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President Biden And President Zelenskyy Meet At G7; Voting Underway In Greece; Debt Limit Talks. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired May 21, 2023 - 03:00   ET




LAILA HARRAK, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from the United States and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak.

Face-to-face, U.S. President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meets in front of the cameras at the G7 summit as the U.S. announces hundreds of millions of dollars in new aid.

And voters are going to polls in the parliamentary election in Greece, but a clear winner may not emerge.

And President Biden hopes to talk with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy this morning as the clock ticks down to extend the debt limit.

G7 leaders meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, are wrapping up one of their most consequential summits in recent memory. The war in Ukraine dominated much of this year's agenda, and Ukraine's president was there to make his case in person.

For the first time since the war began, an agreement was finally reached among the U.S. and its allies to begin supplying Ukraine with advanced fighter jets. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden soon returns to Washington to deal with the debt ceiling crisis in Congress, but he and Ukraine's president did meet within the past couple of hours. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Today, I'm announcing the next tranche of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, a package that includes more ammunition, artillery, armored vehicles to bolster Ukraine's battlefield abilities. And the United States continues to help Ukraine respond, recover and rebuild. We're also supporting their pursuit of a just peace. Just one aspect of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial territory has to be nonnegotiable, it just has to happen.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Thank you for your help, leadership, for your support and really for this new package. It is creating much for our people. And I'm so happy that we have so strong relations with our people and our people during this, all these challenges. They go shoulder to shoulder. I'm very thankful to American people. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRAK: Mr. Zelenskyy has been busy with one-on-one meetings ever since he arrived, taking advantage of the rare opportunity to lobby many important leaders in one place. A short time ago, he sent out this tweet saying he presented the summit with a ten-point proposal to end Russia's aggression, declaring, we are all in it together.

CNN's Kevin Liptak joins us now from Hiroshima with more. Kevin, this arguably was President Zelenskyy's G7, a historic visit for the leader. Tell us about his bilateral meeting with U.S. President Biden.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes. Certainly, the two leaders sitting there demonstrating quite a bit of warmth and the president laying out sort of the items that Zelenskyy can walk away from this summit from the United States, including a new package of sanctions, those F-16 fighter jets that Ukrainian pilots will be trained on in the United States and this new military assistance package. We're told it's around $375 million. And President Biden said it included artillery, ammunition, and armored vehicles.

But, certainly, this is a relationship, probably one of the most important bilateral relationships in the entire world. It took quite a while for them to get to the place where they are. There was some friction early on, President Biden not necessarily thinking that Zelenskyy was grateful enough for the hundreds of billions of dollars in military aid that the United States was sending.

Of course, Zelenskyy's position has always been to ask for more, more lethal aid, more sanctions. But I think now they're in a place where they have more of an understanding, and you did see that on display today, both of them reminiscing about the president, President Biden's visit to Kyiv in February.

But President Biden is not the only leader that Zelenskyy is meeting here at the G7. He has been sort of in this parade of meetings with leaders here, not just from the G7 but some of the invited guests from the so-called global south, including India, Indonesia, countries that haven't necessarily been as forthright in their condemnation of Russia for its aggressions in Ukraine.

When we saw Zelenskyy and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting yesterday, Modi said that he would do everything in his power to end the crisis in Ukraine.


But how he does that, I think, remains to be seen.

Certainly, one of the goals of the leaders of the actual G7 was to get these so-called fence-sitters to take a side, to take Ukraine's side and sever some of the ties that they are trying to maintain with Moscow. And You heard the French president, Emmanuel Macron, said that some of these meetings could be a game changer for Zelenskyy.

So, as these leaders depart Hiroshima later today, I think there is this sense of unity around Ukraine. But the real question for these leaders is how much that can be sustained going forward as political pressures are applied on them. Whether their populations wane in their support, whether fatigue sets in, that's sort of the question that they're taking with them as they head home later. Laila?

HARRAK: Kevin Liptak reporting for you from Hiroshima, Japan, thank you so much for your continued coverage.

Well, after months of bitterly contested fighting, the Russian defense ministry and the Wagner Group of mercenaries are claiming to have captured the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. Russia's defense ministry issued a statement touting the, quote, liberation of the city. And the Kremlin released its own statement on behalf of President Vladimir Putin congratulating the Wagner Group.

While CNN cannot independently verify Russia's claims, the Ukrainian military said in its daily update that, quote, battles for the city of Bakhmut continue. But Wagner Group Cheif Yevgeny Prigozhin says his forces would hand over control of the city to the Russian military on Thursday.

CNN's Scott McLean joins us now from London. Scott, Wagner's boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claims the city has fallen to his mercenaries, but what has President Zelenskyy said about it?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Laila. As you mentioned, for the Russians, this is essentially mission accomplished. The Kremlin, the ministry of defense, Wagner all saying this. This is not the first time that Wagner has claimed to have captured the town. It was just last month that they said, or Yevgeny Prigozhin said, in legal terms, Bakhmut has been taken. The enemy is concentrated in the western districts. And at least from the Ukrainian military standpoint, that is still the case.

Yesterday, the deputy defense minister said that her forces were still controlling a very small toehold in the far western edge of the town. The operational update from the Ukrainians this morning said the battles for the city of Bakhmut are continuing. No one disputes that Wagner and the Russians have managed to take the vast majority of the city itself. The question is whether the Ukrainians control any of it at all.

And as you mentioned, President Zelenskyy was asked about this during a bilateral sit-down with President Biden that you played some of earlier, and his answer wasn't all that definitive, but the Russians, the Russian media at least, is claiming that this is acknowledgement from the Ukrainians that they have lost the battle for Bakhmut. But we'll play the tape, and you can judge for yourself.


REPORTER: Is Bakhmut still in Ukraine's hands? The Russians say they've taken Bakhmut.

ZELENSKYY: I think, no. But you have to transcend that there is nothing. They destroyed everything, old buildings. It's a pity. It's a tragedy. But for today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts, there is nothing in this space. So, just ground and a lot of dead Russians.


MCLEAN: And, look, from Yevgeny Prigozhin's perspective, he acknowledged just how difficult this battle was. In a recorded video, he said that it lasted 224 days. He had plenty of criticism for the Russian bureaucracy, which he said only stood in his way. And he also recorded what he called a short version for T.V. where he acknowledged President Zelenskyy directly saying, without sarcasm, your guys fought bravely, fought well. He went on to say, that if you see -- when you see Biden, kiss him on the top of the head, say hello for me.

So, clearly, Bakhmut has had an outsized symbolic value in this war. It has also been extremely well fortified by the Ukrainians, which is part of the reason why even when things were not looking great for them, they held on there, which required the Russians to put a heck of a lot of manpower and resources and equipment into actually capturing the town.

And so now the question, when it comes to this Ukrainian counteroffensive, is now that the Russians perhaps don't need to put as many resources into Bakhmut, will they move their forces anywhere and does Ukraine's calculus change as a result? Laila?

HARRAK: Scott McLean reporting from London, thank you so much, Scott.

CNN Political and National Security Analyst David Sanger joins us now from Hiroshima, Japan. David, so good to have you with us.

A G7 meeting like no other. This was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's moment on the world stage.


DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: No, Laila, it was quite remarkable to see. And, in part, it was remarkable to see because of the history of Russia's own relationship with the G7. I remember as a reporter in Tokyo 30 years ago seeing Boris Yeltsin talking to Bill Clinton, invited as a guest to the G7 meeting in Tokyo in 1993. And that was the beginning of the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Russia and so forth.

Speed forward 30 years, the Russians, of course, are nowhere to be seen. They were thrown out of the -- what became the G8 after the annexation of Crimea. And here was Volodymyr Zelenskyy playing the role that Russian leaders previously had played. Sanctions were back on Russia, and the aid was going to Ukraine, pretty remarkable.

HARRAK: Pretty remarkable indeed. President Zelenskyy secured more military aid for his country. Earlier, a significant shift took place. President Biden gives the green light now to allow Ukrainian pilots to learn how to fly F-16 fighter jets. What potential questions does this raise?

SANGER: Well, I think the one big question, Laila, that comes out of the president's decision on the F-16 is the same question that came from his decision to oppose sending tanks and then agreeing to send tanks and oppose sending long-range missiles then agreeing to do it.

The president's aides say he's not indecisive in these cases. It is simply that the war changed, that initially what the Ukrainians needed were Stinger missiles to defend Kyiv, and then they needed artillery pieces to defend the south and the east, and now the F-16s may be useful for a long-term deterrent of Russia, but they probably won't actually be in the field until sometime next year.

So, they're trying to think out ahead in a situation in which this war drags on at some low level, and Ukraine needs a true deterrent to keep Kyiv from being taken again.

But the real question is, if this was considered to be so provocative to Vladimir Putin a year ago, has Putin's own willingness to go put up with American and NATO weapons changed or have we just changed our assessment of what his red line is?

HARRAK: Now, as you know, Ukraine dominated the agenda at this G7. Has President Zelenskyy's visit eclipsed the host's agenda? I mean, China did come up but did they discuss other priorities that Japan might have had?

SANGER: Well, there are a number of priorities that got discussed, and they just got very little attention here. On China, as you suggest, Laila, I think it was actually a significant bit of progress. Two years ago when the G7 met in Cornwall, it was the first time China was even mentioned in the g7 communique. This time, they actually came up with a set of principles, vague but a set of principles nonetheless, that would unify how the United States, Canada, the other G7 members all in Europe, would deal with China and Japan signed on to those as well. That's of critical importance to Japan.

There were, in addition to that, some interesting discussions about what the future of regulation of artificial intelligence might look like. I never recall an artificial intelligence discussion, or really much technology discussion at the G7 before. There's been some on cyber attacks. This was not a conclusive discussion, but it actually does set the seven countries on the way to begin thinking about some transparency measures and ultimately some regulation measures for generative A.I., what you've seen in ChatGPT.

HARRAK: David Sanger, thank you so much for joining us, always good to have your take.

SANGER: Great to be with you, Laila.

Now, in war-torn Sudan, there's a glimmer of hope for millions of civilians affected by the fighting. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces have agreed to a seven-day ceasefire. They're meeting in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and there are hopes this ceasefire will be different from earlier ones which failed because the U.S., the Saudis, and others will monitor it.

While the two sides have been fighting ever since the middle of April, reportedly killing at least 850 people, wounding thousands and displacing more than 1 million Sudanese, the U.N. estimates over 250,000 of those displaced people have fled the country.


Still ahead, voting is under way in Greece, but a clear winner is unlikely from today's parliamentary elections. We'll head to Athens for the latest.


HARRAK: These are live pictures from Greece where voting is under way for the general election. Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is seeking a second term, but opinion polls indicate his ruling conservative party will fall short of an absolute majority, setting the stage for a second vote in July.

The opposition leftist Syriza is trailing in second place. Rising prices and unemployment are key issues. And many voters say they are not hopeful that any of the parties can solve their problems.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: life, especially for young people, is very difficult, a high level of unemployment, no work prospectives, and they run out of money in the middle of the month.


HARRAK: Well, for more, let's go now to Journalist Elinda Labropoulou who joins us now live from Athens.


So good to have you with us, Linda. What are the main bread and butter issues for Greek voters?

ELINDA LABROPOULOU, JOURNALIST: Well, much like the votes that we heard before, it's the economy, the economy, the economy. It's the economy in a longer perspective, so how is the country doing generally, growth, which the government has promised, that it will deliver if it is re-elected. But it's also what people feel in their personal finances.

Greece has undergone a huge financial crisis throughout the 2010s. A lot of people have not seen the benefits of the growth that the government that is now still leading in the polls has delivered and is running on a platform of going to deliver more.

But for many people here, it seems to be that unemployment, salaries and pensions are the key things that they're looking for. The government has said that in its second bid, it's going to improve the financial status of Greece. It said, well, look at the numbers. Greece is one of the fastest economies in Europe. And the main opposition has also focused on economic policy, but also on the rule of law.

Until a year ago, the government was doing extremely well in the polls. But following a wiretapping scandal, where the government seems to be involved and the prime minister's reputation has been tarnished as a result, they have seen their ratings dropped. And this is something that the main opposition is capitalizing on and has helped boost its ratings to a point.

However, it seems that people here are not particularly enchanted by any of the main parties. And this is because these are not newcomers. These are people we have seen in power before, both the main opposition in 2015 and now the prime minister and his government in 2019 are known entities. So, for a lot of people, there seems to be a lack of hope that was there before in the last two previous elections.

HARRAK: Elinda, recently, a deadly train crash has sparked fury and nationwide demonstrations. Could the handling of that disaster affect these elections?

LABROPOULOU: It does, it absolutely does. Because what it has done is it has taken people away from the main political parties. Well, first of all, the government got the main blame for that. But then, as chronic problems started emerging, the overall political system was seen as responsible for things they had not done in the past. And this has led a lot of voters away from the main political parties. So, what we expect to see here in these elections is people partly voting for smaller parties or abstaining.

So, we're likely to head in a second election in July where Greeks know that if we do head to that, then will be the time to rally behind the two main parties. Laila?

HARRAK: Elinda Labropoulou, thank you so much for your reporting.

The death toll has risen from a crush at a soccer stadium in El Salvador. Officials now say at least 12 people were killed and about 90 others, including minors, were injured in the incident on Saturday. Well, the president of El Salvador is promising an exhaustive investigation.

CNN's Rafael Romo has more on the story. | RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It all happened at the beginning of a match between two of the most popular football teams in El Salvador, Alianza and FAS. All of a sudden, a group of fans apparently tried to force their way into Cuscatlan Stadium, the largest sports venue in the Central American country, to be able to watch the match.

Salvadoran National Police initially said three people had been killed, as they were crushed, but that death toll has increased over the several hours. Officials are calling what happened, a stampede. Salvadoran Health Minister Francisco Alabi said on Twitter that emergency teams have been deployed and the injured are being transferred to local hospitals.

Some of the images we've been getting show fans taken to the field of Cuscatlan Stadium. Other images show several bodies covered with blankets at the scene.

The rivalry between the two teams is well known and fights between their fans are not unusual, but this was an entirely different and tragic situation.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Atlanta.

HARRAK: The high-stakes summit in Japan brings big dividends to Ukraine. We'll have the latest when we return.

And New York struggles to accommodate migrants bussed from the southern border. We'll show you its new plan to try to get the recent immigrants closer to where they want to be.



HARRAK: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States, Canada and all around the world. I'm Laila Harrak and you're watching CNN Newsroom.

As the G7 Summit winds down in Hiroshima, Japan, U.S. President Joe Biden says the Pentagon will provide another $375 million military package to Ukraine. Mr. Biden made the announcement as he and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met one-on-one at the summit.

The new U.S. aid comes on the heels of an agreement by the U.S. and its allies to send advanced fighter jets to Ukraine for the first time. Mr. Biden is expected to hold a news conference in the coming hours. We'll bring that to you live when it happens.

President Zelenskyy's visit to the G7 was just the latest stop in a diplomatic mission that took him halfway around the world. CNN's Nic Robertson has our report.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Volodymyr Zelenskyy's diplomatic reach is lengthening, landing in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on his way to the G7 in Japan, appealing to Arab League leaders to reject Russia's propaganda.

ZELENSKYY: Unfortunately, there are some in the world and here among you who turn a blind eye to those cages and illegal annexations. And I'm here so that everyone can take an honest look, no matter how hard the Russians try to influence. There must still be independence.

ROBERTSON: A day later, among allies in Hiroshima, the furthest he's been from Kyiv since the war began, maximizing the diplomatic moment, meeting with leaders individually, shoring up what has been tantalizingly beyond his grasp for so long, a commitment from the U.S. and partners to get Ukrainian pilots F-16 fighter jets.

The news broke while he was still on his way.


Zelenskyy tweeting his gratitude for the historic step, saying, this will greatly enhance our army in the sky. I count on discussing this practical implementation or this decision at the G7 Summit in Hiroshima.

But the G7 not just an F-16 victory lap for Zelenskyy. On the sidelines meeting with the Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, an outreach invitee to the summit who continues to fund Putin's war by buying Russian's oil, and has yet to directly call out Russia's brutal aggression. Zelenskyy pushing Modi for more support and apparently getting it.

NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER: I want to assure you that to provide a solution to your difficulties. India and I personally will definitely do everything we can.

ROBERTSON: Back in Ukraine, less positive news, Wagner mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin claiming to have taken Bakhmut. Not surprising, given the heavy fighting and months losses the Ukrainians have endured there but they are yet to call it quits on the town.

Zelenskyy's diplomatic triumph trumping Prigozhin's propaganda.

Do you feel better if you have an F-16?

LT. COL. GIORGI KUPARASHVLI, UKRAINE'S 3RD SEPARATE ASSAULT BRIGADE: Sure. And every single soldier could say that, yes, it will change the game plan.



ROBERTSON: In what way?

KUPARASHVLI: Every way. First of all, we have air superiority.

ROBERTSON: Reality here that every soldier knows, promises count for little until the weapons are in their hands.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Eastern Ukraine.

HARRAK: U.S. President Joe Biden says he plans to talk with White House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the coming hours about the looming debt ceiling crisis. A source tells CNN McCarthy asked for the discussion after he accused the White House of moving backwards in the talks. Republican negotiators at one point walked out of the meeting with their White House counterparts, and both sides have outright rejected each other's latest offer.

But Mr. Biden isn't saying what he plans to tell McCarthy.


REPORTER: Mr. President, what will you tell Speaker McCarthy? What's your main message?

BIDEN: We'll get a chance to talk later today.

REPORTER: What's your message to him? BIDEN: I'm going to give it to him before I give it to you.


HARRAK: Well, whatever the president tells him, the urgency is rapidly increasing. The U.S. Treasury says, if Congress fails to raise America's borrowing limit, it will run out of money to pay all of the government's bills around June 1st.

Well, despite plummeting numbers of migrants making their way across the U.S. southern border, the city of New York is struggling to accommodate migrants who continue to arrive, even those who are hoping to keep moving on.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino shows us how the city is handling them when they get to New York.

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Now, I'll tell you a little bit about what we have been watching here outside of the Roosevelt Hotel all day. We have been watching as migrants arrive at this hotel. Many of them include children, young people, families who are arriving here to New York City after being bussed from the southern border.

Now, the city has set up this place as a sort of first stop for migrants. They are being brought here from the local bus terminal in hopes of connecting them to the available resources. This hotel is being set up as place where migrants can rest, they can shower, go to the bathroom, they can sleep if needed for a night or two. They are also provided food, water and medical care. And then they are connected with the services that they might need.

I want to show you what it looks like inside the hotel. You can see that they've set up different waiting areas and common areas for people to try and get on whatever journey they are trying to get on. Many of the migrants that are being sent to New York City do not intend to stay in New York City. Some of them are trying to connect with other family members or travel to other parts of the country. And the city is trying to step in and help them do just that.

But there are also some very real challenges when it comes to sheltering migrants. The city of New York has been running out of shelter space. And we watched today as a couple of migrants were removed from this location and sent to another shelter location, likely to be given a place in one of the city's local shelters while they wait to resolve their housing situation. That is certainly one of the challenges that the city is dealing with.


I spoke with one of the local advocates that has been working with migrants and with the city to try and connect them to services.


MURAD AWAWDEH, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK IMMIGRATION COALITION: New York has welcomed people for centuries from across the world, from Europe, from Asia, from Africa, the Middle East and beyond. Immigrants and refugees have built the city, have -- really are part and parcel of the social fabric and cultural fabric what we call New York, not just in the city but across the state. Immigrant communities and refugees have actually brought back communities and have been the backbone of local economies.


PAZMINO: Now, despite that reputation, that New York City has always had as being a place where migrants are always welcome, you have seen in the last several weeks that there has been some conflict with the suburbs outside of the city, particularly after Mayor Eric Adams here announced that he would be bussing some migrants out of the city in order to alleviate some of the capacity constraints that the city has been dealing with.

Other places around the city have not been as welcoming. Some have filed lawsuits in an attempt to stop the city from bussing migrants. So, it just really shows you how much tension and difficulty there has been over the last several days.

As migrants continue to arrive here in New York, despite numbers at the border being significantly down since the expiration of Title 42, we've spoken with advocates here who tell us that despite numbers at the border, migrants are continuing to arrive here in the area.

So, again, the mayor asking for federal intervention, for federal funding and asking other local lawmakers in the city to lobby the White House to get some of that federal funding.

Reporting in New York, Gloria Pazmino, CNN.

HARRAK: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to announce his bid for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination this week. But he may have a problem with Mickey Mouse. DeSantis has been battling Disney and is now embroiled in a free speech lawsuit with the company, which is Florida's largest employer. Some experts say that could leave some moderates and independent voters questioning his judgment.


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: There are more Republicans, strategists and donors, both, who were kind of questioning his judgment and the way he's positioning himself. Fighting with Disney may not be a big cost in a Republican primary, but if you're a big Republican donor who is beginning to wonder whether DeSantis has kind of the gyroscope to win back the suburbs of Milwaukee and Madison and Atlanta, a long fight with Mickey Mouse, kind of a death match with Mickey Mouse, would, I think, exacerbate those concerns.


HARRAK: Meanwhile, a leading U.S. civil rights group has issued a formal travel advisory for Florida, urging the black community to avoid visiting or moving to the state. The NAACP says Florida has become hostile to African-Americans under the leadership of Governor Ron DeSantis.

On Friday, the League of Latin American citizens urged Latinos to avoid Florida ahead of a new immigration law that goes into effect in July.

In Nebraska, the conservative legislature has voted to ban abortions at 12 weeks of pregnancy. The law known as the Let Them Grow Act would also restrict gender-affirming care for transgender people under the age of 19. It now goes to the governor's desk for signature.

CNN's Camila Bernal has details.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are waiting for the governor of Nebraska to sign this bill into law, and we expect him to do so. Now, the Let Them Grow Act has two pieces to it. The gender-affirming care part and the abortion part of it. Now, when it comes to the abortion part of it, this was an amendment, a last-minute amendment that was actually added on Wednesday.

And I do want to explain the gender-affirming care part of it first. What this bill would do is prohibit health care providers from performing gender transition surgeries for anyone under the age of 19. Now, this is actually rare when it comes to minors. The other part of the bill is that it would essentially restrict access to puberty- blocking medication or hormone treatments for anyone under the age of 19. And this is standard care.

Now, the other aspect of this bill is the abortion part. And what it would do here in Nebraska is ban abortions or most abortions at 12 weeks. There are some exceptions when it comes to sexual assault, to incest or to medical emergencies. Of course, there was a big debate over both of these issues on the floor, and I want you to listen to what some of these lawmakers had to say.


STATE SEN. MIKE JACOBSON (R-NE): We're not the bad guys. We're trying to protect young children and young adults before the age of 19, and we're trying to protect pre-born children from being brutally murdered in the womb.


SEN. GEORGE DUNGAN (D-NE): Colleagues, we should not be in the business of telling people what they can and can't do with their bodies. And we should not be in the business of stepping between doctors and patients in circumstances like this.


BERNAL: Now, there has been a lot of opposition for this bill, and a number of people were arrested on Friday.

And another thing to keep in mind here is that the abortion part of this bill would go into effect the day after the governor signs it. But the gender-affirming care part of the bill would go into effect on October 1st. Of course, we would need that signature first.

Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.

HARRAK: The U.S. Transportation Security Administration screened more than 2.6 million people at airports nationwide on Friday. That's the most since the coronavirus pandemic began. It's also a 10 percent increase from the same time last year. It could be a hint of a huge summer to come for air travel. AAA is predicting an 11 percent increase for Memorial Day weekend compared to 2019, which was before the pandemic. Major airlines say they have staffed up and are ready for the summer onslaught.

In a bold move for conservation, Ecuador is trying to convert its debt into a loan that will help save the Galapagos Islands. The details coming up.

And also an explosion caused by a device used all over the world. Coming up, the lesson fire officials hope you take away from this video.


HARRAK: The Galapagos Islands are known for their rich biodiversity and stunning wild life, but many of the species on these islands are now in need of protection.


Our Lynda Kinkade reports on how Ecuador has started a new program called a debt for nature to help fund conservation efforts.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): Darwin's flycatcher, a creature that helped inspire Darwin's theory on evolution 188 years ago, sits perched on the edge of extinction. The small bird species native to Ecuador's Galapagos Island chain is dwindling in number.

On the island of Santa Cruz, just 15 adult pairs remain, yet scientists see a glimmer of hope. In the past year, 12 new chicks were hatched, a sign that the species will live on to fight another day for now.

This tiny comeback is helping to spur efforts to protect the rich biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands. These islands are at a perilous crossroads. According to researchers, a million plants and animals worldwide are at risk of extinction from habitat destruction, rising carbon emissions and overfishing. And as climate change warms the oceans, ecosystems and the flora and fauna that depend on them are being pushed to the very brink.

As biodiversity declines worldwide, the Galapagos Islands are a litmus test. To protect this precious ecosystem, Ecuador announced a record- setting deal to convert $1.6 billion of its debt into a loan it says would channel at least $12 million a year to conserving the Galapagos. JOSE ANTONIO DAVALOS, ECUADORIAN ENVIRONMENT MINISTER: Not only will it allow us to protect 2,500 marine species of which 38 are migratory, but it will also allow us to move towards a sustainable fishery.

KINKADE: It is one of the largest debt-for-conservation swaps in history. Over the next two decades, Ecuador hopes to channel over $450 million towards protecting one of the most incredible ecosystems on the planet, a move that some say is crucial, not just for the environment, but for Ecuador's survival.

ELIZABETH SALINAS, TRADER: it seems to me that we must help maintain the flora and fauna and thus attract tourism, which is what keeps the country alive.

KINKADE: In late 2022, nearly 190 nations signed on to take measures to combat biodiversity loss, passing a U.N. agreement that pledges to preserve 30 percent of the world's land and seas by 2030, ambitious measures that conservation groups say do not go far enough.

Meanwhile, some environmentalists hope Ecuador's debt-for-conservation model gains momentum in other parts of the world, as a win-win for both economies and for conservation efforts.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


HARRAK: The London Fire Brigade is sharing alarming video to help raise awareness of the dangers of charging e-scooters. Take a look.

This video shows the moments an e-scooter exploded while charging inside a London home. You can see the smoke rise and then a spark of fire. Well, it only takes seconds before the entire kitchen area is engulfed in flames, all this from charging a lithium battery indoors.

Still ahead, the governor that also has another title, doctor. We'll tell you why that came in handy for one accident victim.



HARRAK: Once a doctor, always a doctor. The governor of Hawaii was an emergency room physician before becoming a politician. While heading to an official event Thursday, Governor Josh Green saw an overturned car. He got down on his hands and knees to help the driver, who was trapped inside his vehicle. The man was extricated, taken up the hill and put into an ambulance. Governor Green was humble about the part he played.


GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HI): Everyone really deserves credit for that more than me. It's a small state, so we jump to. But we're honored to help people. And, you know, be careful when you're out here driving because there's beautiful things to look at, and then a car flies by sometimes. But, you know, really, we welcome people to Hawaii, and this is just one of those unusual stories.


HARRAK: The condition of the driver has not been made public.

The Denver Nuggets are one win away from the franchise's first-ever trip to the NBA finals. The Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 119- 108, giving them a 3-0 game lead in the series. Jamal Murray led the team with a game high of 37 points. Anthony Davis led the Lakers with 28 points and 18 rebounds. The Nuggets could complete a four-game sweep of the series on Monday.

National Treasure won the 2023 Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday. The colt went into the second race in horse racing's Triple Crown with 3-1 odds. Pre-race favorite and Kentucky Derby winner Mage finished third, ending his attempt to win the Triple Crown, while the win made trainer Bob Baffert the winningest trainer Preakness history, the only trainer to have eight horses with a race.

The final round of the PGA championship is scheduled for Sunday. CNN's World Sport's Patrick Snell looks at who's leading and what they're saying as they head into the decisive day.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN WORLD SPORT: Brooks Koepka is a four-time Major winner, but you have to go to 2019 for the last of those triumphs when he won this tournament for a second time. A lot has happened in his life since then. He's overcome injury. And last year, he joined the controversial LIV Golf series. But now, he's eyeing up his own very special piece of history.




I think a Major Championship would mean a lot to anybody. So, yes, to win one would be fantastic. I mean, I was just told that I think only Tiger and Jack have won three. So, that would be pretty special to be on a list or a category with them. So, I just got to go out and go play good tomorrow.

VIKTOR HOVLAND, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Any chance you have to play in the final group on a Sunday in a Major, that's pretty special. But, yes, I mean, the mindset is just going to be, I play my own game, and, obviously, I want to win, but I am going to just play what I think is the right play on every single shot. And if I get beat, I get beat. But, you know, the plan is to, you know, not give it away.

COREY CONNERS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I've played solid in the last few days, so just trying to do more of the same and, you know, have some fun out there, play with freedom.

SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: Yes, for me, winning golf tournaments out here is difficult. There's a lot of talented players. I know what I need to do tomorrow. It's just a matter of going out there and executing. I feel like I've hung in there the last three days to give myself a chance going into Sunday.

RORY MCILROY, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I'd obviously like to be a couple of shots closer to the lead. But I think, again, with how I felt this week, if you had told me Thursday night I'd be going into Sunday in the top five and with a realistic chance to win at the golf tournament, I would have taken it.


SNELL: For McIlroy, a win would mean a first Major triumph in nine years since he conquered Valhalla in 2014, while for a Koepka, the chance to become the first LIV golfer ever to win a Major.

Patrick Snell, CNN, Rochester, New York.

HARRAK: I'm Laila Harrak at CNN Center in Atlanta. Paula Newton picks up our coverage after a quick break, and I'll see you tomorrow.