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Isa Soares Tonight
French Constitutional Council Validates Government Pension Plan; Suspect In Classified Pentagon Documents Leak Formally Charged; President Joe Biden Heads To The West Of Ireland On His Final Day Of Tour; Macron's Unpopular Pension Plan Passes Constitutional Test; Biden's Ireland Visit Focuses On His Heritage; North Korea Tests New Long-Range Missile. Aired 2- 3p EST
Aired April 14, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LYNDA KINKADE, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Lynda Kinkade in for Isa Soares, good to have you with us.
Tonight, anger on the streets of France as the country's top court approves a controversial law to raise the retirement age. We'll go live to Paris
among the protests.
Then we're learning much more about the man at the center of a massive U.S. security breach, as the 21-year-old appears in court. We'll have those
details coming up. Plus, U.S. President Joe Biden heads to the west of Ireland on his final day of tour.
Well, the highest constitutional authority in France has decided President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms are valid. This means the government's
plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 can soon officially become law. Riot police are outside the constitutional court council, the
legislation is highly unpopular, leading to strikes all over the country for many months and at times violence.
Well, in Paris, protesters have gathered outside city hall, and this, of course, is a big win for Mr. Macron, who had promised these reforms during
his presidential campaign. But it comes at a great political cost. The government had to force these reforms through parliament because they did
not have enough votes, and his approval rating is almost at a record low.
Well, our senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen, and reporter Nada Bashir are in Paris for us tonight. Good to have you both
with us. I want to start with you first, Fred, so France's top court has given this legislation the green light essentially to raise the retirement
age from 62 to 64. What is the reaction where you are? How many protesters are still on the streets, months, after we've seen months and months of
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Lynda. Well, there were a lot of protesters here on the streets in front of
City Hall. A lot of them have dispersed now. We understand that they're trying to go to a different location. But as you can see behind me, and
we'll show that a little bit, the police here in Paris and in all of France certainly aren't taking any chances.
They've actually blockaded. This is a bridge across the river sand. And if you pan a little bit more there to the right, you can see that the second
bridge here, they've done exactly the same thing. So the police certainly out here in full force and in full riot gear, as they have been throughout
the past couple of days, and that's because there is so much anger that has been unloading here on the streets of Paris, and of course, so many other
towns in France as well.
And we were among those protesters who had gathered in front of City Hall who are now, we understand, sort of going around the city. And a lot of
them had said look, this is not the end of the line. They are going to continue to fight against this pension reform. They want to make sure or
they want to try and ensure that it gets repealed.
Despite the fact that as you say, we had this big win for Emmanuel Macron today as the Constitutional Council has said that the main provisions of
that draft law raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 is indeed constitutional. I want to listen in to what some of the protesters who we
spoke to had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We expected it. It's not really a surprise, and we don't really care actually, because we want to fight until this reform is
appended, so --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll keep protesting because we need -- we need to be respected. People want to be respected. Twelfth for sunlight, and for such
as this, we are against this pension reform.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PLEITGEN: So you hear that? The protesters saying we need to be respected, and I think that's one of the things that we heard from a lot of those who
came out here on the streets. They're saying they felt that this ruling today by the Constitutional Council is something that disrespects the
Obviously, some of the people or most of the people who are in the constitutional council are political appointees, some of them appointed by
Emmanuel Macron himself. And so, a lot of people felt that this ruling was something that was never going to fully go in their favor. So the
people here are saying that they are going to keep coming out. They do believe that they can still make a change.
However, it does need to be pointed out that of course, this is a big victory for Emmanuel Macron. You know, one of the things, Lynda, that we
have been seeing over the past couple of weeks is the numbers have been getting fewer, have been dwindling a little bit among those who are going
out the street and protesting against this draft.
KINKADE: Yes, it does. Certainly, look a little calmer where you are right now. Fred, I'll come back to you in just a moment. I want to go to Nada to
see -- to talk about what's next because we know that President Macron has said he will meet with the union leaders Tuesday next week. What are the
expectations for that meeting?
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, we've heard from the Elysee. They say that President Emmanuel Macron has extended that invitation to the
union heads in order to hold discussions of course, he has already expressed his will to sign this new legislation into law over the weekend.
But of course, as we've heard from the unions and as Fred was mentioning there, there has been discontinue desire by the unions and other protests
to keep this protest movement going.
They do not accept that this legislation is going to be signed into law. And in fact, we've heard from one of the heads of one of the larger unions,
and one of the larger coalition of unions here in France saying, they will not accept that invitation to meet with Macron next week unless those
discussions are focused on not putting that legislation into law.
Now, of course, this has been a key focus for the government, for Emmanuel Macron for weeks. And now, this is a significant win for President Emmanuel
Macron. But we have seen these protests that have lasted for 12 weeks, and while those numbers have certainly dwindled as Fred was saying, there's
still a significant sign of anger that we have seen from the protest movement and from the unions, particularly of course, with regard to the
way in which this legislation was pushed through.
And this was actually mentioned and referenced by the constitutional council, acknowledging that the government bypassed the lower house of
parliament, using executive powers measures reserved for budgetary legislation in order to push this legislation through without a final vote,
and that has been a source of real anger for many of these protesters who feel that this has undermined the legislative and democratic processes here
So there could well be further demonstrations. We've already heard from the unions saying that they will continue to protest this legislation in some
form or other, whether or not that means people actually taken to the streets striking as we have seen over the last 12 rounds of protests or
not, that remains to be seen. But certainly, there is a significant amount of frustration, and that will have an impact on President Macron's
popularity here in France, Lynda?
KINKADE: Our thanks to you, Nada, I will come back to you in just a moment. I just do want to point out that we are seeing these live pictures
on the screen of people in the droves still walking through the streets of Paris protesting. Certainly, a huge range of ages there. And I do want to
ask Fred, if you're still with me, Fred, about this uproar over this, given that President Emmanuel Macron did campaign on this during the last
He made it clear that he would raise the retirement age, and he was re- elected. Why then there're so many people out on the streets protesting this when he forecasted this would happen?
PLEITGEN: Well, I think one of the things that you just mentioned is extremely important that you saw those live pictures that we're seeing
there on our screens right now at the moment. And that you see the people who are marching through the streets who are still protesting and who say,
well, they will still protest that there are people of all ages. There's a lot of younger people who also joined this protests as well.
And I do think that there's two sides to all this. First of all, you're absolute, Emmanuel Macron has always said that he wants to raise the
pension age, he wants to push that through, and he was indeed elected again. However, a lot of the population here in this country is against
this reform. In fact, two-thirds are against it, but I think right now, if you look at the focus of these protests, yes, they are still on the pension
reform, but it's about a lot more than that.
And a lot of that is the way that Emmanuel Macron has pushed this bill through using those executive powers, essentially bypassing large parts of
the legislative process, certainly bypassing a real vote in the parliament of this country. That is something that has not sat well, not just with
people who are closer to retirement age for whom this is something that's a very real prospect very soon in their lives, but also for younger people as
well, who simply feel that the democratic process in this country has been severely damaged by this.
And it was quite interesting because when we were at City Hall, the big protest was still going on there as well. A lot of the signs that we saw
there, a lot of the chants that we heard there from the people who were on that square, they were all about the fact that democracy has been damaged
here in this country. There were signs that said that the real democracy lies on the street, lies with the people.
And that's why so many of the folks that we spoke to also told us that despite the fact that you have this ruling now from the constitutional
council, they do not see that as a reflection of what people here in this country really feel, and that's why so many of them are still out in the
streets, and that's why so many of them are saying that even after this ruling, they will continue to go out on the streets.
And it's quite interesting that when you see these pictures of the folks who are still marching right now or the folks who marched yesterday, and
the fact that despite the fact that you have these dwindling numbers over the past couple of weeks, yesterday, we still had nearly 400,000 people on
the streets of various places in France. It certainly does show that there is a great deal of discontent.
KINKADE: Yes, there certainly is, and we will continue to cover this story closely. Frederik Pleitgen in for us and Nada Bashir, good to have you on
this story for us tonight. Thank you very much.
And a bit later on the show, I will speak with Axel Parson(ph), a rail worker and secretary of a major workers union in a city near Paris, to get
a sense of what union leaders would do in response to this ruling today. Well, here's a young, low-ranking member of the U.S. Air Force's Reserve
Unit, and he's just been charged over the leak of some of America's biggest military secrets.
I'm talking about 21-year-old Jack Teixeira; an Airmen in the Massachusetts National Guard. He's facing two charges relating to the retention,
transmission and removal of U.S. defense information. Teixeira did not enter a formal plea. His parents were in court to hear the charges.
Teixeira will remain in detention until his next hearing, which would be set for Wednesday.
Well, Jason Carroll is covering the story and is in Boston where the case has been taking place? Good to have you with us, Jason. So this is
happening in a federal court. Just take us through the charges that were handed down today.
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, let's first start with the charges there, Lynda. I mean, you outlined some of it there, but during
this initial court appearance, and during an initial court appearance, this is where a defendant is read the charges, asked if they understand the
charges, and here's what was read in court.
Jack Teixeira now faces two federal counts, the first one being unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information,
that's the first one. The second one being unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material. Now, at that point, the
judge overseeing the proceeding asked the defendant if he understood the charges that he's facing, Jack Teixeira simply said yes.
There's a moment -- there's a portion of the courtroom that's set aside for family members, a bench, and at that point you could see Teixeira's mother
and what we believe to be his grandmother, they were sitting there, they were praying during the court proceeding, also crying during the
proceeding, and when it was over, his father, who was sitting there as well simply shouted out and said, love you, Jack!
At that point, Teixeira did not turn around, but simply said you too, dad. Now, as his family exited the court, they were surrounded by reporters and
cameramen, reporters, including myself, and repeatedly asked his parents if they had any sort of comment about what it just had happened with their son
and what he's accused of, they did not answer any of our questions.
Still, a lot of questions, though, about why someone with this type of low- rank in the Air National Guard had access to classified documents, and still even more questions in the Intelligence community about what sort of
effect this is eventually going to have. President Biden weighed in on this. And I want to read you just part of what he said.
"While we are still determining the validity of those documents, I've directed our military and Intelligence community to take steps to further
secure and limit distribution of sensitive information, and our national security team is closely coordinating with our partners and allies." So
that gives you a sense that the president weighing in on this, just how serious this classified document leak is to the Intelligence community.
KINKADE: Yes --
CARROLL: Back to you --
KINKADE: Certainly, it raises a lot of questions. Jason Carroll for us outside the court there in Boston. Thanks very much. And we are staying on
this story, the Pentagon is limiting who receives top secret Intelligence briefings as it faces major questions about why it took so long to get this
situation under control.
Our Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon with more on the reaction there, good to see you, Natasha. Certainly, a lot of questions about why this
young, low-ranking person had this sort of access to this classified, highly classified material. How is this changing the way the Pentagon is
operating right now?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Lynda, so this was someone who had recently entered the military. He was part of the Air
National Guard. He was a Cyber Systems Transport Journeyman, which is essentially like an IT person for the Intelligence wing of the Air National
Guard there in Massachusetts.
And what we are learning is that he did, in fact, have a top secret clearance, and he also had access to sensitive compartmented information,
which involves some of the most highly classified information and Intelligence programs in the U.S. government. So he was lawfully able to
look at the kinds of documents that he is alleged to have leaked here. But we are learning that the Defense Department is now taking a closer look at
how it disseminates this kind of highly classified information.
Documents that as we have seen from some of the leak ones that emerged online really are some of what the senior -- most senior levels of the
Pentagon are briefed on every day. So why is someone as junior and in such a low rank as someone like this man who is alleged to have leaked this
stuff on Discord.
Which is that social media platform. Why is he able to see this? That is the big question now. And the Pentagon is conducting an internal review,
and they have over the last several days already started to limit the distribution of these kinds of documents. We are told that people across
the U.S. government who used to receive these documents for months and even years have stopped receiving them in recent days.
So, they have already taken steps to whittle down that distribution list. But there are still a lot of questions about what this young airman was
actually doing, because we are told that in his day-to-day, you know, activities in his work, he did not need to engage with the content of these
documents. He was mostly responsible for making sure that the systems operated properly, and that everyone could continue to have access in the
way that they needed to, to do their jobs.
But in terms of actually accessing these documents himself and engaging with the content of them, printing them out and then taking them home. Of
course, there are major questions about why he was allowed to do all of that, and how he was allowed to do it without anyone apparently noticing
According to the affidavit, he started posting highly sensitive information on this social media platform as early as December of last year. So a lot
of questions about how the Pentagon is going to rein this in, how the inter-agency, the State Department, the White House, the Pentagon are going
to work together to figure this out. But clearly, the Defense Department now grappling with one of the most significant leaks it has experienced in
over a decade. Lynda.
KINKADE: Wow, yes, it's a huge story. Natasha Bertrand staying across it from the Pentagon for us. Thanks so much. Well, "The Washington Post" is
reporting outstanding U.S. assessment from those leaked documents today about the war in Ukraine, citing intelligence intercepts. It says an elite
Russian force has been gutted, losing almost its entire unit.
Ukrainian officials say Russian special forces are currently deployed in Bakhmut, an area now seeing the fiercest fighting of the war. The "Post"
reports U.S. officials believe it could take a decade for Russia to rebuild the ranks of its special forces. I want to get some perspective from CNN
contributor Jill Dougherty, she is a former CNN Moscow bureau chief and joins us live from Washington D.C. Good to have you with us, Jill.
JILL DOUGHERTY, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR, GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: Lynda --
KINKADE: So, Russian forces -- we've spoken about the depletion amongst the ranks of Russian troops in the past. The huge numbers of dead and
wounded. What more surprised you about what we're learning from this leak?
DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, we've known actually, since the beginning that there were really very high numbers of Russian troops who were killed, you
know, equipment destroyed, et cetera. But this report is specifically dealing with the Spetsnaz troops. And you know, in Russia, that Spets is
special, and naz nachanium means special assignment.
So they're the elite commandos. The special forces as they would call them in the West. So that is significant because these guys are very highly
trained. There aren't as many of them, and it apparently happened that as you talked about some of those numbers, very high numbers, 90 percent to 95
percent decimated in some of these fights.
It's because they pushed these troops, which are really meant for specific operations, into the fight very early because things didn't go as they had
planned. So that's I think the most significant thing of this is how long it's going to take to rebuild and replenish these forces. They're valuable
to Russia, and using them is a real problem.
KINKADE: And Jill, I want to ask you about another story we're following today. The reports about the Russian ambassador to the U.S., suggesting
that it might be time to cut the number of American journalists in Russia. Of course, we know a lot of correspondents have already been pulled out
over safety concerns. Just give us some perspective on these lines.
DOUGHERTY: You know, I was focusing a lot on the word that the ambassador used, "reciprocity", which is what Russia likes to do when it gets into the
kind of tit-for-tat, you know, retaliation for what the United States is doing. So the Russian ambassador to the United States is saying, you know,
our journalists, that Russian journalists who are in the United States are not being treated very well, and we have been threatened, he says, by the
United States with some type of retaliation.
So far undefined for arresting Evan Gershkovich, who is the "Wall Street Journal" reporter who was arrested in Russia. So I think what he's trying
to do is somehow, you know, respond to this issue of having the journalists there. I think one of the problems is, he is saying that they would reduce
the number of U.S. journalists who are in Moscow.
That could be a problem, because obviously, U.S. media outlets want to continue to report on Russia. I think the Russians really don't care if
there are any western journalists in Moscow. Probably for them, it feels more like a problem to have them there. So I think this is just another
shot over the bow by the Russians to say, look, we'll retaliate in kind if you do something to us.
KINKADE: Yes, you make some good points there, Jill Dougherty, as always, good to have you with us. Thanks so much. Well, still ahead, it's one of
the most dangerous land passages on earth. And yet thousands of migrants, including children attempt to cross the dense jungle every year. They're
desperate for a better life.
Plus, U.S. President Joe Biden wrapping up his visit to Ireland. We'll have more on his visit to his ancestral home in County Mayo.
KINKADE: Welcome back, I'm Lynda Kinkade, good to have you with us. Well, there is a stretch of jungle that many migrants must traverse to make it to
the United States. It's called the Darien Gap, a perilous land-crossing from South to Central America, and it's so treacherous that it underscores
just how desperate they must be to leave their homeland if that's the only way to get out.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh hiked the entire "word" with a group of migrants over five days. An Nick's extraordinary reporting will feature on the
premiere of the whole story with Anderson Cooper, a new weekly program, which starts Sunday. Here's a preview.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The football shirts are porters, each numbered, charging to carry bags, even
children uphill. But it doesn't always work out. Wilson(ph) is separated from his parents, a porter raced off ahead.
(on camera): (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
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WALSH: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WALSH: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WALSH: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WALSH: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
WALSH: Nearly a thousand unaccompanied children were found on the route last year, the U.N. have said.
KINKADE: Wow, Nick Paton Walsh joins me now to share more about that incredible reporting. Nick, good to see you. So you literally trudged
through the mud and thick jungle to bring us this perspective of the extremes that people are going to -- who simply want a new opportunity here
in the United States. How striking was it to you to see children as young as that making this journey separated from their parents along the way?
WALSH: Yes, I mean, it's very difficult to observe whole families trying to make this undertaking that's frankly, very difficult for ordinary adults
to try and complete. And we saw the bodies of many who clearly hadn't made it on some of the older routes being used by migrants. Some, in fact, who
have fallen victim clearly to criminals along the way.
But it's the sheer volume of children on these particular tracks that does indeed shock you. As you said, many of them very young, some of them ill.
We saw one child clearly having a respiratory illness that meant his father could only try and carry him for a number of days. He made a miraculous
recovery, but for 24 hours, it looked very grim for him.
Wilson(ph), who you just saw in that clip there as well separate from his parents, yes, like many parents, they struggled to carry their own children
and hired porters to try and escalate the sort of get up the hardest parts of the route, particularly one of the muddier hills up towards the
Panamanian border, but were separated from their child. They were reunited a couple of days later.
That was a wonderful thing to be, assuredly able to witness another child. We saw two basically epitomizing the real struggle parents are facing on
this. A mother with her 12-year-old disabled daughter who had epileptic convulsions occasionally, really realizing she had to leave Venezuela
because she couldn't get the medicine she said she needed there to look after her child unless she traveled into neighboring Colombia, where it was
affordable and available.
And so for her, that the rest of the Darien Gap, she said presented was possibly less than they faced daily with the struggles for medicine in
their native country. So a lot of parental problems here, and abidingly, you feel hearing their struggles that for those parents staying where they
were was a greater issue for their children, and a greater problem for their future lives than undertaking this week-long risk to get through the
Darien Gap, and then try and find a better life up in the United States. Lynda.
KINKADE: Wow, just incredible, I'm looking forward to see your special on Sunday, Nick. Nick Paton Walsh first. Thanks so much. And you can tune in
to see the full report from Nick Paton Walsh on "THE TREK: A MIGRANT TRAIL TO AMERICA". It will be featured on the premiere of "THE WHOLE STORY" with
Anderson Cooper. It's a new weekly program, airing first on Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Well, still to come tonight, courts in France approve a controversial measure for pension reform. We'll talk with a union representative when we
come back. Plus, U.S. President Joe Biden is on the last leg of his trip to Ireland, we'll have more on that visit that's been part of a homecoming and
KINKADE: Welcome back. I'm Lynda Kinkade. Good to have you with us.
We have seen strong reaction in France today after the Constitutional Council approved President Emmanuel Macron's plan to raise the retirement
age from 62 to 64. The Council also refused to hold a referendum on that reform, at least for now. The President says the change is necessary to
keep the pension system running. The government used executive powers to force the change through Parliament.
Protests have swept the country over the issue, at times getting violent between police and demonstrators. What's next for the unions, the
protesters and other members of the opposition? I am joined by Axel Persson. He is the General Secretary of the CGT Railway Workers' Union in
Trappes. Good to have you with us.
AXEL PERSSON, GENERAL SECRETARY, CGT RAILWAY WORKERS' UNION: Thank you.
KINKADE: So you've been protesting this. And today, the top court in France has given it the green light, essentially, to go ahead. What's your
PERSSON: Well, it's not a surprise, because organized labor, in particular the CGT, explained to all the workers that listen to us, that the -- this -
- there would be no other issue, that we cannot rely on the Constitutional Council to fight our fight in our place, basically. Because seven out of
nine of these members were actually nominated directly by either the president Emmanuel Macron, or some of his other friends in Parliament or
the Senate. So this -- there was no other issue than the one that just happened that we could expect.
So what we are saying is that we can't rely on institution to defend our interests, but we are now saying that the mobilization that has started in
January must continue, must organize, must continue to widen. And in that, you know, respect, union leaders on national level will convene on Monday
on the -- in three days now to decide what further strategy we're going to implement in order to win and defeat this government.
And in the meanwhile, we have already decided that the 1st of May must be organized in such a manner that it becomes an exceptional and very powerful
1st of May with demonstration all across the country. But after that, we will, of course, have to assess our strengths, our weaknesses, and see how
we can best reorganize our troops in order to organize a second wave of the current fight that has started in general, because our objective remains
the same as in January, we don't want this Pension Reform Law. So even if it's deemed constitutional, we don't deem it legitimate so we will continue
to fight and defend our interest by all means necessary.
KINKADE: Axel, just give us a sense of how many workers are against this reform, this pension bill. What sort of percentage are we talking?
PERSSON: Well, according to the opinion polls that have been based -- organized by most French media, by all of them, regardless of political
affiliation, or preference, workers -- I mean, people who actually work 93 percent of the workers in France are against this pension reform. And if
you took -- if you take a bit broader look in French society, that number drops -- well, drops to 70 percent because it takes them to count it, for
example people that directly -- workers, people, for example, who are retired, who are not employed, but 70 percent of the population are against
it and 93 percent of the workers are against it.
So basically, no one wants this reform, except, of course, the government, the employers, and some very reactionary swath of -- section of society.
But this might -- this reform bill is very -- represents a very tiny minority in society. That's a fact. That doesn't -- that's not even
disputed by the government, actually. The government doesn't dispute this. It just said that it doesn't care and it will implement it anyways.
KINKADE: So Axel, what I find very head-scratching is that President Macron literally campaigned on this. He said, if he was reelected, that he would
push through this pension reform, that he would raise the retirement age, and he seemed very clear about that. And he was reelected. If people were
so against it, how did he get reelected?
PERSSON: Well, as you know, I'm pretty sure is that many people who actually demonstrate today voted for him in the second round of the
election one year ago because a vast section of his voters were actually people who voted against the far right that stood against him in the second
round of the presidential election. But what I must point out is that in France, at least, the President doesn't -- isn't a lawmaker. That's the job
of the parliament.
And subsequently, parliamentary elections were held approximately one month after his election, and he lost those elections, he didn't get -- je didn't
gain a majority in parliament. And they even admitted to it because they said -- that's why they use these different undemocratic tools that exist
in the French constitution, because that allows government to push through laws in Parliament without the vote. And they even said that we know we
don't have a majority in parliament so that's where we're going to use these constitutional tools in order to force it through. So, the government
doesn't have a majority in the public opinion amongst workers and even amongst its own parliament.
So, that is why also we are saying that this pension bill, which has now become law, is illegitimate from a democratic point of view, because even
if he took -- at the democratic standards, I mean elections, he lost the parliamentary elections.
KINKADE: It's interesting, Axel, when you consider other wealthy countries in Europe, U.K., U.S., Australia, New Zealand, France is amongst the lowest
in terms of retirement age. And in terms of many years at 62, other countries, the retirement age is 66, 67. Surely as a population ages and
life expectancy increases, it makes sense that the retirement age is going to increase, right? It's hard to continually financially support an aging
population. And it's interesting seeing so many young people out protesting this particular reform, when within their lifetime, there probably will be
another proposal to increase the retirement age once more. What's your take on that?
PERSSON: Well, I would say to workers from different countries who are listening to us, if we full-on retire maybe earlier than in other
countries, it's because we have managed to fight for that. And as is shown by the current episode, the current political episodes, is that each time
we're attacked, we fight with all means necessary. And we fight with the utmost energy to defend our rights. Hence, our adversaries having perhaps
more difficulties than in other countries to implement at the same pace, at least, their attacks. They still managed to do it, but at a slower pace,
because they face much fiercer resistance.
But that being said, factually, actually, there are countries even in the developed industrialized world that actually have lower retirement ages
than in France. For example, on the top of my head, for example, say China, for example, China has lower retirement ages. And it's actually quite
funny, because in China, the political and economical circles, they keep saying we must also raise the retirement age in order to align ourselves
with countries like France, because we have like a high retirement age.
So wherever we are in the world, the political and economical decision makers will always say we must align to either our neighbors and another
country where the rights are lower, and we have worse conditions and terms and conditions. What we are saying, as organized labor, is that given the
fact that our society is much wealthier than it was 70, 58 years ago, there is lots of more wealth, lot of -- lots more money, there's enough wealth to
finance lower pensions, better public services, better wages, better everything. The thing is that there's more and more money, and yet our
terms and conditions are getting worse by the year, every year.
So there's something that doesn't add up in the way how the society works. And that's not true only in France. That's true all across the world. And
that's also part of the factors that are fueling this anger across France right now.
KINKADE: All right. Well, Axel Persson, good to get your perspective. We will continue to cover this story closely. Thanks so much.
PERSSON: Thank you.
KINKADE: U.S. President Joe Biden is wrapping up a three-day tour of his ancestral home island and his final day focuses heavily on his heritage.
The President is visiting County Mayo to explore religious landmarks and meet with a genealogist. Mr. Biden has traced his Irish family tree back to
the late 1700's. He will also give a speech outside a cathedral with ties to his ancestors.
Well, earlier, he toured the Knock Shrine, a Roman Catholic pilgrimage site. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan joins us now from Ballina, Ireland. Good to
see you, Donnie. It really seems like President Biden has relished being in Ireland, back on this trip to his ancestral home. Give us a sense of the
DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, he really seems to be having a very good time. As we know, there are a lot of issues waiting for
him when he gets back to the United States tomorrow, not least the leak of that intelligence information online. But here, he seems to be having a
great time. And here about now tonight, there are thousands of people all across the River Moy, which is right behind our camera, thousands of people
along the keys waiting for Biden to speak here in the next few hours.
Last night, when he spoke -- addressed the Irish parliament, he said chances are I'm a little bit of Gaelic and he said "Ta me sa bhaile," which
is Gaelic for I'm at home. And he also joked that he wish he could spend a little longer here in Ireland, but he really seems to be having, you know,
quite the vacation here. He brought his son and his sister.
Where we are standing right now is where his great, great, great grandfather immigrated from in the mid 19th century. He's visited here
twice before, but this is his first time here as president and obviously first time to have an event like this.
KINKADE: Yes. A very special trip then. As you say, a nice distraction from all the issues happening back here in the states that he'll have to catch
up with very shortly when he gets back here. Donie O'Sullivan in Ballina, Ireland. Good to have you with us. Thanks.
Still to come tonight. Experts say the latest North Korean missile test demonstrates technological progress, but is it a game changer? We'll have
our report when we come back.
KINKADE: Welcome back. The North Korean government has successfully tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile. Paula Hancocks has more on this
expected, but potentially troubling development.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): This ICBM launch does not come as a surprise but what it does do is it shows that Pyongyang is making
Now, it is a -- an important capability that Kim Jong-un, just over two years ago, said that he wanted and he now claims he has it. North Korea
says this is a solid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, a key part of Kim Jong-un's five-year military plan and technology, which could give
them an edge in a military conflict.
ANKIT PANDA, STANTON SENIOR FELLOW, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: Solid-fuel ICBMs compared to their liquid propellant counterparts
are, generally speaking, much more responsive in a crisis. That means that they can be used much quicker. They don't need to be fueled right before
they're launched. Think of a firecracker that's ready to go once the fuse is lit. A solid-fuel ICBM is something simila.
HANCOCKS: Easier to handle, quicker to prepare, and therefore harder to detect, and if need be, intercept, experts say, the fuel of choice for the
United States and other developed military states. Watching the launch with his wife and daughter, Kim is quoted by North Korean state media as saying
this Hwasong-18 would, "radically promote this country's ability to launch a nuclear counter strike."
PANDA: I think it demonstrates technological progress. But I would not describe this as a game changer. The fundamental relationship we have with
North Korea remains the same. We deter them with our forces and they deter us with their nuclear capabilities.
HANCOCKS: Even the most basic of communication between North and South Korea has now stopped. Two daily calls via hotlines have not been answered
by Pyongyang for a week. A tactic previously used to show the North's displeasure with joint U.S.-South Korean military drills. Those drills are
one of the reasons Pyongyang gives for recent launches. North Korea claims it had tested a solid-fuel rocket engine last December and showcased a new
ICBM launcher in a February Parade, which was believed to be designed for solid-fuel since Thursday's launch was a natural progression, widely
condemned by officials both current and former.
LT. GENERAL DAN LEAF (RET.), FORMER U.S. PACIFIC COMMAND DEPUTY COMMANDER: We're one bad decision away from nuclear war in with North Korea. They have
the capability in terms of weapons. They have the capability in terms of delivery systems.
HANCKOCKS: South Korea's defense ministry says it may have been a solid- fuel launch. But they also said that North Korea needs "more time and effort" to complete its development. Now those are two things that Kim
Jong-un has plenty of.
KINKADE: Thanks to Paula Hancocks.
Well, still to come tonight. Now an extinct lake in the United States has become an inland ocean. And later, mission to explore Jupiter has launched.
We'll take a look at the focus of that mission.
KINKADE: Welcome back. From blizzards to floods, California's wild winter's breathing life back into a dried up state landmark. Our Chief Climate
Correspondent Bill Weir shows us how a dried up Lake has turned into an inland ocean.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): In California's Central Valley, farmers have spent much of the last 20 years praying for
rain. But then came this winter of relentless rivers in the sky, enough to bring a long dead lake back to life drowned over 150 square miles of
farmland and counting. So now, they pray for the water to stop.
It is mind-blowing to realize that if you'd stood here for the last couple of generations, you'd be watching the sunset over dusty fields of cotton,
or alfalfa, or pistachio trees. And now, it is waterfront property. I had no idea Tulare Lake was once the biggest freshwater body west of the
Mississippi, but it was dammed, and dyked, and drained to build a $2 billion agriculture industry. And now it's back. It's proof that water
And this may just be the beginning because behind those clouds over there, the Sierra Nevadas, are so packed with snow to it. 260 percent above
normal, and sooner or later, that's going to melt, which is only going to make this flooding worse and last longer. The last time it flooded this
dramatically here was 1983 and it took two years to dry out.
WEIR: You were telling me about the effects of '83.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, the town hollowed out pretty much.
SIDONIO PALMERIN COUNCIL MEMBER, CITY OF CORCORAN: Yes, I was in a school board at that time, in 1983, and we lost half our school population. About
one-third of our city population, and a lot of the other people that were field workers lost their homes, their cars.
WEIRD: And this time, in addition to the dripping time bomb in the mountains, Corcoran is many feet lower in elevation after years of over
pumping groundwater to grow thirstier crops made this one of the fastest sinking areas in the nation.
DANIEL SWAIN, CLIMATE SCIENTIST, UCLA: So the ground is literally sunk in some places by 10 or 15 feet over the past decade. That has literally
changed the topography of the historical lakebed. Some places are lower even than they were the last time there was a big flood event. So, there's
quite a few unknowns.
WEIR: That is UCLA scientist Daniel Swain. And last summer, he published a paper that found whether whiplash will become only more extreme on an
overheating planet. And worst case, Tulare Lake could grow into a vast inland sea.
SWAIN: That as disruptive and as damaging as this year's flooding has been, it's still nowhere near close to what we foresee is the plausible, worst-
DAVE ROBINSON, KINGS COUNTY SHERIFF: The levee that we're standing on is called the Corcoran Levee. It's a 14.5 mile levee that protects the city of
Corcoran, the two-state prisons, the residents here, there's about 22,000 residents and about 8,000 inmates. And so the work behind us that you'll
see over here, with the tractor work in the distance, they're actually building the levee up another four to five feet. God-willing, that will
protect the city of Corcoran,
WEIRD: There's a race against the melt basically.
ROBINSON: That's exactly right.
ROBINSON: So we've been fortunate with a very slow, mild spring so far, but we know the heat's coming.
MARTINA SEALY, CORCORAN RESIDENT: All of the crops are completely flooded and ruined. So that -- it takes a lot of jobs from people, that's a lot of
food that provide -- we provide for up and down California and all around the nation. It's pretty scary.
WEIR: And unfortunately, this is just the beginning, right? Because --
SEALY: Very beginning.
WEIR: -- the big melts hasn't even really begun.
SEALY: Yes. This is just from the rain. The snow melts, there's nowhere for it to go besides here, you know.
WEIR: So Tulare Lake is back for a while?
SEALY: Yes. It's back and it may take over and put us out.
KINKADE: Well, thanks to Bill Weir reporting there. Apologies.
A new spacecraft has been launched by the European Space Agency, the JUICE mission hopes to uncover the mysteries of Jupiter and its moons. Let's take
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA DIETZ, OPERATIONS ENGINEER, ESA JUICE SPACECRAFT: Jupiter is five times further away from the sun than we are, so we need to travel eight
years to go to Jupiter and we cannot go to a direct trajectory. We have to do flybys in order to gain speed so we're going to go by the Earth, by
Venus, and Earth again until we then finally arrive at Jupiter. And then in Jupiter, we have around four years of operations to explore the Jupiter
system and the icy moons.
The moons are very interesting because they hold a lot of water beneath the surface and this may be -- there might be a condition for life. Ganymede
itself is a huge moon, yes? It's the biggest moon in the solar system. It's even bigger than Mercury, planet Mercury. Yes. It's a bit like a small
planet. It has an iron core really like the Earth. So it has a magnetic field, that it has this water under the ice surface. So we assume it was
something like six times more water than on Earth actually. Liquid water and, yes, we don't know, but we want to investigate if there's a
possibility that life is under that ice crust in Ganymede.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KINKADE: Well, a Spanish extreme athlete has emerged into daylight after living in a cave for 500 days. Beatriz Flamini's team says she has broken a
world record the longest time spent living in a cave. The scientific experiment hopes to learn more about the human mind. The 50-year-old was
silent for over a year, exercising knitting hats and reading 60 books. And the first thing she wanted to do was take a hot shower.
Thanks so much for watching tonight. I'm Lynda Kinkade. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is next.