Return to Transcripts main page


Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wins a Second Term; Theresa May's Political Career Soon to End; Julian Assange's Happy Days is Over; Kenya's High Court Weighs Whether to Overturn a Colonial Era Law; President Trump and Nancy Pelosi's Feud Frustrates Americans; U.K. Prime Minister Facing Pressure To Resign; India's Prime Minister Modi Wins Second Term In A Landslide; WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Charged Under U.S. Espionage Act; Dangerous Weather; Venezuela In Crisis; Same Sex Weddings Begin In Taiwan; Silent Kingdom, A World Beneath The Waves. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: -- in India Narendra Modi is celebrating as he wins another five years in power with a historic majority.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And for the first time ever, same sex couples can get married in Taiwan. We'll show you the historic weddings that are happening there.

Welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. And this is CNN Newsroom.

HOWELL: The end maybe near for Theresa May. Her premiership hangs in the balance as Brexit absolved into further chaos. A fourth vote on her wildly unpopular Brexit bill is no longer scheduled for June 3rd. It comes after prominent conservative a senior cabinet member resigned because she opposes the deal.

ALLEN: In the upcoming hours, Mrs. May is to meet with Graham Brady who heads an influential conservative committee likely to discuss her future. But the U.K. foreign secretary says the prime minister is not going anywhere just yet. He says she'll still be in office during U.S. President Donald Trump state visit in June.


JEREMY HUNT, U.K. FOREIGN MINISTER: Theresa May will be prime minister to welcome him and rightly so. And we are absolutely at one with the United States on the threat of cyber.


ALLEN: All right. So that visit aside, let's talk about Theresa May future beyond Mr. Trump's visit with Phil Black. He is outside 10 Downing Street. You know, for many, many months, Phil, many have counted her out but she is held in but is this perhaps the beginning of the end? PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it could indeed be, Natalie.

You're right. This could be a day often predictable, a day long thoughtful by many members of Theresa May's own conservative party. The day where she finally concedes that she must leave office soon.

That is very much the expectation here that finally, Theresa May will announce her timetable for leaving office.

We already knew she was going to do this but not till next month. So why are we here? Well, it does finally appear that she has run out of options. She had acknowledged that she would set this timetable for leaving office next month. As I say, she wanted to take one more crack at passing a Brexit withdrawal bill through parliaments in the first week of June.

But the compromises that see suggested is part of this latest attempt to get through the House of Commons where they simply inspire revolt, even discussed among her own conservative backbenchers. It was clear within their own cabinet that it simply didn't have the support.

And so, with this attempt to getting it through parliament dead before it even gets there. Her reason for hanging on has simply disappeared. And so, today, as you mentioned Theresa May is expected to meet with the most senior of the conservative back benchers. The purpose of that meeting is to discuss her future.

Because quite simply, it will be put to her that if she doesn't concede that she will be leaving office very soon. The party will take steps to force her out.

And so, there's a great deal of speculation today in the British media about just how quickly this could happen and what the timetable could be. There seems to be something of a public consensus in terms of speculation anyway, that she would formally leave office around June the 10th.

That's significant because it means that she will remain prime minister not just through these coming weeks but through the few days when President Donald Trump will be here visiting and conducting a state visit.

Then once that business is out of the way, she would formally step aside the conservative party could get down to the job of choosing its new leader who will of course then become the next British prime minister. Natalie?

ALLEN: Right. So, with the sea change at the top after all of the Brexit turmoil. What does that mean to the Brexit process?

BLACK: Well, I think the expectation is that her successor will be someone who is a hardline Brexiter. Someone who want to take a very strong line in pursuing a very clean break with the European Union. Those hard-core Brexiteers where they have certainly been the great thorn in Theresa May side as she has for the past three years very painfully work through this Brexit process. And now it seems finally acknowledging that she is going to get to it

without a result. The party is likely to replace her with someone who is going to pursue a very hard line but that does not necessarily mean that a new leader is going to have any greater success.

Because the European Union's views are pretty clear. They're not likely to deviate greatly. And so, they've indicated in terms of what they are prepared to give. And the new leader is going to inherit the same divided parliament which has been unable to coalesce around a majority view on just what Brexit to look like.

[03:04:54] But it is possible that this new leader will be more willing to pursue the no deal scenario. Something that parliament as a majority has already rejected. Which means that what you are looking at is not just greater political uncertainty in this country but a potential for greater political conflict in the coming weeks and months as well. Natalie?

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely, no one really knows where this is heading but, and no one knows maybe the legacy of Theresa May other than she was a workhorse and she fought for what she tried to do.

All right. Thanks so much. Phil Black for us at 10 Downing Street. We'll speak with you again as this moves on.

HOWELL: Day two of the European parliament election is underway. The polls are open in Ireland right now and they are set to open in the Czech Republic in the coming hours. Voters in the Netherlands and U.K. cast their ballots on Thursday.

ALLEN: Over four days, 28 countries are electing 751 parliament members who will shape the European Union's focus for the next five years.

And a programming note for you. Join CNN Sunday night as the European election results starts to take shape. Our special coverage hosted by Hala Gorani kicks off at 9 p.m. in Brussels, 7 o'clock in London.

HOWELL: Also, elections in India the Prime Minister Narendra Modi easily won his second five-year term in national elections there. Six weeks after the first votes were cast it now appears Mr. Modi's party, the BJP has surpassed the 272 seats needed for a majority in parliament.

ALLEN: The final tally still has not been announced; you think they have a lot of votes to tally up.

HOWELL: They do.

ALLEN: Hundreds of millions. But when did is the BJP might claim 300 seats or more?

HOWELL: CNN's Nikhil Kumar is following the story in New Delhi. Nikhil, what were those issues that made people so overwhelmingly supportive of Modi and his party? NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, I think, George,

looking back at this election campaign that just ended, you know, the whole run up to it and the many, many weeks over which have involved.

The one thing that's really striking is the way Narendra Modi very successfully managed to turn what's the parliamentary contests model in the Westminster system in the U.K. He managed to turn that into a presidential style contest, the U.S. style contest, but even more than that actually he managed to turn it into a referendum on himself. He made it all about are you for Modi or against Modi.

And he made promises to people that look, I am the only one who can protect the country. I'm the only one who can deliver the economic aspirations of India's many, many young people. And put your trust in me because I'm a clean leader, I have honest intentions and I will work for you.

And even though many things that he had promised in 2014, even though many people say that on numerous fronts from the economy to society at large, he hasn't delivered. In fact, in some cases things have gotten worse. Joblessness for young people, for example.

There are lots of indication out there that it's worsened in certain parts of the country on his watch but he said that look, I need more time and put your faith in me because I do have honest intentions and I will deliver if you give me a mandate.

And people responded. There was nobody on the opposition side who had a counter argument, there was no counter personality and Indians clearly plunge (Ph) for him. George?

HOWELL: And Nikhil, what does this mean for the future of secularism? And does Modi have the ability to unite the country?

KUMAR: I think that's a very important question because again, looking back at the campaign and contrasting it with the 2014 campaign which first delivered Narendra Modi's national office.

Back then, as I said the promises were principally about the economy, about Modi presenting himself as some sort of economic messiah who would usher in a kind of economic renaissance fixing many of the problems that people have been pointing out with this country for many, many years. From getting rid of red tape to generating more jobs, and so on.

This time the campaign was one, a very much focused on the prime minister personality and on the fact that the prime minister comes from the Hindu right-wing, that he's an ardent Hindu nationalist.

And you know, one thing that many people highlighted was the choice that the BJP made when it nominated a very controversial candidate in central India. A lady called Pragya Singh Thakur who actually won her seat who is facing terrorism charges currently in Indian courts connected to bombing attacks for Muslims several years ago.

She denies the charges. The BJP rubbishes the case. But it underlined that the BJP, you know, back in 2014, people said they were dog whistling to their hard-line Hindu base. This time those were not dog whistling, you know. Those were the bold one, effectively.

And people responded to that and it made, you know, it made his supporters bolder but it made a lot of minorities in this country. This is a very diverse country with a long history of sectarian violence. There are around 200 million Muslims among other minorities, it made them very nervous.

It made Indian liberals who worried about the erosion of the country's secular foundations. Something that they said as held the country together despite its diversity since independence in 1947.

[03:09:58] It made all of them very, very nervous. And they are very concerned now that he's come back to power with this renewed mandate and it doesn't matter how conciliatory he may be in office.

They worry that this sort of victory of this magnitude will not only embolden the more hardline elements in that movement and that that could spell trouble for, as I said, India's secular foundation. George?

HOWELL: You say for some the dog whistle is gone. Nikhil Kumar following the story for us live in New Delhi. Nikhil, thank you.

And of course, you could go to our web site, you can read much more about the Prime Minister Modi's victory there including why some minorities, as we pointed out in India are concerned. All of this here at

ALLEN: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces a new indictment. Raising major questions about press freedom in America.

HOWELL: The United States has charge 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 according to his supporters, that's the thing that is really in jeopardy, really, it's journalism.

Our Laura Jarrett explains.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We had seen a single charge of computer intrusion late last month but

now, 17 new charges much more significant and really -- really, a big deal here for a first amendment advocates.

And the concern here because he's being charged with unlawfully obtaining, soliciting, and encouraging that former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning with obtaining of just a bevy of national defense materials and he's been charged with publishing those materials.

And so, the Justice Department asked today what's the difference between Julian Assange and journalists like you and I? And they said let's be clear, Julian Assange is no journalist. Another justice official said he is not being charged simply because he's a publisher. And what -- a publisher.

And 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 and that's what they're playing to which makes his case different.

HOWELL: And again, that was our Laura Jarrett reporting for us. WikiLeaks did respond to the indictment. The group tweeted quote, "This is madness, it is the end of national security, journalism and the first amendment."

ALLEN: In the coming hours, Kenya's high court will decide whether to decriminalize same sex relationships. Right now, a colonial era law says gay relationships are a felony, punishable by 14 years in prison time.

HOWELL: The court was due to make a ruling in February but they said they needed more time. If the ban is overturned, it will be a major step for all of East Africa.

ALLEN: Let's talk about it with our Farai Sevenzo, joining us now live in Nairobi. Farai, always good to see you. Certainly, this would be a step forward for human rights. And for more people a significant step if this were to happen?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If it were to happen, Natalie, you're absolutely right. It would be a massive step for human rights, for gay rights, indeed. I mean, as you say there in your introduction. It is a colonial era law. It is article 162 of the Penal Code of Kenya. That's been around since the British took over here back in 1898.

And then, of course, from 1928 it was called the Kenya colony. And for all that time this article 162 which refers to are natural offenses as always been in the penal code.

Now, Kenya's dilemma is very, very simple. It is a deeply religious and deeply conservative country, despite the modernity you see all around you, despite it's being a secular state people are not quite ready to move on from that law.

In fact, the people we spoke to in our research for the story they were all saying that look, 80 percent of us are Christians. The religion forbids us to do this. Yes, we got rid of other colonial laws like racism, like land (AUDIO GAP).

ALLEN: I hate that. We just lost Farai. All right. OK. We got him back. Let's let him continue. Farai, sorry. We missed you but if you could just pick up. SEVENZO: We're just picking up, Natalie. (Technical difficulty) it is

possible, that it will go against many people are saying fluctuations (Ph) because these delays where analysts say were not by accident, the delay of the judgment or whether to legalize gay sex itself were not by accident.

But if it does happen that this is overturned that it will be a miracle indeed. Because if you look at in the region in Sudan in Uganda. The whole idea of just being homosexual is heavily (Inaudible).

[03:14:59] But Kenya has a more liberal kind of attitude to sex. And if you go around Nairobi everybody is kind of free and expresses themselves. Now everyone can wear what they want but it's this idea of same sex relationships that really sort of sticks in their throat.

But of course, what's going to happen? Today, Natalie, one lawyer told me as a trial lawyer, he says that there is no case that is too strong that is going to be lost. No case that is too weak that it can -- it cannot win.

So, both sides of the divide that gay rights activists those people who don't want this law to be overturned because they fear gay pride marches into Nairobi. They fear people asking for adoption they fear that these rights should extend to people who consider themselves homosexual would be a bad thing for Kenya's cultural norms.

It's a fascinating set up. Around about 2.30 local time we understand that the judges will finally give their verdict on whether people of same sex relationships can continue in their relationship in the privacy of their own homes without them actually breaking the law. Natalie.

ALLEN: Wouldn't that be nice? All right. We know you are going to be covering it for us. It will be decided and we'll get back to you. Very interesting. Farai Sevenzo for us. Thank you.

HOWELL: All right. And still ahead, the U.S. president breaks out some new insults for the top Democrat in Congress Nancy Pelosi. What she's doing that seem to be getting under his skin.

ALLEN: Also, CNN is on the scene as the top U.S. officials visits the border with Mexico. And there's one crew that Trump administration says can no longer enter the country.


ALLEN: It's come to this U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi highly regarded by Democrats in Washington is riding the elevator to the top of Trump tower pushing every button along the way. And Donald Trump is taking the bait.

HOWELL: The Democratic Congress says the White House is crying out for impeachment. It's her second day of attacks on the president after he walked out of a White House meeting on Wednesday, then she accused him of engaging in a cover-up. And now this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[03:19:56] NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Again, 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.

The president's behavior in terms of his obstruction of justice, the things that he is doing, it's very clear, it's in plain sight, it cannot be denied, ignoring subpoenas, obstruction of justice. Yes, these could be impeachable offenses.

And I do think that impeachment is a very divisive place to go in our country. And what we can get the facts to the American people to our investigation it may take us to a place that is unavoidable in terms of impeachment or not. But we're not at that place.


ALLEN: So, Pelosi being straightforward on her thoughts there and she is getting other the president's skin at a meeting to announce billions in new aids to farmers Thursday. Mr. Trump couldn't help firing up his insult machine.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crazy Nancy, I'll tell you what, I've been watching her and I have -- I have been watching her for a long period of time. She is not the same person, she's lost it. Pelosi does not understand the bill. She doesn't understand it.

I don't think she's capable right now of understanding it. I think she's got a lot of problems. They sort of feel she's disintegrating before their eyes. You know, she's a mess.

Look, let's face it. When I watch Nancy, all moving, the movement in the hands and the craziness and I watch it. That's by the way a person that got some problems. I'm an extremely stable genius.


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


HOWELL: So, despite the insults from President Trump the House Speaker Pelosi is saying that she is concern about the president's health and wellbeing, saying that she prays for him and hopes for an intervention.

The president again calling her crazy and suggesting somehow that she is unhinged. And we're hearing 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's horrible to people to be

looking at this and saying, you know, what's 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 if this kind of acrimonious behavior continues between the two top leaders of the country.

And I believe it's mostly Mr. Trump's fault. I mean, he obstructed justice in so many ways. He's prevented Don McGahn from testifying and again with a subpoena to go against it. That's all unconstitutional behavior. And then Nancy Pelosi says that the president looks like he's trying to cover up.

Why would he stop McGahn from testifying if he wasn't trying to cover something up. And 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 prosecutor -- as special counsel.

At the same time, that he got Mr. McGahn earlier with suggesting that Mr. Sessions, he contact Sessions, he said that he should recused himself and say, should unrecuse himself so he could actually take charge of the investigation in favor of Mr. Trump.

After all that action it looks like obstruction of justice and I think it's very important that the president is being very defensive based on that.

HOWELL: So, you say the president is being defensive here, so what is the endgame for President Trump? What is the endgame 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, you know, get information as to whether we need to impeach or not. And that's a lot of pressure from not just freshmen House Democrats or progressive but also from centrist, some centrist Democrats as well.

That we got names like Ted Lieu, Maxine Waters. We've got midwestern people from the Marcia Fudge. Those kinds of Congress people across the country. About 35 of them have said it's time to begin inquiry investigation toward impeachment and that it has to be done quickly.

So, I think the pressure on Nancy Pelosi to move forward and not to hold back on this and we'll have to see how that goes. The president has to under -- himself going to be under investigation in tremendous ways right now.

HOWELL: All right. Democrats though, 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 to the executive branch. Which is going to be more important for them, which do they focused on?

MATHEWS: Not only can they actually do that walk and chew gum, meaning do both, but how to do it both. Because the Constitution requires that the House has to be -- is the grand jury to investigate with probable cause in any kind of malfeasance, high crimes or misdemeanors, et cetera. If the president has committed that they have to investigate.

So, they have to do that. It's a constitutional question about whether or not they believe in the U.S. constitutional framework of democracy and accountability. If they don't that, they're actually neglecting their own duty.

And the people will actually, eventually, what American people will find out more about it they'll turn against the House from neglecting their duty.

[03:24:56] And don't forget when President Nixon was under investigation, many Republicans change their mind once the investigation has begun and information start coming out. This could happen.

And I think Nancy Pelosi shouldn't shrink from the investigation saying while the Republicans in the Senate will not convict him so we really can't start it.

There shouldn't be such a political calculation, George. The stakes are very high here for the American constitutional framework.

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

MATHEWS: It is very important. That's why they put healthcare 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's been high crimes and misdemeanors committed here or obstruction of justice which is one of those, and whether the president should be investigated further toward impeachment.

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

HOWELL: Peter Mathews, thank you so much.

MATHEWS: My pleasure, George. Thank you.

ALLEN: The acting homeland security secretary faces tough questions after a sixth migrant child died in U.S. custody since President Trump took office. It happened in September, yet it was only reported now. HOWELL: And the man in charge of Customs and Border Protection

avoided questions as he visited the U.S. border with Mexico.

Our Nick Valencia has this.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exclusive new video shows Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner John Sanders in the back of this black SUV as he arrive at the border today. He shied away from CNN's cameras and decline an interview as he is and his team were given a tour.

Sanders was on scene as this large group of migrants was processed by border patrol, many of them teenage boys, likely unaware that mere hours beforehand in Washington the acting homeland security secretary told Congress there is no more room for them.


KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: HHS does not have enough funding for bed space for teenage males and that's the main arriving unaccompanied child right now.


VALENCIA: Sanders visit comes as the deaths of both the 16-year-old- boy and a 10-year- old girl in U.S. custody make headlines this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The teen was found unresponsive Monday morning at a Texas border patrol station just one week after arriving from Guatemala.


MCALEENAN: He was both screened and offered medical care and we're going to look forward to the findings of the inspector general to see if we could do better.


VALENCIA: The 10-year-old girl passed away in September according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But her death was not made public until after CBS News reported it Wednesday night.

The department spokesperson says she had a history of congenital heart defects when she arrived in San Antonio last March. She was transferred to a nursing facility in Phoenix and then again to a children's hospital in Omaha where she died on September 29th.


PELOSI: In the 10 years before there's not a single child died in the custody of the border patrol -- at the border. Now, six children have died in the last several months.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VALENCIA: This woman from Honduras told us migrants are not battling the elements on the journey but also illnesses, noting sickness spreads quickly in large groups.

HOWELL: Our Nick Valencia there reporting. Nick, thank you.

ALLEN: Disgrace movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has reached a financial settlement to resolve civil litigations stemming from his alleged sexual abuse. A source tells CNN the propose deal gives $30 million dollars to alleged victims, creditors, and former Weinstein company employees. Fourteen million is for legal fees.

HOWELL: A judge still has to approve it. Dozens of women have come forward accusing Weinstein of sexual assault dating back decades. The criminal case against Weinstein is scheduled to start in September.

ALLEN: Next here, a deadly tornado carves a destructive path through the State of Missouri. Just one of dozens to hit in the last 24 hours.

HOWELL: Plus, an armed militia roams the streets of Venezuela. Their goal? Keep the president in power by any means necessary. You'll hear from the group's leader.


ALLEN: Welcome back, you're watching, you're watching CNN Newsroom. Thanks for being with us. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following for you this hour. The Prime Minister of the U.K., Theresa May, is barely holding to her leadership. She is set to meet with the leader of an influential conservative group about her future, all of this coming after a fourth vote on her unpopular Brexit deal was delayed. The calls for her resignation continue to grow.

ALLEN: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has won a second five-year term in India's huge national election. About 600 million voters cast ballots on what was largely considered referendum on Mr. Modi's leadership. His party might claim 300 feet or more when the final tally is announced.

HOWELL: United States has charged WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange with 17 counts under the espionage act. Past prosecutors say that he disclosed secret government information that placed the safety of confidential sources in jeopardy. But advocates argue that the charges are an attack on free speech.

ALLEN: Parts of the U.S. are devastated, we've been talking about it for days, because it's gone on and on for days. Violent storms and tornadoes, ripping through the region.

HOWELL: That's right. One tornado that went right through the capital of the state of Missouri. CNN's Omar Jimenez checks out the damage in Jefferson City.


and tornadoes that tore through the Midwest. Missouri hit hard with devastation scattered across the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were storms everywhere last night.

JIMENEZ: From Golden City to its capital Jefferson City. One tornado on the ground for miles threw debris thousands of feet in the air.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sounded exactly how you picture those kind a like a train, you don't expect it, it just came within seconds. We barely made into the bathroom.

JIMENEZ: the state waking up to battered communities, at least three people were killed and dozens injured across Missouri.

MARY RODGERS, TORNADO SURVIVOR: It's terrible. It's destroyed, it's not home anymore. I really don't know how to describe it. It's just depressing, it's severely depressing.

MAYOR CARRIE TERGIN, JEFFERSON CITY, MISSOURI: We were already prepared somewhat, but we are definitely not prepared for this.

JIMENEZ: Rescue crews are searching the damage and neighbors are pitching in to help in the aftermath.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We found (Inaudible), we are trying to get him out.

JIMENEZ: This man helping to rescue a neighbors trapped cat. Jefferson City's mayor reiterating that the devastation could have been worse.

TERGIN: We are very, very thankful that it happened at night when most people were likely, you know, at home and they heard the outdoor warning sirens and they took heed of the warnings.

JIMENEZ: And Missouri, just one state in the region hard-hit not only by 171 reported tornadoes in a matter of days, but also by high level flooding in recent weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are still in flood stage, all of our state, we are still have water coming up from the north up there. We are concerned about that.

JIMENEZ: Homes in Oklahoma also underwater. Residence evacuated ahead of the rising water, some who thought they could ride out cresting rivers rescued. Officials preparing in case of threaten dam also fails.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The biggest concern it's more rain. I mean, there is more rain in the forecast for north Tulsa.

[03:35:02] JIMENEZ: Two barges broke free along the Arkansas River, crashing into another dam and sinking soon after. The chaos and destruction still ongoing, as residents wait to see what will be left of their homes and communities.


HOWELL: Those images are just --

ALLEN: Those homes aren't going to make it, doesn't look like it.

HOWELL: Yes, devastating. That was Omar Jimenez reporting there for us. And now let's bring in our meteorologist Derek Van Dam in the International Weather Center. Derek, also seeing those barges in the river crashing against the dam, wow.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, that was a slow motion disaster, we were watching that too, there was a livestream on Facebook that we kept on checking in on because the barges just got stuck downstream for a while, but it was inevitable they are going to be broken free, and eventually hit that dam. So, glad to see that the dam never collapse ultimately.

But, we were talking about recovery time for this folks. This is going to be weeks. So, take a look at this photo. And this is just one of many photos that we have at CNN of the damage. We've seen the visuals, we've seen the aerials, but this is an entirely flipped over, turnover SUV, or four by four on top of what used to be a business or home. I mean, we are going to talk about days and days of cleanup, if not weeks.

And the National Weather Service has a very difficult job to go and assess the severity of this particular tornado that went through Jefferson City, the capital of Missouri, just about 24 hours ago. They did a very efficient job at it, and a very thorough job as well. What they did was they overlaid it on Google Earth, you can see the path going through a very rural part of Missouri, but it did not take long for that tornado to eventually enter a very populated area.

Remember Jefferson City has a population of about 43,000 people, the tornado was on the ground for, get this, about 25 minutes, but it was the duration and also the length. We are talking about 30 kilometers or more on the ground, and it was nearly a kilometer and a half wide. I mean, the potential destruction for any tornado of that magnitude and that size is serious, and it all took place across the central U.S. and throughout the Great Lakes and the mid-Atlantic.

There was a few tornadoes and to Texas and Oklahoma, Panhandles. They look like this. You can see this is a wedge tornadoes, similar to what we experienced in Jefferson City, where the width of a tornado is wider than the actual height. So, the potential for devastation with this is so significant. And we are talking about extreme danger with wedge tornadoes, to say the least.

Now, yesterday was active, the day before that was active in terms of severe weather. Today it's going to be active as well. We have broken some serious records here, or at least showing you how busy it has been for the month of May. We only see about 268 tornadoes in the course of a month, but we have well over that in terms of the year to date. We are about 115 percent of average. So, today's severe weather threats stretches from Chicago, all the way

to the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandle. Storm prediction center has highlighted that greatest risk around a highly populated area, that being Chicago. So, look out there. Under the storms is firing up later this afternoon and the evening and by the way, they are producing a significant amount of rain this weekend. And top of areas that have already experienced heavy rainfall. The flash flood threat is likely, once again, across the central U.S.

So, unfortunately, George, Natalie, it's likely we will see more, visuals, more aerial storm damage pictures similar to what we have seen lately.

ALLEN: Unreal. All right. Derek, thank you.

HOWELL: Thanks, Derek. OK.

ALLEN: Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro says he's allocating more than $7.5 million to make new sub machine guns. He says he wants police to use them as support weapons on the streets of his country.

HOWELL: But as CNN Patrick Oppmann reports, Mr. Maduro already has significant firepower, thanks to what is essentially a private army.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They wear hoods and carry guns, mysterious figures seem to be able to attack antigovernment protestors in Venezuela with impunity. Witnesses to these shooting say, they're the work of Colectivos, shadowy paramilitary forces that support the government of embattled President Nicholas Maduro at any cost.

In the areas they control, the Colectivos operate openly. To learn more about their role in Venezuela's political violence, we go to one of Caracas's scrawling slums and to a radio station controlled by the Colectivos that they used to air pro government propaganda. Colectivos leader, Naude Mendez, agrees to the interview but only if we do it live on air. Mendez says he has been shot five times in confrontations and will take up arms if United States tries to intervene militarily in Venezuela.

[03:40:00] The revolution is going forward, he tells me, and if these people try to step on the Venezuelan soil, what there will be here is a lot of lead for them. I'm not afraid of the Gringos, but according to Venezuela's opposition, the Colectivos main target these days is not foreign adversaries, but their political rivals inside Venezuela.

Opposition member Julio (Inaudible), says on three occasions Colectivos have come to his house to intimidate him.

They come without uniforms, he told me. Carrying weapons of war, their faces are covered and they break down your door. They aimed a gun at me in front of my kids.

Maduro has called on the Colectivos to defend his socialist revolution. And says they are patriots. U.S. officials call them domestic terrorist. The group started doing social work in Venezuela's poorest slums decades ago. Then Hugo Chavez took power and envisioned a new role for the Colectivos.

Hugo Chavez saw that the Colectivos can be transformed into a private army, loyal to him. He gave them food, weapons and free rein. In many of Caracas is most dangerous neighborhoods, they are the only law. The Colectivos are Maduro's most loyal enforcers, says (Inaudible). But when asked if things are better after 20 years of socialist revolution, even he concedes its support for the revolution is fading.

The war has been tough, he says. They attacked the poor people through their stomachs. They made our food disappear and people got mad and everyone says it's Maduro's fault, but it's not Maduro's fault. It's the United States fault.

With the conflict brewing, the Colectivos say they have thousands of foot soldiers ready to fight till the end. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Caracas.


ALLEN: History is paid in Taiwan. They have legalized and are now performing same sex marriage, but amid the celebrations, they are getting pushed back from some groups. We will have a live report, next.

HOWELL: Plus, we will meet the man behind these amazing pictures. From Earth's oceans, what he hopes to accomplish with this brilliant new book. After that.


[03:45:00] HOWELL: What you see here, you are meeting one of the first gay couples in all of Asia to be legally wed. Dozens of LGBTQ couples are getting married in Taiwan, a week after its ground breaking marriage equality bill was approved there.

ALLEN: Activists hope Taiwan's new law will spark change across the continent, although some countries are now in 2019 rolling back gay rights. Matt Rivers is covering the story for us, he joins us from Taipei, hello to you, Matt. And this was a hard fall win for gay couples and people who support their right to wed, talk about this historic moment, because those couple got married, you could just sense their euphoria.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, and I think part of that euphoria George and Natalie, comes from the fact that, really just a few years ago this was not a certain thing that was going to happen. You mentioned a hard-fought battle and for these activists, it absolutely was ultimately they needed allies in the court system here to really make it a reality, but that belies the fact that this has been a groundswell, a grassroots movement here of an LGBTQ community that is perhaps the most vocal throughout Asia. And it was early this morning, we were here right after sunrise. It was in that relatively plain looking building behind me where the first same sex couples on this island walked through those doors and, frankly, made history.


RIVERS: Flashbulbs and 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 (inaudible) to everyone, and to the world and because I feel very proud of Taiwan.

RIVERS: The pair of 24-year-old were among the few dozen to pack this registration office Friday morning, joining hundreds of other couples across the island to tie the knot. Taiwan's legislator passed the law last week, nearly two years after the islands constitutional court ruled that the existing law, which define marriage as between a man and a woman was unconstitutional. Longtime activist Chi Chia-wei brought the case the court ultimately ruled on.

CHI CHIA-WEI, EQUAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST 9through 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People will remember this darkest day in Taiwan's history of democracy.

RIVERS: Sun Tsu tsang (ph) opposes the same sex marriage and plans to run in next year's legislative elections. He points to a referendum last November, we're 67 percent of Taiwan voters voted against legalization, but lawmakers bowed to the courts anyway last week, and according to Sun, silence the peoples will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): People of Taiwan are not only betrayed, but are being toyed with. Their rights are being abused.

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

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

RIVERS: After our interview, like any newlyweds mic, they brought out the wedding album, smiles, white dresses, the whole thing, unlike any good YouTuber, they filmed the event too.

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


RIVERS: You know, it's interesting that couple that we talked to, Kristin and Amber, they told us a story about how, you know, they want the dialog to continue between those who are skeptical and that would include her own father, Kristin's own father actually did not approved of their relationship, but after seeing the two of them together and kind of seeing that they did share a very real love and that they did have a relationship were they relied on one another and they took care of one another, you know, there was a time when Amber had a medical emergency and Kristin took care of her, and she says that her father saw that love and kind of came around. And so to all the people that voted against same sex marriage, we asked, what would you say to those people, and what Kristin and Amber said, is that those people might just need time to see that these relationships, at least in their minds, are exactly the same as any other.

ALLEN: Right, hopefully they will come around, and as you said earlier, hopefully this will spill over into other countries in Asia. We shall see. Matt Rivers thank you for that story. Thanks a lot.

HOWELL: Still ahead, the planet oceans are under attack. An attack on plastic and from sewage.

[03:50:00] A photographer hopes his images will inspire you to take action and help save the seas.


ALLEN: Mexican photographer Christian Vizl, hopes his new book highlighting the beauty of the ocean will encourage people to do more to save them despite endless stories and pictures about pools of garbage and animals choke by plastic. He points out human consumption is only increasing.

HOWELL: Vizl traveled the world to collect images of sea turtles, crocodiles, whale sharks, all threatened by human's from agriculture runoff sewage, coastal developments and from 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 us. How are you doing Christian?

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

ALLEN: Absolutely, because we really want to get your pictures, but let's set it up first, you grew up loving the ocean and so many of us do and we take it for granted and we take walking on the beach for granted. You said you 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 are life literally depends on the health of the oceans and sadly we are actually killing it.

ALLEN: Right. With overfishing, pollution, plastics, radiation, climate change, (inaudible), and other human factors that threatens the nature of the ocean and our animals, of course, being pushed to their extinction. And you witnessed many of these changes, you've seen this firsthand that we haven't seen. Give us some examples?

VIZL: Yes. Everywhere I go and I go to a lot of local fishermen, consistently they all say it doesn't matter what part of the world, that they are having trouble to get their own livelihood and not to catch enough even to sustain their own lives. I see plastic everywhere I go, of course, everybody near the ocean can see that and testify about that.

I see dead corals everywhere, I mean, a place where I was diving since I was a teenager and a couple years ago in 2016, I came down and saw all the corals white and they are whiting 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 the life that was sustained by that coral reef. So, it is a tragedy. I see hooks in animals all the time, in sharks and fishes. I see sea lions entangled by plastic and I've seen all kinds of problems and I try to get them because I love so much the ocean and I understand how important it is for my own life, but for my own livelihood on this planet and yes, definitely it's a time, you know, that we need to change our own consumption patterns and start having a more sustainable life.

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

[03:55:11] VIZL: Yes. The plastic is one of the biggest problems in the ocean, and there was a story and also we were fishing, we are talking earlier about the fishing. 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.

That is 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 fishes out in the sea, right now they are running on very, very low population. We had killed almost 90 percent of the population 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 is why people like you that bring us these beautiful pictures of life in the ocean and how precious it is so important. Because I always say to people, you can talk about things and forever, but until people see it or feel it they just don't react. I was touch that you quote famed oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earl, someone that I was able to go diving with once and do a story on. And there is a quote from her about why are ocean 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. It's in our power to reverse the

situation, so 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 awe with this issue. Thank you so much.

VIZL: Thank you very much for this opportunity.

ALLEN: All right. He's wonderful. We certainly hope we can reverse this terrible trend in our oceans.

HOWELL: Thank you so much for being with us, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen, stay with us with more news with Bianca Nobilo in London, next. See you soon.