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Wildfire Burns Multiple Homes In Southern California; Kharkiv Attack Survivor Recounts Harrowing Ordeal; Finland And Sweden Appear On Verge Of Seeking To Join NATO; U.S. Senate Fails To Advance Bill Protecting Abortion Access; Video Shows Russian Soldiers Shooting 2 Civilians in the Back; Journalist's Funeral Procession to Be Held in West Bank; U.S. Inflation Slowed Last Month; Passenger with No Experience Lands Plane Safely. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 12, 2022 - 00:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta. We begin this hour with breaking news of a fast moving wildfires sweeping across the Laguna Hills area of Southern California.

A mandatory evacuation order is now in effect for some neighborhoods. And CNN affiliate KABC reports about 20 homes, some described as multimillion dollar mansions overlooking the Pacific Ocean are now engulfed in flame.

The fire broke out about 10 hours ago, and an hour later had dramatically increased in size, spread by strong gusty winds. As of last report, about 200 acres were burning with zero containment.


BRIAN FENNESSY, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE CHIEF: When you have that stronger wind, blowing that fire uphill, and if you're familiar with that area, it is extremely steep, extremely thick vegetation that has not burned in probably decades.

Once it's got a hold, and started up that hill, I think we all saw that. As soon as I got to my car to headquarters, you can see that a tremendous smoke column. And we knew that we had a significant fire.


VAUSE: OK, this is the live scene right now of what's happening in the Laguna Hills area. This is the Orange County area of California. It's about an hour or so outside of Los Angeles, it's very close to the ocean. You can see that fire burning in the distance here on the hills as the fire official was describing (INAUDIBLE) palm tree. One of the issues they've had with this fires that embers have been picked up by these winds that have been spreading the fire from location to location because of these very strong gusty winds.

In fact, that's why some of these houses according to the fire officials have actually been burnt and have been involved in fires. You can see right there. The embers have been managing to get inside the homes into their attics.

And then of course, once they're there, they set fire to the structure. And it's very difficult to bring them under control.

Let's go now for the very latest to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. He can tell us what's happening and what the containment situation is like now, Pedram.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: John, it's not looking good, not at all. As you noted, this is a very densely populated area, the region very vegetated, very elevated terrain. And it's a very, very wind driven and terrain driven fire that is taking place here. About 180 acres consumed or 75 or so hectares of land.

Containing numbers, of course sit at zero, it has been only ongoing here for the last five or six hours. But it is right here. South of Laguna Hills, north of Dana Point into the southern extent of areas of Orange County. And really important to note that the entirety of the state of California is dealing with drought situations and southern sea sits right there with severe drought still in place across the entire county.

So, again, the elements here in place to produce an explosive growth of fire weather. Notice winds across this region of the coastal fire. These are current observations at the airport 20, 30 miles per hour at the highest observation sites, which is around 50 kilometers per hour.

But again, at the airport is far different than this elevated landscape, the canyons the ravines across this region that really not only pick up embers, but they carry them downstream.

John noted this is a very a major issue across this region. And we've got to keep in mind, when it comes to these canyons, that's where the fires are. And I use that analogy of lighting a match, holding it out, it'll burn slowly towards your finger. But if you give your finger a little bit of slope, that fire burns very rapidly towards your finger and precisely what's happening on these elevated terrain where the fire is burning upstream winds at the very top of these elevated terrains are picking up the embers, depositing them downstream and that's how fire is spread. That's how this becomes such a destructive scenario.

And of course, this is the primary concern across this region and you'll notice, evacuations mandatory in spots across the southern extent and other areas. There are also voluntary evacuations in place.

But this particular Aliso & Wood Canyon Park area is the area of concern that has not seen any kind of fire weather in years. So the vegetation, a lot of dry fuel in place here. And fire weather starts off a lot sooner now and continues a lot longer because of the drought situation across this region, John.

VAUSE: Just to correct what I said, 10 hours ago, it's actually about four hours ago, my time zone is mixed up. So, just to get that right.

Pedram, what conditions like before the fire broke out, because I think it was really at one point that this was certainly not expected to happen.

JAVAHERI: Yes, you know, there certainly wasn't. There's been very dry across this region of course for many months, many years. The season started off on a very wet note in October and November and almost no rainfall January, February and March and very little rainfall into April.

So, it has been very dry. But besides this, it has been as quiet and it's been pretty warm across the landscape. The last couple of days have cooled off a little bit. But the elements are in place here that once the fire is ignited, whether it's human induced, we don't know yet. But once they're ignited, they're going to take off across this region.

VAUSE: Pedram, we appreciate the update and we'll be checking in with you when we can, thank you.


VAUSE: For the first time for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine 11 weeks ago, a Russian civilian has been killed on Russian soil by Ukrainian shelling. The report comes from the governor of Belgorod, just across the border from Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv. The region has come under a series of recent attacks. But Kyiv will neither confirm or deny responsibility.

New drone video and satellite images show Ukraine has blown up at least two pontoon bridges in the Luhansk region. Russian forces have been building the bridges to advance their Donbas offensive to the west.

And Ukraine is now offering Moscow a POW swap for hundreds of their wounded soldiers trapped in the Azovstal steel plant. Ukrainian deputy commander reports as many as 600 people inside that factory needing medical attention, but he believes all civilians are now out.

Reinforces say more villages and towns in the northern Kharkiv region are now once again under their control. Despite those gains, much of the area is still within range of Russian artillery fire.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh spoke with one woman who was buried in rubble after a Russian missile attack, but lived to tell the story.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Sometimes places that speak only of death, throw up a jewel of life. This is the first time Ayuna has stood in this spot since 72 days ago, she was dragged out from the rubble here. Her husband Andrey had been scouring it, looking for her for three hours. She remembers the cupboard.

AYUNA MOROZOVA, KHARKIV BLAST SURVIVOR (through translator): That was where I was standing up.

WALSH: The multiple rocket attack on this. The Kharkiv regional administration was an early sign of the ferocious cowardly brutality Russia would unleash on civilian targets.

This is Ayuna then. She had been serving coffee and cookies to soldiers, saw a flash and curled into a ball.

A. MOROZOVA (through translator): I feel a physical manifestation of fear. I don't like cookies anymore. The box fell on me and I remember the smell.

WALSH: She asked to step away, saying she's sick with butterflies. Like she hasn't felt since before races when she used to swim professionally. Andrey picks up the story.

ANDREY MOROZOVA, AYUNA'S HUSBAND (through translator): when I heard her voice, I was crawling across the rubble, and the emergency services were trying to kick me out. I pulled a man out and then, heard her. I did not plan to leave her here.

WALSH: The soldiers waiting in the corridor outside from her died. The young women in the basement below her died. Their bodies not found for three weeks. Yet somehow, the concrete here fell shielding Ayuna.

A. MOROZOVA (through translator): I knew I was alive in pain but nothing broken but was worried I would be left and never be heard.

The first time they heard me, they started to get me out and the second missile came and I was properly trapped.

WALSH: A rescuer eventually heard her.

A. MOROZOVA (through translator): Andrey got closer and I said it was me and he cried. They said they shouldn't lift the baton on me but Andrey did alone. It got easier to breathe. I was surprised as I thought I was still at ground level, the ambulance guy said it's your second birthday, you're alive.

WALSH: Fragments of a Kharkiv now past pepper this shell, cleaning up and trying to sweep away its trauma.

A. MOROZOVA (through translator): I sleep with the lights on and when there's a loud car or God forbid a jet plane, I brace.

The nightmares that I'm again lying there and shivering cold and that nobody hears my cries. That also stops me from sleeping.

WALSH: Ayuna was born in Russia, but can no longer talk to her relatives there. She says they believe Russian state media's absurd claims this is a limited operation against Nazis.

A. MOROZOVA (through translator): They say it was my stupidity and that I don't need to be here. I hope when time passes, our children can talk but I can't talk to them now.

Russia has lost its mind and cannot control its president. They're all each responsible, every citizen.

WALSH: The story here not of ruins, loss or burial in dust. But instead, of a feverish energy that burns through the building's bones as Kharkiv gets to decide where its pieces fall now.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kharkiv, Ukraine.



VAUSE: Britain has made historic new security agreements with both Finland and Sweden, which would see British military support if either country came under attack from Russia.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in Helsinki Wednesday to announce the deal with Finland's president. Johnson also met with the Swedish Prime Minister to sign a declaration of solidarity.

The agreements aims to give Sweden and Finland additional security guarantees during the lengthy NATO application process, which both countries could begin in the near future coming days.

Hungary says it won't support an E.U. oil embargo on Russia unless the block will provide compensation for the economic fallout. Hungary's foreign minister says the embargo is set to take place by the end of the year will be an atomic bomb for his country's economy.

Meantime, Ukraine has halted the flow of some of Russia's natural gas to Europe. It accuses Russia of diverting supplies from a key pipeline, saying Russian troops have interfered at a major transit point.

To Los Angeles now, CNN's European Affairs commentator Dominic Thomas joins us. And Dominic, it's good to see you.

DOMINIC THOMAS, CNN EUROPEAN AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: Great to be on with you, John. Thank you.

VAUSE: OK, so keep in mind that when Putin invaded Ukraine, it was all about at least in part, preventing NATO expansion. Listen to the president of Finland on why that his country is looking to join the alliance.


SAULI NIINISTO, FINNISH PRESIDENT: Well, if that would be the case that we join. Well, my response would be that you cost this, look at the mirror. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: You, of course, being Vladimir Putin. So, on almost every front, Putin seems to be holding a master class and how to shoot yourself in the foot.

THOMAS: John, that's absolutely -- I mean, there's no other way of describing it. Putin's actions have been the catalyst for everything that is currently unfolded, he's completely disrupted. The regional geopolitical order created, you know, levels of unity that we have not seen and before, and forced countries like Finland and Sweden to explore new security arrangements, especially as they've watched the situation unfold in Ukraine, a country that is neither a member of the E.U. nor of NATO.

And the either deep irony of this, of course, is that public opinion in Europe has never been as high as it is right now and for NATO, and European citizens are willing to support new investments in defense.

So, collectively, all of those aspects have completely backfired in terms of Putin's strategy in this area, John.

VAUSE: We're looking at a security arrangement that both countries have made with the U.K. Sweden's Prime Minister though indicated other countries could also be involved, listen to this.


MAGDALENA ANDERSSON, SWEDISH PRIME MINISTER: We are exploring all possible options, and NATO is one of them that is on the table. And during this process, we have therefore had discussions with several countries on how they see about -- how they see this great period from a potential application until we're fully members. And there we've had -- we got reassurances from several countries.


VAUSE: So, play a scenario here where one or both countries come under a Russian attack, Britain in response militarily in a sustained conflict, wouldn't NATO countries be obligated to come to Britain's defense, which means both Finland and Sweden now sort of have de facto NATO membership?

THOMAS: I mean, John, I mean, ultimately, that's the scenario. I mean, obviously, we saw the red lines with Ukraine, Sweden, and Finland already are E.U. members. But essentially, this bilateral pact that the U.K. is currently working on with Finland and with Sweden is essentially an outgrowth of Article 5 of the NATO Treaty. So, an attack on one is an attack on all.

Yes, it's designed for this specific transition period. But the scenario you map out there is absolutely accurate.

You know, there's one other aspect of this, which I think is worth considering is that we know that for Putin, NATO expansion is a red line. And as the Western alliance seeks to get Putin to the negotiating table and put an end to this -- to this awful conflict, it is not impossible that we will perhaps see more of these bilateral pacts being signed as a kind of compromise to provide these countries with a deep security and -- that they need, while at the same time avoiding further escalation, certainly as long as Putin is in office. And when he leaves, they might be able to return to the negotiating table.

But unless that unfolds, then NATO accession is the only path forward for these countries, John.

VAUSE: There's also another situation with Hungary digging in on the demand for compensation in return for supporting an E.U. oil embargo on Russia. Here's how the E.U. tried to spin all of this.


THIERRY BRETON, E.U. INTERNATIONAL MARKET COMMISSIONER: We are a continent, you know, like the U.S. and we have to take care of everyone. And it's true that we have two countries, which are 100 percent dependent on oil, rich in (PH) oil, so we have to take care of them.



VAUSE: I guess on the surface it's -- you know, it's fair enough. But the question is, when does it stop? If the E.U. gives into this shakedown by Hungary and Viktor Orban and who's, you know, the prime minister there, and Vladimir Putin's best mate. What's to stop other countries? What's to stop Orban from asking for more other countries from trying the same ploy? And who has to pay for it?

THOMAS: Yes. Well, all of those questions together, here's where, you know, I see things. There's a precedent to this. It was called Brexit, a whole succession of U.K. Prime Ministers shuffled across the channel to Brussels to ask for concessions and concessions, and they were given those and it did not ultimately prevent a Brexit vote from going ahead and being successful.

The issues that Hungary faces right now are secondary to the broader issues of the European Union that have to do with the fact that its historic values and principles are under threat.

Hungary benefits exponentially more than so many other E.U. countries and from membership here. And I think that in the same way that the U.K. was the first country to voluntarily leave the European Union, unless the E.U. can find a way to work with all ban and to have him not only wean himself off oil, but off the sphere of influence of the Russian and president, we may end up at a juncture where we see the European Union having to make the decision to ask that Hungary to actually leave the group of 27 as it stands right now, because its needs and concerns are not as important as the broader issues that the E.U. is trying to come together and face collectively at this moment in history, John.

VAUSE: Well said. Good point. Thank you. Dominic Thomas in Los Angeles, we appreciate it.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VAUSE: And when we come back, a Democratic push to protect abortion rights fails in the U.S. Senate. We have the latest on that key vote. That's just ahead.



VAUSE: In the U.S., Senate Democrats have failed to pass a bill that would protect access to abortion nationwide. There are growing concerns that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn the landmark Roe vs. Wade ruling. The Women's Health Protection Act failed with a 49 to 51 vote amid strong Republican resistance.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin joined Republicans to vote against the measure saying it was too broad.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): It is not Roe v. Wade codification, it's an expansion. It wipes 500 state laws off the books. It expands abortion. And with that, that's not where we are today.


VAUSE: But some state governors are taking their own efforts to protect abortion rights. CNN's Ed Lavandera takes a closer look at what reversal of Roe could look like.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): If the Supreme Court strikes down Roe v Wade, it will cement America's political fault lines in a way not seen in more than 50 years.

Colorado State Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet says she's bracing for a post Roe v. Wade world. Her own experience makes her fear what will happen.

REP. DAFNA MICHAELSON JENET (D-CO): Taking away abortion rights and abortion services and abortion care, puts women's lives at risk, period.

LAVANDERA: The Democratic lawmaker says she was 20 weeks pregnant when her baby's heartbeat stopped. She says she was sent to an abortion clinic.

JENET: I was already bleeding and my doctor was afraid that I could hemorrhage and die. What I think is important about my story and that people don't understand is that abortion care is a part of pregnancy care.

LAVANDERA: The leaked Supreme Court draft opinions suggest abortion rights will be left to individual states. This is what the country would look like according to analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a group supporting abortion rights.

16 states and the District of Columbia have laws protecting abortion rights, but at least 26 states are ready or will likely move to outlaw abortion access.

13 of those states have so called trigger laws designed to immediately ban abortions if Roe v Wade is overturned.

We're going to have this patchwork of different states, different laws, different standards. Are you comfortable with that?

THREESA SADLER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RAFFA CLINIC: I would love for there to be all states where abortion didn't exist in our country. I realized that's not where we're headed.

LAVANDERA: Threesa Sadler is the director of an East Texas clinic offering counseling and medical services to pregnant women offering alternatives to abortion.

She says she was inspired to do this work because when she was 19 she had an abortion, a choice she regrets.

Last year, Texas lawmakers passed a law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

SADLER: The women that we're seeing, they seem more panicked and angry because there is a shorter timeframe.

LAVANDERA: How much more panicked and scared are these women going to be when it's illegal?

SADLER: A lot of our women. Once that is decided to be illegal, it goes off the table for them. They're rule followers for lack of a better word.

And so, I think my hope is that some of that panic goes away.

LAVANDERA: In the states with trigger laws, abortion access will also look very different. Five states have different versions of laws that would allow abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is in danger.

Eight states will only allow abortions in cases where the life of the mother is in danger. But all of this will likely have one clear effect for states where abortion will remain legal.

JENET: We're going to have a lot of people traveling to Colorado to be able to get that safe legal abortion from all the states that surround us that do not have safe and legal abortion.

LAVANDERA: Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: Ukrainian officials say the number of war crimes committed by Russian troops now stands at 10,000. After the break, add two more to the list. New video showing two civilians gunned down by Russian soldiers. Their deaths being investigated as possible (INAUDIBLE).



VAUSE: Welcome back everyone. New surveillance video obtained by CNN appears to show Russian soldiers shooting two unarmed Ukrainian civilians in the back.

CNN's Sara Sidner reports it's being investigated as a possible war crime and a warning, what you're about to see is graphic. It is difficult to watch.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): This is a stark example of a potential war crime perpetrated by Russian forces. An example the world has not yet seen, Russian soldiers shooting to civilians in the back.

CNN obtained the surveillance video taken from this vehicle dealership that sits along the main highway to Kyiv.

The video is from the beginning of the war, as Russians tried and failed to shell their way to the capitol, the fight along this road was clearly fierce.


But what happened outside this business was not a battle between soldiers or even soldiers and armed civilians. It was a cowardly, cold-blooded killing of unarmed men by Russian forces.

The soldiers show up and begin breaking in. Inside of a guard shack, two Ukrainian men prepare to meet them. We tracked down the men's identities. One is the owner of the business, whose family did not want him named. The other was hired to guard it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): My father's name is Leonid Aleksiovich Platz (ph).

SIDNER (voice-over): His daughter, Yulia (ph), wanted the world to know his name and what the Russians did to him. Both civilians, both unarmed. We know this because the video shows them greeting and getting frisked by the Russian soldiers and then casually walking away. Neither seemed to suspect what was about to happen.

That is what a member of the civilian fighting force, who talked to the men a couple of days before the attack told CNN. He did not want to be identified for security reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We came there earlier, warned people to leave that place. We also hoped for the humanity of Russian soldiers, but, unfortunately, they have no humanity.

SIDNER (voice-over): You see the two men walking in the shadows toward the camera. Behind them, the soldiers they were just talking to, a marriage. A few more steps, and their bodies drop to the ground. Dust shoots up from the bullets hitting the pavement. The soldiers have opened fire.

Minutes later, the guard, Leonid (ph), gets up, limping but alive. He manages to get inside the guard booth to make a call to the local guys for help. This is one of those guys, a Ukrainian truck driver turned civilian soldier.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): First of all, we felt a big responsibility. We knew we should go there, because the man needed our help. He was still alive.

SIDNER (voice-over): He's the commander of the ragtag team of civilians who took up arms to fight for Ukraine and tried to save the men. When the guard called them, he explained what transpired with the soldiers. He said the soldiers asked who they were and asked for cigarettes, then let them go, before shooting them in the back.

When his men finally got to Leonid (ph), he had lost massive amounts of blood.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): One man from our group went there, and the guy was still alive. He gave him bandages, tried to perform first aid, but the Russians started shooting.

SIDNER (voice-over): They tried to fight back but were unsuccessful. They didn't have the firepower to save their countrymen.

SIDNER: Have you seen the video?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I can't watch it now. I will save it to the cloud and leave it for my grandchildren and children. They should know about this crime and always remember who our neighbors are.

SIDNER (voice-over): Her neighbors to the North, these Russian soldiers, showed just how callous they are, drinking, toasting one another, and leaving the place minutes after slaying the two men.

SIDNER: What were the last words that you remember he said to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Bye-bye, kisses. Say hello to your boys.

SIDNER (voice-over): Her boys will be left with a terrible, lasting memory, the death of their grandfather, now being investigated as a war crime by prosecutors.

Sara Sidner, CNN, Kyiv.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: Still to come, new details on the shooting of the Al Jazeera journalist who was shot and killed in the West Bank, as Palestinians prepare for her funeral in the coming hours.



VAUSE: A funeral procession will begin in just a few hours in Ramallah for Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. She was fatally shot while covering an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin on Wednesday.

Her producer was also shot but remains in stable condition.

A warning now: The video you're about to see is graphic.




VAUSE: Al Jazeera released this footage where you can hear the gunfire in the distance and a man shouting, "Shireen, Shireen." And you can then see your lying face down on the ground.

Elliott Gotkine joins us now, live from Jerusalem with more. What do we now know about details around in the shooting? Who did it?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, NEWS CORRESPONDENT: We still don't know for sure, John. That's the situation right now. We've had the initial autopsy from the hospital in Nablus where she was taken after she was killed. And the hospital there saying that the autopsy was inconclusive, and that it's not clear who shot the bullet.

We also know from -- from the Israeli authorities. We heard from defense minister Benny Gantz last night, saying that Israel has requested the bullet to carry out a forensic analysis on the bullet to see if it was indeed fired from a weapon of an Israeli soldier.

Of course, we've heard from the Palestinian Authority and also from Al Jazeera itself, blaming the Israeli army for Shireen's death. As I said, the investigation is continuing, and there are hopes that there will be some kind of a possibility that Israel and Palestinian Authority will be able to formally carry out an investigation.

But of course, there is also a lot of pressure here, not just because a civilian was killed, not just because a journalist was killed but because she was also a U.S. citizen, as well.

And we've seen the condemnation from the White House for her death and also saying that investigating attacks on independent media and prosecuting those responsible are of paramount importance.

Just one thing to add is that, initially, in the aftermath of Shireen's killing, the Israeli prime minister and also other spokespeople for Israel and the Israeli army heavily implying that the bullet was very possibly coming from, or perhaps likely, even, to have come from the weapon of a Palestinian militant.


The language seems to have been rowed back somewhat, although the position still is that we just simply do not know for sure who fired the shot that killed Shireen.

And as you say, just two and a half hours' time, that funeral procession due to begin to take her from the hospital in Ramallah to the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority, where she will be honored by the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, and other dignitaries.

She'll then be taken, her body will be taken to the Greek Catholic church by Jaffa Gate in the Old City. And her burial actually will take place tomorrow at the Zion Cemetery, and she'll be buried and laid to rest alongside her parents -- John.

VAUSE: Elliott, thank you. Elliott Gotkine in Jerusalem.

Tibet Airlines say all passengers and crew were safely evacuated after one of their passenger planes skidded off the runway and caught fire at Chongqing Airport in central China.

One hundred and twenty-two were on board. More than 40 passengers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Cause of this accident is under investigation.

I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta. WORLD SPORT is next for our viewers on CNN International.



VAUSE: More on our breaking news this hour. Multiple homes are burning in the Laguna Hills area of Orange County near Los Angeles. These are live images. The local time there is 9:45 p.m. on a Wednesday night.

Evacuation orders are now in effect for some neighborhoods. Elsewhere, voluntary evacuation requests have been put out for residents to leave.

There's no word on the cause of the fire, which started Wednesday afternoon and quickly grew to almost 200 acres, fueled by strong, powerful, gusty winds.


BRIAN FENNESSY, ORANGE COUNTY FIRE CHIEF: I mean, we're seeing spread in ways that we haven't before. Again, you know, five years ago, ten years ago, you know, fire like that might have grown to an acre, couple acres. We've gotten there very quickly. It's been skunking around. The fire is spreading very quickly into this very dry vegetation. It's taking off.


VAUSE: For the first time since August, the pace of U.S. inflation slowed a little. The consumer price index was up 8.3 percent in April from a year ago. But that's an ever so slight dip from its 40-plus year high of 8.5 percent in March.

It basically means prices are still going up, but at a slower rate than before.

The big hope is that inflation may now have now peaked, but the U.S. president was not ready to say that on Wednesday while meeting with Illinois farm workers.

Joe Biden blamed Russia's invasion of Ukraine for domestic price hikes and global food supply shortages. He announced actions to bolster production and lower costs.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America's fighting on two fronts. At home, it's inflation and rising prices. Abroad, it's helping Ukrainians defend their democracy and feeding those who are left hungry around the world, because Russian atrocities exist.


VAUSE: Catherine Rampell is a CNN economics and political commentator, as well as an opinion writer for "The Washington Post." She is with us this hour from New York.

Catherine, good to see you.


VAUSE: OK, so President Biden stopped at an Illinois farm Wednesday to talk about food prices and the impact of the war in Ukraine, when he was asked about these latest inflation numbers. Here he is.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of the new inflation numbers out today?

BIDEN: They're going down. Got a lot more to go down.


VAUSE: Yes, they are overall going down and particularly the cost of clothing and appliances but communication, as well. But costs are still soaring, especially for what's known as core inflation, so, what is core inflation and why is that such a concern?

RAMPELL: Core inflation is supposed to be the components of what consumers buy that's a little less volatile. So, it's basically everything except for energy prices and food prices.

It's not because energy and food prices don't matter to consumers. Obviously, they do. They represent a huge chunk of most people's spending, especially lower income people's spending, but if you are the Federal Reserve, what you are probably paying the most attention to is the rest of the bundle of goods and services that consumers buy, things that are not as likely to be pushed around by a drought or some other, you know, major shock, because there's so much volatility, again, in energy and in food markets.

Because you want to figure out, like, what's the underlying force of inflation right now, when we can kind of get a sense of the dynamics of the economy. You know, overall demand versus overall supply to what extent. Is there maybe too much money sloshing around? Is there too much money chasing too few goods.

VAUSE: Well, I'm glad you went there, because the issue of supply-side problems and the shock from global events, as opposed to consumer demand, seems to be playing a, you know, really significant role in driving up prices.

So, when the Federal Reserve increases interest rates, that can influence demand. But it won't bring peace to Ukraine. It won't fix global supply chains. It won't end the COVID outbreak in Shanghai.

So, until those major events are resolved, will those numbers remain high?

RAMPELL: Well, in an ideal world, yes. You would have the ability to ramp up supply to meet whatever demand is out there, and demand right now is really red-hot.

But we don't live in an ideal world. There isn't a magic wand that the fed or the president or any other policy maker can wave that would get supply chains functional again, that would end the war in Ukraine, which obviously, we want to end for many other reasons, as well, that would get Chinese manufacturing plants up and running again, because they've been shuttered -- many have been shuttered for a while now. That isn't possible.

The only reliable tool is this sort of blunt instrument that the Federal Reserve has, which is raising interest rates. And that works by essentially putting a damper on demand as you put it. When you raise interest rates, makes it a little bit more costly to get a mortgage and car loan, to get a big credit card bill if you don't pay off your bill every month and you incur interest.

So all of those things, that higher cost higher cost to borrow, essentially, will mean that maybe you're less likely to bid on a house, or to buy a car. Or maybe you're not going to bid quite as much.

And the idea is that if you push down demand a little bit, that should bring down some of those pricing pressures.

The risk, of course, is that historically, when the Fed has raised interest rates to bring down demand, they have accidentally raised them so much we got a recession and the Fed doesn't want that right now.

VAUSE: Inflation isn't just a problem in the United States. If you look at the numbers from around the world, the U.K. is 7 percent, Germany is 7.4 percent, Mexico close to 7.7 percent.

Six other countries have higher inflation rates than the United States, and that includes Russia, currently sitting at 17 percent. The all-time champion, though, is Turkey, though that's for a whole bunch of reasons.

Given the United States is the world's biggest economy, how much inflation is it exporting now around the world?

RAMPELL: Well, you point out that all of these other countries are also experiencing inflation, and that's because they were also hit by a global pandemic that roiled supply chains and that made it much more difficult for goods to get made and shipped and delivered to your local shelf, for example.

But here in the United States, we also had really expansionary fiscal and monetary policy, meaning we sent a lot of money to households so that they could continue buying stuff. And boy, did they want to continue buying stuff.

So that's part of the reason why we have had higher inflation here, even than those elevated rates that you just mentioned for most of the developed world.

I would put places like Russia and Turkey in a different category. But I'm talking about the E.U. or the U.K. or Canada, or other countries that have also had high inflation.

To some extent, yes, sure, you could argue that, because the United States government juiced consumer demand so much here, that means that we are increasing global demand to some extent for a lot of the goods that also, you know, want -- people want to purchase in Europe, whether they're Chinese electronics or otherwise.

So the U.S. fiscal policy, in particular, most prominently had an effect on inflation here, but sure, you know, there's probably some spillover effect that you're seeing in some of these other countries.

The main -- the main factor, of course, being the supply chain problems that are common to all of these countries.

VAUSE: Yes. And those will take ages, or at least a period of time to work out before it gets back to some kind of normalcy. Until then, we've got high prices, I guess.

Catherine, good to see you. Thank you.

RAMPELL: Thank you.

VAUSE: Casey White's time on the run is now officially over. The capital murder suspect who escaped prison with a former corrections officer, whom he reportedly called his wife, is now back behind bars in Alabama.

He was transferred early Wednesday following a late-night court hearing.

He was caught in Indiana after an 11-day nationwide manhunt which ended when federal officers forced his car from the road. The corrections officer, Vicky White, was with him at the time of the crash and appears to have taken her own life.

White -- Casey White goes on trial next month for capital murder in a 2015 killing.

There are new details about the emergency plane landing in Florida on Tuesday where a passenger had to take over once the pilot fell ill. CNN's Carlos Suarez got a private lesson with the air traffic controller who helped guide the man with no flight experience to a safe landing.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Caravan 333LD, Ft. Pierce Tower.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): a new pilot has joined the ranks like Captain Sully.

DARREN HARRISON, LANDED PLANE SAFELY: I've got a serious situation here.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Except this guy's not a true pilot at all.

HARRISON: My pilot has gone incoherent, and I have no idea how to fly the airplane.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Darren Harrison is a passenger who had to land this single-engine Cessna coming back from the Bahamas Tuesday after the pilot was incapacitated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Caravan 333LD, roger. What's your position?

HARRISON: No idea. I see the coast of Florida in front of me, and I have no idea.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Soon enough, the plane was located on radar, about 20 miles east of Boca Raton, Florida, and air traffic controller Robert Morgan was urgently called in from his break to help Harrison, who as suddenly in charge of landing the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the situation with the pilot?

HARRISON: He is incoherent. He is out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 3LD, 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.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Morgan has been an air traffic controller 20 years and is also a flight instructor. He took us up in his Cessna today to show us just how he helped Harrison get out of the air safely.

ROBERT MORGAN, AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER/FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR: This is our propeller, which moves the blades (Ph).

SUAREZ (voice-over): Even giving me a chance at taking over the controls.

(on camera): I've never done this before. You get the call. What's the first thing I need to do?


MORGAN: So he was -- he was kind of like stable, right? He was already stable at 3,000. So you're just going to grab the control wheel. You know. Gentle. Not a lot of pressure. It's like holding your first girlfriend's hand.

SUAREZ (voice-over): Teaching two novice pilots to fly in just two days' time.

MORGAN: So you have the controls, so you're flying now.

SUAREZ (voice-over): If there was ever a moment of panic for either Morgan or Harrison, you would never know by listening to their calm exchange over the radio.

MORGAN: He was a really good listener.

SUAREZ: How good of a landing was it?

MORGAN: I would rate his landing a ten. So I've never flown that plane, and he landed it safely, and didn't damage it, and didn't damage -- nobody got hurt.

SUAREZ (voice-over): The two were definite -- (AUDIO GAP) -- after the plane was on the ground.

MORGAN: And I was just about in tears, didn't look very manly. I kind of wanted to cry. It was just a lot of emotion. Gave him a big bear hug, shook hands. I told him I owe him a cold beer. He said, No, I owe you a cold beer.

SUAREZ: Morgan says that the pilot passed out after complaining of chest pains but that he was awake when that plane landed. His condition and his name has not been released, and the FAA is investigating.

Carlos Suarez, CNN, West Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VAUSE: I'm John Vause at the CNN Center in Atlanta. Please stay with

us. I'll be back with a lot more news after a very short break. You're watching CNN.