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Israel P.M. Facing Deadline To Form Coalition Government; European Leaders Begin Wrangling Over Top Jobs; Trump Brings Biden Feud Back From Japan; Strong U.S. Economy Should Help Trump In 2020; The Mission To Collect Evidence of Syria's Alleged War Crimes; Captured Extremist Admits Role in Keeping Hostages. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 29, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Countdown to a political crisis. After winning a historic fifth term as prime minister, Israel's 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 bans, record-setting number of lies, it's all about the economy for Donald Trump and his chances for a second term. (INAUDIBLE) eight states, two days, (INAUDIBLE) for the dangerous and destructive severe weather sweeping across the U.S. Midwest.

Hello, welcome viewers joining us from all around the world. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and this is CNN Newsroom.

Winning a historic fifth term as Israeli Prime Minister may have been the easy part for Benjamin Netanyahu. In the seventh week since a general election, he's not been able to form a workable coalition government. Under Israeli law, he now has sixteen hours left to strike a deal. If he can't, then fresh elections will likely be called for September.

Coalition building in Israel often comes down to the wire, only this time it seems Netanyahu is caught in the political equivalent of a Chinese finger trap. On the one side, the former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, leader of a party holding just five seats out of 120 in parliament.

In return for those seats and his support, Lieberman was an end to national draft exemptions for ultra-orthodox Jews. But there is vehement opposition to that from religious parties which control a combined 16 seats within Netanyahu's coalition.

For more, we're joined now by Gil Hoffman, Chief Political Correspondent and Analyst at the Jerusalem Post. Gil, thank you being with us. You know, 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 receives the second biggest vote. In that case, it would be Benny Gantz and his White and Blue Party and he would have this chance, you know. So this movement was seeking to dissolve Parliament, the Knesset which

started on Monday and move towards fresh elections. It seems to be totally off script here.

GIL HOFFMAN, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANALYST, JERUSALEM POST: You've got it exactly right and that's exactly what it's Netanyahu wants to avoid. He knows that 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 is taking this very drastic unprecedented step of getting the Parliament that was just elected to disperse itself immediately before it passed any laws at all. The first thing they're going to vote for is to lose their own jobs and that must be very painful for them but it serves Netanyahu.

VAUSE: And it seems that the core of the argument that you know, the president seems to be making about Gantz is that -- or some are making is that you know, there's no clear path there for him to form you know, a coalition either so why not have these elections. But that seems an incredible assumption to be making at a democracy.

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

So that would mean that 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 democracy would dictate going to another election as has happened in England, and in Spain, and in other Parliament's around the world.

VAUSE: You know, on the surface, the political crisis is over a law which you know, would end the exemptions from for national service for the ultra-orthodox Jews. I want you to hear part of an opinion piece from (INAUDIBLE). 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 Herodization of Israel.

You know, it's a line from the book called the Israeli Century. So is that how Israeli see this or is it sort of just more sort of primal as a battle between Netanyahu and Lieberman, the 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 ultra-orthodox for this crisis, meaning that they don't see it as an ideological one. They really do see it as an ego battle between the prime minister and the politician who's worked with him for decades who doesn't like him very much.

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

VAUSE: Just from a practical point of view, if they -- these French elections are held, where does that leave the you know, the deal of the century, the Mideast peace plan being put forward by the Trump administration?

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

VAUSE: Yes. We also have a situation with President on Monday. The U.S. president threw his support behind Netanyahu who put out that tweet expressing hope that you know, Bibi his good friend would soon form a coalition. You know, despite being hugely popular in Israel, I guess this shows that 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 so it's no longer going to help Netanyahu.

VAUSE: But we'll see if that happens. Gil, thank you so much. It's great to have you with us. We really appreciate it.

HOFFMAN: Pleasure.

VAUSE: Political maneuvering is underway for the top jobs within the E.U. Leaders gathered on Tuesday in the wake of elections which returned a diverse fragmented Parliament. Germany's Chancellor and the French president already at odds over who should head the European Commission. The outgoing British Prime Minister Therese May was also there reflecting on her Brexit battles.


THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Well, I've been Prime Minister. I've been to something like 15 plants and meetings or more. And every one of those, I've been working hard to negotiate the best possible deal for the U.K. and leaving the European Union. And it's a matter of great regrets me because I haven't been able to deliver a Brexit.

But of course that matter is now for my successor and they will have to find a way of addressing the very strongly held views on both sides of this -- of this issue. And to do that and to get a majority in parliament as I said on Friday, I think will require compromise.


VAUSE: The European Parliament thought is still made up of overwhelming pro-Europe parties. And the president of the European Council believes Brexit is one factor driving that outcome.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TUSK, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN COUNCIL: I have no doubt that one of the reasons why people on the continent voted for a pro-European majority is also Brexit. European see what breaks it means in the practice they also draw conclusions. Brexit has been a vaccine against anti-E.U. propaganda and fake news.


VAUSE: Before heading to Brussels, the German Chancellor sat down for an exclusive interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. In her most in-depth interview yet with the U.S. News Network, Angela Merkel opened up about her sometimes contentious relationship with the American president.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You've been a bit of a punching bag for president Trump. He's said some quite strong things including you know your relationship with Russia and all the rest. I just wanted to show you this picture because that went viral around the world. Do you consider him a friend?

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): I think we have close cooperation which simply results from problems we have had to resolve together. And this picture also shows that we are indeed grappling with an issue. The president has his opinions, I have mine, and very often we also find common ground. If not, we have to keep on talking and negotiating.


VAUSE: Well, the most influential women in the world Chancellor Angela Merkel also explained what feminism means to her.


AMANPOUR: You are the first female Chancellor and you are the most powerful woman in the world. I don't know whether you accept that but that's what everybody calls you. You very rarely talk about being a woman. You haven't defined your political career as being a woman. Are you ready to say that you're a feminist? Are you pleased with the lot of women in the world and in Germany where even gender pay equality doesn't exist?

MERKEL (through translator): Well, the Dutch Queen at one point in time during a Women's 20 Meeting helped me a little bit by saying feminism means women have the same rights everywhere. And this is parity. What this is all about from politics to the media, to the business community, that must be our objective.

We are not there yet quite right and there's still a gender pay gap. And for many girls apparently, I have become indeed a role model during my time chancellorship.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Her timer as chancellor ends in 2021, and that's raising some concerns who also mean an end to her brand of consensus politics as the right and the left erodes a political center. Well, the likes of Donald Trump's four-day visit to Japan, another cheap shot at his Democratic rival former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump is now back in Washington trying to laugh it all off with a tweet on Tuesday. I was actually sticking up for Sleepy Joe Biden while on foreign soil. Kim Jong-un called him a low I.Q. idiot in many other things whereas I related the quote of Chairman Kim is a much softer low I.Q. individual. Who could possibly be upset with that? More now from CNN's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Any regrets on your comment on Joe Biden?

Biting his tongue as he returns from Japan, President Trump is facing bipartisan blowback after embracing North Korean dictator Kim Jong- un's criticism of for Vice President Joe Biden. The Biden campaign released a scathing statement that hit inboxes as soon as Mr. Trump was back on the ground in the U.S. saying, the President's comments are beneath the dignity of the office to be on foreign soil on Memorial Day and decide repeatedly with a murderous dictator against a fellow American and former vice president speaks for itself. That swipe came after the president made ways in Tokyo over the weekend.

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

ACOSTA: Since that moment, some fellow Republicans have blasted the President's remark. The latest longtime GOP House member Peter King who tweeted, wrong for President Trump to criticize Joe Biden in Japan and to agree with Kim Jong-un. Politics stops at water's edge. Never right to side with murderous dictator versus fellow American.

But that tradition of steering clear of domestic politics on the world stage ended long ago. Former President Barack Obama slammed Mr. Trump while in Japan back in 2016 when the real estate tycoon was only a candidate.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're out of line and for good reason because a lot of the proposals that he's made display either ignorance of world a cavalier attitude.

ACOSTA: The president also sided with Democrats who have criticized Biden for his support of a controversial crime bill in the 90s tweeting, anyone associated with the 1994 crime bill would not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African-Americans will not be able to vote for you.

But the president is overlooking his own role in inflaming tensions back in the 80s when he took out an ad calling for the death penalty for a group of African American and Latino teens wrongfully convicted in a Central Park rape case.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you prejudging those arrested?

TRUMP: No, I'm not prejudging at all. I'm not in this particular case. I'm saying, if they're found guilty, if the woman died which she hopefully will not be dying, but if the woman died, I think they should be executed.

ACOSTA: On the Russian investigation, one of Mr. Trump's toughest critics Republican Congressman Justin Amash took to Twitter to hammer Attorney General William Barr's handling of the Mueller report tweeting, Barr so far successfully used his position to sell the President's false narrative to the American people. This will continue if those who have read the report do not start pushing back on his misrepresentations and share the truth.

The president got a brief reprieve from the investigations in Congress as he wished both Japanese troops --

TRUMP: I want to start by saying Happy Memorial Day. Happy Memorial Day.

ACOSTA: And U.S. service members a Happy Memorial Day.

TRUMP: I have to wish you all a very happy Memorial Day, right. Memorial Day, very special back home and I always like to be back in the U.S. as you do.

ACOSTA: One person who hasn't personally responded to the President's attacks on Joe Biden is the former vice president himself. Biden has left that task to his campaign aides. It returned to the strategy, Mr. Trump's GOP rivals used back in 2016. They too tried to keep Mr. Trump's attacks at arm's length during that campaign. It's an open question whether that stay above the fray approach will work in 2020. Jim Acosta, CNN the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The economy's stupid. The economy is stupid.

VAUSE: That was John McCutcheon and It's the Economy Stupid, a song about job cuts, local businesses closing down, struggling times on the land with a chorus line which is now one of the most famous snowclones of all time.

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

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


JAMES CARVILLE, AMERICAN COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's really the economy is stupid.


VAUSE: Beyond Carville's political instincts, economists had developed a number of different models which predict presidential elections based on the strength or weakness of the economy. And right now, those bottles are sparking headlines like this one from Politico. How Trump is on track for a 2020 landslide.

Well, the conventional wisdom might suggest Donald Trump could be struggling to win a second term. It could be a much stronger position thanks to a robust economy. Donald Luskin is the Chief Investment Officer of Trend Macrolytics and it was his economic model behind the Politico headline. He joins us now from Chicago.

Don, I don't I guess this seems to me the most basic of polling if you like. The bottom line, if it's the first term president running for re-election with a good economy, he gets reelected.

DONALD LUSKIN, CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, TREND MACROLYTICS: There's no example that contradicts that. It appears to be a very robust model. First-term incumbent presidents get reelected kind of any way we're 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.

[01:15:15] VAUSE: How does it work, though, with the -- all the other, you know, Russia investigations and, you know, all the congressional hearings and everything that's sort of going on with this White House for the last two or three years, that just doesn't play into it?

LUSKIN: It doesn't. We've 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 what you said in the introduction, you know, the economy is the ultimate poll. It just reaches out and touches everybody.

VAUSE: I guess, this modeling comes with a pretty big asterisk. The economy must continue to do well. I also think -- I 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. You know, the -- you know, you can just -- I suppose that's like saying he needs to avoid having a heart attack and dying, right?

VAUSE: Yes, exactly.

LUSKIN: So, you know, anything could intervene. But the thing that I -- you know, you hear most commonly as a critique of this model, is the economy today isn't going to be the same thing as the economy in November 2020. That's absolutely true. And it actually wouldn't take a recession for Trump to lose.

Because the way the model is set up, and if you think about this, just makes sense, people in the economy aren't just sensitive to how well they're doing, they're sensitive to the direction in which they are moving.

So even if they are doing well, but just not quite as well, as they were doing a year ago, they feel that things are moving in the wrong direction, and even though it's not a recession, it kind of feels like that to them. So that's Trump's biggest risk, other than a heart attack.

VAUSE: And (INAUDIBLE) by a bus or something. So, what's it suggests, though, is that at the end of the day, all of this other stuff that's been going on with Donald Trump and all the tweets and the controversies over, you know, being a bigot or a racist or whatever you want to say, that does not register with voters. It's simply background noise.

LUSKIN: It is. In fact, you know, if you look at approval data, you know, Trump said about, I think it's day 880 or something, in his first term. And if you look at the approval data going back many, many decades of where other presidents were at this point, Trump is actually more popular than Nixon, Nixon went on to get re-elected. More popular than Reagan, Reagan went on to get re-elected.

In fact, if you look at that data, you kind of get the impression from the approval numbers that Americans just don't like presidents, because the only ones, who, at this point, were popular, were the two Bushes. That's 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 though that Trump has never passed 50 percent, I think, in the Gallup Poll when it comes to approval ratings?

LUSKIN: It might, I mean, 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 have completely collapsed to normal levels by this point in his first term, maybe even slightly subnormal levels, but there just never been a fall from grace like that because he started from such a high point. But he went on to get re-elected.

VAUSE: Back in 1992, Bill Clinton was up against a very popular incumbent President George H. W. Bush (INAUDIBLE) Clinton, in action, during one of the debates winning voters over when it comes to the economy. Here he is.


BILL CLINTON, THEN-U.S. DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Tell me how it's affected you, again. You know people who lost their jobs --


CLINTON: -- and lost their homes? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

CLINTON: Well, I've 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 and make us do more things and give us less money to do it with. I see people in my state, middle class people, their taxes have gone up from Washington and their services have gone down, while the wealthy have gotten tax cuts.


VAUSE: It is the I-feel-your-pain moment. Is this the strategy for, you know, 2020 Democrats, if they're going to (INAUDIBLE) the economy, that sort of explain beyond the headlines of the economic indicators that really, you know, the reality is people are struggling and this is not a win-win for everybody.

LUSKIN: Well, I have two reactions to that tape that you just played. First is, I mean, I want him to run again. I want that to be a message. You know, that's a great conservative libertarian message and that'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, I need to tell you that 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, that gives him a big penalty. So, our model forecasted that he'd lose, and he did, no matter what the economy was doing.

VAUSE: OK. But, should the -- should the Democrats, though, try to grasp the issue of the economy?

[01:20:03] Can they do anything about it or is it simply, you know, it's all locked in, if you like?

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

VAUSE: Well, Donald, the economy stays as it is and after the results, we'd love to have you back. I'm sure we'll talk to you before then, but it's interesting stuff, nice to see. Thank you and good to see you.

LUSKIN: John, it'd be a privilege. Thank you.

VAUSE: Cheers. Still to come, confessions from a British-born ISIS Jihadi, Alexanda Kotey, was not just a hostage keeper. He's now admitting to his role and plots to kill soldiers, police officers and civilians, in a series of drive-by shootings in London.


VAUSE: Well, to Syria now, and yes, the ongoing Civil War continues to ebb and flow. Hundreds have been killed in Idlib, the last rebel- held province. Hundreds of thousands were forced to flee as well, after a recent airstrike destroyed schools, hospitals, and an open air market, leaving dozens wounded there.

International organizations believe some of the airstrikes are intentionally targeted civilians, and that would be a war crime.

A British-born ISIS member is confessing to his role as a hostage keeper and a whole lot more. Kurdish forces are holding Alexanda Kotey. He is accused by the U.S. of carrying out executions as well as torture. Kotey was one of four foreign born extremists, nicknamed, The Beatles, for their British accents. And he spoke to ITV News.


ROHIT KACHROO, SECURITY EDITOR, ITV NEWS: It's 16 months since he was arrested, and now a public confession about the role Alexanda Kotey played in Islamic State Group. He has given ITV News a detailed description of how as an I.S. militant, he was reassigned as a hostage keeper.

Alongside his friends from London, they will become known as The Beatles, led by the executioner, known as Jihadi John.

ALEXANDA KOTEY, BRITISH EXTREMIST, ISIS: (INAUDIBLE) regular fighter. Then it was directly like -- introduced us that there were prisoners (INAUDIBLE) Islamic State. They have taken western prisoners. First, came into contact with these -- some of these prisoners in the area, country side, for a brief period.

KACHROO: He struggles to recall the names of some of the hostages.

[01:25:00] KOTEY: John Cantlie and James Foley were all prisoners from the time of Idlib countryside. French Didier Francois (INAUDIBLE) David Haines, British. There was no dialog, specifically, like detailed, generally speaking about Islam, speaking about politics, if there was ever like an opportunity to speak.

KACHROO: These hostages included the British aid worker, David Haines. And Alan Henning, a cabdriver from (INAUDIBLE) was another. In total, 27 hostages were beheaded, including American journalist, James Foley.

One of Kotey's key roles, he says, was to force his prisoners to give them their families' e-mail addresses, so he could tell them their loved one was being held.

KOTEY: (INAUDIBLE) instructed to extract e-mail addresses from them and open communication, basically. Any responses would come back sometimes like proof of life, questions that only the prisoner himself would be able to answer.

KACHROO: Perhaps, as significant, was the confession that from Syria, he helped arrange a terror plot in West London, involving drive by killings. Soldiers and police officers were to be assassinated. Tarik Hassane, a friend in London, was to carry out the killings. He was jailed in 2016.

Kotey revealed that Hassane was following his orders, and from thousands of miles away, he even helped to buy the gun which was to be used. Kotey switched to Arabic to explain how.

TEXT: I was the one who talked to him and I was the one who arranged for him to have a gun with a silencer.

KACHROO: This was part of a broader plan, he said, to organize sleeper cells in Europe, to retaliate against coalition airstrikes.

TEXT: The idea was to plant people in countries so that if there was any aggression from these countries, they would have people who would conduct a mission.

KACHROO: Kotey is now likely to be brought to the United States. He'll face trial and potentially, the death penalty. Then, finally, perhaps, the secrets of what happened in the execution cell will be revealed.


VAUSE: Well, a short break. When we come back, 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 all change after a number of deaths on Mount Everest.

Also, the swollen Arkansas River, breaking all records, never before has it been this high, and more storms are expected through the area, we'll have the very latest and the forecast, in just a moment.


[01:30:34] VAUSE: Welcome back everybody. Thanks for staying with us.

You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

At a possible fresh election, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party have agreed to merge with the smaller center right Kulanu Party expanding their voter base. Netanyahu has less than a day now to form a new coalition government. If he fails, it will be the trigger for those elections.

European leaders held their first meeting after the European parliament sections to begin discussing the bloc's top jobs. The set a deadline of July to finalize nominees. (INAUDIBLE) contention though could be something of a challenge given the splintered election results.

Donald Trump returning from Japan still lashing out at his Democrat Rival Joe Biden. On Tuesday Mr. Trump tweeted a backhanded compliment about the former vice president calling him a low IQ individual while he says North Korea's Kim Jong-un called Biden a Low IQ idiot.

Well, for many climbers, it's a lifetime dream -- climbing the world's highest mountain. Just 66 years ago, May 29th 1953 Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first to reach the summit of Everest.

But that anniversary comes during a deadly climbing season -- 11 lives have been lost on average this year. Most happened on the climb down and many are stuck in long lines at high altitude of 8,000 meters above sea level.

CNN's Arwa Damon explains how difficult it is to breathe at just 5,000 meters.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We traveled to Everest base camp by helicopter which meant that we weren't acclimatized and the altitude really hits you like a ton of bricks. It's as if you're trying to suck in air with an elephant sitting on your chest. A few steps and your head start to spin.

It's just a glimpse, a taste of the difficulties and challenges that face climbers as they try to take on Everest's summit which this year has been especially deadly.

We spoke to a number of climbers at the base camp who were among the last to make it down. Most people had already come through. The camp was beginning to wind down for the season.

But one was a 17-year-old girl who had summited with her father. She has a goal in mind to try to do all of the seven summits on the seven continent before she turns 18 years old. Her father is very supportive but was, of course, very concerned.

As they were on the way up they did pass the bodies of some of those who had died and she was telling us that that saddened her yes, but it also motivated her to keep going. She said "I did not want to end up like them.

But there are a number of problems, issues that have resulted in this year's increased death toll. There is the overcrowding that took place as some days as people rushed to the summit because they only had a few days to try to summit because of the weather conditions.

Some people are blaming the Nepalese government for issuing too many permits. The government denies that. They say they only offered nine more permits this year when compared to last year.

And then there is this other issue that was brought up over and over again by experienced climbers, by guides and by the Sherpas. And that is of climbers who don't have the level of experience required to take on a mountain like Everest.

They are not able to read or listen to their bodies. They don't know the proper techniques. They're not able to go up fast enough. And all of this can prove to be very detrimental to their health.

The vast majority of the deaths happened people coming down. They go through what is known as the death zone and it is called that because every breath you take there only has about a third of the oxygen that sea level does. And the vast majority of climbers do end up dying because of altitude sickness.

Now because of all of this, the Nepalese government is saying that while they're not to blame for the deaths that are happening, while they don't say it was necessarily because of the overcrowded or inexperienced they are considering changing their requirements for permits.

Right now, you don't have to prove a level of expertise to get a permit. That the Nepalese government says might change.

Arwa Damon -- Kathmandu.


[01:34:56] VAUSE: Well, in the United States the cleanup is underway in parts of Kansas which was hit by a large tornado. Dozens of homes were swept away; 15,000 customers without electricity power.

Dozens of tornadoes have been reported in eight states in the U.S. just this week alone. And that left a trail of destruction across what they call the heartland from deadly twisters in Ohio to flooding in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera with the latest.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A trail of devastation as severe storms ripped through the central United States and entire neighborhoods drowning in floodwater. At least two reported tornadoes touched down near Dayton, Ohio Monday night, just 30 minutes apart. I

RACHEL HENDERSON, TORNADO SURVIVOR: I was scared, and not knowing what I was going to see at my house.

LAVANDERA: An EF-3 tornado struck the small town of Salina, Ohio. One man was killed when the twister smashed a car into his home. At least seven others were injured. A

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a tragedy like this you often reel a little bit when work at it. Back in the neighborhood, there's areas that looked truly like a war zone.

LAVANDERA: Winds ripped through walls and flipped cars, damage and destroying at least 40 homes there.

RENEE MONIZ, TORNADO SURVIVOR: There was this big gust of wind and the I heard something hit the roof and I thought it was hail but it wasn't hale. But it wasn't hale -- it was those two by fours.

LAVANDERA: Debris like that hit this man in nearby Brookville, Ohio. As he described the roof being torn from his house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was just an ominous feeling. Something made my body move too two flicks to the left. Thank God because the entire front room I was standing in is no longer there.

LAVANDERA: These Ohio storms come on the heels of weeks of deadly weather across the central U.S. There have been over 500 reports of tornados in the past 30 days. It's one of the strongest storm seasons ever recorded.

In Oklahoma and Arkansas, the same storm systems are bringing historic flooding. And even more rain is forecast. Homeowners battle to save their property in Sand Springs, Oklahoma just east of the Keystone Dam, where three Olympic-sized pools of water are released from the floodgates every second.

Has it been a pretty nerve-racking experience?


LAVANDERA: The flooding forced Rick Saune (ph) to leave his home last night and now he can't get back.

RICK SAUNE, RESIDENT: The water was approaching at that point but if we didn't leave then we were going to be landlocked

LAVANDERA: CNN helped him check out his home by flying a drone over his street nearly a mile from the Arkansas River. It's safe -- so far.

SAUNE: Here's the water right there.

LAVANDERA: There it is. I see it.

SAUNE: So it's still -- it's still coming up that berm. It would come up -- a pretty fair amount but we're drying, thank God.

LAVANDERA: Others have not been so lucky with emergency of teams working to rescue people from rooftops in the floodwaters.

Ed Lavandera, CNN -- Sand Springs, Oklahoma.


VAUSE: Meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins us now with more on the storms and this violent weather which we are expecting to sort of peak, you know, in the past 24 hours. But it just keeps coming.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEORLOGIST: It does. And we have been observing all kinds of interesting data regarding the tornadoes and the last time we did not have a tornado was May 15th.

Every day we've seen tornadoes, deadly tornadoes, wide paths of destruction. It has been overwhelming.

Now May and June are the peak months for tornadic activity. In the United States we see about 1,200 tornadoes a year. But this year, it's been phenomenal. We've seen wide stretches across the Midwestern United States.

And for tomorrow -- wanted to show you this before we show you some of the very powerful video coming out of the heartland from Springfield (ph) to Dallas could see some tornadic activity.

Also across that mid-Atlantic region, from Washington D.C. towards Pittsburgh, not quite to New York but they saw some pretty good storms as we headed into the afternoon and evening hours.

All right. We take you to Kansas, and about 100 kilometers to the west of Kansas city there Lawrence and Linwood, Kansas. This is out of Linwood. Take a look at that. They are saying this was a monster tornado, it is rain wrapped. You can see it as back lift (ph) so we can see just how broad a system it is.

The authorities there say, don't come look at the damage. Don't come and see whose house is still standing and whose isn't. Power outages, it has been a dreadful situation there.

All right. Now, into Lawrence, Kansas. These are kind of next to each other. This is drone video. You can see most of the roof off of this -- lovely big home has been taken off. We see this.

Street after street, road after road, businesses have been damaged as well. They saying that there are injuries there but we don't have reports of fatalities. That may change. But we saw all across the Ohio River Valley.

[01:39:25] We'll take you now to Salina, Ohio. This lies to the north northwest of Dayton, Ohio. Eight tornadoes -- John, reported three, three EF3 intensity.

VAUSE: The scale of devastation and destruction is pretty astounding.

Karen -- thank you. We appreciate the update.

We'll take a short break, when we come back, a Huawei taking on the U.S. government the embattled Chines tech company. Going to court over the Trump administration's claim that its technology poses a global security threat.


VAUSE: Chinese tech giant Huawei is taking a dramatic next step in its legal fight against the U.S. government. In the past few hours, Huawei announced a it field a motion to summary judgment on its legal move challenging the U.S. law which bans federal agencies from buying its products. Huawei says the law actually violate the U.S. Constitution.

CNN's Sherisse Pham (ph) joins now us from Shenzhen (ph) in China with more on this. So Sherisse will a win in court actually matter given that Huawei, you know, a couple of weeks ago, put out a black list for trade? SHERISSE PHAM, This is a great question, John, because a win in court

isn't really not going to help them out in the U.S. export ban department., And that is a much more crippling blow to this company. So I asked a chief legal officer Song Luiping (ph) what exactly u does a victory look like?

What would a wind in the court mean for Huawei? Have a listen. Here's what he had to say.


Song Luiping, chief legal officer: We believe adamantly we are fighting for a fair chance to compete in the market, because it is a university recognized value and will define our victory as that. A fair chance to compete in the market.


PHAM: So, a fair chance to compete in the U.S. Market it's pretty unlikely. Huawei has been basically locked out of the United States for nearly a decade, and the latest restrictions from the Commerce Department are a really big blow to this company.

Being placed on a trade blacklist means that companies like Google and Qualcomm cannot supply software and computer chips to Huawei. And so Executive today John saying look, this ban that it is threatening our business.

VAUSE: Sherisse -- thank you very much over.

Obviously Huawei has some difficult days ahead, taking on the U.S. government -- not an easy task. Thanks -- Sherrise Pham there, live for using Shenzhen.

[01:44:52] Well, there's been a flurry of rulings as well as legislation on abortion around the United States. And it appears to some that Republican State Houses and conservatives are moving to overturn Roe versus Wade which is the legal release (ph) which made abortion legal in the U.S.

In Missouri, the last health center offering abortions there stop performing the procedure as early as Friday. Missouri's governor signed a bill last week abortions banned after eight weeks.

And according to Planned Parenthood, the state is expected to deny the center's license renewal. Meantime the U.S. Supreme Court as let stand a lower court ruling blocking part of Indiana's restrictive new abortion.

The provision said the state ban -- they could ban abortion problems but it's only by rape, sex or disability of the fetus.

Then there's Illinois where lawmakers have approved a measure saying every individual has the right to make their own decisions about reproductive health, including the right to give birth or have an abortion. A certain trial is underway in the United States to determine if a drug company can be held accountable for the deadly opioid epidemic. Prosecutors in Oklahoma accuse the pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson of running a deceitful, multi million dollar brain-washing campaign to push opioids on Americans, a charge the company strongly denied.

We get more now from CNN's Jean Casarez.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the first opioid case that has goon through trial in the United States. The defended is Johnson & Johnson. And what once the state of Oklahoma is 11leging and they said this over and over again,

When you over supply people will die. They are alleging that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary knew that the opioid; medication that they were distributing and selling right here in Oklahoma addictive. But they told medical professionals, lay people, and the communities in general that it was safe and effective for every day pain.

They say that Oklahoma now has an opioid crisis, and they've had it for sometime, and it has destroyed communities and families, it has destroyed marriages.

And people are dying. Families are losing their sons and their daughters, children are losing their parents, and they say the reason is because of Johnson and Johnson, because they came into this community and they used sales tactics to try to convince that it was safe and effective, and that medical professionals should maybe even give more to alleviate the pain.

They say they're going to put some of those victims on the stand -- parents who have lost their loved ones, children who have lost their parents, and those who have been addicted themselves.

Now, the other side is very strong also, because Johnson and has come out fighting, saying let's look at the medications that we actually have had in Oklahoma.

First of all, they have been approved by the FDA. Secondly, they have been approved by the Oklahoma board pf Medicine. They are covered by insurance in Oklahoma. They focus on their Fentanyl patch.

They showed a chart to the judge that said that worldwide in the last 15 years, 600 million prescription of that Fentanyl path worldwide have been distributed, and there is only a record of 103 reports of addiction. They also say that the labels of the medication have many, many warnings that it can be abused, that it can become addictive, that you can actually die if you do not take this appropriately.

The judge will hear evidence probably until the middle of July from both sides. He will make the decision if Johnson and dungeon has created a public nuisance, and created the crisis in Oklahoma, the result will be the Johnson and Johnson will have to pay millions of dollars to the state of Oklahoma.

Jean Casarez CNN -- Norman, Oklahoma.


VAUSE: Up next, a future without beef? The plant growing meat alternative, aimed at yes, meat eaters. How to they compare do they compare to the real deal? It's not bad. I can tell you that. We'll have more when we come back.


VAUSE: McKenzie Bezos has only been a billionaire for a new months but now she's giving half her fortune to charity. She became one of the richest women in the world earlier this year with an estimated net worth of $37 billion give or take. That was after the divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

And she promising at least half of that money over her lifetime to the Giving Pledge which encourages the world's richest people to dedicate a majority of their wealth to charity.

But so far, the world's richest person her ex-husband, Jeff Bezos, refusing to sign on to the initiative.

Finally we, could have an answer to that age old question.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: good place Where is the beef? People give you a lot less beef.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Where is the beef.


VAUSE: And that answer might be soon be. Who cares? Right now it seems meatless meat is having a moment. What the experts call a virtual cycle. Consumers are demanding a healthy sustainable alternative to beef and that fuels demand and creates publicity and awareness of the product which only further increases demand.

And here's the reason why these veggie burgers are so popular. They don't taste anything like a veggie burger. And that one simple change might just have the global wide implications to determine the very future the planet.

Joining us now Tim Carman is the reporter for the "Washington Post". And Tim, you know, I want to know the (INAUDIBLE) really when we talk about the meat industry and the impact it has, you know, in an environmental sense on the planet. If we can wean ourselves away from that then that has an environmental impact on everything from water (INAUDIBLE) to carbon emissions.

TIM CARMAN, "WASHINGTON POST": This is true I mean I think, you know, the meat industry has put a lot of effort, a lot of money into countering these arguments. I'm sure you've heard some of it but I think that they will claim that meat and cattle production in particular is such a such a small percentage of greenhouse gases.

but you think about that, There are other issues that are involved with cattle production, meat production. You've got everything from animal wildlife habitat; from animals suffering for water use to a wildlife habitat use. So I think, you know, there's a lot of reasons why people decide to go for me alternatives other than just greenhouse gases.

VAUSE: Yes. And also I guess the key here is that it actually tastes like meat and that's been the key. And there's research now put out on Tuesday by Bank of America, Merrill Lynch/and here is part of it.

"The next generation plant based alternatives are in position to disrupt the meat category in a similar fashion that plant based milks disrupted dairy and energy drinks disrupted caffeinated beverages."

So you know, moving away from the environmental impact the view on Wall Street is that, you know, this is where the industry is heading. And for that reason someone somewhere decided that this is the veggie burger, it's going to taste like meat. We're going to make money out of it.

CARMAN: Well, I mean look what happened with the IPO with Beyond Meat, right. They I think they set the price when they set, you know, when they started selling their stairs at 25 dollars per share.

I think the last I looked it's trading at nearly 90 dollars per share. So there is a lot of people really bullish on sort of mock meat out there. Wall Street is definitely big on it.

I mean you are even seeing like the traditional meat companies like Cargill and Tyson starting to invest in these kind of start up companies.

So the future definitely is mock meat, fake meat, how much of a percentage they can gobble up of the traditional meat market. I think it's still a serious question.

VAUSE: And what will that look like? Will it be this plant based, you know, meat substitute? Or will they be growing it on trees? We have stories that I'll bet you'll be growing you know the part of the animal on a tree outside kind of thing.

So that's still yet to be determined. But we do know that "Burger King" plans to introduce a vegetarian version of the whopper across the United States later this year.

It was market tested in St. Lewis and the numbers came in and the restaurants which sold the impossible meatless whopper apparently foot traffic increase by almost 20 percent. And you had a chance to review the whopper without the meet? How was it?

CARMAN: It was really good. I had not had the Impossible Burger made by impossible foods. I mean they've got a sort of very complex system in place to create these parties. But Burger King and Impossible Foods, you know, generated a partnership to supply the meat for Burger King in St. Lewis -- starting at St. Lewis.

[01:55:02] And they were really good. I mean bottom line, it was a very good burger. I think you would've had a hard time telling the regular whopper from the fake whopper. And part of that I mean let's be honest it's a low bar to cross. There's not a whole lot of meat in a whopper. It's about 30 percent of the entire sandwich is the meat. And most of that flavor once it gets done with the grill is basically flame-grilled flavor. And once you he run an impossible burger through that flame girl it takes a lot like a whopper.

VAUSE: And this is my next point. Adam (INAUDIBLE), he wasn't so thrilled about the meatless whopper. Writing this, "It is very one note in its flavor and texture. The question should be whether it taste like a whopper, it does. It should be whether it tastes good, not especially."

And that's, you know, to your point, you know, comparing a meatless burger to a hamburger which is almost meatless anyway it seems a fairly low bar. When the real test then the real market (INAUDIBLE), you know, when meatless stake tastes like rule but it's compared to a hammer which is always good anyway. An actual real test.

CARMAN: Right I think, you know, the fast food market is a great market fake meat companies to get into because they are such, you know, mid-grade products. There's not a lot of meat in them, you don't have to work very hard to mimic the flavor of a fast food burger. So it's an easy bar to clear.

But if you are going to do like I mean -- some of the -- if you look at like the burger at a Red Robin which also does the Impossible Food Burger. You can supplement it for anyone of their preparations tip or anyone of their preparations at Robin.

I tried it there as well in St. Louis. It's not the same. It's a figure patty and it's trying to mimic maybe a good quarter pound to half pound burger. It has a hard time mimicking the flavors I think of a classic hamburger.

VAUSE: Tim -- we'll leave it there but I'm pretty easily plead though so I buy Impossible Burger the other day which is pretty good. I enjoyed it.

And you obviously and you enjoyed the whopper as well.

CARMAN: I did.

VAUSE: Good to see you and thanks for coming in.

CARMAN: Thank you.

VAUSE: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM thanks for your company.

I'm John Vause.

Stay with us. Rosemary church takes over for me after a very short break. You are watching CNN.