Return to Transcripts main page
CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
75th Anniversary of D-Day; Breaking News: UK Government Asking Queen to Suspend Parliament; Tropical Storm Dorian Heading for Puerto Rico; How the Massive Fires in Brazil Will Impact the Ecosystem. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired August 28, 2019 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, 34th U.S. PRESIDENT: Many thousands of men died for ideals such as this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The U.S. military past and present. I speak to the army secretary, Mark Esper, about the sacrifices made here and how the military will face the challenges of the future.
And the politics behind this somber remembrance with the top French journalist Christine Ockrent.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour here at the American cemetery in Normandy, where the sun is setting now on a day of deep emotion and tribute to the veterans who 75 years ago today stormed the beaches below me to liberate Western Europe from the Nazis. It's a moment known forever more by its military term D-Day. Thousands of allied troops died in the first day of assault.
And today, under the shining sun the world returned to Normandy to honor them and the many more who were killed during World War II.
Side by side, U.S. President, Donald Trump, and French President, Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to the fallen and to everyone else who fought here on June 6 all those years ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: You are among the greatest Americans who will ever live. You're the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: We owe what we owe to you veterans, our freedom. On behalf of my nation, I just want to say thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And in the shadow of that history, President Trump paid rare tribute to the power of alliances and he celebrated those bonds. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: To all of our friends and partners, our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war and proven in the blessings of peace. Our bond is unbreakable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: 173 World War II veterans have traveled from far and wide to come to this anniversary. 65 of them were on D-Day. And earlier today, I spoke to one of them, Jake Larson, landed on Omaha Beach on June 6th when he was just 21 years old. He continued to fight through Europe, including the liberation of Paris and at the Battle of the Bulge. This anniversary is the first time he's been able to return to France since he helped to liberate it.
We were also joined by the future generation, a 17-year-old student, Carlisle Salapare. He is from South Carolina and he came to Normandy to immerse himself in real-life history.
AMANPOUR: Jake Larson, Carlisle, welcome to the program.
Listen, Jake, it is really an amazing honor and a privilege and honor for us to talk to you and to have you here because you are, as it says on the back of your jacket, an Omaha Beach survivor.
JAKE LARSON, D-DAY VETERAN: I am. Yes.
AMANPOUR: Is this the first time you've been back?
LARSON: 75 years ago. 75 years ago. Today I landed on Omaha Beach, came off the ship, down the rope ladder and got into one of these LCIs, it's Landing Craft Infantry. I was the first one on that ship. So, I sat right back by the pilot, who was furnished by the navy. And then 29 others came in and sat in front of me.
Now, we were supposed to go in about 8:30 in the morning to help the troops that already came in there. They could not get any support there. So, they held us back until there was room to come.
AMANPOUR: Do you remember how scary it was? Was it --
LARSON: I don't remember the scary part but I do remember that everybody was getting sick in the boat and when you start seeing people vomiting and the smell comes to you, it kind of nauseates you.
[05:05:01] AMANPOUR: I bet it does. And when you hit the beach, what do you remember about, you know, making it onto the beach?
LARSON: Well, I remember when I hit the beach, machine guns were opening up and firing at me. And I found this little, what I call blurb of sand, kind of limestone. It sits in a (inaudible) and it was about six to eight inches high and it was a protection from those machine guns. So, I laid behind it thinking, how am I going to get out of this plane without being shot at me?
So, I reached in my pocket and got a cigarette out of a waterproof cigarette holder, and I reached for a match and the matches were wet. I looked over my left shoulder and there was a GI sitting there, not 3 1/2 feet behind me laying, and I say, "Hey, buddy, have you got a match?" No answer. I looked again, under the helmet was no head.
AMANPOUR: Oh, my goodness. So, this man had been killed?
LARSON: He had been killed. And at that instant, I thanked his soul for inspiring me to beat it to the cliff. I got up and -- between those machine guns that were shooting from two different angles, over down at me, I made it to the cliff without a scratch.
AMANPOUR: Wow, Jake, that is just unbelievable. You know, we've got a really young guy right here sitting next to you, Carlisle, he's 17, he's a student from South Carolina.
Carlisle, I mean, you are here because you are really interested in this part of World War II history.
CARLISLE SALAPARE, U.S. HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am.
AMANPOUR: Well how? What? I mean, stories like this, this is living history here, Carlisle.
SALAPARE: I know. Like in school they always teach us about World War II and the politicians and the Operation Overlord, you know, D- Day. But coming here, seeing the beaches, seeing all of the great men who fought and died for freedom and liberty and to see you here, Mr. Lawson, is just -- it's amazing. I'm speechless. Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR: What do you think young people -- what would you like young people like Carlisle to remember and to know about what you and your band of brothers did?
LARSON: Let's talk about our freedom. We're so blessed. We're so blessed. We don't realize how blessed we are. I joined the National Guard when I was 15 years old because Hitler had just annexed Austria and he was taking the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia. At that time, it wasn't very good to be liking war.
AMANPOUR: You had to lie about your age, didn't you?
LARSON: I had -- a little bit, just three years.
AMANPOUR: To get in.
LARSON: That three years that I lied about my age, it hurt me in the long run, because my service records were burned up in St. Louis in '73 or '74 or something like that. And I wanted to get hospitalization from the Veterans Association. No, they didn't have any record of me. And they kept looking and kept looking. Now, this D-Day adventure, I was offered a spot of time to go here paid for. I didn't have the money.
AMANPOUR: You mean for an anniversary?
LARSON: For this 75th anniversary. And as quick as my son told them, his service records were burned up in St. Louis, they hung up on me. That was the end of that. Two girls from the bagel shop in Martinous said, "We were going to fund you." I said, "What's funny about this?"
"Oh," she says, "No, we're going to be funding you."
AMANPOUR: Funding you.
LARSON: Funding you. And I thought it was funnying me.
[05:10:02] AMANPOUR: Yes, you made a joke.
LARSON: So, I said, "I don't think anybody is going to give me money that doesn't know me. I said, "I'll probably take a tin cup and sit out here in front and get more money than you get." I was wrong. The people responded. They had a $10,000 limit, and I got $12,000.
AMANPOUR: Wow. So here you are thanks to your neighbors.
LARSON: So here I am. I kind of -- not only my neighbor, from people all over the United States who had lost parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters or something like that in the Second World War. I could not believe it. This is like winning the lottery for me.
AMANPOUR: What is it like to be back?
LARSON: It's unbelievable. I've got my two sons. I've got two of my grandsons that are escorting me. There is a God. There is a God.
AMANPOUR: Well, there is a God that saved you and kept you alive.
LARSON: He kept me going. He --
LARSON: 96 years old. I don't have aches or pains like ordinary people.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask Carlisle. Listen, Carlisle, can you even imagine, you're 17 years old, lying about your age at 15 to be able to go to war and to serve?
SALAPARE: That's patriotism, ma'am. That's just amazing.
AMANPOUR: How deeply do they teach you at school? Because I hear the longer the distance between D-Day, World War II, the less of a massive central part of school curriculum it is.
SALAPARE: Yes. Yes, like beginning in elementary school and middle school, they teach just history, and it's mostly about U.S. history, obviously, and they cover from the revolution all the way up to, you know, modern politics. And they just covered D-Day as an event.
And this past semester I had AP U.S. History and we covered D-Day under the World War II aspect in the periods of how the test was divided and it struck me. I'm going on a trip. I'm seeing places I would only learn about. That I'm meeting people that, you know, I would never think I would meet.
AMANPOUR: I have read that there is some interest in history buffs who are also making sort of roots to trace the roots that people like Jake Larson fought through to get through Europe and defeat the Nazis, even beyond France.
SALAPARE: Yes, ma'am.
AMANPOUR: Is that sort of like a pilgrimage you might want to make?
SALAPARE: Actually, I'm on a trip right now with my school. We're going up to Paris to see where the Allies liberated them, the Battle of Bastion, the Allies.
AMANPOUR: Were you in the Battle of Bastion?
LARSON: You're taking liberation of Paris, I was there.
LARSON: Yes, I was there.
SALAPARE: That's amazing.
LARSON: We validated in the Normandy hotel. I don't know the place where we set up headquarters, but I sat at Marshal Petain's desk, which was full of different kind of medals and stuff.
AMANPOUR: So, of course, he would have been the World War I hero --
LARSON: World War I hero --
AMANPOUR: -- who was the World War II --
LARSON: -- who was president of --
AMANPOUR: -- collaborator.
LARSON: -- the V.C. --
AMANPOUR: That's right.
LARSON: -- French.
AMANPOUR: That's right. He was the collaborator during World War II.
LARSON: Yes, yes.
AMANPOUR: And you sat at his desk?
LARSON: I sat at his desk, yes.
AMANPOUR: Wow. So, here is a real, living monument to what you're going to see. That's better than any history lesson.
SALAPARE: Oh, yes, definitely.
AMANPOUR: What did you think of President Trump and President Macron's speeches?
LARSON: Oh, they were wonderful. I love to tell my stories but I don't have the command that they have. I just have a high school education. But I try, and I go and talk to history classes. And you can hear a pin drop when I talk.
AMANPOUR: Well, listen, it is extraordinary to be able to talk to you and I'm really, really happy, and I think Carlisle got a real lesson in history sitting here with you. You've talked about the real importance of remembering what it cost to be free.
LARSON: Freedom is not free.
SALAPARE: Yes, sir.
LARSON: That's the thing. And if you want a little lesson on longevity, how to live a long life, I can tell you that in two words, don't die.
AMANPOUR: I love it. Well, you didn't and you aren't and you're very much alive with us. Thank you. Thank you so much.
[05:15:04] LARSON: Thank you.
SALAPARE: Thank you, Mr. Larson.
LARSON: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: It was really incredible talking to him and to see how the 17- year-old student reacted as well.
Underneath the pageantry we've seen today is the chilling reminder though that thousands of young lives were lost forever on the beaches of Normandy.
Our Nick Glass revisits that fateful day 75 years ago, exploring both the triumphs and the tragedies.
NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sunrise and the sea is mislifting just about the time the Allies landed after 6:30 in the morning and the utter, utter serenity of it now, as we all need reminding, it was all so different on the day. The 60 miles of Normandy coast was a killing ground, a terrible killing ground and the sea green water once awash with blood.
The old footage, of course, in black and white, choppy seas, landing craft, infantry waiting ashore and hauntingly and anonymously, men falling on the beach. Could we ever really imagine what it was like? Not perhaps until Steven Spielberg made "Saving Private Ryan."
This concrete skeleton is all that remains of an artificial harbor. As we know the Americans took their heaviest casualties here at Omaha Beach. Many troops never reached the shore, killed by artillery and machine gun faster than their aircraft. A lot of money simply drowned.
On the beach itself you can find particles of shrapnel, glass and iron still mixed in with the sand. 75 years on you just have to climb the bluff above Omaha to be reminded of the cost of the Allied landing. Meticulously kept and intensely moving in its symmetry in the fading evening light, the American symmetry, thousands and thousands of white marble crosses and their lengthening shadows, over 9,000 of them.
You look at the cliffs that point the hook and marvel at the bravery of the American rangers. How did they manage to scale them with ropes and rickety ladders under German machine gunfire and a rain of grenades from above? The rangers went on to neutralize the German artillery battery. 225 rangers climbed up. Only 90 or so were still standing by day's end.
The relics at Gold Beach are perhaps more visible than anywhere else along the Normandy coast. The elaborate concrete harbors, one now a roosting spot for a colony of cormorants, this is where right in the center of things the British famously secured a beachhead.
Total Allied losses on day one were as many as they estimate as 4,400 dead, 9,000 wounded or missing. As the Great War Prime goes, at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
AMANPOUR: And as the president of France, Emmanuel Macron said, "I bow down before your courage and before the sacrifice that you gave," and he implored us to be worthy of the generation that brought us freedom and secured peace.
For more on the history, I'm joined by the award-winning historian, Antony Beevor. He has literally written a book on D-Day as well as so many others on World War II operations, like the Battle of Arnhem. And he's joining me now from Paris.
Antony Beevor, welcome to the program. You have written so much and I just wonder what you make of today's tribute, the 75th anniversary, which may be the last of this kind.
ANTONY BEEVOR, MILITARY HISTORIAN: Well, it is indeed almost certainly the last of its kind. And obviously, the tributes have been fulsome but I think it was also quite striking to see some of the political subtexts in the streak in some of the speeches, but at the same time, the really moving on the political goal on the personal element and the personal experiences.
AMANPOUR: You have written so much about that particular day, the preparation, the day, the landing. What was it like for the soldiers as they waited? Because we hear so much about, you know, those who survived and those are the people who we honor, not to mention all of the dead as can you see lined up in those graves at the cemetery behind me. But what was it like, the preparation for it?
[05:20:05] BEEVOR: Well, the preparation was intense. I mean, no operation in the history of warfare has been prepared as intensively as D-Day as Operation Overlord. But for the soldiers just beforehand, it was the waiting which was the worst. And especially when the operation had been delayed by a day from the 5th of June to the 6th of June because of the bad weather, many of them had been closed up in their landing craft and various transport vessels. And then by the time, of course, they got into the landing craft to actually reach the shore, they had been pretty sick and exhausted and then they had the worst part, which is the very rough seas which took them to the shore itself.
But for all of them, the fear must have been intense, only as the unimaginative could not have been afraid. And I think the exhaustion after the vomit, the fear and so forth, when they reached the beaches, many of them were completely exhausted before they even started. So, I think they really had to overcome that and I think it was the real determination which came through, not for everybody, but certainly for enough to persuade the others to break through and to fight their way, especially on Omaha Beach, which was the worst of all of them.
AMANPOUR: And that is the one below this cemetery. Can I ask you to -- you have studied this a lot and you've, you know, outlined the main reasons you think the Allies won. Obviously, the attack, the invasion location --
[INTERRUPTED FOR BREAKING NEWS]
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: -- legislative program.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prime Minister to do that Queen speech you will need to prorogue covenant for several days. Your critics will say this is an insult to democracy and denied the MPs, the time may need to debate and possibly vote on Brexit?
JOHNSON: No. Well that's done. That is completely untrue. If you look at what we're doing, we're bringing forth a new legislative program on crime, on hospitals and making sure that we have the education funding that we need. And there will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October the 17th Summit, ample time in parliament for MPs to debate. The E.U. debate Brexit and all the other issues, ample time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it? You seem to have an ambitious domestic agenda. Your government does not have a majority even with the DUP, it only barely has a majority. Should we take from this that you are planning a general election before the end of this year.
JOHNSON: No, what did you take from this is what we're doing exactly what I said on the sets of Downing Street which is we must get on now with our legislative domestic agenda. People will expect it. People -- I move that we need to get on with the stuff that parliament needs to approve on tackling crime, on building the infrastructure we need, on technology, on leveling up our education and reducing the cost of living. That is why we need a Queen speech. We're going to get on with it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't even know by 14th of October whether you're going to get a deal and the outlook could be quite different whether you do or whether you don't. So what would you say to the public are maybe concerned about the economic outlook?
JOHNSON: Well, we need to get on with our domestic agenda and that's why we're going to say a Queen speech for October the 14th. OK. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news then. Boris Johnson, that's the segment we just got from Downing Street without any statements going alongside it. This is a decision that's been cloaked in secrecy, just Boris Johnson and his closest team effectively saying that there will be a Queen's speech on October the 14th. What does this mean? It will potentially means there will be less parliamentary time to discuss a possible blockage to a no deal Brexit. There were many remainders within parliament hoping to block a no deal Brexit. Boris Johnson doesn't -- won't not to be an optionist as he does want a deal because in one parliament to get two involved in this.
Nic Roberston is with us. I mean this is complex but essentially means the, you know, parliamentary and it's calling, suggesting there should be a vote of no confidence in him or trying to stop a no deal, I've got less time to do so, is that right?
NIC ROBERSTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. And the prime minister recognized their threat was imminent because they had a big meeting yesterday. Jeremy Corbyn, met with the leaders of the other main parties, the SMP, the Liberal Democrats, and there was a wonderful picture that these group of varied politicians put out all signing towards an agreement that they would find a way and it seem they were moving away from the idea of having a vote of no confidence in the government that perhaps Boris Johnson had felt that he could weather that to a position where they decided that or appeared to decide best way forward was find a political mechanism to take control of parliament.
[05:25:11] FOSTER: Yes.
ROBERSTON: This is what happened to Theresa May and undermined her.
ROBERSTON: And Boris Johnson has clearly heard that and seen that for the danger for what it is, as you say, he closes that down and makes him much harder by taking away that parliamentary time and that's where we seem to be right now.
FOSTER: So explain the Queen's Speech, he doesn't necessarily have a Queen's Speech but what is a government, a speech written by the government outlining its agenda for the next parliament. He's arguing presumably a new prime minister, new cabinet so therefore they got a right to do that. But it also means that even the week after the Queen's speech, traditionally that debate the Queen's speech. So it's not just a week less parliamentary time, could potentially be two weeks less parliamentary time.
ROBERSTON: As his critics have been saying, he wants to run down the clock to the 31st of October so that he can achieve a no deal Brexit or maintain the real -- that the idea or to maintain a no deal Brexit as a credible threat to the European Union. That this is a reality and I think, you know, from a European Union, from a Brussels perspective they would look at the machinations of the opposition parliamentarians even some of those within Boris Johnson's own in party. And say, OK, it's possible that he won't actually be, to technically deliver a no deal --
ROBERSTON: -- because it will be blocked legally. So what he is doing is he think that very real thread alive and he clearly sees that as his principle negotiating tool with the European Union and that that is recognized and understood and some of the language coming out of the G7 over the weekend, as indicated, that the leaders that he's met, whether he met last week with Angela Merkel, Germany Chancellor, France President Macron (ph) and he sat next to the G& to Donald towards the E.U. council president. They get that Boris Johnson actually is a guy who is seized of all the facts. He may come across as a somewhat of a -- a bit of buffoonery but he has seized of all the facts. And therefore, he is in a position to understand all the arguments and carry out the threats. But the risk at home of having his feet cut from under him loses all that power, all that nobody negotiating tactic in Brussels.
FOSTER: Yes. And so last week, I think he met from Macron, did he but he takes this sort of commitment from Merkel to some extent, he has got 30 days to find a deal. So he'll be able to come back to the parliamentarian here as he looked on working towards a deal. You need to give me time with Merkel, so OK, another part of this chess game.
ROBERSTON: But it's all a chess game. It's all sort of keeping pales spinning in the are and I think that was -- there was an essence of spin about, you know, Angela Merkel then clarified, that the chancellor clarified in the day after what she meant by 30 days. She wasn't saying this is a 30 day window. That she was saying that essentially as a short period of time and, you know, we can do it. It is possible but the reality is it's going to be very, very difficult.
But the -- from the European Union point of view and we heard this from John Younker's (ph) office yesterday, we've heard it from Donald Tusk is, where the E.U. council president, the EU commission president, they are all saying it. All the leaders are saying it that the withdrawal agreement as it stands is not up for renegotiation. It's not up for opening that the backstop is an essential part of it. And Boris Johnson says the backstop, this thing that affects the relationship between Ireland, a Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland on the island of Ireland that removing that as Boris Johnson demands from the withdrawal agreement is not an option.
To me what is happening now, Boris Johnson maintained to the point of this negotiation and for the point of potentially no deal Brexit. He maintains the strength and credibility of that argument. And remembering, this is what indeed helped to undo Theresa May in part was that parliament took control of the agenda of parliament. It wasn't government in control right now. Government is in control and he's making sure they are staying in control.
FOSTER: We had a statement from Downing Street. Prime Minister has spoken to her majesty, the queen to request an end to the current parliamentary session in the second sitting week in September. She's on holiday, isn't she, in Balmoral?
ROBERSTON: She's in Balmoral, Scotland, absolutely.
FOSTER: So he -- and technically has to send up the Privy Council, so Jacob Rees-Mogg, they would have had have three officials effectively going up there to take a holiday.
ROBERSTON: Based on this conversation, yes, yes, yes.
FOSTER: And because she has approved it, that's another -- there was some discussion that past parliament could block the proroguing parliament but she -- he's got around that I presumably --
ROBERSTON: He's got around that because parliament is not in session at the moment.
ROBERSTON: Parliament comes back --
FOSTER: Once she's approved it, she's approved it. I see.
ROBERSTON: Yes, absolutely and this parliament due to come back into session on the 3rd of September. I think suggestion is that as of 4th of September it becomes suspended again.
FOSTER: So in terms of what this now means for remainers within parliament a disunited bunch of cross-party MPs. I don't know, is the ball is in their court which is argued?
ROBERTSON: The battle lines have become sharper and clearer. Boris Johnson, you know, who sort of sees himself somewhat in the character of Winston Churchill has come into this position with this very clear intent the do or die no-deal Brexit and his clearly intent on fighting this and fighting to win. The result of fighting to win is you create those deeper divisions. So this is going to create deeper divisions, it's going to create anger, it's going to create anxiety, it's going to create animosity.
FOSTER: Nic, thank you. You got much more on this, let's get a reaction. We got people close to Boris Johnson coming in as well. So we'll get their reaction but basically, Boris Johnson is saying MPs will have ample time to debate Brexit after parliament is suspended. His command, suspending the queen's speech to October the 14th. It's a complex parliamentary business. It basically means there's less time there within parliament for remainers to block a no-deal Brexit.
The queen has had a whole day broken over the matter. So I'm sure she's not too pleased about that but it's all in the days work for her.
We'll be back in a moment.
FOSTER: Welcome back.
We got some breaking news out of the United Kingdom because the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced he's bringing forward the queen's speech to Monday the 14th of October. It is complicated parliamentary matter but effectively reduces the amount of time parliamentarians will have to block a no-deal Brexit at the end of October effectively extending the suspension of parliament which traditionally happens at this time of year anyway around the party conferences and giving remainers really less time to stop a no-deal Brexit.
This is what we just had in from Downing Street. It says the prime minister announced plans to bring forward a new bold and ambitious legislative agenda. So the queen's speech is effectively the government's plans for the next session of parliament. They don't have to do it but he's arguing that he's the new prime minister so he's in the position to do it. It's been a very long parliament as well this time and he's got this looming deadline of October 31st in which to deal with Brexit.
He's heading towards a no-deal Brexit if he can't get a deal although he has said he does want a deal. But the ball very much in the remainers' court now to reduce the amount of time they have to get together and perhaps call for a vote of confidence in his government. But it does look as though a no-deal Brexit is even more likely today and has ramifications, of course, for Europe and the world.
We'll continue to dissect this for you. We got guest coming in to explain what it really means as well internationally.
[05:35:03] Also, in other news, millions of people in Puerto Rico preparing for yet another powerful storm two years after Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastating the U.S. territory. Here's where tropical storm Dorian is right now, it strengthened somewhat overnight and is already lashed the eastern Caribbean islands. The storm is expected to be near hurricane strength when it breaks landfall in Puerto Rico in the coming hours. Dorian isn't nearly as powerful though as Hurricane Maria was and it could cause severe damage and flooding, though.
The Puerto Rican government says it's all -- it's ready. Residents who are still rebuilding from 2017 aren't as convinced though because they have problems there. Of course, the storm expected to hit the city of Ponce.
CNN's Omar Jimenez is there with the very latest there.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): The island of Puerto Rico is preparing as best they can ahead of the landfall of Dorian. Now we are in the town of Ponce which is about 70 miles driving southwest of San Juan. And there are still many places here and, of course, across the island still feeling the effects of Hurricane Maria nearly two years after that devastating hurricane made landfall. This is one of those places.
I am walking on what used to be a home. This was a home that was destroyed during the course of Maria's landfall, again, almost two years ago. And the owner here, the resident who still lives here by the way in a small -- what she describes apartment back behind me because that was what she had to retreat to once this was destroyed says that they hoped to rebuild but the money they received from the federal government was not enough to get them to that point. Instead, they are making do with what they can and I want to you hear from her, in her words how she describes dealing with some of this devastation.
LUCY BEASCOCHEA, PONCE, PUERTO RICO RESIDENT: I'm a little bit nervous because I'm afraid to lose my second apartment that I made and I rebuild. And I took out some cables which belong to our old house. I took it out (INAUDIBLE) this morning when my brother -- called my brother see if he could help me out. So I could tie the roof on the other house.
JIMENEZ (on camera): And for Puerto Rico as a whole they are monitoring a lot of conditions. For one, the Puerto Rico National Guard says they are monitoring Dorian's track as closely as possible and that they are ready to deploy when necessary. Of course, the island is under a state of emergency as well.
Now when you look at Ponce, in particular, we spoke the mayor here. And one of the things she is concerned about is about the rainfall and that is because there's a mountainous region and one that's a little bit more mountainous than where we are right now just north, in the northern part of the city of Ponce. And she says while there are mechanisms in placed to control water flow if those are overwhelmed or not maintained properly over the course of this event that there's a lot of flooding that could come crashing into the town below.
So that is a situation they are going to continue to monitor. But again, state of emergency underway across the island. Shelters now opening and have been opened for people to go to as they begin to shelter and brace for Dorian making landfall.
(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: The U.S. president seemed taken by surprise when Dorian's path shifted instead of brushing past the island now (INAUDIBLE) on a direct course for Puerto Rico. "Wow! Yet another big storm heading to Puerto Rico. Will it ever end? Congress approved $92 million for Puerto Rico last year, an all-time record of its kind for anywhere."
Congress did not approve the $92 billion for Puerto Rico. That's a rough estimate of how much storm-related aid the U.S. territory will need over the next two decades. As CNN report, so far, roughly $42 billion in federal disaster relief funding has been allocated to Puerto Rico. But only about $12 billion has actually been spent.
While the president continues to repeat that lie about the amount of federal assistance to Puerto Rico, there is this reporting also from CNN. The Trump administration plans to shift at least $155 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund to support its policy of returning some migrants to Mexico.
So if Puerto Rico about to face another natural disaster, part of the relief fund which has been set aside to help the island recover will instead be used pay for massive increase in detention beds and temporary courts because of a Trump policy which requires tens of thousands of asylum seekers to await in Mexico while their case is processed in the U.S. Message received.
Now, a possible breakthrough in the showdown of emergency aids of the Amazon which has been burning at an alarming length for weeks now. Brazil says it would be receptive to international assistance from G7 countries as long as the Brazilian Government decides how the money spent. Earlier, President Bolsonaro said he would only accept the $20 million offer if French President Emmanuel Macron withdrew his insults against him. Mr. Macron has accused Mr. Bolsonaro of trying -- lying to him about climate commitments during trade negotiations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[05:40:00] JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Look, first of all, Mr. Macron should withdraw the insults he made against me. First, he called me a liar and then from the information that I have he said our sovereignty over the Amazon was an open question. So in order to talk or accept anything from France which might be with the best possible intentions, he is going to have to withdraw these words and then we can talk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: Fires raging across the rain forest could (INAUDIBLE) change the ecosystem there with devastating results especially for the thousands of species indigenous to the region.
Shasta Darlington has more on that.
SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Amazon rain forest is a living breeding treasure trove of life where experts say 10 percent of the earth's creatures live. It's home to a multitude of species. According to the World Wildlife Fund, at least 40,000 different types of plants, over 400 mammals, more than 300 reptiles, and 3,000 species of freshwater fish. But with fires burning their habitat at record rates what chances do any of them have of survival?
DANIEL ARISTIZABAL, AMAZON CONSERVATION TEAM: Every year these fires occur. This year has been bigger than the past. And -- but it's something that the wildlife is struggling with for the last decades and we're just scared that this could be a tipping point.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): Experts say it's possible that many animals will die. Either from the flames, heat, or smoke inhalation. Slower animals like slots have slimmer chances of escape. Animals that can move quickly like jaguars have better odds but with lasting consequences.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jaguars need to move in very vast spaces. What will happen with those populations is that they're going to migrate to, quote-unquote, safer places and they're going to leave -- they are not going to be seen in the places that have been devastated.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): In the long term it's a loss for all as the food chain will be dramatically diminished.
ARISTIZABAL: It's all connected. So what's really interesting is if you lose one species you create a chain reaction where you start losing other species that feed on that species.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): Even after the fires are out the scars left on the land will be life-altering. Experts tell CNN the loss of tree canopies will change the ecosystems below, shedding light on amphibians used to living in the shade and forcing some species into unfamiliar territory like the spider monkeys who live in the top of trees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can have some species repopulating. You can have certain plants recovering and growing from the ashes. The diversity is what we're losing. And we are losing species that science has not been able to identify.
DARLINGTON (voice-over): A loss for the planet that could be felt for generations to come.
Shasta Darlington, CNN, Sao Paulo.
FOSTER: Welcome to this breaking news we got today. Because we've just hearing more about the parliamentary machinations here in the United Kingdom. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announcing various new details which will give parliament effectively less time to debate a no-deal Brexit. We'll get some insight from someone who's got an inside track.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:45:26] FOSTER: Welcome back.
The British Government asking the queen to suspend parliament and that's just a few days after they return to the next parliamentary session. It's quite complex, it's all linked to Brexit. And this battle really between the prime minister and remainers within parliament who want to prevent a no-deal Brexit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: If you look at what we're doing, we're bringing forward a new legislative program on crime, on hospitals, and making sure that we have the education funding that we need. And there will be ample time on both sides of that crucial October 17th summit. Ample time in parliament for MPs to debate. The EU to debate Brexit and all the other issues. Ample time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But (INAUDIBLE) you seemed to have an ambitious domestic agenda. Your government does not have a majority even with the DUP. It only barely has a majority. Should we take from this that you're planning a general election before the end of this year?
JOHNSON: No. What you should take from this is we're doing exactly what I said on the steps of Downing Street which is that we must get on now with our legislative domestic agenda. People will expect that. People -- I need -- we need to get on with the stuff that parliament needs to approve on tackling crime, on building the infrastructure we need on technology, on leveling up our education and reducing the cost of living. That is why we need a queen's speech and we're going to get on with it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They may not even know by 14th of October whether you're going to get a deal and the outlook could be quite different whether you do or whether you don't. So what are going to say to the public who may be concerned about the economic outcome?
JOHNSON: Well, we need to get on with our domestic agenda and that's why we're announcing a queen's speech for October the 14th. OK. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOSTER: He couldn't be any clearer. George Pascoe-Watson is a senior partner with Portland PR, he's a political consultant, former political editor, very well connected in this world. If we can go to basics, what are we talking about when we talk about the queen's speech and does he need to hold a queen's speech?
GEORGE PASCOE-WATSON, SENIOR PARTNER AND CHIEF ADVISOR, PORTLAND PR: The start of any parliamentary session begins with a queen's speech. It's when a prime minister lays out his or her program. And crucially some votes happen after the queen's speech which gives him the power to go out and carry out, to execute that program of the government. What Boris Johnson is doing today putting in place a queen's speech and the votes that come after it in the time when he will be able to go the European Council -- FOSTER: Yes.
PASCOE-WATSON: -- just before and say I'm going leave. I'm going take Britain out of the European Union whether you like it or not, either with a deal or without a deal, hoping that they will give him a deal that he can go back and have those votes in parliament.
FOSTER: This comes after remainers within parliament talked about using parliamentary systems to block a no-deal Brexit. So is this a response to that? This effectively gives them less time to debate any sort of moves, doesn't it?
PASCOE-WATSON: Remainers want to stop Britain leaving without a deal. They want to stop Britain from leaving. And currently, they have an opportunity next week and the week after to find parliamentary mechanisms to stop Boris Johnson ever leaving without a deal. Now what Boris Johnson has announced this morning is measures which would prevent those MPs from finding that mechanism, that device --
FOSTER: By reducing the time.
PASCOE-WATSON: -- by reducing the time that they have to have votes thereby he can go to this European Council summit and look at the 27 E.U. leaders and say give me a deal or we will leave. If he wasn't able to do that, the European 27 would just say you haven't got any negotiating position, we're not going to budge, you'll have to blink first.
FOSTER: Cynics argue that he wants as no-deal Brexit but you fundamentally disagree with that.
PASCOE-WATSON: Oh, I genuinely think and I can from all the information I have, Boris' actually motivation today is to get a deal. What he wants to be able to do is go Brussels and say I need to you give me a deal. I will take that deal, I will then have these parliamentary votes and we'll get them through then we can all proceed. It's not about no-deal.
However, if he goes the European table unable to say we will leave without a deal, then the Europeans won't budge. This is a negotiating ploy, he needs to be weaponized as he sits on that table.
FOSTER: How can remainers respond now then?
[05:50:03] PASCOE-WATSON: Well, remainers are now scurrying around here in the Houses of Parliament in London desperately trying to work out using all the books and the history to find out if there's some little arcane law or statutory instrument or something that they can use next week to stop him having this queen's speech when he wants it. Why? Because that queen's speech will mean closing down parliament and preventing them from doing what they really want to do and they're trying desperately to find a mechanism. They may yet to do it in which case the prime minister may have to call a general election.
FOSTER: The Privy councilors would have had to go up to meet the queen on holiday to get clearance for this. But in doing so, you know, the suspension of parliament can't be blocked, right but she has the final say. So that's why this is probably under wraps, is that correct?
PASCOE-WATSON: Well, it's going to be very, very secret partly because you don't want remainers to have time to build in opposition tactics. Partly because the government is moving at such a pace under Boris Johnson that they are making things up not as they go along but they're making a very swift decision. It's not clear whether the queen has to physically be in the room when Privy councilors ask for this permission. I suspect what we call the usual channels may be involved here, she is up in Scotland on her summer holidays.
But it is definitely the case that the queen -- it would be hard for the queen to stop this constitutionally. She would probably have to go with the will of her prime minister. But that's what we talk about here in the U.K. when we talk about the queen being involved in politics. It's not her role to be involved in politic, some people would criticize Boris Johnson for politicizing the situation. But his motivation is to make sure Britain does get a deal that we can leave the European Union with a deal and it's a safe and calm transition period for business for the commercial world and the rest of us.
FOSTER: That could -- the remainers could get together and call a vote of no confidence in the government next week. He hasn't blocked that opportunity. But just explain why there's so much chaos on that side and why they probably can't be able to agree on how to do that.
PASCOE-WATSON: The only way you can get a vote of confidence through would be by a coalition of all the different parties.
FOSTER: Including members of Boris Johnson.
PASCOE-WATSON: Including members of the Conservative Party, the ruling Conservative Party. All of them have different intentions but one thing is absolutely sure, Max, members of parliament live and die in a general election. Their careers depend on whether they're going to be returning to their seat or not. And a lot of them at this time of political chaos and upheaval would feel very uncomfortable about, could they save their seat or not.
No MP wants to vote for their own death sentence. So everybody got different motivation. It's not clear whether a vote of confidence would succeed. However, there is a part of Boris Johnson and his team which says bring it on.
If we have a general election right now, Boris Johnson against Jeremy Corbyn, the opposition leader here in the U.K., Boris Johnson fancies his chances and he's got a good reason to believe, he's leading a big lead in the polls, maybe 15 percent in the polls. Plus 10 or 15 years ago, Boris Johnson, when he was the London mayor, took on twice Ken Livingston for that role who came from the same mold.
FOSTER: He's consistently underestimated isn't he, Boris Johnson?
PASCOE-WATSON: Consistently underestimated and that guy was cut from the same cloth as Jeremy Corbyn. And the British people, Boris Johnson is prepared to bet would back him in a general election over Jeremy Corbyn.
FOSTER: So Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour opposition party, he says, you know, if there's going to be a vote of no confidence in the government then I need to lead an interim government and that's where a few of the breakdowns in these discussions have come from because other opposition parties are saying they're not going to support Jeremy Corbyn and that could be a fundamental issue for them?
PASCOE-WATSON: If Boris Johnson's government is not to control this country, somebody else's government has to. All the opposition parties really would like a sort of a centrist senior veteran figure who's been around many, many years. A vanilla character that they could all live within a temporary period.
FOSTER: But Corbyn won't have it.
PASCOE-WATSON: And Jeremy Corbyn is not that man and he's saying no I'm the official opposition. If there's another government it has to be led by me. Well, all the leaders of the opposition party as the others say we couldn't live under you as a prime minister which is another reason why it's very difficult to get a coalition against Boris Johnson.
And all that means that Boris has momentum, he has the levers of power, he's going at it at 100 miles an hour. He is driving straight at the target. That's what he's going to do. And it's such a refreshing change from what we've had in the last three years.
FOSTER: (INAUDIBLE) heading towards a vote of confidence anyway because if he has a queen's speech in the days following it there has to be a vote in the parliament of the queen's speech which effectively he could argue is a vote of confidence in him anyway, isn't it?
[05:55:03] PASCOE-WATSON: Well, that's exactly right. If you cannot get through your program for the government as a prime minister, it is effectively a loss of confidence of the House. He has a majority in the House of one as we know. So everything he does is a vote of confidence, really. Not just the queen's speech but any legislation in parliament is a vote of confidence.
And it's a struggle, it's a toil, and I recommend there's a part of him and his advisory team which would rather like a general election to settle this once and for all. Imagine he comes back with a majority, a strong majority and then he can lead for the next five years.
FOSTER: What about the European perspective here then because we've seen Macron of France, he's being very clear this deal is not going to be re-opened, that they signed with the U.K. Angela Merkel seems more open to some sort of discussion. There's certainly a view here, isn't it that they will ultimately concede something in the last minute but there's a real frustration in Brussels, a sort of attitude in the U.K. as well. Might they buckle?
PASCOE-WATSON: That's the big question. The big question is who is going to blink first. And I suspect they will buckle. I suspect that the European leaders know that they need a deal of some sort.
PASCOE-WATSON: Because lots of European countries have good trade relations with Britain, lots of their jobs depend on their ability to trade here in the United Kingdom. There are shocks to Ireland. Ireland would be very, very badly hit economically with a no-deal Brexit. And Ireland is a member state of the E.U. 27. It's prerogative to say to the E.U. 27 we're part of the club, you owe us here.
And I suspect at the end that's what might happen. But it may not happen. And we need to be prepared for that and we need to know that Boris Johnson is deadly serious about leaving without a deal.
FOSTER: We don't need to go to the complications of this but he's been very clear that the minimum is, you know, this sort of movement on the border between the U.K. and Ireland. If he gets something on that, would that be enough for him do you think?
PASCOE-WATSON: It would be enough for Boris Johnson to come back to parliament here in the U.K. and say, right, I've got a change to the deal. Let's vote for it, let's get it through parliament. Some hard- liners in the Conservative Party say that would not be enough, we need more concessions. Boris is realistic. He knows there's a limit to how far he can push people.
FOSTER: George Pascoe-Watson, appreciate your time coming in.
So quickly off the back of this news and explaining it to us, Boris Johnson effectively getting permission from the queen to suspend parliament which does affect the timetable running up to potential, you know, a more likely no-deal Brexit really at the end of October. We'll be following it in detail over the day but now we're going to cross to NEW DAY.