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The Trump Presidency; Israeli Prime Minister Facing Deadline to Form Coalition Government; European Leaders Wrangle over Top Jobs; Nepal Could Change Requirements for Everest Permits; Deadly Tornadoes and Historic Floods Devastate Central U.S.; Huawei Seeks Swift Ruling on Law Banning Federal Agencies from Buying Its Products; MacKenzie Bezos Pledges Half Her Fortune to Charity; Navy Pilots Share Accounts of UFO Encounters. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 29, 2019 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Countdown to a political crisis: after winning a historic fifth term as Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has not been able to form a coalition government which could mean a do-over vote come September.

Forget Russia, racism, Muslim travel ban, a record setting number of lies. It's all about the economy for Donald Trump and his chances for a second term.

And 50 twisters, eight states, two days. Dangerous and destructive severe weather continues to sweep across the U.S. Midwest.

Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I'm John Vause. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.


VAUSE: Donald Trump just cannot let it go. His attacks on his Democratic rival former Vice President Joe Biden.

On Tuesday, he tweeted, "I was actually sticking up for sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil. Kim Jong-un called him a low I.Q. idiot and many other things, whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim as a much softer low I.Q. individual. Who could possibly be upset with that?"

Biden's team had already fired back with a statement, saying, "The president's comments are beneath the dignity of the office. To be on foreign soil on Memorial Day and to side repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former vice president speaks for itself."

All of this as a result of tweet and comments made by Trump on Monday while on a state visit to Japan.


TRUMP: Well, Kim Jong-un made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual. He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that.


VAUSE: Well, President Trump now back in Washington after that visit to Japan and he has no events scheduled for the day ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the economy, stupid. It's the economy, stupid.


That was folk singer John McCutcheon and "It's The Economy, Stupid," a song about job cuts. Local businesses shutting down and struggling times on the land with a chorus line that's now one of the most famous snow clones of all times.

The phrase was born during Bill Clinton's 1992 bid for the White House. Senior adviser James Carville hung a sign in campaign headquarters which included the words, "The economy, stupid," an internal message for campaign staff to focus on the U.S. economy, which was still sluggish and recovering from recession.

As a piece of political wisdom, "It's the economy, stupid" is as true now as it was then and every election in between.




VAUSE: Beyond Carville's political instincts, economists have developed a number of different models that predict presidential elections based on the strength or weakness of the economy. And right now those models are sparking headlines like this one from "Politico."

"How Trump is on track for a 2020 landslide."

Well, conventional wisdom might suggest Donald Trump could be struggling to win a second term but he could be in a much a stronger position thanks to a robust economy.

Donald Luskin is the chief investment officer of TrendMacrolytics and it was his economic model behind the "Politico" headline. He joins us now from Chicago.

Don, I guess, you know, this seems to be the most basic of polling if you like. The bottom line, it's a first-term president running for re-election with a good economy, he gets reelected. DONALD LUSKIN, TRENDMACRO: There's no example that contradicts that. It appears to be a very robust model. First term incumbent presidents get reelected kind of anyway where the only exception in our lifetimes was Jimmy Carter because the economy was so stupid in 1980. So a first term incumbent couldn't get elected.

That doesn't look like it's going to happen to Trump.

VAUSE: How does it work though?

With all the other Russia investigations and all the congressional hearings and everything that's gone on with this White House the last two or three years, that just doesn't play into it?

LUSKIN: It doesn't. We have gone back and tried to improve the prediction ability of our model by including polling data and approval data and it actually makes the results worse. I think it's like you said in the introduction, the economy is the ultimate pull. It just reaches out and touches everybody.

VAUSE: I guess this modeling comes with the idea that the economy must continue to do well. I also read that Trump has to avoid some kind of seriously major scandal for this model to hold true.

LUSKIN: Well, I suppose that's true. I suppose that's like saying he needs to avoid having a heart attack and dying, right?

VAUSE: Exactly.

LUSKIN: So anything could intervene but the thing that --


LUSKIN: -- you hear most commonly as a critique of this model is that the economy today wouldn't be the same as November 2020. That's absolutely true. It wouldn't take a recession for Trump to lose. The way the model is set up, people in the economy aren't just sensitive to how well they're doing but to the direction in which they're moving.

Even if they're doing well but not quite as well as a year ago, they feel things are moving in the wrong direction. And even though it's not a recession it feels like that to them. That's Trump's biggest risk other than a heart attack.

VAUSE: And getting hit by a bus or something.

At the end of the day, all the other stuff going on with Donald Trump and the tweets and the controversies over being a bigot or a racist, that does not register with voters. It's simply background noise.

LUSKIN: It is.

If you look at approval data, Trump is at about day 880 in his first term. And if you look at the approval data of where other presidents were at this point, Trump is actually more popular than Nixon. Nixon went on to get reelected. More positive than Reagan. Reagan went on to get reelected.

If you look at that data, you get the impression from approval numbers that Americans just don't like presidents because the only ones who at this point popular were the two Bushes, because, in their first terms, they had these wars that at first were really popular. And then they even went sour.

VAUSE: Does it matter that Trump has never passed 50 percent when it comes to approval ratings?


LUSKIN: It might, the fact that that is unprecedented means we don't really know what to make of it.

We also don't know what to make of the fact that when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008, he had extraordinary approval ratings on Inauguration Day and those had completely collapsed to normal levels by this point in his first term and maybe even subnormal levels.

But there had never been a fall from grace like that because he started at such a high point but he got reelected.

VAUSE: In 1992 Bill Clinton was against George H.W. Bush. Clinton in action during one of the debates, winning voters over when it comes to the economy. Here it is.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tell me how it's affected you, again?

You know people who lost their jobs and lost their homes?


CLINTON: Well, I have been governor of a small state for 12 years. I'll tell you how it's affected me. Every year Congress and the president sign laws that make us do more things and gives us less money to do it with.

I see people in my state, middle class people, their taxes have gone up in Washington and their services have gone down while the wealthy have gotten tax cuts.


VAUSE: It's the "I feel your pain" moment.

Is this a strategy for 2020 Democrats?

If they're going to fight on the economy they have to explain beyond the headlines or the economic indicators that the reality is people are struggling and this is not a win-win for everybody.

LUSKIN: I have two reactions to the tape that you just played. First, I want him to run again. I want that to be a message. That's a great conservative libertarian message and it's probably one of the things that made him a great president. Also he's quite a charmer.

But from a modeling perspective rather than a personal perspective, it's very rare for any party to hold the White House for more than two terms. And when Bush was running for re-election, his party had held it for three. That, in our model, gives him a big penalty.

So our model forecasted that he would lose and he did, no matter what the economy was doing.

VAUSE: Should the Democrats though be trying to grasp this?

Can they do anything about it or is simply -- it's all locked in, if you like?

LUSKIN: They can do their best to ruin it. I think other than that, there's not a whole lot you can say about it. You can say whatever you want about how it's leaving people behind. But if somebody is listening to a pundit saying something like that and they don't feel left behind, they're just going to think that pundit is a liar. So it's not going to have any effect at all.

VAUSE: Well, if the economy stays as it is and after the result, we'd love to have you back. I'm sure we'll talk to you before then but it's interesting stuff. Thanks --


LUSKIN: -- privilege, thank you.

VAUSE: Cheers.

VAUSE: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has less than a day to form a new coalition government. If he fails, fresh elections will likely be called for September. Keep in mind, a general election was held just last month. Mr. Netanyahu's Likud Party is trying to shore up its base.

A rift emerged with the smaller center right Kadima Party. At the heart of the political deadlock is this man, the former defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman. He backs a draft war that would end exemptions from military service for ultraorthodox Jews and that's fiercely opposed by many of the prime minister's --


VAUSE: -- ultraorthodox allies.

We're joined now by Gil Hoffman, chief political correspondent and analyst at "The Jerusalem Post."

Gil, thank you for being with us. I always thought that under Israeli election law if Netanyahu couldn't form a coalition then the Israeli president would tap the leader of the party which received the second biggest vote and in that case it would be Benny Gantz's Blue and White Party. And he would have this chance.

Should this move that we're seeing to dissolve parliament, the Knesset, that started on Monday, it seems to be totally off script here.

GIL HOFFMAN, "THE JERUSALEM POST": You've got it exactly right. That's exactly what Netanyahu wants to avoid. He knows the president, Reuven Rivlin, has a history of animosity with him and couldn't wait to give the job to somebody else to form a government and end Netanyahu's political career.

And that's why Netanyahu has taken a very drastic, unprecedented step of getting the parliament that was just elected to disperse itself immediately before it passed any laws at all. Their first thing they'll vote for is to lose their own jobs. That must be very painful for them but it serves Netanyahu.

VAUSE: The argument that the president seems to be making about Gantz is there's no clear path there for him to form a coalition, either, so why not have this election.

But that's an incredible assumption during a democracy.

HOFFMAN: The only way Gantz can form a government is if the Likud would join together with him in what's called a national unity government. And they're not willing as long as Netanyahu is there because of the corruption charges hanging over his head.

This is the one coalition that's possible to make and if you can't get all the people in that coalition to agree, then that democracy would dictate going to another election, as has happened in England and Spain and other parliaments around the world.

VAUSE: On the surface, the political crisis is over a law which would end exemptions for national service for ultraorthodox Jews. Here's part of an opinion piece from Ynet.

They write, "It's a struggle for the character, identity and direction of the country. It's one of the most important issues that decides whether we're heading to Israelization of the ultra orthodox or alternatively the Haredization of Israel."

It's a line from a book called "The Israeli Century."

Is that how Israelis see this or is it more primal?

Is the battle between Netanyahu and Lieberman, two men with huge egos and not a lot of love for each other?

HOFFMAN: According to the polls, only 16 percent of Israelis blame the ultraorthodox for this crisis, meaning they don't see it as ideological. They do see it as an ego battle between the prime minister and the politician that worked with him for decades.

They're either blaming Netanyahu or Lieberman and that's a realization that we've become a very personality oriented political system unfortunately and not as deep as we used to be. And that means that we've got only about 17 hours left for politicians to put their egos aside and reach some kind of agreement.

VAUSE: If these fresh elections are held, where does that leave the deal of the century being put forward by the Trump administration?

HOFFMAN: You'd have to tell me whether the deal is actually going to be presented in October or November after a new government would be formed when your election is already getting into high gear.

VAUSE: We have a situation with the president. On Monday Trump threw his support behind Netanyahu and put out that tweet and said he hoped Bibi, his good friend, would soon form a coalition.

Despite being hugely popular in Israel, I guess this shows there are limits to how much influence Donald Trump actually has.

HOFFMAN: I think there's already a realization that Trump and Netanyahu are best friends and he doesn't have to reiterate that anymore. He's already made that quite clear and interfering more in Israeli politics is no longer going to help Netanyahu.

VAUSE: Well, we'll see. Gil, thank you so much. It's great to have you with us. Appreciate it.

HOFFMAN: A pleasure, cheers.

VAUSE: Wrangling over the top job of the European Union has to be done in Brussels and the fragmented results of the elections are not helping matters. German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron are at odds over who should lead the European Commission.

But the E.U. Council president insists the discussion focus on the process and not the possible candidates. Erin McLaughlin has more now reporting from Brussels.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Battle lines are being drawn here in Brussels for the E.U.'s top jobs. Four jobs in total up for grabs. The president of the European Council, the president of the ECP, the high representative and the top job being the president of the European Commission. Jean-Claude Juncker's job.

Twenty-eight leaders met over an informal dinner to discuss what matters most to them, bringing the diplomats, I'm told that they want --


MCLAUGHLIN: -- something that's balanced between the different political parties, they want something that is gender balanced as well.

If you look at who took the top jobs in 2014, they were overwhelmingly men. They want to see some women in the mix this time. And then finally, they want to see a geographical balance.

But whatever they decide, keep in mind they are going to need approval of European Parliament, a majority there which is currently highly fragmented due to those election results on Sunday.

So, at this point, Tusk has a mandate to negotiate with parliament to come up with some sort of consensus and that needs to be reached by the end of June -- Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.


VAUSE: Still to come here, come one, come all, but climb at your own risk; no experience required, no fitness test, just turn up and scale the world's highest mountain. But that could be about to change after a spate of deaths on Mt. Everest.

Also millions in the central part of the United States bracing for the worst after a deadly string of tornadoes.




VAUSE: It's Everest Day in Nepal, the anniversary of the summit of the world's tallest mountain. May 29th, 1953, New Zealander Edmond Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to successfully reach the top of Mt. Everest.

And now, 66 years later, there is a growing debate over climbing regulations, safety and believe it or not overcrowding after 11 people died already this season. Right now Nepal only requires a permit regardless of a climber's experience. But that may change as more amateurs make this trek. CNN's Arwa Damon reports from Everest base camp, more than 5,000 meters above sea level.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You've been hearing still already feel how (Inaudible).

So that one straight ahead of us, the black one, that's the summit of Everest.

The mountain that claimed so many lives this year peaks out in the distance. Even here at base camp because we aren't acclimatized the altitude hits like a ton of bricks, the slightest movement makes your head spin.

Our cameraman, Rajesh stayed at the helipad with oxygen shooting from above while we make our way down. The season is ending. The camp mostly deserted, no longer a sea of tents. Those who were here are cleanup crews and among the last to make it down like 17-year-old Mrika Nikqa and her father, Arindi, from Kosovo.

A father-daughter team is --


DAMON: -- pretty extraordinary.


DAMON: How did it feel for you? What is it like?

MRIKA NIKQA, MOUNTAINEER: Well, it felt awesome, it was pretty good.

DAMON: I mean, it's a combination of pride and anxiety?

A. NIKQA: It's responsibility.

DAMON: Responsibility.

A. NIKQA: Big ones.

DAMON: Yes. I assume before you went up to the top you are hearing about all of these deaths that were happening.

M. NIKQA: Yes.

A. NIKQA: We saw dead bodies in the way.

M. NIKQA: You know what, when you decide to come and climb Mount Everest you prepare yourself that you are going to see dead bodies, maybe something can happen to you, your father or whoever you're climbing with. So, you just -- you prepare. Like you see a dead body and it's OK, I have to -- it's gone. I don't want to be like him, I have to move on. I have to go. It is what it is.

Everyone has their own motivation. So, my first motivation is my mom and my brother so I have to go up and get down safely because they are waiting for me. I'm not staying up there.

DAMON: Nepal says this year's deaths mostly happened from altitude sickness. Which many are blaming on an hours' long backlog within the mountain's death zone where each breath only contains a third of the oxygen at sea level.

The Nepalese government stories of a logjam were overblown and says that this years' deaths were due to weather not the number of permits issued. Just nine more than last year. There were only a few favorable summit days and that created the rush to the top.

And then there is as we heard from those who have been summiting for years, the lack of experience of an increasing number of climbers. There is no experience requirement to obtain a permit. But in light of what happened this year, the Nepalese government is looking at changing that.

Did you deliberately wait until the very end to take your clients up?

PASANG TENZING, SHERPA, EVEREST GUIDE: Yes, definitely. There were people I feel really, really sorry about them because they were super slow, they didn't have much technique to go up the mountain. It looks like they have no mountain experience except for Everest. So, these are the people created a lot of problem on the mountain.

DAMON: Just walking up from doing the interviews down there it felt like this massive taxing effort. I didn't expect that it would be and it should be but again, my body isn't used to being at this altitude.

And then of course, when you are here the weather can change so quickly. I put on all my layers and this is just a little bit of an idea of what it's like when you are trying to take on a summit. Like Mount Everest when you are dealing with lower levels of oxygen, when you are dealing with these extreme temperatures and why it's so important to make sure that you are prepared and that you know what your body is trying to tell you.

For us, after two hours here without proper acclimatization, it's time to leave -- Arwa Damon, CNN, Everest base camp, Nepal.


VAUSE: The already devastated U.S. heartland bracing for more tornadoes and flooding. In the last few hours, a large and dangerous tornado tore through parts of Kansas. More than 50 twisters were reported across eight states in the last two days.

In Ohio at least one death is being blamed on the storm and in Arkansas at least one person drowned. CNN's Alexandra Field has the latest now on one of the hardest hit areas in Dayton, Ohio.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN drones captured the first clear view of the devastation in Ohio after at least three powerful tornadoes tore through the state in just a matter of hours. The city of Celina and the areas in and around Dayton are among the hardest hit.

Buildings and houses ripped open. Parts of rooftops now littered the landscape. Some homes are demolished.

RENE MONIZ, TORNADO SURVIVOR: The first thing I thought of was war zone because it just looked like somebody just took a bomb.

FIELD: From the ground the view is perhaps even worse.


FIELD: Belongings spilled out of this house in this Dayton neighborhood split second decision saved lives.

EDDIE WHITEHEAD, TORNADO SURVIVOR: We made it to the basement and by the time we got down there the tin it came off and then the whole roof came off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could hear glass breaking and this everything blowing around. And I was just hoping we are going to make it.

FIELD: Roaring generators the only power source for some families making their way back to sift through the ruble and debris. Officials say it may take years to rebuild. Ohio's governor says he feared for his own family.

GOV. MIKE DEWINE (R-OH): We have one daughter who didn't have a basement she went over to her sisters who did have a basement. We've seen this happen any place is, you know, horrible, horrible thing to see. And there certainly is home to us.

FIELD: The destruction is just the latest in an unusually active tornado season. More than 500 tornadoes have been reported in the U.S. in just the last month. This as severe storms and rising floodwaters have forced people from their homes in Oklahoma.

RICK SAWN, SAND SPRINGS RESIDENT: Last night was pretty --


SAWN: -- intense for us.

FIELD: The state has suffered nine storm-related deaths in just the last 30 days. More rain is on the way. The Arkansas River which borders Oklahoma is now above flood stage according to authorities. Two workers had to be rescued by helicopter Sunday. And overnight, authorities closed two busy bridges across the river in an effort to save lives -- Alexandra Field, CNN, Dayton, Ohio.



VAUSE: When we come back, the latest move in the battle between Huawei and the U.S. government. Why the Chinese tech giant says the United States is violating its own Constitution. We'll tell you the dramatic legal step Huawei is taking to win its case.

Also ahead, after a high profile divorce, one of the richest women in the world is now pledging half her fortune to charity.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

[00:30:42] Ahead of possible fresh elections, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party have agreed to merge with the smaller center-right Kulanu Party, expanding their voter vote -- base. Netanyahu has less than a day to form a new coalition government. If he fails, it will trigger a new vote.

European leaders held their first meeting after parliamentary elections to begin discussions about the bloc's top jobs. They set a deadline of July to finalize nominees. Reaching a consensus could be a challenge, given the splintered election results.

Nepal is celebrating Everest Day. It marks the first known summit of the world's tallest mountain, but it comes during a devastating climbing season which saw 11 people die so far. Mountaineers blame the deaths on harsh weather, overcrowding and amateur climbers.

Chinese tech giant Huawei is taking a dramatic next step in its legal fight against the U.S. government. Just a short time ago, Huawei announced it has filed a motion for summary judgment on its legal motion which challenges a U.S. law banning federal agencies from buying its products. They argue it violates the U.S. Constitution, because it singles out an individual or group for punishment without trial.

Huawei filed a lawsuit against the U.S. over this law back in March, but now it's asking the court to rule quickly in its favor, because the law, they say, is unconstitutional.

Well, the Trump administration says it believes Huawei's technology poses a global security threat. It's urging allies to ban or restrict Huawei products from their 5-G networks.

Huawei says the U.S. hasn't provided any evidence in support of their claim.

CNN's Sherisse Pham following all of this from Shenzhen in China. So Sri, let's just talk about this motion for summary judgment. It's a request for the court to rule in its favor in a matter of law. At this point the facts are not in dispute, but they say it's the legality of the law is, in fact, what they're disputing here.

So how unusual is this and how quickly can we expect some kind of judgment?

SHERISSE PHAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is not super unusual. Kaspersky Labs filed a similar motion against the United States against the earlier version of this law, which is the National Defense Authorization Act. Kaspersky said it's the same -- filing a similar thing that this is, essentially, punishment without trial; and it was an unfair action against the company, and then that it was unconstitutional. But Kaspersky lost that case, so if we're looking at precedent, things don't look very good for Huawei.

This was a company that was really striking a defiant tone here in Shenzhen today. Executives were calling the latest restrictions from Washington, which happened a couple weeks ago, calling those moves a bully tactic, calling the -- saying the United States is trying to shut down their business, even at one point quoting Shakespeare.

This is a company that is on the defense now and fighting for its survival.

I asked chief legal officer Song Liuping what exactly a victory looks like, because a win is pretty much unlikely here. And I asked, "Look, what will a win in this lawsuit look like for Huawei?" Have a listen to what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SONG LIUPING, CHIEF LEGAL OFFICER, HUAWEI (through translator): We believe adamantly we are fighting for a fair chance to compete in the market, because it's a universally recognized value. And we'll define our victory as that: a fair chance to compete in the market.


PHAM: A fair chance to compete in the U.S. market is probably not going to happen. Huawei has been locked out of the United States for nearly a decade, and the latest restrictions are a much more crippling blow to Huawei than this lawsuit.

The export ban enforced by the Commerce Department means that U.S. businesses like Google and Qualcomm can't supply things like software and computer chips to Huawei. One analyst I talked to said a Huawei smart phone without the Android operating system and Google services is essentially a brick. And without access to U.S. computer chips, it's going to be really hard for Huawei to continue rolling out 5-G networks. And 5-G, as you can see, is a big part of Huawei's strategy. Executives today, John, acknowledging that these moves from Washington really does threaten their business.

VAUSE: Yes. I guess the phone like a brick says it all, really. Sherisse, thank you. Appreciate it.

Alibaba reportedly wants to raise $20 billion through a secondary share listing in Hong Kong. A deal that big would give the Chinese e- commerce giant capital to diversify and invest in technology.

[00:35:08] Bloomberg reporting the company is aiming to file a listing application in the second half of the year. In 2014, the company raised $25 billion when it was listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's two top executives, facing a possible contempt of Parliament vote in Canada. Canadian lawmakers have issued an open summons for both of them after they failed to show up to testify on Tuesday. That was before an international panel in Ottawa. The panel is investigating disinformation as well as privacy issues.

Facebook released a statement saying it remains committed to working with world leaders and governments to address complex issues.

Well, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is pledging to give billions to charity just months after their divorce. MacKenzie Bezos has signed a pledge to donate at least half of her $37 billion fortune.

CNN's Anna Stewart has details.


ANNA STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She's only been a billionaire in her own right for a few months, following her high- profile divorce from ex-husband Jeff Bezos, but MacKenzie Bezos is now valued around $37 billion and is giving at least half of her fortune to charity and philanthropic ventures.

This is through the Giving Pledge. She has written a letter in which she says that she has a disproportionate amount of money to share. I'm sure a lot of people will feel that they can resonate with that, given that she is number 22 on Bloomberg's billionaire index.

Now, the Giving Pledge was set up by Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates in 2010. It has now amassed 204 billionaires, all of whom have pledged to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity and philanthropic ventures, either in their lifetime or on their death.

Now with the Giving Pledge, you don't know exactly where they're going to put their money. For MacKenzie Bezos, on her part, she has donated, for instance, to the Day One Fund with her husband. That's a homeless shelter charity. Perhaps that's where she'll be looking at her money.

But really, it can go anywhere and, as I said, at any given time. Last year 26 people earned the same as the 3.8 billion people who made up the poorest half of the world. That was according to Oxfam earlier this year.

So this sort of venture is a real feel-good story. She joins the likes of Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg and many others.

However, the one person who's been highlighted, particularly by the press today, is of course, her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, who has not signed this pledge yet. He does give money to ventures, particularly homeless charities, but he has yet to sign away half of his fortune; and perhaps now the pressure is on, since his ex-wife has.

Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Still to come here, some strange encounters in the sky high above the East Coast of the U.S. Navy pilots come forward with stories about UFOs.


[00:40:04] VAUSE: For many, sightings of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, can usually be dismissed as a weather balloon, a drone, perhaps nothing more than a strange quirk of nature.

But now, U.S. Navy pilots are sharing their stories of their own encounters with UFOs, and they're not so easy to explain away. Here's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the movie "Independence Day," a fighter pilot gets into a dogfight with a UFO, and the UFO loses. WILL SMITH, ACTOR: Welcome to Earth.

MOOS: But real-life fighter pilots are now going public with their UFO encounters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wherever we were, they were there.

LT. DANNY AUCOIN, U.S. NAVY PILOT: No distinct wings, no distinct tail, no distinct exhaust.

MOOS: There were a spate of sightings by Navy pilots back in 2014 and 2015 along the East Coast of the U.S. The government even released a couple of videos --


MOOS: -- showing unidentified objects on cockpit sensors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at that thing, dude.

MOOS: One pilot managed to lock onto one flying over the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa! Got it! Woo-hoo! What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is that thing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow. What is that, man? Look at it flying!

MOOS: What's new is that now the pilots are talking, to "The New York Times" and on a miniseries for the History Channel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation

MOOS: The pilots are identified. This is F-18 fighter pilot Lt. Danny Aucoin.

AUCOIN: It seemed like they were aware of our presence, because they would move around us.

MOOS (on camera): One pilot told of "The New York Times" of another pilot looking shocked, telling him, "I almost hit one of those things. It flew right past the cockpit, looking like a sphere encasing a cube."

(voice-over): Back in 2004 off the West Coast, near San Diego, a fighter pilot captured a white oval-shaped object on his sensors. Watch it accelerate and depart screen left at high velocity.

They call this one the tic-tac because of its shape. Sure, maybe it's just a result of bugs in the imaging system or atmospheric effects, but if there are aliens, let's hope they don't need Tic-Tacs for their breath.

Jeanne Moos, CNN --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lock at that thing! It's rotating.

MOOS: -- New York.


VAUSE: Well, a gorilla made famous by the renowned American researcher Dian Fossey is believed to have died. Her name is Poppy. She's not been seen by trackers in Rwanda since August of last year.

In Fossey's journal, she described Poppy as a little darling, winsome and appealing. Fossey said this gorilla could do no wrong.

Poppy surprised those who had been tracking her when she became the oldest recorded mountain gorilla to give birth, age 41, just a few years ago, and she would have turned 43 April first.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. WORLD SPORT is next. You're watching CNN.


[00:44:54] (WORLD SPORT)


[01:00:09] VAUSE: Countdown to a political crisis.