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CONNECT THE WORLD

Blaze Ravages Holiday Towns in Greece Killing at Least 50; Trump Considers Revoking Critics' Security Clearance; Greenland Community Fears Iceberg Collapse; Iran Warns Trump on Twitter, Be Cautious; U.S. Politician Urged to Resign After TV Prank; Alaskan Wildlife Reserve Under Threat;

Aired July 24, 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] PAULA NEWTON, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Paula Newton at CNN's worldwide headquarters right here in Atlanta.

This hour we're connecting two worlds, one of immensely powerful weather from raging wildfires to massive icebergs. And another, the lightning fast

world of Donald Trump taking on America's old spies, Iran and more. Later we'll bring them together as Donald Trump looks to do something no other

American President has.

Now, we begin with an inferno so massive and so fast, you absolutely cannot outrun it. Police -- people in Greece were forced to flee into the sea to

try and get away from a raging inferno of wildfire that's ripping through the country at the hour. We are looking at extraordinary pictures of it

raging out of control. Fires burning their way through sleepy seaside holiday towns with absolutely zero notice.

Now so far, we know that at least 50 people have lost their lives, many more injured by the smoke and flames. Now for more on, this we want to

connect with journalist, Elinda Labropoulou. She joins me now from Athens. Just a half hour drive from where these deadly fires are burning. And

Linda, we've been talking about all the destruction and the fact that people were absolutely given no warning. Why is that? Why did people have

no time to really escape these fires?

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST (via phone): Let me just begin by giving you the very sad news that we just heard only minutes ago. And

unfortunately, the official death toll has now dramatically risen. We're now looking at at least 74 people having been killed in these wildfires,

which means that this is definitely the deadliest wildfires in Greece in over a decade. According to the fire department, also at least 187 people

including 23 children have been injured and the number of missing persons remains unclear.

There is an online database for missing persons that's been created, so authorities continue to receive calls from people who say their loved ones

continue to be missing. And there are unconfirmed reports of dead bodies in the water that for many others have perished in the blazes.

Now to try and reply to your question as to why they didn't get away, it seems simply that the combination of very strong winds in the area and

extremely high temperatures. Greece is in the middle of a heat wave when the fire started resulted in this tragic result. Also, were looking at an

area that's densely forested and residential at the same time. So, people really didn't have much time to get out and most of them tried to get to

the water. Some got in their cars and tried to drive away so that maybe this was not the best option. So, instead they changed direction and

headed to the beach. The Coast Guard has rescued hundreds of people and h hundreds, of course, managed to get away in their cars. But unfortunately,

there are those that didn't.

NEWTON: Yes, and Elinda, I'm just trying to take all that in. I mean, to think that some of the rescues were attempted by the Coast Guard, not on

land but at sea. Where are we now where the threat still there in that area of Greece and with evacuations?

LABROPOULOU: The threats are still there. I mean, the fires have not been contained yet. We keep getting reports that occasionally things are

looking better but it seems that due to the weather conditions the fires reignite very quickly again. So, it's a very large battle that the

firefighters, and international group of firefighters are battling against. Greece has asked for international help and many countries have stepped

forward.

Meanwhile, the two large fronts remain but they are closer to being contained we're being told. The Prime Minister a little earlier today

declared three days of national mourning. He said that Greece is really going through one of its toughest times. He called for people to stay

together, to work together through these tough times.

[11:05:00] And at the same time, we have a number of rescue groups operating in the area. As you said, the Coast Guard, the fire department,

all possible national services are on the ground. But also, a lot of local groups, a lot of volunteers, some offering clothes and water, whatever they

can to the people who now seemed to overnight have lost everything.

Yes, have lost everything and from the pictures that we see, it will take an incredible amount of time to try and get over this. And still we are

days away from this being contained. Elinda, thank you very much for staying on top of story for us.

You know, these wildfires follow some extraordinarily hot weather and of course those strong winds that Elinda was talking about, to walk us. To

walk us through all of this we're joined by meteorologist Chad Myers. You know, Chad, this is unfolding, we were talking about it last hour as well.

I know the winds are a factor. I'm going to toss you this very blunt question, complicated but I know you can handle it. Everybody out there is

wondering, is the weather more severe? Is this a product of climate change? Why? What happened that these people had to move so suddenly

without warning?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, where we go with this every single time there's one weather event. We cannot blame one weather event on

climate change. But it's the continuation of the severity of the highs and the lows and the wind and the bigger storms and the bigger blizzards. This

is what we expect with climate change. So, can we say this is it? No. But can we say this is what we expected? Yes. So absolutely.

Big storm, big firestorm just to the west of Athens blowing smoke into Athens. The deadliest fire was here, the one that blew the people and blew

the flames into the ocean. So just choking smoke across parts of Athens. 38 degrees, 38 degrees on Monday and the relative humidity didn't go up at

all.

So, here's where the fires are. We'll fly you in. Also notice the topography. The fires off to the west. This is on the 1,300-meter

mountain here, so the winds blow through -- you get this tunneling effect. Kind of like the wind tunnel when you stand in a building or near a

building in the city and all of a sudden you go, where did that wind come from? It wasn't on the other side. That's the kind of funneling effect we

had with this storm system here as the low kind of moved on by. The big storms, the big wind and rain will be farther to the north for Greece in

the next couple days. That is excellent. Absolutely fantastic that we're not going to see the wind for now. Because this was a wind driven storm.

This wasn't a drought storm. This wasn't anything else except a wind event, a violent wind event, 80 kilometers per hour for more than four

hours, just fanned these flames and pushed this fire in the ocean.

Forty millimeters of rain this month. We should have had six millimeters so it's not drought. And there are some showers right now over Athens at

least helping the firefighters a little bit. What we don't want with this, though, would be a little bit of lightning and that's possible. There's

always the possibility of more lightning than the fire can stopped by either rainfall is going to come down from these dry thunder storms.

They're raining, they're not wet thunderstorms. They're dry which means that if a lightning strike goes out in front of the storm and it starts a

fire, there may not be enough rainfall to actually put that out creating more fires and more problems.

This is a devastating event for the people of Greece, no question about it. I have a very close friend that I've already called and talked to, to make

sure his family is OK, and they are. They are farther to the north. But this is not going to be over. This is a very widespread fire event now and

it's going to take days for them to get 100 percent containment.

NEWTON: Yes, and you can see the severity just in the unfortunate update we had with the death toll. Chad Myers, thanks so much for explaining all

of that. And we are, of course, we're connecting a world of wild weather this hour. In just a few minutes we'll get you right to an 11-million-ton

iceberg -- it's right there -- threatening a tiny fishing village in Greenland.

Now, Donald Trump is on his way to meet with war veterans in Kansas City this hour. But after his all caps saber rattling on Twitter threatening

Iran, the U.S. President will be greeted by a scathing newspaper editorial that points out he never served in the military. And must now listen to

those who know firsthand the perils of war. The "Kansas City Star" says, quote, they surely will have something to say to him. They're talking

about the people and the veterans and the crowd there -- about the realities of war and the horrors of combat. Those incites would be good

for Trump to hear now as he continues to rattle his saber at foes around the globe.

Now some accuse Mr. Trump of drumming up new controversy just to distract from his widely criticized summit with Vladimir Putin. Now the White House

certainly did change those headlines yesterday by announcing Mr. Trump may yank the security clearances of former intelligence chiefs who've been

critical of him. That touched off some angry reaction on Capitol Hill.

[11:10:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: This is just plain wrong. I mean the idea -- and that's why I characterize it of building an enemy's list in order to

look at the possibility or strategize at ways to go after your critics is contrary to everything that our country is all about.

REP. SCOTT TAYLOR (R), VIRGINIA: No, I'm not OK with it. I'm not OK with it at all. It's free speech. So, if something -- I'm troubled by it. I

think it's not what we need to be doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: OK, we heard from both Democrats and Republicans there. We now bring in our Jeremy Diamond. I mean, look, if he's done this to try and

change the headlines that has certainly worked. But what do we know about the fact -- whether or not he'll actually follow through on this?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: We don't know. At this point it's certainly helping to change the narrative, as you mentioned. But we

don't know whether or not the President is going to follow through on this. The speaker of the house, Paul Ryan, just a little bit ago seemed to

indicate that he didn't think he would. He said that the President was simply trolling everybody. Trolling, of course, as being deeply criticized

by folks on both sides of the aisle and is being viewed as something that would be really an unprecedented use of presidential authority over the

security clearance system to go after the President's political enemies.

The President, of course, is targeting individuals who have served both Republican and Democratic presidents but who all served in the Obama

administration most recently and who have been very critical of him of late. Here are some snippets from those that the President is now

considering revoking their security clearance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY: I really do wonder whether the Russians have something on him. I think that his behavior was

just unbelievable.

JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I don't think he has a full and appreciation of Russian capabilities and Russia's

intentions and actions that they are undertaken in many parts of the world.

SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What his motivations are I think is a legitimate question, one that I trust that the special counsel

is investigating. But the policies that this President has pursued globally has served Vladimir Putin's interests --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DIAMOND: And the President is now considering revoking the security clearances of all of those former officials who you just saw criticizing

the President. This is extremely rare though. Typically, these individuals would retain those security clearances in case they need to be

consulted in the event of an emergency, perhaps something on which they have prior knowledge by currently serving administration officials.

Mike Flynn, for example, a retired lieutenant general, during the presidential campaign in 2016 went out and was criticizing President Obama

very fervently, talking about locking up Hillary Clinton. And yet he also retained his security clearance like other former officials do. Which is

why this is raising a lot of alarm bells that the President is considering this move. It was really touched off last week when the former CIA

director John Brennan called the President's actions at that news conference in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin treasonous, leading to calls

from Senator Rand Paul for the President to revoke it. And now it seems the President is considering revoking not only his clearance but these

other officials who've been critical of him as well.

NEWTON: Yes, a lot at work there and we'll see if throughout this week Donald Trump makes good on what is a very clear threat. Jeremy Diamond at

the White House. Appreciate it.

Now we're also hearing from President Trump that he's been unhappy with North Korea's progress in abandoning its nuclear program. For the record,

the President himself, though, denies that. But now we're seeing something interesting here. It might actually be progress, monitoring group 38 north

has released these images, the ones you see there, apparently showing that Pyongyang has started dismantling parts of a main launch facility.

So, what are we looking at in these images? CNN's Will Ripley spends a lot of time reporting from North Korea and obviously you are in deep dive on

this at all times. You know, they do such a great job on that website in terms of trying to give us the latest from what they can see from the

satellite images. It's a one-dimensional view, though. What's behind this?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's sort of like, you know, the Punggye-ri nuclear test site apparent demolition that we and other

journalists were invited to visit and observe back in May. There were no international experts at that time. This time at the Sohae Satellite

Launching Station there are also no international experts present to verify and no international journalists either. I'm sitting here in Hong Kong.

So, all we have to look at are these satellite image which appear to show - - according to 38 North analysts -- the dismantlement of the Sohae Satellite Launching site.

They used it to launch a satellite in 2012. They launched another satellite in 2016. And this is being called a positive step towards North

Korean denuclearization, but we do need to be mindful of the fact that North Korea has always denied that Sohae was ever a part of their nuclear

or ballistic missile program. Even when I ask, their rocket scientist about it back in 2015, I believe we have that sound right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:15:00] RIPLEY: What can you say to the world to prove that this is not a ballistic missile program in disguise?

HYUN GWANG II DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT, SOHAE SATELLITE TESTING SITE (through translator): Why on earth would we drop nuclear bombs on the

people of the world including the United States?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIPLEY: Of course, in the year since then North Korea has threaten today drop nuclear bombs many times on the United States. One thing about Sohae

though that we really need to point out, this is important, they used liquid fuel to launch their rockets and launch those satellites into orbit.

Liquid fuel is slow, it's inefficient. The rockets sit there, perhaps, for days while they're fueling them up, while they're checking everything

technically. So, it's not a very efficient launching system.

North Korea has since moved beyond liquid fuel to a solid fuel ballistic missile delivery system where they roll them out on those mobile missile

launchers. We saw them test them many times in recent years. Those can be launched with very little notice, solid fuel much more efficient, much more

dangerous in the eyes of military analysts. And the solid fuel facilities, they're not being dismantled. In fact, there was some satellite imagery

about a month ago showing upgrades at North Korea's missile plant.

So, Paula, the dismantling of the Sohae launch facility certainly is symbolic small step toward denuclearization. But it is a small step on a

very long path before North Korea comes close to giving up the nuclear capabilities. This just really shows what a complex, time consuming and

really kind of convoluted process this is going to be.

NEWTON: Absolutely. And shows you first hand the duplicity with which sometimes the North Koreans conduct these negotiations. The White House be

warned. Will Ripley in Hong Kong for us. Thanks so much.

Now, as well as security clearances in North Korea, coming up later on CONNECT THE WORLD, something else Donald Trump is going after. Threats

continue between the United States and Iran as Iran's foreign minister uses Donald Trump's own words against him. The President says, he's just not

concerned about any fallout from his Twitter tirade. Our Nick Patton Walsh will join us with the latest on that feud. That's in about 15 minutes from

now.

Plus, just settle in and imagine this. That iceberg hitting your home. We'll get to that threatening iceberg from Greenland next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: Incredible, huh? From faraway we can appreciate the awesome power of icebergs like the one we just solve there.

[11:20:00] But imagine living right next to one. Then it's still awesome but, in fact, much more terrifying for residents of a remote fishing

village in western Greenland, icebergs are, of course, common. But they're getting worried about the one you see right there. Our Phil Black went to

Greenland to take a look at the threat.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Very few people get to see this, the beautiful hazardous water of Greenland's west coast.

A place where icebergs are often vastly larger than any ship trying to avoid them.

FRANK EDLEFSEN, COMMANDING OFFICER: A lot of big icebergs in this area as you can see.

BLACK (on camera): And when we say big, they're enormous.

EDLEFSEN: They are enormous, yes.

BLACK (voice-over): We've traveled with the Danish Navy to see this one giant mountain of ice. You can see the icebergs awesome mass above and

below the water as it sits right next to the isolated village, Innaarsuit.

(on camera): Just moments ago, this is where a large part of the iceberg carved off into the sea. At first impression it looks really big and

intimidating, solid and unmoving, wedged tight on the sea floor but all over the surface you can see cracks and crevices, weak points that have the

potential to split and if they do, suddenly, you can see the dramatic breakup of this iceberg would be a hugely violent event.

(voice-over): We go ashore in the twilight gloom that is a summer's night here. From almost every angle the iceberg looms over this community.

PIA KRISTENSEN, TEACHER: It's beautiful.

BLACK (on camera): Beautiful?

KRISTENSEN: Yes.

BLACK: Why is it beautiful?

KRISTENSEN: We are used to it. We have many like this in Innaarsuit and it seems bigger than the others.

BLACK (voice-over): Bigger and most dangerously, it's closer. If the iceberg breaks or roles, it would send tsunami-like waves toward these

people.

In a new day's arctic sunshine, the iceberg is a brilliant white. From the shoreline you can hear and see the ice changing and approaching its end.

Hans Mattis Christiansen has lived in Innaarsuit for 52 years. Like almost every man here he fishes, hunt seals and whales, even polar bears winter

and he knows icebergs.

He tells me his father taught him grounded icebergs are the most dangerous because they eventually break. He's seen them destroy boats and he knows

there will be huge waves from this one. The people here felt some relief when the iceberg moved a little just beyond their harbor and they hope

higher sea levels with the next full moon will allow it to lift off the bottom and float away.

But if it doesn't, it will eventually become unstable like this, another massive iceberg we could see from Innaarsuit. We've sped up the video to

show the incredible power as it rolls in the water. Scientists say the glaciers in this specific region of Greenland have long been known for

producing big icebergs. There's no known link to climate change.

The people that live in Innaarsuit know how to endure the challenges of living in the arctic. One key rule hard learned by generations they must

keep their distance from the unpredictable frozen giants they share these waters with.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Just awesome, isn't it? What a picture and everyone seems so calm and cool and collected about it. Now you'll want to see more on this

incredible story. Phil's article on CNN.com featuring more pictures as well as interviews with members of the local community worried about what

the future holds. And I am told that from Greenland we do have Phil Black on the line. I mean, Phil, we were just so enjoying your piece there. And

I was saying that the demeanor of the people, they seem so calm, almost resigned to it all. Is that really how they're feeling about it?

BLACK: Yes, the people up here are pretty tough, Paula. These are people who live in the arctic and who are used to dealing with the many challenges

that exist here, including these monster type icebergs. What they do know though is that when they breakup, well, they released this extraordinary

power. Many of them have seen it for themselves. They've seen it some of them within their lifetime. They talk about a village a short distance

south of here that they say was pretty much wiped out by an iceberg breaking up, rolling over, sending in those tsunami-like waves towards them

and that village is now essentially deserted.

[11:25:00] There is a lot of concern here as well. As I said, there's been some relief because originally this iceberg parked itself right in front of

this small harbor where everyone parks their fishing boats where some people live on fairly low-lying land. That was a very scary time when it

was there. The iceberg has now moved away a little and so some people feel a little more protected. But they all say they cannot rest easy until they

know that it's gone. Because the reality is that every big monster iceberg like this eventually melts, weakens, breaks up and rolls over and releases

that sort of energy, displaces that energy into the water around it and so people will not be relaxed entirely until its gone. The hope is that it

will drift away on the next full moon. If that doesn't happen the next best scenario is that it breaks up slowly, gradually over time -- Paula.

NEWTON: Phil, we can hardly imagine. We're looking at the scene behind you. It's incredible and as you've pointed out, it is awesome and lovely

to look at and yet, when we look at these icebergs, as you said very clear in your package, it doesn't have anything to do with climate change. This

is what people in those communities know to look out for.

BLACK: So, no, one giant iceberg is not going to enter climate change, nor are any other monster icebergs we've seen on these waters, in this region

as we've been coming in and out of this island. And we have seen quite a few of them. That's because the glaciers in this region have been long

known for producing icebergs of this size. They carve in such a way that they release these enormous chunks of ice into the sea. But, of course,

scientists do have enormous concerns about the negative impact that climate change is having on Greenland, on the ice sheet itself the vast Greenland

ice sheet is about 80 percent of Greenland is melting. It is melting faster. They're concerned about the many glaciers that feed off that.

They are accelerating. They are retreating. What all of that means they say is that inevitably, Greenland is releasing more ice into the sea and,

of course, that means that sea levels over time steadily rising -- Paula.

NEWTON: Very important distinct -- distinguishing factor there in terms of those icebergs. Phil, thanks so much. We could stay with you all day, but

we thank you for the adversity that I know you and the crew are going through to get us this story. And my hats off on that clever idea to speed

up the video of that iceberg. It really brought it home to all of us here about how violent those icebergs can be when they do breakup. Our Phil

Black there with us from Greenland.

When we come back, nature is the one under attack this time. The pristine Alaskan wilderness that could be drilled for oil and the indigenous

community fighting to save it. That's later in the show.

Plus, Iran says its unimpressed with Donald Trump's latest Twitter threat and now its issuing another warning of its own. More on the war of words

between the U.S. and Iran coming up.

[11:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: And you are watching CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Paula Newton live from CNN's worldwide headquarters here in Atlanta.

Our top story this hour, massive wildfires ripping through holiday towns across Greece. At least 74 people are now dead and hundreds homeless. The

fires are the country's worst in more than a decade. Now the infernos are tearing through towns so quickly that for some the only escape, if you can

imagine this, was to run for their lives into the sea.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON (voice-over): Homes and lives now destroyed by an out of control fire. This area normally a resort paradise now turned into a hell scape.

Among the burned-out cars in Mati, Greece, authorities find the bodies of residents who just couldn't get out in time. Hundreds of people rescued

from the beach, escaping into the sea because the water was safer than lands.

KOSTAS LAGANOS, MATI RESIDENT (through translator): Thankfully the sea was there, and we went into the sea because the flames were chasing us all the

way to the water. It burned out backs and we dove into the water.

NANA LAGANOS, MATI RESIDENT (through translator): It was lightning fast. We didn't realize what had happened. You couldn't. It was the first time

I've ever seen something like this. But we made it. We were like a bee colony in the sea. Everybody standing next to each other.

NEWTON: More than 3 million people live in the Attica region of Greece with fires now the deadliest in Greece since 2007. Firefighters are now

scrambling to get control of the flames while the continent bakes in stifling summer heat. Greece is asking for help from Europe. The thick

smoke is now spreading far to the country. Dramatic images like these showing the extent of the fire and how people are helpless to stop them.

Bystanders filming the situation show once beautiful Mediterranean vistas choked in smoke. Even the iconic Athens Acropolis has an ominous

backdrops.

The Greek Prime Minister is offering words of support as the situation is still dire.

ALEXIS TSIPRAS, GREEK PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We must at this moment all be in a constant state of alert. We must be unified and make

the effort to face an exceptionally difficult situation for Attica and the country.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: OK. We once more turn back from that natural world to the world of Donald Trump.

Iran warns the U.S., be cautious as the fiery rhetoric between the two countries continues to unfold. Foreign minister, Javad Zarif, tweeted late

Monday, quote, color us unimpressed. The world heard even harsher bluster a few months ago. Be cautious.

Now, Mr. Trump took aim at Tehran on Sunday after Iranian President, Hassan Rouhani warned that war with his country would be, quote, the mother of all

wars. And it should be said that, in fact, he also said it could be the mother of all peace.

The U.S. President meantime went all caps with his response tweeting that if Mr. Rouhani ever threatens America again, he will quote, suffer

consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before.

Now the White House Press Secretary defended Mr. Trump's threat, saying, you know, Iran started it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[11:35:03] SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The President's been I think pretty strong since day one in his language

towards Iran. He was responding to comments made from them and he's going to continue to focus on the safety and security of American people.

The ultimate goal and the focus of the President is making sure that we keep nuclear weapons out of their hands and that we focus on the protection

of Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: CNN's Nick Patton Walsh has been following this story for us from the beginning. He joins us now from London. I mean, so far, the rhetoric

on both sides, it's sound and fury signifying nothing. What could change that?

NICK PAYTON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Here we are, again, Paula. Day two, frankly justifiably talking about this because this

was initially a threat of some sort of unseen before in history military action against one of its enemies by the world's most powerful military

figure, Donald Trump. Justifiably, despite people saying this may have been some bid to distract other individuals from the Russia investigation,

the Helsinki Summit. And the fact that Donald Trump is now again talking about trade tariffs today. This is still a significant deeply important

moment and is one that was reinforced by his national security adviser, Ambassador John Bolton, saying that if Iran, quote, did anything negative

at all. How broad a threshold could you possibly ask for that could result in military action and Donald Trump himself said he had no regrets at all.

We know the back story here. We know that the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear agreement. We know that there ratcheting up sanctions. We know

they're trying to get the European allies to do that as well and we know that's having a very bad impact on the Iranian economy. Its local currency

is sliding. And there are being minor protests on the street that keep repeating. We also know that Hassan Rouhani who in some fair degree

started this by initially suggesting that comment you mentioned about the mother of all wars, we know the continued rhetoric from the U.S. is pushing

him slightly more towards the hardliners. And we also know too, frankly, that his government is the most moderate option, frankly, that Iran has

ahead of it in the years ahead.

The point is where did all this get us? Will frankly, it puts us in the Middle East, where we mentioned yesterday, where the caps lock is always

on, on its keyboard. It puts us slightly more volatile than it was before. For example, today when the Israelis, a key U.S. ally, shoot out of the sky

a Syrian Sukhoi Su-24 jet. That is, of course, a key ally of Iran.

People wondered to themselves, well if those two key backers of those states are at each other's throats on social media, how far are we from

that escalating. And in an area where these sort of minor conflagrations happen every week, two weeks, month or so, when you have that kind of open

abuse, frankly, occurring on social media in capitals, how relevant that really is that leaves the region significantly less safe.

And what is the end goal for the U.S. and Iran? Well it's more moderate Iranian government and it's the possibility of them coming to some kind of

diplomatic goal may be with their 12 points on their wish list is in fact answered by Iran. And that seems, frankly, further away than it could be

right now and the concept of this getting out of hand may be in the months ahead in the Middle East seems more possible -- Paula.

NEWTON: Yes, and it's so interesting that the one other way that it can get out of hand is economically. You know, in his speech the Iranian

President pointing right toward this place. I want to show you now on a map. An extremely narrow, extremely important slice of water there. It is

the Strait of Hormuz. One third of the world's oil tankers pass through it every year. That is an important pinch point. It could give Iran

leverage. Voters for Trump could start to really feel the pinch in their pockets. We have seen the oil markets basically get out of control for

rhetoric that is a lot tamer than what we've heard.

WALSH: Yes. I mean, the Iranians have suggested we could close the Strait of Hormuz. To be honest, doing that would be a massive wave inflaming the

situation. I'm sure they would probably calculate in some kind of American tough response then. Trying to do that, yes, even that in itself that

crisis would damage the oil price as well.

But this is all about Iran trying to show that it has something to push back into the global system here. Be it no doubt that the return towards

sanctions is certainly damaged their economy. It's also emboldened the hardliners, frankly, who said that the nuclear deal with the West was

pointless in the first place. They couldn't necessarily be honored. Donald Trump has proven that particular suspicion to be valid, having

turned it all on its head. The issue is does this actually put us into a strategically better or worse place for the U.S. and on that particular

point it looks like the latter option is coming forward now -- Paula.

NEWTON: And we will continue to follow this story. Thanks -- Nick.

WALSH: We won't, if they talk about something else on Twitter tomorrow, absolutely.

NEWTON: We could. Were kind of doing it onto -- but we could in fact talk also talk about all of their involvement in Yemen as we have been and then

in Syria.

WALSH: Or Montenegro as we were last week.

NEWTON: Or continue on it will. Our Nick Paton Walsh doing many kinds of duty for us there from London. Appreciate it.

Now coming up, and an American politician somehow ends up dropping his pants on camera.

[11:40:00] Yes, let me say that again, dropping his pants on camera in the name of fighting terror. We looked at a controversial British comedian's

new show and his -- we'll call them victims -- who say he is the one who crossed the line.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: Now in era when twitter talk of war by the U.S. President becomes, in fact, an instant me the lines between political commentary and comedy,

of course, they've often been blurred. Our next story has an American lawmaker facing calls to resign for yelling racial slurs and getting half

naked on camera in the name of fighting terror. But he says, you know, he's the victim. Setup by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen for his new

show. And the lawmaker is not the only one. Tom Foreman has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE, FROM SHOWTIME/"WHO IS AMERICA?": You have three seconds to attack the tension, go!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (BLEEP).

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Screaming a racial slur, mocking Chinese tourists, dropping his pants. Georgia state lawmaker Jason

Spencer did all that and more as he talked with a supposed Israeli antiterrorism expert. The governor called it appalling and offensive, the

state house speaker reprehensible and called for Spencer's resignation. But he says he was tricked by the deceptive and fraudulent behavior by the

company that exploited by state of mind, his fear of terrorism because that expert was really comedian Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame. Was shooting

an episode for his new TV show, "Who Is America?" And Spencer's not the only one who has been taken in.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST "SMERCONISH": Are his stunts exposing truth or just pushing an already polarized country farther apart? Many of the

victims have been speaking out, soar they include Sarah Palin, Dick Cheney, Ted Koppel.

FOREMAN: With some saying, they never knew the true purpose or person behind their interviews.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He gets people to say stupid things because he lies to them.

FOREMAN: Sara Palin whose episode has not aired yet she's she was lured by the promise of interview about veterans. Quote, I joined the long list of

American public personalities who have fallen victims to Cohen's, evil, exploitative, sick humor. Defending her? James O'Keefe. The conservative

activists who has used hidden cameras and deceptively edited videos to embarrass liberals. He tweeted that his past critics to those who praise

Cohen's posing as a disabled vet to sting Palin, you can go straight to hell.

But there is a difference.

[11:45:00] BRIAN LOWRY, CNN MEDIA CRITIC: This is a situation where people are saying and doing really outlandish things while they know there's a

camera on them and I think that ratchets up the heat on them significantly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just remember to int puppy pistols mouth right in the middle of the bad man.

FOREMAN: Nonetheless, conservatives clearly feel targeted even when they resist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want me to say on television that I support giving 3 and 4-year olds for guns.

And even as Cohen skewers progressives too.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Well, if you put everybody into the 1 percent they wouldn't be the 1 percent.

COHEN: Well, no, it still would be?

SANDERS: No, it wouldn't.

FOREMAN (on camera): You might dismiss it all as harmless fun, but in this town where people spend small fortunes to have folks manage their political

images, alarm bells are ringing. Tom foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: OK, CNNMoney senior media reporter, Oliver Darcy, joins me now from New York. You are the armchair professor for us here. Please try and

elevate this conversation. You know, is it humor? Is it humiliation? And what about what was said in the report there by Michael Smerconish, that

look, it's just polarizing America further.

OLIVER DARCY, CNNMONEY SENIOR MEDIA WRITER: Yes, every time I see these videos I'm just shocked. It's shocking that any politician or someone who

works in government or public policy would allow themselves to be filmed in these very compromising situations. I know that they're saying that they

were deceived into doing these things, but a we just saw with that Georgia state lawmaker, he's yelling racial epithets and doing all sorts of

outlandish things on camera. Supposedly because he was deceived into thinking this guy was a self-defense expert.

I do think there is some point to the idea that this isn't helping unite America, this is certainly aimed at recording people in the most

compromising situations and the most fringe elements of the -- of their parties, saying things. And so, it's definitely not aimed at bringing

America together.

I do think there is a difference, though, between what Sacha Baron Cohen is doing with this, he's just basically trying to get people on camera to say

dumb things versus what James O'Keefe has done in the past which is a lot different. James O'Keefe is not motivated by comedy, but he's motivated by

trying to sway elections, trying to destroy institutions and trying to get people fired. So, I think there is a clear line to be drawn there.

NEWTON: Yes, and that is the issue, right? Where do you draw the line? And a lot of people just say this is humor and a certain point in time,

humor belongs in the realm of free speech. And again, Oliver, they knew the cameras were there, they can see the cameras. I never get that. We

have to leave it there. Thanks so much, appreciate it.

Now, we do want to tell you that others tricked by Baron Cohen including Republican Congressman joe Wilson from South Carolina. Take a listen to

the comment that provoked widespread ridicule.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOE WILSON (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a hello kitty pencil case at it. Our founding

fathers did not put an age limit on the second amount.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NEWTON: OK. This is CONNECT THE WORLD and we have some spectacular images for you next. But the pristine beauty of all of this wilderness belies

what some say is the ugly truth.

[11:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NEWTON: Remember that force of nature we saw threatening a Greenland village, well it appears destruction is a two-way street. Because 9

million acres of pristine wilderness in remote northeastern Alaska are also under threat. CNN's Bill Weir shows us what's at stake.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BILL WEIR, CNN ANCHOR/SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: This is magnificent. Wow.

Way up at the tip top of Alaska, an airplane can feel like a time machine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You see him there? There's a bunch of little babies running around.

WEIR: Because the arctic national wildlife refuge, commonly known as Anwar, is the kind of pure wilderness most of America paved her long ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is it. We're in the heart of the arctic refuge.

WEIR: Welcome to one of the last truly wild places on earth.

(voice-over): The coastal plain prims with life from musk oxen to bears, both grizzly and polar. Birds that will migrate to the backyards of all 50

states. But as Florian Schulz has captured over the years the most common creature is the caribou and not just a few but hundreds of thousands. The

kind of herd unseen since the plains buffalo were wiped away. And when Florian is here with his family, he can't help but wonder how long it will

last.

FLORIAN SCHULZ, FILMMAKER AND WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER: Do we need to keep some of these places untouched? We are changing t world everywhere so

fast, but why not leave a few places unspoiled.

WEIR: For almost 60 years that was the rational that protected Anwar from this? These are the oilfields of Prudhoe Bay that fill the famous pipeline

and power countless lives. But since there are billions of barrels elsewhere, nature lovers have longed argue there is no need to drill here

and for decades that argument held until --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One day a friend of mine who's in the oil business called, is it true that you have Anwar in the

Bill? I said, I don't know. Who cares. What is that? He said, well you know, Reagan tried. Every single president tried. I said you got to be

kidding. I love it now. And after that we fought like hell to get Anwar. He talked me into it.

WEIR: December's tax cut bill also opened Anwar to drilling thanks to Alaska Senator, Lisa Murkowski who slipped in the provision knowing that it

would only need 51 instead of 60 votes to pass.

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA: It is wrong for those from the outside looking in who have taken a nice trip into an area and said this must be

protected.

WEIR: But conservations point out there is already a huge glut of American oil.

(on camera): And oil companies have been laying people off up here because prices are so low.

NICOLE WHITTINGTON-EVANS, THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY: Oil companies have been laying people off and you know, for the first time in the last five years,

I was seeing more oil company workers leaving the state of Alaska and going to places like North Dakota than coming into the state.

WEIR (voice-over): But much like Trump's efforts to revive dying coal mines, the rush to drill here seems driven more by politics than economics.

(on camera): Former speaker of the house, Tom DeLay, once said, if we could drill in Anwar it'll break the back of the environmental lobby.

DAN RITZMAN, SIERRA CLUB: Well, they haven't drilled in Anwar yet. We know that the arctic regions are heating twice as fast as any other part of

the world. And it just makes zero sense to come here and look for more oil that's just going to exacerbate that problem.

WEIR (voice-over): Among those opposed is the Gwich'in nation, the northernmost tribe of native Americans.

(on camera): How many people live here?

FAITH GEMMILL, NEETSAII GWICH'IN TRIBAL MEMBER, ARCTIC VILLAGE: About 150 year-round.

WEIR: Wow. I think about 150 people live on the floor of my apartment building.

(voice-over): Their numbers may be tiny, but they are definitely not outsiders.

GEMMILL: Archeological evidence shows we've been here over 25,000 years.

WEIR: And the only reason they survived is caribou. Back in the day they would trap the animals in these handmade corrals. These days they use guns

and snowmobiles. But still need the animals to survive in one of the most expensive neighbors in America. Groceries at the Midnight Sun can cost

twice as much as the Whole Foods in Manhattan. Gasoline up here, runs $10 a gallon.

(on camera): But still, given the choice between oil money and caribou, there is no debate. These folks will stick with the one animal that's kept

them alive for thousands of years and they cannot imagine drills and trucks and pipelines across what they call the sacred place. Where life begins.

[11:55:05] GEMMILL: Look what happened to the plains Indians and the buffalo. That's not going to happen to my people. We're not going to

allow that to happen again.

WEIR (voice-over): To the Gwich'in, they are a native American David against a Goliath, oil companies, Republican lawmakers and the Inupiaq, a

coastal tribe of native Alaskans. Eager to drill and cash in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. is saying we can finally do this, now we have the other side, the environmentalists saying we can't do this. What's

wrong with this picture?

WEIR: As the government rushes towards development, community meetings lay bare the fight, tribe versus tribe, neighbor against neighbor.

ADRIENNE TITUS, UNALAKLEET, ALASKA RESIDENT: We have thousands of gallons discovered in place that's have already seen destruction, but restraint is

what we lack. When did we all become owners of the land. It has always owned us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NEWTON: Such a powerful piece there. Our thanks to Bill Weir. I am Paula Newton that was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thanks for watching. We are going to

continue with this theme here. We leave you with some video of that incredibly massive iceberg in Greenland looming over that small fishing

village.

END