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Israeli Prime Minister Likud To Merge With Smaller Kulanu Party; Nepal Marks Annual Everest Day Amid Summit Deaths; Mackenzie Bezos Pledges Half Her Fortune To Charity; U.N.'s Scathing Report On North Korea; Fighting For Climate Justice; The Bubble Gum Diamond; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Under Pressure; Tornadoes Ripped Through Midwestern U.S.; E.U. with Top Jobs Available; Alarming Casualties at Mount Everest; Abortion a Hot Issue in the Supreme Court. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired May 29, 2019 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces a tight deadline as he threatens to call new elections if top government officials don't come to a compromise.
And a remarkable act of generosity one of the richest women in the world promises to giveaway half of her fortune to charity.
Plus, dozens of tornadoes have been barreling through the Midwest and U.S. leaving behind total devastation. And forecasters warned more flooding is on the way.
Hello and welcome to our viewers from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church. And this is CNN Newsroom.
Israel's prime minister has just 14 hours performing a new coalition government. If Benjamin Netanyahu fails that could trigger a new general election just weeks after voters went to the polls in April.
The political gridlock comes in part from a conscription law. It would end exemptions from military service of ultra-orthodox Jews. Mr. Netanyahu's former defense minister backs the law. The prime minister's ultra-orthodox allies are against it.
Well, for more Oren Liebermann joins us live from Jerusalem. Good to see you, Oren. So, time is running out for Prime Minister Netanyahu to make a deal and form this coalition. Can he get this done?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has managed these sorts of coalition negotiations before. And he's seen disagreements between potential coalition partners but this one is no doubt more serious. Putting is former defense minister against the ultra-orthodox parties ostensibly over this draft law.
So far, Netanyahu has put all of the pressure on his former defense minister to compromise and none of the pressure on the ultra-orthodox parties. The problem for Netanyahu the former defense minister isn't budging. He says the draft law is just a symbol for him, a symbol of the ultra-orthodox influence in the country versus the secular influence.
To him, the draft law is part of that issue and he sees standing for the draft law as standing for all of the secular on other issues on which he says the ultra-orthodox are trying to exert their influence and that to him is why this is so important and why he says there's no chance he's compromising on this draft law.
He wants it pass as is and showing no leniency, no flexibility saying this is where I stand. The problem for Netanyahu is the ultra-orthodox parties right now aren't showing flexibility either, and that's why with 14 hours to go and ticking, we are going to talk about this until perhaps the very last moment, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Right. So, if negotiations fail, are elections the only option here?
LIEBERMANN: No. Certainly not. There are other options built within the political system. Netanyahu could go to the president and say I'm unable to form a government and then it's up to the president to assign somebody else to do it. Either the leader of the opposition or somebody from within Netanyahu's own Likud Party or somebody else altogether.
That's how the political system is built here so there are more options. But Netanyahu knows that could happen and would happen if he is unable to form a government so he'll use a legislative option. He will legislate new elections from the Knesset and have his own party and other coalition parties vote for new elections.
Specifically, to preempt that from happening, specifically to make sure he is the only option for the prime minister. And believing that if he goes to new election, he'll win a bigger majority and then it will be easier to make a coalition.
That is how this is playing out right now. To prevent that from happening they will have to be a rebellion within Netanyahu's own Likud Party, that is also something Netanyahu may have to worry about as those elections in that deadline grow closer and closer here.
CHURCH: All right. Oren Liebermann will keep an eye on developments there and hear back from you when more occurs. I appreciate it.
Well, the political push is on for the top jobs in the European Union. But the election has left the European Parliament fragmented. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are at odds over who should lead the European Commission.
While the E.U. council president insists the discussion should focus on process and not possible candidates.
Erin McLaughlin has the details.
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.
[03:04:59] Twenty-eight leaders met over an informal dinner to discuss what matters most to them, bringing the diplomats, I'm told that they want 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.
CHURCH: Well, the German chancellor is addressing those election results before leaving for Brussels. Angela Merkel spoke exclusively with our Christiane Amanpour. It is her first in-depth interview with a U.S. news network.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: I just want to get your reaction though, first to the European elections. The results. Your party came first here in Germany. But the Greens did very well and you did do a little worse than usual. In general, how do you think it's gone?
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): First of all, I was pleased that more people went to the elections than in the last European election. That's been the case in many countries.
Secondly, we have become the strongest party and this will play a role when we nominate the positions within the European Union. And third, it's correct that the Greens actually have been very strong. And it has to do with issues that people are interested in the most these days.
For example, climate change and that is also from my part of course a challenge now. We have to give better answers to all these issues. And we have to say very clearly the targets that we have committed to are targets that we remain committed to.
AMANPOUR: And yet, since you brought this up, I might as well talk about the environment because it's what every young person practically is interested in.
Is there existential right. You've made targets but you haven't kept them. Very many countries have not kept him. Germany is still quite dirty. You decided to put aside nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster. Do you regret that? Do you think there should be a nuclear power or more commitment to a clean environment? MERKEL (through translator): Well, I'm of the opinion that it's
correct, that the young people of the world rise up and point out to the older generation what is happening to their future. And we have actually been able to keep within certain limits of are targets but with the limits of 2020, for example, we have difficulties this year. We are now committed to 2030.
I don't regret leaving nuclear energy because I feel that was the correct decision. And I'm strong convinced that generating energy by nuclear is not sustainable in the long run.
We have also decided to phase out power generators by coal plants by 2038. And it's of course a challenge to use neither coal no nuclear energy, and we have to find a solution to this. We can do this. Here in Germany, renewable energy is already an important part of the energy mix. And we want then to generate more energy by renewables by 2030.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Angela Merkel talking to our Christiane Amanpour there.
Well, it is Everest Day in Nepal. The anniversary of the summit of the world's tallest mountain. On May 29th, 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first individuals to successfully scale Mount Everest.
Well now 66 years later, there is a growing debate over climbing regulations. That's because this season 11 people have died. Right now, Nepal only requires climbers get a permit regardless of their experience. But that might change as more amateurs make the 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.
[03:10:03] Father/daughter team is pretty extraordinary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
DAMON: How did it feel for you? What is it like?
MRIKA NIKQA, 17-YEAR-OLD MOUNTAINEER: Well, it felt awesome, it was pretty good.
DAMON: I mean, it's a combination of pride and anxiety?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's responsibility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Big ones.
DAMON: Yes. I assume before you went up to the top you are hearing about all of these deaths that were happening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw dead bodies in the way.
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 climatization, it's time to leave.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Everest base camp, Nepal.
CHURCH: All right. We do want to bring you these live pictures happening right now. Thousands are paying their respects to Formula One legend Niki Lauda who died last week at the age of 70.
Now his casket is on display at St. Stephens Cathedral in Vienna and on a traditionally reserve for religious leaders and heads of state. The body of the three-time world champion is clad in a race suit with his helmet placed atop that casket.
Now Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton is among those there to honor Lauda. A public mass and private funeral will follow.
The Arkansas River is the highest it's ever been and more storms are expected to pass through the area. The latest forecast still to come.
Plus, the Supreme Court weighs in on the wave of abortion bans sweeping across the United States. What the justices did and did not decide. We're back in just a moment.
[03:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Chinese tech giant Huawei is taking a dramatic next step in its legal fight against the United States government. Earlier, Huawei announced it has filed a motion for summary judgment on its claim that the U.S. law banning federal agencies from buying its products 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 the law back in March. But now it's asking the court to rule quickly in its favor because the law itself is unconstitutional.
The company is not disputing any of the facts. The Trump administration says it believes Huawei's technology poses a global security threat and it has urged allies to ban or restrict Huawei's products from their 5G networks. But Huawei says that the U.S. has not provided any evidence to support that claim.
Well, Donald Trump is back in Washington after his four-day state visit to Japan and he's not letting up on his Democratic rival former Vice President Joe Biden. On Tuesday he tweeted this. "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?"
We get more now from CNN's Jim Acosta.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Any regrets on your comment on Hoe 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 former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Biden campaign released a scathing statement that it 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 to side 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Since that moment, some fellow Republicans have blasted the president's remark. The latest, long time 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Irrelevant and for good reason he does a lot of the proposals that he's made display either ignorance of world affairs or a cavalier attitude.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 will not have a chance of being elected. In particular, African-Americans will not be able to vote for you."
[03:19:59] But the president is overlooking his own role in enflaming 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 who were wrongfully convicted in a Central Park rape case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, TV HOST: Were you pre-judging those arrested in that?
TRUMP: No, I was not pre-judging at all. I'm not in this particular case. I'm saying if they are found guilty, if the woman died which she hopefully will not be dying, but if the woman dies, I think they should be executed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: On the Russia 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 got a brief reprieve from the investigations in Congress as he wished both Japanese troops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I want to start by saying happy Memorial Day. Happy Memorial Day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: And U.S service members a happy Memorial Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I have to wish you all a very happy Memorial Day. Right? Memorial Day is a very special day back home. I always like to be back in the U.S. as you do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 and return to the strategy of Mr. Trump's GOP rivals used back in 2016. They too tried to keep Mr. Trump's attack at arm's length during that campaign. It's an open question whether that stay-the-fray approach will work in 2020.
Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: The already devastated U.S. heartland has braced for more tornadoes and flooding. In the last few hours, a large and dangerous tornado ripped through parts of Kansas. Seventy-six twisters have been reported since Monday.
In Ohio at least one death is being blamed on the storms. And in Arkansas at least one person drowned.
CNN's Alexandra Field has the latest from one of the hardest hit areas 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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RENE MONIZ, TORNADO SURVIVOR: The first thing I thought of was war zone because it just looked like somebody just took a bomb.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: From the ground the view is perhaps even worse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK LYNCH, CHIEF, HARRISON TOWNSHIP, OHIO FIRE DEPARTMENT: Devastation World War III. It's tough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FIELD: Belongings spilled out of this house in this Dayton neighborhood split second decision saved lives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last night was pretty intense for us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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.
LEMON: So, let's get more on all of this with our meteorologist Karen Maginnis. The images are just devastating, aren't they, Karen? People wanting to know when this will come to an end.
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We've got another round of severe weather that will materialize for the afternoon on Wednesday. Then going into Thursday, it's just a little bit further towards the east.
But May is the peak month for tornadic activity across the United States. That sees about 1,200 tornado reports every year but some of the tornadoes that we've seen in the past 24, 48 hours have been EF-3. That means they are supporting winds of about 220 kilometers per hour and up to 265 kilometers per hour.
Then we have June, but May has been an overwhelming month. We've reported tornadoes every day for the past 13 days. And it's going to continue even as we go into tomorrow.
[03:25:02] About 39 million people in the enhance risk. All right. Lots of images to show you. Look at this rain wrap tornado. This coming out of Linwood, Kansas this afternoon. People across the Midwest and the area known as Tornado Alley they know when to take cover. When you see something like this it's time to take cover.
Then we go to Lawrence and these are essentially bedroom communities of Kansas City. Roofs off. We see trees collapsed; debris thrown around. They will survey this area and assess just the intensity of these. But more than likely this is also an EF-3 tornado.
All right. Then it isn't just the homes, it isn't just the businesses, but even wildlife is affected and farm animals. Take a look at this poor horse wandering around on the street as the trees are stripped, the land is devastated.
And then one more area, this out of Celina, Ohio. This is north of Dayton, Ohio. Roof off, debris, power outages. People are told don't go in those areas. Tomorrow it looks like we've got more potential for deadly weather. Back to you. CHURCH: Thanks so much, Karen, for the heads up there. Excuse me. I
Well, several U.S. states have passed restrictive laws hoping the Supreme Court will overturn its landmark 1973 decision protecting a woman's right to have an abortion. And they got a preview of the justice's thinking on Roe versus Wade on Tuesday.
CNN's Jessica Schneider explains.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Supreme Court sidestepping a big decision on abortion for now. But still waiting somewhat into the abortion debate ruling on two key facets of an Indiana abortion law on Tuesday.
First, the court has left in place a block on a key part of the law, meaning it cannot go into effect. This part of the law would have prohibited abortions motivated solely by race, sex or disability.
Now in deciding not to take the case and leave a lower court block of the law in effect, the justices issued an unsigned opinion and specifically said they were not expressing any view on the underlying merits of the abortion debate.
But the court did decide that a second part of that Indiana law that mandates that fetal tissue be disposed of by burial of cremation that may go into effect. So really, this sort of split decision by the Supreme Court it seems to signal that there is not an appetite right now to reexamine the courts core abortion precedents in Roe v. Wade, Casey v. Planned Parenthood.
While at the same time, that is exactly what anti-abortion activists are pushing for. And as such, Justice Clarence Thomas addressed this reality when he wrote in a concurrence on Tuesday that the court cannot avoid waiting on this issue forever.
He put it this way saying quote, "Having created the constitutional right to abortion, this court is duty bound to address its scope." And of course, with several laws severely restricting abortion access in several states it is likely that the court will eventually have to confront the abortion issue. But for now, the justices are really letting it percolate in the lower courts.
Now this decision comes at the same time Planned Parenthood in the state of Missouri is warning that abortion may be unavailable in the state starting on Friday if the annual license to provide abortions is not renewed which would essentially cost the states only abortion clinic to seize its operation.
Now Missouri did just pass a bill that prohibits abortion after eight weeks of pregnancy and it's just one of many states that have called -- passed the so-called Heartbeat law in a major push to get the Supreme Court to eventually revisit the Roe v. Wade decision.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington. CHURCH: We'll take a short break here. Still to come, Mackenzie Bezos
is one of the richest women in the world. And now she is pledging half her fortune to charity. That's next on CNN Newsroom.
And a grim picture emerges from North Korean defectors. A U.N. report documents systemic corruption that demands bribes for citizens to survive.
We're back with that in just a moment.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN Newsroom, I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party have agreed to merge with a smaller center right party, the move boost their voter base. This as Mr. Netanyahu has less than a day to form a new coalition government. Missing the deadline could trigger a new election.
European leaders held their first meeting after the European parliament elections to begin discussing the top jobs, they set a deadline of July to finalize nominees, reaching a consensus could be a challenge, given an election result that splintered parliament.
Nepal is celebrating Everest Day, it marks the first known summit of the world tallest mountain, but it comes during a devastating climbing season that saw 11 people die. Mountaineers blame the deaths on weather, overcrowding and amateur climbers.
Well, Mackenzie Bezos has only been a billionaire for a few months and now she is giving half of her fortune to charity, she became one of the richest women in the world earlier this year, worth almost $37 billion after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. She is promising to donate at least half of that money over the course of her lifetime.
Michael Thatcher joins me now from New York, he is the CEO of Charity Navigator, a watchdog group that evaluates charities so donors are aware of where their money is going. Great to have you with us.
MICHAEL THATCHER, CEO, CHARITY NAVIGATOR: Thank you Rosemary, I'm delighted to be here.
CHURCH: So, Mackenzie Bezos is giving half of her $37 billion fortune to charity, specifically to the giving pledge, which is a commitment by the world wealthiest people to dedicate at least half of their wealth to this group. The money can't go anywhere at any given time. So what will likely happen to the 18 plus billion that Mackenzie Bezos has just pledged, and will she decide exactly where that money goes?
THATCHER: Well, I hope she does, and first of all, this is a huge commitment that she's making. It is absolutely wonderful to have someone dedicate half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. The giving pledge allows the pledgees to essentially pick the organization they want to dedicate funding to, so they may care about the environment, they may care about education, other issues. That is entirely up to them.
And then when they make that investment, it is theirs to make. Now that can be done while they are still living, or can be left as a quest after they are gone. How she sets that up is going to be very important, and actually where there is an opportunity for impact in what she is doing.
CHURCH: Now, as we mentioned, your watchdog group Charity Navigator evaluated charities to allow donors to make informed decisions with their money. So, what is your assessment of the giving pledge, set up by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates back in 2010?
[03:35:00] THATCHER: So what we have seen with the giving pledge which started almost 10 years ago is that it has grown from a group of 40 to well over 200 billionaires that have committed to make there are more than half of their wealth available to nonprofit causes and philanthropy.
What this also does a follow-on effect, which is that it encourages others, whether you have a small amount of money or a large amount of money to be more generous and not only more generous, but intentional in your generosity. So that is the key I think in this. It's nice to have a significant amount of wealth, but being thoughtful, choosing where you place that money and finding good organizations to receive your hard earned money is really important I think.
CHURCH: And that is the key, isn't it? Because a lot of people are reticent to hand over money to so many organizations that are basically saying, give your money to us, and then we find out that a large portion of that money goes toward administrative costs. So how can you be sure that when you hand over your money, that will specifically go to the people that you see most in need. How can you guarantee that?
THATCHER: So what we try to do at Charity Navigator is help you see where is the money going, but then also how has the organization run, and it's just a well-run organization, and I think the real -- the key things is, there is an element of where is my donation going, but then also what has the organization done with my money, and my investment on some levels.
And so, the key thing that we are seeing is, when you shifted from giving to investing in social change, you actually start following up on your investments, in the same way you would do with -- let's say a portfolio investment in the stock market and you track where these things go. What you will see in larger donors is that they tend to be much more careful and their tracking of these investment, and looking for change over time. You may not see it at the time of your initial donation, but one year in, two years in, three years in, you ought to be able to expect that the nonprofit will be able to report back what they've accomplished with your funding.
CHURCH: Right. And presumably if you're not happy with the particular place you put your money, you can shift that around and put it where you think it might work better for you and for those who are trying to help. But of course, the pressure is now on Jeff Bezos himself to sign this giving pledge, something he has not done just yet, but with his ex-wife Mackenzie leading the charge, would you expect him to do that very soon?
THATCHER: I would hope so. It was encouraging to see his tweet, saying that he was proud of Mackenzie's actions, and hopefully, he will take a similar step himself.
CHURCH: Right. And who will some of the other billionaires who you would expect to follow suit? Do you think, perhaps, should do this?
THATCHER: You know, I think it's nice to have the billionaires, but it's also good to have the millionaires and the people -- all of us thinking about how we can give a little bit more back to the society and the world and the universe in which we live. So, I don't know that I have specific names other than I would encourage everyone to think about the giving pledge as a model, and think, how regardless of how much money you, have how can it be more impactful with the giving that I do, actually do.
CHURCH: Michael Thatcher, thank you so much. We've enjoyed chatting with you and hopefully, Mackenzie Bezos' actions here which I think is incredibly generous and I hope that others will follow suit, billionaires, millionaires and anyone else who wants to give their money. We do appreciate you chatting with us. I appreciate it.
THATCHER: Thank you very much.
CHURCH: And of course, you want to be smart when donating to any cause. For help finding organization you can trust, you can go to a charity-navigator.org.
Well, millions affected by pouring levels of hunger. The latest U.N. report catalogues the human rights abuses in North Korea. And, later, CNN investigate how poor people in one Texas community are suffering from the impact of climate change, and a lack of help from the U.S. Government. We are back in a moment.
[03:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: A new U.N. report paints a damning picture of North Korea and nations so corrupt the only way for people to survive is to pay bribes for food, health care, shelter and work. And these concerns that President Trump plays a role in diverting attention from the human rights abusers. Brian Todd has our report.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In President Trump mind, North Korea is an economic powerhouse just ready to be unleashed something he describes to reporters in Japan on Monday.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Kim Jong-un understands the unbelievable economic potential that country has. It's located between Russia and China on one side and South Korea in the other and it's all waterfront property. It's a great location as we used to say in the real estate business. And I think he sees that.
TODD: But now a new U.N. report says North Korea is in reality the opposite. An increasingly desperate poor country, so (inaudible) with corruption that according to a person who escaped quote, one cannot lead a life in North Korea if he or she does not bribe his or her way.
GREG SCARLATOIU, COMMITTEE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA: Access to a decent job, access to the market, access to a decent housing, all of these cannot be accomplished unless palms are greased. North Korea has never been as corrupt as it is today under the regime of Kim Jong- un.
TODD: The U.N. says many aboveboard jobs in North Korea don't pay salaries. And bribes have to be paid to get jobs in the growing black market economy.
What happens to people who can't pay bribes?
SCARLATOIU: If they cannot afford to pay bribes, they might end up being in prisons or sent to prison camps, sent to other types of detention facilities.
TODD: In North Korea, buying and selling things openly which westerners consider completely normal is potentially illegal. So defectors say, officials can extort anyone caught doing business.
LEE HAN-BYEOL, NORTH KOREAN DEFECTOR (through translator): In North Korea and markets, if we get caught by guards the only way we get back on property was to paying bribes.
TODD: And defectors have told CNN people are counting to black markets because the lack of food is so desperate.
JI SEONG-HO, NORTH KOREAN DEFLECTOR (through translator): It is a horrendous state and there's a lot of suffering. And many children are taken to the streets for begging. And the quality of life in the countryside is even worse.
TODD: Officials are bribed with cash, cigarettes and other goods, defectors say. The reports say women are especially vulnerable in this vicious cycle. Many women bribed border guards to get into China. Where their fate can be equally horrifying.
MARCUS NOLAND, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: Once they are in China, they have very high levels of anxiety and fear, because they are vulnerable to sex trafficking. And many of these women end up being sold off as bribes. And then they can be sold among the peasants in the rural areas or are forced into, commercial sex activities.
TODD: Analysts are now concerned that many of these abuses are being swept aside, with President Trump's eagerness to strike a nuclear deal with Kim Jong-un. [03:45:07] NOLAND: The President seems to turn a blind eye both to
the brutality of the regime operating a gulag as well as its corruption. Kim Jong-un is the head of the mafia family. He is got a bunch of lieutenants under him who in a kind of pyramid scheme, all predate on the population and they are allowed to keep some of their ill-gotten gains as long as they keep on kicking some of it back up to line.
TODD: North Korea has always denied allegations of human rights abuses and the regime has responded to this U.N. report with one of its diplomatic missions telling the Reuters news agency that the report is quote, politically motivated for sinister purposes. And that all these reports are based on fabricated information from defectors. Brian Todd, CNN Washington.
CHURCH: For more on this Daniel Collinge joins us now from Seoul South Korea, he is a human rights officer with the office of the U.N. high commissioner for human rights. Thank you so much for being with us.
DANIEL COLLINGE, U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFICER: Thank you Rosemary.
CHURCH: So, the details in this U.N. report are shocking and also when we consider how much U.S. President Donald Trump talks up his close relationship with the brutal dictator of North Korea. How concerned are you that Mr. Trump is ignoring these human rights abuses? And will anything be made to get to President Trump to respond to this report?
COLLINGE: I think that is the hope that the report will bring the leaders that are talking amongst themselves on the situation in North Korea to bring the concerns and the voices of the people into this process of dialogue and discussion. Currently their absent of the situation of human rights, the situation that these people face it's not part of the discussion and these situations has to be address to human rights concerns, have to be addressed as part of this process of dialogue. We are not going to have peace and security without the human rights concerns being addressed at the same time.
CHURCH: Now, North Korea denies all the details in this U.N. report. Claiming it's politically motivated and based on fabricated stories from defectors. How do you respond to that accusation?
COLLINGE: All these interviews have been conducted and in an extended period of time and even the past then for this specific report for over a two-year period. So, it would be very difficult for each of every account to correspond. I mean, we've verified as much as we can, the internal consistency of each account that is given to us and then we try to patterns across the whole range of accounts that we received for this report, 214 witness accounts and then from that we can draw certain conclusions, make certain allegations and then it's for the (inaudible) state to clarify the situation.
A bit part of the problem is that, we are not getting information from the state, we have no access to the country. The U.N. human rights also have no access to the country. So we can't go in and see for ourselves, so we rely on this witness testimony for the reports to be produce such as this one.
CHURCH: All right. And this U.N. report found North Korea more corrupt now than ever before. Why do you think that is the case?
COLLINGE: We don't know if it's more corrupt. We relied on this witness testimony. We do know that public distribution system collapsed in the mid-90s. And it led to up to 1 million people died from famine and from this time. This re-dimension market activity -- is spontaneously risen and it's become more and more problem over the years. So, I think the opportunities for state officials to engage in corruption went to this (inaudible) market, re-dimension market activity and extort money from these people. As in the opportunity are becoming greater, these state officials are themselves not receiving salaries and so they also deny on this process of extortion and for their own basic day to day existence as well.
CHURCH: Yes, I mean, that is so shocking, because you worry for those people who don't have jobs, we don't have money, you can't pay these bribes, you know, where it leads them. So what does the international community need to do to ease the human rights abuses and the suffering obviously of most people living in North Korea?
COLLINGE: I think all they can do is to maintain the issue on the agenda on the human rights concerns is on the agenda, in the high level of negotiations and human rights benchmarks can be integrated into these negotiations on for example denuclearization. You can have human rights benchmarks. Very simple ones such as providing access to the U.N. human rights office to other human rights organizations, provide them with access to the country so they can see what the situation is. And then work with the government to address these human rights challenges which seem so prevalent within the country.
CHURCH: And now, of course, you are relying on a lot of information, all this information in fact from these defectors who you have spoken to. What do they say about what other people in North Korea are saying and thinking? Because we know they are shut off from the world, they don't know a lot of what is going on outside of North Korea. So, would they say that the majority of people within North Korea want to leave? Or that they just accept their circumstances?
[03:50:17] COLLINGE: The situation is changing through this redimension (ph) market activity. Information is beginning to see things in the country. So, I'm surprise speaking to the North Koreans, the (inaudible), just how much awareness there is about the situation outside and the problems within. The problem is for these people they have no means to express their opinions or challenging the government of organizing, is a very, very oppressive state if the intend to do this, then they are imprison. So they have no opportunity to express these views to the government and to challenge their authority, but the information that we received is that the awareness is increasing, through this (inaudible) market activity. And that there is increased -- there would be increase in pressure on the authorities to address these situations. CHURCH: it's a very disturbing report and we thank you, of course,
for bringing a lot of these points to light and we'll see how the world community response to this. Daniel Collinge, thank you so much, we appreciate it.
COLLINGE: Thank you.
CHURCH: And coming up next on CNN Newsroom the fight for climate justice. How a minority community in Texas is taking a stand against climate change. Will be back with that.
CHURCH: Well, some experts argue that climate change is exposing another gap between the rich and poor, especially in minority neighborhoods. Here is CNN's Bill Weir with more about the ongoing battle for climate justice.
BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is the great paradox of a man made climate crisis. The fuels that built the modern world are the same ones now destroying it. And while a dirty energy addiction will eventually affect everyone the folks with the smallest carbon footprint are the ones who will feel the most pain.
HILTON KELLEY, FOUNDER, COMMUNITY IN POWER AND DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION: On one hand I'm fighting to push these refineries to lower their emission levels and they're fighting and pushing back saying, we can't lower it any more than what we've already done without shutting down and losing our business.
And then I have some of the residents coming to me saying, well, you know, with what you're doing, you are going to push these industries away and we need these industries for our jobs, Hilton. Our livelihood depends on them. You know, we'll die quicker from starvation than we will pollution. So back off.
WEIR: Hilton Kelley, was born amidst these sprawling refineries of Port Arthur, Texas. Where the working poor live with a carbon burning double whammy. The toxic air that comes with processing millions of barrels of oil a week and the supercharge storms that increase in frequency and power with every barrel burned.
KELLEY: So, we're getting a storm like every other year every three years or so. Not just a little storm, but storms that cost you to have to rebuild your house over and over and over again.
WEIR: For almost 20 years he has been the kind of concerned citizen who grabs a camera when the toxic clouds get bad and has air quality officials on speed dial.
KELLEY: What do you need to see it for? Who are you again?
WEIR: He has a stack of complaints and a few wins. KELLEY: And we're constantly fighting those kinds off battles. So,
I'm forever the guard of this gate and as you can see from my place right here, there go the dragon right there.
[03:55:00] WEIR: That is the dragon. You are constantly watching it.
What Hilton calls the dragon is actually the biggest oil refinery in America and it's owned by a Saudi Arabian company that made $111 billion profit last year. Almost twice as much as Apple. Meanwhile their neighbor who lives here was driven out by the flood waters of hurricane Harvey and almost two years later, can't afford the repairs to move back in.
This is why communities of color are worried that the gap between polluting haves and storm-surviving have not is only going to get wider. After Harvey flooded Motiva and other refineries, the Trump administration fast-tracked almost $4 billion to build storm barriers, specifically to protect oil and gas facilities, but they predominantly block Houston neighborhoods flooded by Harvey, can't even get the government funding to upgrade their storm drains.
BRIDGETTE MURRAY, PRESIDENT, PLEASANTVILLE SUPER NEIGHBORHOOD COUNCIL 57: Because she was on the back of the dread site as well as the water not being able to drain off, her house got about four feet of water.
WEIR: Is that right? Right here.
WEIR: Residents say they are invisible to disaster planners while insurance premiums sky rocket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those communities that get hit first worsen hardest should receive the aid, the assistance first. Shouldn't be in the back of the line, but right now, it's the back of the line, back of the bus.
WEIR: And so a generations after the fight for civil war rights, they now call for climate justice. And they fight their dragons. One fire at time. Bill Weir, CNN, Port Arthur, Texas.
CHURCH: And finally we would like to show you a rare bubble gum diamond. It is a 3.4 karat gem and it's just been sold at Christie's in Hong Kong for $7.5 million. The chairman of the auction house says the vivid pink diamond is unique and its color and clarity hiked up its value.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRANCOIS CURIEL, CHAIRMAN, CHRISTIE'S EUROPE, MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA: It's one of the strongest pink (inaudible) I've ever seen in my 50- year life of dual specialty at Christie's. What is very rare about it is that it is also internally flawless, which means that it has no imperfection whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, how about that? And we are learning that an anonymous bidder bought that gem.
And thanks for your company this hour, I'm Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter @rosemarycnn, I'd love to hear from you. And the news continues next with Max Foster in London. You're watching CNN, have a great day.