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Voting is Under Way in France; North Korea Detained Another American Citizen; 140 Afghan Soldiers Were Killed By Taliban Fighters; Congress Returns from Recess as Clock Ticks Down on Possible Government Shutdown; Hillary Clinton Making More Public Appearances; American Warships Again Joined Drill with Japan in the Western Pacific; American Airlines Under Scrutiny; Wildfires Continue to Burn Across Central and Southern Florida. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired April 23, 2017 - 05:00   ET



[05:01:23] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Voting is under way in France right now and there is Marine Le Pen casting her vote at a precinct. This is live from Paris as France decides who will be their leader.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We're all over that story. Plus, learn more about the Taliban's deadly raid on Friday that may have killed as many as 140 people.

ALLEN: And as (INAUDIBLE) took the streets around the world in support of science, President Trump defended his actions on the environment.

HOWELL: Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen, "CNN NEWSROOM" starts right now.

Historic voting in France has been under way for about three hours now as the country begins the process of picking a new president. With 11 diverse candidates in the race, including this one right here, Marine Le Pen, voters have plenty of choices.

Someone who has already voted right here is Emmanuel Macron. He's a centrist and relative newcomer to French politics but it's unlikely any of the candidates will get the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff.

HOWELL: The final outcome has the potential to transform the political landscape in Europe and beyond. More than 45 million voters are expected to cast ballots by the time that the polls close.

CNN is live in Paris. Melissa Bell following the situation there at the polling station in the 18th (INAUDIBLE) it's good to have you with us, Melissa. We're looking at these live images, presently, 5:01 A.M. there and here in the United States, 11:02 in Paris, and Marine Le Pen there, casting her ballot. Tell us about the feeling of people as they go to the polls.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, on one hand, there's, sort of, bewilderment because there is, as you mentioned a moment ago, this vast array of candidates, 11 candidates in all with very different programs, many of them with profoundly radically different ideas of what France should be if they're going to be elected. And so, this sense of bewilderment, faced with such a vast political choice but also a sense that it is essential to come out and vote.

Here, you can see behind me, the door to the polling station, there's been a steady trickle of voters coming here over the course of the last three hours and all of the ones we've spoken to had said it is absolutely essential to come out and vote.

They had a real sense of taking part in a historic poll. I think that that is the overriding feeling here in France this morning, a certain apprehension as we look ahead to an idea of how the results will be by about 8:00 p.m. tonight.

But a sense that it is never been so important here in France to cast your vote because France is really deciding what kind of country it wants to be going ahead. And that could be different to all that's preceded it, or it could be slightly more of the same even though you mentioned Emmanuel Macron that we -- that you -- we saw vote a short while ago, He also represents a change even though, politically, he represents continuity in kind of the kinds of policies that he would bring in.

One of the big questions are is the participation rate. How many people are going to take part in the poll? Marine Le Pen, as we voting a moment, has a very steady, strong base of voters. A very certain electorate, a determined electorate that will go out and make itself heard.

How will the electorate of Emmanuel Macron shape up? That is the big unknown. He's after all never stood before. It is an untested electorate. It is -- that question, the participation rate that could prove crucial by the end of the day.

HOWELL: Melissa, you touched on this but, you know, I remember here in the United States, there's always that question of the undecided voter, that person who waits and waits and waits and waits until they get to the polling station and then they finally make that decision about who they will cast their vote for. So, there in France and across Paris, how important will it be for the undecided voter -- how important is that block of voters?

BELL: Oh, extremely important. I mean, they are at historic highs. Normally, at this stage, in a French Presidential Election, many more voters have made up their minds. One of the surprising things of the last minute opinion polls, though, we've seen over the course of the last week or so are how many people simply haven't decided, really waiting until the very last minute.

In fact, we spoke to a man a short while ago and he said he took the 11 bits of paper with the names of the candidates on him -- with him into the booth so that he could look at them calmly and make up his mind between the 11 once he was alone and really faced with that choice. It gives you an idea.

The fact that many people have really struggled to make up their mind, again, because the political spectrum is so vast, because the number of candidates is so great, because the proposals on the table are so vastly different and because the potential changes for France are as huge as they are.

I think many people are really waiting until the last minute to almost decide, you know, with a, sort of, sense from their gut, how it is that they should vote. So, again, huge uncertainty and there will be right up until polls close, George, at 8:00 p.m. tonight.

HOWELL: Melissa Bell on the streets of the French capital in the 18th (INAUDIBLE) and giving us a sense of the feeling of people as they head to the polls. Thank you for the reporting. We'll, of course, stay in touch with you and our other correspondents and analysts as we follow this very important vote.

ALLEN: We're going to talk more about it now. Let's bring in Julien Theron. He's a political scientist and analyst with the University of Paris too.

Thank you, Julien. And I want to pick up on what Melissa was just saying about people going to the very last second and being in agony over whom to vote for. What do you make of that?

JULIEN THERON, POLITICAL SCIENTIST AND ANALYST, UNIVERSITY OF PARIS: Indeed. Well, people here, actually, wanted to change politics the way it was done. The major and the political parties are among the least- believed institutions in France here.

There was some polls showing that people did not believe in the (INAUDIBLE) politics anymore. So there's a strong will to change what we could but not knowing what it means but the system.

So, all the candidates presented themselves as anti-system. So it might mean different things regarding to the ideology and it was never defined what was the system.

Was it the political party in itself? Is it the major -- the justice system for the two candidates who have trouble with the justice nowadays? So -- but people want some changes. So it's a very important elections here.

ALLEN: It certainly reflects, in many ways, the election we just saw in the United States that people voted for change because they were fed up with the government but this doesn't just affect France, the outcome. Europe is watching closely to see what happens because it would affect Europe.

THERON: Absolutely. I think that it's actually a (INAUDIBLE) national trend in the U.S. with the last presidential elections, with the Brexit, we see that political prism between the left and the right, socialism on one side and conservatism on the other side is changing now.

The new lines are between pro-globalization, anti-globalization, pro- Europe and (INAUDIBLE) anti-Europe (INAUDIBLE), liberal and conservative but in the way that it might change the society actually.

So, the two first candidates, even though it's very thin, the limit is very, we're getting to the statistics but the new trend is the fact that actually, like your reporter said, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, they are the two brokers in this election, when the two traditional parties candidates, the socialist party and Republican Party are actually third or fourth and fifth in this election.

So, it means that means people really want some change and the two first one is really liberal and pro-European, Emmanuel Macron and the other one is really about national conservatism, it's Marin Le Pen.

ALLEN: Wait and see. Many, many hours of voting yet for this first day. Julien Theron, thank you for your thoughts on it, we appreciate it.

THERON: Thank you.

HOWELL: We're following some breaking news now in North Korea. North Korea detained another American citizen. Sources tell the South Korea news agency the Korean-American man was arrested as he was trying to leave the country.

Let's go live now to CNN's Ivan Watson following the story live in Seoul, South Korea. Ivan, at this point, still unclear exactly why he was arrested. CNN independently working to confirm, to verify this information but, what more do we know about this?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And, again, I'll preface this by saying this is according to the Yonhap News Agency here in South Korea and we have not been able to independently confirm this but according to their report, there was a former professor from a University in China, a Korean-American man by the fairly common Korean surname, Kim, who was detained at Pyongyang airport in North Korea on Friday while leaving the country.

We don't know the circumstances why this person may have been detained, again, but an American citizen, who reportedly had spent about a month in North Korea. The university that he had worked at in China was one that had a fairly active Korean affairs department and language department. It's known as Yanbian University of Science and Technology and that this individual's believed to have spent about a month in North Korea working on relief efforts for that country.

If this report is true, George, if we can confirm it, then it would be, now, the third American citizen currently in detention in North Korea, Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia student who was detained in January of 2016, still in custody, has been charged with 15 years of hard labor for taking down a sign -- a political party sign in a hotel in Pyongyang and Kim Dong Chul who was arrested in October of 2015 and charged with espionage receiving, at least, ten years of hard labor for his sentence. I might add that the practice of detaining foreigners, particularly,

American citizens at Pyongyang airport, that seems to be a common tactic by the North Korean security services. They have, on numerous occasions now, over the course of the last four years grabbed, particularly, American individuals who were on their way out of the country, in some cases, taking them off the plane when they were about to take off or as they hand in their passports and then they have been held, in some cases, for a matter of weeks, months or, as you've heard, years. George.

HOWELL: Ivan, so, just pushing forward on that, you know, you've given us as much information as we know, again, CNN working to independently confirm a lot of this information but that's the story, as we know it, presently but pushing forward on that, for Americans who are there, who travel to North Korea, is that, sort of, a constant concern, fear, danger about going to that nation and not being able to leave?

WATSON: Well, I have traveled on assignment to North Korea. It is a vastly different country from any other country I've ever worked in. My movements were very restricted by North Korean officials, as a visiting journalist.

There is a small tourism industry of people who want to go on, kind of, adventure tourism to visit that nation to the north of the demilitarized zone, to the north of South Korea, where I am right now.

There was recently a marathon there that some people traveled to Pyongyang to participate in that marathon but, the fact is, is that there is, also, this growing list of, particularly, U.S. citizens, who again, are stopped at Pyongyang international airport after leaving.

One of them was 85-year-old Merrill Newman. He was a North Korea -- a veteran of the Korean conflict, an American who was pulled off his plane in October of 2013, held for nearly two months before being released and he had to give a televised confession for crimes he allegedly committed during the Korean War more than half a century ago.

Another was Jeffrey Fowle who was detained, again, at the airport, an American citizen, May of 2014 and released in October of 2014.

So, there's a pattern there. These gentlemen, also, detained at the airport during what appeared to have been a tourism trips and, in the case of this gentleman, he was an academic who appeared to have been visiting there to participate in, some kind, of a cultural exchange on behalf of the North Korean people.

So, it can be an adventure tourism destination but once you are caught by the North Koreans, you are not allowed to leave and due to the tense situation between Washington and Pyongyang, the U.S. government has very little leverage when it comes to working on behalf of these detained American citizens, George.

HOWELL: It is good to get your insight on that from your travels. Our own Will Ripley has done a great deal of reporting there, an excellent work, of course, from North Korea and just, you know, something to keep in mind as we continue to follow that story. Ivan, thank you.

ALLEN: Afghanistan is in mourning this Sunday. Sources say as many as 140 Afghan soldiers were killed when Taliban fighters, dressed as soldiers, opened fire on an Afghan army base during Friday prayers.

Journalist Sune Engel Rasmussen in Kabul described, last hour, the circumstances of the attack.


SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, JOURNALIST: There were two Afghan national army vehicles entered the base filled with Taliban fighters. We're hearing up to 10 or 11 fighters. They then blew their way in through the second control post and they unleashed the shooting spree, both inside a dining facility and outside the mosque.

The way they entered the grounds, the base is pretty remarkable. They were, apparently, dressed in army uniforms but also posed as injured soldiers. They wore wearing (INAUDIBLE) in their arms and had casts around their legs.

But, still, it is quite remarkable they made it all the way to the base where a lot of the soldiers they found were unarmed, which is the reason why they could kill that many people. It might very well be the deadliest Taliban attack on national security forces since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

The president, when he went to (INAUDIBLE) where this attack took place, he condemned it, obviously. And then he called the Taliban, infidels, which is a very harsh condemnation in this country and I think it has something to do with the fact that the Taliban attacked people that were coming out from a mosque, which is further than a lot of people here thought the Taliban would go.


ALLEN: Our journalist there speaking with us from Afghanistan.

The opposition in Venezuela marched in silence, Saturday, in memory of those killed in anti-government protests. At least 22 people have been killed this month. The government says nine of them were electrocuted when they tried to loot a bakery. The opposition calls President Nicolas Maduro a dictator, and blames him for the country's brutal economic crisis.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I, for example, am here. I'm 24 years old and I refuse to leave the country. My entire family is here. My dad is here. My future is here and I want it to be so. That is why I am here and I will continue to be here until we see a change or at least until one of the claims that we are demanding is fulfilled. We have been in the streets for more than 20 days making demands of the authority.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ALLEN: The opposition says Maduro, the President, is blocking efforts to hold regional elections.

HOWELL: It's 5:16 in the morning here in the United States. On the East Coast, ahead on "CNN NEWSROOM", a shutdown looms over Capitol Hill. What lawmakers have to do to keep the government up and running.

ALLEN: Plus, former U.S. presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton is speaking up. Why her fans are wondering if she will run in 2020.


ALLEN: A U.S. soldier received the Purple Heart from U.S. President, Donald Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I (INAUDIBLE) about this and I wanted to do it myself. So Congratulations on behalf of (INAUDIBLE) and myself, and the entire nation. (INAUDIBLE)


ALLEN: Sergeant First Class Alvaro Barrientos lost part of his leg after being wounded in Afghanistan. He attended a ceremony in a wheelchair accompanied by his wife there behind him.

The Purple Heart is awarded to service members wounded or killed in combat. This was the President's first trip to the Walter Reed Military Medical Center there near Washington, and there's some noise on social media. Some people apparently expressing questions about why the President congratulated the soldier after he was wounded.

HOWELL: Yes, congratulated. A very busy week ahead here in the United States for politics. Congress returns from recess as the clock ticks down on possible government shutdown. It's going to run out of money, unless a spending bill is passed by Friday.

ALLEN: To do that, republicans have to overcome party divisions and satisfy at least some democrats. Our Athena Jones reports.

ATHENA JONES, CNN ANCHOR: A big week ahead here in Washington. House republican leadership held a conference call with the entire caucus today to talk about this coming week and made it clear that passing a bill to keep the government running is the top priority and will be the primary focus of this coming week.

We know a couple things the White House wants to see included in that funding measure. One is money for the hiring of more immigration agents. Another is money for the border wall the president promised on the campaign trail.

Senate democrats though say that the border wall money is a nonstarter. They do not want to see that in this bill. They're also opposed to including the money for immigration agents in the spending bill, so the big question is, will the President sign a bill to keep the government running that doesn't include money for the border wall?

My colleague, Dana Bash, spoke with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly about this. Watch.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Let's start with the border wall with Mexico and how it relates to keeping the government open. If congress doesn't send President Trump a government funding bill by midnight on Friday, the government will run out of money and a shutdown would begin. So will the President go to the mat and insist on funding his border wall as part of this stopgap government funding measure?

JOHN KELLY, SECRETARY, HOMELAND SECURITY: Well Dana, I think it goes without saying that the president has been pretty straightforward about his desire and the need for a border wall. So I would suspect he'll do the right thing for sure, but I will suspect he will be insistent on the funding.


JONES: So there, you heard Secretary Kelly sounding pretty certain the president would insist on border wall funding. But the President himself sounded a bit less definitive in an interview he gave to the associated press.

He told the A.P., "I want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border wall." But asked whether he would sign a bill that doesn't include that funding, he said, "I just don't know." So to use one of the President's favorite terms or phrase, we'll see what happens on the border wall funding issue next week.

I should mention that one GOP source was on that conference call, said republicans were still in negotiations on the final points of the spending bill, and hope to get it on the floor, Friday. Friday, by the way, is the deadline. Back to you.

HOWELL: Athena Jones, thank you so much there.

The potential government shutdown comes as Mr. Trump reaches a benchmark in his presidency. Next Saturday, he will have been in office for 100 days. For a look at what he's accomplished, we spoke earlier to Scott Lucas, a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England. Here's what he had to say.


SCOTT LUCAS, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Governing is tough. And I think President Trump may not realize it, but his administration does.

And, you know, there were very bold promises here. We were going to talk about sweeping acts regarding trade. We were going to talk about acts regarding removing environmental protections. We were going to talk about acts to get rid of Obamacare. We were going to talk about tax reform. All of this in the first 100 days. I mean, it was in his proposed contract for America. Well, what he has been able to do is push through executive orders to do some of that. So ironically, given we had Earth Day yesterday, he stripped away a lot of the environmental and scientific regulations that President Obama brought in, but he hasn't yet got a major piece of legislation through congress.

And despite all the show he'll make this week about introducing a tax reform bill, he won't get that anytime soon either.

HOWELL: Look -- so, when there's any talk of a possible government shutdown, partial or full, we heard Athena Jones reporting on this just a moment ago, but look, if a shutdown were to come to pass, which political group would take the heat for it?

LUCAS: We -- well, everybody tends to take heat in a shutdown. We saw that during the Obama years when the republicans kept pushing us to the wall.

But I think by and large, it's the executive that's going to take the first shot. There are two things happening here. I mean, one is, let's be blunt, the democrats are trying to contain Trump. They're trying to get a guarantee for subsidies under Obamacare. They are trying to make sure the wall never gets built.

But the onus is on the president. He insists on that symbolic wall, which has no practical use. He has not worked with democrats. His advisers have actually also alienated many republicans in congress. So yes, they're the ones that carry most of the water if this government shuts down this week.


ALLEN: All right. Our President, Donald Trump. But remember the other one who ran against him. After lying low for a while, Hillary Clinton is making more public appearances now.

HOWELL: The last appearance was on Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. As our Tom Foreman reports, her fans are wondering if this means she'll run again for the White House.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We also have to win elections to make it clear where our country stands.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Clinton on elections and employment.

CLINTON: I will never stop speaking out for common sense benefits that will allow moms and dads to stay on the job.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Clinton on immigration and education.

CLINTON: We don't need to be building walls. We need to be building bridges. FOREMAN (voice-over): Clinton on Clinton.

CLINTON: I am tired of watching the news. What do we do? A walk in the woods?

FOREMAN (voice-over): For a while, after her stunning loss to Donald Trump, the democratic nominee disappeared so thoroughly, every sighting by a loyalist, walking in the woods, shopping for books, was celebrated on social media.

But then she started tweeting, pumping up the Women's March. "I truly believe we are always stronger together." Showing up at a Broadway play to a standing ovation, and now, in a flurry of appearances, speaking up.

CLINTON: I bet just about everyone in this room has had the experience of saying something in a meeting that gets ignored. Ten, 20 minutes later, a man says the same thing and everybody thinks it's genius.

FOREMAN (voice-over): What's it all about? Perhaps just pushback against critics and divisions in her party.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump did not win the election, the democrats lost the election.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Some of it may be an attempt to bolster her approval rating, which dropped to 35 percent last month. But just maybe, her fans wonder, could it be something else?

CLINTON: I think we have to face the fact that we may not ever be able to count on this administration to lead on LGBT issues.


FOREMAN (voice-over): 2020? Another run would be politically extraordinary. Clinton would be 73 on Election Day, three years older than Ronald Reagan when he took office as the oldest president. And she'd have to rally a party which has twice seen her campaign fail.


HOWELL: Tom Foreman reporting for us. The March for Science goes global this Earth Day.

ALLEN: And we will take you to the major demonstrations and hear what Donald Trump had to say about the fight to protect the environment.


[05:31:44] HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories right now. Afghanistan is in mourning after the Taliban raid on an army base during Friday prayers. The death toll could reach 140. The Afghan military says Taliban fighters disguised themselves, wearing soldiers' uniforms and caught the base off-guard. A Taliban spokesman tells CNN it was revenge for the death of two of its officials.

HOWELL: American warships again joined drill with Japan in the western Pacific Ocean in the Philippines. The U.S. first said that the strike group was headed to the Korean peninsula in response to North Korea's nuclear provocations, but later, it became known the ships were first going to the opposite direction, for scheduled military exercises with Australia.

ALLEN: The opposition in Venezuela marks to honor at least 22 people killed in anti-government protests this month. The government says nine of them were electrocuted when they tried to loot a bakery. The country is facing a brutal economic crisis, and the opposition says the President, Nicolas Maduro, is blocking efforts to hold regional elections.

HOWELL: The killing of a police officer in Paris on Thursday gave an extra sense of urgency to a march on city streets on Saturday. Female officers and spouses of officers were protesting violence against police. The killing of the 37-year-old officer has cast a cloud over Sunday's presidential election in France.

ALLEN: And that election is under way now.

HOWELL: That's right, voting has been under way now for more than three hours. Let's take a look here. Polling places have shown steady lines of people casting their ballots, voters of 11 candidates. They have 11 to choose from. Each of them offering significantly different visions for the future France.

ALLEN: National Front leader, Marine Le Pen, says she feels emboldened by Donald Trump's election victory. She voted just about 30 minutes ago and she's campaigning on an anti-immigrant platform.

Former Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron, founded a political movement called En Marche! last year. The former investment banker has a strong 12 pro-European Union message.

HOWELL: Let's look -- take a look here, live pictures of Francois Fillon, the republican candidate. You see him here. He served as prime minister under Nicolas Maduro. These live images there -- I'm sorry, under Sarkozy, I'm so sorry. Nicolas Sarkozy, my apology there, as we are taking a look at these images -- these live images in Paris that are taking place right now. We have reporters throughout, looking at the people as they go to the polls.

ALLEN: That was the Benoit Hamon earlier, the socialist party candidate. He's campaigning to provide a universal basic income for all.

HOWELL: Left wing candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon has been surging in the polls. You see him here, the former Left Party leader, running under the mantle, Unsubmissive France.

ALLEN: Earlier, CNN spoke with Paris-based Journalist, Stefan de Vries, about how Le Pen has shaken up the race.


STEFAN DE VRIES, MULTIMEDIA JOURNALIST, PARIS: Well, I think her major problem is that it's not necessarily what she doesn't like about the European Union, but the fact that she really, really likes France.

She that thinks the European Union is an occupation power of France. She has said that we are going to -- she's going to give freedom back -- independence back to France, as she thinks that the European parliament and Brussels and the other institutions are meddling in national politics.

And because of all these rules, as she says, these European rules, France is unable to have a good economy, unable to guard its borders and unable to guard its immigration. So she's basically against all the European rules as she sees the European Union as a -- as the devil, basically, which is quite ironic because she's also a member of the European parliament. So she earned some money, thanks to the European institutions, and she uses this money, basically, to fight the same European institutions.


HOWELL: Of course, we'll be continuing to watch the French vote as it takes place. We have correspondents throughout the streets of Paris, throughout France, to cover this very important vote.

People on all seven continents marched in the defense of science this Earth Day.

ALLEN: The protests were sparked by opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump's environmental policy. He has promised steep budget cuts for agencies funding scientific research, environmental clean-up. Andrew Spencer has more.


ANDREW SPENCER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From New York to Los Angeles, crowds gathered and marched all over the United States, pressing back against legislatures and policymakers that they say are ignoring facts and research. Organizers built the marches as political, but nonpartisan, in effort to support science and evidence- based research.

But for many demonstrators, it's also a protest against the policies of President Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an American president disparaging the facts, denigrating science and we're here to tell him that science matters.

SPENCER (voice-over): Speaking to a crowd in Washington, science advocate Bill Nye said, "Science must shape policy, not just in the United States, but around the world."

BILL NYE, SCIENCE ADVOCATE: Our lawmakers must know and that accept science serves every one of us. Every citizen of every nation and society.

SPENCER (voice-over): The marches have been worldwide with demonstrators taking to the streets from Sydney, Australia to Geneva, Switzerland. And from the Arctic to the Antarctic, researchers and scientists added their support to the cause.

At Neumayer Station on Antarctica, they summed up the movement with a quote from Marie Curie, "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less." I'm Andrew Spencer, reporting.


HOWELL: Andrew Spencer, thank you. President Trump didn't respond to the protests, but he did release an Earth Day statement saying the following, quote, "Rigorous science is critical to my administration's efforts to achieve the twin goals of economic growth and environmental protection. My administration is committed to advancing scientific research that leads to a better understanding of our environment and our environmental risks. As we do so, we should remember rigorous science depends not on ideology, but on a spirit of honest inquiry and robust debate."

ALLEN: He once called climate change, of course, a hoax cooked up by the Chinese.

HOWELL: He did.

ALLEN: President Trump may have stated his support for the environment, but critics say there's much more that needs to be done.

HOWELL: And it won't help if the U.S. pulls back on its funding. Jennifer Gray has this report.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's time to put America first. We're going to put America first. That includes a promise to cancel billions in climate change spending for the United Nations.

JENNIFER GRAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That campaign pledge is sending shockwaves across the globe, where millions of people are spending the money on, well, survival.

The U.S. contributes significantly to international pools of money that the U.N. and its partners use to help vulnerable regions adapt to climate change. For example, 32,000 Bolivian potato farmers use international funds to prepare their crops for a harsher climate. And in Vietnam's rice fields, U.N. programs help protect crops from rising sea levels.

But the Trump administration says --

MICK MULVANEY, DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: We're not spending money on that anymore.

GRAY (voice-over): Experts say it's a move that ignores not just overwhelming scientific evidence, but important diplomatic relationships as well.


ANDREW LIGHT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR, U.S. SPECIAL ENERGY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE: When the U.S. pulls out, it sends a signal to other countries that one of the biggest emitters on the planet is really not going to help the rest of the world. And that's the kind of thing that will dull cooperation overall.

GRAY (voice-over): Andrew Light was a key member of the Obama administration's climate change team, working around the globe and seeing the benefits of international funding firsthand.

LIGHT: The U.S. pulling back is going to be very difficult in terms of the stability of these systems.

GRAY (voice-over): if Trump sticks to his plans, it would be an about-face from the previous administration's aggressive climate change agenda.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to contribute $3 billion to the green climate fund so we can help developing nations deal with climate change.

GRAY (voice-over): President Trump's proposed budget eliminates contributions to the green climate fund. It would also cut more than $10 billion from U.S. aid and the state department, two of the world's leaders in climate work.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to cancel the Paris climate agreement.

GRAY (voice-over): Many Trump supporters, including those in his cabinet, applaud these proposals as a way to prioritize domestic interests.

SCOTT PRUITT, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: It's a bad deal for America. It was in America's second, third, or fourth kind of approach.

GRAY (voice-over): But money isn't the only concern.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.S. SECRETARY GENERAL: As water gets more scarce, it threatens to become a catalyst for conflict.

GRAY (voice-over): A 2016 study published by the National Academy of Science has found that climate change was linked to 23 percent of armed conflicts in ethnically divided areas.

GUTERRES: Climate change is a menace to livelihood, to property and to businesses.

GRAY (voice-over): In recent months, President Trump has drastically changed his rhetoric on health care and Chinese trade, and even invited discussion on the Paris climate agreement before postponing it.

Still, experts fear he won't change on climate change.

LIGHT: It's not the big picture, it's that one particular program that I knew was helping that one particular community. But I don't know if that's going to last. And I don't know if I can rally enough people to save that. And that hurts a lot.


ALLEN: Well, a lot of people spoke out this weekend, for sure. Well, we're going to talk next about our addiction to these. You know, George and I always have ours right here. Who is really in control, you or your smartphone? We'll hear from an engineer who said his job was to make phones addictive. Good job. That's coming up ahead.

HOWELL: Plus, American Airlines apologizing after a flight attendant brings a mother to tears. The video captured on the plane on video. You'll see the story next.


HOWELL: Fly on an airplane lately, and you know, don't be surprised if something gets caught on camera. American Airlines under scrutiny over what happened on a flight from San Francisco to Dallas, and much of it was caught on camera.

ALLEN: While witnesses say while passengers were boarding, a flight attendant had violently taken a stroller from a mother, narrowly missing the baby she was holding.

HOWELL: Another passenger got involved and then things got heated. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do that to me and I'll knock you flat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay out of it.



ALLEN: American Airlines says the flight attendant has been removed from duty while they investigate what happened. The woman received first class seating for the rest of her trip all the way to Argentina.

HOWELL: Well, the airline issued a statement saying this, "We are deeply sorry for the pain we've caused this passenger and her family, and to any other customers affected by this incident. In short, we are disappointed by these actions."

ALLEN: OK. Now, we're going to turn to smartphones. And again, smartphones are what keeps everyone seeing what goes on in the airplane. Right?

HOWELL: They're right here.

ALLEN: There's video everywhere. It's no accident you can't get away from it. The technology actually was designed to be addictive and get us all hooked.

HOWELL: But now, some in the tech world, they are questioning whether that's ethical. For more on this, let's get CNNMoney Laurie Segall with her excerpt from the series, "Mostly Human".


LAURIE SEGALL, CNNMONEY.COM: What I find kind of fascinating is in Silicon Valley right now, there's actually a movement for people to take a step away from their phone and also build tech products that actually kind of have ethics baked in.

So I went to an underground meetup happening in Silicon Valley and I spoke to engineers and entrepreneurs who were beginning to have these conversations about have we gone too far with our technology and, you know, what's the ethical thing to do?

I have one conversation with an engineer whose job was to addict us to our smartphones. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we were in was the science of understanding what make a product addictive, why do people keep coming back? What are the hooks? It became a really interesting game for us because I would actually look at it right next to nicotine and cigarette use. Anytime you're looking at your phone, it's actually controlling you as much as you're controlling it.

SEGALL: Do you mean it's all addict?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Well -- and that was part of the game. We would all sit around the table and figure out, did that work? Let's see if we could get them to come back one more time per day or one more time per week.

SEGALL: Can you give me any specific examples?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the notifications you get. There's a reason they come at the certain time that they do, the words that are chosen in there. Every character of that has been A/B tested for you and your personality type.

SEGALL: So is there a reason you're here tonight? Are you repenting for your sins? Is that what's happening?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you think about it, I see a lot of familiar faces. We were all the 29-year-olds that were all super gung-ho. I see the same reflectiveness around the room. Now that we've connected the world, we can probably do better.

We realize there are apps that are more addictive than chemically addictive substances. I got them reaching for their phones 125 times a day, like, just with my app. So then we all high five each other. We go, "Wait a minute. Are we doing the right thing?"

SEGALL (voice-over): So how far have we gone? And is it even possible to pull back? A question that took me to Sherry Turkle. She's an MIT professor and has been studying our complicated relationship with technology for decades.

SEGALL: This is like a moment of reckoning. Maybe I'm being dramatic about it.

SHERRY TURKLE, ABBY ROCKEFELLER MAUZE PROFESSOR OF THE SOCIAL STUDIES OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, MASSACHUSSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: No, no. I'll give you an example. You have your phone face down on the table, and I can tell it's turned off. A phone turned upside down and turned off on a table during lunch, which most people think that is polite. It does two things to the conversation. Now, look at me.


TURKLE: You need to look because it's hard to take. It makes the conversation turn to more trivial matters and makes the two people in the conversation feel less of an empathic connection to each other. You have to take the phone and put it out of both of our vision. The phone is a reminder, kind of subliminal reminder to both of us. These phones take us elsewhere.

SEGALL: OK. So first of all --

TURKLE: Yes, good. Go. Yes.

SEGALL: OK. As you can see, it's a little bit uncomfortable. And I will say, we had a very good conversation when I put my phone away. And it definitely got you thinking, and I think this whole kind of journey and learning about how much our smartphones, how much technology is impacting us, even for me, was very personal. That makes you kind of want to take a step back and kind of invest in the real world a little bit more.


HOWELL: Laurie Segall, thanks. And of course, you can catch more of her special report online. Just go to

ALLEN: Mine's gone.

HOWELL: I put my phone away, too.

ALLEN: We'll be right back.


DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Don Riddell with your CNN World Sport headlines.

Chelsea are going to the FA cup final after a four-two win over Tottenham at London's Wembley Stadium. A decisive goal against the Spurs came from an unlikely source, defensive midfielder, Nemanja Matic.

It was an incredible strike, and just look at the reaction of his teammates on the bench. Kurt Zouma could not believe what he's seen. It wasn't just inched perfect. It was hit within millimeters of the top corner. The goalie never saw it. That is now an historic seven consecutive semi-final defeat for the Spurs. Chelsea are in the final.

A quite unusual weekend in the Fed Cup tie between Romania and Great Britain. As a result the removal of Romania's captain, Ilie Nastase. During Saturday's matches, he was verbally abusive to the umpire, a British player, and their captain. The language he reportedly used was explicit and play was suspended while he was removed from the court, and ultimately, the stadium. The (INAUDIBLE) says his accreditation to (INAUDIBLE) and he will play no further part in the time.

The cycling community is mourning the death of the popular Italian rider Michele Scarponi, former Giro d'Italia winner known for his broad smile and infectious personality. Scarponi had just finished fourth in the Tour of the Alps and he was out training on Saturday when he was struck and killed by a van. He was just 37 years old.

That is a quick look at your sports headline, I'm Don Riddell.

HOWELL: Welcome back. Want to tell you about these wildfires that continue to burn across Central and Southern Florida. They're forcing thousands of people to leave their homes.

ALLEN: And currently, the firefighters are battling the fire. There's one near Naples and Southwestern Florida, where an estimated 6,500 hectares, that's about 21,000 acres, have already burned. Our meteorologist, Derek Van Dam, is going to tell us what is behind this.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN ANCHOR: Some of these fires are actually sending flames 150 feet in the air, engulfing homes in its path, charring people's backyards and of course, their livelihoods as well.

Check out some of the footage coming out of this area. You can see the vicious, vicious flames, extremely dry, brittle conditions taking place. Thank goodness for the personnel and the volunteers battling these blazes because they're doing a very, very good job, but unfortunately, we don't have 100 percent containment on some of the larger fires.

So Natalie asked about, well, what makes up these wildfires? What do we have? We have three major ingredients that make a wildfire spread. And it may sound obvious, but really, you got to think about it. The fuel for the fire is needed, the dry grass land. Some of the marshy areas maybe not getting much rain or water lately. They can dry out very easily.

And then you talk about the heat. You need the heat for an ignition source. We've had temperatures soaring in the 80s lately. And then oxygen. Oxygen, the air that we breathe is about 21 percent oxygen and fire, in order for it to ignite and spread, only needs about 16 percent. So we have plenty of that, certainly.

Here's the latest on the Collier County area, where Naples is located, 268 personnel actually fighting this fire, 28,000 acres burned, 60 percent containment. I mean, see that white line right there? That is actually Interstate 75. So if you've driven through this area, you know that that's a major artery. And unfortunately, this fire is actually encroaching across the highway and could potentially lower the visibility and be a major concern across that area.

Central and Southern Florida, 35 active wildfires that are over 100 acres, and it's all thanks to the severe drought conditions that are ongoing across Central and Southern Florida. National Drought Observation Network says about 34 percent of that, actually, of the state, has severe drought conditions.

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Good news is, there's rain in this forecast today and into the day on Monday as a cold front sweeps through the area. But unfortunately, cold fronts can also cause some tricky situations. They actually drop the relative humidity, which can bring back our fire threat as we head into the middle of next week as temperatures warm.


ALLEN: Ninety degrees. All right, Derek.

HOWELL: Derek, thank you.

ALLEN: we'll be thinking about Florida.

HOWELL: Absolutely. And thank you for being with us. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. For viewers here in the U.S., "New Day" starts next. For everyone else, "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts in just a moment. We'll see you next time.