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U.S. Guided Destroyer Collided with Merchant Ship; Critics Question Trump's Mental Capacity; A Massive Manhunt for Barcelona Attacker; U.S. and South Korea Draws Threats from North Korea; A Rare Total Eclipse Excites People. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired August 21, 2017 - 03:00   ET



[03:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN HOST: Three a.m. On the U.S. East Coast. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world following the breaking news this hour nn CNN. I'm George Howell at CNN center in Atlanta.

Search and rescue efforts are underway after the U.S. guided destroyer collided with a merchant ship near Singapore. This happened early Monday. Ten sailors are missing from the USS John S. McCain. Five are injured.

And there is some visible damage. You can see a gaping hole above and significantly below the ship's water line but it's moving to port under its own power. This is the fourth mishap involving a U.S. Navy warship in the Pacific this year.

Let's get the very latest this hour from CNN's senior U.S. correspondent Kyung Lah, live in Tokyo with us. Kyung, what more do you know about the situation with these sailors, the search for the missing and those who were injured?

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: We haven't received any recent update. The last update that we got from the seventh fleet was that ship, as you said, was sailing under its own power back to port in Singapore. And that the investigation was going to pick up from there.

The last thing we heard about those sailors is that they remain missing. That there are a number of assets that have been deployed to that region from U.S. helicopters to ospreys from the U.S. marines, to assistance from Singapore, Malaysia, a significant effort to try to figure out where these sailors are.

So that's the very latest that we've heard, that the search is underway, that the ship is heading back to port and that they are going to try to figure out what happened with these young sailors from what we understand, George, they've tried to reach out to families. The seventh fleet tweeting out a support number for families to call in.

It bears to remember that many of the people aboard the ships, because you know, we've been aboard a lot of them. They are very young, they are in their 20's and these young people are still missing. George?

HOWELL: Yes. And there is some context here with regards to the U.S. Navy. This is not the first time that we've seen an incidence like this. Reported collision just two months ago, the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Philippine container ship. Before that, two other incidents earlier in the year. What can you tell us about that with regards to the overall optics here, the big picture?

LAH: Well, we can take it piece by piece by looking at the USS Fitzgerald report just came out this past Thursday detailing the events. What happened when that collision happened? But it didn't answer how it could have happened.

And then, if you look at the breadth of all of these, looking at this one that just happened, USS Fitzgerald colliding with a container ship. May 9, the USS Lake Champlain being struck by a fishing boat. And then, the USS Antietam running a ground while anchoring.

Three out of the four with the exception of the USS Lake Champlain they are all part of seventh fleet base here in Japan. Some questions about how this could happen, be how is really what's going to be at play here for some of these families who want know is there something wrong systemically.

The USS Fitzgerald report is harrowing. It is frightening. And the top two commanders were relieved of their duty. The investigation is still underway. A number of the people aboard the Fitzgerald are expected to be punished as part of this incident, George.

HOWELL: Our senior U.S. correspondent Kyung Lah, live for us in Tokyo. Thanks for the reporting, Kyung. We'll stay in touch with you as you continue monitoring developments there.

Here in the United States President Trump tweeted about the collision saying the following, quote, "Thoughts and prayers are with our U.S. Navy aboard the USS John S. McCain where search and rescue efforts are underway."

The president is back in Washington after what's been a very difficult week. And he is starting a new week with a major announcement focus on foreign policy.

In an address to the nation in the coming ours, Mr. Trump will outline what's being called a new path focused on Afghanistan and for South Asia.

More than 8,000 troops are in Afghanistan. But the Taliban and other militants still control or contest large parts of that country.

We got more now from my colleague Boris Sanchez on this report.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The president is said to address the nation later tonight at 9 p.m. And he is expected to outline the strategy in Afghanistan and further the South Asia strategy for this White House that has been working on figuring out this piece of the puzzle in that part of the world for many months.

The president has several options on the table including a surge of troops that something that several republican senators have voiced a support for including John McCain of Arizona.

[03:04:56] Another potential option is a complete withdraw or perhaps a shifting of some of the responsibilities in Afghanistan from American personnel to private contractors.

Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, was asked about this new approach on Sunday. He didn't get into too much detail except to say that he wanted to allow the president to give his own explanation to the American people. Here is more from Secretary Mattis.

JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I was not willing to make significant troop lifts until we may certainly knew what was the strategy, what was the commitment going in.

In that regard the president has made a decision, as he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people so I'll stand silent until then. Until that point.

SANCHEZ: Also of note, you've heard Secretary Mattis echo that idea that this wouldn't be just a strategy for Afghanistan but rather an entire South Asia strategy for the entire region.

To give you some context, this is the longest war in American history dating back to the fall of 2001. As you know, President Obama declared an end to combat operations in Afghanistan back in 2014. Fast forward to February of this year, 2017 as a commander of troops in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, declaring that there was essentially a stalemate between American and Afghan troops and the Taliban.

So it will be interesting to see which of these options the president chooses moving forward. Certainly, a heated point of contention between many officials close to the president and we will find out his decision tonight at the 9 p.m.

Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in Bridgewater, New Jersey.


HOWELL: President Trump's Afghanistan announcement will follow what has been a very rocky week to say the least. So, the question, will this be the opportunity for the president to turn the page?

Well, let's talk about the pages that he hopes to turn first with Scott Lucas. Scott, a professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham in England, and the founder of E.A. World View and editor. Thanks for being with us, Scott, this hour.

So, before we talk about the week ahead, let's talk about the week that was. We saw Mr. Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon fired. There's also that intense criticism the president faced for his response that both sides were somehow to blame for what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia. Controversies that came at rapid pace.

And now, this new NBC News/Marist poll showing three key states that helped President Trump to win the election. Sixty four percent of registered voters in Michigan. Sixty three percent in Pennsylvania. Sixty four percent in Wisconsin. Now say they feel embarrassed by his conduct in office.

Scott, the question here the snapshot that we see, what does it say about where the president stands?

SCOTT LUCAS, POLITICS PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: I think the president has been standing on slippery ground for months. The Russia investigation, the failure to get any major legislation through Congress including healthcare proposals, uncertainty over his budget, and uncertainty within the White House.

The question is whether that slippery slope became a cliff face last Tuesday when he appeared to give a pass to white supremacist and criticism the so-called alt-left over Charlottesville. You know, it's one thing to accept the people who carry Confederate flags. It is a different thing to appear to be endorsing or accepting Swastikas, Nazi style salutes, anti-Semitic slogans.

Now as, I think your correspondents are noting the hope is today that the Afghanistan announcement will sweep some of that to the side. Now let's not talk about Charlottesville, let's not talk about white supremacy. But can it actually push aside the Russia investigation and the economic issues in the weeks to come, and indeed, is the Afghanistan proposal really a strategy or just simply a holding announcement? Those are the questions we face in coming weeks.

HOWELL: So, you know, the president in his first response was criticized for not saying the words white supremacist, neo-Nazis and KKK members. Again, in his first response he only did so in his follow-up response with reporters the next day then. Well, not the next day, rather, a couple of days of that.

But Mr. Trump is getting support from Jerry Falwell, Jr., giving the president credit presumably for that a second try naming the problem. Let's listen.


JERRY FALWELL, JR., PRESIDENT, LIBERTY UNIVERSITY: The bold and truthful statements I was referring to were his willingness to call evil and terrorism by its name to identify the groups, the Nazis, the KKK, the white supremacists, and that's something a leader should do. I admire him for that.

You know, he, President Trump is something that we haven't had in national leadership in a long time. He is substance over form. So many of our politicians recent leaders, national leaders have been form over substance. They tell people what they want to hear. They sugar- coat everything. Or they have sugar-coated everything.

And I think the American people have gotten sort of thin-skinned and I think they need to listen to the substance of what he said.


[03:10:05] HOWELL: Well, the substance of what he said the first time, Scott, he didn't use those words. The second time he did. Keeping in mind, President Trump when he was running for office, constantly criticizing his predecessors for not using the terms radical Islamic terror.

The question to you, Scott, does the president deserve the credit that he's getting from Mr. Falwell given that he was -- he didn't use the words initially?

LUCAS: Well, I'm the son of a preacher. So let me be clear. Mr. Falwell is not speaking as a religious figure, he was speaking as a political speaker for the president. You say that Donald Trump came out and criticized white supremacist, he didn't criticize racism.

Well, he did so in a prepared statement a week ago on Monday, he read that from a script. It was a day later you may remember that at this ad hoc press conference at his -- at Trump Tower that he came out and said it was the alt-left that were carrying clubs, saying it was fake news and fake media that were whipping out for white supremacist threat.

And then he went on Twitter and tried to shift the issue to that concern, you know, Confederate statues. Look, you know, all these white supremacists and neo-Nazis were doing were supposedly, you know, defending these symbols of southern heritage and culture.

So, no, Jerry Falwell is recreating the events of the past. We need to be clear about that. The question is, moving forward, do we see an attempt by the president and but his realigned White House staff with Steve Bannon gone to be more conciliatory, to recognize the issues before all-Americans, not just some, or does Trump revert back to his aggressive and quite often hostile rhetoric.

HOWELL: Scott Lucas, thanks so much for your time today.

LUCAS: Thank you.

HOWELL: Some members of Congress are now openly questioning Mr. Trump's fitness for office. The top democrat on the House intelligence committee has called for more staff shakeup at the White House but says the fundamental problem is at the top.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I certainly think that there's an issue with the president's capability. To some attribute to his character that makes him assimilate and capable of introspection and a broad understanding of what the country really needs.

And I think it's a question that people are asking. You know, what is going on with this president? What could explain this kind of behavior. (END VIDEO CLIP)

HOWELL: And then is this from CNN contributor and iconic journalist Carl Bernstein telling our Brian Stelter that reporters need to investigate President Trump's fitness for office. Listen.


CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Republicans in Congress, the highest of intelligence officials, the highest of military officers in our country, leaders of the business community, all of whom have dealt with the White House and many of them dealt personally with Donald Trump, have come to believe that he is unfit for the presidency.

That's what I'm learning as a reporter talking to many, many people in Washington who over the last month or two have come to that conclusion and especially among republicans in Congress. They have been raising the very question of his stability and his mental fitness to be president of the United States.

This is not me, Carl Bernstein saying this, this is me Carl Bernstein being a reporter. What I have advocated and said it is an important crucial dangerous story that reporters need to start making their business to do the reporting. To go to all the republican members of Congress and talk to them in private or on the record, if they will, about what they believe to be the fitness or unfitness of Donald Trump to be President of the United States.


BRIAN STELTER, CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": But when reporters do they, they usually get a no comment, right? They usually get a no comment. How do we get to this issue if GOP leaders won't talk about it?

BERNSTEIN: First of all, I think that you're not going to get too many people who will do what Bob Corker did on the record and question the president's stability but let's find out. But I think the first task is to remember that most of the good reporting, real deep reporting, investigative reporting we do, does involve anonymity for our sources.

And we need to know that people don't have an axe to grind. I don't think we ought to be talking to democrats about this question. Primarily we need to go to the republicans in Congress. we need to go to the top intelligence officials, military officials and ask them on background as we call it in our profession, and perhaps off the record, what do they think about the president's stability and fitness to be president of the United States.


HOWELL: And in Austin, Texas, the University of Texas is moving the remaining Confederate statues on its campus. In a statement the university's president said that "It's clear Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazis."

[03:14:59] Six Confederate statues on the campus were the first evaluated after the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina of 2015. A that time two statues were relocated. Now the remaining four statues are being moved as well.

Still ahead, as Barcelona tries to heal from last week's deadly terror attacks, the hunt for one of the men responsible is going beyond Spain's border.

Also ahead, a missing World War II warship has finally been found. The story of the USS Indianapolis.


HOWELL: The search for a suspect in Spain's twin terror attacks is now an international manhunt. Spanish police work to reinforce the border with France but they fear he may have crossed that border at some point.

In the meantime, investigators are learning more about the terror cell and the extent of the plans.

Following the story, CNN's Isa Soares is live in Barcelona. As this investigation is ongoing, people still taking time to remember the victims in this terrible tragedy.

[03:20:02] ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A very good morning to you. Very much so, George. If I'm going to step out of the way so you can get a sense of the memorials that really just cropped up here throughout at Catalonia and which leads on to Las Ramblas. There are several memorials just throughout this main road. You can see media but also tourist, many tourists come to this area. But also many Spaniards coming here to put down -- put down their flowers, lay flowers but also candles.

Lots of messages. Messages of peace. But also messages in Catalan that say not to support. We do not have any fear. So this is very much a show of unity, a show of force, a show that we have seen in the last few hours in Spain.


SOARES: Standing strong and united. A defiant Barcelona. Living up to its motto. More than a clump. Today, a city. A fitting ending to what has been a somber day. Earlier, Spaniards gather outside the symbolic Sagrada Familia. Inside, Spain's King Felipe and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy pay tribute to those who died and the more than a hundred injured.

The prayers hadn't even been heard when the tragedy of August 17th was relived once more. Authorities telling CNN 7-year-old Julian Cadman thought to be missing was confirmed dead.

As the country continues to come together both to grief and to mourn, police are making strides in what has become an increasingly complex investigation.

JOSEP LLUIS TRAPERO, HEAD OF THE CATALAN POLICE (through translator): They planned one or more attacks in Barcelona with explosives that were made during these days in the hopes of causing even greater damage.

SOARES: The grand plan orchestrated from right here. They may have long gone but their shadow continues to haunt the sleepy town.

For days now controlled explosions have rocked Alcanar. Police carefully sifting through rubble and the pile of explosives. Taking stock of the magnitude of what was being planned.

TRAPERO (through translator): The number of canisters is more than 100 at the moment. But the inspection isn't over yet. It will probably last days because it's a very slow process. As you know, this is the kind of explosive used habitually in Daesh attacks. And we are finding the ingredients to make these kinds of explosives

SOARES: For six months they squatted in this house until a mistake by them forced their hand. Since that explosion, police say they discovered human remains belonging to two suspected terrorists. A third suffered serious injuries and is now under arrest.

As the pieces of the puzzle come together, this man, Younes Abouyaaqoub is still on the run. Police may have been intensified the hunt with reinforcements in highway and borders. But five days on from the terror attack they acknowledge he may have slipped through the net.


SOARES: And George, not authorities for Younes Abouyaaqoub, who Spanish media say is 22 years of age and is originally from Morocco. But it seems to be a lot of questions around the imam from Ripoll, this is the area where Younes Abouyaaqoub is from. An area where 8 of the 12 suspected terrorist attackers are from.

And police wanting to know more about the imam and perhaps his role in the investigation and how much of a role do you have in really trying to radicalize these young men. These are questions the authorities now closely trying to get answers to. George?

HOWELL: Trying to understand exactly the origin of why and how this all came together. Isa Soares, live for us in Barcelona. Thanks for the reporting today.

Some breaking news to tell you about. The USS John S. McCain has just arrived at Singapore's Tiangge naval base more than ten hours after colliding with a merchant ship early Monday. Take a look here these images that were taken earlier. And you see there is visible damage there. There is a gaping hole above and significantly below that ship's water line.

Search and rescue operations are ongoing. They continue for 10 U.S. Navy sailors that are still missing. Five sailors, as we understand, are injured.

The first total solar eclipse to cross the continent of United States is almost a century -- in almost a century will start in another 10 hours. The people have been traveling to states like Oregon, they'll have the very best views.

Our Miguel Marquez hit the road to see how some people are planning to watch and celebrate this eclipse.


[03:25:00] MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Countdown to total eclipse coast to coast.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the sun and this is the eclipse. And this is the moon and it goes directly at it and then makes it totally dark.

MARQUEZ: In its path, an astronomical celebration from or Oregon to South Carolina. The place to be, the 70-mile swath of full eclipse or totality of the moon shadow racing across the country right through 12 states turning day into night.

What do you think is going to happen?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like, I don't think you really should look at the sun.

MARQUEZ: No, you shouldn't.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It might burn your eyes.

MARQUEZ: Good advice heeded everywhere. In Chicago long lines despite the rain for eclipse viewing glasses, eclipse traffic already heavy.

SUSAN MARTINEZ, OREGON RESIDENT: We are hearing a lot of information about the traffic's going to be real heavy that day. We're going to be staying home.

MARQUEZ: Cities and small towns along the path of totality preparing for massive crowds.

You think can you literally double, triple, quadruple the size of this place overnight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, easily. Yes, very much so. And the people will be spread out through town.

MARQUEZ: In Idaho all hands on deck for massive crowds across the country. Friends staying with friends. Families coming together. Millions on the move. Even camping out for this once in a lifetime happening. You've been planning this trip for how long?


MARQUEZ: Seven years?

JOHNSON: Yes. We got two vehicles, with truck campers. And we left at 4.30 in the morning. We got here about 3.30 in the afternoon.

MARQUEZ: In the math of totality, total eclipse of the theme for everything from dark of day wine in Nebraska to martinis in Oregon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We take the martini glass and rim it with a little bit of Oreo crust.

MARQUEZ: And of course, 'eclipsical' doughnuts.

KENNETH 'CAT DADDY' POGSON, OWNER, VOODOO DOUGHNUT: It's a chocolate top, it's got this sun ring around it. But then when you break it up and it's full of sunshine and orange creamsical flavoring.

MARQUEZ: This eclipse unique for the U.S. The last time one went coast to coast here, 1918. Woodrow Wilson was President and the First World War was nearing its end.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Independence, Oregon.


HOWELL: It's going to be exciting. Miguel, thanks for the report.

Still ahead, the U.S. president will soon outline a new strategy for Afghanistan. But can he find a way out of the war? Some say is unwinnable.

Also ahead this hour, U.S. and South Korean war games draw new threats from Pyongyang, a live report from Seoul, South Korea. CNN live on both CNN international and CNN USA this hour. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Three thirty-one a.m. on the U.S. East Coast. Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. It is good to have you with us.

I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you this hour.

The U.S. Navy is searching for 10 sailors missing after the USS John S. McCain, a guided missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship east of Singapore. Five sailors are injured and there is some damage to the ship with flooding in several places.

In Spain, police say they cannot confirm that the key suspect in last week's deadly terror attack is still in the country. They believe he may have fled north past with the border with France.

The attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils left 14 people left dead and left more than 100 people wounded.

The U.S. President, Donald Trump is planning to address the nation Monday night to explain new detail of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Despite years of involvement by the United States the Taliban remains a powerful force in that nation. President Trump's team has been working on options for Afghanistan for

many months now. More than 8,000 U.S. troops are presently stationed there. It's not clear if more troops will join them under the new strategy or if there will be a full or partial withdrawal.

The Defense Secretary James Mattis says the president's strategy will not just cover Afghanistan but will also cover South Asia. Listen.


MATTIS: I was not willing to make significant troop lifts until we may certainly knew what was the strategy, what was the commitment going in. In that regard the president has made a decision, as he said, he wants to be the one to announce it to the American people so I'll stand silent until then. Until that point.


HOWELL: Let's bring in CNN intelligence and security analyst, Bob Baer for more on what we can expect from this announcement. Bob, it's good to have you with us this hour.

This, from the president who has criticized U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. It's a decision that was several months in the making since he took office. What do you expect to hear from President Trump and what do you believe is needed there?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think he's going to boost the troop level. There's been no indication we're going to pull off of Afghanistan at all, I mean, at this point. I just don't think this president is willing to say, hey, I can't win the war, so let's pull out, and frankly, you know, what he is up against is this is an unwinnable war.

It's not just a war against the Taliban, it's a war against the Pashtun tribal confederation which strands the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, some 40 million people. So adding 3,000 or 4,000 troops may sound good on paper but at the end of the day it's not going to take back up Afghanistan.

HOWELL: Let's talk about the options that were considered before, you know, the president has reached this particular conclusion. Options to increase troops as you pointed out, options to reduce those numbers and another that was floated to send in private mercenaries but reports indicate that last option was never taken seriously.

BAER: Well, the private mercenaries won't work. It makes no difference to the, you know, our fate on the battlefield. You know, sending in Eric Prince's Blackwater is not going to win this war. And I know Eric Prince has been out there promoting this with Steve Bannon and a lot of other people.

I just don't think McMaster, the National Security Adviser, or Mattis, the Secretary of Defense, are going to buy off on this. I think the most we can do at this point is hold ground because the Taliban is, you know, contesting and controlling 50 percent of Afghanistan. [03:35:00] They are doing better today than they've ever done since we

invaded in 2001. So you know, frankly, this president doesn't know what to do, and this is why it has taken so long.

And you know, what it would take to occupy Afghanistan is more than 100,000 troops. And that's -- and that would be indefinitely. And it would do nothing for the Pashtun or on the other side of the border in Pakistan. So it's sort it's a quagmire that no one has got an easy solution for.

HOWELL: Bob Baer giving us some insight and analysis. Thank you for your time today, Bob.

BAER: Thanks, George.

HOWELL: Military exercises are getting underway between the United States and South Korea and they're drawing new threats from Pyongyang.

On Sunday, the North Korean state media called the drills quote, "reckless" and said they were a move toward a possible nuclear war. They also said its military can target Guam, can target Hawaii, and the United States mainland at any time with a quote, "merciless strike."

Following this story is CNN's Paula Hancocks is live in Seoul, South Korea. Paula, given the rhetoric that we saw just a week ago, talk to us about the sensitivity if there is any heightened sensitivity involved in what's happening.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, the sort of remarks that we're hearing from North Korea at this point are as expected. They happen very often just before a joint military job between the U.S. and South Korea. But as you said, we started at a heightened level of tensions given the very strong remarks you had back and forth between the U.S. president and North Korea.

So, certainly there is -- there is some concern at the heightened level that we're looking at. We have heard common remarks from President Moon, for example, of South Korea saying that there will be no second Korean war on the peninsula, just this morning talking to the cabinet he said that it was very important to note that these drills are defensive. Let's listen to a bit of what he said.


MOON JAE-IN, PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA (through translator): There's no intent at all to heighten military tension on the Korean Peninsula as these drills are handled annually and of a defensive nature. North Korea should not should not exaggerate our efforts to keep peace, nor should they engage in provocations that would worsen the situation using the exercises as an excuse.


HANCOCKS: We also heard from the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, he said that North Korea is well aware that these are defensive drills. They are well aware that they are annual. But they feel that this is necessary for them to say potentially for a domestic audience.

One thing to point out, though, when it comes to these drills is that they are very different from the drills we have in the springtime here in South Korea between the U.S. and South Korea. These are more of a computer simulation.

It's a -- we heard from the secretary of defense saying it's more a case of seeing soldiers hunch over computer screens rather than these massive amphibious landing drills. The live fire drills, dramatic pictures which North Korea finds very provocative, but of course we'll just have to wait and see how provocative North Korea finds even these kinds of drills. George?

HOWELL: We'll have to wait and see. Paula Hancocks, live in Seoul. Thanks for the report, Paula.

Fans are mourning American comedian Jerry Lewis. Jerry Lewis died Sunday at the age of 91 years old. A look back at the life and legacy of the man whose name was synonymous with laughter still ahead.


HOWELL: The world is mourning the loss of two comedy legends this weekend. Comedian and Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory died Saturday in Washington. The 84-year-old used stinging comedy to fight for social change and broke barriers during the U.S. Civil Rights era.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel so sorry for Willie. I hate to see any baseball player having trouble. But that's a great sport for my people. That is the only sport in the world where a Negro can shake a stick at a white man and won't start no riots.


HOWELL: Reverend Jesse Jackson is paying tribute to Dick Gregory saying, quote, "He taught us how to laugh. He taught us how to fight. He taught us how to live."

And beloved comedian and humanitarian Jerry Lewis died on Sunday. Lewis was 91 years old.

Our Stephanie Elam takes a look back now at the extraordinary life of man who made generations laugh until they fell over.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was born Joseph Levich in 1926 but he became known to the world as Jerry Lewis. The zany but lovable fool in films such as the Bell Boy and the "Nutty Professor."

Lewis hit a big at age 20 when he teamed up with another young entertainer, Dean Martin. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dean was of zero, macho, and I was the monkey. And

I knew we had lightning in a barrel.

ELAM: Martin and Lewis became one of the most popular comedy teams in history. Thousands of sold-out performances. Sixteen hit movies and dozens of radio and TV appearances. On his own, Lewis signed a seven- year $10 million contract with Paramount in 1959. At that time, it was the largest contract ever between a studio and performer.

Lewis went on to act in or direct shows and movies for several decades. He later offered this advice to fellow entertainers.

JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN: Be a hit. Score. Get the audience laughing and happy. That's the secret of success in this business.

ELAM: He didn't just make audiences laugh. Lewis used his fame to make a difference taking up the fight against muscular dystrophy. For than more decades his annual Labor Day telethons helped raise more than a billion dollars for research and treatment and almost always ended with his signature song "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Lewis struggled with his own health problems over the year, including prostate cancer, type 1 diabetes, pulmonary fibrosis, and heart disease.

LEWIS: It's been a long, long grueling rise. I've ingested more than 24,000 pills.

ELAM: But through it all, kept his sense of humor.

LEWIS: You better laugh at it. Because this -- the alternative is not funny.


HOWELL: Jerry Lewis.

In the coming hours, the day will turn briefly to night. In many parts of the United States millions of Americans will watch this happen. More on the solar eclipse next.


HOWELL: Breaking news we're following out of Spain. Authorities there have confirmed the key suspect Younes Abouyacoub was in fact the driver who rammed a van into a busy Barcelona street on Thursday. That attack killing 13.

Officials were unsure if the driver was killed in a shootout with police but they now believe that Abouyacoub who is still at large, who is still on the run, was in fact behind the wheel. They also think that he may have escaped the country as the international manhunt to find him continues.

Here in the United States in coming hours, millions of Americans will watch the first total solar eclipse to travel across the United States in nearly a century. The path of totality, that's where the moon completely blocks out the sun and things will get really dark is about 70 miles or 112 kilometers wide, and many people are heading to those areas to try to catch a glimpse.

The total eclipse will start on the West Coast of United States just after 10 a.m. Pacific Time and ends on the East Coast just before 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

Let's talk more about it with Lucy Green. Lucy is a professor of physics at University College of London. Good to have you with us.

[03:50:02] Lucy, I know you won't be able to see it there in the United Kingdom. A lot of people here in the States are pretty excited about this. Help our viewers understand the significance of this event. It's described as a once in a lifetime eclipse. There will be another one in 2024, why is this the eclipse not to miss?

LUCY GREEN, PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS, UNIVERSITY OF COLLEGE LONDON: I think this eclipse is extra special. Because as you mentioned, we haven't had a total solar eclipse that is able to be visible from the West Coast to the East Coast since 1918.

And this solar eclipse is only visible in America with about 12 million people living under that path of totality and many millions more able to drive to that site. And many of my colleagues in the U.K. have come across to America to be able to see it.

And as you later in northwestern we will just have a fairly short partial solar eclipse that might be visible if the weather is clear. But you have to go to America if you want to see the total solar eclipse this year.

HOWELL: Talk to us about the things the scientists can learn from this particular eclipse?

GREEN: It is very exciting. Because you might think that whether the space telescopes we have and ground-based telescopes that we have that total solar eclipses is superseded by modern technology.

But in fact, during the solar eclipse, the aspect that makes it so exciting is that the atmosphere of the sun is revealed. So the moon blocks out the darkening disc of the surface and this the tenuous atmosphere is seen to us.

And in that atmosphere we have lots and lots of interesting physical processes at play. So it's a million-degree atmosphere. We want know why it's heated to those temperatures. There are huge explosives and eruptions that takes place in the atmosphere. And it turns out that during the total eclipse, you get such a good view of the atmosphere, better than the we cannot see without see without space telescopes. So it still is a very relevant time to observe the sun.

HOWELL: All right. So this is all very exciting. But look, there is also a warning, people have to watch out. You can't look directly at the sun, Lucy. And if you do look at the sun you have to take these glasses off or whatever and you have to put these glasses on. And you know, I can't see you right now but I think that's good thing.

If I can see a light bulb or something through these glasses, there will a problem, right? What's the...


GREEN: Absolutely.

HOWELL: ... the importance of using these glasses to watch this eclipse?

GREEN: Absolutely. So, the sun is so incredibly bright and, you know, you have you a natural blink reflex for a reason. So, it is hard to look at the sun. But what you don't realize is that you have lots of heat radiation coming into your eyes as well. So you can you damage your eyes but ends, the fact you are going to have you no pain sensors in there means you won't realize it.

So really it is important never look at the sun directly. The only time it's safe to do so is when the total eclipse is in process. So once, what we call the bailey beads have gone, the diamond ring has gone and really the sun is covered up.

It's only safe to take off your eclipse glasses then. So otherwise you need your eclipse glasses or you can do something like make a pinhole camera, tiny pinhole in a piece of card. Hold it horizontally. Let the sun light go through it and project the image of the sun on the ground. So that's the edge of the time we have the partial eclipse phases.

HOWELL: Lucy, I'm wearing the glasses again. So, I think it's important to keep them on obviously when people go to this eclipse. Thanks for taking time with us to give some understanding of what is to come and what to do.

Let's now bring in our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri to tell us about what we will see, what to expect, and Pedram, let's get that word out again. Just wear the glasses. It's so important.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Absolutely. It only take a couple seconds.


JAVAHERI: Less than three seconds to, George, you know, to cause permanent damage to your eyes.

I just want to show you what we are dealing with as far as the weather pattern is set up. Because really the northwestern corner of the country that place to be Oregon, Idaho, on into parts of Wyoming, generally clear skies.

Given to the center region it runs the totality zone plenty of clouds and plenty of thunderstorms and especially around the coastal region of South Carolina, Charleston in particular it looks to be potentially very cloudy. But across say Southern California when you get about 60 percent

totality, this is in South Texas where he had about 50 percent coverage and then work your way out towards San Francisco, 75percent. Seattle, 90 percent. And of course, once you get to totality and that narrow path, 100 percent is achieved and you can see stars and you can see planets in some cases, and of course you have heard how animals act and you just ambiance outside as well. Really impressive.

But really what's the most dangerous of all of this is the interaction between the sun and your retina, look in the back of your eye. Because the sun's rays can instantly destroy the rods and cones which are actually the point in your eyes that transfer the electrical impulses as light into your brain. They do a great job in doing that.

But there are very -- there is no sensitivity at all to pain within them. So, as they are being killed off and causing permanent damage you're not feeling any pain, so within a couple seconds, yes, you could lose your eyesight temporarily if not forever.

[03:55:00] And I'll tell you about a story about myself. I have looked inadvertently while looking through clouds about 15 years ago. I have permanent damage of this flare area which is on the white part of my eye some sun spots have occurred because of that. So don't act like me, don't let that happen to you.

And you know, it's really fascinating because the difference really is that distance. Because sun in fact is some 400 times wider than the moon but it's about 400 times farther away as well. So, if you are standing on earth this perspective makes it look like the exact same size on a day like today.

So if you're in this region of totality, that's why everyone wants to be there. And really interesting to think about it. Because if you think if you're at 95, 96 or 97 percent coverage of the moon over the sun, that it's going to very dark outside, not necessary the case.

In fact, it is still about 10,000 times brighter when it's at 99 percent coverage versus 100 percent coverage. So, that 1 percent makes it all the difference. Kind of like a black out curtain in a hotel, say where a little bit of it are left open and tremendous amount of light, George.

HOWELL: My wife wants to see the 100 percent so we're going to get on the road, we'll get into traffic. I'll be in the traffic, I'm sure...


JAVAHERI: You and me both.

HOWELL: Wish us look, Pedram. Yes, thank you so much.


HOWELL: And we're excited of course about this eclipse. We want to tell you about a special page that's on our web site It has videos and countdown clock and everything you need to know more about this eclipse. And if you're in the United States you can even plug in your address to see how close you are to the path. Check it all out at

And thank you for being with us this hour for CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

Early Start is next for our viewers here in the United States. And the news continues for our viewers around the world with our colleague Hannah Vaughan Jones.

You're watching CNN, the world's news leader.