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Venezuelan President Blames "Right Wing" for Assassination Attempt; First Lady Breaks Ranks with President Trump; 2018 Midterms; Zimbabwe Election; California Wildfires; Korea Tensions; Bangladesh Protests; Toxic Red Tide Ravages Florida. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 5, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A televised speech that turned into what Venezuela's president Nicolas Maduro called an attempt against his life.
Also, as President Trump slams LeBron James, the NBA star, his wife, Ms. Trump, backed Mr. James.
Also ahead this hour --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is unbelievable that a fire could destroy a whole subdivision.
ALLEN (voice-over): Residents in one California neighborhood rebuild after last year's fire wiped out nearly everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around the world. I'm Natalie Allen, coming to you live from Atlanta, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: Thanks for joining us.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro says he has survived an assassination attempt and now promises to find those responsible. Mr. Maduro says drones detonated explosives near him during a military ceremony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): You can see him and his wife right there react to the first explosion.
Then there was a second and soldiers broke ranks and scattered. Video also shows bodyguards surrounding Mr. Maduro with shields and taking him off the stage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Hours later, he addressed the nation again and he seemed unharmed. He revisited a conspiracy theory he uses often, blaming Colombia and a right wing plot for trying to oust him.
We get more now from CNN's Rafael Romo, who has been speaking with Venezuelan officials about this apparent attack.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: The two explosions rattled president Nicolas Maduro when he was on stage. The socialist leader was in the middle of a speech during an event to celebrate the 81st anniversary of Venezuela's National Guard when the blast happened.
The president would later say that it was an attempt against his life. He blamed far right elements of the Venezuelan opposition and Colombia's outgoing president, Juan Manuel Santos.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADURO (through translator): This was an attempt to kill me. They have tried to kill me today. And I am not doubting that everything signals that right, ultra-right, Venezuelan ultra-right and Colombian ultra-right and the name of Juan Manuel Santos is behind this attempt.
ROMO: The Colombian government said there was no basis for the accusation and that president Juan Manuel Santos was focused on the baptism of a granddaughter and not on topping foreign governments.
Asked by CNN if the Venezuelan government had any evidence linking Colombia, the Venezuelan attorney general refused to answer.
President Maduro also said, without showing any proof, that those responsible for financing and planning the attack are in the United States, specifically in the state of Florida, where many Venezuelan immigrants live.
A senior State Department official traveling with U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo in Indonesia said they heard the reports and are following the situation closely.
Venezuela is in the middle of a deep financial crisis. The International Monetary Fund recently said inflation will reach 1 million percent this year. Blackouts and shortages of basic food items are commonplace -- Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.
ALLEN: As Rafael mentioned, he had this message for U.S. president Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NICOLAS MADURO, PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA (through translator): Preliminary investigations have indicated to us that there are various financial backers of this attempt on my life. They live in the United States in the state of Florida.
Hopefully, president Donald Trump's government is willing to fight these terrorist groups, which are attempting grave attacks against countries on this continent; in this case, Venezuela.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: That's a familiar argument from President Maduro. He has often railed against what he calls American imperialism.
What does this apparent attack tell us about the political and economic turmoil affecting Venezuela?
We posed that question to Jennifer McCoy, a professor of political science at Georgia State University and the co-author of the book, "International Mediation in Venezuela." Here she is.
JENNIFER MCCOY, GEORGIA STATE UNIVERSITY: There has been a great deal of unrest in Venezuela and also a lot of dissatisfaction apparently, even among military ranks.
The government has been arresting and removing military personnel from the ranks, accusing many of conspiracy against it. So this is another in a pattern that has been going on for the last couple of years. Of course, we'll have to wait to see the evidence, to see what was really behind it.
MCCOY: It's very possible that it could have been an attempt. There have been a couple of others this year.
But also some people say it was, you know, something organized by the government in order to drum up support for it. The government does regularly make accusations of conspiracies from abroad. In this case, he has accused Colombia and Venezuelans living in the United States.
That would certainly show how vulnerable the government is because the situation is very untenable for most people living in Venezuela.
If the government -- if it was a made-up event, if it was something that the government constructed itself, it also shows its vulnerability for the dissatisfaction of life. They have announced a new economic plan that will supposedly save the economy.
But I think many outside economists do not have faith in that plan. So we are unlikely to see a dramatic improvement in living standards in Venezuela very soon.
(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: Another top story we're following here, sources close to the White House tell CNN that President Trump is worried his family will get caught up in the Russia investigation led by the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
Mr. Trump is said to be especially concerned about his son, Don Jr., although the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, denied that in a statement to CNN.
Even so, the president may have reason to worry. Mueller has been looking into the meeting at Trump Tower that Don Jr. held with a group of Russians during the campaign. If Don Jr. was lying when he told Congress under oath that his father did not know about the meeting at the time, he could be charged with a crime.
Meantime, U.S. first lady Melania Trump is defending NBA star LeBron James after her husband insulted the NBA player for giving an exclusive interview to CNN's Don Lemon. A spokeswoman for Ms. Trump praised James for his charity work with children and said the first lady was open to visiting the new public school James has opened in Ohio.
In a statement to CNN, the spokeswoman said, "As you know, Ms. Trump has traveled to the country and world, talking to children about their well-being, healthy living and the importance of responsible online behavior with her Be Best initiative.
"Her platform centers around visiting organizations, hospitals and schools and she would be open to visiting the I Promise School in Akron."
Well, that is certainly in sharp contrast to this dig from her husband Friday night. He tweeted this.
"LeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn't easy to do."
In that CNN interview, James was asked if he thinks the president uses African American athletes to distract people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Whenever there is something like he's in trouble, he can't wiggle his way out of something, he'll bring up the national anthem thing and kneeling or standing.
Do you think he uses black athletes as a scapegoat?
LEBRON JAMES, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS FORWARD: At times. At times. And more often than not. I believe he uses anything that's popular to try to negate people from thinking about the positive things that they can actually be doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Well, with us now from Birmingham, England, is Scott Lucas. He teaches international politics at the University of Birmingham.
Scott, thank you for being with us. We're going to talk about LeBron James in a moment. But I want to start with the Russia investigation with you.
Sources close to the White House telling CNN the president is growing concerned the investigation is creeping closer to his son and perhaps his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and perhaps that's what's behind his increasingly frenzied public agitation over this investigation.
What are your thoughts?
LUCAS: I think those are pretty good sources. At least one of them has said that Trump is worried that Donald Trump Jr. may have accidentally stepped into a conspiracy with the Russians when he had the Trump Tower meeting in June 2016.
So in other words, Trump Jr. accidentally met three Kremlin-linked envoys. They accidentally talked about material damaging Hillary Clinton, material which accidentally was then stolen and disseminated by the Russians during the campaign and that there may have been an accidental cover-up about that meeting when it was revealed last year.
That's one heck of an accident. So it tells you two things. One, Donald Trump is very worried and, two, the more worried he gets, the more he'll go on the campaign trail to try to whip up supporters that this is all just a witch-hunt.
ALLEN: Right. And what about Mr. Trump himself?
Why the back-and-forth about whether he will sit down with the Mueller team?
LUCAS: Because Trump's lawyers are worried that he'll commit perjury when he --
LUCAS: -- speaks to Mueller, it's as simple as that. This is a president who, according to "The Washington Post" fact checker, has given out 4,000 misleading statements since January 2017, almost 1,000 in the past two months.
If you make even one false statement to special counsel Robert Mueller, that's a possible criminal charge as well as a serious political charge.
That's why Trump's team is saying if he meets Mueller, it has to be limited in duration, they have to have the questions in advance so they know what information Mueller has. And quite clearly that's why the special counsel is saying absolutely not, there's no restrictions on this interview if we have it.
ALLEN: I want to ask you, we know that President Trump just came from Ohio, which is a big election there, the last special election before the midterms. It is like, no matter what -- what the Washington reports about the mistruths of this president, et cetera, et cetera, there is nothing dissuading his base from following him 100 percent.
Do you think that will continue to persist?
LUCAS: Well, there is nothing dissuading those people that show up at Trump rallies, some of whom shout at journalists and yell "fake news," from believing in Trump.
But the question is, how many of those people are out there?
We know Donald Trump's popularity ratings are roughly around the same, around about 40 percent, as they have been since the start of the presidency. We know that Democrats have about a 9 percent to 10 percent lead in projecting congressional races.
So what does this base mean?
I think you have to put this in wider context. Sure, there are some people that will support Donald Trump, come hell or high water but the majority of Americans either do not or are still making up their minds. And that's going to be the narrative we see all the way to November.
ALLEN: To the LeBron James story and the president's attack on him and CNN's Don Lemon via tweet. The president seethes over the media, he's constantly at war with CNN, yet apparently he's watching it.
So what do you make of that?
And what do you make of his attacks here at LeBron James and then his wife, Melania, being completely opposite of her husband on this?
LUCAS: Well, where do we start?
I mean, partly it is a strategy. If Donald Trump has a strategy that is, look, he's going to make people support him or choose him over all these evil journalists at CNN, at other outlets, and these evil academics who keep pointing out the facts.
But on top of that, look, let's be honest, it's ego. He got really upset when LeBron James told Don Lemon that he would not sit down with Trump but that he would sit down with Barack Obama for a one-on-one.
And then there is a third element, let's be honest here.
What do LeBron James, many players in the National Football League, who Donald Trump have condemned, Don Lemon and Representative Maxine Waters, who Trump uses as a punching bag, what do they all have in common?
There may just be a racial element here.
ALLEN: Also, it is interesting that Melania Trump differs from her husband, his intelligence over the Russia investigation differs from Mr. Trump and even Ivanka Trump was asked, is the press an enemy of state, and her answer was no.
Anyway, Scott Lucas, we're out of time. Thank you as always for your insights. We appreciate it.
LUCAS: Thank you.
ALLEN: We mentioned the Ohio rally and President Trump's visit there. His political clout is on the line in that state.
On Tuesday, as we mentioned, voters there go to the polls in a special election, the last such contest before the November midterms. And the president is using his star power to energize his base, hoping to avoid losing another Republican seat to a Democrat.
But Mr. Trump dismissed the possibility of Republicans getting crushed in November. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They're talking about this blue wave. I don't think so. I don't think so. Maxine Waters is leading the -- Maxine. She's a real beauty. Maxine. A seriously low IQ person. Seriously. Maxine Waters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: That was the attack, as you can see, on Maxine Waters that Scott just referenced in our interview. She is a Democrat, an African American woman and a frequent target of Mr. Trump's insults. For more now, CNN's Boris Sanchez was traveling with the president in Ohio.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump making his way to just outside Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, to the 12th Congressional District to campaign for a special election candidate that is in a dead heat with a Democrat. Troy Balderson running against Danny O'Connor in a race that should not be this close.
Frankly, we wouldn't be talking about the 12th Congressional District were it not for President Trump as it has been ruby red for decades.
President Trump --
SANCHEZ: -- won it by 11 points but a recent Monmouth University poll shows that the two candidates are in a virtual tie, a one percentage difference point between the two so President Trump came here on Saturday to try to prevent a blue wave that many have speculated is headed to Congress in the November midterm elections.
Now President Trump has spent the majority of speech touting his agenda, success in the economy and bashing his enemies including Democrats and, of course, the media.
The president did mention the Russia investigation yet again calling it a hoax and pushing the idea that the United States has to be prepared from cyber attacks, from a lot of different actors. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now we got to stop it. We got to stop meddling. We got to stop everybody from attacking us but there are a lot.
Russia is there. China is there. Hey, we are doing well with North Korea but they are probably there.
We got to stop everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: There is also an unexpected guest here for President Trump's speech, former communications director Hope Hicks who of course resigned from the administration in February.
White House officials say that her presence here should not signal a return, essentially telling CNN that it doesn't mean much more than just a friendly visit -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president, outside of Columbus, Ohio.
ALLEN: Funerals in Zimbabwe have begun for those killed in post- election violence as the opposition refuses to concede. We'll have the latest for you coming next on that story.
Plus, firefighters in Portugal battling a dangerous wildfire, as much of Europe continues to swelter in intense heat.
ALLEN: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.
Funerals have begun in Zimbabwe in the wake of deadly post-election violence. Hundreds gathered to mourn a 52-year-old mother of two. Her family says she was shot in the back while coming home from work.
Six people were killed in clashes between security forces and protesters, who say the election was rigged. Our David McKenzie is in the capital, Harare.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The election standoff continues here in Zimbabwe with the opposition refusing to concede defeat and saying they will present evidence of rigging, something they haven't done so yet.
This weekend there were funerals of those killed in the violence that broke out mid-last week after this disputed poll. Emmerson Mnangagwa --
MCKENZIE: -- the president elect, said he welcomed the opposition taking their dispute to the courts here in Zimbabwe.
But there are growing calls in the region and in the continent for the opposition and Nelson Chamisa, its leader, to concede defeat. But so far, this dispute continues, leaving this country in a potentially difficult limbo as it tries to move beyond years of economic stagnation -- David McKenzie, CNN, Harare.
ALLEN: A hurricane is turning toward Hawaii. Hurricane Hector is a category 3 storm. While it is over 1,000 miles away, Hawaiian officials are now urging people to prepare emergency kits. They recommend stocking a minimum of 14 days of food, water and other supplies.
Elsewhere, more than 700 firefighters are battling a forest fire in Southern Portugal. Two villages were evacuated when flames erupted Saturday and 10 water-carrying aircraft were deployed.
The Iberian Peninsula has been experiencing near record-high temperatures, an extreme heat wave has been stifling much of Europe. It has been deadly and also brought drought and fires from Greece to Sweden.
It just seems like these are the pictures we see over and over again this summer.
ALLEN: We'll get back to all of these fires that we keep talking about. California is getting federal disaster relief to help Shasta County, where the massive Carr fire continues to burn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): What started nearly two weeks ago as sparks from a flat tire has now become the sixth most destructive wildfire in California history. It has consumed about 141,000 acres or 57,000 hectares. Firefighters have contained 41 percent of the fire. Look at the aftermath there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: As 17 large wildfires continue to rage up and down California, we want to pause now and revisit a Santa Rosa neighborhood, that is in the Wine Country, that was completely wiped out, you may remember, by a fire last year. Our Dan Simon talks with some people still rebuilding from California's most --
ALLEN: -- destructive wildfire.
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Tubbs fire last October left an endless trail of destruction. The worst wildfire in California history, it destroyed more than 3,000 homes, almost half of them in one neighborhood, Coffey Park.
JOHN WIMMER, COFFEY PARK RESIDENT: It is like wow. Just can't -- you can't put words to it.
SIMON (voice-over): We met John Wimmer and his wife, Jody, last fall as they walked through the charred debris of the house they lived in for 30 years.
SIMON: What has been the most overwhelming aspect to all of this?
JODY WIMMER, COFFEY PARK RESIDENT: Everything is gone. Everything is gone. It is unbelievable that a fire could destroy a whole subdivision.
SIMON: But now 10 months later, Coffey Park is on the rebound. The ashes and twisted metal have been removed and, one by one, the houses are being rebuilt.
SIMON (voice-over): Hundreds of homes are currently under construction, with hundreds more slated to begin over the next few months. No one really knows how long it will take for the community to fully recover. But the quiet scenes of wreckage have been replaced by power tools and heavy equipment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I kind of prefer this to the dead silence. It was just eerie, it was like, surreal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, this was a dining room.
SIMON (voice-over): We met John at the same spot, where soon construction workers will break ground on his new house. The story of Coffey Park's resurgence perhaps could be an inspirational one to the community of Redding, California, now grappling with another historic wildfire, more than a thousand homes there destroyed.
SIMON: For the people there who are feeling totally hopeless right now, what do you tell them?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reach out to your neighbors, friends, family. Comfort each other. Reassure each other.
SIMON (voice-over): What really helped, he says, is his neighbors formed a support group called Coffey Strong, meeting regularly to discuss all aspects of rebuilding their lives and their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Set aside time to mourn, so be sad, if you want to cry, go ahead and cry. But group together with your friends and neighbors and you might be able to pull some strings from them.
SIMON (voice-over): Simple yet meaningful advice from someone who has been there -- Dan Simon, CNN, Santa Rosa, California.
ALLEN: North Korea calls recent moves by the United States "alarming."
Could the optimistic glow after the Trump-Kim summit be fading?
We'll talk about that coming up here in a live interview.
Plus the Druze in Israel are normally loyal supporters of the country. Why this minority group is now leading massive protests against the government. We'll go live to Israel for the latest. Stay with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.
ALLEN: Ms. Trump broke ranks with her husband after CNN anchor Don Lemon used her #BeBest hashtag in a tweet. Lemon was responding to this dig from the president.
"LeBron James was just interviewed," Mr. Trump tweeted, "by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart. Which isn't easy to do."
In that interview, James was very blunt in his criticism of the president. Here's a portion of what he said.
LEMON: You've heard what the man in charge, you heard what the president said about Marshawn, about Steph --
LEMON: -- about, you know, it seems like --
LEMON: Kaepernick. Men of color who have means and a platform.
LEMON: What's up with that? JAMES: What's up with that is it's all wrong and it's not up, it's down. And for him to like I say use sports to kind of divide us is something I can't -- I can't sit back and not say nothing.
LEMON: Why -- you tweeted about a couple of things.
LEMON: You tweeted about Charlottesville. You tweeted about when Steph Curry, when he called him -- you called him a bum because -- but Steph had already said, I'm not going to the White House.
JAMES: Yes, he already said he wasn't going. And her tried to use that after that to say, well, you're not invited. Well, you can't uninvite me for something I already said I'm not going to go to. And we all know Steph Curry, model citizen, great kid, come from a great background, great family.
LEMON: Great father.
JAMES: Great father. And so many kids, white, black, Hispanic, all different races love what he's doing and rightfully so. There is no reason for anyone to ever attack him. And that's -- I felt that.
LEMON: Whenever there is something like he's in trouble, he can't wiggle his way out of something, he'll bring up the national anthem thing and kneeling or standing.
Do you think he uses black athletes as a scapegoat?
JAMES: At times. At times. And more often than not. I believe he uses anything that's popular to try to negate people from thinking about the positive things that they can actually be doing and try to just get our minds to not be --
JAMES: -- as sharp as possible right then, just -- you know, either from kneeling, from football players kneeling.
You look at Kaepernick, who protested something he believed in and he did it in a most calm fashion way possible.
JAMES: Very respectful. He did all his due diligence. He was knowledgeable about it. And everyone knew why he did it. You look at all the NFL players that are still kneeling and things of that nature. You look at Steph. You look at Marshawn Lynch. You look at all these incidents why he is trying to divide our sport. But at the end of the day, sport is the reason why we all come together.
LEMON: What would you say to the president if he is sitting right here?
JAMES: I would never sit across from him. LEMON: You would never? You don't want the talk to him?
JAMES: No. I'll sit across from Barack, though.
ALLEN: Former NBA great Michael Jordan also came to James' defense. The president in his tweet also said, "I like Mike," presumably referring to Jordan.
But Jordan fired back through a spokeswoman, saying, "I support LeBron James. He's doing an amazing job for his community."
North Korea is pushing back against U.S. diplomacy. U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo shared a handshake with his North Korean counterpart. This after the foreign minister was given a letter from President Trump to deliver to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Let's talk more about the developments with Kenneth Choi, international editor for the newspaper "The Chosun Ilbo," he joins us now from Seoul, South Korea.
Thank you for being with us. We appreciate you joining us.
First of all, let's talk about North Korea, not happy with the latest comments from the U.S., calling it alarming. Here is what the North Korean foreign minister was referring to. The U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo said this Saturday at the ASEAN summit in Singapore.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF STATE: We have seen reports that Russia is aligned for joint ventures with North Korean firms and granting new work permits to North Korean guest workers. If these reports prove accurate, then we have every reason to believe they are, that would be in violation of U.N. Security Council resolution 2375.
I want to remind every nation that has supported these resolutions, that this is a serious issue and something we will discuss with Moscow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Is there any reason for the U.S. not to encourage the continuation of sanctions on North Korea from what we know about what they are or aren't doing?
KENNETH CHOI, "THE CHOSUN ILBO": Actually what the U.S. is doing probably the right -- staying on the right course because North Korea hasn't given up really much about the nuclear dismantlement. Recently, North Korea sent the 55 remains of the U.S. soldiers who died in the Korean War.
It has sort of disintegrated the ICBM launching pad, it has blown up the nuclear facilities and so on. But these are all peripheral compared to the actual nuclear dismantlement program. So far, I think North Koreans are trying to push how far they can push
around President Trump and see how much room they have because, right now, they're pretty dire about their economic revival.
And economy is not going anywhere, the sanctions are still put in place, so they have been trying to smuggle coals or the oils and so on. And all these things shows that how serious situation they're in on economic terms.
So on a political terms, with the nuclear dismantlement program, they're trying to push around and see how much room they have and try to buy some more time, as much as they can.
And their number one priority is to get the end of the war declaration, which, I think, you know, it should come after they at least give up some sort of -- the list of the nuclear facilities in North Korea, the list of North Korean nuclear sanctions and so on.
So there has to be some sort of a concrete evidence they are actually moving into this dismantlement program. Otherwise I think U.S. is on the right course and --
CHOI: -- state.
ALLEN: Yes, kind of a catch-22. They want that declaration now. The U.S. and its allies are saying no way until you make some concrete steps. Then there is that new independent report that came out this weekend, that indicates North Korea isn't making any moves in the right direction, flouting sanctions, continuing its nuclear ambitions.
So, with that news, where does that leave North Korea, trying to convince otherwise that it is cooperating?
CHOI: Well, North Korea has been doing this for the past 25-30 years. Here we go again. They have been coming out and made commitments and then they turn around and they do totally different things. So it remains to be seen.
That's why the experts in the U.S., experts in South Korea, who has been dealing with North Korea the past 30 years, they have been keep saying that --
CHOI: -- you have to see something with a concrete evidence that North Korea is actually moving into this nuclear dismantlement program procedure. Otherwise, you have to stay put.
And right now it seems like North Korea, they infused the dialogue with South Korean (INAUDIBLE). They are not even -- they didn't even have a formal talk with Secretary Pompeo and so on. All this indicates they are trying to push how far they can go and then when they're put in a corner, then they probably come out and say, OK, we will try to do something.
ALLEN: Kenneth, you've covered this for quite some time.
What do you make of the North Korea that we're dealing with now, is there anything new here?
Is there any serious, refreshing attitude that you can see from North Korea?
CHOI: Well, the only refreshing new attitude I see is that they are actually exchanging letters with the President of the United States. That's the only thing that is different from the past.
And in my opinion, you know, whatever they're doing, it is sort of inconceivable for them to give up nuclear program, unless they get their security guarantee.
But, again, as you said, it's catch-22. And North Korea has been violating all these things before. And we have seen all these.
And, you know, we believe that North Korea must come out with something different this time, other than last time, because President Trump is not a conventional American president. He's very unconventional and there are a lot of tactics that he can do with very unconventional manners.
So the time is not on North Korea, the time is on us. And I think North Korea should realize that, you know, even though it seems like President Trump is eyeing on the November election next year, but that's not really the time set for the North Koreans.
North Koreans, they have to come up with some sort of concrete plans to dismantle the program, relatively short period of time because, if they don't do it, the economy will be really going down the tubes.
ALLEN: They are dealing with an unconventional U.S. president, to be sure. So we'll continue to watch the dynamics play out and hope for the best there. Kenneth Choi, thank you so much for joining us.
CHOI: Thank you.
ALLEN: Israel's new law sparks massive protests in the streets from a minority group that is usually considered loyal to the state. We'll have a live report about it coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): For a seventh day, students take to the streets of Bangladesh, the protests beginning after a speeding bus ran into a group of teenagers last Sunday, killing two of them. Since then, students have blocked streets and brought traffic to a standstill in the capital, Dhaka.
They are demanding safer roads and a crackdown on unlicensed drivers and unregistered vehicles. Police fired tear gas and used batons to try and disperse the crowd Saturday. More than 2 dozen protesters were injured by police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Israel is facing its biggest backlash yet over a new law declaring the country a Jewish state. The Druze minority led a massive protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday, demanding that the law be rescinded. They say it downgrades them to second class citizens.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu denies the law infringes on their rights. Our Oren Liebermann joins us from Jerusalem.
What are their chances of convincing Mr. Netanyahu otherwise?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the weekly cabinet meeting he would appoint a special ministerial committee to find ways to work with the Druze community but he did not say he's willing to change the law itself.
He insists the law is important for future generations to ensure that Israel remains the home of the Jewish people. Now it's important here to clarify what the problem is that the Druze have with the law.
It is not that Israel is a Jewish state. They have supported that. They share or support the Zionist vision. Their issue is that the law makes no mention of minorities, the Druze, equality, democracy or minority rights.
And that's why they say they feel second class citizens and that is criticism we have heard from many, who have criticized this law as being. And some of the harshest criticism called this law a racist law.
What the Druze want is some sort of amendment to the law that acknowledges their commitment to the state and gives them equal rights specifically within the law. It is because they haven't had this yet that they organized one of the biggest protests, in fact, the biggest protest we have seen against the law.
Tens of thousands of protesters led by the Druze went to Tel Aviv Central's Rabin Square, holding mostly Israeli flags and the multicolored Druze flag, to express their anger against the law.
Whenever there was a point made by one of the speakers that the crowd agreed with, they would shout "equality," and that gives you a sense of how much anger there is and what specifically their anger is about. Now it wasn't just Druze protesting here. Israeli -- the Israeli
mayor of Tel Aviv said, and this is paraphrasing his quote, he said that, before this law, Israel was both a Jewish and a democratic state. Following this law, and again, I'm paraphrasing here, he said, Israel's citizens are not treated equally.
So that's the problem or what critics see as the problem with the law.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with leaders of the Druze community. He felt that he'd announce what he called a historic outlying for compromise. But in follow-up meetings with the Druze, those meetings fell apart, much of that anger still very much on display on Saturday night.
It is important to note that the Druze are only a small subset here, less than 150,000 Druze live in Israel. But they participate in every aspect of Israeli society, from the military to Israel's parliament. And they're supported from across the political spectrum here and that is why their protest here is so poignant.
ALLEN: We'll see where this leads, Oren Liebermann, thank you very much.
A red tide is poisoning Florida's Gulf Coast and killing thousands of marine animals. We'll tell you what authorities are trying to do to stop the deadly tide -- coming next here.
ALLEN: Going to the beach on Florida's West Coast is not very appealing these days. That is because a red tide has moved in. It smells horrible. It is making people sick and it's killing sea animals. CNN's Rosa Flores explains what it is and why it is so bad this year.
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A toxic algae bloom is encroaching on the beaches and marine life of southwestern Florida and it's being described as the longest running red tide outbreak since 2006.
So what is red tide? It's a harmful algae bloom. It happens when algae grows rapidly in the sea and in fresh water.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're on the inland side of Boca Grande now and it doesn't get any more sad than this. You've got probably a thousand pounds of manatees here, decomposing. FLORES (voice-over): The number of dead fish, manatees and sea turtles continues to climb as the red tide outbreak extends along the coastline. It's also killing sharks and other marine life.
The toxins on the shoreline can cause itchy eyes, coughing and respiratory problems in people who come in contact with the algae and make some shellfish unsafe to eat. The smell is so strong, locals say, it's simply unbearable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's raining right now and the stench is awful. Awful, awful, awful. Like, you can't breathe, you need a mask.
FLORES (voice-over): On Wednesday, Governor Rick Scott directed the state's environmental agency to give Lee County $700,000 to kill the algae and remove it from various areas in southwestern Florida. The money is part of an executive order issued last month.
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I still get frustrated with the federal government, that they have not been a great partner. Because, hopefully, if -- you know, if they had funded all the projects they should have been funding like the state has been doing over the last seven and a half years, some of these things might not have happened.
FLORES (voice-over): How long will this last?
Authorities say, in a case like this, which has already lasted more than nine months, it could go a year or more, making it very difficult to control -- Rosa Flores, CNN, Miami.
ALLEN: What a sad story there.
We're going to end with this one. We all deserve some pampering every once in a while. We have pampering for elephants for you.
Elephants in India's Kanha National Forest are spending seven days at a rejuvenation camp to help them stay fit and stress free. Look at that. They're given daily massages and healthy meals.
The spa treatment is designed to give the elephants a much-needed break from their daily chores, which includes patrolling the national park.
Don't they deserve it?
Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. For viewers in North America, "NEW DAY" is up next. For everyone else, stay with us for "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT." I'll be right back with the headlines. Thanks for watching.