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White House Counsel Cooperating Extensively with Russia Probe; India Flooding; North and South Koreans Arrive at Border to Reunite; Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Scandal; Trump versus Social Media; Google in China; The Legacy of Kofi Annan; Pregnant Nurses; Scientist Turns Avocado Seeds into Tableware. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 19, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A White House official is cooperating extensively with Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. The U.S. president says he allowed him to do it.
Plus, thousands of people are stranded or trapped by monsoon flooding in Southern India, many people left without food or water.
And later this hour, employees at Google are protesting their concerns about the tech giant's plans in China. I speak earlier with journalists who got access to their letter.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell, the CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: At 5:00 am here on the U.S. East Coast.
A key Trump White House official is said to be cooperating extensively with the special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation. In fact, he's been cooperating for the last nine months. And to what extent it is just now being revealed publicly.
According to "The New York Times," White House counsel Don McGahn has talked to investigators no less than 30 hours. And he's said to have given information that they wouldn't otherwise have.
The U.S. president insists in a tweet he let McGahn do it and allowed other staff members to fully cooperate with the special counsel.
"The Times" also reports McGahn feared being set up as the fall guy if any wrongdoing was found. And a source tells CNN the relationship between McGahn and the president is now akin to -- and I quote -- "an old married couple complaining about each other." President Trump's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, also reacting to it. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think the best -- the best analysis would be that the Mueller team is panicking. They know they don't have a case. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. They can't prove it and they are trying to get the president to testify.
And they're hoping that if they put out a story like this in which they suggest that McGahn is cooperating against them but don't say it, they don't say that, that he'll want to come in and explain himself.
Now the president wants to testify. The president wants to be open and transparent, otherwise he wouldn't have encouraged 30 witnesses including McGahn to testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Rudy Giuliani there, speaking on a conservative commentary show. Our Ryan Nobles is traveling with the president and picks up the story from here.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is reacting to the news that Don McGahn, the White House counsel, has sat down for a series of interviews with the special counsel, Robert Mueller, saying that it was his idea, that he had no problem with McGahn, doing so because he essentially has nothing to hide.
"The New York Times" reporting that McGahn spent more than 30 hours with the special counsel, revealing everything he knows about President Trump's role in their investigation and perhaps his attempts to obstruct justice, as they try and find out information as to whether or not the president's campaign was colluding with Russia during the 2016 campaign.
Make no mistake, there's a lot that Don McGahn knows about the last year and a half of the Trump administration. He was there during the leadup of the firing of FBI director James Comey, knows all about the president's comments and actions during that time.
He also knows about the president's obsession with putting loyalists in charge of the probe and of course he also knows about the president's at least thought processes related to perhaps firing the special counsel, Robert Mueller.
There was even a showdown between McGahn and the president, where he warned the president if he took that extraordinary action of firing Robert Mueller, that he was going to step down.
Now Don McGahn's attorney, William Burke, he is a personal attorney representing him, he put out a statement to CNN saying, quote, "President Trump through counsel declined to assert any privilege over McGahn's testimony. So Mr. McGahn answered the special counsel team's questions fulsomely and honestly as any person interviewed by federal investigators must."
And the president's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, also responding to this news, saying that McGahn was sanctioned to do it, that this was the legal team's idea and that the president had no problem with it because he, essentially, has nothing to hide.
And so both sides attempting to try and spin this to the benefit of their public relations plans.
But it's important to keep in mind, this story tells us more than anything that as much of the information that has come out about the Robert Mueller probe, there's still so much that we don't know about what Robert Mueller has uncovered -- Ryan Nobles, CNN, Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.
HOWELL: To talk more about this, let's bring in CNN legal analyst and attorney Areva Martin --
HOWELL: -- joining from Los Angeles via Skype.
Thank you so much for your time. The U.S. president has chimed in on Twitter, saying that he, quote, "allowed White House counsel Don McGahn and all other requested members of the staff to fully cooperate with the special counsel," adding, "In addition we readily gave over 1 million pages of documents, most transparent in history, no collusion, no obstruction. Witch hunt," the president says.
At face value, what do you make of this claim of full cooperation?
AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: One thing we know, George, is that the president's previous personal legal team were very much in favor of the president cooperating with the special counsel's investigation.
Their thought was, if the president cooperated that the special counsel could wrap the investigation up rather quickly. We see that hasn't happened. The president has changed lawyers, as it relates to his personal attorneys. He brought on Mr. Rudy Giuliani to lead up his personal legal team.
And we see Giuliani has a very different approach to the special counsel and the investigation.
And his approach has been to really play cat and mouse with the investigators as it relates to cooperating, particularly when it comes to the president actually sitting down and being interviewed by the special counsel. We've heard him say repeatedly on cable news that the president wants to sit down, that he plans to sit down.
But yet there doesn't seem to be any real intention by Giuliani and the new team's approach to cooperating with the special counsel.
HOWELL: Let's talk about the amount of time that Mr. McGahn spent cooperating. Three days, some 30 hours.
As an attorney yourself, what does this tell you? MARTIN: It tells me that McGahn has a lot of information. We know he has been involved with Trump in very serious meetings, conversations. He was a part of the Comey firing. He was apparently involved in conversations with Jeff Sessions, about him recusing himself from the Russia investigation, involved in conversations regarding the possible termination by the president of Rod Rosenstein.
So it says that McGahn has a lot to tell the special counsel. And the special counsel wanted to hear what McGahn had to say. So 30 hours is a substantial amount of time for someone to be interviewed by federal prosecutors. So is he apparently a pretty important and significant witness for the special counsel.
HOWELL: Areva, I have to ask you, do you see any similarities between McGahn and John Dean?
You'll remember that John Dean flipped on the former president, Richard Nixon, even spending time in prison but, in fact, is credited for exposing the Watergate scandal.
Do you see any similarities there?
MARTIN: Well, that's an interesting question, George. And John Dean himself weighed in, in an interview, where he said that, you know, he thought that there was some similarities and he encouraged McGahn to be truthful and to participate with the special counsel.
What we do know is that there are allegations that McGahn may be concerned about being blamed for the Comey firing and for other acts that the president has taken. And that's a part of why he went in to talk with the special counsel, is so that there would be no mistake about what his role and his involvement has been in some of these critical decisions that we know the special counsel is looking at.
So it may be that be Don McGahn has some critical information that could lead to impeachment or some kind of charges being brought by the special counsel that would make him a pretty good parallel to John Dean.
HOWELL: Areva Martin, we appreciate your time and perspective. Thank you.
MARTIN: Thanks, George.
HOWELL: And now to Southern India. Thousands of people there stranded or trapped, many waiting on their rooftops for help. In fact, it is the worst flooding to hit southern -- the southern state of Kerala in nearly a century. At least 345 people have died since the monsoon season started in May.
The prime minister of India, Narendra Modi, is promising to send more troops and more helicopters. And you can see in this video, soldiers have been dropping air packages from helicopters but it is an uphill battle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are trying rescue, initially, we are renting up (ph) people and right now we're supplying food and water supply to the people there. And as if you're seeing right now, there's difficult, water flow is very fast and very difficult and to go to toward that open area. (INAUDIBLE).
So we're trying our best to provide food and water to them so that they can at least survive until the water recedes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: But during this disaster, a show of national solidarity. Volunteers from several Indian provinces are stepping in --
HOWELL: -- to help, donating food, medical supplies and many other things to send to Kerala. We get more details now from Radhika Ramaswamy, from our affiliate, CNN News 18.
RADHIKA RAMASWAMY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kerala is witness to unprecedented floods this year, leading to loss of life and devastation. I'm in (INAUDIBLE) district, which is one of the worst affected districts in the state. I'm in a town called Fundulum (ph), which is completely inundated until yesterday.
In fact, the water was to the roof of all of these buildings. But now, as you can see, the water levels have receded.
In fact, rescue and relief operations were going on for the last couple of days and people have been evacuated from several buildings. In fact, people had been trapped in many buildings inside these violins (ph) as water got into their homes and they were seeking help.
And several people, several officials from the center, several agencies, be it the army, navy, all the India or even the local police officials and fishermen also were helping in the rescue operations and, therefore, thousands were rescued from here and taken to nearby relief centers.
In fact, this is the situation across Kerala. And several other districts, several agencies were helping in rescue and relief work. Most of the places were completely under water but now things are looking slightly better because the rains have subsided. The water levels have come down in most parts of Kerala.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Modi, in fact, visited the state and assured all the help possible for the state of Kerala and also has promised 500 krull (ph) for relief operations.
Now at this point water's really going to be a challenge for the state, is the epidemic, the outbreak of epidemic that will follow after the water levels recede. So that is going to be the next challenge that the state will have to deal with -- Radhika Ramaswamy, for CNN 18 News in India.
HOWELL: Radhika Ramaswamy, in reporting in the water there, she's done that for the last several days and it does give you a sense of how bad this is.
HOWELL: Now in Indonesia, an island there, we want to tell you about this earthquake that has struck again east of bail, not far from a volcano. This 6.3 earthquake rocked the island of lombah (ph) on Sunday. There was no tsunami warning issued in this case and there are no reports of casualties so far.
This is the same island that was hit by a powerful earthquake, that killed at least 436 people two weeks ago.
You're watching NEWSROOM. And still ahead, after decades apart, a few lucky South Koreans will get to reunite with their relatives in North Korea. But here's the thing --
HOWELL: -- only for a few days.
Plus, a sex abuse scandal in the United States rocks the Catholic Church. Many are waiting to see if the pope addresses it during his Sunday prayer.
CNN is live in Rome following the story. Stay with us.
HOWELL: Thousands of Venezuelans could soon be stranded after escaping a devastating economic and humanitarian crisis. Many of them escaping to countries further south in Latin America.
But Ecuador is now requiring a valid passport for Venezuelans to cross the border from Colombia. Peru is also starting to require passports next Saturday. Both countries say the requirement is needed for security purposes.
But getting a passport in Venezuela is an expensive process that can take more than a year and many there who are struggling to simply eat cannot afford to pay for a passport or even wait for one.
Near the border between South and North Korea, excitement is starting to build for several families. A select few are preparing for reunions with their relatives in North Korea set to happen Monday. The reunions will certainly be all too short.
Just 89 people are participating in this first round of meetings. Tens of thousands of families were separated by the Korean War and many have little or no contact since the fighting ended in 1953. CNN correspondent Paula Hancocks following the story from South Korea.
Paula, I know you've been speaking with people there. These rare and delicate few days ahead, certainly, emotions will be high.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. They are inside at this point, this hotel behind me. They're having a dinner before, first thing tomorrow morning, they'll wake up, get on buses and they'll drive across the DMZ into North Korea to a resort where these reunions are usually held.
Certainly there has been a huge amount of excitement here this evening, as these elderly people realize that they will be seeing their loved ones for the first time in decades.
Now, of course, it is very difficult for those who are not going to be selected; there's about 57,000 people who wanted to be part of this. Just 89 have been selected as there is a very small number that they are able to accommodate at each reunion.
And in fact, a tragic example of how time is running out --
HANCOCKS: -- for many, four of those, it was going to be 93, four had to drop out because of deteriorating health. So it really shows how important it is to have more reunions -- and quickly.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Lee Keum-soom is 92 years old. Oblivious to the crowds in the Seoul shopping center, she has an outfit to buy for a very special occasion. On Monday, Lee will meet her son for the first time in 68 years.
Lee and her husband were among many North Koreans who fled South as the Korean War took hold in 1950. She recalls walking for days, carrying her 1-year-old daughter, her husband carrying her son. She left the road to breastfeed her baby, slipped and sprained her ankle. When she returned, she couldn't find her husband.
LEE KEUM-SOOM, NORTH KOREAN REFUGEE: (Speaking foreign language)
HANCOCKS: As the fighting caught up with them, Lee had to take a train, then a ship and waited in South Korea for her husband and son to catch up. They never did.
LEE: (Speaking foreign language)
HANCOCKS: These reunions happen only when the relations between the two Koreas are good. The last one was three years ago. It is an emotional and highly-controlled three days at a mountain resort in North Korea.
LEE: (Speaking foreign language).
HANCOCKS: Jung Kea-hyun (ph) is still waiting. He's one of thousands who can only wonder if their chance will ever come. He's 85. His two brothers -- one older, one younger -- did not manage to escape the North during the war. He has heard nothing about them since.
JUNG KEA-HYUN, NORTH KOREAN REFUGEE: (Speaking foreign language).
HANCOCKS: Jung (ph) says even though he is bitterly disappointed not to be part of this round of the reunions, he does still have some hope that he could be part of a future session of reunions.
This is what the head of the Red Cross has been telling me. He has said it's important to have more reunions, to have more people within these reunions and he's negotiating with his North Korean counterparts to try to make that happen -- George.
HOWELL: Paula Hancocks following the story live in South Korea. Thank you, Paula.
As yet another clergy abuse scandal rocks the United States, the drumbeat for accountability, it is getting louder. And the one man who could make that happen, who could call for that accountability, the man you see right there, Pope Francis.
In the next 30 minutes he's set to deliver his Sunday angeles prayer. He's been under increasing pressure to address the newest allegations in a Pennsylvania grand jury report that details decades of sexual abuse by priests and cover-ups by bishops.
The Vatican has called the accusations, quote, "criminal and morally reprehensible."
Following this story live from Rome, CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau is here with a closer look.
Barbie, the pope has spoken out about the Genoa bridge collapse, he's been vocal there speaking about the lives lost.
The question now, will he speak about this?
BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, it's hard to say. We don't have any expectation that he's going to offer up any prayers for those victims of clerical sexual abuse. We expect him to address the Genoa bridge collapse again when he gives his angeles this morning.
But this is a moment that he gives a prayer, he addresses the people that have gathered in the crowd of St. Peter's Square that want a glimpse of him. So there really is no pressure on him to address it at this moment.
We can expect, though, that he will have more pressure when he goes to Ireland, that's going to be much more of an opportunity for him to speak --
NADEAU: -- about that. Today, within the half an hour or so, we'll know what his intentions are about today, George.
HOWELL: And let's talk about the people who will all come together in the square because it's important to note, are these people who will be clambering for some sort of a response for accountability?
NADEAU: The people who will gather today are devout Catholics on their way to mass or tourists who are trying to get a selfie in the square with the pope behind them, things like that. It's not going to be a group and a gathering of clerical sex abuse survivors. We don't see any indication that they're gathering there today.
But this message, the angeles, does go out to the world. The pope knows that it's not just those people in the square listening. So if he chooses to make some sort of statement to address this horrific sex abuse scandal in Pennsylvania, he knows that the world will be listening, George.
HOWELL: CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau following this story live in Rome. Thank you.
Now as the world waits to hear what the pope may or may not say in his address, one of the victims from the Pennsylvania abuse scandal has a message for him. He spoke to my colleague Ana Cabrera earlier. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN DELANEY, CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE SURVIVOR: The pope needs to step up and take control of his church because it's fairly obvious that the church is run by the College of Cardinals and the bishops.
He needs to step up and take control and tell these bishops to stop lobbying, stop moving these predators around. If you do with he will turn you over to law enforcement and you're gone.
They don't get it. They're not understanding the severity of this problem.
And you know, I read a statement somewhere else, that this abuse was decades ago. It was decades ago but for victims and survivors like me, it's fresh, it's every day. It resonates through my life every single day. This is not old to me. It's always new.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Delaney also tells CNN that he no longer attends the Catholic Church.
The U.S. president and the power of irony, slamming social media on, where else, Twitter. What the head of Twitter, though, has to say about that.
Plus, Google's slogan was, "Don't be evil." Now it's "Do the right thing," and its employees want to make sure it's doing just that, especially when it comes to AI and censorship. That story ahead. Stay with us. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. (MUSIC PLAYING)
HOWELL: Good morning from coast to coast across the United States and to our viewers around the world this hour, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.
HOWELL: The U.S. president turning to Twitter to rail against social media companies -- and you heard that right, the president is tweeting about that, in part.
He says, "Social media is totally discriminating against Republican and conservative voices speaking loudly and clearly for the Trump administration. We won't let that happen. They are closing down the opinions of many people on the Right while at the same time doing nothing to others."
Twitter did recently suspend far right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Among other things, he's claimed, falsely, the Sandy Hook School shooting is a hoax.
So does the president have a point?
And what about his tweets?
Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey sat down with my colleague Brian Stelter to set the record straight. Listen.
BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: You've been public about the policy about world leaders, keeping accounts up that otherwise might get suspended or blocked.
What would President Trump have to say on Twitter to get blocked?
JACK DORSEY, CEO, TWITTER: Stepping back, we think it's really important for the world to see how global leaders think and they act and they treat the people around them. We think that's important.
We think it's important to get into their minds and actually see how they think because it can be more predictive around how they're going to act in the future. It could be informative as to whether you should vote for them in the future or not.
STELTER: Take Trump out of it.
If a dictator called for a minority population to be killed, would you delete their account?
DORSEY: Anything that would incite violence or is illegal or against our terms of service, we're going to consider and consider taking action. But we have to take it in a context of where they are, of who they are, of the global conversation and whether it does serve the public conversation or whether it detracts from it.
HOWELL: Jack Dorsey there speaking with Brian Stelter.
Google is trying to reassure its employees that the company isn't compromising its values so the employees won't have to do so, either. This comes after more than a thousand workers are reportedly pushing back on the possibility that the company could launch a censored version of its search engine in China.
On Thursday, Google's CEO said the company isn't anywhere close to doing that but he admits they are exploring many options. Our Zain Asher explains.
ZAIN ASHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the bustling marketplace of the most populated country on Earth, U.S. tech giants are struggling to get in because working in China means playing by Chinese government rules.
But is Google ready to do that?
ASHER (voice-over): The company has been planning a censored version for China in order to capture a piece of the country's massive Internet audience.
LANCE ULANOFF, SOCIAL MEDIA AND TECH EXPERT: It's a very big market; 1.3 billion people there. They want these services, companies like Google, they want to get in there.
ASHER: Now Google's plans may be facing the biggest roadblock yet, a display of internal activism against the censored app that would reportedly block searches, websites and terms like human rights and religion.
According to "The New York Times," more than 1,000 Google employees signed a letter protesting the secret project referred to as Dragonfly. Dragonfly and Google's return to China raise urgent moral and ethical issues with a copy of the letter.
It goes on, appearing to demand more transparency. To make ethical choices, Google has needed to know what we're building. Right now we don't.
ULANOFF: The employees are basically saying, we don't want this; this is not how we want the company to work. It doesn't follow our beliefs, but these are businesses and you know Google is going to keep looking at China.
ASHER: Google's CEO tried to reassure employees at a town hall meeting. According to a source of knowledgeable conversation, he said, "We are not close to launching a search product in China and whether we could do so or could do so is all very unclear." Google declined to comment on the town hall meeting or the authenticity of the letter.
ULANOFF: Somebody, some whistleblower inside the company decided to put that out there and basically into the press which forced the CEO to respond. You know he was thinking about it but the time line is something that's not public. He's saying it's a long way off, he didn't say no.
ASHER: Google suspended its search launches in China in 2010 following a dispute between Beijing and Washington over hacking. At the time one of the company's co-founders reportedly objected to totalitarianism in the country.
Eight years later, jumping back into China made markets shift for the tech giant, which has long advocated a free and open market -- Zain Asher, CNN.
HOWELL: All right, Zain, thank you very much.
Up next, you'll hear from Caroline O'Donovan. She's a senior tech reporter for BuzzFeed and was the first journalist to get access to the letter signed by hundreds of Google employees, who are demanding transparency from the company's leadership.
In a recent interview with Caroline, she told me those employees have significant expectations. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROLINE O'DONOVAN, BUZZFEED: What was important to understand and what was interesting for me in reporting this story so far and learning more about the company is that Googlers have an unusual level of expectation compared to companies in general and also to other tech companies in Silicon Valley for transparency from their executives.
You'll hear the current CEO talk about that. It's baked into the culture. I think that's feeding into the current rancor that some employees are feeling inside the company.
HOWELL: You mention mentioned the Google CEO and you wrote in your article that he's always expressed interest in returning to China since pulling out for political reasons back in 2010. Clearly China is a big market for that company's growth.
But does Google change China and make it more open or does it simply aid censorship and social control by returning?
O'DONOVAN: I think that's something employees talk about in the company right now. There's an employee whose post I talked about in the article, who is from Beijing originally and said he felt it was naive to think that Google's technology or any American technology company would change the current political situation in China.
And there's other that feel if we enter the market there's a possibility we could do some good, that we could bring more information, there could be some kind of leverage in that situation for sure.
You're right, China's a giant market and Google's a company, it seeks profit naturally and I think that's something the company is thinking about. There are certainly plenty of employees who realize that and were not entirely surprised by Dragonfly.
While there are some who are upset about the project and demanding transparency, I think there are others who weren't surprised it was happening, especially given the comments the CEO has made publicly.
HOWELL: And again that was Caroline O'Donovan, senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed.
Kofi Annan wasn't without criticism or controversy. But the late former U.N. chief is being praised by world leaders as a champion for peace. How he is being honored.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.
World leaders past and present are remembering Kofi Annan. The former U.N. secretary-general died on Saturday. Kofi Annan was 80 years old.
U.S. president George W. Bush writes this, "Kofi was a gentle man and a tireless leader of the United Nations. His voice of experience will be missed around the world."
The president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, also praising Annan, saying this, "I sincerely admire his wisdom and courage and his ability to make balanced decisions, even in the most complicated and critical situations."
And the president of Annan's native Ghana issued this statement, saying, "Kofi Annan was the first from sub-Saharan Africa to occupy this exalted position. He brought considerable renown to our country by this position and through his conduct and comportment in the global arena."
It wasn't just dignitaries paying tribute. "Sesame Street" tweeted a clip of Annan visiting the kids on that show," along with its condolences, tweeting this, "We mourn the loss of Kofi Annan, a relentless champion for peace and a passionate ambassador for 'Sesame Street' and the world's children."
Here's a bit of Annan's "Sesame Street" appearance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOFI ANNAN, FORMER U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Is there a problem I can help you with?
ELMO, MUPPET: Well, that depends.
Who are you?
ANNAN: My name is Kofi Annan. I'm the secretary-general of the United Nations.
ELMO: Oh. I'm Elmo. And this is Lulu and this is Zoe and that's Grover and that's Telly. We are the general masters of "Sesame Street."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you got that right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And earlier I spoke with the current U.N. chief about the life and legacy of his predecessor. Antonio Guterres says Annan was a guiding force for good.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES: I met him for the first time when I was prime minister of Portugal and when I could witness his commitment and his success in contributing to solve the problem and to guarantee the self-determination and independence.
And I could see a fantastic diplomat and a man truly committed to values when those values were difficult --
GUTERRES: -- in the context of the environment, the international community at that moment.
And then I was honored when he invited me for High Commissioner for Refugees and I could tell you I could witness permanently from him guidance, solidarity, a very strong commitment to human rights, to humanitarian causes but also an enormous political understanding of the problems of the world and an extremely important contribution to solve those same problems and to avoid human suffering. He is, for me, a true inspiration. I do believe that we are feeling
an enormous loss, not only at the level of the United Nations, but as the international community as a whole.
One other thing if I may say, he was not only a statesman, he was not only a leader, he was a warm person that would support his friends, that would comfort them in difficult moments, that he could feel as a true colleague, a true friend. And this is something I will never forget.
HOWELL: Kofi Annan is survived by his wife and three children. Funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.
Tehran is not backing down in the face of renewed U.S. sanctions. The country's defense minister says it's already ready to reveal a new fighter jet. This video from last year shows some of the aircraft Iran already have in its arsenal.
The new jet's debut is set for Iran's Defense Industry Day, that's on Wednesday. The minister said in a TV interview, people will be able to see it, fly it and examine it. He added, Iran's defense priority is now to develop its missile program.
Iran's government is reacting harshly to renewed U.S. sanctions and so are everyday Iranians. They say the cost of food has gone up and simple things as car repairs, things like that, have become a luxury. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has a look now at how sanctions are hitting the middle class in Iran.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tehran stood proud for centuries but now life here changes by the week.
Everyone loves a Toyota until it breaks down. Yet renewed American sanctions on cars and their parts kicking in a week ago means that few can afford repairs. And spares are drying up, so they sit here for months.
WALSH: It's three times as expensive, so this is just in the last few months.
WALSH (voice-over): These would normally be full, the owner says. You never think a spark plug would become such valued currency.
WALSH: Donald Trump thinks that he is pushing the Iranian people to rise up against their government.
Do you think it's likely to happen, because of what's happening here?
WALSH (voice-over): No, he says, because the hungrier the people get, the more they are going to hate him. If Trump acted properly, people might even have liked him.
Behind every car is a family. And Debu Taraji (ph) is at the heart of the matter.
He can't afford the parts to repair his taxi, but hasn't stopped the monthly repayments on it. And that led to stark changes at home for Debu's family (ph), Arthen (ph), 7, and daughter Assal (ph), 13.
As the local currency also plunges in value, their fancy refrigerator in the plush, but tiny two-room apartment is suddenly empty. The price of an egg has doubled, he says, just like the price of fresh fruits, vegetables, milk is about 40 percent more expensive.
These are the middle class that Barack Obama wanted to win over by lifting sanctions under the nuclear deal, but onto whom Donald Trump wants to pile pressure, hoping to force political change.
Yet instead it's Arthen's (ph) English lessons that may go first and perhaps Assal's (ph) tutor and then perhaps even the family home will go on the market. The U.S. says Iran's government, not its people, are the target, but it's far more personal and painful here -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Tehran, Iran.
HOWELL: Not one baby, not two but 16. That's right, 16 nurses at the same hospital now have something very special in common.
Some are wondering, is there something in the water?
HOWELL: The Russian president Vladimir Putin was on his way to meet Germany's chancellor on Saturday, when he took a side trip to attend the wedding of Austria's foreign minister.
They danced like old friends. The cheerful scenes come amid heightened tensions between Russia and Western Europe. Critics say the invitation to Mr. Putin minimizes the West's stance against Moscow.
They're famous and engaged and now it's Instagram official, Priyanka Chopra, actress and former Ms. World, showed off her new fiance, musician, Nick Jonas. She posted the photo after their engagement ceremony in India, with both families in attendance.
And Jonas posted his own tribute, saying, quote, "Future Ms. Jonas, my heart, my love."
So you can put the rumors aside now, it is Instagram confirmed.
A baby boom at an Arizona hospital and it is not in the maternity ward. Max Gordon with CNN's affiliate KPHO has more.
MAX GORDON, KPHO (voice-over): It wasn't like they planned it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wondering what's in the water?
GORDON (voice-over): And they sure weren't counting on this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One after another after another after another.
GORDON (voice-over): Sixteen intensive care unit nurses at Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa, all pregnant at the same time. The boon of burgeoning bellies has increased trips to the cafeteria.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sample, you know, soups, making sure they taste all right.
GORDON (voice-over): And it has some patients a little confused.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's like, are you all pregnant?
GORDON (voice-over): Though there are a few limitations to the cases these nurses can now treat...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Certain infections and then also chemotherapy drugs can be very toxic to the fetus.
GORDON (voice-over): -- but don't fear, a maternity-leave --
GORDON (voice-over): -- induced nurse shortage isn't on the way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've been planning for this for months.
GORDON (voice-over): It's left some of these nurses learning a lesson.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You find out how supportive your coworkers are of you and your management team. So it's been a good experience.
HOWELL: All right. People around the world love avocados but they do many different things. They can be food, they can be sushi and tacos, smoothies, toast, many things, desserts. Maybe you have a favorite but maybe you didn't think of this avocado concoction as biodegradable plastic.
A company in Mexico has started turning avocado seeds into straws and cutlery.
The chemical engineer who developed the idea says it cuts down waste, it also means, get this, this might be a little freaky here, but you can eat an avocado with an avocado. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): About 300,000 tons of avocado seeds are wasted in Mexico alone per year. It was something that was not used before Biophase, so basically we transform waste into a green product. And that is how Biophase got started.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Got to love the avocado.
Thank you so much for being with us. For CNN NEWSROOM this hour, I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. For our viewers here in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For our viewers around the world, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is next. Thanks for watching CNN, the world's news leader.