Return to Transcripts main page


Political Feud; Brexit Battle; Europe Decides; Julian Assange Charged Under U.S. Espionage Act; Chaos and Destruction After Tornadoes; Dangerous Weather; Botswana Answers Its Critics. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 02:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The quote from the president: "She has lost it." Mr. Trump is insulting top Democratic leaders going as far as calling Nancy Pelosi "crazy."

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, the heartbreaking devastation in the state of Missouri. Homes are destroyed there and people are missing after tornadoes ripped through this U.S. state.

ALLEN: Also this hour, a famous photographer spying to show how beautiful oceans are and the creatures in them so the world will be inspired to save them. We will speak with him about his stunning work and why are oceans so critical to our existence later this hour.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. "CNN Newsroom" starts right now.

ALLEN: Our top story is from Washington where the heat is on, even hotter, for the U.S. president. It started out as an event to announce billions of dollars in aid to American farmers hurt by his trade war with China. But things went south for Donald Trump when reporters started asking questions.

HOWELL: His focus was on his Democratic rival, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and there were plenty of insults as our Jim Acosta explained.



JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trading barbs with his chief Democratic nemesis, President Trump took a swipe at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying she can't comprehend the U.S. trade deal with Mexico and Canada, now pending before Congress.

TRUMP: She's a mess. Look, let's face it, she doesn't understand it. ACOSTA (voice-over): The president then got even more personal, relitigating his confrontation one day early with Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, complete with schoolyard nicknames.

TRUMP: I was extremely calm. I was probably even more so in that room. So I walked into the cabinet room. You had the group, crying Chuck, crazy Nancy. I tell you what, I've been watching her and I have been watching her for long period of time. She's not the same person. She's lost it.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The verbal tussling comes one day after the president lashed out in the Rose Garden, a performance Democrats derided as another Trump temper tantrum.

TRUMP: I don't do cover-ups.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Pelosi appears to have gotten under Mr. Trump's skin, referring to the two Is, impeachment.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): There's no question, the White House is just crying out for impeachment.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And intervention, a new Pelosi trigger word.

PELOSI: I pray for the president of the United States. I wish that his family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president turned to his own aides to back him up. One after one, top officials were called on by the president to reassure the public, Mr. Trump was calm at his meeting with Democrats.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kellyanne is right, he was very calm.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Very calm and straightforward and clear.

TRUMP: I'm an extremely stable genius.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president said he is not goading Pelosi to impeaching him.

TRUMP: I don't think anybody wants to be impeached.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The White House is accusing Democrats of being more interested in investigation than legislation.

SANDERS: I think it's a complete lie that Democrats and Congress think they can do two things at once. So far, we haven't seen him do anything. Nancy Pelosi has had the majority in the House for months and is yet to accomplish a single thing. They literally haven't gotten anything done since she's taken over. ACOSTA (voice-over): But that's not true. The House has so far passed dozens of bills, including legislation aimed at gun control and climate change. And just today, lawmakers announced a multibillion dollar disaster relief package that should make its way through both the House and the Senate and be signed by Mr. Trump in the coming days.

(on camera): As for the president's fight with Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker responded with a tweet saying, "When the extremely stable, genius starts acting more presidential, I would be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.


HOWELL: Let's talk about this now with Peter Mathews. Peter is a political analyst and professor of political science at Cypress College, joining us this hour from Los Angeles. It is good to have you with us, Peter.


HOWELL: So despite the insults from President Trump, the House speaker, Pelosi, is saying that she is concerned about the president's health and well-being, saying that she prays for him and hopes for an intervention. The president again is calling her crazy and suggesting somehow that she is unhinged. And we are hearing some of the same attack rhetoric used against Hillary Clinton regarding her health. What do you make of this?

MATHEWS: I think it's a tragic comedy. It is horrible to people looking at this and saying, you know, what is happening to the U.S. government. There are so many issues that need to be addressed like immigration and national security and budget. Those things are not going to be addressed very well in this kind of acrimonious behavior that continues between the two top leaders of the country.

[02:05:03] And I believe it is mostly Mr. Trump's fault. I mean, he has obstructed justice in so many ways. He prevented Don McGahn from testifying. He subpoenaed to go against it. This is all unconstitutional behavior. Nancy Pelosi says the president looks like he is trying to cover it up. Why would he stop McGahn from testifying?

If he was trying to cover something up, it has to do a lot with the fact that he tried to get McGahn to dismiss Mr. Mueller, to get Mr. Mueller dismissed from his position as special counsel. At the same time that he got Mr. McGhan earlier would suggest that -- Mr. Sessions, he contacted Sessions, said that he should recuse himself, I should say should unrecuse himself, he could actually take charge of the investigation in favor of Mr. Trump.

After all those actions, it looks like obstruction of justice, and I think it's very important the president is being very defensive based on that. HOWELL: So, you said the president being defensive here, so what is the end game for President Trump? What is the end game for Nancy Pelosi here?

MATHEWS: It looks like there is a lot of pressure right now to actually begin impeachment inquiry, not the impeachment itself but inquiry to start getting information as to whether we need to impeach or not. That's a lot of pressure for not just freshmen House Democrats or progressives but also some centrist Democrats as well. We got names like Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters. We got mid-western people from (INAUDIBLE), those kinds of Congress people across the country.

About 35 of them said it is time to begin inquiry investigation towards impeachment and that is to be done quickly. So I think the pressure on Nancy Pelosi is to move forward and not to hold back on this. We have to see how that goes. The president himself is going to be under investigation in tremendous ways right now.

HOWELL: Democrats though are facing a dilemma here, Peter. So, does it come down to that old adage of being able to walk and chew gum? Is there a sense that they can focus on the important issues that matter on mainstream keeping in mind there is an election just around the corner while also keeping up pressure on oversight and investigations at the executive branch? Which is going to be more important for them? What should they focus on?

MATHEWS: Not only can they actually do that, walk and chew gum, meaning do both, but they had the duty to both because the constitution requires that the House has to be the grand jury to investigate with probable cause in any kind of high crimes or misdemeanors, et cetera. If the president has committed this, they have to investigate.

So, they have to do that. That is a constitutional question about whether or not they believe in the U.S. constitutional framework of democracy and accountability. If they don't do that, they are actually neglecting their own duty and the people will actually -- eventually, when American people find out more about it, they will turn against the House for neglecting their duty.

Don't forget, when President Nixon was under investigation, many Republicans changed their mind. Once investigation began, information started coming out. This could happen. Nancy Pelosi shouldn't shrink from the investigation saying, well, the Republicans in the Senate will not convict him so we really can't start it. They shouldn't be such political calculations, George. The stakes are very high here for American constitutional framework.

HOWELL: Despite the fact that the Senate is controlled by Republicans, the House is still under pressure to try to get things done. We know that the House has pushed forward legislation but never really passed the House. How important is that for them to show that there is activity, that they are pushing forward the agenda of the American people?

MATHEWS: It is very important. That is why they put health care at their top list and they put the economy and infrastructure. And so they are showing that they can actually do policy, but at the same time, they have a constitutional duty to follow up on whether or not there have been high crimes or misdemeanors committed here, obstruction of justice would be one of those, and whether the president should be investigated further toward impeachment.

It is important that they perform that duty. Otherwise, people will see that they are neglecting it and will backfire in that regard. So, it's very interesting to see the dilemma right now for Nancy Pelosi. But the government has to act in the right way based on the constitution and that is where this comes in my view.

HOWELL: Peter Mathews, thank you so much.

MATHEWS: My pleasure, George. Thank you.

ALLEN: We turn now to the U.K. where Prime Minister Theresa May is barely holding on. We have been saying that a long time but it's really at the critical point now. A fourth vote on her unpopular Brexit bill was delayed as calls for her resignation grow louder.

HOWELL: And in the coming hours, she is to have an important meeting about her future. CNN's Nina dos Santos has this.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just days after unveiling a new version of her unpopular withdrawal agreement bill, Theresa May, the British prime minister, once more had to go back went back to the drawing board and that means that MPs are going to be voting for a fourth time on her Brexit plan on June the third as planned.

Well, one of the reasons why there is so much confusion is also the fact that her own leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, a prominent Brexiteer voice within the cabinet, decided to resign, saying she couldn't put forward a new version of the bill that she fundamentally disagreed with.

[02:09:57] And that of course has turned into jeopardy once more Theresa May's own position as prime minister and her popularity within the conservative party. She is set to meet with the chairman of an influential committee of backbenchers who has swayed over whether or not she could be the prime minister.

She has already faced the vote of no confidence from that committee over the last 12 months. And according to party rules, she should be safe at least until December. But as we have seen so often throughout the course of this three-year battle for the British government to deliver Brexit, nothing it seems is sure.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


HOWELL: Day two of the European Parliament election is underway. Polls are now open in Ireland and they are set to open in Czech Republic in the coming hours.

ALLEN: Voters in the Netherlands and U.K. cast their ballot Thursday. Over four days, 28 countries are electing 751 parliament members that will shape the European Union's focus for the next five years.


HOWELL: CNN's Erin McLaughlin has more now from Brussels.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm restricted in terms of what I can tell you about these European elections because reporting restrictions are in place as well as campaigning has stopped in order to prevent any sort of undue influence on any voting currently taking place.

On Thursday, two E.U. member states went to the polls. The United Kingdom was 73 seats up for grabs and the Netherlands with 26 seats up for grabs. The number of seats allocated to each state depends on population size.

Lots of questions here about what will happen to the U.K. seats in the event that the United Kingdom should Brexit following the elections, and we are told that some of those seats will be allocated to other member states, for example, Spain and France will both gain five seats. Ireland, for example, will gain two seats.

But the size of parliament itself will contract from 751 seats to 705 seats. This is the second largest Democratic election in the world, the only transnational election in the world. Most of the member states will go to the polls on Sunday, and we expect results Sunday evening.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.


ALLEN: A new indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has raised major questions about press freedom in the United States.

HOWELL: The U.S. has charged Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act, accusing him of disclosing secret government information. Prosecutors say the safety of confidential sources was placed in jeopardy. But supporters argue the charges are an attack on journalism. Our Laura Jarrett has this.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: We had seen a single charge of computer intrusion late last month but now 17 charges are much more significant and really a big deal here for First Amendment advocates and a concern here because he is being charged with unlawfully obtaining, soliciting, encouraging that former intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning, with obtaining just a bevy of national defense materials. He has been charged with publishing those materials. And so the Justice Department asked today, what's the difference between Julian Assange and journalist like you and I? They said, let's be clear, Julian Assange is no journalist. Another Justice official said he is not being charged simply because he is a publisher.

What they are pointing to is not only the fact that Assange allegedly helped Manning crack into the Department of Defense password but also the fact that he published confidential human sources, the names of human sources which put them in danger, and he knew that publishing would put them in danger. He solicited those materials on WikiLeaks. That is what they are pointing to which makes this case different.


HOWELL: Laura Jarrett reporting there. WikiLeaks did respond to the indictment. The group tweeted, "This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the First Amendment."

ALLEN: We turn next to the violent weather marching across the United States, leaving a trail of debris. That is what is left after tornadoes whipped through many states. Ahead, the latest from one of the worst hit areas.

HOWELL: Plus, Botswana fights back. The African nation is responding to criticism of its decision to lift the ban on the hunting of wildlife.


HOWELL: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." Parts of the Central United States have been devastated after violent storms ripped through that part of the country. Officials in Oklahoma, for instance, they say that flooding killed at least one person. Some areas of the state got more than 25 centimeters of rain in the last three days.

ALLEN: On Thursday, major roads were shut down when two barges -- look at this -- broke loose on the bloated Arkansas River. They crashed into a dam before sinking. The extreme weather is part of a storm system that has caused at least 29 tornadoes since Wednesday. One twister hit the capital of Missouri with maximum winds of 257 kilometers per hour and at least three people died.

HOWELL: Joining now to talk more about this is Jenna Kieser. Jenna is a professional photographer with the Jefferson City News Tribune, joining us this hour in Columbia, Missouri. Jenna, you got a chance to see first-hand the devastation from these storms. What did you see?

JENNA KIESER, PHOTOGRAPHER, JEFFERSON CITY NEWS TRIBUNE: I got there this morning around 10 a.m. I went through the neighborhoods. It was just so much more destruction than I thought I would see. There were houses with roofs that were just completely torn off. One building, the entire front side of the house was gone. You could see inside the rooms. The power lines were down all over the place. Trees, debris, windows shattered. It was a lot more extensive than I expected it to be. HOWELL: Jenna, we are looking at areas right now taken of the aftermath of the storm. That is the damage but you have to keep in mind that there are many families, right, that live in these homes that are destroyed. What is happening with those families right now?

KIESER: I believe a lot of them are able to get shelter. I went over to one of the shelters today. It was good to see that a lot of them were able to get taken care there. When I was over at some of the houses, a lot of them were trying to gather as much as they could from their houses to pack and up and go somewhere else.

Some had family members coming to town to kind of help them out. But it was a little bit chaotic because everybody is trying to figure out what they're going to do and where they're going to go.

HOWELL: What did you hear from people who survived these storms? Did you get a sense that people had enough time to take shelter and to get out of the way as the storms came in?

KIESER: Overwhelmingly a lot of them told me that it just happened so quick. One moment, you know, you hear the storm sirens and, you know, you don't think that a tornado is going to hit your home. Then all of a sudden, it just comes at you so quick. That was something that the majority of the families I spoke with said to me, yeah.

[02:20:04] HOWELL: And then, you know, again, looking at the devastation, Jenna, any sense of how long you think it might take to recover from something as catastrophic as this?

KIESER: I have no idea. I've never experienced anything like this. It was something that a lot of people said, that you never think it is going to happen to you until it does. And you just kind of build together as a community from the ground up. So, I have no idea how long it will take but hopefully with the way that the community comes together, it won't take too long.

HOWELL: Jenna, it was a few days ago at this point that the anniversary of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. I remember being out there covering that and talking to people, getting a sense of how devastating it was when a tornado hit, and then the long amount of time that it took to recover.

Clearly, people here in Jefferson City may face the same situation. But again, you know, from what you saw and what we are seeing, this storm hit and it hit hard. Jenna Kieser, thank you again for your time.

KIESER: Thank you.

ALLEN: Those pictures are just unbelievable.

HOWELL: Yeah, they are.

ALLEN: Picture after picture and yet -- that was the picture that I was most looking at right there. Derek Van Dam joins us now with more about it. It just keeps going on and on. Hopefully this is coming to an end at some point, Derek.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Unfortunately, not today or tomorrow. There is more severe weather. I'll talk about that in just a second. But you spoke about recovery time. I mean, you just can't clean something like this up quickly, right? Overturned four by four laying on top of what was probably a house or a business before.

It is the National Weather Service's job now to go and assess to see how strong this particular tornado was. They did a very extensive damage overview across the Jefferson region area. They laid out the track on Google Earth and we've loaded up on to our system here. It shows you the exact path where the damage took place. The actual Jefferson tornado which occurred about 24 hours ago went over a pretty rural area.

But we were watching this, my producer and I, on our computers screens, noticing it moved into a more populated area and then eventually basically into the downtown region of Jefferson City. Scary, terrifying, almost helpless moments as our meteorologists and our producers here are watching this unfold in front of you.

This tornado was on the ground for over 30 kilometers. It was -- get this -- almost one and a half kilometers wide, so you can imagine the amount of destruction that that could potentially do with winds, by the way, at its top most speed, were nearly 260 kilometers per hour, so a large swath of severe weather activity yesterday. There are still more to come.

I want you to see some of the tornadoes that occur across Oklahoma because we have more videos to show you. This is coming from more of a broader perspective of a very rural part of the Oklahoma panhandle, but you can see another wedge tornado. Remember, wedge tornado is a tornado that is wider than it is tall, so that has the potential for serious damage.

But I talked about the potential for more severe weather today. I will show you exactly where we are expecting that to occur in just one moment. You will be able to see that we are really starting to see this huge increase in our tornado frequency. Just in the month of May when we typically see about 260 tornadoes, we already had 287, so well surpassing our average monthly tornado frequency.

And so for the entire year if you tallied it all up, we are at 115 percent above average. Here is the severe weather outlook today. The Great Lakes all the way to the Texas and Oklahoma panhandle once again. So places like Chicago, Oklahoma City, Midland. Here is something different for you. We zoomed in on the areas that have highest probability of tornado development on Friday afternoon and that is very highly populated area, being Chicago and Illinois.

So, something we will keep a close eye on. You can see them really just flaring up as the daytime heat and the sun helped fuel the atmosphere. It gives us the necessary ingredients for super strong (ph) thunderstorms to develop.

On top of that, we have been dealing with flooding. We have a higher risk of flash flooding across the nation's heartland, once again in areas that already been struck by more -- by flooding already this year. So devastation after devastation it seems, right, Natalie, George?

ALLEN: How much more can they take? My goodness, they --


ALLEN: -- certainly want the month of May, the tornado month, to pass on I'm sure.

VAN DAM: We want the season to leave. Then it's hurricane season, unfortunately.

HOWELL: Yeah, Derek, right around the corner. Derek Van Dam, thank you.


ALLEN: The government of Botswana is hitting back at critics at its plan to lift a ban on hunting. Environmental groups are particularly angry about allowing the hunting and killing of elephants.

HOWELL: The government says it is necessary to ease the conflict between humans and elephants. And the environment minister insists their responsibility towards conservation has not changed. He spoke with my colleague Becky Anderson.


[02:25:01] KITSO MOKAILA, MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENT, WILDLIFE AND TOURISM (voice-over): The issue is about the range of elephants expanding in Botswana. What I want to make clear, Becky, is this: When we introduce hunting, it is not about reducing numbers of elephants, it is a management tool. That is why (ph) we've been hunting over all of these years.

So I think that there is misconception that we are going to be going all out to kill elephants to reduce their number. That is not the objective. Our --

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): But sir, you must understand that this -- hunting of elephants to so many people around the world is a blood sport.

MOKAILA (voice-over): I don't know why -- where they live. I know where I live, in Republic of Botswana. We lived with these elephants since I was born. We found them here. We allowed them to grow. I think the question, Becky, you should be asking is, why has Botswana been such a success -- and not just in Botswana and our neighboring countries -- why are elephants blossoming in Southern Africa? Why are they diminishing in other parts of the continent? That is the issue that we are talking about.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Let's talk then. Let's talk. You'd be happy to see the numbers dramatically reduced? In our CNN reporting, David McKenzie -- hang on, sir. Hang on, sir. So you're telling me that this rule has nothing to do with the numbers, are you?

MOKAILA (voice-over): We -- in your research, you are sharing about the intelligence of elephants. Our intention is not to reduce numbers. Ours is to ensure they don't encroach on people, which is what the issue is. We lost lives in Botswana, many lives, as a result of the expanding range of elephants. There is no anger. Botswana has lived with them all this time. That is what you have to understand.

ANDERSON (voice-over): So you're gonna give out about 400 licenses a year to tourists?

MOKAILA (voice-over): Not in the history of this country have we ever given out those 400 licensees. Even in 2014, when hunting (INAUDIBLE) was on before the suspension, we never issued that amount.

ANDERSON (voice-over): Right.

MOKAILA (voice-over): It is scientific that we will never issue that amount. It is a misrepresentation of what we are doing. The narrative out there is wrong and therefore it needs to be corrected. We are not culling. Government has not accepted culling. We are not going to be issuing more than the 400. We have never been come close to that figure.


ALLEN: Trying to understand what Botswana is doing and why. Botswana is home to 130,000 elephants, about a third of the continent's population. A leading conservation group classifies of course the African elephant as vulnerable.

HOWELL: (INAUDIBLE) Becky to push on the issue there. Still ahead, 600 billion votes later. The world's largest democracy decides it is quite happy with its prime minister and gives him another five years in power. There is a live report from New Delhi ahead.

ALLEN: Plus, Palestinians are leery about the U.S. plan to promote investment in their economy. We take you to the West Bank and tell you why there is so much doubt about it.


[02:30:44] HOWELL: What you're dealing here Natalie with George impression is quite impressive. Welcome back to viewers all around the world, you're watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I am George Howell.

ALLEN: What we do during commercials. We do impressions. Oh, I'm Natalie Allen let's get you updated on our top stories. Donald Trump's stepping up his attacks on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling her quote, crazy and a mess. On Thursday, Pelosi said the White House is crying out for impeachment, she urged Mr. Trump's family and staff to stage an intervention for the good of the country.

HOWELL: The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May is barely holding on to her leadership. In the coming hours, she is set to have a meeting about her future with the leader of an influential conservative group. This comes after a fourth vote on her unpopular Brexit bill was delayed, again, calls for her resignation continue to go louder.

ALLEN: The U.S. has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act. Prosecutors say he disclose secret government information and jeopardize the safety of confidential sources. But, press freedom advocates argue, the charges are an attack on journalism.

HOWELL: India's national election has delivered a resounding victory for the Prime Minister of the nation Narendra Modi. The first votes were cast six weeks ago and since then, about 600 million people went to the polls. And it now appears Mr. Modi's party, the BJP has easily surpassed the 272 seats needed for a majority in parliament.

ALLEN: The final tally has still not been announced but one it is, the BJP might claim 300 seats or more. It is a clear sign most Indian voters want Mr. Modi and his pro Hindu message to lead India for the next five years.

Let's go to our Sam Kiley, he is live for us in New Delhi, he's been covering the vote count for us. A big win for Mr. Modi, Sam. And now, he did not deliver on some promises when he won in 2014. What will be expected of him now?


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Natalie I think that all depends on which side of the camp you sit in and at the moment, given the scale of Mr. Modi's electoral alliance victory which will take him over 350 seats with his BJP Party and others. That gives -- he has unassailable dominance in parliament and clearly a ringing endorsement from a huge majority of Indians who are quite happy with the direction that he set which at the moment is firmly Hindu nationalists.

Now, that may not be the direction he chooses because there are a lot of economic problems that India's facing. But none the less, it is this trajectory towards populism and nationalism which is concerning a lot of more liberal elements here in this country as my reports show.

An historic victory and even landslide for the Hindu nationalists, Bharatiya Janata Party. Narendra Modi now set for a second five year term as Prime Minister of the world's biggest democracy.

NARENDRA MODI, PRIME MINISTER OF INDIA (through translator): You have seen it from 2014 to 2019. The people who used to talk about Secularism have now gone quiet. In this election, not one political party has been able to deceive the people of India by winning the level of Secularism.

KILEY: Some 600 million people voted over a five week period in 542 constituencies.

The number of journalists here outside the BJP Party headquarters actually higher than the numbers of people celebrating the Modi victory. Perhaps, because it was seen, that the incumbent Prime Minister's victory would be a forgone conclusion. His challenge now is to unite a country that is increasingly divided.

His popularity falling six months ago, Modi regained the political initiative in February when he ordered airstrikes against alleged terrorist camps inside Pakistan. In retaliation for an Islamists attack on Indian forces in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

[02:35:08] KILEY: Since then, his ignored economic issues in favor of projecting himself as India's tough guy, chowkidar, the watchman. Now, India's 200 million Muslims who probably flooded to the secular Indian Congress party have a dwindling voice as the Congress barely survived as a credible opposition.

YAMINI AIYAR, POLITICAL ANALYST: Forces have been unleashed and these forces are most certainly going to at any rate pursue the majority and agenda in our polity and in our society.

KILEY: Reelected on a populist platform, Modi's natural allies around the world were quick to congratulate him. First was Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, then Russia's Vladimir Putin.

Old enemy Pakistan meanwhile, seemed almost a vindicate support from Modi. Launching a Shaheen-II missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead 2,000 kilometers in a training exercise.

Now, Natalie and George, that is where it stands at the moment but it is inconceivable from the opposition perspective that perhaps now that Mr. Modi is in such unassailable position. He might be feel confident and empowered to address the very severe economic problems that his nation now faces.


ALLEN: Millions and hundreds of millions of people have spoken. We'll see what's next. Sam Kiley for us, Sam thanks so much.

You can go to our website as always to read more about Prime Minister Modi's victory including why some minorities in India are concerned. Of course, that's

HOWELL: Palestinian politicians and businessmen have voice their concerns about a U.S. plan to hold an international workshop to promote investment in their economy.

ALLEN: The proposal comes as the economy there is struggling. But as CNN'S Hadas Gold report people in the West Bank are still not sold on the idea.


HADAS GOLD, CNN'S MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: It's a busy time for many observant Muslims with Ramadan well underway and the celebratory Ed Festival quickly approaching. But in Bethlehem in the West Bank, it's a different story. Typically during Ramadan this market would be bustling full of people

doing shopping for gifts and food. But compared to previous years, this market is half empty.

The main reason, three months ago Israel begun withholding about $11 million a month from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians. The same amount the Palestinian authority hands out to the families of people captured or killed carrying out attacks on Israelis.

The Palestinian authority even cut its employee salaries in half after deciding it wouldn't accept any of the tax funds transferred from Israel, Recon to be around $190 million a month according to Reuters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We are not getting full salaries. What we get is already spent by the beginning of Ramadan. We are waiting for the next salary now. Life is getting more expensive and money is decreasing every month. There is no balance in life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I've been working here for 40 years. In previous years the economic situation was better, but for more than three months now people are not getting their full salaries. In addition to the siege that Israel is imposing on us. Altogether it affects us.

GOLD: But despite the economic hardships, few people here want to participate in the first part of the Trump Administration's Mid-East peace plan, an economic work shop next month in Bahrain. Palestinian political and business leaders say they won't attend the conference about investing in the community without the political conversation over things like borders, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

The Palestinian authority hasn't had official relations with the United States since President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017.

IBRAHIM BAHRAM, CHAIRMAN, SAFAD ENGINEERING AND ELECTRONICS: They say that it's an economical one and it's going to help the Palestinian economy. But, unfortunately it's not true, it's a pure political confidence, it's related to the Palestinian cause and they are trying to bypass our main issues.

GOLD: Sliman Mukarker produces performances for restaurants for people break the fest. But this year he says, because of the economic situation, the restaurants are empty. And he's already had four last minute cancellations. Still, Sliman agrees with those refusing to attend the economic workshop.

SLIMAN MUKARKER, PRODUCTION MANAGER: I think Trump should care about the U.S. It's not his business to interfere with the Palestinian issue. We could decide what we want as Palestinians.

GOLD: In addition to the cut in salaries, Sliman said Palestinians were saving their money weary of what will happen politically after Ramadan ends. MUKAKER: Me as a youth, I am really disappointed. I feel that this

is a lot of pressure on everyone. So, for the near and for the future, I hope that we can really live as we deserve.

GOLD: A muted Ramadan for Palestinians, who seem unconvinced that the peace and prosperity being touted by the United States are really on offer at all. Hadas Gold, CNN, Bethlehem.


ALLEN: Next we turn to the planets oceans which are under attack from plastics and sewage and much more. But a fame photographer hopes his pictures will inspire people to take action and save the seas. We'll speak with him next and you'll see his photos.

HOWELL: Plus, same sex couples in Taiwan are taking advantage of the new Marriage Quality Act. Why the rest of Asia is watching closely.


[02:43:17] ALLEN: Mexican photographer Christian Vizl hopes his new book highlighting the beauty of the oceans will encourage people to do more to save more our oceans. Despite endless stories as you know, and pictures about garbage patches and sea creatures choke by plastic. He points out that human consumption is only increasing, Vizl.

HOWELL: It's just amazing and you look at these images Natalie, just incredible images of Vizl traveled the world to collect these images. The images of sea turtles, crocodiles, whale sharks all threatened by humans from agricultural runoff, sewage, coastal development and garbage.

ALLEN: His book is called Silent Kingdom, A World Beneath the Waves. Photographer Christian Vizl joins us now from Mexico City. And we really appreciate your time in talking with this. How are you doing Christian?

CHRISTIAN VIZL, PHOTOGRAPHER: Hi Natalie. Fine thank you very much. Thank you for the invitation.

ALLEN: Absolutely, because we really want to get your pictures but let's set it out first, you grew up loving the ocean and so many of us do, we take it for granted, we take walking on the beach for granted. But you said you've never imagined during your lifetime that humans might be killing the oceans. They are in grave danger, talk about how important oceans are, first of all to our existence?

VIZL: Yes, they are the most important thing for our life is the ocean, because our life literally depends on the health of the oceans and sadly we are actually killing it.

ALLEN: Right.

VIZL: Yes.

ALLEN: There's overfishing, pollution, plastics, radiation, climate change its identification and other human pressures --

VIZL: Exactly.

ALLEN: -- that threat the nature of the ocean and our animals of course being pushed to near extinction. And you've witnessed many of these changes. You've seen things firsthand that we haven't seen. Give us some examples?

[02:45:00] VIZL: Yes, everywhere I go and I go to a lot of local fishermens, consistently they all say it doesn't matter what part in the world that they're having trouble to get their own livelihood. Not to catch enough even to sustain their own lives. And I see plastic everywhere I go. Of course and everybody of course near the ocean can see that and testify about that.

And I see dead corals everywhere. I mean, a place where it was dying since I was a teenager. And a couple of years ago in 2016, I came down and soon as I see all the corals wide and they were widing and of course that made me cry on the water. And I couldn't believe it you know, because it's not only that the corals are dead, also all the life that sustained -- that was sustained by that coral reef (INAUDIBLE).

I see hooks in animals all the time, in sharks and fishes. I've seen sea lions entangled by plastic and I've seen all kinds of problems and I really try to get them because I love so much the ocean and I understand how important it is for my own life, for my own livelihood on this planet.

And yes, definitely weekdays it's a time you know, that we need to change our own consumption patterns and start having a more sustainable life.

ALLEN: Yes, but I think I also read that consumption is expected to increase and even our -- yes, we're still overfishing in some areas and we're still producing more and more garbage and plastic. So, even though there are cleanups, that's just a little band-aid to the fact that we keep producing it and it winds up in our oceans.

VIZL: Yes, the plastic is one of the biggest problems in the ocean. And there was a story by -- and also overfishing, we were talking earlier about overfishing. And for example in 2006, there was a study published by the United Nations, and it stated that if we continue at the same rate of consumption, by 2048, the oceans will be empty or flat or big lack. And that's just around the corner.

And from 2006 since today, the problem is that the consumption has not decreased it has increased. So, all of the big species of fishes out in the sea, right now they are running on very, very low population. We have killed almost 90 percent of the populations of the majority of big fishes. And in some cases it's even worse like the bluefin tuna that it's only a few left and it's a tragedy. That our consumption is ever increasing.

ALLEN: And you know, it's one thing to talk about problems Christian, it's another thing to show it and that's why people like you that bring us these beautiful pictures of life in the ocean and how precious it is is so important. Because I always say to people, you can talk about things and forever but until the people see it or feel it, they just don't react.

And I was touch that you quote famed oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle, someone that I was able to go diving with once the historian. And there's a quote from her about why are oceans are so important. Can you share that?

VIZL: Yes, no blue, no green. Yes because we hear a lot about the problems on earth and there are many and we need to address them as well. But the key to life in all the planet is the ocean.

ALLEN: No blue, no green. And it's in our power to reverse the situation so --

VIZL: It is.

ALLEN: -- we certainly appreciate your work and your book is called Silent Kingdom : A World Beneath the Waves. Christian Vizl, thank you for your commitment and for helping us all with this issue. Thank you so much.

VIZL: Thank you very much for this opportunity.

ALLEN: Sure thing.

HOWELL: You just hope -- you know, these pictures, these images draw a person in to realize the beauty and then realize what's happening and then realize they can do something and try to stop it.

ALLEN: All right. Well, look at the one picture of that turtle with the straw and now restaurants are banning straws. So, we just all have to kind of pull together and hopefully somehow we can do that.

HOWELL: Absolutely, hopefully.

Two climbers died on the world's tallest mountain just hours after they reached that victoriously dangerous peek.

ALLEN: Mount Everest has been so packed with climbers taking advantage of good weather, this is the time when they climb that. That it's called astonishing calls -- astonishing traffic jams like this of people. The climber who took this photo estimated 320 people were on the mountain.

[02:35:00] HOWELL: A 55-year-old woman from India had just celebrated her successful climb but her son said she died after getting stuck in the crowds on the way down.

A 54-year-old American also died after suffering apparent oxygen deprivation.

Taiwan is setting a president for the rest of Asia, legalizing and now performing same sex marriage. But amid the celebrations, they're getting pushed back, that story ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: This is one of the first gay couples in all of Asia to be legally wed. Dozens of LGBTQ couples are getting married in Taiwan. This is a week after its groundbreaking Marriage Equality bill that was approved today.

ALLEN: Activists hope Taiwan's new law will spark change across the whole continent. Although some countries are rolling back gay rights currently.

HOWELL: Our Matt Rivers has this report.


MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Flash bulbs in history in Taiwan. For the first time, same sex marriage is legal here. Kristin Huang and Amber Huang were among the first to take advantage.


KRISTIN HUANG, NEWLYWED: I'm very happy to share this glad to everyone and to the world. And because I feel very proud of Taiwan.


RIVERS: The pair of 24 year olds were among the few dozen to pack this registration office Friday morning, joining hundreds of the other couples across the island to tie the knot.

Taiwan's legislature passed the law last week. Nearly two years after the Island's constitutional court ruled that the existing law which define marriage as between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. Longtime activists Chi Chia-wei brought the case, the court ultimately ruled on it.


CHI CHIA-WEI, EQUAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST (through translator): Have faith in love which is a powerful thing. Love allows gay people to support and encourage each other before achieving the ideal.


RIVERS: A joyous day for many but not for all.


SUN CHI-CHENG, SAME SEX MARRIAGE OPPONENT (through translator): People will remember this darkest day in Taiwan's history of democracy.


RIVERS: Sun Chi-cheng opposes same sex marriage and plans to run in next year's legislative elections. He points to a referendum last November where 67 percent of Taiwan voters voted against legalization. But lawmakers bound to the courts anyway last week and according to Sun, silenced the people's will.


CHI-CHENG (through translator): People in Taiwan are not only betrayed but are being played with their rights to being abused.


RIVERS: For newlyweds Amber and Kristin who have a popular YouTube channel where they focus on their lives and on LGBTQ issues. It's now about convincing those who remains skeptical.


HUANG (through translator): We all know that even though the bills have been passed, this won't be the end of the fight. There are still room for more dialogues to come.


RIVERS: After our interview like any newlyweds might, they brought out the wedding albums. Smiles, white dresses, the whole thing. And like any good YouTuber, they film the events too.

But all that didn't legally mean anything until Friday. Thanks to a piece of paper that proclaim them wife and wife.


HOWELL: This history though in the making there, of course Matt Rivers reporting for us.

ALLEN: Well, 60 new satellites are now on orbit around earth.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one, zero, ignition lift off.


[02:50:00] ALLEN: Do you ever get tired of that George?

HOWELL: No, I never did.

ALLEN: The part of the starling program in SpaceX carried along by a Falcon 9 rocket that launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, Thursday.

HOWELL: The satellites were designed to be cheap broadband internet all over the planet. Starlink will eventually put thousands of them into orbit to serve a big part of the world that is not yet alive. Estimated price tag of $10 billion.

ALLEN: All of that so we can have Wi-Fi, yes.

HOWELL: That's good news for us.

ALLEN: One of Italy's most famous art exhibitions was apparently crashed by one of the world's most elusive artists.

A video posted by Banksy's Instagram account shows a series of paintings in Venice during the arch show known as the -- excuse me I don't know to say this, Biennale.

HOWELL: Biennale, sounds about right to me.

ALLEN: I hope so.

ALLEN: The works named Venice in Oil, depict a cruise ship dominating the cities Grand Canal. A possible reference to the crash of visitors to the tourist Mecca.

HOWELL: A man whose face is obscured as shown unveiling the paintings until police moving away. Banksy's posts complain that he's never been invited to the Biennale but the secretive artist may have left his mark elsewhere there in Venice. A mural in his style showing a child holding a pink flare appeared on wall.

ALLEN: A very, very busy and yet elusive Banksy.

HOWELL: How he does it or she does it? Who knows?

ALLEN: I don't know or they or it.

HOWELL: Or it.

ALLEN: It's always interesting.

We've got another hour, we're going to get back right to our top stories in just a moment. Thanks for watching this hour, I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues right here on CNN right after the break.


HOWELL: The British Prime Minister is trying to hang on. Theresa May facing her toughest battle yet she prepares to meet the future to decide what happens with her role.

ALLEN: Meantime in India, Narendra Modi is celebrating as he wins another five years in power with a historic majority.

HOWELL: And for the first time ever, same sex couples