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Trump's Wild Rant on the White House Lawn; U.S. Proposes Rule Change for Detaining Migrant Children; Merkel Gives Johnson 30 Days for Backstop Alternative; British Consulate Employee Detained in China; Merkel Issues Brexit Challenge to Johnson; Trump May Propose Inviting Russia to G7 in 2020; Fires Burning at a Record Rate in Brazil's Amazon Rainforest; South Korean K-Pop Music Lures Defectors From North; Audio Glitch Makes De Blasio Sound Like Chipmunk. Aired 2- 3a ET

Aired August 22, 2019 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world, I'm Rosemary Church.

A head-spinning day, even by this American president's standards. A rambling exchange with reporters where he's doubling down on offensive comments on Jewish voters and insults an ally and much, much more.

Boris Johnson turns to his European neighbors to help solve the Irish border puzzle and Angela Merkel says a solution may be possible within 30 days.

And wildfires in the Amazon, scientists say they are burning at a record rate and they warn about the impact of the fight against climate change.


CHURCH: Good to have you with us.

Donald Trump's foreign policy on full display again at the White House, praising dictators like Russia's Vladimir Putin and criticizing longtime U.S. allies like Denmark. The president went after the Danish prime minister, who called his plan to buy Greenland absurd.

Trump said that was a nasty comment but the Danish leader said she does not want a war of words with the White House.

METTE FREDERIKSEN, PRIME MINISTER OF DENMARK: The problems around the Arctic are increasing and the discussions we should have had in connection with the state visit at the beginning of September, we still need them, whether it's the security policy in the Middle East or the Arctic. We continue our good cooperation with United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: The spectacle on the White House lawn went on for more than 30 minutes and according to CNN's fact checkers, the president made at least 11 false claims. Here's Jim Acosta.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Taking his questionable rhetoric to new heights, President Trump talked about himself in biblical terms, at one point looking to the sky as he praised the handling of the economy as godlike.

TRUMP: I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it. So I'm taking on China. I'm taking on China on trade. And you know what, we're winning.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president stirred up more outrage, repeating his belief that Jewish Americans face a loyalty test in the upcoming election.

TRUMP: And if you vote for a Democrat, you're very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.

ACOSTA (voice-over): After some Jewish American groups slammed that remark as anti-Semitic, the president accepted the support of conservative commentator and conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root, who portrayed Mr. Trump in messianic terms, tweeting, "Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. 'President Trump is the greatest president for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world and the Jewish people in Israel love him like he's the king of Israel. They love him like he is the Second Coming of God.'"

TRUMP: I have been responsible for a lot of great things for Israel. One of them was moving the embassy to Jerusalem, making Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mr. Trump shifted once again on the topic of tightening background checks after sources told CNN he all but assured NRA president Wayne LaPierre he was siding with the powerful gun lobby.

TRUMP: Oh, I have an appetite for background checks. We're going to be doing background checks. We're working with Democrats, we're working with Republicans. We already have very strong background checks. But we're going to be throwing in some of the loopholes we just talked about, concept. Wayne agrees things have to be done also.

ACOSTA (voice-over): The president got testy defending his decision to scrap his upcoming trip to Denmark after that country's prime minister rejected Mr. Trump's expansionist designs on Greenland as "absurd."

TRUMP: I thought that the prime minister's statement that it was absurd, that was it -- it was an absurd idea was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do was say, no, we wouldn't be interested.

Don't say what an absurd idea that is because she's not talking to me.


TRUMP: Excuse me. She's not talking to me. She's talking to the United States of America. You don't talk to the United States that way, at least under me.

ACOSTA (voice-over): On a range of questions Mr. Trump repeatedly pointed his finger at former president Barack Obama.

TRUMP: Under President Obama --

Russia outsmarted President Obama.

President Obama did that.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Consider his defense of the Trump administration's new plan to detain immigrant families for longer periods at the border.

TRUMP: I am the one that kept the families together, OK. You remember that, right?

Just remember I said it. And now it gets even better. President Obama and others brought the families apart. But I'm the one that kept the families together.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But that is not true. It was Mr. Trump who launched a policy of family separations. Still, the president insists he cares about migrant children.


TRUMP: Let me just tell you, very much I have the children on my mind. It bothers me very greatly.

ACOSTA: Now after all of that, the president joked to a group of American veterans today that he would like to give himself the Medal of Honor. Mr. Trump, who is not a military veteran and avoided service during the Vietnam War, says he was told by his staff that awarding himself the Medal of Honor would not be a good idea -- Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.



CHURCH: David Sanger is a CNN political and national security analyst. He also writes about national security for "The New York Times." Good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, Wednesday was stranger than usual with President Trump flip-flopping on payroll tax cuts and tighter background checks. Then declaring he's the chosen one to take on China. The kind of Israel and the second coming of God, calling the Danish leader nasty and even suggested he should award himself the Medal of Honor.

Your reaction to all that we witnessed coming out of the mouth of a U.S. president in just one day.

SANGER: It is pretty remarkable, Rosemary. I mean, after all this is the third week in August when no one is supposed to be around, no news is supposed to happen. And of course, here is Donald Trump doing what Donald Trump always does which is fill a vacuum.

What I think you've seen in the gyrations of the past few weeks on the Fed, on gun control issues, on immigration issues, what you're seeing is a man who is facing some polls that suggest that the country may not be with him, who is getting increasingly disturb about how he is positioning himself for the general election.

And who's going after and creating, you know, a number of enemies perceived and otherwise the most remarkable peer being the, rather commonly spoken, prime minister of Denmark, who merely said that the proposal to buy Greenland was absurd and the president took offense of that.

We're told, by the way that he just did not like the mocking way in which so many greeted the idea.

CHURCH: And Mr. Trump has also said that Jewish-Americans face a loyalty test come the next election? And he has been criticized for that. Here is his response on Wednesday.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your critics have said that is an anti-Semitic remark. How do you respond to that?

TRUMP: I haven't heard anybody say that, just the opposite. I think that if you vote for a Democrat, you are very, very disloyal to Israel and to the Jewish people.


CHURCH: So, what's your reaction to his words and his actions when he also retweeted Wayne Allyn Root who called him the greatest president for Jews and for Israel and said, he's like the king of Israel and the second coming of God?

SANGER: Well, first of all, Israel was recognized by the United States after its creation by a Democratic president, Harry Truman. And while certainly, Democrats and Republicans have had at various moments, some different views about Israel.

What the president seems to be saying here is that, the only loyal thing to do if you are Jewish in America, is to take a view that is completely in support --

[02:10:00] SANGER: -- of Prime Minister Netanyahu's approach, which is certainly what the president has done and he certainly within his rights to go do that.

But the interesting argument that he made was he said that it was disloyal to both America and to Israel to have a different view of how Israel should be dealing presumably with the issue of the Palestinians. He wasn't specific on what he was saying there.

And it is kind of remarkable. I mean, one might say I disagree with the view of the Democrats, but to say that it is disloyal to both nations to have a different view about how Israel should deal with the problem, I mean, it goes right back to the Trump loyalty test, on almost everything.

CHURCH: And finally, I do want to revisit the U.S. president calling the Danish prime minister nasty, because she thinks his suggestion to buy Greenland is absurd, along with the rest of the world. Your reaction to an ally being called nasty and this sort of treatment of Denmark because he wants to come to his desire to buy Greenland?

SANGER: Yes. I mean, I can understand having difference with allies because you believe they are not spending enough to contribute to NATO and in fact, he made that complaint about Denmark today.

He certainly had differences with the Germans on that issue, he's had issues with the French, he's had issues with many other allies along the way, including Japan and South Korea and their contributions in the Pacific.

But to say that you are canceling a meeting, that initially he argued was not about the purchase of Greenland, because the prime minister said that it was an absurd notion that they were going to sell off this territory, an independent, or a self-ruled territory that is under Denmark's control. I thought it was rather strange.

He certainly has said stronger things on his Twitter feed than it's absurd. Which was all that the Denmark's prime minister said in the course of her television interviews. It didn't strike me that she was particularly strident at it, she was just dismissive of it.

CHURCH: All right. All in all, a very strange day.

SANGER: That's very strange day in which he was -- we certainly saw the president in full Trumpian form.

CHURCH: Yes. And maybe we'll see more of this in the days ahead. Who knows?

David Sanger --

SANGER: I think he will.

CHURCH: -- many thanks for joining us. we appreciate it.

SANGER: Thanks to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: The Trump administration now wants to hold migrant children indefinitely, when they are being detained for crossing the border illegally. The proposed rule change is almost are certain to invite a host of legal challenges. CNN's Alex Marquardt explains why the administration is taking a harder line.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What this does in simple terms, is that it remove the limits on the length of time that migrant children can be detained. Right now under what's called the Flores Settlement Agreement, children can be delayed for 20 days.

With this new rule proposed, there will be no maximum. So, indefinitely. The acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan said --


MARQUARDT: -- the current regulation creates an incentive for families to come into the U.S. illegally and it means parents have to be released with their kids after 20 days while immigration proceedings go on.


KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: The results of holding families together, under the previous administration, was a dramatic reduction in the flow of unlawful crossings by families.

By closing this on Flores, new rule will restore integrity to our immigration system and eliminate the major factor that's fueling the crisis.


MARQUARDT: McAleenan said that this would end the catch-and-release effect of the current situation. He rejects the notion that this means families could be held indefinitely. He said that most cases are processed under 50 days. He said children are being used as pawns and passports.

The Trump administration certainly believe they can do this legally. But the courts have yet to weigh in. Once this is published on Friday it will go to the courts, specifically the court that oversees the Flores agreement. It could then face many other legal challenges, including legal action from the migrants themselves and we already see the ACLU calling this yet another cruel attack on children.

There could also be a constitutional challenge. This will not be a smooth sailing for the administration, it will almost certainly take longer than 60 days for a ruling like this that would normally go in to effect with no challenges..

Kevin McAleenan today they are fully expecting this to be challenged in court.


CHURCH: It is a daunting goal for the British prime minister. Coming up, Boris Johnson's mission to persuade the E.U. leaders to reopen Brexit talks.

Plus China and Russia are worried about a new U.S. cruise missile, what will they the United Nations Security Council to do -- that's up next.




CHURCH: Welcome back everyone.

In just a few hours British prime minister Boris Johnson is to bring his case for reopening Brexit talks to the French president, but it's expected to fall on deaf ears, Emmanuel Macron has said Mr. Johnson's proposals are unworkable.

However after a meeting in Berlin, German chancellor Angela Merkel was open to some movement on the so-called Irish backstop, the clause is designed to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland, part of the U.K. and Republic of Ireland, which is in the E.U.


MERKEL (through translator): And in that moment, where one would do with this and say this is how we imagine this being solved and this is how we think it might look, then this backstop, as a safety mechanism, would no longer be needed.

Then we will know what the future relationship between the European Union and Great Britain and in particular Northern Ireland, and member state, the Republic of Ireland, look like. That means that the backstop has always been a fallback position.


BORIS JOHNSON, INCOMING U.K. PRIME MINISTER: We need to remove those elements of the withdrawal agreement that simply do not work for the U.K. I've spoken of the things that I think are sensible, the protections of the rights of E.U. nationals.

But the backstop, that particular arrangement, which I do think, has grave, grave defects for a democratic country, a sovereign democratic country like the U.K., that plainly has to go. But once we get rid of, if we can change it, then I think there's the real prospect of making progress very rapidly indeed. So that's why I'm here.

And I just want to be absolutely clear, with all our German friends and with the German government, that we in the U.K., want a deal. We seek a deal.


CHURCH: While Boris Johnson tries to find support for his Brexit plan among European leaders, he has an enthusiastic backer at the White House, Melissa Bell takes a look at the future of relations between the U.K. and the U.S.


TRUMP: We do have a very special relationship, in fact I will get that piece of dandruff off.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At first, the bromance seemed to flourish, the French president determined to be Donald Trump's friend in Europe despite differences in both style and policy.

But key issues including threats of tariffs soon cooled the relationship. Now another European leader could prove a more natural ally for the American president and not just for pragmatic reasons but ideological ones, too.


TRUMP: I spoke with Boris Johnson. I think he's going to be a great prime minister. He can do a fantastic job, I know him, a lot of people know him, we have a good relationship. I think he will be, far superior.


BELL (voice-over): The last time Donald Trump visited the United Kingdom, Theresa May was still the prime minister. Now it's the Brexiteer Boris Johnson taking on Brexit negotiations with wary European partners, stopping in Berlin on Wednesday before heading to Paris to meet Macron and then heading to the G7 meeting in Biarritz, where the man called the British Donald Trump will meet the actual Donald Trump, two populists certainly.

But what about policy?

CHRISTIAN LEQUESNE, POLITICAL SCIENTIST, SCIENCES PO: If you look at the foreign policy positions of the United Kingdom, on Iran, on Middle East, even on Russia, they are closer from Berlin and Paris than Washington, D.C.

BELL (voice-over): But even more than Theresa May at the last G7, Boris Johnson needs that special relationship with the United States rekindled, post Brexit more than ever. At this week's G7, Johnson and Trump will be at the table, and even if there are divisions, there will be much unity, including at the site of the European Union -- Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


CHURCH: China and Russia are asking for a U.N. Security Council meeting on U.S. plans for a newly tested cruise missile. The Pentagon tested the missile on Sunday just a few weeks after the U.S. pulled out a landmark nuclear treaty with the Russia.

President Putin said he is concerned about the missiles being deployed in Europe.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): Those missiles could be launched using existing systems in Romania and possibly soon in Poland. All it takes is a change to software, I'm not sure that our American friends will inform our European partners about which software is installed in those systems.

For us it means new threats. We must react accordingly.


CHURCH: U.S. Defense secretary Mark Esper says the missiles are meant to send a message to China.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The U.S. cruise missile test last weekend, was that designed to send a signal to China, Russia and North Korea?

MARK ESPER, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We want to make sure that we, as we need to, have the capability to also deter Chinese bad behavior, by having our own capability to be able to strike in that intermediate ranges.


CHURCH: Esper says Russia may have nuclear-tipped medium-range missiles pointed at Europe but he denies the U.S. plans to deploy its new land-based missiles on the continent.

Beijing wants the world to know that a missing employee --


CHURCH: -- of Britain's Hong Kong consulate was detained in Mainland China two weeks ago and it's no one else's business.


GENE SHUANG, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): This employee is a Hong Kong citizen, not a British citizen. He is a Chinese person; therefore, this is entirely China's own internal affairs.


CHURCH: Beijing said Simon Cheng violated China's security administration punishment law but did not provide any specific details of his alleged wrongdoing. His girlfriend says he disappeared on August 8th while traveling to the border city of Shenzhen on a work trip.

His family is worried he's being mistreated. The situation has also raised concerns among Hong Kong's pro-democracy supporters that Beijing is detaining people in Mainland China in an effort to intimidate protesters.

Some of the pro-democracy protesters tried to hold a silent sit-in in the subway on Wednesday but the protest turned chaotic.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here at the MTR station in the New Territories near the border with Mainland China is one of the Hong Kong areas that's rife with confrontation. There was a stabbing attack one month ago tied to the Triad gang members who some have suspected of collaborating with the government of Mainland China.

Now you have this, a small group of protesters after a largely peaceful gathering, hundreds of people staging a sit-in at station on the one-month anniversary -- you can hear the announcement telling people to kind of move on so they can get the station cleaned up and get operations back as soon as possible.

But this has been the scene of disruption a month ago and is the scene of disruption for different reason, to raise attention to Hong Kong's protest movement, which, over the weekend, held a gathering, protesters estimated to be 1.5 million people or even more, they started in Victoria Park and flooded through the streets of central, this is the kind of thing that protesters want to highlight, the large, peaceful gatherings and not this kind of pop-up violence that can shut down a public area.

You can see the walls there, there is graffiti just beyond the area, where you would swipe your card to get onto the MTR. So clearly dozens of protesters have once again, affected infrastructure, it was the airport and before that it was the legislative council building.

Now here, this is an area, where most fire extinguishers mark where some of the protesters lit trash bins on fire, that activated the building's sprinkler system. That's why we saw flooding in other areas. These are the fire extinguishers there used to put out the trash can fires.

Now they are shutting down the station, everybody is told to leave, operations are finished and will resume in the coming hours. For morning commuters, presumably, there is still a lot of work to be done to clean up after Hong Kong's latest act of disruption -- Will Ripley, CNN, Hong Kong.


We will take a short break. More to come, G7 leaders meet in France. Russia is still not invited but the U.S. and France think it should be. We will explain why.

Plus fires in Amazon's rain forest are burning at a record rate and the country's president is blaming an unlikely group for igniting them, we will have that story up next.


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back, everyone, I'm Rosemary Church, time to check the main stories we've been following this hour.

German chancellor Angela Merkel has issued a Brexit challenge to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Come up with an alternative to the provision on the Irish border, known as the backstop, in 30 days. The two leaders talked in Berlin on Wednesday. Johnson is to meet with the French president on Thursday.

Donald Trump is calling the Danish prime minister's comment, nasty, after she rejected his offer to buy Greenland, as absurd. The prime minister expressed regret over Mr. Trump's decision to cancel a state visit, and said she doesn't want to get in a war of words.

In Hong Kong, hundreds of pro-democracy protesters gathered for a sit- in on Wednesday, to mark one month since mob's beat peaceful demonstrators there with iron bars and sticks. Some protesters began overturning trash cans and barricading themselves as riot police gathered outside. Police soon backed off and the protesters left.

President Trump is the toast of Moscow right now for suggesting Russia be invited to next year's G7 summit, in the United States. France, apparently, made the suggestion. But both the U.K. and Germany say they are not ready for Russia to return to the fold.


BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: Given what happened in Salisbury and (INAUDIBLE) given the use of chemical weapon on British soil, given the continuing instability, civil war, the war in Ukraine, given Russia's provocations, not just in Ukraine, but in many other places.

I must say I am very much with Chancellor Merkel in thinking that the case has yet to be made out for Russia to return to the G7. And I think there probably is - yet another example, if I may say so, an area where U.K. and Germany have a common position.


CHURCH: Mr. Trump is expected to raise the issue at the annual G7 summit this weekend in France. Even if the idea goes nowhere, the Russian media out-sharing. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen has more now from Moscow.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, kremlin- controlled media is celebrating after President Trump says he wants to see Russia rejoin the group of strongest industrial nations, the G7. A translated version of President Trump's remarks getting massive applause on State T.V. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's not the way a (INAUDIBLE) should work.

PLEITGEN: State T.V. already showing graphics of a G8 logo, now with a Russian flag, claiming President Trump made the move because he feels he owes Russia after the U.S. recently tested a land-based Tomahawk cruise missile.

Trump just tested the new Tomahawks that will soon probably be deployed next to our borders to scare us. So, it looks like the American presidents feels guilty or ashamed. Saddened, Trump decided to unburden himself and agreed with Macron to invite us to G7. They missed us.

PLEITGEN: Russia was kicked out of the group in 2014, after it invaded Ukraine and annex Crimea. The decision was made during the Obama administration, but was approved by a majority of the member nations. Still, President Trump tonight choosing to praise Putin over his predecessor.

TRUMP: Because Putin outsmarted him. President Obama thought it wasn't a good thing to have Russia in, so he wanted Russia out.

PLEITGEN: Despite Trump's words, Russia's leader is showing Trump the cold shoulder. Today, saying Russia is developing new advanced weaponry, and even blaming the U.S., in part, for a recent explosion during a botched Russian weapon's test that led to a radiation spike.

[02:35:08] VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): The tragedy in the White Sea that took lives of specialists, happened during works on advanced weaponry. We are not hiding that.

The people who suffered were doing critical work to ensure the security of our state, because our partners, including the Americans, are testing new systems, so we also need to pay extra attention to this.

PLEITGEN: For all of President Trump's apparent enthusiasm, the Russians themselves, so far, haven't even said whether or not they would want to join the G7 again. Several Russian officials coming out and saying the Russians really would like to see sanctions relief before even thinking about rejoining an organization like the G7. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


CHURCH: We turn to Brazil now, and raging wildfires are burning through the Amazon rainforest at a record pace, and scientists are warning this could be yet another devastating setback in the fight against climate change. Our Shasta Darlington reports.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brazil's largest city, plunged into darkness, black clouds filling the sky, blanketing Sao Paulo Monday afternoon, thick smoke bellowing from more than 2,700 kilometers away, where fires are consuming the world's largest rainforest. The Amazon basin is burning at a record rate, according to Brazil's research center. More than 72,000 fires have scorched the country this year. And over 80 percent increase compared to the same period in 2018. Flames destroying 1-1/2 football fields of rainforest every minute of every day.

Smokes spreading across nearly half of Brazil, visible from space more than a week ago, even spilling into neighboring Peru, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Now, the haste stretches across South America, spreading along the East Atlantic Coast. Though fires are common here in Brazil's dry season, climate scientists say this is far from the norm.

Instead, environmentalists point to land raised at unprecedented levels, as a new government encourages industry to develop the Amazon region. Brazil's right-wing president has brushed off environmental concerns as he vows to open the rainforest to business interests.

Since he took office in January, rates of deforestation have soared, as Jair Bolsonaro remains indignant to international criticism.

JAIR BOLSONARO, PRESIDENT OF BRAZIL (through translator): Take your money and reforest Germany.

DARLINGTON: Bolsonaro wrestled at Germany and Norway's decision to suspend funding to Brazil. Now, his attention turns to wildfires surging at unprecedented rates. Bolsonaro is deflecting blame. Without evidence, he points to non-governmental organizations.

BOLSONARO: Regarding the fires in the Amazon, I am under the impression that it could have been set by the NGOs, because they had asked for money. What was their intention to bring about problems for Brazil?

DARLINGTON: Home to hundreds of indigenous tribes, the Amazon rainforest is rich in wildlife and natural resources, often called the lungs of the earth. The rainforest supplies 20 percent of the world's oxygen. If it turns to a point of no return, environmentalists warned it could turn into a dry savannah and begin emitting carbon, instead, plunging the planet ever deeper into a climate change crisis.

Shasta Darlington, Sao Paulo, CNN.


CHURCH: And Derek Van Dam has been following this for us, he joins us now. It's just horrifying to think of the extent of damage being caused, and when you look at that package, you know, if it burns beyond the point, it is just horrifying.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL WEATHER ANCHOR: Yes. It's incredible. It seems like we've been talking about forest fires for weeks now, Rosemary, from Italy to the Greek islands, to Alaska, now, the Amazon. But the real issue here in the Amazon, centers around deforestation. We know that the president ran on expansion and deforestation, since he took his office, he got his way. And unfortunately, without the Amazon rainforest, the "lungs of the planet" will no longer have the ability or losing the ability to absorb the CO2 that we emit. So, we want forest to be carbon sinks. Unfortunately, without forest, we no longer have that option.

Let me show you a little bit closer here, you can see the dramatic spike in the CO2 emissions, just from burning of wildfires and brushfires across the Amazon, specifically. Now, this fire - this map here behind me is - it just shows you the positioning of all of the fires ongoing at this moment, it looks a little daunting. You've got to consider the size of the icons being displayed here.

But what's concerning is across the northern portions of Brazil near the Amazonas, the state of Amazonas. We know that we can see the wildfires burning out of control from space, over 74,000 fires year- to-date.

[02:40:09] The problem here is that since last Thursday, we've had an additional 9,000 fire starts, so they continue to erupt 85 percent more than in 2018. And that is the year where we saw over -- just under 8,000 square kilometers, destroyed, just from deforestation alone, in the Amazon, and that is 5 times the size of London.

So, if we keep up this trend, we're going to turn our forest into savannah. We are going to lose that ability to absorb carbon dioxide. The heat trapping gases that we emit from burning the fossil fuels. That is why we refer to the Amazon as the lungs of the earth.

Now, we know that there's a state of emergency in the state of Amazonas, right now. We also know that these are fires that had been human-induced, considering that the deforestation is so rapid across this area. And it doesn't help, Rosemary, that we are in the midst of a drought in this portion of Brazil.

And we are also in the dry season, as well. We believe that the peak of the fire season in the Amazon comes amid September, so this could get worse before it gets better.

CHURCH: Yes, that is not good news at all. Derek, many thanks for you, keeping a close eye on this and highlighting this big problem. Appreciate it.

Why is North Korea so afraid of South Korean pop music? When we return, the surprising story of how K-pop has Kim Jong-un's regime, concerned. And practicing for the protest, how environmental activists are training for demonstrations at the G7? We're back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. The North Korean regime is being undermined by K-pop. More and more defectors from the north say South Korean pop music is inspiring them to flee. And as Brian Todd reports, North Korea is trying to stop the influence of its unlikely foe.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a surprising - and for many North Koreans, jarring sight. A band called Red Velvet, wildly popular in South Korea and around the world, invited to perform in front of an elite audience in Pyongyang, in the spring of 2018. One of their most adoring fans, North Korea's usually stoic supreme leader, who was caught on camera, leading the applause.

Even though he has banned his own people from listening to the same songs. Kim Jong-un and his wife, Ri Sol-ju, once a singer herself, greeted the band offstage.

But now, there is growing evidence that this kind of music called, K- pop, is becoming a threat to the dictator's regime.

A recent survey by South Korea's Unification Media Group, says more and more defectors now cite music as a key factor in how they became disenchanted with their government.

SUK-YOUNG KIM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR PERFORMANCE STUDIES, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: North Korean young generation find many creative ways to access foreign media especially South Korean pop culture has been phenomenally popular in North Korea for the past 20 years. And it's really starting to impact the way they conceive at the world, as well as to reflect upon their own lives in North Korea.

TODD: North Korea's first couple are such fans of that style of music themselves that they have their own girl band.

Moranbong, Kim Jong-un's hand-picked troupe of young women in tight dresses who sing Korean pop songs and tributes to their boss.

But one defector says that's about the extent to which young North Koreans are allowed to consume pop music.

KANG NA-RA, DEFECTOR FROM NORTH KOREA (through translator): North Korea is such a tightly controlled society, and the style we can follow was very limited. Ri Sol-ju or Moranbong band members were only permitted, role models.

TODD: Kim's regime forbids the influx of any foreign media content unless it's heavily censored. But still, it gets in.

Hyun Lee defected from North Korea five years ago. The son of a top financial official for Kim's regime. Lee had access to South Korean K-pop which was smuggled in by friends while he lived in North Korea.

He says any young North Korean hearing South Korean K-pop for the first time is struck by the difference.

TODD: What does that music have that their music does not have?

HYUN LEE, DEFECTOR FROM NORTH KOREA: So, North Korean music doesn't have any emotion and filling of love. And then their freedom of society. But South Korean music emphasizes emotion, love.

TODD: Hyun Lee, has says the tide of K-pop is so enormous and the black market for the music and videos is so strong.

Even young people still inside North Korea, know about Gangnam Style. The song by the artist, Psy that was the first YouTube video ever to reach a billion views.

But it's a tide Kim Jong-un is trying to hold back. Analysts say North Korea's crackdown on the consumption of K-pop by its citizens has intensified under the camp. Defectors say there is a feared unit of Kim's security services called, Group 109, a roving group of operatives searching for banned C.D.s and USB drives.

HYUN: They basically do search your body and such your home at any time and everywhere. And once North Koreans caught by 109, so, the severe punishment was execution.

TODD: It's not just listening to K-pop that can get the average young North Korean in trouble. One young defector told The Washington Post that after seeing some K-pop videos, she wanted to emulate their clothing style. She put on a pair of jeans, she said and went to a local market.

She said authorities there made her take off the jeans right there, and burn them right in front of her. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Well, tiny bits of plastic everywhere, including our drinking water. The particles get into drinking water mainly through surface runoff after a rain. A new study by the World Health Organization, says microplastics don't appear to pose a health risk at this point. But it says more research is needed.


BRUCE GORDON, COORDINATOR, GLOBAL WORK ON WATER AND SANITATION, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: There are big data gaps. This is a report that looked at drinking water alone when we look in the future at food and airborne particulates -- microplastic particulates that the case may evolve.

And so, that is a major concern for researchers to look at the wider environment and also to make sure that we -- when we look at microplastics, we look with standardized methods so we can have reproducible and comparable metrics. So, we can understand where the problem is going.


CHURCH: Another study found we are ingesting an average of five grams of plastic every week. That is about the equivalent of a credit card. Think about that.

Well, contaminated drinking water is just one concern for environmental activists. And as they try to call attention to the problems they want to address, they are using new tactics, strategies for civil disobedience that they've learned at activist training camps.

Saskya Vandoorne takes us to one in France.


[02:49:45] SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN FIELD PRODUCER: Clashes between police and protesters, and (INAUDIBLE) arrest. Scenes all-too- familiar in France, only this time, it's not a real protest.

This is the culmination of a 12-day climate activism training camp for as little as seven euros a day, participants here in the small town of Kingersheim, eastern France, can learn a range of techniques.

From role-playing exercises like learning to go limp when arrested, to sewing and creating eye-catching placards.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It must be understandable by everyone, very fast.

VANDOORNE: Cecile Marchand has been a driving force behind the camp. But three years now. She says, there were 300 participants when it started. Today, there are over 1,000.

CECILE MARCHAND, CAMPAIGNER ON CLIMATE AND PUBLIC ACTORS, FRIENDS OF THE EARTH: The ideas more to give concrete tools to the people like how can you interest with the press, how do you coordinates direct, non-violent action. How do you trained people to follow the legal part of an action?

VANDOORNE: Participants are of all ages, and have come from across Europe. Environmental activism has entered a new phase of planned acts of civil disobedience. And it comes like this for teaching activists how to coordinate.

Think camps all across Europe, the Netherlands, Belgium, the U.K., and in France. More and more people are learning how to possibly resist police and staged peaceful protests.

Now, what are the police make of it? Well, they along with the interior ministry, said that they didn't want to comment. But with activists here gearing up for the G7, it will be the police will be on the receiving end of their newly acquired skills.

It's thanks to the permission granted by the mayor of Kingersheim, that these 700 activists are able to stage this fake protest today. He says, elected officials need to do more to fight the climate crisis.

JO SPIEGEL, MAYOR OF KINGERSHEIM, FRANCE (through translator): I think this government is about the present and not the future. This is why I believe nonviolent protests and civil disobedience can change our government's perspective and policies. I know it's not easy, but that's why we have to work together.

VANDOORNE: Critics say that these camps can radicalize activists and are a threat to the public order. Cecile disagrees. MARCHAND: People not fighting you in (INAUDIBLE) these are threats against the public order. We do want to change the system. For that, we need to do more than just convince people, and to put pressure on them. And to do that, we think about civil disobedience can be (INAUDIBLE) part of the strategy.

VANDOORNE: A strategy that will be put to the test when leaders from the world's seven most developed nations are set to gather in South West France this week.

Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Kingersheim.


CHURCH: Democrats, say goodbye to one of the presidential contenders. We will explain who is calling it quits after failing to generate enough interest among voters.

Plus, a moment every candidate dreads.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- you know, Donald Trump. But this New Yorker volunteers to get rid of news for you.


CHURCH: Its experiences like this that can haunt a candidate for weeks, months, even years. Bill de Blasio, wasn't trying to be funny but it did come out that way. Back in a moment with that.


CHURCH: The field of Democrats running for U.S. president is a little small. Although it may be hard to tell at a glance.

Washington state governor Jay Inslee, announced Wednesday, he is dropping out. Inslee had made combating climate change, the central theme of his campaign. But said, it had become clear, it did not have enough popular support to be competitive.

Inslee will have lots of company in the also-ran club when it's all over. But for now, more than 20 other Democrats are still in the race.

Well, New York mayor, Bill de Blasio still thinks he has a shot at the nomination like all dedicated candidates. He never misses an opportunity to address potential voters.

But when he appeared by video to a group of Iowa -- a group in Iowa, I should say, it didn't go as planned. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.


[02:55:26] JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What do the chipmunks, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have in common? DE BLASIO: Hey, thank you everybody, and I'm so happy with you, and I apologize that I couldn't be there in person.

MOOS: Do not adjust your set. The mayor's voices distorted beyond fixing. There's someone tweeted, "I like him better this way." Mayor de Blasio's flight was canceled due the weather, so he made an on- screen appearance at the Iowa Federation of Labor Convention.

DE BLASIO: A real intense bold change.

MOOS: What was real and intense was his change of voice which technicians tried unsuccessfully to fix, even as he spoke.

DE BLASIO: A really, really, difficult battle.

MOOS: And no, the presidential candidate hadn't been sucking helium like Jimmy Fallon.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, NBC: Do you ever want to go to space?

MOOS: De Blasio's high-pitched voice.

DE BLASIO: I want to thank you --

MOOS: Inspired only a stifled chuckle in the room. But munchkin jokes dominated online. "He represents the lollipop guild."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We represent the lollipop guild, the lollipop guild.

MOOS: When de Blasio ended his presentation.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, everybody.

MOOS: The emcee responded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so that was a little bit different.

MOOS: There were other audio issues. Joe Biden's mic was turned off at one point.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Spread it, go spread it guys.

MOOS: And even the emcee had to blow and tap, tap and blow. Organizers apologized and later gave de Blasio a second chance to speak undistorted.

DE BLASIO: Crystal-clear.

MOOS: De Blasio later joked, "A canceled flight can't stop me from auditioning for Alvin and the Chipmunks."

ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, ANIMATED VIRTUAL BAND: Talk about, talk about, talk about --

MOOS: Oh, we're talking about it. DE BLASIO: My message comes down to three words. Working people first.

MOOS: Correction, working audio first, or your campaign will be headed --

Jeanne Moos, CNN.


MOOS: New York.



CHURCH: A tough day for the audio guy there, I would think too. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more news in just a moment. Don't go anyway.