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U.S. Senate follows House suit in the passing of Debt Ceiling Bill; A Woman and a Child among Casualties of the Latest Kyiv Attack; Fast Food Joint in Kyiv Went Viral Online; President Biden is Fine after His Fall at the Graduation Ceremony; Pride Events in Florida to Scale Down or Call Off Due to the Governor's New Law; Nuggets Draw First Blood at the NBA Finals. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 02, 2023 - 03:30   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR: And a warm welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton.

Ahead here on "CNN Newsroom." The deal to suspend the United States debt limit passes the Senate, putting an end to the drama over whether the U.S. would default for the first time in history.

Donald Trump says he doesn't know anything about a report on his handling of classified documents. More fallout from CNN's exclusive story on an audio recording of Trump that's now in the hands of federal prosecutors.

And this mundane video of a Friday night in Kyiv goes viral sparking a massive debate about Russia's war on Ukraine. We'll talk with the person who shot it and find out what it really shows.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Paula Newton.

The White House has announced that U.S. President Joe Biden will make his first Oval Office address to the nation on Friday evening. He's expected to speak about the debt limit bill that just cleared the U.S. Senate late Thursday. That crucial vote ensured the U.S. won't risk defaulting on its obligations anytime soon. But it was in fact a touch and go, the negotiation during all of these weeks, and it was hardball leading up to the very last moment.

CNN's Melanie Zanona has our details.


MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, after weeks of intense negotiations and with just days to go before the default deadline, Congress has averted an economic disaster. The Senate on Thursday night passed a bill that would raise the debt ceiling until 2025 and also limit future spending. And the final vote tally in the Senate was 63 to 36. They needed 60 Republicans and Democrats to come together to pass this bill. And they did. Take a listen to Chuck Schumer talking about this bill after the vote.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Default was the giant sword hanging over America's head. But because of the good work of President Biden, as well as Democrats in the House and Democrats in the Senate, we are not defaulting.

Democrats said from the start, we must take default off the table. For a long time Republicans, many Republicans in the House resisted. House Republicans were ready to take default hostage in order to pass a radical, hard-right agenda that never could have passed with the American people. So tonight's outcome is very welcome news for our economy and for American families.

ZANONA: And the bill now heads to President Biden's desk for his signature. But it was not always an easy road to get here. First of all, they had to hammer out the deal, which took weeks. Usually they try to do these things in a matter of months. It was a very complicated fiscal agreement. There were blowups. There were points where it looked like it was gonna go completely off the rails.

And then the other half of the battle is that they had to sell this deal to their members and there was opposition from both Republicans and Democrats. Democrats don't like the stricter work requirements for food stamp recipients, they don't like some of the energy permitting reforms, and Republicans thought the bill does not go far enough to cut spending. They also don't like that it's gonna hike the debt ceiling for two years until after the next presidential election, but ultimately a coalition of members came together in the middle to get this done and avoid what would have been the first ever default.

Melanie Zanona, CNN, Capitol Hill.


NEWTON: So I spoke last hour with CNN's senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein, and I asked him what this deal tells us about the state of American politics, and perhaps more importantly, the political battles to come. Listen.


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: The mismatch between the ends and the means, the means, you know, precipitating potentially a global financial catastrophe to get a small change in one-sixth of the federal budget, which is domestic discretionary spending.

That's all that we were talking about, to get changes in work requirements that essentially have no impact on the budget and some minor changes in permitting. It was all kind of crazy that it came to this, but it is at least somewhat reassuring that there was enough kind of critical mass in the center to prevent the U.S. from going off the cliff in an unprecedented way.

NEWTON: Yeah, and I take your point that perhaps the bar has been set much lower these days. I'm all passes for a huge victory in D. C. Okay, Ron, I'm going to ask you to choose though now because I know you have said that both Speaker McCarthy and President Biden, you know, can both count this as a win. But really, politically, will it help one more than the other, do you think right now?


BROWNSTEIN: No, I mean, I think it helps Biden probably in the sense that the alternative would have been potentially very risky to him. Obviously, you know, you could look at polling and where people might or might not say that Republicans were more to blame. But he's the president.

And if the domestic and global economy collapse into catastrophe, you know, there's no way he walks out of that blast radius. I mean, it affects him. So I think avoiding that was worth it to Biden to essentially renounce what he had originally set out, which is that he was not going to negotiate around the debt ceiling.

And Paula, I think it was a very revealing kind of measure of the way Biden has approached this presidency. He has criticized Republicans, he's called out the MAGA faction and so forth. But in the end, he chooses to try to make the system work rather than going to war against the other side on the grounds that it is, you know, pursuing a radical agenda.

He was very measured throughout this whole process. And that did allow him to bring this into shore with relatively minor concessions to Republicans, certainly not many more concessions that he would have to make in the budget process anyway later this year.


NEWTON: Thanks to Ron Brownstein there.

Now, Donald Trump says he doesn't know anything about a new report on his handling of classified documents. CNN has learned federal prosecutors have an audio recording of the former president talking about a classified plan to invade Iran.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, you know, everything I did was right. We have the Presidential Records Act, which I abided by 100 percent. It's a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time. It's a hoax. And it has to do --


-- and it has to do more than anything else with trying to interfere with the election.


NEWTON: More now from CNN's senior legal affairs correspondent, Paula Reid. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA REID, CNN SR. LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former president Donald Trump today campaigning in Iowa, refusing to take questions on the bombshell revelation he was recorded discussing classified information.

REPORTER: Mr. President, why didn't you take classified documents?

REID (voice-over): But continued to claim he's a victim of federal investigators.

TRUMP: I'm a victim of it. They've come after me. They've come after me on many things.

REID (voice-over): This after CNN's exclusive reporting that prosecutors now have an audio recording of Trump talking about a classified plan to invade Iran while he was at his Bedminster golf club months after he left the White House.

Among those attending the meeting, several Trump aides and two people working on an autobiography for former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. None of them had security clearances.

During this time, Trump had aides record his conversation with journalists and writers.

TRUMP: They become automatically declassified when I took them.

REID (voice-over): Trump, under investigation for his handling of national security secrets, has previously insisted that he declassified any sensitive material in his possession.

TRUMP: If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying it's declassified, even by thinking about it.

REID (voice-over): But sources tell CNN, on this recording Trump claims to still be in possession of a Pentagon document, suggests he would like to share it, and then acknowledges the limits of his ability to declassify it.

All of this undercutting his own defense. Asked if he had ever shared any information at CNN's town hall.

TRUMP: Not really. I would have the right to. By the way, they were declassified after...

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN TOWN HALL HOST: What do you mean, not really?

TRUMP: Not that I can think of. Let me just tell you I have the absolute right to do whatever I want with them.

REID (voice-over): The summer 2021 recording comes out of Trump's New Jersey golf club. It's now the second confirmed state where he has had classified information after the FBI walked out of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida with boxes of top secret documents.

The Trump campaign saying, the DOJ's continued interference in the presidential election is shameful and this meritless investigation should cease wasting the American taxpayers' money on Democrat political objectives.

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: When we searched Bedminster, there were no classified documents or marked documents there.

REID (voice-over): Former Trump lawyer Tim Parlatore, who left Trump's legal team in recent weeks, says the classification status of the document Trump is heard talking about is irrelevant based on the laws that are cited in the search warrant that was executed in summer 2022.

PARLATORE: Really, what DOJ is investigating, is willful retention of national defense information. Whether it's classified or declassified is not an element of that offense.

REID (on-camera): Former President Trump's lawyers have asked for a meeting with Attorney General Merrick Garland to express their concerns about the special counsel's investigation.


One of Trump's attorneys tells CNN there have been some communications between DOJ and the Trump legal team about the possibility of this meeting, but the fact that there is this recording in the hands of investigators really undercuts their key concern, which is an allegation that this is just a politically motivated investigation.

But if they do get this meeting with the attorney general or some other Justice Department official, they will clearly have much to discuss.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


NEWTON; Bill Cosby, the man once known as America's Dad, faces a new sexual assault lawsuit. Former Playboy model Victoria Valentino filed a civil suit Thursday accusing Cosby of drugging and raping her more than five decades ago.

Now, in a statement through her lawyer, Valentino said, quote, "the trauma he inflicted upon me affects not only me, but my children and grandchildren, by breaking my silence and speaking my truth. I hope this serves as my legacy to my family and shows those survivors who have yet to find their voices that hope and healing are possible."

Now, 85-year-old Cosby is no stranger to these type of accusations. He was found guilty of sexual assault in 2018, but that conviction was later overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

As for this latest lawsuit, Cosby's publicist said Victoria Valentino has skirted from town to town promoting her alleged allegations against Mr. Cosby to anyone that would give her a platform without any proof or facts. What graveyard can Mr. Cosby visit in order to dig up potential witnesses to testify on his behalf?

Still ahead for us, outrage in Ukraine's capital. A mother and her young daughter locked out of a bomb shelter, killed then by missile debris.

Plus, two more people were found alive after this apartment building collapsed in Iowa. Now we're learning new details about repair work in the days leading up to that incident.




NEWTON: Ukraine's capital is once again bearing the brunt of Russian attacks. Residents took shelter in underground subway stations as air raid sirens rang out.

Kyiv's military administrator reports the city's air defenses brought down 30 missiles and drones early today. Two people were injured. On Thursday, three people, including a nine-year-old girl and her mother, were killed by missile debris. Now they were trying to get into a bunker that for some reason was actually locked.

Meantime, the Governor of Russia's Belgorod region claims Ukraine has carried out dozens of artillery and mortar strikes over the past day. Twelve people there were wounded, but no one was killed.

And a new assessment from Ukraine's armed forces claims Russia has lost more than 200,000 troops since the start of the invasion last February.

For more on all of this, we want to go live now to London and CNN's Salma Abdelaziz. You know, I have to remind you, obviously the last few hours in Kyiv, no different from the last six days, right? Officials say as many as 30 missiles and drones. They took dead aim at the capital. All shot down, but what more are we learning about these incidents?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, another horrifying night for the residents of Kyiv, Paula, the sixth wave of attacks, as you mentioned, in just as many days. Officials saying that, yes, 30 missiles and drones were shot down by Ukraine's air defense systems, but there are injuries. We do have images to show you that just came in of the destruction, the damage.

We understand that an 11-year-old child was wounded today in these attacks, and a 68-year old man, rather, is now hospitalized. This comes after yesterday an avoidable tragedy took place according to Ukrainian officials. As you mentioned, three people killed while they quite literally were banging on the door of a bomb shelter in the Capitol trying to get inside. One of them, a nine-year-old girl and her mother, another a 30-year-old woman again. Just take a listen to what President Zelenskyy said in his nightly

address. He said he's going to hold officials accountable for this. Take a listen.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): But protecting people means protecting at all levels. Shelters must be accessible. A situation like this at night in Kyiv, when people came to the shelter and the shelter was closed, should never happen again. This is the duty of local representatives, a very specific duty, to ensure the availability and accessibility of shelters 24 hours. It is painful to see the careless attitude towards this duty.


ABDELAZIZ: Now, one official describing the fact that these bomb shelters were closed, that this bomb shelter rather was closed as a crime.

The mayor of Kyiv, Vitaly Klitschko, has said that police will now be required to patrol all bomb shelters to ensure that they're open in the overnight hours to avoid another incident like this. It's important to note here in the wider context, Paula, that there is a bit of back -- of backlash here in Kyiv. There is an expectation that it's a relatively safe place when you speak about Ukraine. Many of the residents there are actually people displaced from other parts of the country finding security or hoping to find security in the capital.

Now this last week, this illusion of safety has absolutely been shattered. That's going to be shocking for the families there.

NEWTON: And given everything they've already been through for months and months. So Salma Abdelaziz for us in London, I appreciate that update.

And we're now joined by Tymofiy Mylovanov, he's the president of the Kyiv School of Economics and he is coming to us right now from Kyiv. It's very nice to see you and we want to try and get the measure of what it's been like the last few nights, especially as Russia continues its assault. I mean, could you ever imagine that you and your fellow citizens would be under this kind of siege, now almost a year and a half after this invasion began?


TYMOFIY MYLOVANOV, PRESIDENT, KYIV SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Yeah, when the war started, we all hoped that it would end fast. But several months into the war, you know, I think too many of us came to a realization that it might go on forever. And we know how brutal Russia is, especially after the early revelation in Bucha and Berdyanka.

So I'm not surprised they're trying to target civilians with missiles. But let me tell you, this last month was really, really difficult. I think everyone cannot sleep, everyone is traumatized. We have been through maybe 18, 19 attacks in the last 30, 32 days. This is brutal. Every night I expect to be awake at 3 a.m. being

afraid of missiles.

NEWTON: Yeah. And I can imagine when you're dealing with all of that after so many months. And then, some people are in their home with young children, with elderly, with disabled people. It must just strike terror in so many people night after night after night.

MYLOVANOV: It strikes maybe not terror, but fear, fear for the loved ones, and then anger at Russia.

NEWTON: Now you argue that Ukraine needs to prosecute this war itself, defend itself, but you know, kind of are saying in a way, and you have been for months now, that Ukraine cannot submit to this state of war. For one thing, you've been advocating that the rebuilding should actually start now. Why? I mean, and you can understand the reluctance, right, of international partners who are saying, you know, especially under the barrage that you've had the last few weeks, this is not a good time to think about rebuilding the country.

MYLOVANOV: Well, that's because when people are far from the situation itself, they tend to simplify, they simply don't have enough context, enough visuals, enough emotions.

For them, it's a war and then there will be the end of the war and then we will rebuild. But on the ground is something very different. You have a clinic -- clinic has been destroyed, people have to continue to get care. For example, cancer patients have to get treatment, otherwise they will die. People with heart attacks have to get treatment and brought to the hospitals quickly in time to be safe. So we need those facilities now.

When we talk about recovery during the war, we're actually not talking about rebuilding some kind of grand vision of the future of Ukraine during the war, but we are talking about maintaining the economy, maintaining the resilience, providing people with services that they need right now.

NEWTON: You know, one of the ways that you've been communicating with other people in Ukraine, but mostly the world, are your Twitter feeds. And you always give such an intimate view of your life there during wartime. I want to talk about what you posted recently, because it took many by surprise. You know, it was just video, phone video of a normal day at the McDonald's. You can see it there. You're walking with the phone. Ten million people viewed it. What do you make of the reaction that you got from this?

MYLOVANOV: The reaction, Paula, was polarizing. Some people said, listen, this is great. Ukraine is resilient. This is another example that they are like us. They continue to go about their lives as normal, and we have to support them. We stand with Ukraine. But others said, listen, guys, it looks like completely normal. There is no war. War is a fake. Don't send us our taxpayers' money to it.

And I engaged with some of these people on Twitter, and some of them are very, very anti-Ukrainian and pro-Russian people, and we talked privately and publicly.

And I think they sort of slowly start coming about because their impression is that when there is a war, that must be that everything is destroyed and people are in shelters all the time. But that's not how it is.

When the attack stops, Kyiv comes out to war or any city in Ukraine, any village, almost immediately. I think it's our point. We're trying to make this clear that we will continue to war, we will continue to live. And this is our answer as civilians to the Russian terror. And I think it's sometimes difficult to understand from afar, but I'm glad that some of my tweets make this discussion public.

NEWTON: Yeah, going to McDonald's, getting ice cream, sitting on some of those patios in Ukraine, its very own form of resistance during this conflict. Tymofiy, thanks so much. Really appreciate you being with us and we'll continue to check in with you.

Now, the entirely preventable financial disaster threatening the U.S. has finally been averted. A deal to suspend the debt ceiling is in place. We'll explain next steps.

Plus, what the White House is saying about President Biden's trip and fall. See it there at the Air Force Academy commencement exercises. Stay with us. We'll have more on that.



NEWTON: And welcome back to our viewers here in the United States, Canada and all around the world. I'm Paula Newton and you are watching "CNN Newsroom."

The U.S. Senate Majority Leader called default the giant sword hanging over America's head. And yes, the sword has now been removed. That's after the Senate followed the House the whole -- the House's lead, pardon me, and passed a bipartisan bill to suspend the U.S. borrowing limit until 2025.


It means the country will not run out of money next week and default on tens of trillions of dollars in debt.

The final Senate vote was 63 in favor, 36 against. The bill now heads to the U.S. president to be signed into law. Now later today, Joe Biden will address the nation about this close call and what it took to avert default.

Now, the White House says President Joe Biden is just fine after he tripped and fell at the Air Force Academy Thursday. The president was returning to his seat after delivering the commencement address in Colorado when he stumbled over a sandbag on the stage.

CNN's Phil Mattingly picks up our story from there. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: For several hours on Thursday, President Biden's address and efforts at the Air Force Academy commencement address were very much like what has been tradition over the course of several presidencies, several administrations. The president attending a service academy commencement, giving those remarks and then standing oftentimes for hours to hand diplomas, shake hands, and salute every single cadet that is in the graduating class.

The president, President Biden, was no different. For more than 95 minutes, standing there and handing out every single diploma, exchanging salutes and shaking hands. Everything was normal until the president finished. The very last cadet, receiving his diploma, the president turning around to walk back to his seat and tripping over a sandbag.

Now you can see in the video itself the president pointing to the sandbag that was not necessarily in the most opportune spot to some degree. And White House officials very quickly taking to Twitter, making clear to reporters that the president was OK. The president himself, upon returning to the White House, well, he added a little levity to the matter.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I got Sandbagged!

MATTINGLY: And as you just saw there, and White House officials have continued to repeat throughout the course of the night. The president is fine, no ill effects of that fall. Obviously walked on his own volition back to his seat, participated in the end of the ceremony, and then traveled back to Washington.

The real focus for the president and this White House, watching the Senate vote, the final votes on the debt ceiling agreement, taking a major, major high stakes and potentially economically catastrophic threat off of his plate.

That, White House officials say, is what the president was really focused on on the way back to Washington, D.C., not the fall, but at least took some time to have a little fun with it in front of reporters before he walked into the White House.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, The White House.


NEWTON: June marks Pride Month in many parts of the world, and it's a time dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ community. But in Florida, some events are being scaled back or canceled altogether because of a new state law targeting drag performances.

CNN's Victor Blackwell reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pride across Florida will be noticeably less colorful this year. Festival organizers are making significant changes or canceling altogether some LGBTQ plus celebrations. They fear potential consequences from Governor Ron DeSantis' new law that many believe targets public drag performances, a mainstay of Pride events.

UNKNOWN: Welcome, welcome to St. Cloud's first Pride event.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): Kristina Bozanich, coordinator of Pride in St. Cloud, canceled the Orlando area event that was planned to include drag performers.

According to the new law signed by DeSantis just weeks ago, local governments are banned from issuing public permits for events that include some adult live performances. Venues risk steep fines and losing licensing if a child is present, knowingly admitting a child would be a first degree misdemeanor.

BOZANICH: Once the bill was signed, I said we can restructure the event. We'll make sure it's only 18 and up for that portion. They went and talked with all the performers and came back to me and said, we're really sorry, but we just don't feel safe.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Organizers in Port St. Lucie canceled its annual Pride Parade. They reached an agreement with the city to host a slimmed-down festival. Drag performers were welcome, but anyone under 21 was not.

STEPHANIE PEYMAN, STUDENT: I was in the closet for so many years and I still face hatred and oppression and I can't even go to my own Pride Fest.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): Kissimmee Pride is on, but drag indoors only.

STEPHANIE BECHARA, COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS MANAGER, CITY OF KISSIMMEE: For example, Drag Bingo will be taking place inside of our civic center. And it will be an event where we will be requiring IDs, And we're also asking folks to go ahead and pre-register online to participate.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): John Paonessa's Orlando restaurant, Hamburger Mary's, hosts drag shows most nights. He's filed a federal lawsuit against the state. He claims he's losing business because of the new law.

DeSantis' office has not responded to a CNN request for comment on the lawsuit.

JOHN PAONESSA, OWNER, HAMBURGER MARY'S: We have a street party with a stage with performers out front during Pride. We usually get 3,000 or 4,000 people on the street watching. That's something we can't do. BLACKWELL (voice-over): At the start of a month that's in part a

celebration of visibility, some feel that the Sunshine State is shoving them back into darkness.


PAONESSA: Now, with the governor stepping in and the legislation that's going through it, we're moving back in time and it's unfortunate for us and everybody else in the state because what they're doing, it's heartbreaking.

BLACKWELL (on-camera): And these are the beginnings of Gay Days here in central Florida. More than 150,000 people are expected to come here from around the world to celebrate Pride. They'll be at the major theme parks wearing red shirts to be seen.

In a statement from the CEO of Gay Days, he says that they are working with their hotels and different venues to make sure that they don't run afoul of the new law. However, according to their website, There is a drag queen bingo event that is advertised as open to all ages. So we'll see how they navigate that. They've also invited Governor DeSantis to the event. It's unlikely he will attend.

Victor Blackwell CNN, Orlando.


NEWTON; Still ahead for us, panic buying in Nigeria. The country's new leader made a comment during his inauguration speech that triggered a rush to the pump. What he said, when we return.




NEWTON: The Nigerian government is clarifying its plans to end fuel subsidies after a seemingly off-the-cuff remark from the new president, actually triggered panic buying at the pump and prices nearly tripled. Now, during his inauguration speech, the president declared the critical fuel subsidy gone. Now, his office says it will end by the end of this month.

CNN's Stephanie Busari joins me now from Lagos. This obviously would have caused panic. You could say with confidence that this would have been a controversial move. But why did the government or I should say the president himself decide to basically say these words as opposed to understanding that look, this is going to have to be phased out in order to really avoid that panic?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN AFRICA SENIOR EDITOR: Good morning Paula. So there's a few things here.

It was an ad-lib moment from the president during this inauguration speech because we saw the actual version that he was supposed to deliver and those words were not there.

But what he was actually trying to say is that the previous administration had not left anything in the budget beyond the end of June for him to carry on providing for the fuel subsidy.

Now, that got lost in translation and I don't think he could have imagined the shockwaves that his words caused.

And it was an immediate ripple effect, Paula, because people started flocking to petrol stations because they knew the prices were going to rise.

And at one point, petrol stations themselves, sensing a bigger payday ahead, stopped selling altogether. So now we have long lines in the country, transport fares have spiked, and people are really worried that they can't afford everyday essentials.

Now the country's largest trade union has said they promised a showdown with the government over this and said quote that the government is bringing quote "tears and sorrows not hope to Nigerians." We've been speaking to people on the streets of Lagos, take a listen to what they have to say.


UNKNOWN: If we were given time before they fully remove the subsidy it would have helped us in a way because I believe the government is heading towards the right direction the only difference is the manner in which they told us the subsidy was removed.

UNKNOWN: Subsidy removal is a good thing. Anyway, assuming our leaders are being proactive in everything. What I mean by proactive, setting things in place, you understand, that will ease this suffering.


BUSARI: So as you heard there, Paula, a lot of people here have a better understanding of what subsidy means. They know in most cases that it's unsustainable. It's costing the government nearly $900 million every single month, and they can't afford it.

Nigeria has debts of over $100 billion, and they're borrowing essentially to keep these subsidies going, so many people understand that, but they don't understand why it couldn't be more consultative, could be in a more measured manner, the announcement, the way it was made. And some actually felt it lacked empathy at. Paula.

NEWTON: And clearly, as you've shown us, caused a lot of chaos, which is not good for the economy in any measure. Stephanie, really good to have you on the story. I appreciate it.

Now CNN joins divers and researchers in the Red Sea as an entire species practically disappears overnight threatening the balance of life in its unique coral reefs. You'll want to see this story.



NEWTON: The Atlantic hurricane season started on Thursday and the experts are predicting roughly an average season. Now the National Hurricane Center forecasts five to nine hurricanes and one to four major storms and the Hurricane Research Institute at Colorado State University is calling for seven hurricanes and three major storms.

Now, officials say there's a 62 percent chance of El Nino developing in the Pacific between May and July and frequently. What that means is that the jet stream could shift south in the Atlantic and there could be increased wind shear.

While that could bring lower activity this season, the warm waters that feed these systems are running well above normal. You see it there. And as the season kicks off, a tropical depression already has formed in the Gulf of Mexico. Now, that's the good news. It's expected to dissipate in the days ahead and not be a problem.

Now one of the world's most delicate ecosystems is in danger. Scientists say the coral reefs of the Red Sea are under threat after nearly all the black sea urchins died off in just a matter of days.

CNN's Hadas Gold has that story.



HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pristine waters of the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, reefs teeming with colorful fish.

But something is missing, and it's threatening this entire ecosystem.

In a very short time, we experienced a massive catastrophe of, well, talking about losing a species. It used to live there forever.

GOLD (voice-over): In January, black sea urchins here started dying en masse. Within days, entire populations of thousands were getting sick and literally disappearing.

OMRI BRONSTEIN, FACULTY OF LIFE SCIENCE, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY: We've never seen any fluctuations on that magnitude. And now to say that sea urchins were completely gone. That whatever is killing them is still defined as a waterborne pathogen. We know that it is transmitted through the water. You don't need direct contact. That it takes 48 hours for an individual to go from a live, healthy individual to basically bare skeleton.

GOLD (voice-over): Vital to keep the delicate balance of life here. These urchins consume the algae that can choke reefs already stressed by human activity, and the effects of climate change. Dr. Bronstein and his team of researchers from Tel Aviv University show us how the beauty and health of the reefs are under attack. We do not spot a single black sea urchin.

BRONSTEIN: The thought that we might be seeing something that is going to be radically changed, it is simply a very sad thought. And it is probably the most unique coral reef in the world, it is our responsibility to make sure that they will remain here for future generations.

GOLD (on-camera): This coral reef is unique in the world because of its ability to withstand high temperatures, making it more resistant to the effects of climate change. And that's why this reef is so ecologically important to the globe.

(voice-over): These tanks at the Inter-University Institute for Marine Sciences in Eilat, Israel, were once filled with the jet black urchins. Now they are covered in algae, a small-scale example of what scientists say is happening in the sea.

BRONSTEIN: Without external regulation, that the sea urchins provide, corals do not really stand a chance in this competition with algae, because the growth rate of algae is order of magnitudes higher than those of corals.

GOLD (voice-over): Only a few have survived this epidemic, like this young juvenile.

(on-camera): He seems rather lonely.

BRONSTEIN: Oh, yes, a few individuals, even when they survive, that's not enough to sustain a population.

GOLD (voice-over): A similar pathogen wiped the urchins out of the Caribbean in the 1980s and reared its head again last year. Dr. Bronstein said it's likely spread by ships and possibly helped along by climate change. And it's spreading. Researchers are using DNA technology to make a difference.

LISA MARIA SCHMIDT, RESEARCHER, TEL AVIV UNIVERSITY: So, basically, just establishing a new monitoring method, a high-throughput and noninvasive one. It's allowing us to follow processes in the water of different species.

GOLD (on-camera): So, in a way, you're trying to predict the future with what you're doing?

SCHMIDT: More or less, yes, without going through the water, yes.

GOLD (voice-over): But the time to save these Black Sea urchins is running out, Dr. Bronstein says. Governments need to move within weeks.

BRONSTEIN; And decision makers need to understand that the window of opportunity to take action is very, very narrow and it's closing rapidly. If we don't move quickly to create the broodstock populations based on the Mediterranean population, the remaining population, if we don't take extra care about what we pump into this environment, we may find ourselves in a huge problem, in a huge situation.

GOLD (on-camera): Israel shares this gulf and this problem with Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which you can see just behind me, and with which Israel has no official relations. But under the water, there are no boundaries and no politics, and international cooperation will be a key to fixing this problem.

(voice-over): These fragile reefs where everything plays its part in the cycle, desperately waiting for help.

Hadas Gold, CNN, Eilat Israel.


NEWTON: Mars is making its streaming debut. The European Space Agency is set to stream images on YouTube directly from the red planet. While it's not truly live, new images will refresh every 50 seconds, kind of good enough.

This event is in honor of the 20th anniversary of the launch of the ESA's Mars Express, which took three-dimensional images of Mars' surface. Incredible pics, huh? The stream will go live at 6.00 PM Central European Time or noon, Eastern Time Friday.


The Denver Nuggets are off to a strong start in the NBA Finals with a 104-93 win over the Miami Heat in game one. Now two-time MVP, Nikola Djokic led the home team with 27 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds and that extends, if you were wondering, his record for the most triple doubles in the NBA postseason play to nine.

Jamal Murray added 26 points for Denver. Bam Adabayo scored a team- high 26 for the Heat, but the Nuggets held Jimmy Butler to just 13 points. That's incredible.

Game two is Sunday night in Denver before the best of seven series moves on to Miami.

I am Paula Newton. I want to thank you for your company. More "CNN Newsroom" with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo in just a moment. Stay with CNN.