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Trump White House; Koreas Tensions; A Dangerous Precedent; Concerns on Repatriation; Myanmar Violence; Rohingya Crisis Plan. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired June 24, 2019 - 02:00   ET



NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: A confrontation that isn't dying down. The U.S. and Iran keep trading insults as President Trump sends his top diplomat to the region to come up with a solution.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, a stinging defeat for the president of Turkey with almost all votes counted. His ruling party loses out on the mayor's seat in Istanbul.

ALLEN: And it is down to just two, as Sweden and Italy fight to host the 2026 Olympics. We tell you why one sports analyst is wondering why would they ever want to. Maybe it's not what it used to be. Hello, everyone. Welcome to our viewers joining us here in the U.S. and around the world. I am Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I am George Howell from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. Newsroom starts right now.

The United States' president says he is not looking for a war with Iran. But senior officials in Donald Trump's administration are refusing to take military action off the table.

HOWELL: And that's raising concerns about the U.S. strategy during a time of heightened tensions in that region with Tehran. The U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He says that he wants to build a global coalition against Iran.

ALLEN: President Trump admits some members of his team take a harder line on Iran, but says he listens to opposing views.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel like you were being pushed into military action against Iran by any of your advisers?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have two groups of people. I have doves and some hawks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have some serious hawks.

(CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Yeah, John Bolton is absolutely a hawk. If it was up to him, he'd take on the entire world at one time, OK? But that doesn't matter, because I want both sides. Here it is. Look, you can't have nuclear weapons. And if you want to talk about it, good, otherwise, you can live in a shattered economy for a long time to come.


ALLEN: Well, that hawk they were talking about, President Trump's national security adviser, is in Israel.

HOWELL: Oren Liebermann has details of John Bolton's talks with the Israeli Prime Minister. And Bolton's warning to Iran.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The meeting between National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began exactly as you would expect. Both men began by talking about the strong relations between the U.S. and Israel, and thanked President Donald Trump for furthering those relations. Then both men launched into an attack on Iran.

These are both hardliners when it comes to Iran, and it certainly showed once again. Netanyahu railed against the Iran deal and then ticked off a list of what he views as Iran's aggressive acts in the region, including attacks on Israel and others. One thing Netanyahu didn't mention at all was Trump's decision to call off a retaliatory strike against Iran.

Instead, he praised more sanctions against Iran. It was, in fact, Bolton who warned Iran that more military options against Iran are not off the table.

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Neither Iran nor any other hostile actor should mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness. No one has granted them a hunting license in the Middle East. As President Trump said on Friday, our military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting and more added last night. Iran can never have nuclear weapons. Not against the USA and not against the world.

LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu has tried to press other nations to sanction Iran as well in recent days. Next up for Bolton here is a meeting with his Israeli and Russian counterparts. That meeting was always going to be about Iran, but mostly about Iran in Syria. Now, it could have far wider implications for the region. One interesting point to watch here is that Russia is much more on Iran's side than Israel or the U.S. Those meetings begin Monday. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.


HOWELL: President Trump's decision to call off a retaliatory strike against Iran for its downing of a U.S. drone. Well, it's getting mixed reactions in Iran. ALLEN: Fred Pleitgen has details from Tehran.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Some pretty remarkable language coming out of Iran today. On the one had, you had Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister, seemingly praising President Trump for going against some of his most senior advisers and allies and not ordering a strike on the Iranian military. And then you have Iranians also warning the U.S. of dire consequences if there is a strike in the future.

Now, on the one hand, Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister, said he believes there are indications that what he calls the B-team was trying to box him, President Trump, into military action against Iran. The B-team is something that Javad Zarif has long referred to as being John Bolton, the National Security Adviser, but also Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed Bin Salman.

[02:05:07] And then Javad Zarif seemingly Praising Trump, saying in the end prudence prevented it. And Javad Zarif went on to tweet that he believes that what he calls economic terrorism is causing tensions. Of course, economic terrorism is what the Iranians refer to as America's campaign of maximum pressure, of course, those very tough sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Meanwhile, a senior Iranian general coming on and essentially warning the United States, saying that if there was a strike on Iran, that there would be a big response coming from the Iranians. And he said that that could lead to what he called an unmanageable situation in the Middle East. Of course, the Iranians have, for a very long time, been saying that essentially there would be no such thing as a limited strike on Iran.

There would always be a big response and that that response would probably not only involve Iran's military against the U.S. military, but probably also Iran's proxy forces that they control throughout the entire region. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Tehran.


ALLEN: So the question is where does this go from here? We're joined now by Sanam Vakil in London. She's a Senior Research Fellow on the Middle East at Chatham House. Thanks so much for talking with us. You just heard the back and forth charge, countercharge. I want to begin with what you think about Iran's statement that it thinks the United States, as far as sanctions goes, is committing economic terrorism.

SANAM VAKIL, MIDDLE EAST CHATHAM HOUSE SENIOR RESEARCH FELLOW: This is the Iranian response very much playing into domestic sentiments, both at the political elite level but to the popular level as well, where ordinary Iranians are really suffering from the pressure of sanctions. All foreign, you know, companies that were in Iran since the Iran nuclear agreement was signed in 2015 have withdrawn, and daily life is becoming harder and harder for Iranians.

So economic terrorism kind of elevates even further the issue, nationalizes the issue, and creates a greater sentiment and an affinity between people who might be frustrated with the government and the Iranian regime.

ALLEN: What are you most concerned about right now? We had a president who was going to strike but he didn't. We heard Bolton say don't think prudence is weakness, you know? It's prudence. And now we have Iran talking tough as well. What is the thing that is most concerning with this middle ground where this situation seems to be stalled?

VAKIL: I think the middle ground is positive on the one hand, because it's very clear that both sides do not want a whole-scale escalation and direct military conflict. But it's dangerous because it's here in the middle ground where it's clear that there is some sort of stalemate that we can continue to have, rising and falling tensions that could go on for a very long time.

Because Iran seeks some kind of sanctions relief from President Trump before they come back to the negotiating table. And President Trump is doubling down on his sanctions policy and will release new sanctions against Iran today. So we're in a stalemate.

ALLEN: Right. So the catch-22 continues with trying to get to that negotiating table. Is this a crisis of Mr. Trump's making? He pulled out of the Obama-era nuclear deal, or is this something that also Iran is responsible for?

VAKIL: With regards to the nuclear portfolio and Iran's commitment to its nuclear program, this is a crisis of President Trump's making. Iran definitely gets up to no good outside of its borders. It supports non-state actors. It interferes in other countries. And it does have a concerning ballistic missile program, although it is not the only one in the region that has that.

But with regards to the nuclear program, Iran was compliant 14 times affirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. And this crisis, which is manufactured by Washington, has created deep frustrations in Europe where American allies feel like they're left holding the bag and would have rather focused on the issue of regional tensions and ballistic missiles.

And instead, we're sort of back on this nuclear hamster wheel that for the time being was resolved.

ALLEN: Right. France has reached out. European allies want to speak with Iran. But Britain in some sense is distracted by Brexit, as one can understand. But I want to ask you as far Mr. Trump and his leadership, this abrupt stop to order the attack on Iran last week. Is this part of his tough talk but the fact that he doesn't always act tough?

[02:10:04] For example, he once threatened North Korea with fire and fury like the world has never seen, and months later said that he and the North Korean leader were in love. Could he make a dramatic shift on Iran?

VAKIL: I think from the beginning, President Trump's Iran policy was very much directed towards bringing Iran back to the negotiating table. I've always read him as seeking negotiations, and maybe those negotiations wouldn't result in a very different deal. But he wants a Trump Iran deal. And that Trump deal would also benefit American companies and be very America first.

The problem here is that President Trump's advisers might have different objectives. And in this scenario where he dialed back tensions, I think he's trying to present himself as the moderate. The good cop against his advisers. And this is important in advance of his potential reelection next year, where he hasn't had so many foreign policy victories, where the case of North Korea continues to be also in a stalemate.

So presenting himself as the diplomat is, I think, part of his strategic calculus in the pre-election season.

ALLEN: We'll see what happens next. We appreciate your expertise very much, Sanam Vakil for us in London. Thank you.

VAKIL: Thank you.

HOWELL: Now, to Turkey, where the main opposition party is claiming a major victory over the ruling party of the nation's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. With more than 99 percent of the vote counted, Ekrem Imamoglu, is now to be the next mayor of Istanbul.

ALLEN: He addressed crowds of cheering supporters, saying he is willing to meet with President Erdogan, who backed his rival. Results for the run-off election are not yet official. But they are poised to deliver a significant blow to the Erdogan government.

HOWELL: Turkey's president has tweeted his congratulations, and his party candidate has conceded.

ALLEN: As our Arwa Damon explains, it is a local election that means big things for the entire country.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sunday's vote was never really about the position of mayor. It was much bigger than that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really so important today for all of the people in Istanbul, because this is not just a local election. It's also a struggle for democracy as well.

DAMON: Many within the opposition felt that the decision to rerun the elections was eroding the country's democratic nature, that the ballot box may not survive the tenure of Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The vote ended up doing much more than that, handing the opposition party candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, a landslide victory, taking the margin between him and the ruling party's candidate from 13,000 votes back in March to more than 750,000 this time around, an indisputable win.

EKREM IMAMOGLU, ISTANBUL MAYOR-ELECT: This is a new era for everyone in Istanbul. This is a new beginning. In this new phase, we're opening justice, equality, love, and tolerance. Waste, arrogance, and discrimination will end. Today, 16 million people in Istanbul showed their belief in democracy, trusted in justice, and made us believe it again.

DAMON: They also invigorated a fatigued opposition who now hopes that in Imamoglu they have found a charisma and political savvy to rival Erdogan's. The hopeful messages of the Imamoglu campaign, his own calm and measured demeanor, his promises, which he will now face the challenge of having to keep, especially as a secondary governing body, the City Council, is still controlled by the ruling AKP.

What they're chanting is (Inaudible) that is the opposition candidate's campaign slogan translated to mean everything is going to be great. There are street parties like this happening throughout the entire city. For so many here, this is being viewed as a new dawn in Turkish politics. And they're not just celebrating their candidate's mayoral win. They're celebrating for Turkey's democracy as well. Arwa Damon, CNN, Istanbul.


ALLEN: Ethiopia's government says the northern (Inaudible) state is now under its full control after a failed coup in the key region. Officials say at least four people were killed during Saturday's unrest, including the country's army chief of staff and the head of the region.

HOWELL: And Ethiopia's prime minister expressed condolences to the victims' families, and blamed the coup attempt on the brigadier general.

[02:15:00] ALLEN: Organizers are calling it the biggest Czech protest since the fall of communism. A quarter of a million people filled a park in Prague Sunday, demanding the resignation of the Czech Republic's Prime Minister, Andrej Babis. He's accused of fraud and collaborating with the communist-era secret police.

HOWELL: The billionaire tycoon has been dubbed the Czech Trump because of his business empire and his populist leanings. Sunday's demonstrations were a part of a series of protests against the Prime Minister that have been going on now for weeks. Opposition parties have called for a no confidence vote scheduled for Wednesday.

Chaos and frustration at the Women's Football World Cup, why video replay technology is causing an uproar among some players.

ALLEN: That's coming up here. But also, heavy summer rains are bringing flooding to the central U.S. We'll see what areas are being hit and where the storms are heading next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOWELL: You know, some will say a win is a win, right? But at the World -- Women's Football World Cup, England's three-nil victory over Cameroon, it's proving controversial.

ALLEN: Yes. Cameroon's players staged on-field protests after multiple calls didn't go their way. As Mark Bolton reports, it stems from the use of video replay technology.


[02:20:10] MARK BOLTON, FOOTBALL JOURNALIST: A hot and heated night in (Inaudible) in northern France. And Cameroon consternation at events either side of halftime. All in all, this was a 90 minutes that will not be remembered for foot-balling reasons. As early as the 14th minute, thanks to Steph Hatton, but it was when England doubled their lead in the first half injury time that Cameroon's protests began.

Ellen White's goal was originally ruled out for offside, but it was eventually rewarded after the referee consulted VAR, the new Video Replay System. (Inaudible) lionesses follows and caused a six-minute delay to the restart of the game, and when objections continue half time ahead of kickoff for the second half. The Cameroons frustration was compounded (Inaudible) when another VAR decision (Inaudible) offside by the slightest of margins in the build-up to the goal.

The pain, torment, and sense injustice was intense, Cameroons discontent palpable and vocal. Hugs of sympathy and solidarity followed, along with what appeared to be pleas for them to continue playing. Ultimately, the game finished three-nil to England. Their coach, Phil Neville, had little empathy for their opponents.

PHIL NEVILLE, ENGLAND COACH: None. The rules are rules. First goal, second goal was -- I lost count. Ellen White was on side. Deal with it. We know the rules. We've been spoken to 350,000 times by referees in the last three weeks. We know the rules. The referee got everyone right. In fact, I think at the end she took pity on them. I thought we should have had a penalty. So in the, end they should count their lucky stars that it wasn't five and six.

The behavior is wrong, because the image of women football and it's going out world wide about a team coming to the side and refusing to play. And I am proud of my players for their discipline and the belief that they had in going out there and just playing the game of football.

BOLTON: Football-wise, England perhaps showed the characteristics of champions. Self-restraint was certainly evident, focus and discipline. England has won four from four. Yet, we still haven't seen the best of them in this tournament. Next, they go to (Inaudible) to face Norway in their quarterfinals. Cameroon, go home.


HOWELL: All right. Here in the United States, heavy rains in the heartland of the U.S. are causing floods, causing power outages, and at least one death.

ALLEN: Parts of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas received rainfall totals of 5 to 7 1/2 centimeters in just a 12-hour period. And a 64- year-old woman in Oklahoma was killed Sunday morning when her car was swept into a creek. Our Meteorologist, Karen Maginnis, is following this. Karen, it seems like it's just like week after week we talk about the Midwest just getting hammered with rain.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. We've been stuck in a very dynamic weather pattern that has really impacted the Midwest quite a bit. Now that we're officially into summer, we're still seeing that wet weather pattern. Usually, we start to see some drying out take place. But the early part of the spring, the Midwest was very rainy and wet. And now, we see a frontal system that's draped all across the Great Lakes, into the Ohio River Valley, down across the Tennessee River Valley, and into Texas.

Now, this is the flash flood threat all the way from Minneapolis, Louisville, Nashville, and then into Texas. But I'll point out one area where we're really focused on. That's this kind of this area in between Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Lee River in Van Buren out of its banks and will probably be at a record level. That will inundate some low-lying areas, some areas with communities.

This shows you just how dynamic and just how much rainfall there has been between 100, 150 millimeters, this over the past 48 hours. But all the way from Omaha, Kansas City, there were high-water rescues in Kansas City over the last couple of days because the water was so heavy there. Take a look at what happened in Des Moines as we show you this video. Now, it's evening video.

This is from a drone. You can see how much water. It looks like kind of an area in a downtown area. Typically, these underpasses are areas that are very much prone to flooding. But this, as I mentioned, coming out of Des Moines. Not a good idea to drive your vehicle through water that comes up to your headlights. As they say, turn around, don't drown.

[02:24:51] They saw just about 2 1/2 inches of rainfall or about 62 millimeters of precipitation. All right, here's that area I was telling you about, Van Buren, Van Buren all the way to Little Rock and down towards the Ozarks regions. But those aren't the only areas. It is fairly widespread from the Midwest, Tennessee Valley, Nashville. You're going to see another round of rainfall already for the year and a surplus for the month of June, heavy rainfall where you see the yellow.

You could see damaging winds, large hail, heavy downpours. I think we take the tornado risk out of that. And then the forecast radar, well, New York City, not just yet, but going into Tuesday, you'll pick up some wet weather. Back to you, guys.

ALLEN: On and on. And what is the inclination for people to drive through a flooded area?

HOWELL: It's always dangerous. ALLEN: There's always a few.

MAGINNIS: In a hurry, yeah.

HOWELL: All right. Karen, thank you. Still ahead, there is no break in the tensions between Washington and Tehran. Still ahead, why President Trump is sure that Iran will come to the negotiating table. We'll see.

ALLEN: Meantime, President Trump says he's putting the brakes on massive immigration raids for now. We'll look at what's behind his reasons and what it means for those families being targeted.


HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom live from Atlanta. I am George Howell.

ALLEN: I am Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories this hour. Turkey's main opposition party is claiming victory in Istanbul's race rerun for mayor. More than 99 percent of the vote has been counted, but results aren't official yet. The projected winner, though, Ekrem Imamoglu, says it is a victory for democracy in Turkey.

HOWELL: In Ethiopia, the government there says the northern Amhara state is now under full control after a failed coup there. Four people were killed, including the army chief of staff and the head of that region.

[02:30:00] The prime minister expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

ALLEN: Tens of thousands of checks are demanding the resignation of their Prime Minister, Andrej Babis. They demonstrated in Prague Sunday in what organizers called the biggest protests since the fall of communism. Babis is accused of fraud and collaborating with the communist era secret police. The billionaire tycoon has been dubbed the Czech Trump because of his business empire and populist leanings.

HOWELL: What a couple of weeks it's been in the Middle East of tensions between United States and Iran. You remember the U.S. President called off those retaliatory strikes on Iran for downing a U.S. drone but there are new sanctions expected to go into effect late on Monday.

ALLEN: Our Boris Sanchez reports President Trump is confident they're working and that the sanctions will bring Tehran to the negotiating table.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump with a rare appearance on one of the Sunday morning political talk shows. The President in speaking with NBC bragging about how sanctions from the United States have crippled Iran's economy. He says he believe that the Iranians are not trying to provoke him with actually shooting down that military drones but rather that they are growing desperate and that they want to negotiate with him.

The President says he does not want war however he cautions that the U.S. military has been rebuilt and is ready to go. He says he wants to talk with the Iranians. Effectively the administration looking for a new nuclear deal. We heard the same from Vice President Mike Pence when he spoke to Jake Tapper on the "STATE OF THE UNION" Sunday. Listen to what Pence said.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The President's message to Iran is very clear that we are not going to allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and we're not going to stand by while Iran continues to sow malign influence across the region. That's why, tomorrow, the President will announce additional sanctions against Iran. The President has made it clear that we are not going to tolerate any threats against American forces, American interests, America's allies in the region and we'll never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.


SANCHEZ: As for those sanctions promised by President Trump, they are set to take effect on Monday. In the words of National Security Adviser John Bolton who spent the weekend traveling in Israel, they would be biding and they would further cripple Iran's economy. As for the potential outcome of any military conflict with Iran, President Trump told NBC news it will be obliteration like you've never saw before. Boris Sanchez, CNN at the White House.

ALLEN: A domestic story for you. The clock is ticking for immigrants in these 10 U.S. cities. U.S. President Trump has postponed widespread raids targeting about 2,000 families who have been ordered to leave the country.

HOWELL: Mr. Trump says that he delayed the rates for two weeks to allow Democrats and Republicans to work out a way to close immigration loopholes and handle the influx of migrants seeking asylum.

ALLEN: He tells NBC News the Democrats have the power to solve the problem.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes which they refused to do because they think it's good politics, everything would be solved immediately. But they refused to do it. They refused to do it. You know what, if they change those -- I say, I used to say 45 minutes, it's 15 minutes, if they change asylum and if they change loopholes, everything on the border would be perfect.


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


HOWELL: So we know that the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke with President Trump and asked him to call off the rates. Do you this as a true olive branch from the President to Democrats, or do you see something more in it?

MATHEWS: I believe that he knows the elections coming up and, you know, 37 percent of Americans say that they're supporting him for reelection. I mean, he said, the only 37 percent are supporting him. 60 percent want something new in the Oval Office. That's a number that has shaken him up I think and he wants to appear more reasonable to work with Democrats, and to win back some of the independent voters that he lost.

I think this is probably the main motive and I don't see him having a change a heart overnight like that about immigrants. He's been very severe on them. And asylums seekers to mix them up with undocumented immigrants coming for economic reasons? That's totally two different things and it's really something that he should get take note of.

HOWELL: Let's switch topics now. I want to talk about what's happening with Iran and the United States. Mr. Trump saying that he is willing to talk with Iran with no preconditions. He is also doubling down, though, on economic pressures with new sanctions that are set to take effect later on Monday.

[02:35:01] Javad Zarif called the approach economic terrorism. Does this pressure move Iran in your view back to the negotiating table or does it push them to dig deeper?

MATHEWS: I think you're seeing him already digging deeper, and shooting down the drone was part of their effort to stand strong in their point of view against U.S. sanctions. The sanctions that really bit them in the heart, George, is people are suffering from lack of food and medicine, and it's really hurting the economy. The civilian economy, not the (INAUDIBLE) around the country. And this is a very bad thing.

I think they just stuck to the JCPOA, the agreement with the Iran Nuclear Deal that President Obama negotiated with six other countries, including our allies and suck that and Iran would have been not be able to even start building a nuclear weapon for at least 10 to 20 years. That was a much better deal. General Mattis said that's the national security of the United States, we shouldn't get rid of it, but President Trump withdrew from that and put heavy sanctions on Iran, it was very counterproductive in my view.

HOWELL: You touched on this, the 2020 election just right around the quarter, Peter. The question of whether President Trump maybe concerned, a bit nervous about what's ahead. Here's what he told Chuck Todd with Meet the Press. I don't think we have that with us right now but just essentially making the case that he is looking with 2020 with certain, you know, concern. Tell us, what do you think? Do you think the President is looking at what's coming up, concerned about the poll numbers and concerned about winning?

MATHEWS: Absolutely. You know, for example, Fox polls show that Bernie Sanders beat President Trump by nine points, Joe Biden beat him by 10 points and Trump knows those are real numbers that could very pull up. So he's very concerned about (INAUDIBLE) I'm not used to losing says Trump, I'm not used to losing, I have to win. Ii wonder if he is also concerned what could happen once he's out of office with some of the investigation that began while he was an office.

You know, that's another thing he should be thinking about very seriously. He might be actually thinking about that. He really wants to win at least four more years and it will be a tremendous disgrace if he lost after two -- one term because only one president in recent years have done that and George H.W. Bush. Plus, it'd be a rejection altogether with his policies and his attitude toward immigrants and toward right-wing reactionaries and white supremacist.

All those things to be shot out of the sky if Trump were to lose. And it looks like he's going to lose at this point if things keep going the way they are going.

MATHEWS: Peter Mathews, we appreciate your time. Thank you.

MATHEWS: Thank you, George.

ALLEN: Well, major cities across the world are beginning to ask themselves this question. Is it really a pride to host the Olympics or is it a major burden? We talk about why it's becoming more daunting to be an Olympic host city, coming next.


[02:40:50] HOWELL: So only two cities are bidding to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. About 100 members of the International Olympic Committee are expected to cast their votes and choose a winner on Monday.

ALLEN: And here are the two, either Milan, Italy, or Stockholm, Sweden will walk away with the price. Four other cities that were originally in the running dropped out due to the size and cost of hosting the games. Let's take a closer look at all this with CNN Sports Analyst Christine Brennan. She is a sports columnist at USA Today and a veteran of covering the Olympics. Christine, good to have you, how are you?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST (via Skype): Natalie, I'm great. Thanks. How are you?

ALLEN: Good. Thank you. All right. Monday, we will learn who wins the 2026 Winter Olympics. It is always a thrill when by the envelope is opened. The cities are gathered, the winners name is red, but you say it's time for a new system in the way cities are chosen. What's wrong with the current one? BRENNAN: Well, there is a lot wrong with it. And Rio has that up to

its eyeballs, Sochi back in the winter games in 2014, 51 billion, with B, $51 billion price tag. It's bankrupting cities, it's holding cities hostages -- hostage. You've got leaders, specific leaders, who just have to throw up their hands and say we can't be a part of this anymore. Which is why you see fewer and fewer cities that have actually even gone for the games.

Something that used to be such a crown jewel to be able to say you hosted to the Olympics. I love the Olympics, I covered them since 1984 in L.A. and I -- and I do think they're a great thing for a city but it's just become so expensive, so difficult. The International Olympic Committee demands, you know, they're -- they want all kinds of first class hotels, and this and that and other things.

And it's not just commensurate frankly with the way the world is now, with economics, with the environmental concerns of so many places, so many cities around the world, and so many countries. And I think that's what you're seeing as this just kind of this reached critical mass and people are saying enough is enough.

ALLEN: Right. I can remember being a news anchor for many, many years, it seems the past several years, all I can recall reporting about these of the Olympics is will they be ready? Because of the costs, because of the building, it is overwhelming.

BRENNAN: Well, It is, and the idea I floated a few months ago, I'm not holding my breath for the International Olympic Committee to accept it, but would be to have a rotation where you would (INAUDIBLE) have say, Sydney, London, Los Angeles established Olympic cities hosting the games every four years, Summer Olympics, and then you'd have a wildcard. You'd have another country in that 16th year, for the fourth of the four.

And then you'd repeat the cycle again. And maybe instead of, you know, instead of Sydney maybe you'd have them in the region, Pacific region, you'd have them go to Tokyo but you wouldn't force cities like Rio or like Sochi, even though that's a very differently story because of Putin's interest in wanting to make that a big show for him but you wouldn't then find these cities that are literally affected, Natalie, for decades to come in terms of the financial stresses, the white elephants, the stadiums that are just going to sit there forever not being used.

And again, environmental concerns which are top of mind I think for so many. So, it's an idea. I'm not -- as I said, I'm not expecting anyone to adopt it but I do think something needs to be done because again what we're seeing is just more and more cities just say, not for us, we're out of here and then you just see two cities as we -- as we see now on Monday, just two cities going for another Olympic games.

ALLEN: Right. The race to get there is exciting, titillating, but when it comes down to it, it bankrupt cities and can be demoralizing when it's supposed to be this beautiful thing. But you mentioned Vladimir Putin because that reminds everyone it's politics too. MATHEWS: Oh, Oh, without a doubt. Politics and sports, shocking.

You know, and yes. And Beijing, for example, hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics, and then it's going to be hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics, which is just so strange and is call it weird, it's just bizarre.

But that's again because it was only Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing we're going for the 2022 Winter Games. And, by the way, when I said cities for the 2026 Winter Games that's just what we're talking about right now, you actually had two countries main cities. But Italy and Sweden, so you've got Stockholm and Milan. But then, you also have regional places that you can have things and even in the case of Sweden, they're talking about having bobsled and the sliding sports.

In Latvia, which I think is fascinating. And that is a response, Natalie, frankly to this -- the cost overruns and the great financial concerns that, OK, the International Olympic Committee does seem to be understanding it just a little bit anyway and saying, well, we cannot just force these things on it, on a city or a country.

So, in the case of Sweden, they're looking out to another country, Latvia, so that they don't have to build a bobsled track. And in the case of Italy, they would again using a lot of existing facilities across that region.

So, that's where we are now and I think there may be a little sanity, a little prudence is coming into the conversation. Although, it's certainly late to the game for many of those cities that are still dealing with the cost many years after the Olympic Games.

ALLEN: Yes, absolutely. We had him here in Atlanta. And they just put up the Olympic rings at the park next door, took a while to get there.

Well, it's an interesting concept, a rotating system. And we'll see if the IOC listens to Christine Brennan's idea. I hope so. Christine, thank you as always.

BRENNAN: Natalie, my pleasure. Thank you.

HOWELL: It's fascinating.

ALLEN: Yes, well, meantime, is it'll either be Milan or Stockholm? It's announced on Monday.

HOWELL: All right. The Sunday marked one year since a young football team in Thailand, the players became trapped in a flooded cave. That team called the Wild Boars, you remember. They marked the anniversary by returning to the area to launch a new team.

ALLEN: The 12 teenagers and their 25-year-old coach gathered for a ceremony to celebrate their rescue. The boys spent more than two weeks in the cave last year before being freed by an international team of divers and volunteers.

HOWELL: Still ahead, some scientists think young people might be growing tiny horns in their skulls. Yes, you heard that right. Tiny horns. We'll explain.


[02:51:34] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, Howdy? Hey there. Sorry to bother you, but --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're not a bother at all.

ALLEN: The fourth installment of the Toy Story franchise had a big debut, earning $238 million globally.

HOWELL: Although, it's North American box office haul was a little less than expected. Eight -- $118 million. That was good enough to make it one of the biggest openings ever for an animated film. The popular Pixar series has raked in almost $2 billion since 1995. Wow.

ALLEN: When is $118 million less than they thought? Oh, my goodness.

HOWELL: I think I'll take it, yes.

ALLEN: All right. Well, U.S. President Trump has called America's aging airport's third world, and efforts are currently underway to bring them up to top-flight 21st century standards.

HOWELL: But it might not be enough. Our Nick Watt, explains.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More than $1 billion passengers will travel through U.S. airports this year, a number that's doubled since 2000.

KEVIN BURKE, PRESIDENT, AIRPORTS COUNCIL INTERNATIONAL, NORTH AMERICA: They were designed for about half of that. Bottom line is we have old airports in this country.

WATT: And on the Skytrax, World's Top 100 Airports List, you will not find the U.S. entry until number 32. Don't forget this, is the birthplace of aviation.

TRUMP: Then I get back on my plane, I land at LaGuardia with potholes all over it, right? We're becoming third world.

WATT: New York's LaGuardia now undergoing a facelift is not alone. Hundreds of U.S. airports need updated. Baggage and security systems, upgraded runways and taxiways, improved mass transit, and crucially, more space to accommodate those rapidly rising passenger numbers and new bigger planes.

DEBORAH FLINT, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, LOS ANGELES WORLD AIRPORT: LAX and other airports across the country have infrastructure that has been needed for the last 10 to 20 years. And we're now in a position where we have to do them because our airports are failing. WATT: Airport operators say, they need to spend a staggering $25.6 billion every year for the next five years. This year, the federal government is kicking in $3.18 billion, only about 12 percent.

Are those federal funds enough?

FLINT: Absolutely not.

WATT: This year's federal grants are going to 381 airports. $11.5 million to Birmingham, Alabama for a new fire station. $10.3 million to Des Moines to reconstruct a runway. $6.7 million to Klamath Falls Oregon for anew wind cone and other updates.

Airlines contribute airports have to borrow heavily and there's something called the passenger facility charge. Added to every ticket capped by Congress at $4.50 back in 2001. Airport operators want to raise it by $4.00.

BURKE: For less than a cup of Starbucks coffee, we could modernize American airports.

WATT: But Airlines opposed the hike, saying it's just a tax and will stifle demand.

BURKE: And considering how important the airports are to the economy of the United States, I think it's absolutely critical for Congress to be able to make that decision and help us out.

WATT: LAX last updated for the 84 Olympics right now in the middle of a $14 billion improvement, a new people mover to ease congestion in and out. Terminal updates, more gates.

[02:55:00] FLINT: I am borrowing for this sorely needed incredible development program out until 2047.

WATT: And even after those improvements, LAX still won't have enough gates. And global passenger numbers are set to double again by 2035, then what?

Nick Watt, CNN, Los Angeles.


ALLEN: I just want a shorter lines at security, George.

HOWELL: Oh my God, yes.

ALLEN: Let's start there.

HOWELL: Need that happened, that's a good start. All right, so finally this hour, we've all been warned about the dangers of using our cellphones too much. And now some people may have a new concern to watch out for. Tiny horns, growing on their skulls. That's right.

ALLEN: Yes, it's apparently targeted toward young people. Two researchers in Australia believe poor posture is to blame from people craning their heads forward to use their phones more often. It sounds weird.

These growths are basically bone spurs normally found in older people. But the study suggests that younger people are now affected because of the prevalence of smartphones. Critics though aren't buying this theory. Saying, it's speculative at best and that there are inconsistencies with the data. We hope so. That's gross.

HOWELL: Thanks for being with us for this hour. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. No more gross, back to our top stories right after this.

HOWELL: We'll see you in a second.