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CONNECT THE WORLD

Hurricane Florence Could Straddle U.S. East Coast for Days; Super Typhoon Mangkhut Bears Down on Philippines, Hong Kong And Macau; As Florence Approaches, Trump Claims Puerto Rico Unsung Success; EU Parliament Takes Unprecedented Step to Punish Hungry; Says Novichok Poisoning Suspects Are Civilians; EPA Proposes Rollback of Methane Gas Leak Rules; Pope Call Senior Bishops to the Vatican for Meeting on Sexual Abuse of Children. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired September 12, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


[11:00:00] BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome, you're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you in Abu Dhabi where it is

7:00 in the evening this hour.

We are connecting you to two massive storm systems of awesome size and almost unimaginable power. One snarling right for America. The other

rocketing towards Asia where soon a huge super typhoon will ram into the Philippines with winds roaring at more than 250 kilometers an hour. That

is strong enough to rip roofs off houses as easy as you might peel open a can of beans. For the next few days it will be pounding and smashing its

which along this path towards China. That's more than 1,000 kilometers. Now that is the Pacific.

Now to the beast of an Atlantic storm closing in on the U.S. with catastrophic force. Hurricane Florence being dubbed the storm of a

lifetime. Right now, she is tearing towards tens of millions of Americans on the country's east coast. What you are looking at here is a brand-new

image or images from space as Florence spins her winds faster than 200 kilometers an hour. Speeds that, quite frankly, are going to hurt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEFF BYARD, FEMA: This is not going to be a glancing blow. This I this is going to be a Mike Tyson punch to the Carolina coast.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Right. No one can cover this like CNN, connecting you to the danger zone there now. CNN's Brian Todd who is right by where the

hurricane is likely to hit. And CNN's Matt Rivers in China's capital, Beijing for more on that typhoon. Let's kick off with you Brian. People

rushing to get away, though it's not easy, correct?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Becky. We are standing at a place that represents for many people the last and somewhat desperate chance to

get away from this hurricane, to get away from North Carolina's barrier islands. This is a ferry terminal. Ferries landing here a short time ago.

This is Swan Quarter, North Carolina. This is a ferry coming in. This ferry just came in from Ocracoke Island. That's about 25 miles east of

here. That island has about 900 people living on it permanently. It is only accessible by boat and that's under normal circumstances.

The governor and others have ordered people to evacuate. But they cannot physically force people to evacuate, so they are strongly suggesting,

saying that these barrier islands like Ocracoke are going to get clobbered and that you could be isolated on that island for several days if you do

not get off. Plus, you could be in a situation where you could be maybe even out in the open and desperate with no shelter.

We did see a few moments ago this ferry pulled in with dozens of cars leaving, people taking that chance to get off that island. Another ferry

pulled into this terminal a short time later, dozens of cars got off. I estimate probably more than 50 people on both of those ferries got off.

And then they are going to moor the ferries over here to ride out the storm. This is the only safe place where they can moor the ferries. Those

two ferries are moored. This one will be moored in a short time, Becky.

So, again, this is the last attempt for many to get off these barrier islands. And we think less than an hour, the final boat coming in from

Ocracoke Island is going to come in here, and after that, nothing more. They're not going have ferries tomorrow, even though there is a full day

tomorrow they could conceivably evacuate. They have to get the boots moored down. So, they are telling people, this is your last chance to get

off that island. I just spoke to the commissioner of Hyde County, North Carolina. He lives on Ocracoke Island. He is staying there. He estimates

that of the 900 or so people who live there permanently, he thinks about 200 have stayed. Those 200 people could be in for real isolation and they

could be stranded in the days ahead, Becky. A fairy desperate situation here on the Carolina coast.

ANDERSON: Yes. Back to you shortly. Matt, I want to bring you in. I know that experts are predicting this super typhoon in the region where you

are could impact as many as 43, 44 million people. What are people doing to get out of the way?

MATTHEW RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Becky, because for all of the talk off the southeast coast of the United States

right now, completely justified talk, this is an area of the world that is used to these kind of storms.

[11:05:01] As opposed to what we are seeing in the United States that doesn't get hit with those kind of storms nearly as often. So, you are not

seeing same kind of evacuations here both in Southeast Asia and in southern China that you would necessarily see in the southeastern part of the United

States.

But that's not to diminish how strong the storm is. What's going to happen here is late Friday evening into Saturday morning this storm is going to

hit the northern Philippines with tremendous force. Something equivalent to a category 4 hurricane to the United States. After that it goes south

of Taiwan and then it heads towards Hong Kong and Macau in southern China. That some of the most densely populated areas in the world. We are talking

incredibly high winds. We're talking lots of flooding. We're talking storm surge. So serious risks there.

But there is good news in this sense in a number of different ways. Number one, you're talking about the northern part of the Philippines, not the

southern part of the Philippines. So, it's going to hit the northern part, which is far less populated than, say, Manila, which is in the southern

part of the country. That would be a bigger problem. And then you are talking about Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao. Those are areas with very good

infrastructure. They are used to riding out these kinds of storms.

And so, if you are comparing what's going on in the United States, what's going on in Southeast Asia, these are generally speaking equivalent

strength storms. They both can cause a ton of damage. But what you're seeing in Southeast Asia/southern China is places that are generally used

to these kinds of things. That expect these kinds of storms this part of the year and I think that that's going to make all the difference. That

said, you never know what's going to happen. These storms can change track. But generally speaking, the forecast gives people time to prepare

and this is an area that has had to prepare before.

ANDERSON: Sure. Matt, thank you. Brian, let's get the satellite view then from space on Florence coming well right it you, of course. She's

always been spinning pretty fast, but once she gets to where you are in terms of moving forward, she will be going slower than we take a walk on

the beach. Letting her hang around for days, dumping huge amounts of water. What are the preparations then for the storm surges that you are

currently seeing?

TODD: Well, Becky, people are boarding up their houses, they're getting out. But as far as preparing for a storm surge, preparing for a flood, it

is hard to do that. You've got to try to get your vehicles out of the way. You've got to move whatever valuables you have to higher ground if you can.

But a lot of people cannot do that. There are a lot of people we've talked to who are going to stay and ride this out. And some of them aren't too

worried about the storm surge and the flooding. And we are trying to tell them, look, this is going to be very serious because this storm, as you

mentioned, is going to slow down. It's going to hang over this area even when it makes landfall.

You know, a lot of times these hurricanes move through quickly and after the initial hit sometimes you are out of the woods. But this is going to

hang over this area. A ton of rainfall will come down. A lot of flooding in an area that has been saturated with recent rainfall.

ANDERSON: To both of you, for the time being, thank you.

Well, just coming in as well, brand-new views of Florence. She could be as deadly as she is, well, some might scribe this as beautiful. Right now, we

are getting new information coming into CNN's weather center about the storm speed, direction, the works. CNN's Chad Myers can tell us what that

new information reveals. Chad, what have you got?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: This storm is slowing down slightly, and we expect that. We just don't want it to stop. If you stop a typhoon or a

hurricane, all of a sudden you have days and days of rain, that rain in the same places. And even yesterday we were talking about a meter of rain

possible in the Atlantic Ocean and over parts of the Carolinas. Two states, one called North Carolina, one called South Carolina.

What happened over the overnight hours is the European model and the American model both agreed for the first time in history. Europe and

America have agreed on models, at least. This here is a category 4 making towards Wilmington, North Carolina. Yesterday, both models were -- one was

going up here, one the south. Well overnight hours really changed all of that. All of a sudden both models are turning to the left. Turning

towards Myrtle Beach, which is a very populated area that really most of the people were not planning on evacuating. Well now they should be.

Turning to the south, turning towards Charleston, probably not planning on evacuating. But if you put 20 inches of rain northeast of Charleston,

northwest of Charleston, it's going to run into the ocean. Those rivers are going to flood and that's a real rub right now.

It's all a part of a storm system that is running into high pressures to the north, high pressures to the west, and high pressures to the east,

west, north, south. And all of a sudden, this low can't go anywhere. And it's going to sit there and spin for a few days and that's what's going to

make it finally go away.

[11:10:02] There is your models. They all kind of agree now. So finally, we are in some agreement, but maybe we wouldn't want to be in agreement

because we did want to see this move away. Right now, it's not going to move away.

ANDERSON: Yes, frightening stuff. Chad, thank you. Let's connect you to that life or death choice facing millions of American this hour. On one

hand, stay home and hope for the best, or on the other, hit the road and get out of the way. If it seems like a no-brainer for those of us far

away, well, as Martin Savage found out, it's not really that simple.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's the question everyone asks. Are you staying or going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am definitely leaving. It's going to be bad, no doubt, yes.

SAVIDGE: Dava Villapiano has also made up her mind.

DAVA VILLAPIANO, RESTAURANT OWNER: Oh, I'm going. I'm definitely going. I was here through Bertha and Fran and several others. But this is not

the same kind of storm.

SAVIDGE: She owns the Silver Dollar bar and grill where the last of the boards are going up on the windows and the last of the food is coming out

of the fridge.

VILLAPIANO: If it comes in as a 4, this could be, you know, the whole island could be decimated.

SAVIDGE: Carolina Beach is under a mandatory evacuation order and the order is simple. Leave. If you're here after 8:00 p.m. Wednesday, you're

on your own. At the local gas station, you find folks who are definitely out of here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you don't get out, you're going to be a casualty. Plain and simple.

SAVIDGE: And you find some who seem undecided.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I may change my mind. But right now, I am planning on riding it out.

SAVIDGE (on camera): So, I got a tip in town. As cliche as it sounds, on this particular street there is a whole group of neighbors that have banded

together and apparently, they're going to stay.

Are you staying or going?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, we're headed out. I'm take the smarter route.

SAVIDGE: That is bad especially with the little one there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, exactly. Sitting here without power for about five days doesn't seem like a great idea.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): But in a nearby garage I find friends Bill and Stan and they're staying. And they won't be alone.

(on camera): How many people do you think are going to be staying?

BILL SKINNER, RESIDENT: Let's see. We have one, two, three, four, five, we have about five to six right in the cul-de-sac that are staying.

SAVIDGE: Wow.

(voice-over): The guys laugh about it, but both say they are getting calls and texts from friends begging them to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People are calling me saying, don't stay, don't stay. This is going to be a killer.

SAVIDGE: The pair have a brand-new generator and joke about a fridge full of beer. But there is a seriousness as to why they want to ride it out.

SKINNER: I want to protect what I have and stay with my neighbors and help out if I can on the island.

SAVIDGE: Back on the beach, I find Danielle Moody sitting all by herself at the water's edge. She moved here just 20 days ago.

(on camera): What are you going to do?

DANIELLE MOODY, RESIDENT: You know, were going to seek shelter. We are going to go and stay with family inland.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): She and her fiance just finished building their dream home, and now have to leave it behind. She's here for a few last

moments of peace.

MOODY: I just wanted to get one more glimpse of it.

SAVIDGE: She is going and worries a lot of what she is looking at may soon be gone.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Martin Savidge reporting for you.

The American President wants everyone to sleep easy. He thinks that right now his country is in as good as shape as it's ever been to take on a

hurricane.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The safety of American people is my absolute highest priority. We are sparing no expense. We are

totally prepared. We're ready. We're as ready as anybody's ever been.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, consider this. Donald Trump also thinks how he dealt with hurricane Maria -- you are seeing the damage of that now -- in Puerto Rico

was one of the best jobs he has ever done. Keeping in mind what you just heard, have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico I think was tremendous. I think

that Puerto Rico was an incredible unsung success.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Really? Well, it is pretty hard to see how anyone would be able to get to that. The official death toll for hurricane Maria some 3,000

people.

Well CNN's Stephen Collinson, reckoning the quote, a presidency already in crisis simply cannot afford the new hit of a botched response. Stephen,

remarkable analyst and good friend of our show, with us from Washington. Can the President weather this, so to speak?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think he can if there is not a sort of succeeding political crisis that develops after the storm.

In some ways, and it seems crass to say it when so many people's lives are on the line and their property, but this does represent an opportunity for

President Trump to show some of the qualities of leadership that have been lacking over a very difficult political period.

[11:15:00] It also gets the whole issue of the Bob Woodward book, the op-ed by the anonymous official out of the headlines which have been damaging the

President. The downside to this, of course, if there is any sign that his administration is deficient, that it doesn't handle this quite well, we

know what can happen.

We just need to look at President George W. Bush in 2005 with when his government was judged to have botched hurricane Katrina which came ashore

in New Orleans in Louisiana. His presidency never recovered that and he admitted that after he left office.

So, these are high-pressure times for Presidents to show leadership. Given what you mentioned about hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico and given some of

the disorganization and dysfunction we've seen in the White House and government revealed over the last few weeks, I think you have to question

how well prepared the White House and the President really are.

ANDERSON: Stephen, we've been hear from a U.S. senator on CNN today, that the White House took $10 million from FEMA, which of course is the

emergency agency, and gave it to I.C.E. to help -- or to use, at least, in helping set up the centers to treat children and parents separated at the

border. All this right before peak hurricane season. What do you make of that?

COLLINSON: I think it shows just how sort of dicey the politics of hurricanes and disasters can be. This is not the first time that an

administration has raided the Federal Emergency Management Agency to finance programs elsewhere. The fact they did it for such a controversial

issue, these shelters for the separations is making this even more difficult for the administration. And the fact, of course, this is sort of

playing into the wider issue of the whole questions about Trump's leadership and his motivations. So, I think we are going to see this

bubble up in the days ahead. And, you know, it just kind of raises new questions about exactly what is going on in this White House.

ANDERSON: I want to get our viewers a quick listen to Donald Trump, Stephen, describing this storm. Stand by.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: They haven't seen anything like what's coming at us in 25, 30 years. Maybe ever. It's tremendously big and tremendously wet.

Tremendous amounts of water.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Yet, maybe the biggest in 30 years. Maybe ever. That's quite a difference, describing it as tremendously wet. I have to say there will be

viewers who say that sounds quite simplistic for all the reporting and claims we see coming out of the White House regarding a lack of reading in,

shall we say. Do you think the President truly grasps what's coming?

COLLINSON: Well he certainly seems to have an odd fascination often with the size of these storms and seems to focus as much on that as the

emergency efforts that are gearing up before they come ashore. I mean, I think no politician can stop a storm, can stop it roaring ashore. The

question is how well everything is coordinated afterwards. I think one of the problems that President Trump has had, basically -- and we saw it last

year after the first storm that hit Texas and the storms that hit Puerto Rico and Florida -- is actually fulfilling that role of the President

almost as a consoler in chief. And going down to talk to people and showing empathy. He doesn't find that very easy. And he also finds any

criticism of his role impossible to accept. That's why he gets into rather bizarre conversations as he did yesterday about Puerto Rico and what a

great job he did.

ANDERSON: Well, more of Stephen's analysis on the website. Where you say, Stephen, quote, the President's refusal to ever admit a mistake and to hype

his own perceived achievements strike a jarring note. More on that at CNN.com. Mr. Collinson, Thank you.

Still to come, the European parliament takes an unprecedented step to punish a member state for cracking down on democratic institutions. We'll

see why Hungary calls it, quote, petty revenge.

[11:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Well it's 7:21 in the UAE. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson on CNN. Welcome back.

The European parliament sent an unmistakable message to Hungary's right- wing leader earlier today. Enough is enough. Lawmakers in Strasbourg made history by voting to trigger a protest some call the nuclear option to

sanction a member state. Now they accuse Victor Orban's populist government of posing a, quote, systemic threat to the EU's Democratic

values. Hungary has come under widespread criticism for its anti-migrant policies and other crackdowns. Well Hungary quickly firing back calling

the EU parliament vote petty revenge by pro-immigration politicians. Let's bring in Erin McLaughlin who is out of London for you today. For more on

what are, Erin, pretty dramatic developments?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Becky. Dramatic and unprecedented. Article 7 is seen by the EU as a last resort. EU

officials, EU leaders have been trying for years, they say, to get Victor Orban and his government to fall into line with European values,

principles, the EU rule of law. And today in many ways an acknowledgment that those efforts, those informal efforts on their part have failed now

triggering this formal process.

The report that's been approved by 448 MEPs today cites any number of infractions on the part of Hungary from violating the independent judiciary

to undermining the freedom of press, to the mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers. All of that in this report that's passed today. This move

though of course is not without controversy. Some MEPs saying that this will only serve to alienate Victor Orban and his government further. It's

also fraught with tension. Tension is perhaps best illustrated by an exchange that took place between the Dutch MEP, who drafted the report, and

a Hungarian journalist during a press conference later today. Or earlier today, rather. Take a listen to that exchange.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: That's only a very simple question. What's your problem with Hungary?

JUDITH SARGENTINI, MEMBER OF EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT: You asked me that before on the very unfriendly way and see how polite I am that I still am going to

give you an answer? Sir, I like Hungary. I like your wine. I like your culture. I saw a fantastic exhibition at the Amsterdam Jewish historical

museum filled with paintings from the 19th and 20th century of Jewish Hungarians.

[11:25:04] It was fantastic. I go to holidays in your country or I would love to in the future. There is nothing wrong with Hungary, its citizens,

its country. You have a government that takes away your rights and actually puts you up to this kind of questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MCLAUGHLIN: That was Judith Sargentini, the Dutch MEP. She was also asked in that press conference in terms of next steps, a sort of concrete

timeline. She says she doesn't have that yet. She hopes though that the European council will take up this matter as soon as possible.

A little hope though in the way from other MEPs I have been talking to for actual formal sanctions to be brought against Hungary as a result of this

process because those sanctions which could and potentially involve stripping Hungary of its voting rights within the EU. Would require a

unanimous approval of all 28 EU member states. That's unlikely, especially when you consider Poland is facing the Article 7 process right now --

Becky.

ANDERSON: Sure. Erin McLaughlin in London for you today at 4.25, 7:25 here in Abu Dhabi. You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD. Coming up, a twist

in the Skripal poisoning case. The Russian President says the two suspects in the U.K. poisoning case are innocent civilians and we may hear from one

of them next week. We're live in Moscow for you, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:30:00] ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson at 7:30 in the UAE. If you just joined us, you are more

than welcome.

A quick recap of our top stories this hour which are taking place on opposite sides of the globe. Asia bracing for the arrival of super typhoon

Mangkhut, expected to slam the Philippines within the next couple of days and then hit China. And the U.S. east coast preparing for hurricane

Florence, which will pound the Carolinas with powerful winds and torrents of rain before making landfall as the weekend approaches. More on that a

little later this hour.

Now Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country has identified two suspects accused of poisoning the former spy Sergei Skripal and his

daughter Yulia with the nerve agent in Salisbury in England back in March. Britain says the two men are members of Russian military intelligence. Mr.

Putin says the suspects are civilians and not criminals. Well, CNN's Matthew Chance is in Moscow with a lot more on this. When the U.K.

revealed hard evidence that it was Russian intel officers behind this Skripal poisonings, there were those you suggested that the Russians had

been caught flatfooted. What do you then make of today's news?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that interpretation, Becky, is still out there. What's extraordinary, is

previously the Russians say they never heard of these people. Now they are saying, they've identified them that they're civilians, and they're not

criminals. And so, it is a major change of tack by the Russian authorities.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE (voice-over): Up until now, the Russians had categorically denied any knowledge of the suspects in the Skripal poisoning. The images

circulated by British investigators were meaningless, Russian officials insisted, as were the names on their passports. But speaking at an

economic forum in Vladivostok, the Russian President said the two men had now been identified as innocent civilians.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We, of course, looked at what kind of people they are and we know who they are. We found

them. I hope they appear and speak about it themselves. This will be best for everyone. There is nothing unusual or criminal there, I assure you.

CHANCE: And as if on cue, Russian state television was within hours broadcasting a telephone call with what it said was one of the suspects.

The man identified by the channel as Alexander Petrov can be heard saying he has no comment at the moment but may speak to the media next week. The

channel says he works for a pharmaceutical company in the Siberian city of Tomsk and has never made any secret visits to London.

The development is unlikely to satisfy British authorities investigating the poisoning of former Russian military intelligence officer Sergei

Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who both spent weeks in hospital. Two suspects, Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, who were photographed

entering Britain from Russia days before the Skripal poisoning in March this year. They were also caught on security cameras in Salisbury, where

the attack took place. British investigators say traces of Novichok, the highly toxic substance used in the attack, was found in the London hotel

room where the two Russians stayed.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Based on a body of intelligence, the government has concluded that the two individuals named by the police and

CPS are officers from the Russian military intelligence service, also known as the GRU. The GRU is a highly disciplined organization with a well-

established chain of command. So, this was not a rogue operation. It was almost certainly also approved outside the GRU at a senior level of the

Russian state.

CHANCE: The alleges this was a state-sanctioned assassination mission using a chemical weapon has been vehemently denied by Russia and provoked

diplomatic expulsions and sanctions. British officials say their attempt to get an explanation from Russia for the poisoning have always been met

with obfuscation and lies. That, they say, does not appear to have changed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: With all this happening, Matthew, as Russia is hosting what it calls the biggest war games in more than a quarter century, since the Cold

War, in fact. And China taking part for the first time in joint exercises, President Xi also present at that economic forum you mentioned in your

report. What do we understand is going on there?

[11:35:05] CHANCE: Well, it's interesting because in a sense these two issues are linked. Because the greater the pressure that is placed on

Russia because of its misdeeds around the world -- in this case the Skripal poisoning, but also its intervention in Ukraine, annexation of Crimea and

intervention in the Syrian conflict -- the more it turns to look for other partners. And one of the more successful of its strategies has been to

pivot east and embrace China. And it's doing that politically and through trade deals, billions of dollars' worth of deals -- particularly in the

energy sector --have been agreed to between the countries. And now these extraordinarily large war games as well, in which the Chinese military have

been given a significant role. 3,200 Chinese personnel from the People's Liberation Army taking part. It's a sign of how close these two kind of

anti-Western, anti-American powers have become -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Matt, meanwhile, we have seen a bizarre threat to one of Russia's most prominent opposition figures over corruption allegations.

One of Mr. Putin's top security chiefs issued this challenge, Alexei Navalny. Have a listen.

VIKTOR ZOLOTOV, DIRECTOR, RUSSIA NATIONAL GUARD (through translator): In olden times, scum was punished by a punch in the face and challenged to a

duel. Mr. Navalny, why don't we bring back those traditions? At least partially. I simply challenge you to a fight in the ring, on the tatami,

wherever, where I promise to make nice juicy mincemeat out of you in a couple of minutes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Matthew, Russia it seems rivaling the U.S. in terms of injecting some spectacle in politics these days. What is this all about?

CHANCE: Well, it's about allegations that have been made by Alexei Navalny, who is a key opposition figure in this country. About corruption

in the ranks of the national guard. That was Viktor Zolotov, who's the head of that National Guard. Who used to be Vladimir Putin's personal

bodyguard. And he's using this extraordinarily colorful language challenging Navalny to a fistfight, to a dual and threatening to cause him

harm. You know, some people are sort of shrugging their shoulders and going well that's the macho environment of Russia, isn't it? It's kind of

amusing.

But in fact, the political context of this is extremely serious. This is a country where opposition figures like Alexei Navalny receive regular death

threats. People are beaten up routinely for opposing the authorities. Of course, people are killed. Boris Nemtsov, one of the country's leading

opposition figure was assassinated within a stone's throw of the Kremlin after he compiled a particularly damning reports about corruption. And so,

I think many people will be watching that video upload and be quite chilled by it.

ANDERSON: Matthew Chance is in Moscow. It's 6:37 there, 7:37 here in the UAE. The way to a strong man's heart, Matt, it seems is through his

stomach. President's Putin and Xi took a break from staged battles to break out the batter and, well, to get really competitive. Whipping up

traditional Russian pancakes. Each leader, of course, making his own. They topped their creations with local caviar, all washed down with, what

else? Some vodka.

Let's get you up to speed on some of the stories that on our radar right now. Britain's Prime Minister could be facing a leadership challenge. BBC

reporting a group of 50 lawmakers in her party, her own party, met on Tuesday to discuss how and when they could oust Theresa May from her job.

Now, this group is frustrated about Ms. May's Brexit stance and wants a more comprehensive separation from the EU.

U.N. investigators say they've documented more incidents of war crimes in Syria. They say Bashar al-Assad's regime used chlorine -- a banned

chemical weapon -- three times this year. Twice in attacks on a rebel held suburb of Damascus and once this Idlib providence. And in Syria's Idlib

province the United Nations say 30,000 civilians have fled their homes in just the past week. As Syrian and Russian forces prepare for what it seems

like the final offensive to retake the country's last rebel stronghold.

CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is on the front lines and filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This Syrian government position is pretty much as close as we're going to get to the

front line with Idlib province. If you look over there, about two kilometers in that direction, the Syrian government forces tell us that is

where the rebel positions are. That is Idlib province. And, of course, that's the place where many believe an offensive could start at any time.

[11:40:00] What we're hearing here on the ground is that there has also been increased fire coming from there. In fact, there were some artillery

strikes and rocket strikes on this very village here just a couple of days ago that killed several people. But of course, the other side has

experienced the same things. There's been an increase in airstrikes on Idlib province both by the Russian Air Force and by the Syrian Air Force as

well, of course, leading to several people being killed there.

Now if you ask the government forces, if you ask the Syrian government, they're going to tell you that those air strikes are directed at especially

Al Qaeda's wing in Syria, which they say is the main group that they're fighting over there. Of course, other rebel groups as well. It's unclear

whether or not that offensive is going to start in the next couple of days. One of the things that we've been hearing from the Syrian government, is

they say as long as the wheels have not been set in motion yet, there still does seems to be room for negotiations. Of course, not just between the

Syrian government and rebel groups, but then also between the Russians, the Turks and Iranians as well.

But that over there -- that is the territory of Idlib. Not very far from here. And certainly, that's one of the areas that the international

community is looking at right now and is still concerned about with about 3 million civilians also still believed to be in that area. Fred Pleitgen,

CNN, Syria.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Coming up, the U.S. east coast prepares for one of the strongest hurricanes in decades as part of Asia braces for a potentially devastating

super typhoon. Could climate change be intensifying these storms? Well, that's a question we'll put to an expert up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: You're watching CNN. This is CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Welcome back.

We are tracking what is extreme weather and is posing a threat in both the Pacific and in the Atlantic. Officials in the Philippines and in Hong Kong

are on alert as a super typhoon takes aim at Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, hurricane Florence barreling towards the U.S. southeast coast and is being

called the storm of a lifetime.

Could climate change be a factor in the size and strength of these storms? According to the American Meteorological Society, new research says that as

the climate continues to warm, storms will intensify faster and will intensify more often. Kim Cobb is a Georgia Power chair and professor of

the earth and atmospheric sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology joining us from Atlanta. The President describing this storm, this

hurricane Florence, as possibly the biggest in 30 years, possibly ever, which is all a bit confusing.

[11:45:00] Doesn't seem to be briefed on exactly which. But what is clear is that this storm intensified very quickly and is extremely dangerous.

What do we really know about why and how this happens?

KIM COBB, PROFESSOR, EARTH AND ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTISTS, GEORGIA TECH: Yes. So, one of the most important factors in determining the strength of a

hurricane or any tropical storm is, of course, the temperatures of the underlying water. We know very well, very good records showing us that the

tropics have been warming across the world and that this will continue to happen. And here on our doorstep here in the southeast we have a storm

that is crossing over waters that are so much warmer, up to three to five degrees Celsius warmer than normal. And this is just feeding the intensity

of this particular storm. But unfortunately, those warmer ocean temperatures are not localized here. This is something, a trend that will

continue and will feed stronger storms going forward as well.

ANDERSON: Let me ask you this. The EPA is proposing a roll back of Obama- era regulations on methane gas leak inspections and repairs. Instead of requiring energy companies to conduct leak inspections in their drilling

equipment every six months, the new proposal would allow for inspections once a year or in some cases every two years. Now, climate change deniers

or in climate change denial, we know this Trump administration is not prepared to countenance the science that is behind the warming of our

world. You're telling me that we should expect to see more storms and of a greater intensity going forward. How would that, for example, methane

decision by the EPA impact that going forward?

COBB: So, I think there are two factors to consider when we talk about climate change in this particular scenario that we find ourselves in,

multiple threat from potentially landfalling hurricanes and of course the super typhoon over in Southeast Asia. One is that climate change

represents a very near and present threat. Not just to coastal communities, but to communities all over the world. We saw heat waves and

wildfires raging this summer, giving way to this already very nasty hurricane season.

And so, one thing we have to do is prepare for the climate change of now. While remembering that we have to grab that low-hanging fruit to reduce the

risk of future climate change not just to future generations but to our generation. And Methane is one of those on ramps. Methane is a very

powerful greenhouse gas and it has a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere. So, it is disconcerting when we see regulations being rolled

back. Because this is one of those early wins we could notch in our battle against climate change.

ANDERSON: We must ensure that whilst we concentrate on efforts on reporting the potential for damage and loss of life with this storm over

the southeast coast of the U.S., that we do not forget that it is a super - - it's typhoon season in Asia and there is a super typhoon barreling towards the Philippines and then on to China.

When you look at the world -- we've been concentrating our efforts on talking about where we are at with EPA regulation and how that might affect

the warming of part of the world over, as it were in the U.S., how are things on the other side of the world? When you look at the research, the

science, and the way that organizations and governments conduct their policy for or against the notion of climate change?

COBB: Well, again, I think it comes back to are you prepared? Are you using the best science and the best evidence to help prepare your

communities against the present-day threat of climate change, and how that might roll out in your particular country or county or even city. And so

many countries have chosen to take a very proactive role in this and work with scientists like myself to understand the current and coming threats

and to try to get in front of them.

And so, when we think about protecting lives and property, not just here, but abroad, we have to take those lessons to heart and recognize we are

playing catch-up on a global scale and that this is something that we have to really get in front of in earnest. We are going to need everybody, and

we are really going to need the United States to be a part of the solution. And not just for the global building of a framework for solutions, but

obviously really protecting lives and property in America at home right now.

ANDERSON: Kim Cobb is with us out of Atlanta, Georgia, today, where it is 11:49 in the morning. It is 7:49 in the evening. Kim, thank you here in

Abu Dhabi. This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

[11:50:00] Coming up, Pope Francis makes what may be the strongest move yet to combat sex abuse within the church. A live report from Rome on that

after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Pope Francis is taking what may be his boldest step yet to combat the child sex abuse scandal rocking the Catholic Church. He is

calling the most senior bishops from all over the world to come to the Vatican in February for a meeting to discuss, quote, the protection of

minors. The pontiff also meets with the U.S. bishops on Thursday to discuss the growing rift over how the church is handling sex abuse cases.

Our Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher, has been following the story and she joins us now. People will cheer the fact that something is being done.

Waiting until February to get it done though, at least he called a meeting, seems a long way off. Why?

DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right. And I mean, it's not just from this year, Becky. Let's keep in mind at least in

the public eye we have been talking about this at the Vatican since 2002, since the Boston cases came out. So, while it's a laudable step that the

Pope is calling these bishops from around the world, some would say it's quite late in the game to be doing it. Nonetheless, it's obviously very

necessary because in many countries around the world, Becky, they haven't begun to look into sex abuse cases in their path. So clearly there needs

to be a reckoning.

There is news just now out of Germany that on September 25th, the German bishops conference is going to release a report. That has been leaked

already to the German press. That is saying there is at least 3,766 cases of sex abuse between 1946 and 2014 of minors. So that gives you an

indication. We are not just talking about the U.S. we are talking about many countries around the world. The main point here, Becky, is that the

Vatican, too, needs to offer their response.

So, if this meeting in February, and indeed tomorrow's meeting with the heads of the U.S. bishops, doesn't result in also some action on the part

of the Vatican to say, look, here's what we do when these complaints come in. Here is the process. Here is the transparency. Here is the penalty.

We need to see the action from that rather than just the meetings. That is what people have been calling for, for some time now, Becky. So, we're

seeing some movement. It is good. But until we see what are the actual results that come out of this, and as I say, not just from the individual

countries, but also from the Vatican, then we can't really know if they have got a full grip on this problem -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Delia Gallagher is in Rome for you this evening. Thank you.

Well, just time for our parting shots tonight. We look at how America's east coast is bracing for Florence seen here from space in what is

incredible video from NASA, which really captures the magnitude of this hurricane.

[11:55:03] A category 4 with sustained winds topping 200 kilometers an hour. Strong enough to cause widespread damage wherever it strikes.

Now, it is forecast to start delivering tropical storm-force winds Thursday into Friday before slowing down and dumping torrents of rain ahead of

expected landfall this weekend. More than a million people have been told to flee the east coast. While Carolina Beach seen in some of our shots

here is under mandatory evacuation. Officials expect about 100 people there to try to ride out the storm, which could transform the coastal town

and the surrounding area as we know it. Many people understandably taking every step possible to protect their homes.

Wherever you are watching in the world, that was CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson. Thank you for watching.

END