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Tornadoes Strike Mississippi; Biden And Trudeau Build On U.S.- Canada Ties; Russia Suggests Possible Change Of Strategy In Bakhmut; Trump Lawyer Appears Before Grand Jury; Millions Mark Earth Hour; Gwyneth Paltrow Takes The Stand. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 25, 2023 - 03:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from the United States and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak.

Multiple tornadoes ripped a path across Mississippi. One resident says her town is now gone.

U.S. President Biden back home after meeting with prime minister Justin Trudeau in Canada, why illegal immigration across the U.S. northern border was a hot topic.

And people all over the world getting ready to turn off the lights to mark Earth Hour. It's a way to help raise awareness about the climate crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Laila Harrak.

HARRAK: We begin this hour with extreme weather in the southeastern United States, where multiple tornadoes barreled across Mississippi.

In the past few hours, the National Weather Service says a large tornado caused significant damage in several towns, including Rolling Fork and Silver City, leaving homes and buildings flattened and trees and power lines down.

Search and rescue teams and first responders are on the scene in the area northwest of Jackson. We spoke with a resident of one of the towns hardhit in Mississippi. She described what she went through.


BRANDY SHOWAH, ROLLING FORK RESIDENT: We watched this tornado form through the lightning strikes and it became this massive monster and they said it's headed directly toward town.

So I called my grandmother. And I heard her on the phone and told her to get down. And she -- she was staying down but I could -- you could hear the tornado in the -- you could hear the roar in the background as she started screaming for help.

And she said that, she wants it stopped. Roaring -- her, she said, it's raining through my roof. It's raining through my roof.

So we rushed down to evacuate her immediately.

HARRAK: A truly terrifying and harrowing experience that you detail there.

What else were you doing all to stay safe?

SHOWAH: Well, she was in her -- in her bedroom covered up. My uncle lived with her and he has severe Parkinson's. And she's, she had a fall recently. So she's not in the best of shape.

And they were just hunkering down and in a room, that's all they could really do.

HARRAK: Just a terrible situation overall. I mean, we were just watching some of the footage that you shot, you know?

Can you detail what it was like going through, driving through your hometown and looking at it, completely obliterated.

SHOWAH: Well, we tried to come through from the north side of town and it was blocked off, because there was debris everywhere. And we had to come around to the south side. And there were -- there's power lines all over the road. There's trees all over the road.

There's brick buildings that are that are just laying out in the street. Actually, two houses down from my grandmother's house, everything is just a debris field, the houses are just destroyed.


HARRAK: And as the storm system moves east, tornado and severe thunderstorm watches are now spread across parts of Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and into North Carolina.



HARRAK: President Biden is back in the U.S. after a whirlwind trip to Canada and meetings with prime minister Justin Trudeau. It was a friendly and productive visit that addressed a range of issues. Mr. Trudeau announced modifications to the Safe Third Country agreement which addresses immigration between the two countries.

Mr. Trudeau also said both the U.S. and Canada will work toward peace and stability in Haiti as gang violence rages on in Port-au-Prince. Canada will invest an additional $100 million Canadian to support Haiti's police force. CNN's Phil Mattingly has details on Mr. Biden's visit to Ottawa. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden's 24 hour whirlwind visit to Ottawa, Canada, didn't come with major expectations. Both U.S. officials and Canadian officials made clear in the leadup to the international visit that there were significant policy issues that they wanted to discuss.

And there weren't likely to be significant policy breakthroughs. And to some degree that was true. There was an immigration deal and a critical one at that the Canadian officials have been pushing for several months.

U.S. officials finally signed on. There were some efforts to speed up NORAD spending and development on the Canadian side. Certainly discussions about the economic and trade issues that very much animate the relationship at this point, at least in terms of their disagreements.

But more than anything else, President Biden -- and to some degree president -- or Prime Minister Trudeau -- wanted to underscore that it is a very strong alliance. It is a bilateral relationship that is both steadfast, has great history and that history is only going to lead to more in the future.

And where there are disagreements -- and there certainly are -- they will resolve them. And if they don't, they will remain friends, as President Biden put it in his speech to parliament.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together we have built a partnership that is an incredible advantage to both our nations. That doesn't mean we never disagree, as any two countries will do from time to time.

But when we disagree, we solve our differences in friendship and in goodwill because we both understand our interests are fundamentally aligned.


MATTINGLY: That speech for the president received several standing ovations, including taking a shot at the Toronto Maple Leafs. Keep in mind, his wife was from Philadelphia and as a Flyers fan, was part of a sprint of a day.

Lengthy bilateral meetings, also joint press conference with prime minister Trudeau and then a gala dinner later before taking off for Washington, all part of a packed schedule that was to some degree delayed.

It is supposed to be traditionally the president's first foreign visit when he takes office. This was not; it was delayed. They had a virtual visit instead because of COVID. But U.S. officials and Canadian officials alike feel like it was a

productive and substantive meeting. But more than anyone -- anything else, it underscored an alliance at a very critical and challenging geopolitical moment, an alliance that has been crucial to the Western alliance efforts to support Ukraine on the lines that will become more crucial.


MATTINGLY: Just as you look the world's events over the course of the last several weeks, whether it's China or Russia or Iran, certainly there are two countries and two leaders who have made clear they will stick together, whatever happens, going forward -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, Ottawa.



HARRAK: Eric Farnsworth is vice president of the Council of the Americas and the Americas Society and joins me now from Washington, D.C.

Sir, so good to have you with us. The two leaders tackled the issue of people crossing into Canada from the United States.

What's the significance of their deal?

ERIC FARNSWORTH, VICE PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS AND THE AMERICAS SOCIETY: Well, you know, borders are complicated by definition. We all know the story about the U.S. border with Mexico.

But the U.S. border with Canada is equally fraught if for different reasons, it's the largest undefended border in the world. But that doesn't mean that there aren't a lot of things crossing, both good and not so good.

And one of those that's increased over time has been illegal crossings by people who are seeking asylum or trying to find economic circumstances better than what they're leaving behind, et cetera.

But it's causing some real political complications. And so two friends have to find a way to manage this. But it's not just people necessarily; it's also things like fentanyl. It's a real problem and it's not just a problem in the U.S. or Mexico or other places like that.

It's a growing problem in Canada as well. And so these are issues the two leaders not just had to talk about and acknowledge but find a path forward in terms of trying to address them, to really find a way forward to reduce the risk.

HARRAK: How important was it for Canada to achieve this agreement?

FARNSWORTH: Well, I think politically for prime minister Trudeau, it's very important. He's been getting some political pressure on these issues. And the easy solution is to blame the United States, right?

I mean, they're the big guy. They're the ones who generate a lot of these issues. And you know, "It's out of my hands, we have to have the U.S., you know, do their part," is an easy talking point.

But in fact that's not the route -- the route he took and he was rewarded for it, I believe politically. And I think that will pay political dividends.

HARRAK: In terms of foreign policy, Haiti also played a role in their meeting.

FARNSWORTH: Yes, this is a really interesting issue. It's a difficult issue. It's been an issue for a long time. Haiti itself is a country in real crisis politically, economically, socially. And there's a long history between the United States in Haiti.

There is also a history between Canada and Haiti. And so the United States is trying to find the path forward for -- to reduce violence in Haiti, perhaps to introduce some sort of international peace force under U.N. auspices. But without leading such a force itself.

And so there's been real discussions over the past several months, frankly, between Washington and Ottawa to see if Washington can't really encourage Canadians to take the lead.

But Canada is also a keen observer of Haiti and notes that it's a complicated situation and is not keen to take a leading role itself. So this is a topic, not just a discussion but real urgency that the two governments really have to find a path forward on.

HARRAK: You know, this is such a big, all encompassing relationship.

How would you describe U.S.-Canada ties as they are now, present day, compared to bilateral ties during the Trump administration?

FARNSWORTH: Well, I think, taking a step away from politics, the word that I always use with relation to the U.S. and Canada relationship is strategic. This is a partnership that affects both of us directly in terms of our economic security, energy security, national security, not just in Europe with NATO or Ukraine or Taiwan and the Pacific.

But you know, we share coordination of the North American airspace through NORAD to try to protect our aerospace from what used to be Soviet missiles during the Cold War but now it's Chinese balloons and other things like that, so it's strategic.

But having said that, we're also deeply intertwined with each other's economies, with our people. And in any family relationship, particularly ones that so intertwined as this one, you are going to have disagreements. You are going to have problematic areas. And this is no exception.

HARRAK: But arguably for Canadians, the America First policy, which, for all intents and purposes still remains in place, that is something that has not been addressed by Washington. FARNSWORTH: It's a real problem, for sure; to the extent of the

United States either is or is perceived to be heading into a more protectionist manner, that directly hits Canada. Canada's our top trade partner.

And the United States is not just Canada's top trade partner but by far. So if the United States is acting in a more protectionist manner, that absolutely hurts Canadian businesses and the Canadian economy.

Yes, the temptation in Washington over the last several years -- and this precedes the Biden administration -- but clearly has been to try to promote "made in America."


FARNSWORTH: And to emphasize investment in the United States. And conceptually, that's not a bad thing. But from the perspective of supply chains and the way that we actually produce things, together with a country like Canada, where it's fully intertwined, when we try to protect our own markets, at the end of the day, we're actually just hurting ourselves.

And that's the point that the Canadians are trying to emphasize so that it's not a "made in America" that they're looking for but a "made in North America" perspective because we're already producing things so closely together that to try to disaggregate that would be not just difficult but virtually impossible.

And so we just end up hurting ourselves. It's not an issue that has been resolved. It's one that comes up perennially. I personally would hope that we can -- we, the United States -- can find a way to return to our free trade routes, particularly in North America, given the importance of the Canadian and, indeed, Mexican relationships.

HARRAK: Eric Farnsworth, thank you so much.

FARNSWORTH: Thanks for having me. It's good to be with you.


HARRAK: For the third time in two days, U.S. forces stationed in Syria have come under rocket and drone attack by militants. The U.S. believes are proxies for Iran. The U.S. has about 900 troops in Syria. And the Pentagon says they are attacked on average every 10 days.

American troops were hit twice on Friday in Deir ez-Zor and Green Village. One U.S. service member was reported wounded. The day before, an American contractor was killed in a drone strike in Hasakah.

Friday's volume of drones and rockets against American troops, which is just the latest in a -- in dozens of such attacks over the past two years, and the U.S. almost always responds with deadly force.

And that was the case early Friday, when more than a dozen militants were reportedly killed in U.S. airstrikes. CNN's Oren Liebermann is at the Pentagon and has our report. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A late night strike in northeast Syria, ambulances rushing to the scene as fire burns in the distance. The U.S. striking what officials say were ammunition depots and intelligence sites used by militias linked to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The U.S. called the strike, carried out by two F-15 fighters, "a proportionate and deliberate action," after a one-way drone attack killed an American contractor earlier Thursday near Hasakah in Syria.

Five U.S. service members and another contractor were wounded in the attack. Early Friday morning, another U.S. base in Syria coming under attack from a barrage of 10 rockets, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. placing the blame on Iran.

BRIG. GEN. PATRICK RYDER, PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON: Iran certainly again backs these groups. And by default, therefore has a responsibility to ensure that they are not contributing to insecurity, instability. But clearly they continue to do that.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Syria has become a crossroads of conflict in the Middle East. Iranian proxies have carried out rocket and drone attacks against U.S. forces. And Russia has begun flying armed fighters over U.S. positions in the country.

For the U.S. and its footprint of about 900 troops in Syria, focus remains ISIS.

ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We don't seek a war with Iran. We're not looking for an armed conflict with that country or another war in the region. We do seek to protect our mission in Syria, which is about defeating ISIS.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): On Thursday, the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Erik Kurilla, told the House Armed Services Committee hearing, that Iran and its proxies have fired drones or rockets 78 times at U.S. forces since the beginning of 2021, nearly one attack every 10 days.


GEN. MICHAEL "ERIK" KURILLA, COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: So what Iran does to hide its hand is they use Iranian proxies. That's either UAVs or rockets, to be able to attack our forces in either Iraq or Syria.

QUESTION: Are these considered acts of war by Iran?

KURILLA: They are being done by the Iranian proxies, is what I would tell you, Congressman.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LIEBERMANN (voice-over): The U.S. has carried out attacks against Iranian proxies in Syria before, targeting either enemy infrastructure or launch vehicles used to attack U.S. forces.

LIEBERMANN: Back in August, when there was a similar back and forth of strikes and attacks, the administration believed, after that, according to U.S. officials, deterrence had been restored in Syria.

That's clearly no longer the case. The question for the administration is how to get there from this point. We have seen the administration carry out a series of strikes.

Is that the way forward here?

The administration trying to avoid an escalation but clearly knows it has to send a message with Iranian proxies in the region, launching a series of attacks against a number of bases housing U.S. troops -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon.


HARRAK: Ukraine senses opportunity after months of defensive warfare in Bakhmut. Why they could be about to launch a counter offensive against Russia's weakened invasion force.





HARRAK: Ukraine is reporting civilian casualties after the latest round of Russian strikes. Kyiv says there have been more than 100 missile and rocket attacks in the past 24 hours. But on the ground, Ukraine says Russian forces keep hitting a wall in their attacks in the east.


HARRAK (voice-over): This is video of fighting in the city of Bakhmut, which Ukraine says is still under Russian military pressure. But Kyiv says the invaders are not gaining any new ground despite more than three dozen attacks across the eastern front on Friday.


HARRAK: Ukraine is suggesting that the time may be right to change its defensive strategy in Bakhmut and level a counter strike against the Russians. Ivan Watson has more.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russia's war machine appears to be losing momentum in Bakhmut where Ukrainian commanders now exhibit optimism.

After hurling themselves for months against Ukrainian defenders in this city on Ukraine's eastern front, Russian troops and mercenaries have made on the incremental gains and suffered staggering losses.


WATSON (voice-over): Russian forces in Bakhmut are depleted, says one of Kyiv's top generals and the Ukrainian counteroffensive could soon be launched.

Harder to judge, the enormous sacrifice Ukrainians have made in their costly defense of this embattled city. But while Russia's efforts have slowed, they haven't stalled. Ukraine claims the area has been hit with more than 200 strikes in the last day alone.

And Russia is sending in backup to compensate for the growing losses of Wagner private mercenaries, with Russian airborne troops now playing a greater role in the fighting around Bakhmut, according to the Ukrainian military.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say that the situation in the south has not improved in such a way we can talk about some kind of victory or anything like that in the country. The enemy is applying even more pressure.

WATSON: President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this week paid tribute to the defenders of Bakhmut, visiting Ukraine's eastern front to hand out awards.

The deadly grudge match over Bakhmut is far from over. The Ukrainian military says it's using the front lines of Bakhmut to bleed and exhaust the Russian army. But how long can Ukraine afford to fight a bloody war of attrition against its much larger, stronger enemy? -- Ivan Watson, CNN, Zaporizhzhya, Ukraine.


HARRAK: Barbie Nadeau is monitoring developments in Ukraine. She joins us now from Rome.

Barbie, what is happening elsewhere in the east?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, this has been a very contentious area. Ukraine says they warded off 38 attacks in 24 hours.

And this, of course, just speaks to the importance of the continued support in terms of tanks and ammunition and weapons and weapons systems and air defense systems that have been donated by the rest of Europe.

You know, this war, this battle, as Ivan said in his packet, is really putting a lot of pressure on Ukraine. But this gives Ukraine and president Zelenskyy a lot more power, I guess, in terms of asking for continued support, which has become increasingly contentious here across Europe. HARRAK: Barbie Nadeau, thank you so much for that update.

The investigation into Donald Trump takes a new turn as a federal judge orders several former top advisers to testify about the events of January 6th. And his former lawyer answers questions before a grand jury -- details just ahead.





HARRAK: Updating our top story now with some breaking news. We're just getting word at least 11 people have been killed after tornadoes ripped across Mississippi. There are currently eight storm related deaths reported in Sharkey County, which includes Rolling Fork.

Plus Humphreys County emergency management director tells CNN that at least three people in his county have been killed. At least two people are in critical condition.

The storms, including a large and destructive tornado, tore through Mississippi Friday night and that system now moving east again. At least 11 people killed and there are fears the death toll could rise.

New developments in the investigation into Donald Trump. A federal judge has ordered several Trump aides to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation into the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The directive comes as a former Trump attorney was compelled to testify about the handling of classified documents. CNN justice correspondent Jessica Schneider has details.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Trump's closest advisers ordered to testify in two Justice Department probes a federal judge rejecting Trump's claim of executive privilege.

Ordering former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior aide Stephen Miller and others to answer questions from a grand jury investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO TRUMP WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I remember leaning against the doorway and saying, I had an interesting conversation with Brody, Mark. Sounds like we're going to go to the Capitol.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We're going to walk down to the Capitol.

HUTCHINSON: He didn't look up from his phone and said, something to the effect of, there's a lot going on, Cass but I don't know. Things might get real, real bad.

SCHNEIDER: Separately, Evan Corcoran, a top Trump attorney and a crucial witness in special counsel Jack Smith's classified documents, probe, spending nearly four hours testifying behind closed doors to a federal grand jury on Friday.

Trump also fought in court to stop his testimony. But several judges ruling Corcoran must divulge information about the conversations he had with former President Trump. Leading up to the FBI search of Mar- a-Lago last summer and that Corcoran must turn over handwritten notes documenting their interactions.

FBI agents seized more than 100 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago in August.

TRUMP: They should give me immediately back everything that they've taken from because it's mine. It's mine.

SCHNEIDER: FBI agents seized more than 100 classified documents from Mar-a-Lago in August and in November, the attorney general appointed special counsel Jack Smith, to investigate, among other things, whether Trump obstructed the government's attempts to get back all the classified material still in his possession after he left office.

Evan Corcoran crafted a statement in June 2022, claiming a diligent search had been conducted at Mar-a-Lago --


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): -- and that all classified documents had been returned.

A source tells CNN prosecutors wanted to ask Corcoran about that statement and a June phone call between him and Trump that took place the same day as subpoena was issued for Mar-a-Lago surveillance footage that showed boxes being moved out of a storage room.

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You still have the surveillance tape. Is that correct?


SCHNEIDER: Sources tell CNN prosecutors have made clear that they believe Trump used Corcoran to advance a crime.

A Trump spokesperson has fired back, accusing the Justice Department of continuously stepping far outside the standard norms and an attempt to destroy the long accepted, long held constitutionally based standards of attorney- client privilege and executive privilege.

TIM PARLATORE, TRUMP ATTORNEY: From the beginning, he has tried to cooperate.

SCHNEIDER: Trump attorney Tim Parlatore tells CNN. He also testified before the grand jury in December, divulging details about additional searches for classified documents he organized at several Trump properties last year.

PARLATORE: They would rather make this into an adversarial fight and try to make it into a criminal case.

SCHNEIDER: Special counsel Jack Smith will now be getting an influx of new information, both from Evan Corcoran, being forced to testify in front of the grand jury on Friday, and from the array of top Trump administration officials, who will now have to testify to the grand jury about what they know about what transpired on and around January 6th.

Our team is told that Trump's legal team is expected to appeal this decision that said these top officials cannot claim executive privilege -- Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


HARRAK: Millions get ready to turn off the lights to raise awareness about climate change and help save the planet. Details in just a few moments.





HARRAK: Millions of people around the world are set to mark the 16th annual celebration of Earth Hour later today. It's a way to raise awareness about climate change by turning off the lights for just one hour, from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm in your local time zone.

Iconic landmarks like New York's Empire State Building, Bangkok's Temple of Dawn and the Acropolis in Greece will all go dark for one hour.


HARRAK: Joining me now from London with more on Earth Hour is Kate Norgrove, the World Wildlife Fund U.K.'s executive director of Advocacy and Campaigns.

So good to have you with us. Good morning to you. Many people mark Earth Day.

What's the idea behind Earth Hour?

KATE NORGROVE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY AND CAMPAIGNS, WORLD WILDLIFE FUND U.K.: Yes, well, that hour is a moment, as you said, when millions of people across the globe come together to show that they care about the future of our planet.

So as you said, 8:30 pm tonight local time, 190 countries, millions of people, will switch off their lights and give an hour for Earth, spending 60 minutes doing something really positive for the planet.

And we really want people to ask not only to switch off but also to use those 60 minutes to do something for the planet. So you could use that time to eat more sustainably. Leave your flowers to grow a little bit longer, a little bit wilder. Walk more and drive less and talk to your family about what you've learned about the planet.

HARRAK: Obviously mindfulness and awareness is very important.

But how can unplugging for 60 minutes make a difference?

NORGROVE: Well, you see, it's a symbolic action that brings us all together in a moment where we know climate and nature are so important, because nature and our climate are our life support system. But that really is in crisis.

As you said the IPCC report published on Monday shows just how difficult it's going to be to keep 1.5 degrees in reach because our climate is heating up and that's producing more and more extreme weather.

We've also lost 69 percent of our wildlife populations in the last 50 years. So it's a symbolic action. But it's an action that's incredibly important because, together, we can show that individual actions plus the actions, really importantly of government and business, can make a difference to the survival of the human species if you like.

HARRAK: And Kate, when it comes to the climate crisis, is the situation a lot worse than people actually imagine?

NORGROVE: It is a really, really difficult situation. As I said, you know, our climate and our nature is a life support system for us. And without it with these increasing temperatures and increasing extreme weathers, there are millions of people already being infected -- affected -- sorry -- by the crisis.

But there is hope. You've just got to look at the millions of people saying, in this hour tonight, that we care. We care about the planet. We care about what we should do about it and we're making small changes in our own lives that, all added up, could make a real difference and can also show governments and business that we all really care.

HARRAK: It can feel very daunting. I mean, you referenced the U.N. climate report that was released recently, which had the U.N. secretary general describing it as a clarion call. And it had this shocking warning, that we've reached a tipping point. I mean, we're running out of time to curb catastrophic global warming.

So in terms of Earth Hour the symbolism, obviously, very important.


HARRAK: But what can it do to make people more mindful going forward?

NORGROVE: Yes, and it is scary sometimes. But everyone could play a small part. And all added together, it does make a difference. So we do still have time to tackle climate change. It's not -- it's a crisis. But together we can do something.

So for example, I eat more sustainably. I eat a little bit less meat every week. I leave my flowers in my tiny little box garden in London to grow a little bit wilder. I look at where my pension is invested. I might walk more, drive less and, importantly, I'm using my voice where I can.

I'm talking to my family. I'm talking to my friends about what I've learned. We're having conversations about the small things that we can do and what we want our government and the businesses and the places we consume from to do as well.

All of that can really add up and make a difference. And it's important to know that millions of people that doing it at the same time as you, it makes you feel good; 8:30 pm tonight, Earth Hour, we really want as many people as possible to join us and to bank those hours to tell us what you've been doing, bank those hours on the WWF -- our website.

HARRAK: All right, turn off your lights for one hour, this Saturday, 8:30 local, wherever you are. Thank you so much, Kate, greatly appreciate you.

NORGROVE: Thank you very much.

HARRAK: Now Gwyneth Paltrow takes a stand in Utah. But this isn't a movie. Just ahead. The real life trial that has the actress defending herself in court.





HARRAK: Rescue efforts are underway after an explosion at a candy factory in Pennsylvania killed two people and injured at least eight others. It happened Friday afternoon at the R.M. Palmer Company in West Reading outside Philadelphia. Police say the cause of the explosion is still under investigation but the building was leveled.

After a three day strike labor strike, I should say, the Los Angeles Unified School District has reached a deal with a local union, the school district agreed to a 7 percent ongoing wage increase effective this July 1st while hourly employees will get a extra $2 an hour next year.

And the minimum wage will be raised to $22.52. Los Angeles Unified is the second largest school district in the United States.

Oscar winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow testified Friday in a Utah courtroom. She's accused of crashing into another skier at a resort seven years ago, leaving him with serious injuries. Here's CNN's Veronica Miracle with the latest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon.

PALTROW: Good afternoon.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Four days into her civil trial --

PALTROW: My legal name is Gwyneth Kate Paltrow Falchuk.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Actress and entrepreneur Gwyneth Paltrow took the stand, accused of plowing into 76-year-old Terry Sanderson on a Utah ski slope in 2016.

On the stand, Paltrow claimed she was the victim.

PALTROW: I was skiing and looking downhill as you do. And I was skied directly into by Mr. Sanderson. And your 9-year-old son, you will admit, was on your left and up a bit to my recollection.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Sanderson claims Paltrow was distracted by her children and ran into him.

PALTROW: I was skiing and two skis came between my skis, forcing my legs apart. And then there was a body pressing against me and there was a very strange grunting noise. So my brain was trying to make sense of what was happening.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was still on the ground, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you said, what are you doing?



Like why did you do that?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he said, "I think you skied into me."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that's when you were furious and said, "You skied directly into my effing back. At the top of your lungs."

PALTROW: Yes, I did.


PALTROW: I apologize for my bad language. MIRACLE (voice-over): Before the 50 year old star took the stand --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was like a day and night as far as before and after the accident.

MIRACLE (voice-over): -- Plaintiff's attorneys claim Sanderson broke four ribs, suffered brain damage and was vibrant (ph) before the collision. But after his brain deteriorated. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is not my dad. This is an alternate version

of my dad.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Sanderson's daughter recalled angry outbursts after the collision, like when he lashed out at his granddaughter while struggling to close the van door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is just so belittled and made to feel like she's stupid. And my just -- but this didn't have to happen if he just listened to her.

MIRACLE (voice-over): The defense, claiming Sanderson's prior medical issues, including a stroke like event, could have been a factor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you agree that he adjusted his scheme to the right side of the slope because of his in the -- because of his vision issues?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that was typical. He would. Yes.

MIRACLE (voice-over): The only witness who testified to seeing the collision, a friend of the plaintiff, said Paltrow was to blame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She hits him right directly in the back.

MIRACLE (voice-over): Paltrow said on the stand he got it wrong.

PALTROW: I did not believe his testimony.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe that he saw the collision?

PALTROW: No. I don't believe that he saw what he thinks he saw.

MIRACLE: Sanderson is suing Paltrow for more than $300,000 in damages. Paltrow is countersuing for a symbolic $1 and attorney's fees -- Veronica Miracle, CNN, Park City, Utah.



HARRAK: And finally this hour, it's not as bad as it sounds but a so- called "city killer" asteroid is heading our way. According to a tweet by NASA, a newly discovered asteroid will pass by Earth on Saturday. It will be about 100,000 miles away.

NASA says that while close approaches are a regular occurrence, one this big only happens about once a decade. While some of us might go hiding under our bed, NASA calls it a, quote, "unique opportunity for science."

The asteroid is expected to fly by harmlessly between Earth and the moon.

And that wraps up this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Laila Harrak. Kim Brunhuber picks up our coverage after a quick break. Do stay with us.