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Mother Of Four Shot And Killed By Neighbor After Feud; Prince Harry Testifies In UK Tabloid Hacking Trial; Artic Sea Ice Melting Quicker Than Predicted. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired June 06, 2023 - 11:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, a mother of four is dead and her family grieving after she was shot by her neighbor in Florida. Ajike "AJ" Owens was shot and killed by her neighbor after an altercation involving the kids. Now, there are growing calls for that neighbor's arrest.

CNN's Carlos Suarez joins us now. Carlos, bring us up to speed in the latest.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Marion County Sheriff's Office says they're still looking at whether this shooting was in self-defense. That's an argument that the victim's family says it's just not possible. As you said, 35-year-old AJ Owens was killed on Friday, north of Orlando in Ocala, Florida.

Authorities said that Owens knocked on the door of a neighbor who the family says is white, who minutes earlier had an issue with Owens' children playing outside. The victim's family said that the woman had previously harassed the children calling them racial slurs, and the N- word. Owens' mother said her daughter wanted to know why the woman kept an iPad that the children left behind and why she threw a pair of skates at them. Here's more about what the victim's mother said.


PAMELA DIAS, MOTHER OF AJ OWENS: She knocked on Susan's door. A closed locked door. Door never opened.

My daughter, my grandchildren's mother was shot and killed with her nine-year-old son standing next to her. She had no weapon. She posed no imminent threat to anyone.


SUAREZ: So, the sheriff in Marion County said that authorities haven't made an arrest yet because of Florida's Stand Your Ground law. The sheriff said they first have to rule whether or not this was -- the deadly force was justified or not before they can even make an arrest. John, one final point out here. The sheriff said that deputies have responded to incidents involving both of these families several times now since 2021. They put that number of calls anywhere between six to eight.

BERMAN: All right, Carlos Suarez, keep us posted on what you learned. Thank you. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, the country's first publicly funded religious charter school has been approved. This online Catholic school in Oklahoma is expected to require more than $23 million in state taxpayer funding over its first five years. But Oklahoma's attorney general is calling the school's approval unconstitutional.

CNN's Ed Lavandera back with us with more on this. Ed, how did this charter school get approval?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, before this vote, you'd probably be hard-pressed to find many people in Oklahoma who knew that there was an Oklahoma statewide virtual charter school board. And the members of that board, five-member board, voted three- to-two yesterday to approve the application for the St. Isidore of Seville Virtual Catholic Charter School. A school that will be run by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa as well.

We are told that the application is to open this school in the fall of 2024 and that the initial enrollment would be 500 students. But that board voted three to two yesterday, approved the application for the opening of the school, which as you mentioned would be the first religious charter school using taxpayer money open anywhere in the country, Kate.

BOLDUAN: What has been -- how do you -- how do you sum up your reaction to this? Clearly, it has a lot of people talking. Clearly, the attorney general is speaking out about it. What happens now?

LAVANDERA: Well, obviously, this is the kind of issue that just has sparked intense reaction. It has -- the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said they were elated by this decision of this board. It has the support of the governor of Oklahoma who says it's a win for religious liberty and education freedom and giving parents school choice.

It also has the support of the Superintendent of Education in the state of Oklahoma as well. But as you alluded to, there is also a great deal of opposition to this, ironically enough coming from another Republican in state government, the attorney general in Oklahoma, who described this as essentially unconstitutional and says he's extremely disappointed that the board members violated their oath of office in order to fund religious schools with tax dollars.


And there's also another advocacy group called Americans United for Separation of Church and State who described this decision as a sea change for American democracy. And then went also on to say as well that public schools must never be allowed to become Sunday schools. Clearly, the fate of this school is going to be decided in the school -- in the courts in the years ahead, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Yes, sure. It seems like. Ed, thank you so much. Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning. The Biden administration just announced that it will spend $115 million to support critical water infrastructure investments in Jackson, Mississippi. This announcement comes as you remember, months after heavy rains overwhelmed the city's already troubled water system resulting in major water shortages and weeks of unsafe drinking water for that city.

But the city's water problems actually go back many years. Boil water advisories have become commonplace in the city of 150,000 people. The capital of Mississippi.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan is joining us now with more on this major investment. Thank you for coming to the show, Sir. Can you give me a list of some of the things that this money will actually go to, to try to help solve this problem?

MICHAEL REGAN, ADMINISTRATOR, EPA: Well, Sara, first of all, thank you for having me this morning. We're excited to be able to make this announcement. You know, the president worked very hard with Congress and secured over $600 million through an appropriation, specifically for Jackson.

And today, we're announcing our first round of $115 million. It will go towards continuing to stabilize the system. It will go to plug in some of the leaks in the distribution system, shoring up that integrity, ensuring that the pressure continues to stay at a certain rate. You know, obviously, there's a lot of work and a lot of investments that have to happen over the coming months and years but this is a significant shot in the arm.

SIDNER: Flint, Michigan was ordered to replace pipes a different situation, but also a city with majority black residents. And they've missed deadline after deadline when it comes to replacing those pipes. How will you ensure that this money gets to where it needs to go so that this happens before the next major disaster and before the people have to suffer more?

REGAN: Well, you know, basically through a court order and a process that's being overseen by a federal court, we have a third party on the ground that is rallying everyone from state, local, and federal authorities. And we know that these resources are being invested in, you know, the priority areas to ensure that number one, that we get everyone safe, affordable drinking water, and continue to give them safe, affordable drinking water as we restore the entire integrity of the system.

This process takes years but people should not question the quality of their drinking water. And so, those are the types of investments that we've been making from day one and we'll continue to make with these resources that we're announcing today.

SIDNER: All right. I want to switch gears for you because we have some new reporting out of Palestine, Ohio, where there was that derailment and all of those chemicals, more than a million pounds of chemicals were leaked into the air and the water of that -- of that town. The cleanup is still going on. How much longer will this need to go before it is cleaned up?

REGAN: Well, Sara, you know, I've been to East Palestine almost as many times as I've been to Jackson, Mississippi. And like Jackson, East Palestine -- the citizens there are in facing a situation where, you know, they feel like their environment and their local surroundings are uncertain.

We've been there since day one. We're moving at an expedited pace. Over 60,000 tonnes of waste has been removed from that site. Over 20 million gallons of liquid waste have been removed from that site. So, we're moving at a very fast pace because it's our job and our expectation that we will restore this community back to some sense of normality as soon as possible.

SIDNER: Is there any timeframe that you can give us? Are we talking months more, weeks more, days more?

REGAN: You know, Sara, our goal is by the end of the summer to have the majority of this work almost completed if not fully finished. But we will not leave until the job is done. And so, as we continue to clean, as we continue to look at what needs to be done, and as we consider what the community is asking for us to do, we won't leave any stones unturned until we finish the job.


SIDNER: Michael Regan, thank you so much for joining us and giving us an update on those two things. Especially the -- John?

BERMAN: Prince Harry under cross-examination this morning inside a London courtroom. The unexpectedly tough questions he is facing.


BOLDUAN: Showing you -- we're going to show you live pictures in London where Prince Harry, as reporters and cameras and journalists, all over them -- from all over the world are standing outside waiting to see if Prince Harry will be leaving a courtroom. Moments ago, he just wrapped up testifying in the huge legal fight that he is in against a major UK newspaper publisher.


Harry was grilled while on the stand about his recollections of tabloid stories that he claims were obtained by hacking his phone and other illicit -- or other illicit means. It's very rare for a senior royal to testify in court even more face such tough questioning on the stand. As can see, everyone's standing by outside there.

Let's -- while we keep an eye on that picture, let's check back in with CNN's Max Foster. He's been following all of this. Max, what's the very latest?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: We know. He didn't have to go through this. He chose to go through this cross-examination as part of his wider effort to reform the British press. So, that's why he was there.

A grueling day. He's got another day of it tomorrow. What he did was hand in 33 articles, he says he believed were hacked or the information of them was attained illegally.

And then under cross-examination, the barrister for the mirror group has basically gone through each article questioning whether they were really came from hacking. So for example, you'd say, one article actually was already in the public domain or the information from that. Also, the palace will clearly briefing stories as well, which Harry didn't know about. So it didn't necessarily come from hacking.

But you know, that was all under cross-examination. Speak to his wider point, talking about the former Daily Mirror editor, Piers Morgan, saying he and his band of journalists earwigging into his mother's private and sensitive messages, made him feel physically sick. He feels that the British media are at rock bottom currently right now. And so is the British government because they're effectively complicit by allowing all of this to happen.

A big battle really, for Prince Harry. And that's why he's here in London trying to do what he can to reform the industry. But he didn't do terribly well today on the basis that he wasn't across all of the details. So, the barrister was able to undermine him at several points, but it's only the first day of his appearance, of course, Kate.

BOLDUAN: And as you mentioned, he'll be back at it again tomorrow. But also just put a point on it, how unusual it is for such a senior royal to be in court like this and taking the stand.

FOSTER: Yes, it's just very unusual and to be questioned, really. There was this sort of -- I was able to watch it all remotely. So, I was effectively in court, but you know, not physically there.

And just seeing a senior or being questioned like that, you just don't get grilled like that. And then only surrounded by yes, people. So, I think that was quite interesting in itself.

Princess Anne was in court a few years ago because her dog was accused of biting someone. I think you have to go back more than a hundred years to some high-profile cases. He hasn't been taken to court, though.

This is his case. And his choice to be cross-examined, there are saying. So, it's unusual to see. You know, I think if you've watched it being televised, Kate, you be quite gripped by it.

BOLDUAN: Yes, absolutely. Real quick. Is -- do you think that -- I mean, as everyone's standing by to see Prince Harry leave the court? What do you think the chances are that he would stop and speak to all these -- all the cameras that are standing around?

FOSTER: I think absolutely zero. Maybe possibly at the end. I mean, he doesn't -- you know, he doesn't do any of those doorsteps anymore.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

FOSTER: He doesn't really do any news interviews anymore. He does what he wants to do. And I don't think he's going to give the press, particularly the photographer anything right now considering the context of this whole case.

BOLDUAN: It's a good point. It's great to see you, Max. Stand by and continue to watch these pictures and also see what happens on day two when Prince Harry is back into court. Sara?

SIDNER: A stark warning from scientists this morning. The summer sea ice in the Arctic could disappear roughly a decade earlier than projected. We'll have all that. Coming up.



BERMAN: Scientists are sounding the alarm this morning. They say the sea ice that blankets much of the Arctic could disappear during summertime much sooner than was predicted. And scientists warn the Arctic would no summer sea ice would send dire ripple effects around the world.

CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir is with us now. Bill, how important is this ice and what are we talking in terms of when it's gone?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: It's hugely important, John. One scientist who has a peer review on this really likens it to sort of an immune system of the planet. If that goes down, things could get worse much faster than before.

And we're talking about ice-free summers 10 years sooner than originally predicted, by the 2030s or so. And the more we see, the more the planet warms, the more pollution goes up there, the better scientific instruments get, the more we're seeing that old predictions vastly underestimated the pace of climate change. And you can see on the charts.

Now, it's looking like it went down by about 12 and a half -- just over 12 and a half percent per decade. And this is hugely important because of what's known as the albedo effect. That is the reflection off of that white ice up there in the summertime to flex a lot of the sun's energy away from Earth, meanwhile the open ocean absorbs it which brings a lot more heat into the -- our ecosystems. And so, it's throwing everything off right now.

BERMAN: So, it's all happening much earlier or more quickly than expected. Why? What are we doing or what is being done that's making it move so quickly?

WEIR: Well, the unchecked heat-trapping pollution that's going up by the gigaton is -- we've known this, is the main driver of this. But what we didn't understand are the complexities of the climate system. The differences between high stratospheric particulates and clouds and how they acted either mask will -- global warming or stop it or accelerate it. All of these things now, ocean currents and how they change under these changes is all coming much clearer now.


And the -- what it's adding up to is that the climate crisis is accelerating faster than predicted for a long time. Again, this should be a warning to the leaders out there to buckle up for what's already built in and try to stop it. Every 10th of a degree is a difference between entire ecosystems living or dying.

BERMAN: Much more quickly than expected, as you say the Earth's immune system is now in jeopardy in the Arctic. Bill Weir, thank you so much for that report.

SIDNER: We usually end on a high note but -- like there's nothing else to say.

BOLDUAN: I would say the high note is this though. Bill Weir says that the -- a lot of the reports are of course doom and gloom, but there is progress. People just need to do more.

SIDNER: Maybe it's just me. Maybe if I'm just doom and gloom.

BOLDUAN: No. If you're going to go with me, we're all done because you're the most optimistic person I know.

BERMAN: It's a fair point.

BOLDUAN: Run quickly.

SIDNER: All right, thank you so much for joining us. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.