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Hala Gorani Tonight

Lebanon's Political Crisis; California Issues First-Ever Extreme Red Flag Warning; Witness Says Some Crucial Words Were Left Out of Phone Transcript Between U.S. President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky; U.K. Gears Up for December 12th General Election. Aired 1-2p ET

Aired October 30, 2019 - 13:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, extreme red flag, we are live in California where firefighters are battling an unpredictable blaze, destroying everything in its path.

Also this hour, a key witnesses -- witness says some crucial words were left out of the phone transcript between U.S. President Trump and his

Ukrainian counterpart. Our reports explain what this could mean for Donald Trump.

And the election few wanted, but everyone is getting. Get ready for yet another day at the polls in the U.K. We'll tell you who has the upper


Even by the standards of wildfire season, this is a terrifying day in California, prompting an unprecedented alert. Several massive fires are

burning in both the southern and northern parts of the state.

Imagine seeing this out of your window. You get an idea of just how close some of the fires are getting to homes. Or image driving away, trying to

outrace the flames.

And it's not just people in harm's way. Crews rescued these horses from a raging fire in the hills behind them and the situation could get even more

dangerous. Wind gusts now as strong as a hurricane, potentially sending flames racing through the hills or sparking new blazes, as if California

needed that.

For the first time ever, an extreme red flag warning is now in place. We'll explore a little bit later in the program whether or not this related

to climate change or why it is so bad this year.

But for a live report from the scene, let's go to Omar Jimenez. He's in Los Angeles where things could get even worse in the coming hours.

And you're wearing a gas mask, Omar. Tell us what you're seeing from your vantage point.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, we were -- we were in Los Angeles just a little bit earlier today, but one of the things that

officials feared with these extreme red flag warnings, was that wind conditions and the humidity would start fires in other places of the


So we're just about an hour outside Los Angeles. Flames on the side of this hillside, as we walk over here to this cliff, we're just outside the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library here. And you can see how lowly visible this valley is with the smoke. That is the Ronald Reagan Presidential

Library in the background.

We're going to step out of the way here as the fire crews make their way into the spot where were just standing. You can see how busy this scene

actually is. Crews are really trying to make sure that they contain this as much as possible, because they don't want this to spread even outside of

where we are in Simi Valley in Southern California.

They've brought in help from other parts of the state to help manage some of these -- some of these expectations here. You can see these fire crews.

They're getting ready to back into where we were just standing just a few moments ago to take care of some of these flames that have been burning on

the hillside.

Our crew was just up at the top of the hill a little bit earlier, but we had to evacuate. The fire came in there too quickly. Even the fire crews

that we were embedded with told us that it was time for us to get out, so we hauled it down this hillside and have now gone to a more safe location.

But you may be able to hear the wind the background here. You see it blowing through these trees. And it's dangerous for two reasons, one,

because it can take some of these embers outside the containment zones that these firefighters have worked so hard to create and, two, it can break --

take some branches and send them into power lines, as we saw earlier this week. That was what started the Getty Fire that was burning in the very

populated area of Los Angeles.

This is a very, very fast-moving situation and we are still in the thick of it. These wind conditions still expected to be under an extreme red flag

warning, as it's being described for the first time in history, through at least mid-day Thursday, Hala.

GORANI: All right, Omar Jimenez, thanks very much.

What is it like being on those frontlines fighting some of these fires? A fire department spokesperson, Brian Humphrey, is on the line with me from

Los Angeles. Is this the worst that you've seen in recent years, Brian?

BRIAN HUMPHREY, SPOKESPERSON, LOS ANGELES FIRE DEPARTMENT: In recent years. We have to go back to 1978 and in the mid-'80s when we've had fire

moving this fast. We're pleased that Omar is safe, but with wind gusts over 52 miles per hour north of Los Angeles and towards the coast, what's

being faced in Simi Valley.

This fire where Omar is at is about 22 miles northwest of where the Getty Fire is still being brought under control at this hour. We're pleased to

report that we've made great advances on the Getty Fire. There's no active flame at this moment, but the winds which are howling could spark an up-

burst in this fire.

GORANI: And why is it the worst since the '70s? Is it -- is it the winds, is it something else?


HUMPHREY: The weather conditions we're facing right now, Hala, with very low humidity, single-digit humidity and howling winds create a significant


It's right now led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in the city of Los Angeles and we're certainly bracing ourselves for the worst of

winds, we expect to happen a little later today before they subside.

GORANI: How many people are at risk here? How many homes, how many people?

HUMPHREY: Within the city of Los Angeles alone, we have approximately 7,000 homes that are in direct threat by the fire, nearly 7,100. They

represent neighbors of the 12 homes we sadly lost in the Getty Fire and five residents which we were able to hold with just minor damage.

GORANI: And so, if it's the winds and also the low humidity, I mean, obviously, some people are speculating that the climate has changed, that

these fires are getting worse and worse as years go by. Without getting, obviously, into the science of it, is the trend -- is that an accurate

trend, in your experience, that these fires are getting worse and that we're seeing more of them every year?

HUMPHREY: Hala, firefighters do not debate climate change, but we do understand that the climate that we're facing right now at this moment is

different than we've faced in recent years. And we are bracing ourselves and tactically preparing for worsening wildfires.

We must, of course, realize that most fires are started by human causes, human interaction, where people decide to develop, to build or the actions

that they may take that are careless and spark a flame.

So, the balance between things we can immediately control and things that are in a little longer term, I have come into alignment so that

firefighters can do their level best to do what we've done at the Getty Fire, thankfully. There's been no loss of life at the Getty Fire, and no

serious or life-threatening injuries.

And while the acreage is high and the loss of homes is heartbreaking, those are the numbers we like to focus on and we revel in, that we have been able

to prevent anyone from suffering a loss of life.

GORANI: That is very good news. Brian Humphrey, thanks very much. The Los Angeles Fire Department spokesperson. Thanks for joining us. We'll be

revisiting this story with our Bill Weir a little bit later in this hour.

In the United States, on the eve of a critical vote to lay out the next phase of the U.S. impeachment inquiry, more key witnesses are confirming

accounts of the Trump administration's month-long effort to pressure Ukraine for political favors.

Two State Department employees are testifying behind closed doors today, including Catherine Croft. She is expected to say that the only reason a

hold was put on U.S. military aid to Ukraine back in July, was that President Donald Trump himself ordered it.

Later today, the second witness is expected to talk about concerns that Rudy Giuliani, Mr. Trump's personal attorney, was becoming an obstacle to

official U.S. policy on Ukraine, conducting some sort of shadow foreign policy.

Let's bring in Manu Raju and Capitol Hill and Jeremy Diamond at the White House. Talk to us, Manu, about the witnesses we're hearing from today and

that we expect to hear from in the coming days. And what picture, what more complete picture this is getting us of that crucial July phone call.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, according to the statements that came out today -- that were released today from these two

witnesses who are testifying behind closed doors, what they essentially do is backup the concerns that a number of witnesses have had so far, that

there was this outside effort, what Democrats call a shadow foreign policy outside of normal diplomatic efforts, by Rudy Giuliani and the like to push

for something different, which was an investigation into the president's political rivals.

Something that was -- that undermined their efforts, tried to bolster relations with Ukraine at a key time in which Ukraine was seeking American

aid that had been approved by Congress to push back against Russian aggression.

Now, what Catherine Croft, the State Department employee, testified to today was that Mick Mulvaney, the Acting White House Chief of Staff, put an

informal hold on aid to that -- to Ukraine and the reason why that happened was because it came at the direction of the president.

Now, we are also told that she tried to distance herself from efforts by Giuliani, something she referred to as a mess. And we -- she also revealed

behind closed doors that a lobbyist by the name of Bob Livingston had pushed her to push for the ouster of then-Ukrainian Ambassador Marie

Yovanovitch, someone who had been targeted by Rudy Giuliani and the president himself, because according to her testimony, Livingston viewed

her as a, quote, "Obama holdover." But it's unclear why he got involved as well. So now, more Democrats want to talk to her as -- talk to Livingston

as well.

Now, later today we do expect the second State Department official to come, Chris Anderson, who also -- as he's a career foreign service officer, who

also will raise concerns, note that John Bolton, the former National Security Advisor raised concerns about Giuliani's role as well.


So, you're hearing this from multiple channels here, and we're about to end this closed-door deposition phase then move to the more public phase. And

we're getting word that one person who did testify before, a top diplomat to Ukraine, Bill Taylor, is willing to testify publicly and he could be one

of the first witnesses that Democrats bring forward as they push for the new phase

GORANI: Well, I think there will be many people watching that testimony, if it happens publicly and it is aired on televisions around the world.

Jeremy Diamond, Alexander Vindman, yesterday, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council testified that there were, according to people

who were in that testimony -- in that briefing room, that there was some words missing in the transcript between -- the phone call between the

president and his Ukrainian counterpart.

The president tweeted this was a "Never Trumper," essentially, trying to discredit him as a witness. What is the White House trying to do to slow

this impeachment process?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think what's clear from the president's tweets is that there are very little, very few defenses the

president can offer about his conduct with regards to Ukraine. Obviously, he has continued to insist that this was a perfect call, that he did

nothing wrong, that people should just read the transcript and see for themselves, despite the fact that the transcript of course does clearly

shows the president's interest in this investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

But what we're seeing from the president increasingly is this effort simply to instead malign these various witnesses who are coming forward to offer

testimony that is -- shows the president in an unfavorable light. Despite the fact that several of these people who the president has already decried

as "Never Trumpers," Lieutenant Colonel Alex Vindman, as well as the U.S. Ambassador Bill Taylor, the charge d'affaire in Ukraine, the president is

attacking them as "Never Trumpers," instead of going after the substance of what they are indeed alleging.

And this is also what we're seeing, frankly, from a lot of president's allies on Capitol Hill. Despite the fact that the president repeatedly

said he wants Republicans to be defending him more on the substance of the matter -- he tweeted something to that effect just today -- rather than the

process, what we're seeing from the Republicans on Capitol Hill is really still very much a focus on the process.

And it's also what we saw yesterday in a statement from the White House responding for the first time to this rules resolution from the House

Speaker Nancy Pelosi to kind of formally codify this impeachment inquiry and offer some of the procedures going forward.

This White House and Republicans, more broadly, are very much focused on the process of this impeachment inquiry and maligning it as unfair to the

president, rather than addressing the substance of the allegations that are being made -- not by one official, but multiple officials who we have seen

so far, who are coming forward to say that clearly President Trump was withholding this aid to Ukraine, in part, at least, because he was

interested in this investigation into Burisma, the company on which Hunter Biden sat on the board of, as well as the matters related to the 2016


GORANI: And Alexander Vindman, according to a source, said he tried to edit this transcript of the July 25th phone call, but that his edits were

not taken into account. To add things you mentioned, such as the reference to Burisma, that energy company that Hunter Biden worked on the board of.

Was Vindman asked about why his edits were not kept in?

DIAMOND: I believe the reporting so far is that Vindman does not know exactly why they were not accepted. What I can tell you from my own

reporting is that this is fairly typical for the country director, as Alex Vindman is for Ukraine at the National Security Council, to be the person

to essentially not only listen in on the phone call that the president is having with the leader of another country, but also to be the person to go

through the notes that are taken by these situation room staffers that compiles an initial rough transcript of the call between the two leaders.

And it's that country director's job, Vindman in this case, actually go through that transcript, check it for accuracy, and make edits and

suggestions as necessary. So clearly that is what was happening there, he was going through it. Why some of his edits were not accepted, we don't

really know the answer to that yet.

But again, this is just another piece of the puzzle that we are learning as House Democratic investigators seek to put together a picture of exactly

what happened in the president's dealings with Ukraine.

GORANI: Because if you keep having witness after witness saying similar things, that there was more on the call, that it was clear, according to

them, there was some sort of quid pro quo there during the phone call between the U.S. president and the Ukrainian leader. This is going to

start putting a lot of pressure on the White House, especially if these testimonies become public.


From your reporting, what is their strategy to address this?

DIAMOND: Yes, it doesn't appear clear there is a formal strategy. We know there have been a lot of discussions at the White House about strategy but

we have yet to see the strategy play out. All we have seen, so far, again, the attacks on the process, which in a couple of week's time are likely to


As we see the witnesses come forward, not only behind closed doors but in a public setting where the White House can no longer make the argument of

look, we don't know what the witnesses are alleging. We're not being read into the transcripts. Adam Schiff has already said that he plans to

eventually release the transcripts. So that argument will go away.

What we know the White House has been in talks with Tony Sayegh, former Treasury Department spokesman, to come on in a broader communications role

to help the White House with its messaging efforts on the impeachment strategy. That has been imminent for a week or so, Hala. We haven't seen

that hire actually take place yet.

But, again, this White House seems to be trying to formulate a strategy but we haven't quite yet seen it play out.

GORANI: Jeremy Diamond, thanks very much, at the White House.

GORANI: Still to come, tonight, Britain schedules a parliamentary election right before Christmas. Will anything matter besides Brexit?

Also, a surprising voice of support for the Duchess of Sussex in her battle with British tabloids. We'll tell you who is rushing to her defense.

We'll be right back.


GORANI: In the latest bid to end the Brexit deadlock, Britain is headed toward parliamentary elections less than two weeks before Christmas. It

won't be a present for many people. The House of Lords and the Queen still have to sign off on the December 12th vote, but it's expected to basically

to go through.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is already in full campaign mode, denouncing opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and promising to deliver Brexit once and

for all.


BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER OF THE U.K.: We are going to deliver a fantastic deal by which this country will come out of the European Union.

A deal that he has tried to block and that we will deliver. That is the future of this country.

Drift and dither under the Labour Party or taking Britain forward to a brighter future under the Conservatives. That is the choice this country



GORANI: I'm joined by International National Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson. So the 12th of December is a general election for this country,

but the Conservatives -- so the prime minister's party -- are so far ahead in the polls. So this, I mean, technically could spell bad news for the



NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The bookmakers are taking two-thirds of that betting money coming in right now on the Conservative Party. So that

kind of tells you that the mood of the population seems to support the polling numbers.

That said, the bookmakers are essentially saying it's almost too close to call. And that's what the political analysts are saying at the moment as

well. That you have so many different issues running here that Boris Johnson has taken a gamble.

We know that backbench M.P.s from both parties are a little bit worried about this. They recognize that there are difficulties. That, while Boris

Johnson looks strong right now, there's a possibility the Brexit Party, the sort of hard-line Brexit, no-deal Brexit Party could take votes away from

the Conservatives.

They might not win many or any seats. But if he -- if they lose in key constituencies, some votes, then that leaves the door open for another


GORANI: And also, Theresa May was looking strong before the last general election and we all know how that ended for her.

ROBERTSON: Polls were disastrous, I think --

GORANI: Right. There's a smaller party here, maybe people who don't follow U.K. politics aren't familiar with it but the Lib Dems, the Liberal

Democrats are very clear on wanting another referendum and wanting to stop Brexit.

And the people in this country who may have voted Labour in the past could go to them. In the past, they have been kingmakers. They've been a

coalition government. I wonder if this could happen this time around.

ROBERTSON: They would be very cautious about getting into a collation government. But maybe there'll be another terminology, maybe there'll be

another framing of how that relationship could work.

There's a sense that they could perhaps win more seats, maybe, from the Conservatives as well. Because what the Conservative Party and Boris

Johnson has been able to do by sort of booting out some of the moderates from his party --


ROBERTSON: -- in other words, let 10 of the 21 back in. He is the party of Brexit with his deal and the Brexit Party on his right is the party of

Brexit with no deal.


ROBERTSON: And the Liberal Democrats are very clearly the party that doesn't want Brexit. So, there's a natural gathering from them from

disaffected Labour voters and disaffected Conservative voters.

The Labour Party for them, it's going to be more difficult because their voter base is split between leave and remain. So it's hard to appeal to

both --

GORANI: And their leader is not necessarily passionate with remain --

ROBERTSON: Terrible, terrible --


GORANI: Is there a Brexit advent calendar? What are we looking at? What kind of gimmick are we going to come up with to describe this national --

ROBERTSON: Well, rather than a partridge in a pear tree we may have a prime minister up a gum tree which would --


ROBERTSON: -- be the expression for being in a sticky place.


ROBERTSON: But I think this is -- there's plenty of time to work on this.

GORANI: Let's work on it. Yes. Let's try to lighten the mood because I think the country is exhausted. And I'm not sure -- I have not spoken to a

single Brit who's happy that there's an election in December two weeks before Christmas.

Thank you, Nic Robertson for that. It was by the way, I don't know if you saw it, Nic, the emotional scene in parliament. It was Speaker John

Bercow; it was his final prime minister's questions. He's -- all around the world, our viewers know him as the, "Order!"

ROBERTSON: He was getting so many tributes from every person. A slightly biting tribute from the prime minister, who's been -- he's sort of been a

fly in the ointment for the Conservative Party. But yes, fulsome praise as he would like to say.

GORANI: Well, he is a character. And Bercow has been Speaker for a tumultuous decade of British politics. He was known for keeping a firm

grip on the chamber.

ROBERTSON: He's going to be missed.




GORANI: And you were telling me there was a bit of chaos yesterday because he delegated to the deputy speaker --

ROBERTSON: He delegated to the -- well, actually to several deputies. It was almost their opportunity to try out for the job because obviously he's

going to be replaced, and this is actually a current and live issue.

But there was a bit of fumbling on the procedure because what was happening was so complicated, complex and not normal business that he was sort of

ushered back in at the end to sort of tidy it all up. And he came back in with his firm hand. He is going to be missed for sure by some --


GORANI: Maybe not by Johnson, though. This is what --

ROBERTSON: Johnson will miss him, but for Johnson it will be for a better reason.

GORANI: This is what Johnson said.


BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The whole House will want to join me in recording that after 10 tumultuous years this is your last prime

minister's questions.

And as befits a distinguished former Wimbledon competitor, you have sat up there in your high chair, and not just as an empire, ruthlessly jubilating

on the finer points of parliamentary procedure with your trademark Tony Montana scowl, Mr. Speaker.

Not just as a commentator offering your own opinions on the rallies you are watching, sometimes acerbic and sometimes kindly. But above all as a

player in your own right, peppering every part of the chamber with your own thoughts and opinions, like some tennis ball machine -- some uncontrollable

tennis ball machine, Mr. Speaker.



GORANI: All right. There, as you were saying, Nic, a bit of a biting comment there from the prime minister.


And Nic, more U.K. news, a Labour M.P. says she got a phone call today from the Duchess of Sussex saying thank you for writing an open letter of

support. Holly Lynch and 71 other female members of parliament, Nic, expressed concern at the way Meghan was -- is being treated by the

tabloids, implying that her race may be playing a role in media coverage.

"We are calling out what can only be described as outdated colonial undertones to some of these stories. We stand with you in saying it cannot

be allowed to go unchallenged," this is really interesting. Lynch talks here about her conversation with the Duchess.


HOLLY LYNCH, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF THE U.K.: As a fairly new mom myself, the challengers have both been in the public eye managing childcare,

managing public responsibilities can (ph) all be challenge. So we did discuss that.

But yes, we were quite happy to stand with her in recognizing that what she's going through is on occasion had xenophobic undertones. We're not

happy about that at all. We stand with her in challenging that.

And we will look to do everything we can at this end if some of our national press do not have a healthier, shall we say, interest in her life.


GORANI: What do you make of that, Nic?

ROBERTSON: It's touching a nerve. I mean, 72 female parliamentarians, there are 202 in the House of Commons.


ROBERTSON: This is a very significant statement from them of support because they recognize what's happening to her and some of the abuse they

get. And this M.P., and not -- Holly Lynch, not typical what you might associate with a royalty fan, Labour Party --

GORANI: Right, Labour -- yes.

ROBERTSON: -- (inaudible) and a rugby player to boot.

GORANI: Right. And she's -- yes, colonial undertones was a term used.

ROBERTSON: Nasty stuff.

GORANI: Thank you, Nic, for that. In Chile, massive protests have stretched security forces to the limit. They've paralyzed the capital

Santiago. Now the country has canceled plans to host the APEC trade summit and the COP25 climate meeting in November and December.

The president says he's sorry for the inconvenience but he has to put his country's problems first. At least 20 people have died in the past two

weeks of demonstrations. CNN's Matt Rivers spoke with one grieving family.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Its national flag hidden by the smoke, Chile's streets are still burning. Bonfires keep being lit as

hundreds of thousands of Chileans have protested over economic inequality for more than a week now.

Though the large majority of marchers are peaceful, clashes between police and some protestors have at time paralyzed the city. At least 20 people

have been killed since the protests began. Alex Nunez Sandoval, a 39-year- old father of three, is one of them.

His wife Natalia and son Rodrigo told us Alex loved soccer and just being a dad. They live in the outskirts of Santiago. The protested sparked here

too, 10 days ago. The scarred train station, blocks from their house, tells the story.

As the protest raged in the area behind me, Alex's family says he wasn't even taking part. Instead, they were sitting here on one of those benches

in that park behind me watching it all unfold.

At some point, the police came. They came down this road here and it caused a bit of a panic amongst everyone that was here, protesters started

running and Alex did too. He started running down this road right here. And his family says he only made it about 20 meters or so before the police

caught up with him and beat him.

After the beating, he actually walked home. You can see in this photo his face is mangled. But he told his wife he just needed rest. The next day,

he vomited blood and couldn't wake up, so they went to the hospital.

"I know that when the doctor says I need to speak with you," she says, "it's because things are not good. Never in my mind did I think it was

this serious." He died of massive brain trauma.

The police would only say there is an ongoing internal investigation into his death, though Chile's under secretary of the Interior confirmed he died

due to police actions. Critics say police have engaged widely in brutality and lethal tactics.

The government says they have simply been reacting to protestor violence while trying to enact economic reforms the people have called for. But

still too many in this city, people like Alex, have become martyrs amidst a heavy-handed government response.

"The people will not allow the police to go unpunished," she says. "We are totally united."

This woman says there are a lot of people missing and killed and that no one will forget them.

A team from the U.N. will investigate the widespread claims of human rights abuses. For Natalia, she cares most about the abuse of one.

"What I want for him is justice for all the years we lived together, for everything that he was. For my sons," she finishes, "because the police

left them without a father."

Alex's funeral was on Saturday. Natalia told us she was always the one that cared more about politics than him.


But the man who didn't join the protest has turned into a symbol of a movement. At the train station near his house, new graffiti has gone up

next to calls for economic reform and presidential resignations. A new line simply "Alex Nunez."

Matt Rivers, CNN, Santiago, Chile.

GORANI: Still to come tonight. Signs that daily life in Lebanon may be slowly returning to normal. But that doesn't mean a political crisis that

toppled the prime minister's government is over. We're live in Beirut. Ahead.


GORANI: There's still no clear road ahead for resolving Lebanon's political crisis, but the protests that paralyzed the country for nearly

two weeks have eased after Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he would resign.

Life is slowly returning to normal. Some major roads have reopened today. Schools and banks are set to follow later this week.

It will be interesting to see what happens there. Lebanon's president has asked Mr. Hariri to continue in a caretaker role until a new cabinet is

formed. But protesters demanding economic and political reform say yesterday's dramatic shake up doesn't go far enough. Let's get the latest

from our Ben Wedeman. He's live from Beirut.

How long will this caretaker government go on for? Because pretty much, it's the status quo now, as far as I can tell from my vantage point.

BEN WEDEMAN, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Lebanon does not have a very good history at fast formation of government. Let's keep in

mind, Hala, that in May of 2018, Lebanon had parliamentary elections and it took Saad Hariri nine months to form the government and, of course,

resigned yesterday.

So it's very difficult process and one should not hold one's breath waiting for a new government to come out. But we are seeing signs that there may

be a greater sense of urgency regarding getting this country's house in order that we saw.

For instance, a tweet from the Lebanese presidency quoting President Michel Aoun saying Lebanon could have a clean government that the protests have

opened the door to major reforms. And it concluded by saying and if those reforms don't happen, the people should go back to the streets.


Now, the education minister declared that tomorrow, schools and universities and private educational institutes should reopen Friday. The

Association of Lebanese Banks said that banks will reopen and will be open until 5:00 p.m., later than usual, as well as open on Saturday, as well

until 5:00 p.m.

And even though you can hear the music behind me from Riad Al Solh Square where many of the protests have been focused, there are fewer people here

this evening. It does appear that perhaps people are simply exhausted after two weeks of protests or they are giving the leaders of this country

a chance to try to respond to the demands.

But as you mentioned, the demands aren't simply about a new government. They want a completely new form of government, scrapping the old sectarian

division of power that has been in place in Lebanon since the 1943 national pact. Hala.

GORANI: And one of the biggest hurdles is Hezbollah. I mean it's basically a state within a state. Will it participate in some of their

supporters who are actually running after peaceful protesters, you know, beating them up with sticks. It doesn't seem like they're on board.

WEDEMAN: Well, we don't know at this point. In fact, we have been asking Hezbollah officials what their view of the situation is and their attitude,

at the moment, is wait and see. They were part of Saad Hariri's now counting. And they're basically, yes, they're still part of the caretaker

government to Hezbollah ministers and the minister of health who is believed to be affiliated with him.

Hezbollah, however, the secretary general of Hezbollah has said repeatedly that he was in favor of Saad Hariri's reform package and would support it.

It does appear that they were worried about the basically the bringing down of the status quo.

So it's not necessarily a given that they will not, in some way, support this middle position that, for instance, we heard in this tweet from

President Michel Aoun that they do want these reforms to go ahead. Hala.

GORANI: All right. And that's, as always the case, wait and see situation.

But Iraq demonstrations there, as well. A lot of violence there. Hundreds of people killed on the streets of the country. What is in store for


WEDEMAN: Well, yes, Iraq in the last month, almost 200 people have been killed. Most of the protesters but some security personnel, as well.

They are calling for the downfall or the resignation of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi. But there doesn't seem any indication, at this point, that he

is willing to do so.

Now, today we did hear from Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who accused western intelligent services, as well as the United States, of creating

disorder in Iran, in Iraq, and Lebanon. Clearly, the Iranians are alarmed at these demonstrations because Iran, like Hezbollah, has been squeezed by

U.S. sanctions.

Many of the networks of support, social support, that were their strengths have been squeezed and they don't provide the sign of services that they

were able to in the past, which may explain why many Shiite here in Lebanon and in Iraq are taking part of these protests. Hala.

GORANI: All right. When Iran complained about foreign interference, that raised a few eye brows there across the region. Thank you, Ben Wedeman

live in Beirut.

Back now to those massive wildfires raging at both ends of California. The southern part of the state winds are now reaching hurricane level strength.

And some areas are facing a first-time ever extreme weather warning.

Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir joins me from the Ronald Raegan Presidential Library in California, Simi Valley with more.

And I can see you're having also to wear those goggles and that mask, that face mask. How bad is it?

BILL WEIR, CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It's bad, Hala. It's bad right here. And it's just a little sample of how the iconic symbols of

California are proof that this season, this force, this physics knows no zip code from Wine Country up north to the Tony Mansions above Los Angeles.


So much precious real estate threatened here. The Reagan Library House is not only national archives letters, but Air Force 1, Marine 1 planes,

aircraft that he flew on. Piece of the Berlin Wall in there, as well.

This is a sense of perspective when we arrived here about an hour, two hours ago, none of this had burned. This is ferocious sand and winds that

come down howling out of the mountains and are funneled through this valleys and canyons.

When they helped super charge all of this dry -- tinder dry chaparral and grasses, you can't outrun this on foot. These fires move too fast.

And it's worth noting that in the history of Cali fire, they have never been able to contain a blaze that's made by these winds. All they can do

is hope for the weather to change and in the meantime try to defend as much property and human life as they possibly can.

We just got word of another fire in Riverside County that might have touched off, as well. And Southern California, there's at least two dozen

state, county, federal firefighting teams working in concert basically playing firefighting whack-a-mole. Another one pops up and it could be

started from a flat tire, a spark from a rim or a tree branch falling on to a power line.

And what happens now in this modern age is the planet is getting warmer as these valleys and winds are getting stronger. Realizing how much the state

is unequipped to deal with this new normal.

Pacific Gas and Electricity is under severe fire from, no pun intended, from residents who are going through -- millions of people going through

blackouts. And some folks who can't even smell the smoke or see the flames are tasting what it is like to be inconvenience in this way because these

utility companies are so overwhelmed, they're fearing that a day like this could just start another dozen fires or so.

Sadly, today a very real, anxious glimpse into what is the new normal here in California, Hala.

GORANI: And what is -- I mean, does the science support the idea that it is the changing climate that is making these fires worse?

WEIR: Absolutely. If you look at the trend lines -- I'm getting some embers in the back of my neck. If you look at the trend lines, when Ronald

Reagan was president, an average fire season may be 100,000 acres would burn. Last year, it was 2 million acres.


WEIR: And scientists say that they don't even know how to model beyond the year 2050 because so much of the state will have burned. They're not sure

what kind of vegetation will replace it.

GORANI: All right. Bill Weir, thank you so much, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California where fires all around are raging with

these high winds making it all very difficult for firefighters.

Our meteorologist, Tom Sater joins me now. So the hope now -- Bill was saying the hope now is that the weather will cooperate and that the winds

will die down. What is the forecast?

TOM SATER, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: Well, if we can make it through the next 48 hours, things are looking better. But we've got to get through each hour

and for the millions that are in this area, every minute is critical.

This is a picture of the Easy fire that just ignited today and already scorched more land than the Getty fire, closer to L.A. area, closing down

some of the interstates just yesterday. Kincade fire, we had not only hurricane-force winds that are 100 kilometers per hour, they were up to

166. That's 100 miles per hour.

Hurricane-force winds about 74. But again, 30 percent containment, 31,000 hectares is three times the size of Paris. Here is the new Easy fire, zero

percent containment and the Getty fire.

The problem is what we're watching where there's ten large fires so the resources across the entire state are just being stretched so far. We

still have the red flag warnings to the north, Wine Country.

But in Southern California, the problem is these winds are so erratic and so strong, they're blowing embers, not just one kilometer away but as far

as two kilometers away. And that's creating more hot spots.

So no longer do we have that critical, that extreme area, I should say, to the north but the extreme to the south. Never before in the month of

October have we had winds this strong for the Santa Ana's. That's why they use the word extreme when it comes to the red flag warnings.

The reason for the strong winds is just a pressure gradient. The difference between high pressure in the mountains and low pressure


So the winds in the forecast yesterday called for an event that we've never had in the month of October. So we're going to see those winds continue to

be strong.

Now, I know this is kind of hard. This is Simi Valley. But what we wanted to point out here in this area, evacuation zones, mandatory, and those that

are voluntary. But the colors of red are where the power has been cut off. And blue is where they're thinking about cutting more power off.

And in many locations, they haven't shut it off fast enough.


And so we're seeing an arcing of some of the electrical currents to the grass. This is down in L.A. We've got areas such as Beverly Hills and

Hollywood Malibu's off to the area. All the winds are heading to the shoreline.

This is the Canyon County. My sister actually lives right on the edge of Topanga Canyon. They're packed but what she has said, Hala, is smoke is

everywhere, (inaudible) inside the homes.

The problem is if you live in these canyons like thousands do, you just don't know where the flames are. And the winds are so erratic, you can't

tell what direction the flames are moving and that fire is moving.

The winds do die down. So if we can get through another 48 hours, things will be looking better. But again, every hour is critical for this day as

these winds are unprecedented for the month of October.

And it's no longer a fire season as we've been talking about. It's now an annual event. Something's got to change here but they're bringing

firefighters in from neighboring states, everyone trying to help out. we've got over 550 engines working on these fires across California.

GORANI: Extreme red flag warning. First time ever they're using that terminology. Thank you, Tom Sater.

Still to come tonight, war on climate change. Our worst fears may not have been bad enough. We'll tell you why scientists now think rising sea levels

may swallow even more coastal cities and homes than previously thought. That's after the break.


GORANI: Five years ago, Boko Hara militants in Nigeria kidnapped almost 300 girls from their school. In today's Innovate Africa report, Eleni

Giokos introduces us to an acclaimed Nigerian filmmaker who used virtual reality techniques to bring their story to life.

ELENI GIOKOS, BUSINESS AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Joel Kachi Benson is one of Nigeria's most exciting and talked about film producers. His pioneering

use of virtual reality has won him international acclaimed and given his work a worldwide audience.

Daughters of Chibok tells the harrowing tale of 276 young girls who were abducted by Boko Haram in Northeast Nigeria in 2014. Many of them are

still missing.

It won best virtual reality story this year at the highly prestigious Venice Film Festival.

JOEL KACHI BENSON, FILMMAKER: This is the camera that made the film and this is the computer that edited it. This is a 360 camera. This has got

six cameras that filmed independently but simultaneously, right.

And each of them captures a different angle, 180 degrees, 180 degrees. And then you bring it in to the computer. And when it captures them, and then

has to stitch all the six images to become one equi-rectangular image.

GIOKOS: Benson was one of the first people in Nigeria to use VR and had to teach himself how it worked.


BENSON: I couldn't find anyone who was doing it in our country. So I decided to fly out to the States to buy the camera and learn how to use it.

It just became this tool that I could use to transport people to the places that I had been to.

reporter: He believes that VR was the right format to tell the story of what happened in Chibok.

BENSON: What we see in VR 360 is that boundaries don't exist, right? So what's the boundary to go to Chibok? It's distance, it's security, it's

all kinds of stuff, right.

Well, with VR, you can break through those boundaries and take people to places that are normally inaccessible. And while you're doing that, you

can also amplify the voices of people who ordinarily would not be heard as a result of the same boundary as well that exist.

: Innovation has always played a key role in the arts by bracing and mastering new skills. Benson and his young team are able to make films

which are challenging people's perceptions of the Nigerian film industry and giving people an insight into a world they have never known.

This is Eleni Giokos for "INNOVATE AFRICA."

GORANI: We'll be right back.


GORANI: Homes under water, entire cities submerged, a staggering new report on climate change is warning that rising sea levels could put

hundreds of millions of people at risk over the next 30 years and that it's worse than we previously thought.

The Nature Communications Study says these numbers are worse for this reason.


BEN STRAUSS, CEO AND CHIEF SCIENTIST, CLIMATE CENTRAL: Artificial intelligence to develop a new data set that essentially wipes out that

effect from the buildings and trees and delivers a truer estimate of ground elevation. We validated it in lots of ways, and unfortunately, the results

indicate that, yes, a great deal more people are on vulnerable land than we thought.


GORANI: So, as a result of climate change and those rapidly melting glaciers and ice sheets, researchers say that by 2050, 300 million people

will be living below sea level, which means severe flooding at least once a year.

Take a look at what it means for coastal cities, many of which are in Asia. This is just using computer generation.

This is a picture of what Bangladesh could look like by 2050. The left side shows previous data. The right, the new information.

All the red, by the way, indicates what would be covered by rising water. You can see a city submerged.

Here is Vietnam's second largest city, Hoe Chi Minh again underwater. It's not just Asia. Those are the predictions for Alexandria in Egypt if we

have that one.

Researchers say there is hope if immediate action is taken.


STRAUSS: It doesn't mean that the whole city would be wiped out. There is is a possibility to build coastal defenses like levies or dikes. But --

and some may already be in place in the region. We didn't have data on that.

However, it does mean that the authorities in that area have to be paying very close attention if they're going to avoid, really, an economic and

humid catastrophe.



GORANI: All right. Well, speaking of climate change in the show, there were more arrests following protests in Melbourne, Australia. Sixty-two

people were taken into custody after crowds flooded the streets.

Protesters were scaling walls. They clashed with police. Two of them even glued themselves to a carpark access ramp.

All this while the International Mining Conference takes place in Melbourne. We see more and more of these protests.

Thank you everyone for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. I'll see you same time, same place tomorrow for our earlier show this week. Back to same time next


"AMANPOUR" is up next.