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CNN NEWSROOM

Rep. Tlaib Rejects Israel's Offer to Visit, Trump Erupts; Signs Global Economy is Slowing; Hong Kong Demonstrations Reach 11th Straight Weekend; U.S. Customs and Border Protection Computer Outage Causes Delays; Greenland Tells Trump It's Not for Sale; Russia's Military Mishaps; Peter Fonda Dies at 79; Tears, Heartache and the Kindness of Strangers; Japan's Robotic Tails Improve Balance. Aired 3- 4a ET

Aired August 17, 2019 - 03:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Changing her mind: congresswoman Rashida Tlaib rejects a new offer from Israel allowing her to visit her grandmother in the West Bank and the U.S. president responds on Twitter.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Moves and countermoves: protesters prepare to gather in Hong Kong and at the same time the Chinese paramilitary forces conduct drills along the border.

HOWELL (voice-over): Also ahead, incredible moments captured on videotape. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family escape a fiery plane crash.

ALLEN (voice-over): These stories are ahead this hour. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

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HOWELL: 3:00 am on the East Coast. Donald Trump is slamming a Democratic congresswoman after she turned down an offer from Israel to visit her relatives in the West Bank.

ALLEN: Earlier Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib had been blocked by Israel from visiting and then Israel offered to leave permission to visit her elderly grandmother in the West Bank. But Tlaib declined, saying the offer included oppressive conditions.

HOWELL: That prompted the president to fire off this tweet, saying, "The only real winner in here is Tlaib's grandmother ... she doesn't have to see her now."

ALLEN: The back and forth over whether these two Muslim congresswoman could travel to Israel has been going on for several days. HOWELL: We get the very latest from CNN's Oren Liebermann, following the story in Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The planned visit of Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to Israel has turned into a bit of a drama with each side here trying to have the last say.

After promising to let the two democratic congresswomen in, Israel reversed that decision on Thursday under pressure from Donald Trump. Israel saying they would be denied entry because of their support of a boycott movement against Israel.

But there was an opening for Tlaib who has family in the West Bank. She could be allowed to make a humanitarian visit to her family, including her 90-year-old grandmother, if she agreed to Israel's restrictions.

She did and was granted permission but quickly did an about face. She said visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart.

Silencing me with treatment to make me feel less than is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice. Her family backed her up on this decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through interpreter): We are against the conditional visit of Rashida to Palestine. Rashida has the right to visit Palestine as a Palestinian regardless of being a congresswoman, as any citizen with a U.S. passport has the right to come and visit their family without any conditions or pressure.

LIEBERMANN: Israel's interior minister, who has the final say on allowing or barring entry to the country, attacked Tlaib on twitter. "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but she was just a provocative request aimed at bashing the state of Israel.

Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's said on Thursday that Israel has tremendous respect for the U.S. congress, republican and democrats, but under Israeli law he's allowed to bar entrance to those who support a boycott of Israel.

He made no mention of Tlaib and Omar in his statements and he didn't make any other statements about the issue on Friday.

Netanyahu has never publicly disagreed with Trump and he was not about to stand to do that now, but one gets the sense that he'd like this story to be over sooner rather than later as he faces a very difficult reelection campaign over the next month -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Michael Shear is a CNN political analyst and White House correspondent for "The New York Times" joining us now.

Michael, thanks for being with us.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

ALLEN: Well, let's begin with the story from Israel that we saw this week, two U.S. Congressmen denied the right to travel there after the U.S. president asked Israel to prohibit it, they did.

Well, Israel now saying on Friday that Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib could visit her grandmother in the West Bank but she demurred saying not under such an oppressive agreement.

How does this look for the Israeli government?

SHEAR: Well, look I think for the Israeli government it looks a little bit weak, like they are caving to President Trump who was after all the one that seemed to have convinced them to change their mind.

They had originally said that the two young congresswomen could come into Israel despite their views about boycotts in that country but then when President Trump seemed to object and suggest that maybe they shouldn't be allowed in and that is when the Israeli government --

[03:05:00]

SHEAR: -- change their minds.

But I think in some ways Bibi Netanyahu seems like he kowtowing to doing the American president's business and you know and yet there is sort of politics on all sides here.

I mean, clearly the two congresswomen were originally going to Israel for political purposes, they wanted to send a political message of their own and President Trump is clearly playing politics in the United States too so I think all around everyone looks pretty bad.

ALLEN: Right, well, we'll see if it has a bigger effect on the Netanyahu government as well but this entire episode with these congresswomen appears to be, in part, perhaps Donald Trump's latest attempt to distract and divide and we have seen this tactic used time and time again when the president wants us to look the other way.

What does he not want us to concentrate on?

SHEAR: Well, I think the most obvious thing that he does not want us to concentrate on is what appears to be the softening economy and the global economy in particular. It seems to have -- seems to suggest that it might be heading towards a slowdown and possibly even a recession.

And I think that terrifies the Trump administration and it terrifies the Trump reelection campaign because of all the things that you can sort of look at that has happened over the last two and a half to three years, the one pretty steady thing for President Trump has been the economy, which has been pretty steadily improving in the United States until it -- I think the fear is for the president if that turns south and people start seeing an economy where stock market is going down, the job numbers, the unemployment rate is going up that that is really going to jeopardize his chance of reelection.

So I think in some ways it's hard to get into his head completely and know exactly what is motivations were but this certainly seemed like another example of reaching for cultural, you know, sort of flashpoints -- cultural hot-button issues so that we look there instead of what else is going on in the country.

ALLEN: Yes, as you say it is hard to get into the president's head but we know despite these warnings, financial warnings from the stock market we saw this week, he does seem to talk about, he is the guy to believe in for the economy and let's listen to a comment he made this week.

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TRUMP: You have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k)'s, down the tubes, everything is going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate me, you got to vote for me.

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ALLEN: Well, will they?

It would be difficult for most Americans to look at their 401(k)s after this week but what is fueling the president's confidence?

You touched on this. He thinks no matter what, he's got his base but what about moderate republicans, will they support him if the economy go south?

SHEAR: Well I mean I think that is one really big question. As much as President Trump has dominated all of our lives the last two and a half years, he is clearly the biggest story. He's the biggest focus and he likes it that way, he draws attention to himself.

But the truth is when it comes time for people to vote, he's only half of the equation in the end and you know the question is going to be for some of the swing voters, the moderate Republicans you talked about and kind of independents and others.

The question is going to be they're going to look at Donald Trump and they're going to make an assessment about him and how they think he has been for their lives but maybe in particular their pocketbooks and their economic situation.

But then they also have to look at the other side of the equation and say, OK, as much as I might be dissatisfied with where things are at this moment if the economy has turned to south do I trust that whoever the Democratic candidate is going to be able to do any better. Can I put my faith in that person and I think that is where President

Trump's strategy has been to kind of demonize all democrats as socialists and people that, you heard that in the sound bite right there, it's going to be down the tubes if a Democrat gets into office. So I think that is a big unknown. We don't know exactly how people will resolve that calculation, sort of looking at both sides in the end.

ALLEN: Well, we appreciate you joining us. We appreciate your insights on this, Michael Shear, thank you so much, Michael.

SHEAR: Certainly, happy to do it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOWELL: And now to Hong Kong where a pro-democracy march is set to start this hour. The 11th straight weekend we have seen these protests and the city is on edge as demonstrations have become more chaotic.

ALLEN: This march comes days after clashes between police and protesters at the Hong Kong International Airport . Meanwhile, Chinese paramilitary troops are holding --

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ALLEN: -- exercises along the border.

HOWELL: CNN is live in Hong Kong. Will Ripley following the story.

How different and significant do you think this weekend will be compared to other weekends that we have seen these protests?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If last weekend was the turning point in terms of an unprecedented act of disruption, shutting down flights at the Hong Kong International Airport, this weekend will be a test of where the pro-democracy movement goes from here.

There is a march due to kick off in 20 minutes. I would say there are fewer than 300 people here at this stage. But we know oftentimes the large crowds arrive at the very last moment. Then the peaceful march goes on as planned.

This is supposed to wrap up in the early evening. Most people go home and the more radical, the darker, more violent elements of this movement that have emerged over these 11 weeks of protest here in Hong Kong, when the night falls is sometimes when the trouble begins.

I think we will have to see what the protesters do, how the police respond. We know in addition to tear gas and pepper spray and rubber bullets and bean bags, that kind of nonlethal ammunition, they have water trucks ready to be deployed.

Will we see that or will things stay calm?

We don't know the answer right now. We also don't know Mainland China's next move. We are seeing these military drills. There is a bridge that links to Hong Kong and that convoy of troops, they could drive across. I don't think we are there yet or reached that tipping point.

But we will see what happens today and importantly tomorrow, when the larger demonstrations are expected to kick off.

HOWELL: We are looking at those images from earlier.

What are people saying about the possibility that China's military could come across the bridge and get involved here?

RIPLEY: Some of the young people who have been out in the evenings, the young people that have been accused of inciting violence and confrontations with police, they --

Thank you very much.

There are also friendly protesters out here, like this fellow guarding me with the umbrella.

I am OK. Thank you.

Some young people believe it is inevitable that there will be a confrontation with the mainland. They feel they are fighting for their future and their lives and feel like there is nothing to lose.

And that is the mindset that is potentially very dangerous because if you have people fighting from a place of fear, that is where things can really turn into something much more dangerous. The rain really picking up here -- George.

HOWELL: With all of the violence we have seen in past weeks, it is good to see someone holding an umbrella over your head. We will stay in touch with you.

ALLEN: Car racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. has seen many car crashes in his life and now he has been in a plane crash and walked away from it. The dramatic video coming up.

HOWELL: Plus ominous developments from two world hot spots. North Korea keeps firing missiles and the U.S. says Iran may be poised to do the same.

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ALLEN: We have received new dramatic video of car racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family escaping the fiery plane crash.

HOWELL: The private jet crashed and burst into flames while landing at an airport in Tennessee Thursday. Nobody was seriously injured. Dave Faherty from affiliate WSOC shows us this incredible video.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVE FAHERTY, WSOC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You can see black smoke pouring out of the back of the plane and a man running towards the wreckage. Moments later, flames shoot up from one of the wings just seconds before the door to the plane pops open.

Scrambling to get out are Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife, Amy, and two pilots. Their first concern is Dale's 1-year-old daughter. She was handed to the first person off of the burning plane, who rushed her to safety.

The video shows one person falling to the ground. And then the family's dog running from the wreckage. These two women called 9-1-1 from their office nearby, watching in horror as flames spread across the plane.

LACY PASQUALE, WITNESS: I just could not believe it was happening, especially right here in front of our office. Then when we saw them escape and them hand a child out, both of our hearts just sank.

BETH BARE, WITNESS: It was really scary. There was not much time for them to get out. And it is really a miracle that they got out before the flames overtook the plane.

FAHERTY (voice-over): Both women say it was just 30 seconds to a minute later before a second explosion caused flamed to engulf much of the plane. We could see NTSB investigators around the plane for much of the day.

Feet away, skid marks in the grass from the Cessna Citation business jet at the end of the runway before it went through a fence and ended up on the four-lane highway. For much of the day, race fans stopped by to see the wreckage, including Bobby Loveless (ph) and his son, whose middle name is Dale, after Junior's father.

FAHERTY: What do you want to say to Dale and his family tonight?

BOBBY LOVELESS (PH), FAN: That you are in our prayers. And just be blessed. Make a quick recovery.

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ALLEN: Thanks to WSOC for that report.

Earnhardt was supposed to work on Saturday as a TV analyst for Saturday's NASCAR race in Bristol, Tennessee. You can imagine, he skipped that, home with his family recuperating. So fortunate.

HOWELL: Thank goodness, yes, hope they're OK.

ALLEN: The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol's computers are back online.

HOWELL: The outage lasted two hours Friday. Across the country and take a look here at this scene in Virginia. You can see lines of travelers waiting to be processed. Some passengers took pictures of those that had to wait --

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HOWELL: -- like these at Dulles airport outside of Washington. The agency says there's no indication the disruption was malicious.

ALLEN: New details in the death of sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

HOWELL: New York chief medical examiner said the cause of death was suicide by hanging. The multimillionaire was found unresponsive in his jail cell last week.

ALLEN: The 66-year old was awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing underage girls and running a sex traffic ring. His lawyers say they will conduct their own investigation.

HOWELL: North Korea says leader Kim Jong-un directly oversaw Friday's launch of what Pyongyang says are new weapons.

ALLEN: The Pentagon says they were short-range ballistic missiles. North Korea released pictures, showing Kim at the helm celebrating and laughing and said the test had a perfect result and built confidence -- their word -- in the new system. This was the North's sixth missile test in the last month.

HOWELL: North Korea is not the potential problem on the horizon.

ALLEN: The U.S. is also watching ominous signs coming from Iran. Our Barbara Starr has that from the Pentagon.

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BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new classified imagery shows Iran is preparing to launch a rocket as soon as next week that the Iranians claim could put a peaceful satellite into orbit, according to U.S. officials.

But it's the program with the same technology needed for an intercontinental ballistic missile, the type that someday could strike the U.S.

Commercial images of this launch site obtained by CNN show launch- related vehicles are already on site.

TRUMP: Iran, trouble, nothing but trouble.

STARR: Several U.S. defense and intelligence officials say Iran is improving range and accuracy of all of its missiles.

And so is North Korea. Kim Jong-un has conducted six short range missile launches since May. Several showing increased range.

America's adversaries see a president now conciliatory at random times. TRUMP: Our allies take advantage of us far better than our enemies.

STARR: However, America's military adversaries are on the rise and bolder.

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They believe that they can go ahead and produce weapons systems and test weapons with impunity.

STARR: President Trump complements Kim.

TRUMP: I got a very beautiful letter from Kim Jong-un.

STARR: But U.S. intelligence experts tell CNN that Pyongyang continues improving all of its missiles and is trying to make new nuclear fuel supplies.

Vladimir Putin is working on new weapons to keep the U.S. out of Europe, including a nuclear-powered missile that apparently recently exploded, releasing radioactive material.

China has massive cyber espionage efforts to steal American military technology.

LEIGHTON: The reason we see all of these things happening and all these different countries is because all of these rivals of the United States see no real pushback from the Trump administration.

STARR: The incoming chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff, the president's personal military adviser, has a dire warning.

GEN. MARK MILLEY, INCOMING JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: China went to school on us. They watched us very closely in the First Gulf War, Second Gulf War. They watched our capabilities. They want the capability to defeat us by mid-century.

STARR: Iran and North Korea are under heavy sanctions. How are they getting what they need?

U.S. officials say both countries are active on the black market and engaging in cyber espionage -- Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: The U.S. Justice Department has unsealed a seizure warrant following its failed attempt to keep an Iranian tanker captured off Gibraltar from being released.

HOWELL: The U.S. alleges America's financial system was used to support illicit shipments of oil by Iran to Syria and says all of the oil can be forfeited. The Grace I was impounded last month. But Gibraltar's supreme court ordered the ship to be released.

ALLEN: Greenland has a message for president Donald Trump, the island is open for business but it is not for sale. The government is responding to reports that Mr. Trump has talked about buying the Danish territory.

HOWELL: This is not the first time America has expressed interest in it. The U.S. has tried to buy it before. That is mostly because it is believed to be rich in natural resources.

ALLEN: And with most of the island situated in the Arctic Circle, it is an ideal location to monitor Russia. But here is what the residents have to say.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We don't trade countries --

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): -- or territories anymore. If countries want other territories, it's war. It's not something you buy or sell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I can only laugh, laugh at Trump with these announcements. I can't take it seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Who takes Trump seriously?

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this says it all about him. He's lost his connection to Earth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: They see the humor in it there in Greenland. CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen is also in Greenland.

ALLEN: And he has more reaction from the residents there.

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FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It seems like a lot of folks here in Greenland seem to almost be mocking President Trump's alleged idea to acquire this territory or possibly somehow purchase it.

The government of Greenland has come out and said quote, "Greenland is not for sale," and local folks here in the southeast of the country that we've been speaking to say this is something that America has tried in the past.

They talk about 1867, when there was apparently was a push and the time shortly after World War II and one resident said it simply isn't going to happen.

Now on the face of it, there might not be such a crazy idea for America to want to do this. Greenland apparently does have very vast natural resources that the Chinese have been trying to get their hands on through some Chinese companies. It's obviously not something that America is very fond of.

And it's also a pretty strategic place for America as well. There's a big airbase that the U.S. has there in the northwest of Greenland.

However, if the Greenlanders really do have all these natural resources, they could get to them and exploit them. The first thing they'll want is their own independence from Denmark.

Right now they're semi autonomous. And if President Trump really wants to have Greenland, one thing he'll probably have to do is really acknowledge that the global climate crisis is real.

You can see behind me there's a lot of icebergs that you see here. This has been one of the warmest summers that Greenland has had on record -- Fred Pleitgen, CNN, in southeastern Greenland.

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ALLEN: As Hong Kong endures weeks of protest, unrest and political chaos, we take a look at what started it all -- ahead here.

HOWELL: Plus Russia builds up its military arsenal but runs into major problems along the way. We will take a look at the deadly mishaps as CNN NEWSROOM pushes on. Stay with us.

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ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. We appreciate it. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. Here are the headlines we are following for you at this hour.

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ALLEN: Hong Kong is no stranger to political unrest and massive displays of public anger.

HOWELL: Our Paula Hancocks explains what is fueling the demand for democracy there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was the Umbrella movement, a 2014 pro-democracy push in Hong Kong, tens of thousands took to the streets but no government concessions were given. Demonstrations ended but the resentment remained. Five years later, a controversial bill is proposed that could see Hong

Kongers extradited to mainland China to stand trial, frustrations boiled over. At the peak of the past two month organizers believe up to 2 million people were on the streets; police say far less.

Either way, it was a massive part of Hong Kong. Trying to protect its status as a special administrative region of China, one country two systems. Chief executive Carrie Lam responded.

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CARRIE LAM, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF HONG KONG (through translator): There are still lingering doubts about the government's sincerity or worries whether the government will restart the process in the legislative council, so I reiterate here, there is no such plan; the bill is dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANCOCKS: But it was not the full withdrawal that protesters wanted. There are still fears that it could be resurrected quickly. Civil disobedience on some occasions turned it to criminal damage, breaking into the legislative council building in the center of town, occupying the seat of power in Hong Kong before police cleared protesters out.

The demands grew. An independent investigation into police actions, the release of all those arrested, conditions unpalatable to authorities.

Protestors claimed police have used excessive force, tear gas in train stations, baton charges in shopping malls and viral social media videos of clashes used to make their claim. The police counter saying they are constantly being attacked by certain elements saying if they don't use violence, we don't use force.

It is a stalemate that is hard to break as the protesters have no leader; a fluid movement that communicates on social media. U.S. president Donald Trump even suggested that China's president Xi Jinping could meet with protesters and have it sorted within 15 minutes. No side believes that would ever happen. Joshua Wong was a protest leader in 2014 subsequently spending a month behind bars.

JOSHUA WONG, ACTIVIST LEADER: Without a single individual leader is less chance for a Beijing fraudist to target a politician and to silence the voice of activists and to stop the protests without any kind of criminalization.

HANCOCKS: With some tactics being used by protesters and police as being criticized for being excessive, both sides have now dug in and it is no longer just a struggle on the streets of Hong Kong, it is now a fight for public opinion, but of course with no official leadership to start any kind of negotiation, it is hard to see where the off ramp is -- Paula Hancocks, CNN, Hong Kong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[03:35:00] HOWELL: In Russia a series of deadly military accidents have some questioning the country's ambitions.

ALLEN: It has people asking how far Russia is willing to go in its pursuit of military dominance. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) it.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three separate incidents in about a month each exposing the ragged underbelly of the Kremlin's increased military stature and each not entirely explained.

First was the AS-31, a deep, deep spy submarine nicknamed the Losharik after the children's cartoon character because of its compartmental design.

LOSHARIK, CARTOON CHARACTER: (INAUDIBLE).

WALSH: It's meant to help it get to the ocean floor deeper than nuclear or attack subs. Fourteen crew members died from smoke inhalation state media said. The submarine's nuclear reactor was said to be in tact when it was taken to port.

The instant came as the 20th anniversary of the Kursk submarine tragedy neared and it began Putin's presidency, but a moment of stark Soviet tests disregard.

"It sank," he blankly remarked, asked about the fate of the 118 sailors on board.

Then there was a more conventional but still shocking blast in a munitions depot and another hit by five hours of blasts. The shockwave and mushroom clouds extreme and took a week for Russia to admit 40 people had been injured. That delay assigned the old Soviet culture of denial is alive and well, even as the military races to modernize amid tightening budgets.

ANDREY KORTUNOV, RUSSIAN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS COUNCIL: (INAUDIBLE) in 2016 and it goes down. So basically the military and the defense secretary are asked to do more for less. Maybe some of this accidents are part of the price that the military has to pay for this relatively modest budget and a lot of ambitions behind this budget.

WALSH: No greater ambition than that partly revealed where testing of Putin's new super missile killed at least five nuclear specialists and caused a radiation spike perhaps felt as far as Norway leaving the question as to whether the Kremlin's race to the bottom of the sea or top of the heavens scorches too much in its wake -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: For more about this story, let's bring in CNN National Security Analyst Steve Hall. He's a former CIA chief of Russian operations and he joins us now from Arizona. Steve, thanks for being with us. First, what do you make of what we're hearing about this latest mystery mishap.

What more do we know about what Russia was testing?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well one thing is for sure, Natalie, and that is that the Russians will admit nothing about this particular accidents, whatever the nature of it was until such time as they're confronted with facts by the West. If they're asked about it then they'll explain as little as they possibly can.

In this sense, it's very much like the Chernobyl incident, not in terms of the largeness or the size of the actual radioactive or whatever the incident was, but the government's pattern is quite clear and not saying anything more than they have to, trying to conceal it from the locals.

All of that we saw in Chernobyl we are also now seeing in this particular event and we still to this day don't know precisely what happened.

ALLEN: Right. And what -- so they didn't acknowledge Chernobyl. They tried to hide that at first. What responsibility does Russia owe the world or do they over this incident since it could impact, perhaps its neighbors?

HALL: Yes, of course I mean if I lived in Norway or Finland, I would be very concerned about this. Russia has proven itself over the years to be a very poor neighbor, a very poor participant in international affairs. Even to the level of something as serious as nuclear contamination, the Norwegians detected a slight, very small raise in radioactive activity.

But the scenario as it's now being understood is that this weapon, or whatever device, the motor perhaps which had, now the Russians are admitting radioactive isotopes apparently blew off into the ocean.

So we don't know where the radioactivity in the ocean is going to go. We don't know what the currents are and these are things that we really -- especially if you are a neighbor of Russia, you want to know these things and the Russians will simply not tell us until absolutely forced to do.

ALLEN: What is the endgame here possibly for Vladimir Putin? We mentioned military dominance.

[03:40:00]

ALLEN: What does he want?

HALL: So this is fascinating to me. What Vladimir Putin has been up to over the last couple of years is trying to divide, split and weaken the west and he has done a very good job. ALLEN: Yes.

HALL: I mean we're now focused on things like, you know, is Donald Trump going to try and buy Greenland as opposed to our their new nuclear weapons that the Russians are testing?

He has done this not via direct confrontation for the most part, he's done it via hybrid warfare, cyber warfare, a whole bunch of soft power as foreign policy specialists call it. There have been some examples of hard power; the Russian military was active in Syria.

It also attacked in 2008 Georgia not to mention the annexation of Crimea and the continuing ongoing problems in eastern Ukraine.

But the Russian military is more about making Russia look like a world power, making it look like it's part of this big game, great Russia, one of the significant world powers and that is extremely important to Vladimir Putin and frankly to Russians on the street as well.

So it's more than just how many boots on the ground, how many missiles in the sky. It's about national prestige and populism.

ALLEN: Well hopefully they want the appearance of that and they won't achieve that but let's talk about where the relationship is between the U.S. and Russia.

It has eroded, so where might the U.S. role here be in trying to inquire with Russia or meet with Russia or talk about what is going on?

HALL: You know, this is absolutely true what the report was just talking about. We need, the United States and her allies need to press Russia on these things because we know that Vladimir Putin and Russia will not tell us anything about any of these incidents until they are pressed.

The problem is that because largely, I believe, of Donald Trump's foreign privacy. You heard in a previous segment how Donald Trump was saying we get treated very badly; more by our allies than by our enemies.

So when Vladimir Putin hears something like that, he knows that he has divided the West and that the pressure that the west could put on Russia to try to get to the bottom of these things is quite a bit less because there's a lack of U.S. leadership and there's a split in the western democratic system and NATO countries involved in that.

So we should be holding their feet to the fire but it is hard to do it when you don't have a real tight relationship with your allies.

ALLEN: We'll be following this story closely and we always appreciate your expertise Steve. Steve Hall joining us. Thank you.

HALL: Sure.

(END VIDEOTAPE) HOWELL: The aftermath of the mass shooting in El Paso, when his wife died in the massacre there, he was left without a family. He did not think anyone would come to her funeral. When we come back we will show you what happened next.

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The celebrated Hollywood actor, writer and director Peter Fonda has died. He was 79 and had been battling lung cancer. The son of legendary actor Henry Fonda, Peter Fonda's prolific career spanned nearly 60 years in movies and television.

Fonda was nominated twice for the Oscar and will forever be remembered for his role in the 1969 film "Easy Rider."

His older sister, actress Jane Fonda wrote this about him. "I am very sad. He was my sweet-hearted baby brother, the talker of the family. I had beautiful alone time with him the last days. He went out laughing."

It has been two weeks since a racist gunman filled with hate walked into a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and opened fire and killed 22 people. El Paso has been filled with tears, heartache and the kindness of strangers.

HOWELL: That was on full display Friday evening. This when a 61- year-old man with no family said goodbye to the woman he loved. And hundreds of strangers came together with him. Our Natasha Chen was there.

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NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Antonio Basco was married to his wife, Margie Reckard for 22 years but some of the people who packed into the memorial service may have only learned of her name within the last two weeks.

And that is because Basco and the funeral parlor put out the message that Basco no longer has remaining family after his wife was killed in the shooting. So the outpouring of love from the community has been overwhelming.

Not only did hundreds of people show up to the service, but more than 400 flower arrangements and cards were sent in from all around the world; flowers from Germany, cards from Japan and New Zealand.

Basco spent about an hour receiving guests inside before the service itself. All the donated flowers here will be transported on Sunday to the site of the memorial where the shooting happened. And that's where Basco continues to go everyday to pay respects to his wife. There is also where we met someone who wanted to tell us that this

community has only been reinvigorated after the shooting to love all humankind no matter the color, no matter the citizenship.

Today, we're expecting a rally from Moms Demand Action. We're going to see college students registering voters. They want to inform people about gun safety measures.

We also saw Mexican officials this week coming to the memorial. They say because Mexican nationals were among those killed that they hope Mexico can be part of the discussion in the U.S. about gun legislation now that Mexicans area also suffering the consequences of gun violence in America -- Natasha Chen, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

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ALLEN: You don't need a thermometer to tell you it is extremely hot. But scientists are saying it is not just hot, it's scorching the record books. Another record set this summer. Derek Van Dam has that next.

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ALLEN: A lot of you around the world felt like it was hotter last month than normal, you were right.

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HOWELL: Japanese researchers are looking at something lost to all of us millions of years ago.

ALLEN: They are look to bring it back, courtesy of robotics. Here's Lynda Kinkade.

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LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Millions of years after our ancestors evolved to lose their tails, a Japanese research team is designing a robotic version. The scientists say their device could help unsteady elderly people keep their balance. Dubbed Arque, the gray 1-meter device mimics tails that animals like cheetah's use to keep their balance, while running and climbing.

JUNICHI NABESHIMA, GRADUATE STUDENT, KEIO UNIVERSITY (through translator): This is a tail that aids in balance. For example, when a human tilts like this, the tail moves in the opposite direction than that of the tilted direction. The tail keeps a balance like a pendulum. This is our robotic tail. KINKADE: As its population gets older, Japan has been at the forefront in seeking ways to keep its graying population mobile and productive. The researchers believe their tail could help the elderly, but they also see applications for industrial workers.

NABESHIMA (through translator): We have real life people in mind, such as those doing work involving heights, unstable ground and, of course, the old people who lose their sense of balance.

KINKADE: But what looks like science fiction could become in place in just a few years -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.

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HOWELL: We will be right back after this.

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