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Biden's First Oval Office Address; "Crisis Averted" Debt Limit Bill Reaches Biden's Desk; Fitch Ratings Warns of Potential Downgrade to U.S. Credit; Russian Border Region Under Fire; Iowa Building Collapse; Fulton County DA Wants Info from Trump-Hired Firms; Countries Agree to Draft Treaty on Plastic Waste; Freddie Mercury's Personal Items for Sale. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired June 03, 2023 - 03:00   ET




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

In the first Oval Office address of his presidency, Joe Biden hails the debt ceiling deal as an example of bipartisanship. He plans to sign the bill into law later today.

The search for survivors and answers. India reels from a deadly train crash that has taken nearly 300 lives.

And the draft of what could become the first global treaty to take on plastic pollution. We'll talk to an environmental lawyer about what it will take to make an impact.


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

HARRAK: Sometime today, U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to sign into law one of the most consequential pieces of legislation ever drafted in modern times. Just 48 hours ago, there were doubts that the highly contentious bill to suspend the nation's debt limit would even survive in Congress.

But it did, coming mere days before the U.S. risked defaulting on its debts for the first time in its history. Well, how bad would that have been?

Listen to President Biden as he addressed the nation Friday night, speaking from the Oval Office for the first time in his presidency.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our economy would have been thrown into a recession. Retirement accounts for millions of Americans would have been decimated; 8 million Americans would have lost their jobs.

A default would have destroyed our nation's credit rating, which would have made everything, from mortgages to car loans to funding for the government, much more expensive. And it would have taken years to climb out of that hole.


HARRAK: The president is framing this as a bipartisan win for the country, a theme he's sure to amplify during his re-election campaign. CNN's Phil Mattingly is at the White House and has the latest.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden, his top officials spent several weeks not really talking much at all about the high stakes, high intensity negotiations they were engaged in with House Republicans, trying to find some way to thread the needle, reach a compromise agreement to avoid potential catastrophe.

The debt ceiling debate, the debt ceiling negotiations and the eventual debt ceiling outcome, certainly when you talk to White House officials, were never exactly a sure thing.

Republicans, however, made clear throughout the process what they were working on, what their priorities were. The president and his team a little bit less so until the bill actually passed.

The bill's on its way to the White House. It's expected to be signed on Saturday. And President Biden made clear in his first Oval Office address, that he would be providing the last word, detailing what was in the negotiation, was in the final compromise agreement, why that compromise agreement was so critical.

And also starting to frame things for a moment ahead, where the threat of crisis, which had been hanging over this White House, Washington, the country, the economy for the better part of the last six months, is no longer really there.

And that an agreement, much like many of his legislative wins over the course of his first two years, underscores that his campaign promises, related to bipartisanship, to compromise, have actually come to fruition.

Take a listen.


BIDEN: I know bipartisanship is hard and unity is hard but we can never stop trying because, in moments like this one, the one we just faced, where the American economy and the world economy is at risk of collapsing, there is no other way.

No matter how tough our politics gets, we need to see each other not as adversaries but as fellow Americans.


MATTINGLY: The president, throughout the course of his remarks, detailing, again, the elements of the proposal but also where the White House was not willing to negotiate, the things White House officials negotiated to keep out of the proposal, despite the fact that they were Republican priorities.

Very much tracking with the president's long-held view that willing to compromise on policy, much less so on principles. I think this all underscores to some degree, when you talk to White House officials, the throughline over the course of the last several years, that the president believes he's actually delivered on.

And the same exact throughline that he's certainly going to focus on over the course of the next 15 months in a presidential campaign.

Obviously he has announced his campaign for re-election and, to some degree, this moment of getting the last word --


MATTINGLY (voice-over): -- was also a moment of framing the debate, framing the politics, framing his theory of the case for his re- election, one where bipartisanship and compromise was both important and, to some degree, delivered on.

One where the U.S. economy, as evidenced by the Friday jobs numbers, which came in much higher than expected, once again, showing a durable economy, show that there has been production, that there have been results.

But also one where there's now a clear path forward without a looming crisis to focus on that message and getting it out, something White House officials haven't successfully done over the course of his first 2.5 years -- Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.



HARRAK: Joining me now is Thomas Gift. He's the founding director of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London.

Thomas, great to have you with us.

What stood out for you from Biden's speech?

THOMAS GIFT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: First of all, thank you so much for having me.

A crisis averted was essentially Biden's theme. I think the line that most resonated was something to the effect that no one got everything they wanted but the American people got what they needed, which I think really attests to the fact this was a fundamentally modern bill. I think this was vintage Biden and a preview of his 2024 reelection

message, trying to carve out the political center and claiming credit both for the debt ceiling bill and his other big accomplishments, which, unlike this bill, have mostly come through down the line party votes or executive orders.

He did take veiled shots at Republicans but this wasn't the doom and gloom, attacking the ultra MAGA or Freedom Caucus. I think it was notable that he went out of his way to commend the House Speaker by name. I'm not sure that helps McCarthy with his own party. But for this venue, it was a rare degree of magnanimity that we don't often get in these amped-up partisan battles. So that really stuck out to me also.

HARRAK: They took it to the 11th hour.

So was this a case of better deal than no deal?

And do you think there might be a political price to pay down the line?

GIFT: Well, that's a great question. I think definitely better deal than no deal. And really I think the debt ceiling bill belies two narratives at once. The first is that Biden is too ineffectual and too beholden to the political left to forge legislative compromises across the aisle.

And two, McCarthy trying to secure the Speaker's gavel left him with no ability to govern. Obviously I think there will be backlash down the line. Progressives will hold a grudge against Biden. And some Freedom Caucus members might even try to call a snap vote against McCarthy, coming for his job.

But I think both of them may emerge stronger, not weaker, from the fight because they can both claim a win. That might -- might being the operative term -- give them more to push back on the ideological extremes going forward.

A lot of power of the partisan fringes comes from the perception that they can singlehandedly torpedo these bills. The fact they didn't I think proves to Biden and McCarthy essentially that they don't always have to be strong-armed by the poles of their party.

HARRAK: Do you foresee lawmakers having a serious debate about reforming or eliminating the debt ceiling all together?

GIFT: That's a really great question. The debt ceiling has been around since 1917, so more than 100 years. When the debt ceiling came into place, it was set so high it was almost implausible that the federal government could reach it.

Now it's essentially used as a tool by Republicans to try to rein in spending. For that reason alone, I don't think you'll get bipartisan consensus is to abolish it completely. I think the Republicans view it as an imperfect tool but I think actually getting the political will to get rid of it isn't there. But maybe it should be because it seems like all this fiscal cliff and

brinkmanship seems to do is inject even more precarity into American politics and ramp up uncertainty and erode America's economic reputation abroad.

HARRAK: That's a perfect segue into my next question.

In terms of reputational damage, on the global stage, especially, has that been contained by the passage of the bill?

Because Fitch, one of the three major ratings companies, are taking a wait and see approach. They're still warning they could downgrade America's credit rating.

GIFT: Yes, and we saw about 10 years ago, the S&P downgraded America's AAA credit rating.


GIFT: I think it's still possible. Certainly all the dysfunction that existed in the leadup to this debt ceiling debacle essentially still exists. I think that alone, looking ahead to 2025, we'll go through this again.

You know, may not be enough to kind of stave off that downgrade. And it can be really costly, just injecting all this uncertainty into the economic and financial markets. That's not entirely costless. So it's a good thing we got this done before the X date but we'll do it all over again in 2025. So I think America needs to be prepared.

HARRAK: Thomas Gift, thank you so much.

GIFT: Thank you.


HARRAK: A desperate search for survivors is underway in eastern India right now after one of the deadliest train crashes in recent history. At least 288 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured when three trains collided Friday evening.

Images from the scene show mangled passenger cars piled up and scattered across the tracks. The Indian army has been deployed to the scene of the crash to help evacuate and treat the injured. CNN's Marc Stewart is tracking the latest developments for you from Tokyo.

Marc, is the rescue operation still underway?

Are there still passengers believed to be trapped in the carriages?

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is the big worry, Laila. Now we should point out that, yes, some survivors have been found. But the concern is that, as time passes, the risk of finding more survivors -- the hope, at least, of finding more survivors, is diminishing. We heard from one emergency official, who said they have been able to

get into the individual train cars, the carriages, and search for people there. There is worry, though, that the death toll will rise, especially that people may be trapped below.

The resources, though, hopefully, will be there to continue this search and hopefully more rescues. As you mentioned, some more army forces are coming. We know more doctors are coming. People are donating blood. Still very unclear how this unfolded.

We know, at around 7:00 last night, one of the trains somehow derailed. And then that prompted two other crashes. So we have a total of three trains involved. Two are passenger trains. The third is a freight train. No question, there were horrifying moments. Take a listen to one person who was in the middle of all the chaos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Ten to 15 people followed me when the accident happened and everything was haywire. I was at the bottom of the pile. I got hurt in my hand and also the back of my neck.

When I came out of the train buggy (ph), I saw someone had lost a hand, someone had lost a leg, while someone's face was distorted. And I got out of there and, since then, I have been sitting here.


STEWART: Trauma for people on board those trains and certainly for family members, hoping that their loved ones are safe.

Also, Laila, I need to point out that the issue of train safety is a significant one in India. This is a startling statistic: 13 million people use the train in India every single day but this is an aging system and it's a system that's not always properly maintained.

Another startling statistic, for lack of better words, 16,000 train- related deaths last year, not necessarily from collisions like this but from people jumping off trains or jumping across tracks. So this accident, again, will put this whole question of rail safety in India certainly in the spotlight, Laila.

HARRAK: It will indeed. Marc Stewart in Tokyo. Thank you, Marc.

Ukraine says Russia is getting what it should have known was coming as its Belgorod region takes fire again. Russia says artillery shells rained down on Friday in an attack that Ukraine officially claims it has nothing to do with. But it does say that Russia is now shifting more military resources to protect the region.

While shells and missiles were also coming down inside Ukraine, including in the occupied city of Berdyansk, Russia reportedly targeted Ukrainian settlements in the Zaporizhzhya region. Let's go to Salma Abdelaziz.

Salma, more Ukrainian strikes on Russia's Belgorod region.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. To be specific, these are carried out by a Ukrainian allied group, the Russian volunteer corps, one of two groups that is made up of Russian nationalists that is aligned with the Ukrainian military but that the Kyiv government somewhat distances itself from, saying it is not in charge of those operations on the ground.


ABDELAZIZ: But in recent days, the Russian volunteer corps saying that it was able to cross the border yet again, carry out a ground incursion into the Belgorod region. It says it is carrying out the second phase of its operations.

You'll remember it was a couple of weeks ago that there was these very dramatic cross-border raids by two of these anti-Putin Russian nationals but Ukrainian allied groups now it is saying it is in that region to take out Russian assets.

But it says that it is sparing civilians, that civilians are not its target. Now on the part of Russian officials in the Belgorod region, they deny that a cross-border attack has taken place. They say that there is no boots on the ground, if you will, for this Russian volunteer corps.

But of course, they cannot deny and they do admit that there has been heavy artillery and mortar shelling in the Belgorod region. You played those dramatic images there of smoke billowing over some of those border towns, some of those areas completely on fire. Thousands of civilians have been evacuated from this region.

Some families, hundreds of families, in fact, are huddled in shelters. Officials are absolutely scrambling to try to reassure citizens there. President Putin himself has spoken on this, saying that it is an attempt to create a distraction, create an issue inside Russian territory.

Look, if you take a step back, yes, we're talking about one small group here or two small groups, rather, of anti-Putin Russian nationalists that are carrying out these attacks on the ground. But it does serve to show that there is a shift in tactics, if you will, here.

This is absolutely something that is unnerving Russian politicians, that is unnerving President Putin himself, that is serving to create for Ukraine, if you will, a multi-pronged strategy while it carries out its front line attacks, tries to continue to push on that territory as it heads into this very expected counteroffensive.

It is now bringing the war, if you will, although Ukraine does not acknowledge these attacks, does not acknowledge responsibility for these attacks. It does bring the war home to Russia and reminds Russians that, look, not all Russians are with President Putin. In fact, some are willing to take up arms against him.

HARRAK: Salma Abdelaziz reporting in London, thank you.

Still ahead, a grisly discovery in Mexico may hold clues to a number of unsolved missing person cases. We'll have details.

Plus, surveillance video shows what happened in the moments leading up to the partial collapse of an apartment building in Iowa.





HARRAK: A horrifying discovery in Mexico may provide some answers but little comfort to the families of workers missing from a call center. They haven't been heard from in about two weeks and now a mass grave has been discovered near Guadalajara. CNN's Patrick Oppmann reports.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The bodies were found in bags, discarded in a ravine, grisly murders that have shocked even Mexicans, wary of years of rampant violence, often connected to drug cartels.

Investigators say at least 45 bags were found containing human remains outside Guadalajara, Mexico. Some of those bags have been broken open.

LUIS JOAQUIN MENDEZ RUIZ, JALISCO ATTORNEY GENERAL (through translator): All the bags that we found are closed and obviously taped. We found some segments on the precipice, ravine, that we believe that when they were placed or thrown there, some banks must have torn. And that's how we found some segments.

In a preliminary manner, we can say that there are female and male bodies. But we need to wait for the institute to confirm.

OPPMANN: Officials say that the bodies appear to match the characteristics of some of the seven missing employees of a call center in Guadalajara. But it's unclear how many victims there are.

Missing since late May, the family members have demanded police investigate their disappearances.

We want them alive and well, say family members, as they marched in the streets before the discovery of the bodies, calling on Mexican officials to do more. The families say their relatives went to work like any normal day but then their phones went dark.

GABRIELA HERNANDEZ, GIRLFRIEND OF MISSING MAN (through translator): At 2:50 pm, my messages and calls didn't go through. It was only voice mail and the phone was off. After that, there was no more communication. OPPMANN: Mexican officials say the investigation have uncovered alleged criminal activity at the call center but they have not said that if there were any suspects.

ROSA ICELA RODRIGUEZ, SECRETARY OF SECURITY AND CITIZEN PROTECTION (through translator): The first indicators are, involves people carrying out some sort of real estate fraud and some kind of telephone extortion.

OPPMANN: The sad reality is disappearances and brutal mass killings have been all too often in Mexico, where tens of thousands of people, according to human rights groups, are believed to have been murdered and buried in unmarked graves.

Just in Jalisco state, where this latest massacre took place, 1,500 bodies have been found since 2019 according to prosecutors. And throughout Mexico, more than 110,000 people are missing.

And while this latest grisly massacre has generated more headlines and outrage, there are no guarantees family members will receive justice -- Patrick Oppmann, CNN.


HARRAK: In Iowa, three people are still missing after the partial collapse of an apartment building there. Now CNN obtained surveillance video of the moments before the site of the building gave way.

The video was taken from the roof of a nearby building. You can see a support brace on the right side of your screen --


HARRAK: -- bending before side of the building came tumbling down. The video cuts out before the full collapse because it apparently caused power to the surveillance camera to go out.

Ohio police say that two escaped prisoners have been captured and charged with escape. The inmates escaped Northeast Community Corrections Center on Thursday evening before being caught hours later by police nearly 20 miles from jail.

They were identified at the time as Justin Firman and Dakota Embry. This is at least the third incident involving escaped prisoners in Ohio in two weeks.

After weeks of uncertainty and with only days to spare, the U.S. President will soon sign a vital piece of legislation to keep the federal government from running out of money. That story just ahead.

Plus, we'll take a closer look at the multiple investigations swirling around former president and current Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Stick around.





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.

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to sign legislation today to suspend the nation's debt limit until 2025. Mr. Biden spoke from the Oval Office last night to laud Congress for its bipartisan support of the critical measure, saying an economic crisis had been averted.

Well, the U.S. Treasury had warned repeatedly that the U.S. was at great risk of default if the debt ceiling was not lifted by Monday.

Sources tell CNN that U.S. prosecutors subpoenaed Donald Trump for records related to a classified document on Iran. The document was discussed in an audio recording of the former president.

Sources also say that Trump's attorneys have been unable to produce the document itself. CNN senior legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid has more.


QUESTION: Mr. President, why did you take classified documents concerning General Milley?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): CNN exclusively reporting former president Donald Trump served with a subpoena in mid-March, seeking any records related to the same U.S. military document he talks about on tape just six months after leaving the White House.


REID: Special counsel Jack Smith, Attorney General Merrick Garland's pick to oversee investigations into Trump, trying to track down any additional classified materials still in Trump's possession.

The former president's attorneys turned over some material, in response to the Justice Department's request but not the document in question, the one Trump was recorded discussing in July 2021, at his Bedminster New Jersey golf club.

On the tape, he acknowledges he held on to a classified Pentagon document about a possible attack on Iran.

TRUMP: There is no crime. You know, there is no crime.

REID: That tape, now in the hands of prosecutors, prompting them to subpoena all documents and materials related to Iran and Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. JIM TRUSTY, TRUMP LAWYER: I am not going to try the case that's being set up by leaks that I don't believe are accurate.

REID: Trump's attorney declining to address where the document is.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Has the document been returned to the National Archives?

TRUSTY: Same answer.

REID: Throughout the investigation, prosecutors have expressed skepticism about whether they have gotten everything back from Trump over the last year. Trump's attorneys turned over 15 boxes to the National Archives, the FBI recovered more than 100 classified documents from their search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

REID (voice-over): And Trump's team found additional materials in subsequent searches of other Trump properties.

TRUMP: They become automatically declassified when I took them.

REID: Trump denying any wrongdoing. And when asked if he ever shared classified information with anyone --

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

COLLINS: 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: In contrast, his former vice president striking a different tone after retaining classified materials.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those classified documents should not have been at my personal residence. Mistakes were made.

REID: The Justice Department informing Mike Pence Thursday he will not face criminal charges for his handling of classified materials.

PENCE: And I take full responsibility.

REID (voice-over): After a small number of classified documents were found at his Indiana home.

REID: A special counsel also looking into the possible mishandling of classified documents at two locations connected to President Biden.

But our reporting this week on CNN has really underscored how the legal jeopardy for former president Trump and his special counsel investigation is so much greater, especially after we've learned about this audio recording and the fact that it's unclear if the government even has the document that Trump refers to on that tape -- Paula Reid, CNN, Washington. (END VIDEOTAPE)

HARRAK: Meantime, in Georgia, the Fulton County district attorney wants information from two firms hired by the Trump campaign in 2020 to investigate claims of voter fraud.


HARRAK: Both firms found the allegations to be false or offered information that refuted Trump's election fraud claims.

Georgia authorities have been investigating Trump's efforts to overthrow the 2020 election results in the state. Fulton County's DA has been considering bringing racketeering charges against some of those involved. Any potential charges are expected in August.

The U.S. Defense Secretary is calling for more dialogue with China to ease heightened political tensions. At a conference with other security leaders in Singapore, Lloyd Austin spoke briefly with his Chinese counterpart. But he said the short exchange wasn't enough.


GEN. LLOYD AUSTIN, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: For responsible defense leaders, the right time to talk is anytime. The right time to talk is every time. And the right time to talk is now.


HARRAK: Well, Austin also said communication can lower the risk of miscalculation and potential conflict. He added that he's concerned Beijing is, quote, "unwilling to engage more seriously on crisis management."

Still ahead, a global treaty to curb plastic pollution is one step closer to reality. I'll speak with an environmental lawyer about how the landmark documents would work.





HARRAK: Around 170 countries have agreed to draft the first ever global treaty designed to curb plastic pollution. After a week-long summit in Paris, delegates agreed that the first version of the legally binding pact would be prepared by the start of the next gathering in November.

Well, the treaty is expected to reflect the wide range of positions taken by different countries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Small island developing states inherit much of the plastic waste from all across the globe, despite our negligible contribution to the creation. These plastics wash upon our shores, threaten the livelihoods of our people, hinder our tourism and fisheries industries among others and suffocate our ecosystems.



HARRAK: Joining me now is David Azoulay, environmental lawyer and director at the Center for International Environmental Law in Geneva, Switzerland.

A very warm welcome to CNN. Thank you for giving us some of your time. You were, I understand, at these U.N.-led negotiations in Paris. And I believe you led your organization of environmental lawyers at these talks.

What are still some of the stumbling blocks that need to be overcome?

What is still causing a lot of countries not to see eye to eye on this very important issue?

DAVID AZOULAY, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW: Well, good morning and thanks for having me. I think there are quite a lot of questions that are still unresolved and we're still quite early in the negotiation.

Part of the main rift is about how people see plastic pollution, whether it is a waste issue or whether it is a food-life cycle issue. That issue was sort of addressed --


HARRAK: Unfortunately, we lost connection with David. Let's try and see if we can get David back. It's a very important subject matter.

There you are, David. We just lost you for a second. Just try and pick up where you left off.

What are some of the issues still dividing nations?

AZOULAY: I'm sorry for that. Some of the main issue is how people see plastic pollution.

Is it a waste issue or is it something that needs to be addressed toward the food-life cycle?

This was settled originally in the mandate that was given to address plastic pollution throughout the food-life cycle.

But the big rift is really about should we just try to better collect our waste?

Or is more about ending plastic production -- or not ending plastic production but at least capping plastic production?

How far upstream should we go to effectively end plastic pollution I think is still one of the big, big rifts that we see among the countries.

HARRAK: So still a big rift that needs to be overcome. Let's talk a little bit about the treaty. It's not there yet. They're still working on it. There's a draft there.

How would a treaty work?

Is it legally binding?

How will it be enforced?

AZOULAY: So, yes, the mandate was to develop an instrument, a treaty or a convention that would be legally binding. It could also include different types of provisions and obligations.

But the idea is that the treaty would be legally binding for the countries who decide to ratify it. How it would be implemented, it would be implemented through national legislation. International law works in such a way that it creates obligations for the countries, for the government, not for individuals or for companies.

So it would be up for the countries who ratify it to adopt the legislative implementation of the treaty to implement those laws. And then there are -- that's part of the thing that we discussed.

What would be the compliance mechanism?

What would be the mechanism to ensure that countries that ratify it respect what they are signing onto?

HARRAK: Now plastic, as you know, is so ubiquitous. It's all around us.

Can we really live without plastic?


HARRAK: Are there already good alternatives to plastic?

What's the way for us to kind of move forward and move away from our dependence on plastics?

AZOULAY: The problem is there is many, many uses of plastics that are unnecessary and/or problematic. So the idea is not necessarily to live completely without plastic but it's to ensure that we use this material that is extremely -- to produce, it's quite costly in terms of environment, in terms of health impact, in terms of human health impact.

And in terms of use, it is very problematic. So the idea is to only use it for those specific uses for which it is absolutely necessary and unavoidable. There are a lot of uses that can be done without a lot of packaging, for example, that can be done without -- and a lot of other elements that are far from being essential to our societies.

For those plastics that are essential that we will still have to produce, the idea is to detoxify it, so take the toxics out of the production. Sometimes we'll replace it with another material and some of those alternatives are available.

Sometimes we'll replace it with other delivery systems or other element and sometimes we'll just need to make a few changes to the material or to the delivery system. But for the vast majority of it, we will still need a little innovation. But at this point, it really needs to be produced less in order to give us a chance to find it less in the environment.

HARRAK: And briefly, if you can, David, at the start of our conversation, we heard from the representative of Samoa, describing how acute the situation is in their country.

What can be done right now?

AZOULAY: Well, it depends who the question is directed to. For consumers, there are quite a number of ways to use less plastic. But the real thing that needs to be done is we need to produce less of it because, as much as we produce, every part of plastic that we produce will find its way into the environment or into our bodies.

So if we're serious about ending plastic pollution, this is what we can really do now.

HARRAK: David Azoulay, thank you so much for joining us.

AZOULAY: Thank you.


HARRAK: And still ahead, we go live to Mars -- sort of. I'll explain when we come back.





HARRAK: Tropical storm Arlene is continuing to move southward through the Gulf of Mexico. It has winds of 40 miles an hour but it's not expected to intensify as it heads toward Cuba and will likely dissipate over the weekend.

Still, parts of south Florida could see heavy rain and even some flooding. Arlene is the first named storm of this year's Atlantic hurricane season, which began Thursday and runs until the end of November. Meteorologists predict a 40 percent chance for a near normal season this year, with roughly 12 to 17 named storms. The European Space Agency is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the

launch of the Mars Express Orbiter. Part of that celebration involves an out-of-this-world picture show. Tom Foreman explains.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The European Space Agency billed it as the first ever live transmission of images from Mars. Live is a relative term here. These were taken about every 48-58 seconds, still photos. Then they were transmitted back and over 187 million miles. That took 16-17 minutes per picture.

So not live like we would know it. And it was taken from an orbiter going around the planet. It wasn't something on the surface.

So in some ways, underwhelming but, in other ways, really interesting, because this was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Mars Express Orbiter, which has been up there, going around the planet, helping us understand what surface conditions are like, what the geology is like.

It's helped do research into the ideas of water and ice on Mars and the general geology of Mars.

And when you put that together with all the other exploration of Mars that has been done by other probes and satellites, some from NASA, things that have landed on the surface and looked around, it's deepening our knowledge, deepening our knowledge of this planet, the next one out from the sun beyond us, beyond that big asteroid belt and then Jupiter.

So it's deepening our knowledge of this planet and paving a way for what we need to know if we actually want to send people on that roughly nine-month voyage, depending on the position of the planets, and have them walk on this very surface that we've only been able to see in pictures and, now, at least in a way, live pictures.


HARRAK: Tom Foreman, thanks for that report.

This will rock you. The auction house, Sotheby's, is selling 1,500 items from the late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury later this year. Buried in the collection is a secret.

An early handwritten version of the famous rock ballad, "Bohemian Rhapsody," reveals its original title was actually "Mongolian Rhapsody." It's unclear why he changed it.

Also included are draft lyrics to "We Are the Champions," "Don't Stop Me Now," and "Somebody to Love."



CASSANDRA HATTON, SENIOR VP, SOTHEBY'S: The lyrics are amazing because they show how hard he worked at what he did. He didn't just kind of write things down. You can really see that the concentration, the thought, the care that went into crafting these lyrics, all of these objects give us a little piece of the story of who he was.


HARRAK: The winning bidders can take home other personal effects, including the singer's mustache comb, sunglasses, well-worn sneakers, stage costumes and works of fine art from the singer's estate in London. Mercury died in 1991. His possessions are being put on sale by his close friend, Mary Austin.

I'm Laila Harrak. Do stick around. Paula Newton picks up our coverage after a very quick break and I'll see you again tomorrow. Take care.