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North Korea Summit Back On; Tariff Troubles; Spain's New Prime Minister; Inside a U.S. Detention Center; Puerto Rico Struggles as New Hurricane Season Begins; Lava Threatens Hawaii's Big Island. Aired 5- 6a ET

Aired June 2, 2018 - 05:00   ET




DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that letter was a very nice letter.

Oh, would you like to see what was in that letter?

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Well, what's in it?

We don't know. But a sign of progress as the U.S. president says his meeting with Kim Jong-un is back on after meeting with North Korea's former spy chief.


GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Plus Europe, Mexico and Canada hit back at the United States with their own tariffs on American products while the U.S. adds new strain to trade relations with China.

ALLEN (voice-over): Also this hour, a team of experts tracks lava flow in Hawaii. How their efforts are helping save lives.

HOWELL (voice-over): It is 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast and live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. NEWSROOM starts right now.


HOWELL: It seems like only yesterday there were insults like "Little Rocket Man" or "mentally deranged dotard" and those warnings of fire and fury. But now all that fiery rhetoric seems to have passed.

ALLEN: I forgot about the dotard.

HOWELL: That was one of them.

ALLEN: Especially after an unprecedented meeting in the Oval Office Friday. You are looking at pictures from it right here. U.S. President Trump sitting down with the second most powerful man in North Korea, former spy chief, Kim Yong-chol.

HOWELL: He hand delivered a letter to the president from the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and after that meeting Mr. Trump announced the Singapore summit is on. Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott has details for us.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: President Trump and Kim Yong-chol emerged from the Oval Office smiling after nearly a two- hour meeting, with Trump telling reporters a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore is back on.

TRUMP: We're going to meet June 12. We will be in Singapore. It will be a beginning. I don't say and I have never said it happens in one meeting. You're talking about years of hostility, years of problems, years of really hatred between so many different nations.

LABOTT: Kim Yong-chol arrived at the White House earlier, hand- delivering a letter to President Trump from Kim Jong-un.

TRUMP: I haven't seen the letter yet. I purposely didn't open the letter. I haven't opened it. I didn't open it in front of the director.

I said, would you want me to open it?

He said, you can read it later.

LABOTT: While there was no firm commitment from North Korea on denuclearization, a top demand for Trump, the president said the meeting was still worth having.

TRUMP: I think it's going to be a process that we deserve to have. I mean, we really deserve -- they want it. We think it's important. And I think we would be making a big mistake if we didn't have it.

LABOTT: But the president said he was prepared if the talks with Kim in Singapore are not productive.

TRUMP: One thing I did do and it was very important, we had hundreds of new sanctions ready to go on and he did not -- the director did not ask, but I said I'm not going to put them on until such time as the talks break down.

We have very significant sanctions on them, but we had hundreds -- we have hundreds that are ready to go. But I said, I'm not going to -- why would I do that when we're talking so nicely?

LABOTT: A word of warning earlier today from the top Senate Republican.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY, MAJORITY LEADER: If you fall in love with the deal and it's too important for you to get it and the details become less significant, you could get snookered. LABOTT: Concluding that a deal is not possible by June 12th, President Trump has lowered expectations. And he's now calling the meeting with Kim the beginning of a process, a get-to-know-you-plus.

Instead of being a condition of the summit, President Trump's challenge at the meeting is to convince Kim Jong-un to abandon his nuclear program, instead of the president falling trap to the North Korea's familiar playbook of playing for time and giving up as little as possible -- Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.


ALLEN: Let's go to Seoul, South Korea, where we find our Alexandra Field.

Hello to you, Alex. So a former spy for North Korea sits down with the U.S. president in the Oval Office and the meeting is back on.

What's the reaction there?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, there was so much at stake for South Korea here. You need only mention the words "fire and fury" to begin to recall the tension on this peninsula within the last year.

Nobody's safety was threatened more than the millions of people right here in South Korea. A little more than a year ago, they elected a new president who has pushed for dialogue with North Korea, who has worked to improve relations.

And he's the same man who held onto hope this summit would happen. So when that letter was delivered by Kim Yong-chol to President Trump, written by Kim Jong-un, a spokesperson for the Blue House here in Seoul --


FIELD: -- described the feeling as a sense of relief, a sign these talks which South Korea is really hoping for would proceed. They've gotten their wish now. The response today is simple. They say they'll sit back now and calmly watch to see what they have described as the meeting of the century.

ALLEN: Certainly could be. Just days away.

How are U.S. allies in the region reacting to what happened in Washington?

FIELD: Look, you've heard from U.S. administration officials and President Trump himself, saying repeatedly, there's no daylight between Japan, South Korea and the United States. They really have a unified approach here when it comes to dealing with North Korea.

As I mentioned, South Korea has argued that dialogue is the best path forward. Japan also supporting the premise of this summit. They've been doing that for weeks or months now. But they're also issuing some warnings. They want President Trump to

go into this with both eyes open. They've said they don't want dialogue just for the sake of dialogue. Here's how the Japanese defense minister put it today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have seen history repeat, where North Korea would declare to denuclearize, thereby portraying itself as a conciliatory and forthcoming only to turn around to avoid all international efforts toward peace.

In light of how North Korea has behaved in the past, I believe it is important not to reward North Korea solely for agreeing to have a dialogue.


FIELD: The Japanese defense minister and South Korean defense minister have both been having meetings in the region with their U.S. counterparts, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.

Mattis was here for a previously scheduled conference. He's been speaking out today about the progress toward this summit. He continues to say that the goal of the United States is the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But he insists to the allies here that sanctions will remain against North Korea. That's despite the fact that President Trump has said he'll no longer use that term "maximum pressure." He's also said sanctions will remain in place but he doesn't see the need to use that term when things seem to be going well, according to the president.

ALLEN: Yes, he said we're making nice here so let's just keep it nice.

Why not?

Alexandra Field for us there in Seoul. Thank you.


ALLEN: Let's talk about that with Martin Navias. He's a research associate at the Center for Defense Studies at Kings College in London.

Thanks so much for joining us to talk about, Mr. Navias. The meeting is set now.

Before we talk about expectations, what are your thoughts on what was behind the back and forth, it is on, it is off, that we saw from the White House in the past few days?

MARTIN NAVIAS, KINGS COLLEGE: Well, I think this is part of President Trump's negotiating style. If you look at what he's written about negotiating in "The Art of the Deal," for example, he says you must be very careful of not showing total commitment to reaching a deal because, if you do that, then the other side will, as the president put it, send blood.

And you are, as President Trump would say, dead. So he has made it quite clear to everyone involved, especially the North Koreans, that he is not totally committed to a deal and will walk away unless the North Koreans make significant concessions.

ALLEN: Do you think the White House knows what it wants from this initial meeting?

NAVIAS: I think so. I've got confidence in President Trump's negotiating style. I know lot of people do not. But he is an experienced negotiator.

Mr. Pompeo, the secretary of state, has been meeting with the North Korean official and they no doubt set out certain targets, certain immediate quick wins, let us put it way, that will be reached in Singapore.

It is not just going to be a get-to-know-you meeting, it is a get-to- know-you-plus meeting as President Trump says. And I expect that there will be some concrete statements coming out of that in respect of arms control.

ALLEN: How should do you think the U.S. approach denuclearization in this initial meeting?

NAVIAS: The North Koreans will not give up their nuclear weapons anytime in the near future. But President Trump cannot admit that. So it will be aspirational. Both parties will say we are working towards denuclearization, we are going to try to get rid of all nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula but it won't be an immediate thing.

They will have to be immediate objectives and I suspect some of those immediate objectives will include getting rid of those ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting the United States with nuclear weapons. That must be the main objective of the United States in these negotiations, to rid itself of that threat.

And if President Trump can come away from these negotiations or the process of negotiation with a timetable that is medium-term, whereby that threat from --


NAVIAS: -- United States cities is removed, that would be a major achievement.

ALLEN: And I know you say you respect the president in how he comes to things with his negotiations. But neither leader has a smooth track record when it comes to negotiation. They have played games, issued threats, dangled misinformation in front of the world.

Here is what the president had to say about the initial meeting on Friday.


TRUMP: I think it is a getting-to-know-you meeting-plus. And that can be a very positive thing.


ALLEN: So how do you envision these two men sitting across from the table?

How might that go?

NAVIAS: Well, the first thing is to set the tone. President Trump is again correct, there has been a lot of vituperative language bandied about. He has to change the atmosphere. And I think he is going towards that.

Once that feeling has been put in place, they will start moving to the talking points which have been agreed. Those talking points, the main issues will be set out on a piece of paper and they will work their way through it.

The North Koreans will demand certain concessions, they know what the Americans are prepared to give. The Americans know by now, more or less, what the North Koreans are prepared to give in the medium-term.

And the key question will be the timing and the verification and the process of the negotiations. President Trump is not going to fly back to the United States from Singapore without some plan, some kind of roadmap, which will involve more meetings and more objectives being reached.

And I suspect there will be those objectives, the ballistic missiles, possibly a freeze on nuclear weapons testing and ballistic missile testing and a promise by the North Koreans not to export any of the weaponry out of the country -- that's a main American objective -- in exchange for certain economic concessions, sanctions relief, et cetera.

The timing and the verification of the key points with those issues are, I believe, ultimately resolvable.

ALLEN: All of that sounds very positive and we hope that we'll have some good news after this meeting and we'll talk with you again. Martin Navias, thank you so much for joining us.

NAVIAS: Thank you.


HOWELL: Another top-level summit may be in the works. This between the U.S. and Russian presidents. "The Wall Street Journal" says planning for the meeting is still in early stages.

ALLEN: The paper says the U.S. ambassador to Russia has been in Washington to help arrange face-to-face talks between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. No word yet on a date and location. But Syria and Ukraine would likely be on the agenda. The two men have met before in Vietnam and also in Germany.

Two political dramas come to an apparent end, as Italy and Spain welcome new prime ministers. How all of this would affect the continent.

HOWELL: Plus, China agrees to buy more U.S. goods. But that's apparently not enough to keep President Trump from threatening steep tariffs on Chinese imports. A senior U.S. official is now in Beijing for critical talks.





ALLEN: Italy is entering a new political era with a political novice at the helm. Giuseppe Conte is now prime minister. The law professor leads Italy's new populist eurosceptic government.

HOWELL: That's unsettling for nations like France and Germany, whose leaders are eager to push for more E.U. integration. Mr. Conte is set to present his cabinet next week and will face a vote of confidence then.

Let's bring in CNN contributor Barbie Nadeau, live in Rome.

Barbie, clearly we're seeing the new leadership form, this populist, anti-establishment government.

What does that mean for that nation's domestic policy?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's an interesting day today anyway. Today is the festival of Republic Day. We've got military flyovers, a celebration of the unity of this country against a backdrop of total chaos.

The two populist parties, one led by the Northern League, far right, anti-immigration leader, Matteo Salvini, the other by the populist, anti-establishment leader who represents the south.

There's so much contradiction in what these two men's support bases want for the country. I think we'll see a struggle going forward with legislation as they try to wrangle together and keep this coalition afloat -- George.

HOWELL: So divisions domestically. But as far as Europe at large, it seems that these two groups come together with a pretty clear message.

NADEAU: That's absolutely right. The euroscepticism is the bottom line of that message. As you know, during the chaos of the last week, trying to get to this point where we are today, the coalition had put forth an eurosceptic economics minister. They still have him in their government. Now he's the minister of European affairs.

I think that sends a message that they don't want to be a slave to Brussels. That's the language we're hearing over and over again. They want to renegotiate some of the terms of their sizable debt, 130 percent of GDP in this country. Those are priorities and that scares Europe.

But I think a bigger fear is, if Italy to were to go new elections, if this coalition would crumble, the fear is that the populist movements would actually gain support at this point. And I think that really does make investors nervous and I think it makes the rest of the continent very nervous.

HOWELL: Barbie Nadeau, live for us in Rome, thank you for the perspective on this.

A new government is also taking shape in Spain. Just moments ago, the Socialist Party leader Pedro Sanchez was sworn in as the prime minister, taking over from Mariano Rajoy, who lost a no confidence vote.

ALLEN: Corruption allegations against Rajoy's party came to a head last week, when a court convicted some of his former aides. Now Sanchez says he understands the gravity of his new position.


PEDRO SANCHEZ, SPANISH PRIME MINISTER (through translator): I am aware of the responsibilities that I assume in such a complex political moment in our country.

What I can say is that, apart from being totally aware of it, I'm going to face all our country's challenges with humility and commitment and, above all, with a lot of determination, first, to transform and modernize our country.


HOWELL: CNN's Nina dos Santos breaks down exactly how Sanchez managed to take over as the nation's prime minister.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR: After seven years as Spain's prime minister, Mariano Rajoy became the country's first head of government to be unseated by a vote of no confidence, one that was tabled by his Socialist Party opponent, 46-year-old Pedro Sanchez, who will now become the country's next prime minister.

Sanchez had to rely upon members of fringe parties and regional parties with separatist tendencies, like those in Catalonia and the Basque region, to make up the numbers. In the end, the parliament voted 180 in favor of that motion of no confidence against Rajoy.

Rajoy said it had been an honor to serve as the country's prime minister but also hopes his successor --


DOS SANTOS: -- could say that he left the country in a better state than he found it in, just as Rajoy believed he has done over the last few years of his tenure.

It's expected that Sanchez will probably stick to the legislative agenda that Rajoy set out so far. He said he'll stick to the budget and he'll continue to enact social and economic and welfare reforms.

Elections, he says, he would like to call in the future but he hasn't yet set a date. It's expected he'll start to nominate his cabinet next week -- Nina dos Santos, CNN, London.


ALLEN: The former chief strategist at the White House has been speaking with CNN.

HOWELL: In an exclusive interview, Steve Bannon talked to our Fareed Zakaria and made a prediction about one of President Trump's main campaign promises as the U.S. heads toward midterm elections in November.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP STRATEGIST: I think that where President Trump's nationalizing this, the wall is central. The wall is not just totemic. The wall is absolutely central to his program.

I believe that what he is going to do is, as we come up on September 30th, if that appropriations bill does not include spending to fully build his wall, not some $1.6 billion for prototypes, I mean to build the southern wall, I believe that he will shut down the government. I believe the government will actually shut down in the run up to the election.

We have to limit mass illegal immigration. You're starting to see this in the Trump administration. What he's done to limit mass illegal immigration, that's why we have the lowest black unemployment in history, lowest Hispanic unemployment in 20 years and wages starting to rise, particularly in agriculture and oil field services and construction.


ALLEN: Bannon also said President Trump is using immigration as a way to get people outside his base to vote for his party in November, including working class black Americans and Hispanics.

HOWELL: In the U.S. state of California, near the U.S. border with Mexico, our Gary Tuchman gained rare access to a federal detention center, where migrants accused of crossing the border illegally are held. ALLEN: This often includes mothers who are separated from their own children while awaiting asylum or deportation proceedings. Gary brings us some of their stories now.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These two Honduran women crossed into the United States and asked for asylum because of violence at home. They are now being held in a California immigration detention center. But something is missing, their children who traveled with them. Marbel (ph) just turned 35-years old.

Immigration officials separated her from her eight-year-old son Jerry (ph) right after they crossed the border together. He has since been sent across the country to a government facility in New York State.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Are you scared (INAUDIBLE)?

TUCHMAN (voice-over): She tells me, yes, I'm scared because they took him from me. If I had him with me, I wouldn't have any fears.

Olga (ph) is 31 years old. Her four children ranged from eight to 17 have also been sent to a government facility in New York. She says when her three daughters and son were separated from her, she didn't know what was going on. Olga says, I'm not sure why they did that. They never let me say goodbye, they didn't tell me anything.

The lawyers for both mothers don't want the women's last names used and don't want some details from their cases being revealed because they feel it could be used against them. The mothers tells us they did not have the faintest clue that their children could be taken away from them.

Marbel told us, for me, it was really hard when immigration took him away from me because my son was crying and didn't want to be taken away. And they didn't want to listen. For around two weeks, the mothers say they did not know where their children were. Even now, they've been separated from their children for over a month. They say phone contact is infrequent.

My kids have never been separated from me, says Olga. My son told me on the phone he misses me and when am I going to be with him again. I told him I don't know. The immigration attorney for the two women says she doesn't know either.

MARY MEG MCCARTHY, NATIONAL IMMIGRANT JUSTICE CENTER: So it's unknown how long these mothers are going to be separated from their children. They're in proceedings. And their children are in proceedings in two different courts.

TUCHMAN: Neither woman had a cellphone when they left Honduras. So not only do they not have their children, Marbel only has one picture of her son. Olga has not pictures.

I want to live a good life with my kids, says Olga and for them to have a good future, not the same as I've had. Marbel tells us, I love him so much I never thought I'd bring him to have him separated from me. If I would have known, I wouldn't have brought him. I just wish him to be together with me.

After our interviews, both women go back to their cells with no idea whatsoever what will happen to their lives or the lives of their children -- Gary Tuchman, CNN --


TUCHMAN (voice-over): -- California.


ALLEN: Just not right.

Fears of a global trade war are growing stronger as President Trump imposes harsh tariffs on some of its biggest trading partners.

Ahead here, how will Europe respond and will this affect the U.S. economy?

HOWELL: Plus, a new hurricane season arrives with Puerto Rico. It is still trying to recover from last year's devastation. Just a little later, CNN returns to see how islanders there are holding up. Stay with us.




HOWELL: Live, in the United States and around the world, you're watching CNN NEWSROOM from Atlanta, Georgia. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. Our top stories now.



HOWELL: Threats of a U.S. trade war. Tariffs on Chinese imports are stoking renewed fears of that global trade war that everyone has been talking about. That word has been thrown around. The U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrived in Beijing early Saturday to continue trade talks.

China was caught off guard this week when the White House said it would pursue tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

ALLEN: It's not just China. Mexico, Canada and the European Union are fighting back against new U.S. tariffs announced on steel and aluminum. The E.U. on Friday filed a formal complaint with the WTO, the World Trade Organization. Canada's prime minister could hardly believe what President Trump had done.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: Let me be clear. These tariffs are totally unacceptable. These tariffs are an affront to the longstanding security partnership between Canada and the United States and, in particular, an affront to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside their American brothers in arms.


HOWELL: And even leaders of the president's own party have taken a dim view of Mr. Trump's sudden move toward turmoil in international trade. Listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I don't think anything good will come out of a trade war and I hope we pull back from the brink here because these tariffs will not be good for the economy. And I worry that it will slow, if not impede significantly the progress we're making economically for the country.


ALLEN: That's a question we're going to tackle with Inderjeet Parmar from the U.K. He teaches international politics at City University of London.

Good to see you, Inderjeet. Thank you for being with us. Good morning.

The president, like so many in the United States, is giddy over the excellent jobs report. He tweeted about it. Yet at the same time he makes this move regarding tariffs to our friends. And this could impact jobs in the U.S. and the economy if there were a trade war.

Is this an economic gamble on the part of the U.S. president?

INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: I think there are clearly economic repercussions for all the countries involved in any kind of trade dispute. I think it will be the case in the U.S. as well.

And that could have a kind of political effect later to some extent, which could undermine the jobs report, which, obviously, suggests that the Democrats will -- going toward the midterms, will be on the back foot.

In the end, I think you have to look at the character of the jobs created. But yes, certainly, there will be economic repercussions.

That's why, if you like, elements of the Republican Party, in particular, are very worried about it because countermeasures by China and the E.U. and Canada and so on are likely to hit some red states, especially when you look at agricultural products and so on, which are being mentioned as part of the countermeasures.

ALLEN: What's behind President Trump's interest here in his protectionism?

What's his goal?

PARMER: I think it's a really good question and it's something which everybody is trying to work out. And I think, in the end, I think the United States under Donald Trump is trying to reassert American authority in the world, military authority and economic authority.

And really in the arsenal of the Trump administration, out of all American administrations, there is the dollar and there's the military and there's market access. And I think the international system to some extent is being blamed for various outcomes within the United States.

So trying to manage growing inequality at home and the resistance to it, as well as the higher number of challenges abroad for economic supremacy, I think is bringing about this kind of protectionistic (sic) policy. It's an attempt to reassert American authority and American power.

The unfortunate problem is that it's very nationalistic. And that suggests that people who think we ought to make America great again are going to be psychologically benefiting.

But in terms of material American carnage amelioration, what Trump said he's going to do, I don't think that's going to do too much materially. But psychologically for white identity politics, it says America is back, it's asserting its power and it's showing everybody that they're in charge. And I think that's what he's really playing to.

ALLEN: It could backfire, however, and many of the states that voted for Mr. Trump could be impacted with their businesses there. The E.U. has indicated, Inderjeet, it won't be bullied by this president. It will fight back with its own tariffs. France is one of the countries determined. Here's the French president talking a few days ago about it.



EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): Unilateral responses and threats of trade wars will not resolve anything about this serious imbalance of international trade. Nothing. The solution might bring a short-term symbolic victory because it seems more comprehensible. Maybe.

The last ones who started a bilateral trade war, sometimes the same ones, saw prices increase and unemployment go up.


ALLEN: So Macron doesn't like it at all. Europe, though, isn't exactly unified right now. Spain and Italy have brand-new leadership. Britain is headed toward Brexit. Do you expect they can be unified in this situation they have with the


PARMER: You could add, Natalie, German carmakers, automakers as well, Volkswagen and so on. I think the Europeans are -- have to rhetorically come up with the kind of talk they're doing.

But in practice, they're in a weaker position with market access and so on. The U.S. power is very great. And as you say, Britain is heading toward Brexit. They want a trade deal with the United States. And that's going to affect that position that they take.

So Europe, the European Union is not so united at all. And I think that's strengthens America's hand. And in the end, the United States is using this kind of a loophole in the WTO's treaty, which says, in the condition of war, you can invoke national security to up trade tariffs and so on.

There's no war that America is actually being faced with at this moment. But I think this is an attempt to assert American authority. And I think in a way to rewrite some of the rules of international order. I don't know if it's going to break the order.

I think don't President Macron is right. This is not 1932 or 1929. But it has echoes of that and I think that frightens everybody. And I don't think it really does anybody very much good. It's a big play to keep his base very happy, which seem to be getting happier with him.

But in the end, materially, I don't think American workers and even many American corporations are going to benefit very much. It's really a PR exercise to reassert American power and make it look big and strong.

But in the long run, I don't think it's going to do very much at all to ameliorate the big problems the United States people face.

ALLEN: We always appreciate your comments. Inderjeet Parmar, thank you, thanks for joining us.

PARMER: Thank you very much.

HOWELL: We also heard from the U.S. Defense Secretary, who has a blunt message for China. James Mattis says the United States is in the Indo-Pacific region to stay. During a speech on Saturday in Singapore, he called out Beijing for turning artificial islands that it built up in the South China Sea into military outposts with heavy weapons.


GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Despite China's claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: China claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, even though six other countries have competing claims. You can see the confusion there on our map. In May, the Chinese military landed nuclear-capable bombers on those islands for the first time.

HOWELL: Nine months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico struggles with the longest power outage in modern U.S. history.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charlie Reyes has no experience doing this. Climbing poles, working with live wires, restoring power. Something he says he learned in one day from a retired power worker.


ALLEN: They are making it happen. They have to in Puerto Rico. We'll take you there, next.





ALLEN: The new hurricane season is now in its second day. But Puerto Rico, you have to feel for all the people there, still struggling to recover to even have electricity from last year's Hurricane Maria.

HOWELL: Still recovering from the devastation then, 20,000 homes still have no power. Officials on the island, they're worried that even a smaller storm could mean a repeat of last year's crisis. Our Leyla Santiago went to see how people there are dealing with it.


SANTIAGO (voice-over): This looks like progress. It is actually a sign of desperation in Utuado, one of the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

He says they're repairing the power themselves because they're almost at nine months without power. And they feel abandoned.

Charlie Reyes has no experience doing this. Climbing poles, working with live wires, restoring power, something he says he learned in one day from a retired power worker. Using any materials they can find, their risky mission turned the lights back on for more than a dozen. The home of Samuel Vasquez is next.

SAMUEL VASQUEZ, RESIDENT: I feel bad because it just -- I can't get no power. I can't get no light.

SANTIAGO: In Utuado, tarps are still being used, roads washed out and emergency plans are still being worked out. Mayor Ernesto Irizarry says his municipality cannot take another storm. So how frustrating is that as the leader of 30,000 people in Utuado?

MAYOR ERNESTO IRIZARRY, UTUADO, PUERTO RICO: It is difficult and hard because you see in the eye of the people the frustration.

SANTIAGO: He says he doesn't have the basic resources or the money to respond to a natural disaster. Eight months after Maria, parts of the island are still dealing with what FEMA calls the longest power outage in modern U.S. history more than 10,000 customers are still in the dark.

Can this power grid, can it sustain itself if another hurricane were to come?

WALT HIGGINS, CEO, PREPA: Most honest thing to say about our grid is that it is weak or fragile.

SANTIAGO: Walt Higgins is the new CEO for Puerto Rico's power authority, tasked with fixing a power grid never built to handle a four or five hurricanes. Just weeks ago, an island wide blackout was caused by a fallen tree. Higgins promises most of those still without power, though, not all will have it restored in a matter of weeks. When it cannot say is what will happen if another storm plunges the island into darkness.

HIGGINS: My straight answer to that is we are readier this year than we were last year.

SANTIAGO: And people on the island will be counting on it for their very lives. Harvard study now indicates a lack of power after Maria is partly to blame for more than 4,600 deaths, far more than in Puerto Rico's official death toll of 64. Will this be enough?



SANTIAGO: For FEMA's part, it is showing off this warehouse full of disaster relief supplies. The plan for the next disaster compared to Maria preparations to have seven times more water and meals, six times more generators, eight times more tarps, all on the island before the next hurricane. The agency admits it learned some lessons.

Will FEMA be ready for a faster response if a hurricane --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, there's no doubt. No doubt.

SANTIAGO: But for those in Utuado, taking matters into their own hands, any sign of recovery is a victory.

You get a little emotional about it?


You know how long that I didn't see the light at my house? Nine months. Nine months.

SANTIAGO: Now, another hurricane could be around the corner for the next season.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I guess I got to do it again, by hand again, the people.

SANTIAGO: The hope here is that power returns before the next storm.

And I talked to seven mayors from across the island, asked them all the exact same question.

Are you prepared if another hurricane were to hit?

One would only say I'm as prepared as I can be and he acknowledged the vulnerabilities of the island. But the rest pretty much immediately said no. When I asked what the biggest issue would be should that happen, all agreed it would be the vulnerable power grid -- Leyla Santiago, CNN, San Juan, Puerto Rico.


HOWELL: Home for Leyla. She's been giving us so much important reporting about what's happening there. I was there for Irma and, two weeks later, you know, Maria. The devastation so bad, people very resilient there but they've dealt with so much.


ALLEN: Let's go to Hawaii next. The Kilauea volcano still sending rivers of lava across parts of the big island. We track a team of experts trying to follow the path of destruction to keep thousands of people safe. That's coming up next here.






HOWELL: This video of a wildfire in southwestern Colorado is threatening hundreds of homes there. The smoke is from what's called the 416 Fire.

ALLEN: Fire crews are tackling the flames from the ground and the air. But they're getting no help from the dry conditions. A major highway has been shut down and people in some 800 homes have been told they have to leave.

HOWELL: And on Hawaii's big island, at least 87 homes have been destroyed by molten lava. And the danger is not over yet. ALLEN: Scientists are warning of what they call vigorous lava eruptions still gushing from volcanic fissures in the Earth. Fortunately, a team of experts is trying to track it to keep people safe. Our Scott McLean has that.


SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If there's lava on the move, so is drone pilot Rose Hart.

ROSE HART, DRONE PILOT: You guys ready?

OK. Clear props. Launching.

MCLEAN (VOICE-OVER): Her small crew from the University of Hawaii has been up all night every night since Kilauea first started erupting almost a month ago. They're documenting the lava's movement using drones, not for long-term research but to inform hour-to-hour decisions. You guys are an essential service.


MCLEAN (VOICE-OVER): As the lava moves, the group's routine stays largely the same. Fly --

HART: Just at about 100 meters altitude. Got 97% battery.

MCLEAN (VOICE-OVER): Take photos, upload the data. So, this is a base map. And analyze it and repeat.


This week they watched as a massive fast- moving lava flow cut off highway 132, creeping down it for two miles, leaving a pile of shifting lava some 10 feet high.

PRICE: It will be seemingly cool at the surface, but there's actually still a lot of heat in there.

MCLEAN (VOICE-OVER): Some of that lava is headed toward another highway, the only remaining escape route for some communities. Officials are now given some neighborhoods an ultimatum -- leave or be prosecuted.

JANET SNYDER, HAWAII COUNTY SPOKESMAN: This is an order that is a formal order that does mandate that they leave.

MCLEAN (VOICE-OVER): Set by a massive fissure shooting 250 feet into the air, the drone team calculates how quickly the lava is flowing. At times it's been up to 600 yards per hour, a snail's pace for a person but lightning fast for lava.

HART: You can clearly see it.

MCLEAN (VOICE-OVER): Movement that virtually nothing can stop, not homes, cars, or even entire forests. HART: Trees don't do much to slow lava. There's the volume there. That's not much that will.

MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Scott McLean, CNN, Pahoa, Hawaii.

HOWELL: That's just incredible.

ALLEN: It really is.

All right, finally, a bird's-eye view of a bird.

HOWELL: In this case, it's perched itself on a security camera. Take a look at that, this camera over a roadway in Australia. And it peeks in and out of the frame there, even appearing to tap on the glass. Let's take a look there.

ALLEN: Apparently, the bird is a regular visitor. Also he or she sometimes chews on the cables. Traffic controllers do not like that. They sometimes jiggle the camera to get the bird to fly the coop.


HOWELL: Love that, Natalie.

ALLEN: Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: I'm George Howell. For viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is next. For viewers around the world, "AMANPOUR" is ahead.

ALLEN: See you later.