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CNN International: Johns Hopkins: Spike in Patients Due to Wildfire Smoke; House of Representative at a Standstill; Prince Harry Emotional During Second Day of Testimony; Vatican: Night Went Well Following Pope's Surgery; "The Little Mermaid" Tanks in China, South Korea; Legend Lionel Messi Picks MLS Over Barcelona and Saudi Arabia. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired June 08, 2023 - 04:30   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Covers much of the Eastern U.S. Many of the patients were suffering from respiratory issues. The particulates in wildfire smoke can be extremely dangerous. CNN medical correspondent Meg Tirrell has what you need to know to protect your health.


MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Experts tell us that the most vulnerable groups to wild fire smoke are kids, the elderly, pregnant people and those who have underlying lung or heart conditions. There are risks obviously of things like respiratory disease, asthma or COPD. There is also an increased risk for heart disease as a result of exposure to wildfire smoke. And there is a specific risk for pregnant people for a slightly increased risk of preterm birth. So, there is really a recommendation to try to protect yourself.

You know, doctors tell us that it's not just people with conditions or in these specific groups who could potentially be vulnerable, even healthy folks could be at risk developing asthma or COPD, depending on how much smoke they inhale and for how long. So, really the recommendation is that everybody should try to take precautions.

The American Lung Association saying, quote, if you can see or smell smoke, know that you are being exposed. And they are really recommending folks should try to stay indoors as much as possible. If you have to go outside, experts recommend that you could wear a high- quality mask like an N-95 or KN-95. Those are things we're very familiar with from COVID of course.

And in the home experts really recommend good high quality air filters using HEPA filters. But they say even if those are not available, shutting the window, running the air conditioning can be very helpful. And of course, don't forget about animals as well. A lot of the warnings can apply to our pets in addition. So we have to look out for them as well. Back over to you.


FOSTER: The U.S. House of Representatives is at a standstill this hour amid a burgeoning feud between Republican hardliners and the Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

NOBILO: Some of the conservatives are still smarting after the Speaker pushed through the debt ceiling compromise with President Biden. Others are upset over a gun bill and for some others, well, it's not really clear exactly what they want. Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill for us.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The House is in a state of paralysis amid a standoff between hardline conservatives and the Republican leadership. All because of an issue stemming from the debt ceiling deal that Speaker McCarthy cut with President Biden to suspend the national debt limit until January 2025. That is a big reason why these conservatives have decided to essentially stall all legislation in the House of Representatives. That was not the only issue. There's also separate disputes as well.

One of which dealing with a belief among some these conservatives' holdouts that the number two Republican Steve Scalise did not schedule a vote on a bill that would loosen gun regulations. They wanted that bill on the floor. They said there was a disagreement about how that issue was handled. Some others have raised some other issues.

Now why this is significant is that the House is narrowly divided. There are more than four voting against a procedural effort to bring a bill to the floor -- known as a rule. That is enough to scuttle it. Because Democrats typically vote against those rules. And if more than four decided they were going to vote against it, that could stop all legislation.

That's exactly what happened Tuesday afternoon on a bill that essentially prohibit the federal ban of gas stoves. The Republicans decided that they were going to protest all of these issues. So, 12 Republicans voted against that rule yesterday. That was enough to stall action. And over the past day, the Speaker of the House and the leader and these holdouts have been meeting trying to figure out a way forward. Now McCarthy indicated he believes that it is a good idea to air these grievances. Even as he's indicated he was not happy to be in this position.

RAJU: You just met with these freedom caucus members?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA) U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, the freedom caucus members, we're still meeting with a number, but some of the challenges are not the freedom caucus, members who -- a few members who aren't actually even in the freedom caucus and I'm not quite sure what they are concerned about. But what were going to do is, we're going to come back on Monday, work through it and be back working for the American public.

RAJU: But what are they asking from you specifically?

MCCARTHY: I don't have an ask. This is the difficulty. Some of these members, they don't know what to ask for. There is a numerous different things they are frustrated about. So we'll listen to them. We'll solve this just like every time we go through here, we have a small majority, there is a little chaos going on, but the focus I always keep is right in front of the windshield of the American public. And were going to work to the American public problems. Some people want there are certain bills up at a certain time. We're just going to work through the agenda and get everything done.

RAJU: Now the House is truly at a standstill. The Republican leadership announced that not only did they scuttle votes on Tuesday, they're going to scuttle votes on Wednesday and even for the duration of the week amid this standoff. So, how this gets resolved remains unclear.


But this is the biggest challenge that McCarthy has faced in his speakership since winning the gavel on the 15th ballot back in January. He enjoyed a period of a honeymoon of sorts for some time. He got through the debt ceiling debate with the White House. But still the backlash from that and as a new chapter of his speakership presenting new challenges as folks on the right now rebelling over the agenda and trying to get more concessions from the speaker.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: U.S. President Biden says he'll keep fighting to eliminate millions of outstanding student loan debts after vetoing a bill on Wednesday that would have blocked his ambitious proposal from taking effect. Mr. Biden called the veto legislation, which passed with some Democratic support, an unprecedented attempt to deny critical relief to millions of Americans. The president's debt forgiveness plan has been hamstrung by court challenges since it was first announced.

NOBILO: Chairman of the House Oversight Committee is now halting plans to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress. James Comer also canceled a hearing on the matter set to start today. Comer accepted the FBI's offer to allow all members on the oversight panel to view an FBI document in exchange for halting contempt proceedings. The document includes an unverified allegation that Joe Biden while Vice President was involved in a bribery scheme involving a foreign national. The White House has denied the allegation and calls the GOP probe a political stunt.

FOSTER: Air India passengers who were stranded in Magadan, Russia, have landed in San Francisco. The airline tweeted that a replacement flight has brought them to the U.S.

NOBILO: Fewer than 50 of the more than 200 passengers aboard the original flight are U.S. citizens. The flight had to be diverted to Russia over a technical issue. And Air India thanked authorities for providing support while they waited there.

Prince Harry wraps up his appearance in British court with a second day of testimony. What caused the Duke of Sussex to get emotional in the witness box -- just ahead. FOSTER: Plus, Pope Francis is back in hospital recovering from yet

another abdominal surgery. We'll have a live report from Rome on the Pope's health.



NOBILO: It was an emotional day for Britain's Prince Harry as he concluded giving testimony in his phone hacking lawsuit against British tabloids. He maintains multiple outlets published articles using information gained using illegal methods.

FOSTER: The Duke of Sussex appeared uncomfortable during the continued cross-examination where at times he clashed with a lawyer for Mirror Group Newspapers, who at one point questioned whether Prince Harry actually wanted to have been hacked.

CNN's Nada Bashir joins us now. I mean, the fundamental argument here was Harry being suspicious of articles and the lawyer accusing him of speculating about whether or not they were hacked.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Exactly, that was the crux of Andrew Green's argument. Where exactly was this concrete evidence that he had been hacked, that his voice mails had been intercepted, that he had been trailed by private investigators. And this was something that Andrew Green, who is representing Mirror Group Newspapers, has repeated it as he went through 33 newspaper articles published between by MGM's titles between the early '90s and late 2000s. This was something that Prince Harry was repeatedly pressed on.

And as you mentioned there, he appeared to be quite choked up towards the end of it. As he was asked by his own lawyer how it felt to have been accused of speculating, having to sit through hours and hours of cross-examination. And now course, he does maintain unlawful practices were used. This is something that Mirror Group Newspapers continue to contest and deny.

We saw a number of articles being brought up, a number of examples including one which details a conversation between Prince Harry and his father, now King Charles III. Those details he said appear to be suspicious. The finer details he said could only have been obtained through unlawful information gathering. As well as the details around the ups and downs of his relationship with former longtime girlfriend Chelsy Davy. At one point he alleged that a tracking device had been found in a car that she used.

Now of course the court will be hearing all this evidence. At this stage Prince Harry's time to give evidence in court is over. That has concluded. But they are now hearing from a journalist who worked for "The Mirror," Jane Kerr. She is in court. She was by giving a attempt yesterday and she was facing questions today. She has been asked about whether she was aware of any unlawful practices. And she maintains as has the Mirror Group's defense team that she wasn't aware of any illegal tactics being used. That if private investigators had been hired by MGN were engaged in illegal activities, that was something she wasn't aware of or involved in.

FOSTER: OK, Nada, thank you.

NOBILO: The Vatican says last night went well for Pope Francis as he recovers from another abdominal surgery.

FOSTER: And the 86-year-old Pope who's been battling health problems for years, is expected to remain in hospital for about ten days. Doctors say his condition was not urgent but they decided to operate now because his hernia pain and symptoms were getting worse.

CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen is editor of "Crux" and joins us live this hour from Rome. John, do we know if the Pontiff is in good spirits -- pardon the pun?

JOHN ALLEN, CNN SENIOR VATICAN ANALYST: Hi there Max and Bianca. Well, certainly based on what the surgeon, Dr. Sergio Alfieri, told us yesterday, the Pope appears to be in great spirits. What we were told was that when he came out of the anesthesia after surgery, he immediately began joking. He asked the Dr. Alfieri, OK, we've done two surgeries, when is the third. Because the Dr. Alfieri is also the surgeon who removed part of the Pope's colon two years ago. And he was also joking with people in his room that were with him there in the hospital.

So, all indications are that Pope Francis came through the surgery without any complications, is fully alert and in fine form. Although as you indicated, he's going to have to be at Rome's Gemelli Hospital for several days to remain under observation.

NOBILO: John Allen in Rome for us, thank you so much.

FOSTER: Now Disney's new movie -- live action movie "The Little Mermaid" is tanking in China and South Korea thanks in part to a racist backlash. People are complaining on social media that Ariel who is played by Halle Bailey, a Black actor, the movie grossing less than $5 million in each country since released in late May.

NOBILO: Kristie Lu Stout joins us now from Hong Kong to discuss this. Kristie, I read some reports online that suggested perhaps, you know, production may have been aware that it would have been harder in these markets but they're quite surprised by the extent of the backlash? I haven't seen the film yet, but her performance has been lauded and praised among many. So, what is behind the rejection of the movie in these areas?

KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN RESPONDENT: Yes, the underperformance of the film in these two markets is shocking.


You know, "The Little Mermaid" has grossed less than $5 million in China and South Korea since it was released in late May. It is dramatically underperforming in these countries amid racist commentary and critiques. The Black actress, Halle Bailey, she has, as you just mentioned, been commended for her inspired, star making performance as the main character Ariel.

But apparently not enough to win over viewers, or I should say would be viewers in China and South Korea who just can't get over the fact that Disney cast her in this role. Now the film has been very successful in many markets around the world, according to Comscore. The film has made about $327 million globally. But if you look at China, which is the world's second largest box office, China has contributed a very, very small amount. According to Ent data, the Chinese box office tracker, in mainland China the film has made only $2.7 million in its first five days. And you can compare that to "Spiderman: Across The Spider Verse" which brought in nearly $20 million in the first five days of its opening.

And some people in China have been sharing their objections online. One let us in on a Chinese box office platform said this.

Quote: That the fairy tale I grew up with as changed beyond recognition.

And Chinese state media has been egging on such reactions. I'm going to show you this op-ed. It was published before the film made its debut in China by this state-run tabloid "Global Times". And it said this.

The controversy surrounding Disney's forced inclusion of minorities in classic films is not about racism but it is lazy and irresponsible story telling strategy. Unquote.

Now Disney declined to comment on this story to CNN. And similar reaction has been found online in South Korea. One user there saying that quote, the film was ruined adding the #NotMyAriel.

Some additional data points for you, according to the Korean Film Council of South Korea, "The Little Mermaid" attracted some 472,000 viewers in its first week. Another comparison -- compare that to the 643,000 fans that showed up for the latest "Fast and Furious" installment. Back to you guys.

NOBILO: Kristie Lu Stout for us in Hong Kong, thank you for that reporting.

Just ahead, Argentine legend, Lionel Messi reveals where he'll play next and it is not in ordinary list.



NOBILO: We want to get back to our top story we've been following this hour. The heavy smoke from Canadian wildfires that's blanketing the Northeastern U.S. has smothered a host of sporting events too. Wednesday night's baseball games at Yankee Stadium and in Philadelphia were postponed do to the hazardous air. The WNBA postponed its basketball game in Brooklyn. While horseracing at three Northeastern tracks isn't getting out of the gate just yet. FOSTER: And the football player widely regarded as the greatest of all time is heading to the MLS. The legendary Lionel Messi picked Inter Miami for a reunion with his beloved Barcelona. And also turned down untold riches offered by Saudi Arabia. And Messi catapulted his country to the World Cup glory last year and has won a record seven Ballon d'Or awards. The deal to play major league soccer isn't quite final. But the 35-year-old has said that he has a few more years to give and is looking forward to a break from the European spotlight.


LIONEL MESSI, 2022 WORLD CUP WINNER (through translator): I made the decision that I am going to Miami. I still haven't closed it 100 percent. I'm miss something things. But we decided to continue my journey there.


NOBILO: One of the most successful golfers on the PGA Tour is speaking out about the new partnership with LIV Golf. Rory McIlroy says that he still needs a lot of answers but feels the move will eventually be good for the game. McIlroy became one of the leading critics of LIV Golf when it launched a year ago. At the time Tiger Woods said players who joined LIV turned their backs on the organization that helped them succeed. McElroy now says he has mixed emotions.


RORY MCILROY, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I still hate LIV. Like, I hate LIV. I hope it goes away and I would fully expect that it does. And I think that's where the distinction here is. This is the PGA Tour, the DP world tour and the PIF. Very different from LIV.


NOBILO: And the stories in the spotlight this hour. Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is actively erupting and officials are trying to steer tourists to safe places to watch it happen. Thousands of tourists and visitors are expected to flock to Hawaii's volcano national park, where one of the world's most active volcanos is releasing huge plumes of lava for the first time in months.

FOSTER: Officials are warning them to stay on the marked trails and to stay safe. And to remember that it's a sacred event according to native Hawaiian tradition.

Drone technology has led to the exciting discovery of unknown prehistoric cave paintings in eastern Spain. Researchers have decided to use the drones because the caves are hidden and very difficult to reach.

NOBILO: Within just days the drones revealed cave walls decorated with ancient artwork of humans and hunted animals. Climbers were later able to the sites to verify those discoveries as well. It shows the field with aerial archeological holds a lot of promise. Actor Tom Holland told Extra that he's taking a year off to prioritize

his mental health after a difficult experience filming "The Crowded Room" which releases on Friday.

FOSTER: The Apple TV+ mini series follow as mystery with heavy subject matter related to mental health. Which Holland says made him feel emotions he's never experienced before. But he also says the experience has changed him for the better.

Several people including children have been injured by an individual armed with a knife in France -- we're just hearing.


The French interior ministry said the individual was apprehended thanks to the swift intervention of the police. Yes, that is pretty much all the information we're getting. Isn't it? He has been apprehended. It was at a school playground as we understand it. There are so many details -- it's just unfolding. It's only been a couple of hours ago that schools opened in France.

NOBILO: It's 11:00 in France right now. So, earlier this morning.

FOSTER: And we'll bring you anything that we get. But basically the headline, several people including children injured by someone armed with a knife in France.

Thanks for his joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster.

NOBILO: And I'm Bianca Nobilo. "EARLY START" is up next here on CNN.