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Joe Biden and Congressional Leaders Meets Again to Avert Default; Report on the Trump-Russia Probe Origins was Released by Special Counsel; Russia Launches Missile Barrages over in the Ukrainian Capital; Palestine Commemorates 75 Years of Nakba or Catastrophic Displacement; Incumbent Turkish President may Remain in Power through a Run-Off; Sudanese Hospital under Attack as Conflict reaches its First Month. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 03:00   ET




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

Just ahead, debt ceiling showdown. President Biden set to meet with congressional leaders yet again in an effort to step back from the brink of default.

After years of investigating, special counsel John Durham releases his findings on the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia probe, his report and reaction to it, just ahead.

And explosions ring out across Kyiv. Russia launches a barrage of missiles from the sea, air and land. We will have a live report on that.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us. All eyes are on Washington as the U.S. government could start to run out of money within weeks unless it allows itself to borrow more. In the coming hours, President Joe Biden is set to meet with congressional leaders at the White House to try and get on the same page about raising the U.S. debt ceiling.

The President and U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy have been at odds over the matter as the nation inches closer to defaulting on trillions of dollars of debt on June 1st. And Democrats and Republican leaders have yet to find common ground.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: I appreciate the President finally willing to talk after 97 days, but there is no movement. We're only a couple weeks away. And if you look at the timeline to pass something in the House and pass something in the Senate you've got to have something done by this weekend. And we are nowhere near any of that.


CHURCH: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is warning officials the U.S. Treasury won't be able to satisfy the government's obligations come June.

Joining me now from Washington, Michael Neal is Equity Scholar and a Principal Research Associate at the Urban Institute. Appreciate you being with us.


CHURCH: So President Biden meets with House Speaker McCarthy and other congressional leaders in the coming hours as the clock ticks ever closer to the debt ceiling deadline of June 1st, when this country could default on its national debt if a compromise deal to raise that limit can't be reached soon. So what would default look like for this country? What services would stay and what would go?

NEAL: Yeah, no, that's a great question. It's certainly something that, you know, frankly hasn't really happened in our lifetime, if ever, particularly, you know, given the U.S.'s position in the global economy. And so, you know, you're thinking, you know, do we, does the country avoid -- avoid default, potentially by prioritizing their debt payments over some of the promised goods and services that they might purchase? You know, they might also prioritize, something like, Social Security, over some of the other payments.

But, you know, that largely will stave off, you know, reaching the debt ceiling for a little bit, but ultimately, default is certainly a possibility as we move closer. And so there, you know, we would expect to see higher interest rates, even tighter financial conditions that will really reverberate throughout both the U.S. economy as well as the global economy.

CHURCH: And what impact with the default on the U.S. debt means specifically for some Black American and Hispanic families, do you think?

NEAL: You know, I think it'll frankly I think it'll be disastrous. Um, granted, you know, it'll be catastrophic all around, but we're talking groups of people that have historically been more vulnerable. And so when -- when these types of events hit, you know, they're often disproportionately effective. So, you know, we're talking about groups of people that often have lower credit scores, often have fewer financial resources, often have less of the solid grounding with which to withstand or be resilient in the face of these types of shocks.

So higher interest rates naturally more difficult, more costly to borrow, tighter financial conditions, more difficult to get those wealth building assets.

[03:05:01] And frankly, even if things were to normalize, you know, we're thinking that it's possible that a recovery for these communities would be slower as well.

CHURCH: Right. And also, federal workers, recipients of federal services, consumers and minority groups would all be impacted by a default on this country's debt. Why do you think some politicians appear to be blind to this and willing to toy with the future of the most vulnerable Americans who right now might be struggling, but if this country defaults, will be plunged into dire circumstances?

NEAL: Yeah, I think -- I think the outlook for those that are most vulnerable among us is certainly one that we all need to be sensitive to and be empathetic with. And so, it is my hope that as these negotiations continue to take place, that is those communities and those people that remain top of mind.

CHURCH: And paint a picture for us if you would, of what life might look like for the most vulnerable Americans if this country does go into default.

NEAL: You know I think it's a situation where you know access to capital, access to money becomes much more difficult, the ability to pay your bills, even potentially the ability to keep your job. I mean, we know that when the unemployment rate rises, Black and Hispanic workers are much more likely to lose their job than say their white counterparts. So we're talking potentially a scenario in which destitution is very much, could very much be a reality.

CHURCH: And of course, you know, we have to look, we are midway through May. In two weeks, these leaders have to first reach a compromise deal then they have to get it through Congress. So I mean, we're already behind the eight ball, aren't we?

NEAL: Certainly, they've waited, you know, till the last minute. Certainly, there may be some budgetary maneuvers that could still happen. But you know, I think that if they do historically -- you know, we have seen that when they have found some kind of deal or some kind of compromise, you know, Congress is able to react relatively quickly. But again, it's really whether or not they're able to get to what they think is compromise.

CHURCH: Let's hope they can think outside of politics and look out for Americans here and indeed the rest of the world. Michael Neal, thank you so much for joining us. I Appreciate it.

NEAL: Thank you, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It's a report four years in the making. The special counsel appointed during the Trump administration has released his findings about the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia probe. John Durham criticized the agency and concluded the FBI should never have launched a full-blown investigation into connections between Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia. But the report failed to fulfill the former president's expectations that it would say he was the victim of a political witch-hunt. CNN's Evan Perez has all the details from Washington.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SR. U.S. JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Special counsel John Durham released his final report casting doubt about the FBI's decision to launch a full investigation into connections between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. The 300- plus page report sharply criticized the FBI and the Justice Department throughout, but does not recommend any new charges against anyone or any wholesale changes to the way politically sensitive investigations are being handled.

Well, the report falls well short of expectations that were set by former President Trump and his allies, who have long claimed that it would prove that the FBI's investigation was a political witch hunt. Nonetheless, Donald Trump claimed vindication, posting on his social media platform that it was evidence of a scam.

Durham's report finds many mistakes by the FBI, including what he calls confirmation bias. He concludes that the FBI discounted or willfully ignored material information that did not support the narrative of a collusive relationship between Trump and Russia. Republicans in Congress have already called for Durham to come up to the Capitol for a hearing to discuss more about his investigation.

Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: And last hour I spoke with Areva Martin, an attorney and legal affairs commentator about the special counsel's report on the Trump Russia probe.


AREVA MARTIN, ATTORNEY AND LEGAL AFFAIRS COMMENTATOR: It's in many ways repeating information that has already been made available to the public. It doesn't add a lot of new information. And a lot of the issues that are raised in this report about the way sensitive investigations are conducted at the Department of Justice and the FBI, a lot of changes have already been made since the time that this investigation was actually launched.


So it doesn't really add much to the public discourse. Now Donald Trump is making a lot of the report, which we expected him to do no matter what the report said. But it nowhere, it doesn't come or it doesn't rise to the level of what Trump has been touting for years, which is that this investigation was going to reveal some smoking gun evidence and possibly lead to, you know, indictments of high level people in the FBI and possibly even the Department of Justice. And some experts are saying it's really a lot to do about nothing, that it's a big nothing burger in some ways. CHURCH: Yeah. And it also appears that after four years of

examination, John Durham doesn't even recommend any new charges in his final report on the origins of the FBI's Russia probe. But your reaction to that?

MARTIN: Okay, not only Rosemary does he not recommend any new charges, he doesn't really even recommending -- recommend any substantial changes to the way that the FBI conducts its business. So he does, however, though, echo some of the conspiracy theories that Donald Trump and the MAGA crowd has been touting again for years, that somehow Hillary Clinton was behind, you know, the entire investigation, that this was all done, you know, to taint the name of Donald Trump while at the same time promoting Hillary Clinton.

But, the fact that he spent four years, that he spent $6.5 million of taxpayers' money, and the fact that there are no recommendations for charges or major changes to the FBI suggests that this wasn't a big deal. And that's probably why we didn't see Merrick Garland. He didn't make any changes. He didn't make any redactions. He just released this report. So I think it was his way of saying, maybe we can now finally put this entire investigation to bed.


CHUCH: Our thanks to attorney Areva Martin talking to us there.

Well the district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia is asking a judge to reject Donald Trump's latest effort to block her investigation. Fannie Willis is looking into the former president's efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. Trump wants evidence and the final report from a grand jury thrown out. Willis says Trump is trying to restrain a criminal investigation before any charges are filed. She plans to announce her decision on charges this summer. Trump and his supporters are accused of launching a plan to submit fake electors, and the Georgia Secretary of State recorded Trump asking him to find 11,780 votes.

A U.S. congressman says two of his staff members were injured Monday when a man struck them with a metal baseball bat. The Democratic representative Gerry Connolly told CNN that the attack happened at his district office in Northern Virginia. He says the suspect entered the building and assaulted a senior aide as well as an intern on her first day on the job. Both staff members were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Police arrested a 49-year-old man, but they have not determined a motive. Congressman Connolly says the attacker was enraged and likely suffering from mental illness.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): A man had come into our office with a metal baseball bat and asked for me, and when told that I was at an event he proceeded to attack the young intern who was at the front desk. When the noise and commotion became clear, others came running out of their offices, and he attacked my outreach director and hit her badly on the back of her head. After he was denied access to more staff members, he could hurt, he turned his fury on the office itself. He was engaged in an altercation, apparently, with the police and had to be tasered, and one of the police had a minor injury in the course of trying to subdue it.


CHURCH: Turning now to New Mexico, where at least three people are dead and six others wounded after a mass shooting in the city of Farmington. Officials say the gunman was also killed. According to police, the 18-year-old opened fire in a residential area Monday morning, appearing to shoot randomly at people, houses and cars. Investigators say the gunman used three different weapons, including an AR-style rifle before he was killed by police arriving on scene. Two of the officers were among those hurt. So far, police have not identified the shooter or any of the victims.

Still to come, a new air assault targets the Ukrainian capital. More on that and the fighting on the battlefield, next.



CHURCH: We are following new developments in the Ukrainian capital. Officials in Kyiv say the city was targeted by a barrage of Russian air attacks just hours ago. Meantime, on the eastern front lines, Ukraine's military says Russian airstrikes and artillery fire continue, but there's been little movement. There are also reports of heavy fighting around the battered city of Bakhmut with unsuccessful offensive actions by Russian forces.

I'm joined now by CNN's Clare Sebastian, live from London. Good morning to you, Clare. So what more are you learning about these Russian air attacks on the capital, Kiev, just a short time ago, in fact?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, happening overnight, Rosemary. It seems to be -- to have been a pretty epic night for Ukrainian air defense systems. And our teams in Kyiv, in locations across the city, say that it was extremely loud.


And that is significant because they are used to this. The head of the Kyiv city military administration saying this is the eighth overnight barrage in the month of May, so averaging pretty much every other day. The head of the Ukrainian Armed Forces himself has come out and said that this attack involved or attempted attack because he said all of the missiles were shot down but it involved, he said, 18 missiles of different types launched from sea, air and land and that this included six Kinjal missiles. These are Russian ballistic missiles, much hyped by the Russian Ministry of Defense, and the Kremlin, which Ukraine had previously said just a few months ago, that it didn't think it had anything that could intercept them.

They then reported just over a week ago that they had finally shot down one using a Patriot missile battery. U.S. officials later telling CNN that they believe that that Kinjal missile was actually targeting the Patriot battery. We don't know what the target of these Russian missiles were this time, or even if the Patriot batteries were used by Ukraine, but it certainly seems that Ukrainian air defense is getting more effective and that this will have to be factored in to Russia's calculus as it continues with this pattern of overnight barrages, particularly as Ukraine has warned that Russia is trying to wear down its air defenses ahead of a much-trailed spring or perhaps even now summer counteroffensive.

Either way, I think, look, this is a clear vindication of President Zelenskyy's ongoing campaign for Western weapons. The performance of Ukrainian air defense overnight clearly shows that they are able to use them to great effect.

CHURCH: Indeed. Clare Sebastian joining us live from London with that report. I Appreciate it.

Well, decades after Rosie the Riveter became a cultural icon symbolizing the working women of World War II, women in Ukraine are taking on similar roles, doing jobs many Ukrainian men had to abandon when they were called into military service.

CNN's Nic Robertson reports.


NICK ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice-over): In a man's world, war is changing everything. Tetiana is at the vanguard.

Shattering Ukrainian coal mining history, a woman on her way to work a thousand feet underground.

(on-camera): It's normal, it's okay now?


ROBERTSON: Yes? It's good. Is it good? Do you like it?

TETIANA: Yes, I love it.

ROBERTSON: You wanted to be a miner. Your family, your grandfather, your father was my man.

TETIANA: Yeah, yeah.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She used to work above ground, but when miners got called up to fight and martial law cleared women for dangerous jobs, she jumped at a job deep in the mine.

TETIANA (through translator): I always wanted to work here, but girls were not allowed. When many men were conscripted, the mine had to keep working. So to protect our country, the girls stepped up.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She works six-hour shifts, three days on, one day off, earns more than previously, and wants to keep her underground job when the war is over. TETIANA (through translator): My work is not physically difficult. I

like it a lot. I would like to continue working here.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): In this bastion of male-dominated tradition, that may not be so easy.

OLEKSANDR, LEAD ENGINEER (through translator): I think when the war is over and we will win, I think women will return above the ground and do women's jobs.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Yet even chief engineer Oleksandr admits, without Tatiana and many other women, the mine could not have kept going.

OLEKSANDR (through translator): Around 700 of our miners got called up to fight. Our women wanted to help both the mine and the country. So far, 46 women are working under the ground now.

ROBERTSON (on-camera): There hasn't been a general mobilization of women, but plenty of traditional male-only workplaces are finding women stepping up and taking jobs that before the war would have only gone to men.

(voice-over): Maria is among them for the love of Ukraine and of her husband.

MARIA, BLACKSMITH (through translator): I knew this theory, but the practice turned out to be a little harder.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She took up his blacksmith job when he got called up to fight last year. They bought the forge together a few years earlier, invested their future in it.

MARIA (through translator): This is my husband's passion and his life's business. I decided to support him to keep his job alive while he is serving.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): She shows me a video of husband Andre working at the same anvil, pre-war, his artwork, some Game of Thrones themed, selling in the U.S. and Europe for hundreds of dollars. She is focusing on simpler stuff, ornate kebab skewers.


MARIA (through translator): I very often cry in the forge here. My husband is defending us and that is very dangerous. But this work helps me to hold on and not fall apart.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Women have been here before. Remember Rosie the Riveter, icon of women at work in World War II? She and others cracked the glass ceiling. More than a hint of Rosie and Maria, and perhaps of changes here too.

MARIA (through translator): It's tiring work, but it's interesting. I would like to do it when I feel like it, not when I have to do it.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Maria, Tetiana, two of many who bravely stepped up. No doubt more challenges ahead.

Nic Robertson, CNN, in a coal mine Eastern Ukraine.


CHURCH: Still to come, a somber anniversary for Palestinians around the world as they commemorate 75 years of forced mass displacement. We will head to Gaza for the latest.

Plus, Turkey's president is predicting victory in a runoff election later this month, but a third party candidate could play spoiler. You're watching "CNN Newsroom."




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everyone. While Israelis have celebrated 75 years of independence, Palestinians have held somber ceremonies for the same event. They call it the Nakba, or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were forced to flee their homes once Israel was founded in 1948.

Thousands of Palestinians marched in the West Bank Monday, demanding recognition of their right to return. And this year, for the first time, the U.N. officially commemorated the day at its headquarters in New York. The Nakba anniversary comes just days after fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad killed 33 Palestinians in Gaza as well as two people in Israel last week.

And for more, let's go to CNN's Ben Wedeman who joins us live from Gaza City. So Ben, what more can you tell us about this somber anniversary for Palestinians?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Rosemary, for the people of Gaza, the Nakba never really ended. Behind the headlines, there are ordinary people who continue to suffer from the catastrophe that is this conflict.


WEDEMAN (voice-over): Another father in Gaza has lost a son. As always happens here when calm returns, mourners come to pay respects for those who are killed. But 34-year-old Abdullah Hasnain wasn't killed in an Israeli airstrike. Rather shrapnel from a missile fired by Islamic Jihad from his native Gaza into Israel ripped through his chest and abdomen. Abdullah was one of around 18,000 Gazans to receive a permit to work in Israel. His father, Jibril, also working in Israel, rushed to the hospital. It was too late. Human kindness triumphed over the passions of war.

I found it made no difference to the doctors if we were Arabs or Jews, recalls Jibril. I asked them to help me with the procedures to take my son home and bury him. And they did. Abdullah leaves behind a wife, four daughters and two sons.

His children, his family, a whole family of seven people is now destitute, a relative Mohammed tells me.

These Bedouins are pious people. They prefer not to place blame. Abdullah's death, they say, was God's will. A spokesman for Islamic Jihad denied any responsibility.

A short drive away, residents survey the ruins of a large house bombed by Israeli aircraft. Inspectors from the Ministry of Public Works gather information on the destruction.

(on-camera): The neighbors say it wasn't a secret. This building belonged to somebody who was in Islamic Jihad's missile unit. The building was destroyed on Friday evening. In the process, however, all the homes in this area were severely damaged.

(voice-over): The blast shattered windows and toppled walls. The neighbors had nothing to do with missiles and don't know when or if help will arrive. Shadi's home is in shambles. He shows me all the help he's received so far, a bag of food worth a few dollars.

My house is destroyed, he shouts, a kilo of sugar and a kilo of flour. I'm going crazy. Can I fix my house with that?

It's all madness. And they never get used to it.


WEDEMAN: And the next potential flashpoint is this Thursday, when there's going to be the so-called flag march marking Jerusalem Day, when Israelis, many of them extremists, march through the old city of Jerusalem in the Palestinian areas, oftentimes resulting in clashes and whatnot. So, that's where the next trouble spot will be.

Here in Gaza, Rosemary, life is pretty much back to normal. Schools are back in session.


Life is, at least for now, resuming its regular routines. Rosemary.

CHURCH: Our Thanks to Ben Wedeman joining us from Gaza City.

Well, facing the toughest challenge yet to his 20 years in power, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is predicting victory in a crucial run-off election in less than two weeks. The longtime leader fell just short of topping the 50 percent threshold needed to win re- election outright in Sunday's vote.

The leading opposition candidate, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, is vowing to fight until the end. He represents a coalition of six political parties and is promising to move Turkey in a more secular direction if elected.

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Supporters of Recep Tayyip Erdogan took to the streets of Istanbul. First, a show of solidarity with their leader, facing the toughest election of his 20 years in office. That soon turned into a celebration.

For his diehard supporters, there is one man, one cause and one Turkey, that of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. And in the early hours of Monday morning, Erdogan doing what he does best, rallying his supporters. In the capital Ankara, their man emerged to address his voters from the balcony of his ruling party's headquarters, where he traditionally delivers his rousing victory speeches. This is no victory for the Turkish president, but certainly a win for now.

He failed to secure the 50 percent plus one vote majority to clinch a third term, but emerged with a clear lead over the main opposition candidate.

RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENT (through translator): Currently, the majority in parliament is in our people's alliance. Therefore, we do not doubt that the choice of our nation, which gave the majority in the parliament to our alliance, will be in favor of trust and stability in the presidential election.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): And the wind is behind Erdogan as Turkey now heads for a runoff. But the opposition insisting, they still can do this.

KEMAL KILICDAROGLU, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): I am here, I am here. You are here, too. I will fight until the end. I swear. And I know I will fight until the end. I am here.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): A diverse opposition, more united and more galvanized than ever, thought this time would be different. They believed they could unseat Erdogan, that they could deliver change and deliver the promise of a return to a real democracy, a promise so many in this country so desperately wanted.

In two weeks' time, Erdogan and opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu will face off again. And this man, Sinan Ogan, could be the tiebreaker.

SINAN OGAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): We have certain red lines, such as fighting against terrorism and sending refugees back. We have voiced these conditions before.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Ogan's 5 percent of the electorate is a combination of disenchanted nationalists and protest votes of those who didn't like the opposition's choice of candidate, but irked enough about Erdogan to deny him their support, at least in the first round.

No election in this country's history has meant more for this divided nation, where the two competing visions of Turkey are locked in a duel. And it will be the Turkish people who will ultimately decide which leader and which vision will prevail.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


CHURCH: Still to come, as the humanitarian crisis worsens in Sudan, even a hospital has come under attack. We'll have a report on that.




CHURCH: As the war in Sudan grinds on, a hospital in the capital city has come under attack. CNN has geolocated videos that appear to show the damage at Khartoum's East Nile Hospital. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces say the Sudanese military hit the facility with airstrikes. It's unclear how many people have been injured or killed.

CNN's Larry Madowo has more on the fighting and why no one's been able to stop it.


LARRY MADOWO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The attack on the East Nile Hospital in the Sudanese capital Khartoum underscores the futility of all the attempts so far at a ceasefire.

The Rapid Support Forces, this is a powerful paramilitary group that's been in conflict with the Sudanese army, claims that this attack caused significant damage to the building. It posted a video showing some of that damage. But the Sudanese army said that it did target a location where the Rapid Support Forces have been keeping their weapons, ammunition, and even fuel. And it dealt a decisive blow to it.

The Sudanese army is accusing the Rapid Support Forces of occupying this hospital from the beginning of the conflict in violation of international law. What is the truth here? It's hard to tell because with every incident since this conflict began there's been blames and counter blames, accusations and counter accusations and it is really difficult to tell who's telling the truth here.

But zoom out here, the timing of this airstrike on the hospital is also significant because it marked 30 continuous days of fighting in Khartoum with no end in sight. This just keeps continuing. Even though the U.N. says now at least 676 people have been killed, about 930,000 people have been displaced including 200,000 that have crossed over into neighboring countries like Chad and Egypt and South Sudan and Eritrea.


But there's been an attempt to bring these two warring parties together. On Friday they signed a declaration of intent to protect civilian lives. It is not a ceasefire but it is the first attempt to try and negotiate what they called a 10-day ceasefire to allow for humanitarian aid to come in but this latest attack flies in the face of that because this conflict appears to just be dragging on and on and on with no end in sight and there's such great enmity that even at that signing ceremony the two representatives of the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese army didn't even shake hands. They barely looked at each other. So that is the kind of bad blood and animosity that any negotiators have to overcome.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia are leading these pre-negotiation talks, but they don't seem to be heading very far.

Larry Madowo, CNN, Nairobi.


CHURCH: Families that made it out of Khartoum to what they thought were safety in Port Sudan are now stranded there. Hundreds of people are dealing with extreme heat and inadequate shelter. Some are even sleeping in tents that they created from blankets in an attempt to escape the searing sun. One mother said they are desperate for help.


UNKNOWN (through translator): We came from war, we lost our husbands, our homes were destroyed. Even if there were peace, where are we going to live if we go back? We have children and we are unable to do anything. We came from war and we are staying here in this heat. This is not healthy for these children. We are unable to do anything and none of the entities are helping. Please help us. Humanitarian organizations, please help us. Not for us but for the sake of these children. We have pregnant and sick elderly women. We have people whose health could get worse.


CHURCH: About 200,000 Sudanese have fled to neighboring countries, and more than 700,000 have been displaced inside Sudan. All of this is causing a humanitarian crisis that could destabilize the region.

At least six people have reportedly died after a fire erupted inside a hostel in New Zealand's capital city of Wellington. Firefighters rushed to the hostel shortly after midnight local time and were able to evacuate 52 people. Five others were taken to the hospital, but authorities say dozens more remain unaccounted for. The cause of the blaze remains unknown.

Raging wildfires have forced tens of thousands of Canadians from their homes and have even affected oil production in Alberta. As of Monday afternoon, 90 fires were burning across the province. 23 of them are considered out of control. The situation is expected to worsen because almost no rain is forecast for the next 10 days. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was briefed by soldiers as he surveyed the area on Monday. Troops are being sent to the region to fight the wildfires.

Still to come, Florida's culture clash reaches a fifth grade classroom after a parent who's also a school board member complained that a teacher showed an animated Disney film with a gay character. Back with that in just a moment.




CHURCH: A fifth grade teacher in Florida says she's under investigation for showing her class an animated Disney movie featuring a character who is biracial and gay. The parent who reported her also happens to be on the local school board in a state where the governor has been on a cultural crusade against issues of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom.

CNN's Isabel Rosales has more.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First year Florida teacher Jenna Barbee is under fire for showing her fifth grade class a Disney movie, "Strange World."


Her intent, she says, was to teach the class about the environment. The film features a family of explorers banding together to navigate the world.

JENNA BARBEE, TEACHER UNDER INVESTIGATION BY FLORIDA DEPT. OF EDUCATION: So I thought that that was such a beautiful message to send to my kids along with working together, chasing your dreams, compassion.

ROSALES (voice-over): Instead, it led to the ire of a school board member, Shannon Rodriguez, also a parent of one of Barbie's students.

SHANNON RODRIGHEZ, REPORTED TEACHER TO FLORIDA DEPT. OF EDUCATION: I'm not going to stand by and allow this minority to infiltrate our schools. God did put me here.

ROSALES (voice-over): And Barbee says that triggered an investigation from the Florida Department of Education. Barbee showed CNN this letter, she says is from the state, saying, this office has determined an investigation is warranted into allegations that you engaged in inappropriate conduct.


Strange World features a gay character, and may violate Florida's Parental Rights and Education Act, signed into law last year by Governor Ron DeSantis. The controversial bill bans certain instruction about sexual orientation and gender identity in classrooms.

Fernando County Schools sent this announcement home to parents. While not the main plot of the movie, parts of the story involves a male character having and expressing feelings for another male character. In the future, this movie will not be shown.

The school district confirmed to CNN the state is investigating Barbee. Rodriguez claimed Barbie broke school policy because she did not get the specific movie approved by school administration.

RODRIGUEZ: It is not a teacher's job to impose their beliefs upon a child. Religious, sexual orientation, gender identity, any of the above.


But allowing movies such as this assist teachers in opening a door, and please hear me. They assist teachers in opening a door for conversations that have no place in our classrooms.

ROSALES (voice-over): Barbee insists she did follow the rules, telling CNN every child had a previously signed permission slip from their parent, approving for PG movies to be shown in the classroom.

BARBEE: Nobody had a process in place where individual movies got approved. Now that I have this situation happen, there's a whole process in place where you have to get every single movie approved with a letter to admins, to the parents back.

ROSALES (voice-over): Teachers who violate the Florida parental rights bill can be suspended or have their teaching licenses revoked.

BARBEE: I don't want them to terminate me right now.

ROSALES (voice-over): Isabel Rosales, CNN, Atlanta.


CHURCH: And thank you so much for spending part of your day with me. I'm Rosemary Church. CNN Newsroom continues with Max Foster, next.