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Israeli PM Bennett & FM Lapid Agree To Dissolve Parliament; Russia Ramps Up Attacks In Push To Take Severodonetsk; Committee To Focus On Team Trump's Fake Electors Plot; Police Say At Least 200 Civilians Killed In Attacks In Ethiopia; Dozens Killed In India & Bangladesh Amid Monsoon Floods; Flights Returning to Normal after Difficult Weekend; Pro Gun Activists Believe More Guns Will Stop Mass Shootings; Rugby Players from Tonga and Japan Play Charity Match. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 21, 2022 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. Live from Hong Kong, I'm Anna Coren and this is CNN Newsroom.
Well, Israel's parliament is just days away from disillusion. The Prime Minister could be replaced as early as next week. Does Netanyahu have a chance to get his job back?
Day four of the Capitol right hearings. The committee's plan to show America that Donald Trump was involved in fraud. International travel chaos. What's causing all the cancellations, delays and headaches?
Well, first this hour, a political shakeup in Israel. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and key coalition ally Foreign Minister Yair Lapid have now agreed to submit a bill to dissolve parliament. That bill is expected to be submitted next week. This means Israel could soon be headed for its fifth election in under four years. The move follows weeks of mounting political uncertainty. And after attempts to stabilize the coalition failed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI BENNETT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translation): In the last few weeks, we did everything we could to save this government that in our eyes, the continuation of its existence was in the national interest. Believe me, we looked under every rock. We didn't do this for ourselves, but for our beautiful country, for you citizens of Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Meantime, Naftali Bennett's predecessor is already planning a comeback. Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held the position for about 12.5 years. Now Netanyahu says his confidence, his liquid party will lead the next government calling the current one the worst in the country's history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI OPPOSITION LEADER & FMR. PRIME MINISTER (through translation): I intend to form a strong national steady government. I think the atmosphere changed. I can feel it. I hear from the people. You walk and talk to mothers, fathers, young couples with children with older people. Some of them did not vote for me. And they say we now want the real change. We want to return the State of Israel to the place it deserves. And I intend to do it together with my friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Well, journalist Elliott Gotkine joins us now from Jerusalem. Elliott, experts believed it was only a matter of time before this fragile shaky coalition collapsed, some even surprise it made it this far. But where does this leave Israeli politics? I mean, it really is a sad state of affairs.
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: It is Anna. As you say, many people didn't think that it would last this long. So in that respect, you could consider this -- let's call it an experiment in kind of unity to have succeeded to a degree. Let's not forget, this was the most diverse coalition in Israel's history, eight parties running the gamut from left to right, including for the first time ever, an Israeli Arab party.
But ultimately, I think it shows that unity can only goes so far. And it can only endure for so long until the very real differences that divide these parties come to the fore. And I should note that it wasn't just divisions between the various members of this coalition. It was divisions within individual parties in the coalition in particular, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's Yamina party which has been seemingly fraying at the seams since the coalition was formed just over a year ago.
So it doesn't necessarily bode well for unity in future. But certainly, the current government will point to what it sees as its successes in passing a long overdue budgets in Naftali Bennett being the first prime minister to visit the United Arab Emirates. And in, you know, overcoming the COVID crisis and getting the economy growing again. But at the end of the day, that doesn't seem to have been enough. And it looks likely that we will go to these fresh elections. And as you say, former Prime Minister Netanyahu is very much plotting his comeback.
COREN: Yes, I mean, it was always going to be ambitious, but it feels like a wasted opportunity. Elliott, the government's collapse, obviously, a political lifeline, as you say for Benjamin Netanyahu, who is of course, standing trial on corruption charges. But is he a shoe in to become prime minister again?
GOTKINE: The short answer is no. That said he is resurgent in the opinion polls, some suggesting that he and his right-wing bloc could get as many as 60 out of the 120 seats in the Israeli Knesset or parliament. But that will still fall short of a majority.
And I think that as the Israel democracy institute a think tank here notes, what we've seen right now was really just a ceasefire in Israel seemingly unending political crisis. There's no guarantee that Netanyahu will win the next election and be able to form a government. There's no guarantee that anyone will be able to do so. And we could find ourselves back in this seemingly never ending cycle of elections that are inconclusive, and just remaining in political paralysis.
So as current Foreign Minister Yair Lapid gets ready to become prime minister, at least until the next elections. If those elections are inconclusive, he could find himself in the job for a little bit longer than perhaps you might expect. Anna?
COREN: It almost feels like the political apparatus itself needs a complete overhaul. Elliott Gotkine, great to get your perspective. Many thanks for joining us.
It's been nearly four months since Russia invaded its neighbor, but the war in Ukraine hasn't just devastated that country. It's also propelling a global food crisis that's only getting worse. Right now, millions of tons of grain are trapped inside Ukraine due to Russian blockades on key ports, that's putting millions at risk of food shortages or even famine, especially in Africa, where many countries rely on both Russia and Ukraine for wheat imports.
On Monday, Ukraine's President addressed the issue with the African Union telling leaders Russia is holding their nations hostage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translation): If it wasn't for the Russian war, you would be in a completely different position now, completely safe. That is why, in order to avoid famine, the efforts of states like Russia to return to their aggressive policy of colonialism must end. The time of empires is over. People have the right to just live, just live and have everything for life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Ukrainian troops in the eastern city of Severodonetsk appeared to be hanging on by a thread. For weeks, the city has been the epicenter of a brutal battle for the wider Donbass region. Russian forces now control most of Severodonetsk. And the local governor says the Russian army still has enough manpower and firepower to launch a large scale offensive to take the city.
To the north, shelling sparked a massive fire at a factory in Ukraine second largest city. It comes as Russia appears to be ramping up attacks on the wider Kharkiv region. Ukrainian officials say at least three civilians were killed in shelling on Monday. And CNN teams on the ground have reported hearing more explosions than normal.
For more let's bring in CNN Salma Abdelaziz who joins us live from Kyiv. Salma, Ukrainian troops are obviously fighting to the bitter end in those embattled cities in the east. Please give us an update.
SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Absolutely. And I think the headline there that you read out was from a regional official saying that Russia still has the ability, to launch a large scale offensive on Severodonetsk. They still have the capabilities to go even more fiercely on that city.
Already in that city, we understand that Ukrainians are on the back foot. The city is predominantly under Russian control. There's thousands of civilians potentially that are pinned down in fighting. There's one key flashpoint, a chemical plant, where hundreds of civilians have been sheltering. And officials told us a few days ago that it is now impossible to get them out.
Ukrainian forces are facing an artillery war as they are running out of artillery, Anna. So it seems like a foregone conclusion that Severodonetsk will fall at some point to Russian forces. But still, President Zelenskyy saying his troops are trying to hold the line. And if Severodonetsk falls, it is a major victory for Russian forces who say that this is part of President Putin's larger goal.
He wants to take control of the Donbass. Severodonetsk is one of the last strongholds in the Luhansk area. So it would be a major step, a major step towards that larger goal of taking the Donbass and all along that Eastern front, Anna.
Ukrainian forces are outmanned and outgunned. They are pleading for Western support, for Western help. We know that there was heavy shelling, as you mentioned in the north of the region towards Kharkiv where civilians were also killed. Ukrainian officials, they are saying that Russian forces are trying to open a new front line also along in the south towards the Mykolaiv area. More shelling there, that was an area that was recently visited by President Zelenskyy. So you're looking at a war of attrition where neither side seems strong enough to lose, but neither side is strong enough to win either, Anna.
COREN: Salma Abdelaziz in Kyiv, many thanks for the update.
The committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot returns with more life hearings in the day ahead. The panel is expected to present evidence that Donald Trump ignored warnings that his election conspiracies will leading to threats and violence. CNN's Jessica Schneider has the details.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th committee getting ready to shift its focus to Trump's role in a scheme to submit fake electors all in a bid to overturn the 2020 election. They'll call three Republicans on Tuesday, all expected to testify about how Trump pressured them to overturn Trump's laws at the polls in their states. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will talk about this phone call with the former president just days before January 6th. DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes which is one more than we have.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Raffensperger's Chief Operating Officer Gabe Sterling will also appear. And from Arizona, the Republican Speaker of the State's House will testify as well. Rusty Bowers said Trump asked him directly to replace the electors in the state with a rogue slate.
RUSTY BOWERS, ARIZONA STATE HOUSE SPEAKER: I talked to him a couple of times and they were -- they'd asked me to take some steps that I just wouldn't do. And I told him, I voted for him. I've campaigned for him, but I told him I wasn't going to do anything illegal.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Bowers also received e-mails from Ginni Thomas, urging him to set aside Biden's election win by replacing Democratic electors with a Republican slate. The committee has asked Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, to testify.
Ginni Thomas issued a short response to a conservative publication saying, "I can't wait to clear up misconceptions. I look forward to talking to them." Thomas was the only justice to vote against releasing White House Records to the committee in January. Now Schiff says Thomas should recuse himself from any future cases involving the committee.
ADAM SCHIFF, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE MEMBER: Justice Thomas to avoid even the appearance of impropriety should have nothing to do with any cases relating to January 6th. Particularly regarding our investigation.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): A new poll out from ABC News after three hearings shows nearly six in 10 Americans believe former President Trump should be prosecuted. It's a case the committee is making.
ADAM KINZINGER, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE MEMBER: The President is guilty of knowing what he did, seditious conspiracy. What we're presenting before the American people certainly would rise to a level of criminal involvement by a president.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): But so far, DOJ refusing to comment though prosecutors recently complained that the committee's refusal to hand over all of its records complicates their job. Committee member Zoe Lofgren says the dispute could be resolved as early as July once the hearing is conclude.
And meanwhile, Schiff is leaving the door open to subpoena Vice President Mike Pence.
SCHIFF: There are still key people we have not interviewed that we would like to. We're not taking anything off the table in terms of witnesses who have not yet testified.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: Also scheduled to testify on Tuesday, Shaye Moss, she's a former election worker who Trump accused of carrying out a fake ballot scheme in Fulton County, Georgia. Committee aides say that she will speak about the threats she received as the result of Trump's false claims.
Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.
COREN: Let's talk more about this with Elie Honig, he's a CNN Legal Analyst. He's also the former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Elie, great to have you with us. In your opinion, is there enough evidence to indict former President Donald Trump?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's hard to say that and I think what we can say for sure, is that the committee has shown us all sorts of really interesting and important new evidence that I think could be the foundation for a potential criminal charge. And specifically, one of the things that the committee has done in a way that we haven't seen before is take us inside the mind of former President Trump.
Any prosecution has to show the person's intent. Was the person acting fraudulently, acting knowingly that they were violating the law? And we're getting a real interesting insight into that. We've seen evidence showing that people told Donald Trump he lost the election. That people told Donald Trump what he was doing was unconstitutional and illegal. But I think it's it's important that we recognize.
We can't just take the evidence that the committee is showing us and assume that it automatically translates over into criminal court. Because while the committee is bipartisan, there's Democrats and Republicans, there's no meaningful opposition here. But in a criminal case, prosecutors have to think about there's going to be a defense lawyer, there's going to be defense witnesses, and there's going to be cross examination. None of which is happening in this committee hearing.
COREN: Explain to us the pressure that Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing right now to take this to trial. I mean, he's obviously sitting on the sidelines watching these hearings play out. But, I mean, he's really facing a moral dilemma, isn't he?
HONIG: He really is. And if anything, I think the pressure has intensified given these hearings, and given the effectiveness of these hearings. Even before this started, there was some clamor here in the United States as to where is the Attorney General, why hasn't there been a criminal charge, but also, why isn't there any outside indicators that Merrick Garland is taking a serious look at people in Donald Trump's central orbit?
We do know that DOJ has indicted over 800 people, but those are the foot soldiers, almost literally. Those are the people who stormed the Capitol. And the question has been, well, will there be accountability for the higher ranking people? [01:15:08]
And you can see now that the committee is aiming its message not just at the American public, but also at prosecutors. You hear members of the committee now using more explicit language about criminality and conspiracy, and illegality. So, every day that passes, I think the pressure increases on Merrick Garland. He has said, we are independent. We are separate from politics. I will not respond to public pressure. But there's no question that it's growing.
COREN: Last week, we heard from Donald Trump, he addressed his fans, he's based at a rally. He then issued a 10, 12-page statement, which some see is the start of his legal argument. I mean, how difficult is it going to be to make this a criminal investigation?
HONIG: Yes, we should never oversimplify how easy it will be for prosecutors because it's not going to be easy if prosecutors do choose to charge this case. First of all, you're talking about a very high profile, politically controversial target. You are talking about issues of intent, you have to get inside the person's head. And that can be difficult to do.
And so I do think we need to be very careful about saying, well, we saw the evidence from the committee, therefore, he should be indicted and go to jail tomorrow. We have processes. And what the committee is doing is a political exercise. I don't mean that in a pejorative sense. It is an exercise, it's happening in Congress and elected political body.
What prosecutors do, however, is a different ballgame with different ground rules, different laws, different procedures around it. So this is not going to translate one-to-one over to the criminal courts.
COREN: On Tuesday, the Committee will hear from Secretary of State Georgia and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. What are you expecting to hear?
HONIG: Well, so Brad Raffensperger was the recipient of a remarkable phone call from Donald Trump in the weeks leading up, in the days leading up to January 6th. It's an hour and two-minute phone call, which is public, where Donald Trump brow beats Brad Raffensperger and tries to get him to throw Georgia's electoral votes over to Donald Trump even though Georgia had already voted for Joe Biden. And that's sort of a good indicator of what we will see.
We will learn tomorrow that Donald Trump and the people around him tried to steal the electoral votes in seven contested swing states. Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and four others. And so what we're going to see is a coordinated effort by Donald Trump and people around him to get state and local officials, by the way, virtually all of whom were Republicans to disregard the vote in their states and to throw the electoral votes over to Donald Trump. And to the credit of those state officials and local officials, Republicans, they said absolutely not that would violate our Constitution, our oath of office and the law.
COREN: It certainly will be interesting to hear what he has to say. Elie Honig, great to get your insight. Many thanks.
HONIG: Thanks so much.
COREN: Well, you can see the entire hearing plus in-depth analysis right here on CNN starting at 1:00 p.m. in Washington, that's 6:00 p.m. in London, 1:00 a.m. here in Hong Kong.
A massacre in western Ethiopia has taken a terrible toll. Local authorities say at least 200 civilians were killed in the latest ethnic violence. CNN's Larry Madowo has details from Kenya.
LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a truly horrific attack even for Ethiopia, which has already seen so much bloodshed in so much violence. Over the past few years, ethnic tensions have been ratcheting up there. But this is still one of the deadliest attacks in recent memory.
What we know is that members of the Oromo Liberation Army were attempting to cross a village known as Toley (ph). According to eyewitnesses, they were blocked by some residents, including some who are armed, and that's when this massacre occurred. It's not just about the dead but also scores of people injured, villages destroyed and entire communities traumatized, according to the U.N. Human Rights Commission.
This follows days of fighting between Ethiopian federal forces and the Oromo Liberation Army. The OLA has been designated as a terror organization by the Ethiopian government and last year aligned itself with three grand fighters in the conflict in the north of the country. The Oromo Liberation Army has also been previously accused of targeting ethnic Amharas in the Oromo region.
The spokesperson for that group claimed that they were not responsible for this attack and instead blamed it on forces from the federal government or Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali. He, the Prime Minister, has criticized this attack and said restoring peace and security in that region was his government's utmost priority.
But still a whole lot more we don't know. For instance, we haven't been able to verify any video or any pictures from this attack, even though it happened all the way back on Saturday.
Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.
COREN: Just ahead, extreme weather is disrupting the lives of millions of people in China, India and Bangladesh. Will look at the forecast coming up.
COREN: Days of heavy rain have triggered flooding in parts of southern China. Officials say almost half a million people are impacted in Guangdong Province. Rivers are overflowing and homes are submerged. The floods have also collapsed roads in some areas causing severe traffic delays. Local forecasters expect more rain over the coming day.
And in India and Bangladesh, millions have been affected by monsoon weather. Flooding has killed at least 84 people and some 300,000 others are said to be taking shelter in Bangladesh alone.
We have reporters covering all angles of the story. Our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri is at CNN Center in Atlanta, and Vedika Sud is in New Delhi. Vedika, let's start with you first. Tell us about the worst hit areas.
VEDIKA SUD, CNN REPORTER: Anna, heavy rainfall, flash floods and landslides have devastated the lives of people across Bangladesh and northeastern states of India. I want to talk about the impact it's had on human lives. There are a few videos we've access, we want to take our viewers through those videos to make them understand the large scale impact the flooding has had.
Let's start with Bangladesh where people are actually trying to get to higher ground when it comes to submerged homes around them in settlements, especially in this district called Sylhet, which is the worst affected and impacted district in Bangladesh.
You can see people on terraces, on the first floor of buildings, trying to get food and drinking water, which has been delivered or rather dropped by choppers of the Bangladesh Air Force. They're trying to get drinking water to these people. There's a huge shortage of that. There's water all around, Anna, but very little to drink. And that is one of the challenges that the Bangladeshi officials are facing at this point.
In the last 24 hours in the northeastern state of Assam in India, there have been 11 deaths at least and many people are still missing. I want to take you through a very strong image coming from Assam of this very young boy who's being rescued by an NDRF official who's a rescue official. You can see him in a bucket, Anna, and he's being pulled away by perhaps a rescue boat while he's being guided by that rescue official who himself is trying to stay above the flood water.
These are destined times for people in the region. And as far as climate change is concerned, we've spoken to environmentalists who warn that this is directly connected to climate change, these extreme weather events that have been taking place in the region. Anna?
COREN: He's one lucky little boy. Vedika Sud, we appreciate the update. Thank you.
Well let's turn now to CNN Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri, And Pedram, does there seem like any response is on the horizon?
Not on the immediate future, Anna. You know, that's the concern moving forward here. We're still in the thick of the monsoons. The amount of rainfall forecasts here over the next week or so is pretty staggering and precisely what you expect. And unfortunately, with the amounts that have already played out, any addition little rainfall in those hard hit areas is going to be problematic.
And some of these images to share with you, you see a child here collecting food from some of the officials in the army wading through the waters. And we see these so often when it comes to floodwaters around the world. And really important to note, the significance, the hidden dangers within these waters, whether it be contaminants, infectious diseases, or just aggressive insects or wildlife that are often found within these waters.
So you see these, you don't think much of what's beneath the surface. But I've seen so many reports over the years with flood events where a lot of damage, a lot of diseases been transmitted because of this situation, of course, with these floodwaters. So really important to note that.
And when you work your way across portions of eastern Asia, the monsoons, the Meiyu, Beiyu (ph), the plum rains as it's known, also at the height of what's happening here. And certainly with climate change with more water vapor in the atmosphere, it makes sense when you have heavier rain events than you'd expect.
In fact, if you look at Guangdong, Guangxi and Fujian Province, on average, in the past, say 35 to 40 days or so across this region, about 621 millimeters of rainfall has come down. Compare that to the 2021 average for the entire year, were about 672 came down. Again, we're comparing about 35, 40 days to some 300 days. So it speak again to just how wet this region has been in recent days and climatological peak.
And as you know well, this is the time of year, June, July, August, rainfall is present almost every single day. And at times, it could be extremely heavy. The forecast for this region, at least some better news, the energy shifts a little farther away from some of those hard hit areas. So Hong Kong will see cloudy conditions in the next 24 hours, as opposed to the heavy rainfall.
And I quickly want to share with you, of course, some of the scenes that have played out across areas of Europe. We've had heat as high as 37, 38, 39 degrees. Over 200 records have fallen in this region. Look at the severe weather in the past 24 hours. Before it's a 50 millimeters came down in the wake of what we saw at the excessive heat. Hail reports, Anna, 9 centimeters up to 13 centimeters in diameter across the western area of France, at a softball size to small watermelon sized hail reported across portions of western France.
Again, when you have this much heat into the atmosphere, you have a frontal boundary that kind of triggers these storms move in, the energy from this heat certainly can lead to severe weather, one that would bring hail such size. So really incredible storms across portions of Western Europe.
COREN: Yes, you wouldn't want to be hit by those hail storms. Pedram Javaheri, as always, good to see you. Thank you.
In the western U.S. parts of Yellowstone National Park will reopen on Wednesday after more than a week of closures due to record breaking rain and floods. Locations in the Park South Loop will be available for tourists including the famous Old Faithful geyser. But the park is putting limits on how many people can enter based on license plates.
Vehicles where the last number on the plate is odd, can enter on odd days of the month. Those with even numbers including zero can enter on even days. The National Park Service announced $50 million of emergency funding for Yellowstone to help recovery efforts. Surrounding cities and towns are still dealing with receding waters as well.
Still to come, long lines, cancel flights and not enough staff. Details on what's causing the latest meltdown in the travel industry ahead of the summer travel season. That's next.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR: Britain is bracing for its largest rail strike in decades in the coming hours. Tens of thousands of rail workers are set to walk out on Tuesday in a dispute over pay and job cuts.
The strike is poised to cause severe disruptions across the U.K. Only about half of the rail network will be open on strike days, and even then with very limited service. Rail workers are set to walk out again on Thursday and Saturday.
While air travel is returning to normal now after several days of widespread delays and flight cancellations. Tracking service Flight Aware says that as of Monday night, more than 17,000 flights were delayed and hundreds canceled.
Airlines and airports are struggling with a shortage of staff, forcing them to cut the number of flights they can schedule.
Meanwhile Heathrow Airport is apologizing after a technical glitch threw its baggage system into disarray over the weekend leading to this sea of backlogged baggage.
The CEO of United Airlines is calling on the U.S. Government to help get the industry back on track in the wake of the pandemic. Here's what he told our Richard Quest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT KIRBY, CEO, UNITED AIRLINES: Our focus in the next few years needs (ph) months and years is to build a resilient system that can handle these increases in demand, it has some margin of error.
Airlines can't do that alone. In fact we almost need the governments more than we need ourselves to help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: CNN's Pete Muntean has more now on the issues facing U.S. air travelers.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Many people still trying to get home after this huge weekend of flight cancellations. These numbers are really big, but the cause of all of this is not new.
Airlines got a lot smaller over the pandemic, there are massive flight crew shortages, and the deck of cards really comes tumbling down when summer weather strikes. In fact there were bad thunderstorms on the East Coast on Thursday and Friday which left a ripple effect for the next few days.
Look at the latest cancellation numbers from Flight Aware. More than 1,700 flights cancelled nationwide on Thursday, more than 1,400 on Friday. Airlines really tried to play catch-up unsuccessfully on Saturday and Sunday. More than 800 flights canceled nationwide on Saturday, more than 900 on Sunday.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby just spoke to our Richard Quest about this. He insists that the airline was well positioned going into this huge resurgence of air travel demand, but he pinned some of the blame on the federal government saying it needs to staff up when it comes to air traffic controllers to help alleviate some of these delays.
This has been a huge weekend for air travel not only the long Juneteenth holiday but also Father's Day weekend. It could be one of the busiest travel weekend since the start of the pandemic.
More than 2.38 million people screened at airports nationwide by TSA on Sunday, 2.44 million people at airports nationwide on Friday. We have not seen a number that big since Thanksgiving 2021.
This is all coming with an urgent message for transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg. He is telling airlines that they need to get their act together with the July 4th travel period on the horizon.
Pete Muntean, CNN -- Reagan National Airport.
COREN: For more, I'm joined by Simon Calder. He is the travel correspondent at "The Independent" newspaper. Simon, you are at Gatwick -- great to see you and have you on the show.
Demand for air travel has rebounded sharply, but why are the airlines and airports lagging behind when they have had months, if not longer to sort this out?
SIMON CALDER, TRAVEL CORRESPONDENT, "THE INDEPENDENT": Well, it's simply a question of resilience. There is none in the system, as we heard from the United CEO talking to Richard Quest.
Everything is working at full stretch, and if you want to get examples of that then London is really the best city to be in. It is in normal times absolutely the world capital of aviation with more people flying in and out than any other city in the world.
CALDER: But at the moment, British Airways the main global network error carrier in the U.K. is canceling about 120 flights per day. And here at London Gatwick, the second airport for the capital, EasyJet is running at around 20 to 30 cancellations a day, but many of those are at short notice.
And that is where the strains are really showing. Simply, not enough staff in the many complex roles that are required to get an aircraft off the ground, and get people on their vacations.
COREN: Simon, isn't it a cop out to ask the government assistance, to get the system back up and running as the United Airlines CEO has requested? I mean that is their job.
CALDER: Well, yes, but they say that the situation in which the aviation industry was left means that they really need help from everywhere.
I mean here in the U.K. we had some very extreme travel restrictions, as a result of which the airlines which previously were flourishing -- British Airways, EasyJet, Ryan Air had its main base of operation in the U.K. They were all crushed to a small, small handful of services at the worst of the COVID pandemic.
Now, demand has come back, at an incredible pace. The airlines understandably want to sell every single seat they can, at some very impressive prices from their point of view.
But unfortunately, as soon as there is any kind of problem, whether that's weather or indeed over in Brussels they had a day of no departures at all yesterday because of a strike by security personnel, air traffic control holdups, there is no space in the system for the recovery that every airline needs.
COREN: Budget airline EasyJet, as you mentioned, is blaming operational issues at airports for cutting flights at what will be one of the busiest times of the year, the European summer. I mean surely passengers deserve better than this.
CALDER: Well exactly. Although, actually, the European air passenger rights rules are firmly on the travelers side. So for example, people turning up here who suddenly find out, as they did at the weekend after their flight to Amsterdam was canceled, they can insist on being flown to Amsterdam on any airline that is going to the Dutch capital. Or they can take the Euro Star train and on top of that, they also get around about $300 in cash compensation.
So, it is a very, very high risk strategy for airlines to sell more flights than they have, they are able to operate, extremely expensive when things do go wrong which is one reason why the chief executive of EasyJet has announced that they are going to shrink by about 8 percent I calculate, the summer schedule. The trouble is people don't know what flights they are yet. And Johan
Lundgren (ph), the boss of Britain's biggest budget airline was very firm when he spoke to me and said that Brexit was largely responsible for these staff shortages they are feeling.
COREN: Simon, in your opinion, do you envisage more chaos, more flight cancellations in the foreseeable future?
CALDER: There will be certainly across North America, the strains are showing. Here in Europe they are. Right now though for the thousands of people who are just arriving at Gatwick on overnight flights, just dawn here on midsummer's day, the big problem for them as you've been reporting is actually getting on a train.
There is talk that there will be services starting in about 40 minutes to London and I imagine it will be quite a crowd onboard.
COREN: Simon, I think everyone should just stay home. Don't travel. Don't go anywhere. Simon Calder, great to speak to you. Thanks so much for your time.
CALDER: Thank you.
COREN: Well just ahead on NEWSROOM, guns locked and loaded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my vehicle, I have an AR-15. I carry a firearm on me, virtually everywhere I go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: America's obsession with guns on full display in the state of Oklahoma.
COREN: U.S. senators are set to return to Capitol Hill in the coming hours after a weekend of negotiations on gun safety. A source says that the talks have moved in a more positive direction as work continues to try and find a resolution on key sticking points. That, nearly a month after the school shooting and Uvalde, Texas.
And, as a new image raises questions about whether police have the equipment needed to engage the gunman sooner. The image obtained by the "Austin American Statesman" shows at least three officers in the hallway of Robb Elementary on May 24th.
One officer with what appears to be a tactical shield and two officers with rifles, just 19 minutes after the gunman entered the school. It took more than an hour for law enforcement to shoot and kill the gunman after he entered.
A source says negotiators on Capitol Hill are feeling more positive after working through the weekend to iron sticking points on possible gun safety legislation. But pro-gun activists tell CNN that they want no part of it.
Elle Reeve reports on America's obsession with guns from the state of Oklahoma.
DON SPENCER, PRESIDENT, OKLAHOMA 2ND AMENDMENT ASSOCIATION: This right here -- all right. I'll let you hold it. Can you hold that. That's a knife right there. Ok, push your thumb up and push that button up right there. Push it up. Come on, toughen up. Come on. Come on.
ELLE REEVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'm left-handed.
SPENCER: Are you? Here you go.
REEVE: Woah. Ok.
SPENCER: All right. And then you pull it down and it retracts.
Those were illegal until 2016. And I made sure that they were legal to carry and then carry into the state capitol.
SPENCER: Because that's for an act of self defense. In my vehicle, I have an AR-15. I carry a firearm on me virtually everywhere I go.
That is a 9 mm (INAUDIBLE).
REEVE: And then you've got a body cam?
SPENCER: I've got a body cam.
REEVE: Don Spencer took over the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association in 2016, the group claims it's helped pass almost 40 different pieces of pro gun legislation.
SPENCER: We are not merely 2nd Amendment group, a gun group, we are a (INAUDIBLE) group that realizes it may take guns to maintain that liberty.
REEVE: Many Americans saw the second elementary massacre in a decade and thought there should be more restrictions on guns. We wanted to know why these guys saw the same thing and thought there should be more guns, more openly and everywhere.
Could you explain what you are afraid of? Because to an outsider, it is like you have all the public influence. The government like why?
SPENCER: Well, afraid is the wrong word -- concern. It is not so much about guns, it is about our God-given rights. A good guy or a gal with a gun is the only answer to a bad guy with a gun.
REEVE: I've heard that said a lot, but I don't know that it is true. SPENCER: Can you give me a logical reason it wouldn't be true?
REEVE: It didn't work in Uvalde.
SPENCER: If it was a gun free zone. It was in a school.
REEVE: There were police officers.
SPENCER: Yes. There were 19 police officers who had orders from their bosses to stand down.
REEVE: We wanted to talk more with Thompson, so we went to his hometown the next day.
TERRY THOMPSON, OKLAHOMA 2ND AMENDMENT ASSOCIATION: I think I'm the only person in OK2A with a Prius, (INAUDIBLE) all the time. Every time there's a shooting the left immediately starts beating the drum, more gun control, more gun control, more gun control.
REEVE: Is it possible it's because they don't want there to be as many shootings.
THOMPSON: Yes. I will admit that that is exactly their motivation. Our basic disagreement is how to stop the shootings.
There is no way that they can get all the guns. There's more guns than people in America. So it is a problem that's going to be there forever, no matter what kind of gun control you put on.
Unless, you want a police state? Do you want people breaking --
REEVE: I feel like you are proposing a private police state.
THOMPSON: Not private police.
REEVE: Well if everyone everywhere is carrying guns all, the time you don't feel that is a type of policing?
THOMPSON: Well they are not out there policing they're out there prepared for self-defense or to defend others.
SPENCER: In Joe Biden's world, I would not be able to defend myself.
REEVE: Is he proposing an elimination of all guns?
REEVE: Is he?
REEVE: I didn't catch that announcement.
SPENCER: That is the ultimate goal here. You know it's the goal. I know it's the goal.
REEVE: I don't know that.
SPENCER: Yes you do.
Terry Thompson, right here on the front row. He is a rock star.
REEVE: So what would you do to stop mass shootings?
SPENCER: We have to quit blaming what is used as a weapon in these types of things and go to deal with the person. People are confused how many genders they are, they're confused on what bathroom they are supposed to use, they are confused on whether a wife is a value that has not been born.
REEVE: I mean are you confused on what restroom to use?
SPENCER: No, but we have to pass laws in Oklahoma to make sure boys will use boys' restrooms, girls will use the girls'.
REEVE: And what does that have to do with an AR-15?
SPENCER: Because if you don't respect life you're not going to respect anything.
REEVE: Ok, so you see mass shootings as, you know, a cultural trickle down effect from abortion and transgender rights?
SPENCER: Yes. Actually, it is a breakdown of the family.
REEVE; In several states, red flag laws allow courts to temporarily confiscate the guns of someone believed to be a danger to themselves or others. Oklahoma passed an anti red flag law in 2020. How do you propose, if not this red flag law, keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill?
SPENCER: By the mentally ill being segregated from society if they're a threat to themselves or society. We mainly have to go back to institutionalization which was left back in the 80s.
REEVE: But would it be before they committed a violent crime or --
SPENCER: Well, I don't know how you -- I don't know how you would ever stop someone that has given those signals that just goes and decides to committed violent crime. I don't know how you do that.
REEVE: You might be wondering, do these guys have a fear that their loved ones could be victims of a mass shooting? The answer is yes. They think about it all the time.
SPENCER: By the way, my children were home educated. We had drills at our own home for someone trying to break into our house.
REEVE: What were those like? SPENCER: They saw someone show up on our porch at about 11:00 or 12:00
one night unannounced --
REEVE; Ok, and so did your kids in that moment prepare your firearms?
SPENCER: Yes. Because when I look through the door I said gun up, my wife goes to one room she grabs a gun, the kids go back my daughter she was nine, ten, eleven, she had a 32 caliber in her bedroom, and we had them gunned up and prepared.
We trained them that if they hear my voice obviously it is time to lay the weapon down before I went to that part of the house. If they didn't hear my voice, someone was going to get shot or my wife's voice or their siblings voice.
REEVE: Ok so part of the drill is you walk through the house and you are saying I'm walking towards your bedroom.
SPENCER: Yes. I'm waiting for their acknowledgment, because I don't get shot.
REEVE: Wow. So that to me seems like a scary way to live.
SPENCER: Well, scarier way to live is what would it be like had the person penetrated inside the house and harm me. What would that psychology be for my children.
REEVE: We went to the gun range to get the views of people who shoot but are not activists.
ANGELIKA ARNOLD, GUN OWNER: I've got (INAUDIBLE) home -- shoot guns now. But, I need to go back to before when it was not as easy to get a gun.
KOLBY WILSON, GUN OWNER: We have two guns we have a 20 gauge shotgun for home defense, and then we have -- we just got an AR-15.
There are a lot of common sense gun laws and stuff that I support, a lot of people I know support. You know, I've held the same kind of views on guns for a while although I've never necessarily had the strong desire to go out and purchase and own a gun until recently.
JAMES YORK II, GUN OWNER: There's so much division in the United States right now, and I don't know how you fix that. But you can't have people throwing gasoline on the fire too.
REEVE: And you think gun restrictions would be gas on the fire?
THOMPSON: (INAUDIBLE) the only reason we are concerned about guns is that is the only thing that protects the rest of the constitutional rights, and that is why the founders put it in there. And --
REEVE: Then why didn't they make it number one?
THOMPSON: Because free speech is number one. And free speech is being assaulted in America.
REEVE: Why isn't the Second Amendment stopping it?
THOMPSON: Because, if it gets that bad, then it is going to be in the streets. That is why I'm working so hard politically, because we have to solve these problems.
REEVE: Elle Reeve, CNN -- Oklahoma City.
COREN: Still to come Japan and Tonga come together to raise money for disaster recovery. How one short trip turned into decades of rugby partnership.
That is next.
COREN: More now on the war in Ukraine, actor Ben Stiller who is a goodwill ambassador for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees visited with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy in Kyiv on World Refugee Day Monday.
Stiller called for a collective global responsibility to protect people who were displaced because of war.
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BEN STILLER, ACTOR: Hey, I'm Ben Stiller, and I'm here in Ukraine. I'm meeting people who have been impacted by the war, and hearing how it changed their lives.
War and violence are devastating people all over the world. Nobody chooses to flee their home. Seeking safety is a right, and it needs to be upheld for every person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Russian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dmitry Muratov put his prize medal up for auction to support children displaced by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. It sold for more than $103 million which will go directly to UNICEF. Muratov is the editor of a newspaper critical of the Kremlin, and won the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Filipino journalist Maria Ressa.
Rugby players and fans from Japan and Tonga came together over the weekend to raise money for Tongans affected by a massive volcanic eruption and tsunami earlier this year.
CNN's Blake Essig shows us how relationships built on the pitch have forged lifetime bonds.
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BLAKE ESSIG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Size, strength and explosive power -- these Tongan athletes are seemingly built for rugby. But here in Japan where speed, quickness and agility reign supreme, the inclusion of Tongans has changed the way rugby is played.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rugby I know really mean that much but the important thing for us and for rugby is that they actually bring their culture into our team.
ESSIG: It all began about a half century ago, relationship between the kingdom of Tonga and Japan started with a curiosity over this, the Japanese abacus. But it's enforced because of rugby.
56 year-old William Sinali Latu (ph) was one of the first Tongans to make the journey to Japan. The purpose of that trip, to learn the abacus and bring those skills back to teach his countrymen. But as he tells it, things did not exactly go as planned.
WILLIAM SINALI LATU, COACH FOR TONGAN SAMURAI: (through translator): It was difficult for me to handle the abacus, because of my big hands.
ESSIG: To the disappointment of the late king who sent him, Latu says he never returned, instead he spent the last 40 years living, working, and, yes playing rugby in Japan.
So, well in fact that he went on to represent his adopted nation in three World Cups.
LATU: Back in Tonga, I represented Tonga's national team. I assumed I would not represent Japan. But when I was selected, I thought it was a great opportunity, but also a big responsibility.
ESSIG: Although it wasn't always easy, Latu's success helped create a pathway for others, one that hundreds of Tongans like Sione Mau have followed.
SIONE MAU, TONGAN RUGBY PLAYER: I came to Japan thanks to people like Mr. Latu. I saw them working really hard, and it made me think I had to work hard. I could study and do rugby, here and pass on what I have learned to younger Tongans.
ESSIG: These days Latu roams the sidelines instead of the pitch. And the reason he is out here with this group of men is because of what happened on January 15th 2022.
LATU: Nothing like that ever happened before. I couldn't reach my friends and family for about a week. I had a horrible sinking feeling that maybe Tonga had ceased to exist.
ESSIG: This is the reason for that sinking feeling, satellite images captured the moment a volcano erupted about 60 kilometers off the coast of Tonga. Nasa scientists say the eruption generated a blast that was hundreds of times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
LATU: I was in contact with my family before the tsunami hit. An hour or two hours later, I saw the video of the tsunami hit in Tonga and I was at a loss. I was very worried and called my family, but I could not get through as all telephone networks were down.
ESSIG: In the end, the Tongan embassy in Japan says four people died. 80 percent of the population was impacted, and the eruption caused more than $90 million worth of damage.
MAU: The eruption is spreading dust everywhere, making the water undrinkable. The condition in Tonga is better now but there are still many people in trouble.
ESSIG: And it is for that reason that this match between the Emerging Blossoms and the Tonga Samurai XV was played.
An event to help raise money for a country still struggling to recover, showing how decades of diplomacy through sport can set the groundwork to be great (ph) for Tonga through aid and action in the face of unimaginable devastation.
LATU: Tongans are resilient, I think people have faith they'll pull through and overcome the volcano disaster.
ESSIG: While the Emerging Blossoms from Japan won the match, there's no question that the friendly islands in the South Pacific are the real winners. As a result of this charity match and other fund raising efforts, Japanese rugby expects to raise tens of millions of Japanese yen, hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars, and counting for the Tonga Tsunami relief effort. A donation that Tongans here tell me will go a long way towards helping friends, family, and a nation rebuild.
Blake Essig, CNN -- Tokyo.
COREN: Great work. Well thanks so much for watching.
I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. CNN NEWSROOM continues with Lynda Kinkade after the break.
I will see you tomorrow.