions.

In one e-mail, she recounts a call where Band, quote, "yelled and screamed at my dad." Later in 2015, reacting to news reports examining the foundation's finances, Tanden e-mailed Podesta, quote, "I'm hoping someone is keeping tabs on Doug Band."

As a matter of policy, the Clinton Foundation has not responded to questions about individual stolen e-mails saying that there is nothing to guarantee their authenticity.

But on issues of the foundation a statement from the Clinton campaign today saying, quote, "The State Department has made clear that Hillary Clinton's actions were made in the best interest of American foreign policy and that she never made decisions because of donations to the Clinton Foundation."

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.

HOWELL: Riot police have moved against a group of people who have been protesting for months in the U.S. State of North Dakota over a controversial oil pipeline.

Police in Humvees and helicopters made more than 140 arrests as they tore a protest camp apart.

The Dakota access pipeline is still under construction. It covers 1800 kilometers and stretches over four states and under the Missouri River. The standing Rock Sioux tribe says that the pipeline threatens its water supply.

[03:24:59] But high profile supporters say even more is at stake.


MARK RUFFALO, ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: Their livelihood, their families, their sacred places, their cemeteries are all being desecrated and attacked. Put yourself in that place.

JESSE JACKSON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: The liberals (Ph) have been victims of protracted genocide and broken treaties and dishonored commitments. We must measure our character how we treat Native Americans.


HOWELL: This, though, from a pro-pipeline group saying the multibillion dollar project doesn't cross into tribal land. And all affected landowners signed agreements permitting construction.

All seven defendants have been found not guilty in the armed occupation of a U.S. wildlife center refuge in Oregon. Do you remember this story. The group held that -- held refuge there for 41 days demanding it be turned over to local control.

But a jury acquitted brothers Amman and Ryan Bundy and five followers of conspiracy and firearms charges. The brothers and their father remain in custody because they also face charges in the state of Nevada.

Police killed one man during a traffic stop in the midst of that protest.

Still ahead here on CNN Newsroom, coalition forces in the Middle East are about to battle ISIS on two different fronts. Why they are going after a target in Syria. How Turkey wants to help.

Plus, U.N. says millions in Yemen could starve to death in the midst of a brutal civil war. The horrific image of hunger, severe malnutrition and desperation.


HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. It's good to have you with us. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

Donald Trump gaining momentum in important swing states, including the states of Florida and Nevada, but new Quinnipiac poll shows that Hillary Clinton is polling even in the states of Georgia and Iowa.

Election Day is a week from Tuesday. More than 12 million people in the United States have voted early in states across this country.

U.S. vice presidential candidate Mike Pence is expected to be back on the campaign trail on Friday. His plane skidded off the runway at La Guardia in New York Thursday all due to rainy weather.

No one was hurt, but Mike Pence cancelled the fund-raiser. His running mate, Donald Trump called to make sure that everyone was OK.

A U.S. general says the coalition in Iraq has killed up to 900 ISIS fighters in the offensive to retake Mosul. It's estimated up to 5,000 militants are defending the terror group's last major stronghold in Iraq. The coalition says it is slowly gaining ground in the city.

The U.S. says that an offensive is just weeks away to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS. That is ISIS' proclaimed capital.

Turkey's president said that he wants to help, but he doesn't want Kurdish militia groups such as the Peshmerga involved. Turkey considers them terrorists.

From Mosul and then to Raqqa. Next on the list.

Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with more on the fight against ISIS and the looming offensive inside Syria.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Inside Raqqa, Syria, the U.S. believed terrorists are plotting to attack the U.S. and the Pentagon is trying to stop it.


STEPHEN TOWNSEND, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE COMMANDER: There is I think a sense of urgency about what we have to do here, because we're just not sure what they're up to and where and when. But we know that this plot, planning, is emanating from Raqqa. (END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: CNN has learned that U.S. Special Operations Forces recently attacked an ISIS target inside Syria. The U.S. believes the raids stopped plotters planning to attack the U.S. an administration official says.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We know we need to remove Daesh from Raqqa.


STARR: There were 2,000 to 3,000 ISIS fighters in and around Raqqa, ISIS' self-declared capital according to U.S. military officials. Nobody knows how many other supporters exist among the population.

Within the next few weeks, the U.S. plans, along with Kurdish and Arab partners to try to begin to isolate the city. Local ground forces backed up by U.S. military advisers will be put on roads in an out of Raqqa, trying to stop the flow of ISIS operatives.

The U.S. will fly aircraft overhead, ready to strike when targets are identified. The fight for Raqqa will begin even as the fight to retake Mosul in Iraq grows more brutal.

CNN's producer Tim Lister is in northern Iraq.


TIM LISTER, CNN PRODUCER: When the secret phone calls, the text messages, the firsthand accounts of escapees we are getting, a picture is beginning to emerge and it's one of increased defensive preparedness by ISIS with booby trapped bombs scattered across the whole neighborhoods, with vehicle suicide bombs being moved to the outskirts, but also apparently a preparedness by ISIS to escape.


STARR: People trapped in the city are trying to fight ISIS but as many as 600 have been rounded up.


LISTER: The risk for anyone caught with a cell phone in Mosul is enormous. Summary execution most of the time, but still they try to get word out to the outside world.


STARR: And the calculation now is that some 900 ISIS operatives have been killed since the operation against Mosul began.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

HOWELL: Barbara, thank you.

Now to the civil war in Yemen. It began earlier last year when Houthi rebels overthrew the government. Since then, more than 10,000 Yeminis have been killed. More than 3 million others have been forced from their homes. Roughly half of the population doesn't have enough to eat.

They could suffer severe malnutrition. And the world food program says it needs more assistance to prevent millions of people from starving to death.

This image that you see here, haunting. Earlier, my colleague Amara Walker spoke with Abeer Etefa, she is a senior Middle East spokesperson for the U.N. World Food Programme and here's what they had to say.


[03:35:06] ABEER ETEFA, UNITED NATIONS WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SPOKESPERSON: Well, we've seen so many heartbreaking images everywhere we've gone, inside family homes, in (Inaudible) we visited that Sana'a, Hajja and Hodeida.

We've spoken to so many families who described that they have lost their livelihoods and some government employees who used to get paid, these were the families the middle class that were able to afford to put food on the table.

Today, they are struggling to feed their children. A family of nine surviving on a daily basis on if they are lucky, one cup of cooked rice and some dried bread.

And when you go to these nutrition centers you see so many faces of the malnourishment, whether it is among children or even the pregnant and the breast-feeding mothers. So, it's a very bad situation.

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So how are people getting by, day to day? Are they relying on aid? But clearly a lot of bakeries and stores have been bombed out by the Saudi air strikes, right?

ETEFA: Well, in the areas that we visited there were signs of damage, you know, the infrastructure definitely has been impacted but bakeries are still operating and functioning.

The World Food Programme is providing food assistance to around six million families or six million people every month. But to do that we have to split the food basket between families. So, we are no longer able to give a full ration to one family because of the increasing need and also limited resources that we have.

Right now half of the population is food insecure. That means that they don't know where the next meal is coming from. So, certainly -- and this is -- this is in the areas that are accessible to us, where we see these signs of hunger and malnutrition and we worry about the areas that are inaccessible. When we were there, there was a 72-hour ceasefire which allowed us to

get into some locations inside. But what the Yemeni people need is a long-lasting peace ceasefire, they need the peace agreement so that aid workers can go everywhere in the country and provide this much- needed, urgent life-saving assistance.


HOWELL: We take you to this story. Of course, we'll continue to follow. The U.N. says that Yemen has one of the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. It is a desperate situation for many people there. We will of course continue to follow the situation in Yemen.

In Venezuela, protesters clashed with police for a second day in a row. The opposition blames the president of that nation Nicolas Maduro for the country's brutal economic crisis. Most people can't find food or simply can't afford it because of extremely high inflation.

CNN's Shasta Darlington has more.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A day after Venezuelan flood the streets to protest their government, President Nicolas Maduro a 40 percent increase in minimum wage a 20 percent wage hike for public servant including the armed forces.

It's the fourth wage hike this year and no doubt will temper some of the anger and frustration that sparked demonstrations on Wednesday and images like this one. A man shouting at riot police, go ahead and shoot me. I'm just hungry. Some of those protests did turn violent. The defense ministry addressed that on Thursday.


VLADIMIR PADRINO, VENEZUELAN DEFENSE MINISTER GENERAL (TRANSLATED): Other serious things also happened. The killing of a police officer in the street and other things. The burning of tires, streets on fire, police cars lit on fire and attacks against National Guard troops.


DARLINGTON: The opposition had been trying to organize a recall referendum that could have seen Maduro voted out of office this year. But last week, his government blocked the efforts to organize that referendum.

Now the opposition says it's going to march on the presidential palace next week unless the government reverses its decision. The opposition has also called for a general strike on Friday, but Maduro's announcement of an increase in wages could temper support.

The opposition has also finally agreed to sit down with the government on Sunday in a national dialogue. The Vatican is going to mediate those talks. But at this point, there's little hope that it will really come up with a solution to solve this standoff.

Shasta Darlington, CNN, Rio de Janeiro.

HOWELL: Next here on CNN, hear from a sex trafficking victim. How she got pulled in to the underworld. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Rain in the state of California with the drought that is happening there you know they need it. Our meteorologist Derek Van Dam is here.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The question is it enough, the answer is probably not but we will take what we can get because they had a five-year drought that's ongoing. Well, people talk about it. We know it is taking place but check it out.

They may get two to four inches of rain in some of the hardest-hit extreme drought part of So. Cal., including Santa Barbara and San Luis of these counties.

Take a look at this, we'll talk a little bit about why we are seeing the chance of rainfall. And the concerns that are going to be involved with the potential for heavy rain. We've got the mixture of -- the remnants of a tropical storm, which is well off the Coast of Mexico, just south of southern California.

That storm is petering out. But there's also an area of low pressure that is combining forces with it. We are getting this large dip in the jet stream that's going to help draw in about a significant amount of Pacific moisture. And that is helping to aid in our chances of rainfall across southern California.

It does look as if the best chances of rain will be just to the north of Los Angeles, which you are looking at right now is actually a current radar. And you can see L.A. is actually dry. Although you do have the potential for a rain as we go through the rest of the weekend.

But the heaviest of rainfall really from, again, Santa Barbara County northward into San Francisco, where two to four inches of rain could fall or upwards of 150 millimeters of rain.

You can see the flash flood watches the National Weather Service has issued across this area. But one thing that residents across Southern California need to take into consideration is the fact that we've had a dangerous fire season across this area.

And you combine the burned, scarred mountainous terrain and add in heavy rainfall. That means the potential for debris and mudslides, a serious concern. Really the scarring from previous wildfires can just increase that risk.

So, when we get the heavy rain it soaks in to the soil. Eventually gravity winds and that can lead to quite a disaster. So, something we're going to monitor.

Check this out. Will we have enough rain to ease the drought? Probably not. You can see that we can still have 21 percent of the state of California under exceptional drought conditions.

[03:45:03] Forty three percent still under extreme. Sixty two percent of the entire state under severe drought. And that's very similar for the entire western part of the U.S. There it is. The U.S. drought monitor as the middle -- as of the middle of this week, still very dire conditions with water restrictions along much of the West Coast of California.

HOWELL: That's the way it may be.

DAM: That's right. It's going to continue. And you know, this rain will help but it's not going to be enough.

HOWELL: Derek Van Dam, thank you.

DAM: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: An international operation led by the FBI has rescued 82 children from sex trafficking. It's called "Operation Cross Country." And because of it hundreds of suspected pimps and other criminals have been arrested.

CNN's Freedom Project speaks to one of the victims and the law enforcement team behind the project.

Amara Walker has this report.

WALKER: Child sex trafficking knows no borders. Its victims often run from one horror only to be in snared in another. The United States FBI provided this survivor's account on its web site. She says she was abused by her father until she was 15 and then tricked by a pimp in to prostitution.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was 17 at that time when I met him and I got in the adult entertainment business because of the fact that he asked me about it and he told me the money would be used towards the modeling and I believed him.

He beat me. He had me in his hotel rooms by myself for weeks. I'd go hungry because I wouldn't obey what he wanted me to do. It's a trap. Once you are there it's hard to get out of, really hard.


WALKER: It's a story that CNN Freedom Project has heard many times and one the FBI knows all too well. In just four days, the FBI says they made hundreds of arrests and rescued 82 teens.


BERNIE RIEDEL, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: We find that the average age of the minors that we do recover are -- is around between 15 to 16 years old, there's been as young as 9 but that's not the norm. Normally between 12 and 17. These are a lot of girls that come from

families or just -- a lot of times in a broken situation, whether it be victims of sexual assault previously in their home life or physical abuse.


WALKER: Authorities call it "Operation Cross Country." It's in its 10th year and it includes law enforcement in the United States, Canada, Cambodia, Thailand, and the Philippines.


RIEDEL: This is part of the overall initiative by the FBI to address sexual exploitation of children.


WALKER: Many of the teens don't realize they are victims.


RIEDEL: The recruitment process by the pimps, the people, the subjects of these cases, they have a very -- they really have a very powerful influence over the girls physically and psychologically.

They might entice the girls initially to come in to that life either through the promise of money, love, love whether as a boyfriend or love as a father figure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have learned I was a victim. At the time I didn't believe I was because I was like hey, I volunteered but then the day I didn't volunteer, it is something I was tricked into thinking I can turn out to be a model.


WALKER: For victims being exploited, there is hope.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you are a victim and you went through this, there is justice for you. Definitely. Not only is there justice for you, you don't have to be scared anymore once you elaborate and go to the police because they will be arrested. To where, to me, you can breathe, I can breathe and say I can finally put him behind me.


WALKER: Amara Walker, CNN, Atlanta.

HOWELL: You can help the victims of human trafficking, check our web site for more information. It's @cnn.comsearchforfreedomproject.

[03:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) DAM: Much needed rainfall anticipated much of California. Unfortunately, this chance of rain will also bring the possibility of mudslides and landslides. Thanks to recent force fires and the burned areas across this region.

Rainfall amounts could easily total perhaps 25 to 50 millimeters of rainfall through the early parts of the weekend, even some mountain snows for the Sierra Mountain range. Los Angeles, you have a chance of rainfall.

In fact, we have flood watches for you. On the other side of the country, we continue with an area of low pressure that will bring rainfall to Maine, New Hampshire, as well as upstate New York.

A few snowflakes embedded in there as well and some chilly rain showers expected to cross Chicago, Grand Rapids, Michigan and Detroit.

But look at the warmth building across the central part of the United States. We're talking about several degrees above average for this time of the year from Denver into Dallas. And that warmth will start to move a little bit further to the east impacting Atlanta, Georgia perhaps into Charlotte.

We will cool off over the west and we gain very mild weather for the northeast, including New York City.

Here's our temperatures on the uphill for Saturday and Sunday for New York City. But a sharp contrast as we start off the workweek as a cold front comes through and cools our temperatures for the big apple.


HOWELL: A new report from the accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers declares that London, by the numbers, is the best city in the world. It beat out Paris, it beat out New York and Sydney, Australia, but the question -- is it really the best city?

Of course everyone got their own take including CNN's Sydney borne correspondent, Phil Black who gives us his assessment of it.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For about 10 years now, off and on I've lived in London where life takes place under an endlessly gray sky or least that's what it feels like. But when I think of my hometown Sydney I think of the color blue, that's the sky and the ocean there for most of the year.

In London, there is the daily crush of the tube we're getting growled at or sneezed on is all generously included in the ticket price. While in Sydney I could commute by ferry across one of the most beautiful harbors in the world.

And in London, there are people, so many people, everywhere. In Sydney, everyone gets their own beach, not quite but you get the idea. Now kicking London brings no pleasure I love this place.

Truly it's my adoptive home but I was surprised recently, so are many of my colleagues, mostly Brits, when we learned that this challenging often infuriating city had topped the list of the world's best cities.

So, when you think of the competition, we wanted to know how is that possible. Accounting giant, Pricewaterhouse Coopers released two studies. One is a survey of around 5,000 people measuring the perceptions of international cities, the other an analysis of the facts.

Sydney came fifth in perception, tenth for reality. London is number one in both rankings.

[03:55:01] London scored very highly for international connections, well-developed infrastructure and legal frameworks, political influence and being a leader.

That could be because most of those surveyed are described as informed elites and business decision makers. A demographic also known as those who regularly wear suits.


BLACK: Best city in the world, go.


BLACK: Why London?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cosmopolitan, business, ease of access, rule of law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's gracious.

BLACK: You've noticed the color of the sky, though, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. If it could also have the weather of Australia it would be even better.

BLACK: Wouldn't it just for affordability? London ranked close to the bottom of the list. That's not news to those who live across town far from the suites. But most will agree this is the best city in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no place on earth that can compare with London. And why it will be expected for hope. Don't worry about that. Forget that.

BLACK: It's hard to forget that though, because it is really expensive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is really expensive. They say it's one of the most expensive places in the world but listen, everywhere is expensive at the moment.

BLACK: Andrew Cooke works for the agency which is paid to promote London's good image abroad.

There is a real risk that London's perception internationally could be taking a hit because of Brexit, right?

ANDREW COOKE, LONDON & PARTNERS ACTING CEO: Well, I think where there is uncertainty and clearly Brexit is causing some uncertainty at the moment than there is -- there is a risk to business.

BLACK: Ultimately, London finished first by performing strongly in most categories despite its famous weaknesses. Londoners have learned how to endure those.

Forget the weather.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forget the weather.

BLACK: Forget how expensive it is.


BLACK: Forget the traffic?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Forget the traffic. Yes, forget all of that. Don't look at the negative side.


BLACK: Phil Black, CNN, reporting from arguably the best city in the world.

HOWELL: Phil Black, thank you.

The news continues here on CNN right after the break.