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President Tackles Sports World; Anti-American Rally In Pyongyang; MLB Player Takes Knee During National Anthem; Trump Trades Threats And Insults With Pyongyang; U.S. Bombers Fly East of North Korea; North Korea Threatens Pacific Hydrogen Bomb Test; New Quake Shakes Country Already Coping With Disaster; 307 Confirmed Dead After Tuesday Quake; Merkel Expected To Win Fourth Term As Chancellor; Far Right Party May Enter Federal Parliament For First Time; Trump Signals Kim May Not Be Around Much Longer; New Earthquake Hits Mexico, Death Toll Climbs; U.S. Army Reserves Sends 4,000 Troops To Puerto Rico; Feud Heats Up Between Trump And Pro Sports; Trump Rescinds W.H. Invitation To NBA Champs; Stevie Wonders Kneels "In Prayer For Planet". Aired 5-6a ET

Aired September 24, 2017 - 05:00   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A new day, new tweets and more fireworks. President Donald Trump says athletes who take a knee during the national anthem should be fired, and now players and sports organizations are firing back.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And North Korea Saturday, citizens held a massive anti-America rally as Donald Trump continued exchanging insults with the regime. These stories are all ahead here this hour. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Newsroom starts right now. 5:00 a.m. on the U.S. East Coast and we start with a feud between the U.S. President and professional sports. It got even more heated on Saturday afer the president disinvited the national basketball champion Golden State Warriors from visiting the White House.

ALLEN: He said in the tweet, going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Steph Curry is hesitating, therefore, invitation is withdrawn.

HOWELL: NBA star LeBron James fired back calling the president a bum. He added this, going to the White House was a great honor, until you showed up.

ALLEN: The Warriors responded in lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided that?? we'll constructively use our trip to the nation's capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity, and inclusion. The values that we embrace as an organization.

HOWELL: Here's the background. This all started Friday, when President Trump blasted football players who refused for the national anthem.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say, get that son of a (BLEEP) off the field right now? Out, he's fired. He's fired.


ALLEN: Wow. A lot of folks there cheering. But a lot of folks certainly not cheering that thought. On Saturday some league owners shot back calling the president's remarks callus and offensive. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was critical in a statement. He said, like visit comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL. Our great game and all of our players. And a failure to understand the overwhelming force good. Our clubs and players represent in our communities.

HOWELL: The president shot back, Roger Goodell of the NFL just put out a statement trying to justify the total disrespect. Certain players show to our country. Tell them to stand. He says. This controversy is not going away any time soon. In fact, it could become even more pronounced during Sunday's football games.

ALLEN: Yes. We get more on that from CNN's Brian Stelter.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Hey there. This controversy involves , politics, patriotism and two of America's favorite pastimes. The president seemingly taken a baseball bat and swing it at a Hornet's nest. First on Friday night at a rally in Alabama, then on Twitter on Saturday. In both cases he is criticizing so of the best-known African-American athletes in the sports world. That's causing some people to say that there's a racial component to these controversies.

But the president, speaking to a mostly white crowd in Alabama, was talking about the African-American player in the NFL who had been taking a knee during the national anthem before games, protesting they say racial injustice and inequality. The president doesn't want to hear it. He says, those football players who do so should be fired by NFL team owners. He said it at a rally on Friday. He said it again on Twitter on Saturday, keeping this controversy going. Even as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell weighed in in a surprising move, he called the president's comments divisive even he didn't name President Trump directly

So there's the NFL controversy, then the NBA side, the president taking aim at Steph Curry, a member of the championship Golden State Warriors team. On Twitter Saturday morning, the president was apparently inspired or motivated or ticked off by a segment on the Fox News Morning, so Fox and Friends. 20 minutes after Fox and Friends mentioned that Steph Curry is thinking about is skipping a White House visit, President Trump tweeted and said, that invitation had been withdrawn. We've seen lots of prominent celebrities and athletes and CEOs having to make these choices about whether to attend White House events. Whether they want to be associated with President Trump or try to avoid it. Curry said he was going to avoid it. Now the Warriors say they're definitely not going because the president has disinvited them. And this rolls on. These controversies with a racial component to them continuing to fire up people on social media. And now the question by the way, is what's going to happen on Sunday? Are even more NFL players going to take a knee not just top protest racism but to protest President Trump? Brian Stelter, CNN, New York.

ALLEN: Yes. It's a big day for football in the United States. We'll see the reaction on the gridiron. Reaction to the president's broad side keeps pouring in from across the sports world. Former NBA Magic Johnson tweeted tweeted, I support the NBA world champion Golden State Warriors, their owners, players and fans. Golden State players are champions and men of principle who give back to their community. Chris Paul of the Houston Rockets said, with everything that's going on in our country, why are you focused on who's kneeling and visiting the White House? And from Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks, the behavior of the president is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not condemn the divisive rhetoric, you are condoning it.

HOWELL: The silent protest has also spread to Major League Baseball. Take a look here at the catch here of Bruce Maxwell of the Oakland Athletics. He's believed to be the first major league player to take a knee during the national anthem, during Saturday's game against the Texas Rangers. Let's bring in Erica Renee Davis, a sports reporter with Cache Digital to talk more about this. Erica, thank you for being with us this hour. So, this movement started, taking a knee to bring attention to the issue of police brutality to racial issues in the United States. So the president of the United States reframing it as an issue about the American flag and the national anthem.

ERICA RENEE DAVIS, SPORTS NEWSCASTER, CACHE DIGITAL: Yes, George. Thank you for having me. I have to say not only is Donald Trump guilty for reframing this as a flag issue, I think many of his supporters or all of them, many of his supporters, I hate to overgeneralize are responsible for reframing this and being about the flag. When as you said, it is about police brutality. It is about law enforcement officials getting away even sometimes on camera mistreating and sometimes killing egregiously innocent men without having a fair trial within our justice system.

I don't understand the value in Donald Trump continually antagonizing NFL owners, I don't understand the value in Trump continually antagonizing NFL players who are peacefully protesting something that they perceive as an injustice.

HOWELL: So Erica, speaking of these owners, several of them donated to the inaugural committee supporting President Trump. They did released statements stating that they were offended, backing their teams of course given the president's comments. But, again, is there a sense here that the president is hurting many of the people who initially supported him? DAVIS: Well, let's be completely honest, George. I don't if you saw

the NFL statement that they released today, but that was the quintessential non-statement. That was the quintessential textbook version of --let me just say something to kind of speak under the rug the real issue but make it seem like we really care. I do feel like NFL owners understand that the majority of their league black men make up the league, so they have to stand up for them in a sense. But, again, they are Trump's home boys, like they are a part of his crew. So they are going to say anything that's too staunchly opposing Donald Trump's views and that's exactly what the NFL did today by releasing that non-statement statement.

HOWELL: The National Basketball champions, the Golden State Warriors were invited to the White House initially but that invitation was rescinded by the president essentially saying that, you know, they're disinvited now. And there's been a lot of response from that.

DAVIS: I have to say it's been kind of - kind of funny and let off all the negativity, it's been really funny to watch the social media backlash because, you know, the Warriors had not - they had decided that they were going anyway. So what Donald Trump did, what he typically does before he could look like the loser, he e made sure that his opponent was the loser. I really think a lot of the Warriors for standing up and standing in solidarity and saying, we are not going to support a White House that continues to divide our country based on misogynistic values. Based on racist values. You know, based on dividing the country anyway that it can.

And it is not just a nod at Trump, it's a nod at his supporters, it is speaking out against people who support him within his administration. And it take a very strong leader, Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Warriors and it take a very strong organization to say, we're not going. We are the champions, and we are not going to this White House, no matter how much of an honor it is, we won't be there.

HOWELL: Erica Renee Davis, thank you so much for taking time with us.

ALLEN: Of course, Mr. Trump not just picking fights with athletes at home, he's also also trading threats and insults with North Korea. At the U.N. Tuesday, he said the U.S. would destroy North Korea if forced to defend the U.S. or its allies. Saturday, North Korea's foreign minister responded at the U.N. General Assembly.


RI YONG HO, FOREIGN MINISTER, NORTH KOREA: The observed reality that the person like Trump, a mentally deranged person, full of megalomania and (INAUDIBLE) the person who is chastised even by American people as commander in grief, lion king, president evil, is holding the seat of the U.S. Presidents and the dangerous reality that the gambler who grew old using threats for us and all other schemes to acquire a patch of land holds the nuclear button. These are what constitute the gravest threat to the international peace and security today.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HOWELL: Mr. Trump responded to the foreign minister mister in a

tweet. He wrote, "Just heard foreign minister of North Korea speak at U.N. if he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" He goes on to say Little Rocket Man at his Mr. Trump's new name for the North Korean leader Kim Jung-un and it appears be getting to him. North Korea held an anti-U.S. rally Saturday to denounce President Trump.

Also on Saturday, the U.S. says that it flew bombers to the east of North Korea. The Pentagon says that it was a message to Pyongyang over its nuclear ambitions. Our Ben Wedeman following this story live for us in Tokyo. Ben, let's talk about this because, again, we' been talking about the rhetoric from North Korea. Also, met with name calling from the U.S. president, the things are now getting much more real. This show of force much closer to North Korea?

BEN WEDEMEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's important to note that they flew along the eastern side of the Korean peninsula, and it's on the northeastern side of the Korean - North Korea, where these nuclear tests have been going on. So it was probably more than just a show of force by the United States, in fact the spokeswoman said it was -- it was intended to send a clear message that President Trump has "many military options." They were also probably having a look at the terrain in that area in the eventuality, the possibility that the United States will take military action.

So in addition to these shows of force and this mudslinging back and forth between the two leaders, this is exacerbating and already very tense situation to the point where a spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party in South Korea, South Korea of course being a very close ally of the United States, put out a statement saying that the exchange of excessive verbal threats would only heighten anxiety. George?

HOWELL: Ben, that's the other question, just - as far as residents throughout Japan, residents throughout South Korea, people have been accustomed to the rhetoric from North Korea but now that the rhetoric has been ratcheted up with the name calling from the U.S. president. Is there more anxiety among everyday people watching all of this play out?

WEDEMEN: Well, if you take into account the events of the last month, you have had North Korea on the 3rd of September conducted its sixth nuclear - underground nuclear test within the month, North Korea has fired rockets over Japanese territory. In addition to the mudslinging, so. So it definitely has caused people to have far more concerned, it was almost sort of a fact of life before this recent chain of events. And I think what's most disconcerting for many people is the nature of the rhetoric coming out of the United States.

They're accustomed to a much more thoughtful balance rhetoric coming from the U.S. and for instance, just look at for instance, if you go back in time to 2003, before the United States launched its invasion against Iraq under Saddam Hussein, at the time, at least the American president said, we are not an enemy of the Iraqi people. But here, what we seem to be saying is that President Trump is threatening not to destroy the regime, but to obliterate the country and that's a cause for concern.

HOWELL: CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman live in Tokyo this hour. Ben, thank you for the report.

ALLEN: Well, Southern Mexico felt the effects of a 6.1 magnitude quake Saturday morning. Less than one week after a more powerful struck the south of Mexico City.

HOWELL: The confirmed death toll from last week's disaster has now risen to 307. And the hope that more survivors will be found under the rubble is beginning to dwindle. Ivan Watson has the very latest for us.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sirens rang out across the Mexican capital when a 6.1 magnitude earthquake shook Central Mexico. So far we have not gotten reports from the government of new casualties or significant damage. But the tremors did interrupt some of the dangerous and vital rescue and recovery work taking place at sites like this office building, a six-storey building that collapsed in Tuesday's much bigger earthquake. Now at this time, there are rescue workers from four different nations at work here. From the U.S., Israel, Japan and from Mexico.

In overnight Friday, the Mexican rescue workers recovered the body of one victim from this collapsed building. We spoke earlier with an Israel Lieutenant Coronel from an Israeli defense force rescue team and he gave an update on this difficult work and was sounding rather pessimistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have here six storeys building which collapsed for about three days already. And we believe that inside the building there are between 50 to 60 men and women trapped, and unfortunately, we believe they are already dead

WATSON: At the site of another collapsed building several blocks from here Saturday morning, rescue workers recovered the bodies of two victims from that location. At this location, family members of the dozens of people missing have been conducting an agonizing vigil here hoping for some kind of news about their missing loved ones. They have been assisted by an outpouring of volunteerism with ordinary Mexicans coming out in droves, bringing in donations, aid, and supply trying to help their loved ones and trying to help their countrymen at this time of need. Ivan Watson, CNN, Mexico City.

HOWELL: And during Ivan's report, you just saw right there behind him the sea of people. You know, continuing that search effort.

ALLEN: I was listening as I was looking right at those looking right at those people and you can appreciate what they're up again and what people went through.

HOWELL: It's a lot of work for sure. Yes. Germans are voting this hour and we could be seeing the star of the new era in German politics.

ALLEN: Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to keep her job but a far right party could gain major political power. We'll have more about it, next/


ALLEN: The German political landscape could soon be transformed. Germans are voting right now in their country's general election. Chancellor Angela Merkel has been the leader of Germany for 12 years. And experts say she could secure a fourth term.

HOWELL: But here's what could really change German politics. A far right party could be elected to Germany's Federal Parliament for the first in over half a century. The alternative for Germany Party could even gain significant political power.

ALLEN: CNN's Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen joins us now for more from Berlin. Big day there in Germany. You also mentioned the marathon. So, people running in the background. They may not be running to the polls, they may be running for another reason. Hey there, Fred.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There's more - there's than 40,000 people actually who are running the marathon here in Berlin today which puts kind of a strain on the folks who were trying to vote because it's really difficult to get around the city. But of course, this is as you mentioned, Natalie, also a very, very important election here for this country. And Angela Merkel as you say is the frontrunner. But the big question is, is she going to be as strong politically as she has been in the past? And I have an expert to talk to me about this. It's Janosch Delcker from Politico. Do you think she's going to be as strong as she was before? Because internationally Angela Merkel has seen sort of the anchor of stability in a very messy world at this point.

JANOSCH DELCKER POLITICS CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well, I mean, I think that really is the significant question now. Is she going to be as strong after the election or not? She's highly likely to be re- elected for a fourth term in office. She's been in office for 12 years. But the question is, who is going to be her coalition partner? In Germany, governments are always based on coalitions. We have to find a partner to reach the number of seats necessary to govern. And this is really going to be the big question this year.

PLEITGEN: And so for she's been governing with the other major big party, the social Democrats who most called a grand coalition. But there are a lot of people here in this country who are not necessarily happy with what they perceive as being a lack of a viable opposition. So do you think that, you know, smaller parties like the liberals are going to get stronger? Do you think that there is a likely here that there's going to be coalition between her party and the liberal Democrats, for instance?

DELCKER: I think there is a likelihood but this really depends on how well they perform tonight. And you know, recent polls suggest that they will, you know, fail to reach that hurdle, to just be, you know, able to govern together as just the two of them. The liberals which are, you know, expected to come back into the Parliament this year. But I think what's crucial is that - is that number of groups inside the party is going to swell this year. We will have six groups inside the Parliament which is something unprecedented. And among them you mentioned that is -- the far right so-called Alternative for Germany, AfD, which is the first time that we have a far right party in the German parliament in more than half a century. So this is really significant.

PLEITGEN: Let's talk about the AfD then. You're actually -- they've said some things that seem outrageous by German standards. For instance, one of their party leaders saying that German should be proud of soldiers who fought in both world wars which is to many Germans that just seems almost a crazy things to say. Do you think that Germany is actually moving towards the right or are people who vote for the AfD by enlarge people who are protest voters?

DELCKER: I think this I really, you know, sort of the big question for the next four years. This is really something that we will see over the next four years. How is this party that is, you know, widely expected to enter the Parliament, I mean, they're now polling at 12 percent which is far beyond the the five percent hurdle they have to take. You know, how are they going to act over the next four years once they're in Parliament? They will be much stronger because they will receive institutional support, essentially public funding once they're in the parliament. And they will have, you know, much more of a stage on the national level.

PLEITGEN: So Angela Merkel has obviously brought a lot of stability to Germany but at the same time, she's also asked a lot of Germans. I mean if you look at the past couple of years since she's been in office, you know, there's been balanced budgets in this country but at the same time, Germans had to bail out the banks, they had to bail out Greece. They saved 1.1 million refugees. Do you think that she is still very popular among Germans or do think she's going to get back into office because there simply isn't a viable alternative?

DELCKER: Well, I would say she's become very popular again since the refugee crisis. And I think this has to do with global developments, it had to do with the fact that the Brits voted to leave the European Union which really took many, you know, by surprise and shock here in this country.

PLEITGEN: What about Trump? Does that play a role?

DELCKER: Trump, you know, plays just as much of a role. And I think you know, in these times we have to see Germans maybe more than any other nation in the world, they value stability. Stability is something that's important for Germans. And Merkel really, you know, knows how to, you know, brand herself as an anchor of stability in these insecure times.

PLEITGEN: Janosch Delcker , thank you very much. And I can only echo what Janosch is saying. There was once a famous German politician who said German politics is like a tanker. It doesn't move quickly, it doesn't change speeds quickly, it gets maneuvered very, very slowly. So certainly stability is a big thing for voters here. Natalie and George?

ALLEN: Slow and steady. All right. Fred Pleitgen for us outside a polling place there. Thank you, Fred.

HOWELL: And still ahead, we take a deeper look at the controversy of taking a knee when President Trump takes issue with a protest. Stay with us.


HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers here in the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom. It's good to have you with us, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top story at this hour. U.S. President Donald Trump has tweeted North Korean leader Kim Jung- un may not be "around much longer." He again called Mr. Kim Little Rocket Man continuing his name calling after North Korea's foreign minister spoke at the U.N. The senior diplomat said Mr. Trump's insults were making a missile attack on the United States more likely.

HOWELL: Voting in Germany. It is under way right now. This hour. This general election could change that nation's political landscape. Experts say the German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to win her fourth term in office but for the first time, the far right party alternative for Germany is expected to win seats in the Federal Parliament.

ALLEN: A 6.1 earthquake hit Southern Mexico early Saturday making it three major quakes ,that have rattled the country in less than two weeks. The death total from the 7.1 quake that struck Mexico Tuesday is now 307. Most of the deaths were in Mexico City.

HOWELL: The U.S. Army reserve has sent in 4,000 troops to Puerto Rico just to help out with Hurricane relief efforts. This as 70,000 people evacuate from their homes in the northwestern part of the island, because of a failing dam that was damaged during that storm.

The feud between professional sports stars and the U.S. President blew up into a major controversy on Saturday.

ALLEN: They certainly did. Donald Trump provoked a vigorous backlash when he said this on Friday at a campaign rally in Alabama.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag to say, get that son of a (BLEEP) off the field right now? Out, he's fired. He's fired.


HOWELL: Players and owners immediately began pushing back but the president refused to budge.

ALLEN: On Saturday he tweeted, if a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollar in the NFL or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our great American flag or country, and should stand for the national anthem. If not, you're fired, find something else to do.

HOWELL: As if that were not enough, Mr. Trump on Saturday also rescinded his invitation to t National Basketball champs the Golden State Warriors to visit the White House, he said it was because of star Steph Curry hesitating about attending, so he disinvited the entire team. Stevie Wonder showed his solidarity with professional athletes by taking his knee at an appeal for peace on Saturday.

ALLEN: The legendary singer/songwriter was at a packed concert in New York City's central park when he stopped to kneel down and face the crowd.


STEVIE WONDER, AMERICAN SINGER: I'm taking both knees. Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe.


ALLEN: Joining me now is Michael Genevieve, he's the president of the global policy institute at Loyola Marymount University. Thank you for joining us, Michael.


ALLEN: All right. Well, on the campaign trail, Donald Trump would encourage as follow, sometimes to hurt people that were protesting, we didn't support him, and they did sometimes. But when U.S citizens, finally go down on a knee engaging in their right of peaceful civil disobedience on the issue of injustice, he ridicules them and says they should be fired from their jobs. Isn't this a gross double standard?

GENOVESE: Well, you have a president who likes to pick fights. I mean, he goes out of his way to pick fights. He defines himself, it seems, by the enemies he makes. And his strategy here is very clearly to divide. He can't unite the country, so let's divide them. Divide and conquer. His base he is confident will stay strong with him. And I think the racial component of the attack on these athletes should not be lost. But if he can unite and keep his base solid he feels he can divide the rest of the country and govern in that way.

ALLEN: Well-- but he's not, so is he? Because he's not getting his agenda satisfied at all in Washington, and at the same time race relations are definitely not good in the country. He, as you say, enjoys fuelling the issue, rather than working to heal. He seems to play this same card over and over again, divisiveness is his hallmark. But it's not getting the job done. So why does he cling to that?

GENOVESE: Well I think he feels it's good for him and for his base. Certainly not good for the country. And I don't think that -- it's just that he's distracting us from other problems. I think he's defining himself by the problems he creates by the heat and the temperature that he can raise. I think he feels that if he can be the man who commands the center of attention, he's in good shape. ALLEN: So it's not an attempt, really, to deflect them fro, what he's

not getting done. He needs this just for himself. Is that what you're saying?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, to continue with the sports analogy, he needs to keep his eye on the ball. And the ball is North Korea, Russia, China. It's not worrying about someone taking a knee or an athlete who doesn't stand up for the national anthem. That's a constitutional right and while I don't - wouldn't participate in that necessarily, you know, you take that issue and you make that into something bigger than it really is.

ALLEN: Right. So let's talk about the bigger issues. North Korea and Iran, he had a tweet on Saturday on international affairs. Just heard foreign minister on North Korea at U.N. If he echoes out a little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer. So yet again, he's using very dangerous dialogue, name calling, it was very serious, right? And the same time he works to protect Americans from people he deems are dangerous. Hence the travel ban, hence the wall. And at the same time, is fueling danger on a much, much more grand level.

GENOVESE: Well, we need to start with what's very clear is that this a problem with North Korea that was started by Kim Jung-un.

ALLEN: Right.

GENOVESE: He's a spoiled child, he's an overgrown sufferer of affluenza. The problem is, as he says outrageous things, president gets baited, gets goaded into fighting on Kim Jung-un's level. And so what happens is then you keep raising the temperature, you keep inching towards war, you keep taking the spiral and leveling it higher and higher. We need to de-escalate. But you've got two people, like two spoiled children poking each other in the eye with a stick. And you know that that can't lead t good outcomes.

ALLEN: Michael Genovese, as always. Thank you for talking with us.

GENOVESE: Thank you, Natalie. We're going to update you now on Puerto Rico when the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the governor has extended a nighttime curfew indefinitely. Ricardo Rossello says the island has a 20-day supply of gasoline but distributing it remains difficult because of damaged roads and destroyed gas stations. I mean, who can drive in that?

HOWELL: No, yes. I mean, and so much devastation there and flooding. The northwestern part of the island, there's an imminent threat of crack dam on the verge of collapse, so 70,000 people in that area have been urged to leave their homes. Our Rafael Romo spoke with the resident commissioner of Puerto Rico about the situation.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: What can you tell us about the Guajataca Dam? I know that the governor reported that there are some cracks on the wall and that it was -- he put it in these term and he said that it was imminent that it was going to break, putting at risk the lives of 70,000 people around there. What's happening there?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually we went there last night, the governor and I -- and there's no communication on the island. So there was no way to call the mayor, to call the police or even by radio communication --

ROMO: So you have to go in person?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Exactly. So, last night the governor and I were together and we travelled the whole island to get there. The problem with that is that dam, the National Weather Service said that there was a damage - structural damage in the dam without saying specifically what it was. But when we saw the pictures, I mean, the water is eroding the whole area.

ROMO: Right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So that will put in danger more than eight neighborhoods near to that. So those areas were evacuated by the mayor and the governor signed the right order to get those people, those families out just protecting their lives.


HOWELL: And, you know, the thing about it, the officials say that that dam is holding for now but a lot of people certainly in a dangerous situation there. So, who will be next to feel the effects of Hurricane Maria?

ALLEN: Yes. Karen Maginnis is watching that for us. And unfortunately it's still trekking on. Hi, Karen.

KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN INTERNATIONAL METEOROLOGIST: It sure is. However, we just received an update from the National Hurricane Center, this was at 5:00 a.m. and now it is finally a Category 2. Still a very powerful and intimidating storm system with the eye that is still fairly clearly defined. Bu it has supporting winds with it at 135 kilometers per hour or 110 miles per hour.

All right. This is the position. Right now, Category 2. But as we go into the middle of the work week the spaghetti models are saying all right we'll hold together, we'll continue to move it towards the north. But beyond that time period, it edges dangerously close to the North Carolina Coast. It's unavoidable to see that with the spaghetti models. The folks in North Carolina are probably casting a very weary and wary eye on what's going to happen with Maria because back in October of 2016, they were pummeled by Hurricane Matthew. It did widespread damage.

People up until early this year were out of their homes because the flooding was so bad, they're home were destroyed, entire neighborhoods. This takes us through Tuesday and I think beyond Tuesday we're looking at it edging a little bit further towards the west. There will be maybe some rainfall. That is if these tracks don't change drastically which they have as we have seen with previous hurricanes, like we saw Harvey in Texas, like we saw Irma in Florida. Here we see out of Puerto Rico, a woman just outside of San Juan, she was trying to clean up the mud and debris that inundated her home, there you can see some household items just kind of piled up outside homes there, just in the street.

Looks like there's still some standing water there, so Maria has cast this wide devastation on its journey across the Caribbean and into the Turks and Caicos, into the Bahamas, and we can't avoid looking at this. The GFS and the European models in near agreement, the GFS has it edging right here the North Carolina coast and Natalie and George, it looks like maybe some of those - the western edge of Hurricane Maria is going to edge close to those areas but it's still just a little too far out to say definitively.


ALLEN: That is a storm that doesn't want to give up, isn't it, Karen?

MAGINNIS: That's right.

ALLEN: It's really unfortunate.

HOWELL: Thanks, Karen. We'll stay in touch with you of course. Still ahead. Facebook is currently at the center of the investigation in the Russian meddling of the 2016 presidential election for selling thousands of ads linked to Russian troll farms.

ALLEN: Ahead here, how the social media giant plans to deal with possible election interference in the future.


ALLEN: U.S. President Donald Trump still thinks Congress may repeal Obamacare even though Republican Senator John McCain has come out against the latest bill, possibly ending the party's chances for undoing Obamacare.

HOWELL: But Mr. Trump tweets that he is still hoping for support from two senators, Rand Paul, who has already said no, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. Here is what Mr. Trump said. I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the party and Alaska had a 200 percent plus increase in premiums under Obamacare. Worst in the country. Deductibles high people angry. Lisa M. comes through.

ALLEN: Mr. Trump is again calling alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election a hoax. This after Facebook agreed to give Congress thousands of campaign ads linked to Russian accounts.

HOWELL: That's right. Now the social media giant wants to create a new standard of transparency for political ads. Laurie Segall has this report for us.

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT: More than 3,000 sold to a Russian to a troll farm, aimed at targeting U.S. citizens to influence the election. And an admission from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. MARK ZUCKERBERG, CEO, FACEBOOK: Our teams have found and shut down

thousands of fake accounts that could be attempting to influence elections and many other countries.

SEFALL: But as Facebook turns over the ads purchased by Russia to Congress, there's a new sense of urgency here in Silicon Valley. Make changes or face regulation and a pressure is mounting.

ANDREW MCLAUGHLIN, FORMER UNITED STATES DEPUTY CHIEF TECH OFFICER: I don't want the government making decisions about speech because the core Democratic institutions are so unreliable. At the same time these platforms play such a powerful role in making the decisions that we want them to be somehow accountable.

SEGALL: Ass Zuckerberg promised to add more transparency to political ads on Facebook, he said the company will double the number of people working on election integrity. But is it too little, too late?

MCLAUGHLIN: We can't just simply right math that we can believe neutrally chooses the best content. We're making choices that are incredibly consequential for what speech gets aired and seen by ordinary people, ordinary Americans.

SEGALL: While major tech CEOs are beginning to grapple with the unseen consequences of their increasingly powerful platforms. There are some calls for tech companies to be regulated as utilities. Many in Silicon Valley disagree. I recently spoke to Twitter and Medium founder Ed Williams about it. A Congressman suggested that there should be an act passing legislation

to put disclosure requirements on social media advertising. Similar to the ones that we see on T.V. commercials.

EV WILLIAMS, FOUNDER, TWITTER: Oh, this ad paid for -

SEGALL: What impact would that that have?

WILLIAMS: I don't think people would pay attention to it. Not really.

SEGALL: When it comes to regulation, Williams isn't opposed, he' just doubtful of the process producing good results.

WILLIAMS: I'd prefer no regulation to bad regulation. There's no obvious thing that you would say to Facebook or Google or Twitter like, go fix this now and then like, oh, we're not doing that because we don't have to. They're all trying to make the best system they can.

SEGALL: Questions about content are complicated.

WILLIAMS: The difference a difference of opinion or a political belief and a difference in like wrong facts is really hard to sass out and I don't think anyone's figured out how to sass that out automatically.,

SEGALL: The same gray area applies to Facebook. While the company say they'll disclose political ads, who's to decide what constitutes a political ad on a platform. And what divides propaganda and an idea?

WILLIAMS: And that's when some people are calling for there needs to be editorial guidelines and you get in to an area where most tech companies should be like, that's not something that really fifths in our model or that we would even be good at.

HOWELL: Laurie Segall there reporting for us. The U.S. first lady is in Canada for this year's Invictus Games where she chatted with the game's founder Britain's Prince Harry.

ALLEN: We'll have the latest on Melania Trump's first solo trip abroad coming up for you next.


VINCE CELLINI, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: I'm Vince Cellini with your CNN World Sport Headlines. The inaugural Labor Cup tennis event saw the historic pairing of the two greatest men's players ever. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on e same side of the net for team Europe. Welcomed to the court (INAUDIBLE) with a standing ovation their match against American Sam Querrey and Jack Sock went to a breaker. But the dream team won it and as such Federer and Nadal maintain a perfect doubles record all-time.

Perhaps the wildest NBA offseason ever continued Saturday. Another superstar player being traded. This time it involved Carmelo Anthony moved from the New York Knicks to the Oklahoma City Thunder where he will join reigning Russell Westbrook and all-star Paul George in OKC making them a real force in the Western Conference. Reportedly both swayed Anthony's decision (INAUDIBLE) to come over.

And after warriors star Steph Curry said Saturday the team would not visit the White House if invited, President Trump withdrew his team invitation prompting a press release by the Warriors team. They regret not having the opportunity for an open dialogue in lieu of a visit to the White House, we have decided we'll constructively use our trip to the nation's capital in February to celebrate equality, diversity and inclusion, the values that we embrace as an organization. So the visit will happen. The venue will not. And that is a look at your sports headlines. Thank you. I'm Vince Cellini.

HOWELL: The U.S. first lady Melania Trump is on her first solo trip abroad as first lady. She arrived in Canada Saturday to lead the U.S. delegation for the Invictus Games. A Paralympic style sporting event where servicemen and women wounded in combat.

ALLEN: Mrs. Trump met with Britain's Prince Harry. Prince Harry launched the Invictus Games in 2014 in 2014. They shook hands and shared some competitive banter ahead of the big event. The Prince's girlfriend did you know, actress Meghan Markle also made an appearance in Canada. I think they met there. But don't quote me on that. Quote people magazine.

All right. A refugee from Afghanistan is training for the biggest swimming completion of his life. The 20-year-old was born without arms in war-torn Kabul.

HOWELL: But he hasn't let his disability come between him and his dream. CNN affiliate KATU has this inspiring story.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the number one most inspirational swimmer I've coached. He works so hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the deck of (INAUDIBLE) hangs onto the wall like any other swimmer, waiting for instruction from his master swim coach Dennis Baker.

DENNIS BAKER, SWIMMING INSTRUCTOR: Dolphin kick, back to here, do a flip turn, the team immediately fell in love with him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's easy to see why.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Swimming is like become way of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The 20-year-old swimmer was born without arms, in war-torn Kabul, Afghanistan.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All these bomb is exploding. Lots of people are dying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite ongoing instability, he led active life, wrestling at a young age until he jumped into the pool for the very first time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First they say that you can't swim without arms. I was scared of water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A watching lifeguard encouraged him to keep swimming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Day by I train by myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Until one day, he left his lifejacket behind and caught the eye of an Afghan swim coach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He noticed that I can do something in swimming. He taught me a couple techniques.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He swam in the country's first Paralympic swim meet and took home gold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I'm swimming it's showing myself, I'm showing other people that who I am meant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But who he was an adolescent with a visible disability. He knew he needed a better life and he wasn't going to find it in the Middle East.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Disrespecting disabled people they just see disabled people as hopeless, you know, that can't do anything (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the help of his older brother, he made the toughest decision of his life, leave his family behind. He flew to Iran, and fled to Turkey illegally as a refugee. A dangerous journey to United Nations headquarters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I did it just because I was to save my life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now (Karimi) is preparing for the biggest competition yet, Para Swimming world championships in Mexico City.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm exciting, I'm nervous, and stressing. But I'm training hard and it will pay off.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he' missing something important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I'm trying to get my younger brother Azkar Karimi, I really want him - tp get him over here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get his younger brother who inspired him to swim to the U.S. and by his side on race day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not in safe place. I miss him so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A brother's bond formed by the pool and one giant kick.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then you have a distance swimmer that's probably 90 percent arms and 10 percent legs. Abbas is just 100 percent legs. And that's the beauty of the sport.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know what people think. But I do it because I love swimming.


HOWELL: Truly inspiring.

ALLEN: Amazing young man. Absolutely.

HOWELL: Absolutely. And I wish him the very best.


HOWELL: Thank you so much for being with us for CNN Newsroom, I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. Our coverage continues with New Day after the break. And for our international viewers you'll see Erin Burnett OutFront. Thanks again for watching.