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Hypersonic Missile Hit Odessa; Kharkiv Residents Living Normally But Remain Vigilant; Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Killed Journalist in West Bank; Inflation Rocks Biden Administration; Russia Profits from Stealing Ukraine's Grains; Finland Soon to be NATO's Ally; Ukraine's First President Dies at 88; Fugitive Back in Jail; Fires in New Mexico Burned 200 Acres of Land; Elon Musk to Give Donald Trump a Voice in Twitter. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 11, 2022 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching CNN newsroom, and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, Russia's offensive in eastern Ukraine stalls as Ukrainian forces claim success in countering attacks on a number of fronts.

The power of Donald Trump's endorsement is put to the test in two key primaries, but this time the former president suffered his first big loss of the election season.

And President Joe Biden says fighting inflation is his top priority, with gas prices at record highs and a key piece of economic data coming in just a few hours from now.

UNKNOWN: Live from CNN center, this is CNN Newsroom with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: And we begin with breaking news from eastern Ukraine where the mayor of Sloviansk reports missile strikes on two areas of the city. He says there are no reports of casualties so far and the damage is still being assessed.

Meanwhile, Ukraine claims its forces are holding back the Russian offensive in the Donbas region and actually recapturing territory in and around Kharkiv.

Ukraine's second biggest city has been the scene of some intense fighting. Drone footage shows Ukrainian troops targeting a Russian T- 90 tank. Ukraine's military says Russia has sent about 500 troops from Donetsk and Luhansk to Kharkiv. Analysts believe Moscow wants to protect supply lines from Russia and guard against cross-border attacks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): The armed forces of our state provided us all with good news from the Kharkiv region. The occupiers are gradually being pushed away from Kharkiv.


CHURCH: A U.S. defense official says Russia has fired about 10 to 12 hypersonic missiles in targets in Ukraine since the start of the conflict. Ukrainian officials claim a new type of hypersonic missile hit a shopping mall and two hotels in the port city of Odessa on Monday.

Meanwhile, a military commander in Mariupol says many soldiers are badly wounded after the Russian bombardment of the Azovstal steel factory there. An estimated 100 civilians remain trapped in that plant.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live this hour in Lviv, Ukraine. She joins us now. Good to see you, Melissa. So, what more are you learning about Ukrainian fighters pushing back Russian forces around Kharkiv?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well certainly, President Zelenskyy there explaining -- expressing, rather, some optimism last night, calling this he felt perhaps a change in what may happen, a turning point in the war. But also warning that those gains that were made just north of Kharkiv, those four towns, four villages that were taken to the south of the Russian borders, that although that was encouraging and important, and an important sign in terms of momentum, that certain victories should not be taken for granted looking ahead.

This is all a part of Russian troops' attempt to really over the course of the last few days and weeks extend their gains from the stronghold they have there on eastern Donbas to extend them further. Now what we've seen is those towns being lost north of Kharkiv by Russian forces, that Ukrainian counter-offensive functioning, but also a sign of that is the fact that we see the Russian advances being stalled around the town of Izyum to the southeast there of Kharkiv.

Now, one grisly discovery made there by officials, local officials who say they found 44 bodies inside a collapsed building. Remember, that this was a town, Izyum, that was taken by Russian forces on the 1st of April, heavily shelled after that. And this collapsed building the result of some of that shelling.

It's unclear how long the bodies have been there, but local officials are saying that they fear that there may be many more bodies to be uncovered. And this comes of course in the context as well of the U.N. saying that it fears that its current count of the number of Ukrainian civilians who have lost their lives in the war some 3,381, what the U.N. is now saying that they fear that the actual count may be many thousands more than that.

So, that is the sort of discovery that is being made even as the fighting continues in towns like Izyum and Ukraine celebrates some of the victories to the north of Kharkiv, warning that there is much more to be done.


CHURCH: Yes, of course. Melissa Bell joining us from Lviv in Ukraine. Many thanks.

And journalist Asami Terajima recently travelled to Kharkiv to get a firsthand look at the situation there. She joins me now live from Kyiv. Thank you so much for talking with us.

ASAMI TERAJIMA, JOURNALIST: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Now President Zelenskyy says his fighters have pushed back Russian forces from Kharkiv. What are you hearing about this, and what did you see when you went there?

TERAJIMA: It seems to be also be the case because the city of Kharkiv has been heavily shelled from the beginning of this forced invasion. But now when I was there for a couple of days, it's more quiet, and more residents have gradually returned to the city because the weather is nice and there is lots of people walking already.

Some people are trying to, you know, reveal what they had, the remains of the houses. But many people are still of course living underground in metro stations. There is hundreds of people living there still because we don't know what could happen potentially because, yes, Ukrainian soldiers have been doing really well to counter-offensives and push back the Russian forces to further out villages. But the situation is, for example, unstable. So, we don't know how long this quietness in Kharkiv will last.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely understand that. How possible is it, do you think, that Ukrainian forces could continue to hold back Russian -- Russian forces there in the Donbas region and around Kharkiv? I mean, do you think that that's doable?

TERAJIMA: I think that in particularly in Kharkiv region, the Ukrainian forces are doing very good. So according to Washington-based think tank, they stood for the study of war, they said that it is mostly a case that in coming weeks or coming day, Ukrainian forces will be able to push back the Russian forces to its border. So, this would be good.

But we also know that in Donbas, according to the Ukrainian officials, about 80 percent of the whole region, including both Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast are now occupied by the Russian forces. So, this will be difficult to push back. But the heavy fighting and heavy shelling continues, and Ukrainian forces are doing their best to make it as difficult as possible.

CHURCH: And you mentioned the difficulties, life in Kharkiv specifically. What about in the wider Donbas region where as you say, Russian forces are very much embedded there. What is life like for Ukrainians who can't get out?

TERAJIMA: It's very difficult. The governors of both Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast have been doing their best to evacuate as many as civilians as possible. But unfortunately, as days continue and as this war gets bloodier, it's even more difficult to evacuate them.

So, for example, in this district of Severodonetsk which is in Luhansk Oblast the electricity has been cut off for few days now, and the residents are living are living under -- in their basement. Of course, the city is being shelled very heavily. And there is lots of people who still live there. So, it's very worrying, and we're all hoping for the best.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And of course, at the start of this war, certainly Vladimir Putin thought he was going to be able to end this in a matter of days. And now into the third month, that's certainly not the case. And we've seen an incredible amount of courage on the part of the Ukrainian people and their military really pushing back against Russian forces. How do many people there see this war ending?

TERAJIMA: So, the morale is still high, despite, you know, the missile attacks and many civilian deaths. The morale is still high. And Ukrainian people in general, we all believe that, you know, we will win this war, but we also understand it's going to be very difficult months or even a few years ahead.

And yesterday the U.S. intelligence committee have also said that it is possible that, you know, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin could escalate, and this could potentially lead up to a very long conflict.

CHURCH: Asami Terajima, thank you very much for talking with us. And do take good care there. I appreciate it.

TERAJIMA: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: All right. We turn now to U.S. politics and the two closely watched Republican primaries that put former President Donald Trump's influence over his party to the test.

In West Virginia, Trump's endorsement appeared to help secure victory for Congressman Alex Mooney. CNN projects Mooney will win over fellow congressman David McKinley for a newly formed district there.


But Trump's preferred candidate for Nebraska's primary for governor did not come out ahead. CNN projects that Jim Pillen instead will win that race over Trump-backed Charles Herbster.

And still to come, a journalist from Al Jazeera has been shot and killed in the West Bank. More on this tragic incident after the break.


CHURCH: We are following breaking news. Al Jazeera says one of its journalists has been shot and killed in the West Bank while on assignment covering clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians. The Palestinian health ministry has confirmed her death.


We want to go to CNN's Hadas Gold now who joins us live from Jerusalem. Hadas, a tragic outcome for this brave journalist. What more are you learning about the deadly shooting?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is absolutely a terrible situation. Shireen Abu Akleh was a very well-known, well-respected correspondent in Israel and the Palestinian territories for several decades. She has been working with Al Jazeera. I've stood next to her while doing live reports from Jerusalem.

And according to the Al -- according to Al Jazeera's Palestinian ministry of health, she was shot and killed this morning while on assignment, covering clashes between Israeli military and Palestinians in Jenin, a town in the West Bank.

A second journalist Ali Samoudi was also shot, but he is in stable condition. That's according to the Palestinian ministry of health. In video that we have seen in the direct aftermath of the incident, it is very clear that Shireen is wearing a protective vest that says the word "press" across of it.

Now Al Jazeera is saying in a statement, I want to pull this up, that they are blaming the Israeli security forces, saying we call on the international community to condemn and hold the Israeli occupation forces accountable for deliberately targeting and killing our colleague Shireen Abu Akleh.

Now the Israeli Defense Forces in their own statement sent earlier this morning says that they are investigating the incident and looking into the possibility they say that the journalists were hit by Palestinian gunmen.

Israeli Defense Force says that earlier today they conducted counterterrorism activity in Jenin, this has been a town that's just for some context, that has been a place of a lot of clashes and military raids in response to a series of attacks that have happened since late March targeting Israeli civilians.

There have been six attacks targeting Israeli civilians that have killed 18 people. And several of those attackers came from Jenin. So, Jenin has, for the last several weeks has been a very dangerous place with a lot of clashes between Israeli military and Palestinians.

Now back to the Israeli Defense Forces statement, they say that during the counterterrorism activity in the Jenin refugee camp, massive fire was shot towards Israeli forces by tens of armed Palestinian gunmen. They say that they also hurled explosive devices towards the soldiers endangering their lives and that the soldiers responded with live fire.

Now, Yair Lapid, Israel's foreign minister has just put out a statement saying that we have offered the Palestinians a joint pathological investigation into the sad death, adding that journalists must be protected in conflict zones, and we all have responsibility to get to the truth. We are now just in the last hour or so seeing footage of people in

Jenin holding a symbolic funeral for Shireen, carrying her body draped in a Palestinian flag along with her press vest alongside of her. Her body will now be taken for an autopsy before her formal funeral will take place tomorrow in Jerusalem. Rosemary?

CHURCH: It is just heartbreaking and tragic situation. Hadas Gold joining us live from Jerusalem. Many thanks.

Well, soaring prices and a new record at the pump. The U.S. president says he knows American families are hurting. His plan to tackle inflation ahead of a key report. We're back with that in just a moment.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, gasoline prices have jumped to a new high in the United States. The national average reportedly surged to $4.37 for a gallon of regular gasoline. That is up 17 cents in just the past week and is 4 cents more than the previous record which was set about two months ago.

A record-setting release of oil from emergency reserves did lower prices somewhat in April. But that's clearly not a lasting solution. There are also questions over whether a national gas tax holiday would provide anything more than short-term relief.

Meanwhile, we are just hours away from the release of key data on U.S. inflation.

CNN's Rahel Solomon has details on the soaring prices and the White House response.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is his top domestic priority. That's how U.S. President Joe Biden described fighting inflation. In comments Tuesday, he called inflation his top economic challenge.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want every American to know that I'm taking inflation very seriously, and it's my top domestic priority.


SOLOMON: The event just one day before a key inflation report is due, the consumer price index. CPI serves as a snapshot of where prices stand compared to a year ago. The last reading put CPI at 8.5 percent, the highest pace in 40 years. The expectation for Wednesday is closer to 8 percent, a slight softening in inflation, but still high.

Biden acknowledging the hardship that inflation is causing to American families at the gas pump, the grocery store, and beyond. He pointed however to global factors out of his control as the primary sources of inflation. He cited the pandemic that impacted supply chains around the world, he also pointed to Russian President Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine and its impact on energy prices.

Rahel Solomon, CNN, New York.

CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to Illinois today. He will be visiting a family farm to discuss the impact of Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine on food supply and prices at home and abroad.


He'll also give remarks on the action his administration has taken to support farmers.

Well, grain stolen by Russian soldiers from occupied areas of Ukraine is now being sent abroad. That is according to Ukrainian military intelligence. It also alleges that the stolen cargo is on Russian ships in the Mediterranean believed to be heading to Syria.

Russia is also blocking Ukraine's ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. This affects Ukraine's ability to send out its grain, of course.

And here is what Bridget Brink, president Biden's next nominee to be ambassador to Ukraine said about how Ukraine and its allies are trying to get around that.


BRIDGET BRINK, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE NOMINEE: On the question of moving things out of the ports, this is a big challenge right now because Russia is blocking the ports that in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. So, we are trying to work with international partners and others to help find alternative routes for grain and corn out of Ukraine, as well as to work with the other relief organizations to supplement those countries that had depended upon these exports.


CHURCH: And I'm joined now by Clare Sebastian live from London. Good to see you, Clare. So, what more are you learning about this and of course the ramifications of Russia's actions.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Rosemary. This is a very serious situation. This suggests that to some extent, Russia is trying to gain control over Ukraine's seaborne exports of grain. Traditionally, around 80 percent of Ukraine's grain exports went through those Black Sea ports. They are now blocked.

The World Food Programme says those exports used to feed 400 million people before the war. Now that number is zero, and now we hear of these ships controlled by Russia taking Ukraine's grain in the Mediterranean, potentially to Syria, or the Middle East. Not only is Russia stealing this grain, but it's then sending it exporting it to where it chooses. Huge implications for the world not only in terms of the sort of

stoppage of grain out of these ports, the grain not getting to where it was designated to go to, but also the rise in prices. This is affecting pretty much everyone. The wheat market is feeling this around the world.

And I think if U.S. intelligence is correct and Putin is bedding in here for a long war, this spells disaster potentially for food supply chains around the world.

CHURCH: And let's look at that. Which parts of the world will be hardest hit by the disruption to its supplies from Ukraine do you think?

SEBASTIAN: You know, Rosemary, it's what we're seeing sort of overall in terms of the picture in the world, the inflationary picture. It's those who can afford it least. The United Nations says that between 2018 and 2020, Africa imported about 44 percent of its wheat from Russia and Ukraine combined.

There are countries like Benin and Somalia in Africa who have relied on Russia and Ukraine for 100 percent of their wheat. These are countries already struggling with famine. Already, you know, millions of people there in food insecurity and relying on aid agencies.

And just case in point, the humanitarian agency Islamic Relief said in early April as they were operating in Somalia that they've had to reduce their food distributions by a thousand families because of the drastic increase in food prices since the start of the Ukraine war.

Apparently, they said, prices have risen by 30 percent. So, you really get a sense from that of just how sudden and how abrupt the impact of this was and how much it's affecting people who can afford at least.

CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. Clare Sebastian joining us live from London. Many thanks.

And still to come, Russia's war on Ukraine is pushing countries like Finland toward the NATO alliance. But is it too much too soon? Why some young Finns are worried their country is moving too fast. We'll look at that.




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: We want to update you on our breaking news out of eastern Ukraine this hour. The mayor of Sloviansk reports missile strikes on two areas of the city today. He says there are no confirmed casualties, and authorities are still working to assess the damage.

Meantime, Ukraine's military is claiming success in its counteroffensive against Russian troops in and around Kharkiv. The country's general staff reports Ukrainian forces have recaptured at least four settlements in the region, despite an influx of Russian troops.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's war on Ukraine has clearly backfired on at least one front. It's done nothing to slow NATO's expansion. In fact, it may have done the opposite. Finland, which shares a lengthy border with Russia appears poised to join the alliance, while popular opinion has swung towards joining NATO, some fear the country may be going too far too quickly.

And for more on this, CNN's Nic Robertson joins me now from Helsinki. Good to see you, Nic.

So, some very divided views on this issue, of course. Where do efforts stand right now for Finland joining NATO, and how much opposition is there out there?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the vast majority of people, over three quarters of people do support -- say they support joining NATO. The latest government read, if you will, has come from the defense committee, according to the main broadcast news organization here in Finland. And they say that the defense committee has made its analysis and concludes that the best course of action is for Finland to join NATO.

The foreign affairs committee is expected to give its read today. The president is expected to make a statement on Thursday. That's widely anticipated. And again, that's expected to reflect popular opinion that the country should move to join NATO. And it's been moving very quickly.

And for some people here, particularly the young students who we met, that's a matter of a little concern.


ROBERTSON: As Finland's parliament discusses at pace the historic step of potentially joining NATO, the speed of debate has some young Fins worrying their generation will be hurt by a decision taken in haste through fear of Putin that they have little say in. Five students at the University of Helsinki agreed to tell us their views.

UNKNOWN: I'm against NATO.

UNKNOWN: I'm still undecided.

UNKNOWN: Also undecided.

UNKNOWN: I guess I'm for a NATO.

JOHAN, PHD CANDIDATE: I'm ambiguous on the question still.

ROBERTSON: You're against NATO.



NINA: It's a military alliance led by a super power that has waged horrendous wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq. I understand people being very afraid of Russia and what they're doing, horrible, horrible things. But it's kind of like fighting the wolf by teaming up with the bear. Like the bear isn't great either.

JOHAN: If at this moment if they take a stance towards the whole of Russia, what does it mean in a situation where hopefully the regime changes at some point to more positive direction?

ROBERTSON: And you're undecided.


ROBERTSON: What -- what's the pros and cons?

OLIVIA: I also get the arguments for safety. And that's why I'm still undecided.

VERONICA, GRADUATE STUDENT: I think we are currently a society very emotionally charged, and that is why I'm inclined to sort of say that perhaps now is not the greatest time to make such a huge decision.

OLIVIA: We are a sovereign democratic country, and I don't want those kinds of fears to impact our decision making.

OSKARI, GRADUATE STUDENT: I think waiting too long is the more dangerous. It's not as dangerous right now to start this process as it would be in, let's say two years from now.

ROBERTSON: What's the public debate that's going on?

OLIVIA: In my social media bubble, it's kind of very pro-NATO.

UNKNOWN: It kind of does feel like on social media, it seems like if you are anti-Russia, you are automatically pro NATO.

UNKNOWN: I feel like a lot of people are making a lot of assumptions about what Putin is thinking. Personally, I have yet to see evidence of him wanting to invade Finland.

ROBERTSON: What do you think the consequences of this decision are going to be?

JOHAN: If and when we join NATO and if we are admitted to NATO, what kind of relationship will we have with Russia? And that's the big question to me at least. That, you know, the geography is always there.


ROBERTSON: The decision is ultimately going to be taken by parliament. Two hundred members at the moment are estimated, 123 are in support of joining NATO. That's the Constitution doesn't call for a referendum. And the president has indicated or officials at least have indicated that it's not necessary to have a referendum, but it's quite clear that some of the questions that the students are asking are not going to get full answers before the decision is taken, and they could well be questions just like the geography that young student was talking about that are going to endure. These are questions that won't go away.

The president today meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson who is coming into Finland and is going to Sweden as well. And the message from the British prime minister will be during the interim period, assuming the Finnish government, the Finnish parliament votes in favor of joining NATO and they make that application.

That interim period where NATO goes through the accession process, which is expected to be quite quick with Finland, that the British government would stand by and support Finland should there be acts of aggression from Russia.

CHURCH: All right. We'll watch to see that. Nic Robertson joining us live from Helsinki. Many thanks. I appreciate it.

Well, the man who helped lead Ukraine to independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union and later served as the country's first president has passed away. Leonid Kravchuk died at the age of 88.


In his nightly address Ukraine's current President Volodymyr Zelenskyy paid tribute to Kravchuk, saying he was a man who demonstrated particular wisdom in moments of crisis.

And thank you so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. For our international viewers, Inside Africa is next. And for those of you here in the U.S. and Canada, I'll be right back with more news after a short break. Stay with us.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, fugitive Casey White is back in Alabama following an 11-day manhunt. White was taken into custody in Indiana after a dramatic chase ending in the death of his accomplice, a corrections officer, who police say was the mastermind of the escape and may have taken her own life to avoid capture.

CNN's Miguel Marquez has the latest.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, new details on how an 11-day nationwide manhunt came to a violent end.

DAVE WEDDING, SHERIFF, VANDERBURGH COUNTY, INDIANA: I want to bring my people home, and I don't care about the fugitives' lives, if it protects my people's lives. And here I commend them for a job well done.

MARQUEZ: Law enforcement's aggressive investigating and pursuit, says the sheriff, saved lives.

WEDDING: Members of the U.S. task force basically rammed the vehicle and pushed it into a ditch, and we later found out had they not done that, the fugitive was going to engage in a shootout with law enforcement.

MARQUEZ: Found in the car, gun, four handguns and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle along with wig and nearly $30,000 in cash.

WEDDING: It was just hard to believe they were here. I wouldn't think somebody on the run would stay in a community like this for six days.

MARQUEZ: Investigators caught a break they say when Casey and Vicky White abandoned an F-150 pickup truck at a local car wash. Their getaway car, a gray Cadillac, was spotted leaving the car wash. That Cadillac led police to this nearby hotel where officials say the pair planned to stay for 14 days.

Authorities are investigating whether the couple paid someone to rent the room for them because they did not have identification.

WEDDING: We were fortunate that during our investigation yesterday, an Evansville police officer who was just doing his good diligence of patrolling and being smart, noticed the vehicle in the parking lot of the hotel and notified us immediately.

MARQUEZ: Police surveilling the motel spotted the couple leaving. Leading to the chase. Officers removed the escaped inmate Casey White from the wrecked car at the scene. Former corrections officer Vicky White was pinned inside the vehicle with a gunshot wound to her head.

WEDDING: Once the vehicle crashed, the female suspect shot herself. We don't believe he shot her.

MARQUEZ: Officials believe a 911 dispatcher was on the phone with Vicky White before the crash.

UNKNOWN: They're calling 911. We could hear her on the line saying she had her finger on the trigger.

MARQUEZ: She later died from her injuries at a nearby hospital.

WEDDING: Their plan was pretty faulty. They're criminals. Their plan was faulty, and it failed.

MARQUEZ: Her former colleague in Alabama left wondering what happened to a friend they thought they knew.

RICK SINGLETON, SHERIFF, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA: You know, then finding out she was basically the mastermind behind the whole plan, then finding out she lost her life. It's just been a roller coaster.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Evansville, Indiana. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHURCH: The U.S. treasury secretary says ending federal abortion rights would hurt the American economy and set women back decades. Janet Yellen told the Senate banking committee that access to reproductive health care, including abortion, allows women to finish school. She says it also increases their participation in the workforce and their earning potential.

Her testimony comes more than a week after the leak of a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that indicates justices plan to overturn the landmark case Roe versus Wade that made abortion the law of the land nearly half a century ago.

Meantime, abortion rights protesters have been demonstrating outside the homes of U.S. Supreme Court justices. This was the scene in front of Justice Samuel Alito's home in Virginia. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says as long as the protests are peaceful, he's OK with it. He adds that given the possibility that the Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade, the, quote, "outrage directed against this court is deserved."


And New York is allocating $35 million to protect and support abortion providers in that state. The move comes after a U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion became public indicating, as we said, it would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.

Governor Kathy Hochul says the fund would ensure the safety of patients and staff and expand abortion access and capacity across the state.

Well, authorities in North Carolina say more beach houses are at risk of collapse after two homes fell into the ocean. It happened in the outer bank community of Rodanthe on Tuesday after severe weather was forecast to hit the area. Officials say none of the destroyed homes were occupied. The community has received extra scrutiny since another home collapsed back in February.

And in New Mexico, the U.S. National Weather Service says conditions are just right to make wildfires even worse. At least six fires are burning throughout the state right now with low humidity and strong winds expected Wednesday, which could spread the blazes.

The Calf Canyon Hermits Peak fire is currently the largest, and has burned more than 200,000 acres so far according to the governor.

And our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri has been watching this very closely. Let's go to him now. So, Pedram, what are you been seeing? And how long will these winds likely last?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, Rosemary, it's been such a long driven multiday event here. We've had of course gusty winds for several days across this region. And you'll notice the fire weather concerns remain very high. There it is, this particular fire, the Hermits Peak and the Calf Canyon fire over 200,000 acres consumed, as you noted, now goes into the books as the second largest fire in state history across New Mexico, well behind the Whitewater-Baldy fire from May of 2012.

But you'll notice, well ahead of a 2011 fire for second place there. So, the concern right now, as you noted here is, the weather is not going to be helping any time soon. In fact, weather conditions a level two on a scale of one to three. Remaining dry, remaining gusty. Of course, the ongoing drought continues across this region.

Winds at times especially around eastern areas of Arizona it could get 40, maybe 50 miles per hour. And in the past 24 or so hours, just across the border here into the state of Texas, we've had wind gusts as high as 80 miles per hour. These winds approaching and exceeding what would be category one hurricane-force equivalent.

So, it really speaks to how dire the situation has been across the southwestern region of the U.S. Now, record heat continues. We do have a severe weather concern from parts of Texas stretching as far north as areas of the northern plains. Slight risk to an enhanced risk in place there.

The primary threats are going to be across this region around to the north there Minneapolis and into Sioux Falls where straight-line winds, maybe 50 to 60 miles per hour again and some large hail possible. And notice the areas of concern around eastern New Mexico, still kind of getting in line here for the area for fire weather.

But notice Thursday, also see that area of enhanced coverage for severe weather could include a couple tornadoes for the storms Thursday afternoon, and we know the pattern has been very persistent here when it comes to lots of wind, lots of hail for these storms over the last several days.

Rosie, the temperatures across the country, middle 90s. Feels like July. It feels like August for a lot of the Central United States. Look at Chicago, at 86 degrees. Even Minneapolis climbs up into the 80s while portions of Southern California highs there are only into the upper 60s, Rosie.

CHURCH: Incredible. All right. Pedram Javaheri, many thanks. I appreciate it.

Well, a passenger on a small plane in Florida pulled off an amazing feat, landing the flight with absolutely no experience. And you can see its shaky touchdown here after the pilot was unable to fly. A passenger on the private flight contacted air traffic control for help. And here is part of their conversation.


UNKNOWN: I've got a situation here. My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane, but maintain at 9100.

UNKNOWN: Caravan 333 lima delta, roger. What's your position?

UNKNOWN: I have no idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me and I have no idea.

UNKNOWN: What was the situation with the pilot?

UNKNOWN: He is incoherent. He is out.

UNKNOWN: Three lima delta, roger. Try to hold the wings level and see if you can start descending for me, push forward on the controls and descend at a very slow rate.


CHURCH: Very calm passenger there. And the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority said the pilot had a possible medical issue and it's investigating the incident.

Peloton is facing a severe cash crunch. The at-home fitness company posted a $757 million quarterly loss and says it's been forced to borrow money from Wall Street to keep its operations running. Peloton enjoyed success during the early days of the pandemic, but has struggled since people started returning to gyms. It's now trying different ways to boost sales such as lowering prices and selling to third party retailers.


Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk says he will restore former U.S. President Donald Trump's banned Twitter account if his deal to acquire the company is completed. Take a listen.


ELON MUSK, CEO, TESLA MOTORS: I do think that it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake. Because it -- it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.


CHURCH: Musk says he thinks Twitter should be very cautious with permanent bans, and banning Trump may have amplified his voice among the right wing. The SpaceX chief has said his main goal is to bolster free speech on Twitter.

And thank you so much for spending part of your day with me. I'm Rosemary Church. CNN Newsroom continues with Max Foster after a short break. Stay with us.