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see that? yes! i'm gonna just go back to doing what i was doing. find your awesome with the xfinity x1 voice remote. making history. hours from now, france will have a new leader. will it be the far right's candidate, marine le pen, or the centrist emmanuel macron? we have all the ground covered in this historic election. and finally free after years in captivity. some of these girls will soon be reunited with their loved ones. details on the release of the nigerian chibok girls, ahead. plus, you know him as the duke of eddinborough, but did you know this community says prince philip is the sacred son of a mountain god? more on how they rely on him for
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their happiness. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. i'm george howell at cnn world headquarters in atlanta. >> and i'm hannah vaughan jones live for you in london. "cnn newsroom" starts right now. ♪ polls opened in france around three hours ago in a presidential election that could now shape european politics for years to come. the former economy minister emmanuel macron, you can see live pictures of him there. he is just to cast his vote, presumably for himself, in le touquet france. he is 39 years old and a relative newcomer to french politics. he surprised his skeptics by successfully creating a new movement. it's called on march. he went into sunday's voting as
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the strong favorite campaigning to keep france in the european union. however, his opponent, far right candidate marine le pen, she wants france to quit the european union and also has plenty of support throughout the country. she has argued for closing france's borders and severely restricting immigration to the country. well, each candidate is hoping to replace the outgoing president, of course, francois hollande, who has held the office since 2012. he cast his ballot earlier on. he leaves as one of the most unpopular presidents in french history, which may have influenced his choice not to seek re-election. just a reminder, emmanuel mac n macron, you're seeing live pictures of him in northern france, having just cast his ballot in this crucial french election. cnn is covering the election with our correspondents at some of the other polling places where the french will, of course, decide their next president. melissa bell is live for us in paris and isa soares is standing by in henin-beaumont.
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marine le pen is expected where you are in the next hour or so. will she be confident going into this last bit of voting? >> reporter: well, hannah, i can tell you we've seen about four cars or so and several motor bikes just arriving at the school here in henin-beaumont. we're seeing live pictures now of marine le pen. she's just arrived at the school here and will be casting her vote. we know that emmanuel macron has done the same. henin-beaumont is a town that has been backing the front national for the last three years. it's traditionally been a socialist town, an old mining town that's historically voted on the left for the socialist party, but now many turning to marine le pen. i spoke to some of the people waiting here. i'll give you just a shot of the people waiting to catch a glimpse of marine le pen. she hasn't left the car. many people waiting to catch a glimpse of her. and the people we've been speaking to, many have come from
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30 minutes or so away from henin-beaumont from other towns close by in the french north rust belt, and the majority of them telling us that they voted in their towns for marine le pen, for the front national. they are confident she will win, and that's why they backed her. that's the same message that i got from people when i was speaking to them yesterday here, many holding back initially which way they will vote, but many confident that she will do the same. so, we know, as you can see from live pictures, she is inside. i'll give you the outside shot of the school, at the school here. this is where she first really started her campaign about eight months or so ago. she's returning once again to the northern part of france. this is where she's really won the battle for the hearts and the minds, and now she's hoping for the votes, to get the votes of the people here. her message has played very well here, and that's why people are backing her. hannah? >> isa, while we're talking to you, we are still seeing live pictures from the building
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behind you where marine le pen has just cast her vote in this election, being greeted by supporters. she's smiling. she looks relatively calm, i'd say as well. i suppose one way of telling how confident a candidate is feeling is by assessing the victory party that may be planned. what has marine le pen's team got in store for her? >> reporter: well, you know, the majority of people here have been almost -- haven't quite been popping the champagne bottles just yet, but people have been kind of victorious and optimistic that she will win. you know, this is -- the front national have been in power for three years or so, so they are confident that they will remain so, and there's reason for that, really, hannah, because you know, the last mayor here of this town was a socialist mayor, and he was charged with embezzlement of funds here. so people want to see front national remain in power, and that is why they have really supported front national, in particular marine le pen. and there is -- when we look at
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exactly what's been done in terms of the changes, they have lowered local taxes here in this town, they have spent money on infrastructure, and they say, more importantly, they're being heard. they felt like this was a forgotten part of france, and this is how marine le pen has also played forgotten france. she's paying attention to them, listening to them, and she's making a difference for them. in terms of the key issues, they keep pointing out, it is an expression of, you know, patriotism versus a globalization, the haves and the have-nots, the elites and those who work in farms or so. this is how it's being played out, and people feel for the first time that someone is listening to them, and that person is marine le pen. >> okay, isa. just keep an eye out behind you, because marine le pen may be emerging from that building. >> reporter: let's see. i think we've got -- here we go. >> let's see if we can see marine le pen, the front national leader just emerging from the polling booth.
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well, we did have her for a second, but you certainly saw her actually casting her ballot. >> reporter: marine le pen! >> surrounded by a huge press pack there, as you would imagine. marine le pen there in her stronghold in the north of france. isa soares, our correspondent, trying to get a word in, as you can see everyone else is as well as they try to get in touch with the front national, the national front leader. trailing in the polls but still hopeful that she can pull off what would be an enormous surprise across france and, of course, the wider world as well. let's bring in now melissa bell, who's standing by for us in paris. melissa, we've seen both candidates now cast their votes. several hours now into voting overall throughout the country. do we have any indication yet as to how the turnout's been? >> reporter: the key figure we'll have in about an hour, the midday figure of turnout, and
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that is going to be a really crucial thing to watch, hannah, over the course of the day. those figures come out at midday in france and ending at 5:00 p.m. it will be interesting to compare it with 2012. certainly, here in this polling station in the 18th district of paris, you can see voting is brisk. there is a long queue to make their way to the ballot box over there in which they put an envelope in which they put either marine le pen's name or emmanuel macron's. that line, that queue goes all the way outside. so, people very keen to come and cast their votes. and the voters we've spoken to this morning have all said that they have a sense of the importance of this moment, not just because presidential elections are always important. remember that the french president has in his hands exceptionally large amounts of power, so there is something always in a french presidential vote that excites people. in fact, turnout in the last two presidential elections has been well over 80%. the key question, especially for emmanuel macron and his hopes is whether he's managed to make the
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voters enthusiastic enough to get out and vote. certainly here people seem to be taking that vote very seriously and say that they wouldn't for anything in the world have missed this opportunity to cast their vote in what is a choice between one version of france and a really starkly different vision of what the country should become. this year perhaps more than any other election in living memory. >> we've seen now both candidates casting their vote, melissa, and we saw francois hollande, the outgoing french president, cast his ballot just in the last hour or so as well. many leaders across the world, past and present, have coming out and given their two pennies' worth on this election result, most of them, i should say, backing emmanuel macron. he is the outright favorite, am i right? >> reporter: well, they are certainly watching, and you're seeing francois hollande, the outgoing president, voting there earlier, an election where essentially the political landscape, whatever the result tonight, has already been redrawn. it has simply never happened in
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the history of the fifth republic that the two mainstream parties, who have essentially shared power now since 1958, should be excluded entirely from the second round. already france has changed. it will either then choose a far right version of what its future should be, a sort of closure, a retreat behind its borders, an end to immigration, a withdrawal from globalization, economic protectionism, or on the other hand, much more continuity in terms of policy, an openness, more globalization, an openness out to the rest of the world, and a strong reshaping of the european project. that essentially is the very stark choice that is facing french voters today, but it already -- and i think this is something we've also heard from voters today, there is a sense that we are dealing with an entirely new political landscape. >> an exciting day. the movement goes on and we'll continue to cover this vote throughout the course of the day as well. melissa bell in paris and isa soares in henin-beaumont, thank you both. across france, let's get
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some insight now on this election, bringing in journalist david andleman. david spent many years covering french politics and joins us now live from the french capital. david, let's talk about why this election is historic. france will either have the youngest president to ever lead that country or the first female president to lead. >> reporter: well, he is the youngest president to have led the country -- he would be the youngest president, but not the youngest leader of napoleon was five years younger when he was emperor of france in the 19th century. the french tend to go with longstanding people that they've had a lot of comfort with. what's particularly interesting is how this vote will go down. i think what's very important is the abstentions and blank votes, which will suggest what kind of a mandate macron has in the future. when the french go into their polling places, they will be faced with paper ballots
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entirely. they can choose one or the other, macron or le pen. they place it in an envelope and then place the envelope in a glass ballot box. now, that envelope can be empty, and a lot of voters who have supported other candidates in the first round who were very upset about the two choices may very well vote blank. and that's why about an hour from now, the actual numbers of abstentions or the numbers certainly of people who may not have voted, the pace of the voting will become very, very important to determine what kind of a mandate macron has. >> that is a big part of this, will people vote nil or blanc? we'll have to see, obviously, how this plays out. speaking more on the historic nature of this, so with marine le pen, could be the first female president. >> she could be. and in fact, she has it in her dna. she was kind of destined to become a, hopefully, a first female president. i first met her in the early 1980s when she was 12 years old. i had done an interview with her
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father for another television network. we had just finished the interview in his house, and a young blond-headed girl with pig tails bounced into the room, and the father said to me, i would like to present to you the first female president of france. well, this is certainly as close as she will have gotten. but there's one other more important thing as well, and that is, even if she did not win, if she does not become president, if she gets 35%-40% of the vote, she will become the de facto effective leader of the opposition in france. none of the major parties got into the second round this time, of course, so that's very crucial for the future of macron's ability to govern, whether he'll be faced with le pen as the leader of the opposition. >> let's also talk about the news of this 11th-hour hack of the macron campaign. the big question now is does this play into the minds of voters as they're set to make such an important decision about the future of that nation? and the eu, quite frankly.
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>> frankly, i think a lively minor role at this point, partly because of the timing of it. it came very, very late in the campaign, basically, only hours before all campaigning turned off at midnight on friday night. so, there really wasn't an opportunity for what was contained in those hacks to get out as they did in the united states. also, it appears that what was in the hacks was not all that dramatic. it was fairly routine campaign business and so on. so, the fact that there was a hack is interesting. everybody basically had known that the russians were trying to influence the campaign. and frankly, it's on the back pages of most of the newspapers this morning. >> certainly. and following with respect to reporting restrictions, not reporting the contents of that information. but we do know about the hack. the macron campaign has confirmed that, stating that some of the information fake, some of it not. but again, we'll see how this all plays into the minds of the
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voters. david andelman, thank you so much for being with us this hour. the hashtag that had the world demanding, bring back our girls. now, dozens of nigeria's missing chibok schoolgirls are finally free. officials say 82 of them were released after successful negotiations between the nigerian government and the terrorist group boko haram. they are believed to be from the group of 276 schoolgirls stolen from their village three years ago. isha sesay has been following this story from the very beginning. she has more now. >> reporter: after more than three years in captivity, it is the news that people around the world, not to mention the families, have been waiting for, that 82 of the missing chibok schoolgirls have finally been released from boko haram captivity. according to tweets put out by the nigerian president, mohammed
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buhari, the release came out as a result of lengthy negotiation and there was a swap of boko haram suspects, done in order to free these girls, who will be transported to the capital of nigeria on sunday, may 7th, where they will be welcomed by the nigerian president. the nigerian president also in tweets goes on to say that a number of people were involved in this effort to free these girls, and he thanks a number of individuals, including the government of switzerland, the international committee of the red cross, local and international ngos alongside security agencies of nigeria. this really is a momentous moment with three years having gone by. some had begun to doubt whether any more girls would be released. as you may remember, some 21 were released in october of 2016, and after that, there had been largely silence. we had heard no word of negotiations to bring about the release of more girls. but here we are on this day,
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celebrating the news that 82 more girls have now been freed and will shortly be reunited with their families. of course, amid the joy, amid the celebration, we must remember that there are still well over 100 girls who remain in boko haram captivity, and there is no word as to whether negotiations continue to bring about their freedom. so, that must be borne in mind. but for the families, the families that await news as to whether their children as part of this 82, this is just an incredible day filled with so much emotion, as they look forward to being reunited with their loved ones. and we look forward to bringing you just more coverage of their re-entry to normal life. these girls have been through so much in their three years in captivity. we know that they've undergone tremendous hardship while they've been away from their loved ones, and the road to recovery will be a long and a difficult one, but on this day, we celebrate the fact that they are finally free and they will
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shortly be reunited with their loved ones. isha sesay, cnn, los angeles. >> isha, we appreciate it. and of course, important to remember that there are still at least 100 girls still missing, so we'll continue to cover this story. earlier on, we spoke to nigeria's former minister of education about the impact that social media had on bringing some of these chibok schoolgirls back home. >> as the whole world took ownership of the problem of our chibok girls, and so, no matter where you recited or you recite, you were drawn to the very tragic story of girls who went to be educated and ended up being abducted by terrorists. however, that was as far as it went. when social media then moved on and the rest of the world carried on with other priorities, it simply took those of us in nigeria who had been
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the voices that began to call attention to the problem that had befallen these girls, to continue to persist. if there was no persistence in terms of local ownership of the problem, it would never have resulted in this series of positives that we have seen. the only thing that one can find the voice to say is persistence can make a big difference, and i am so grateful to god. i really am. because it took a lot of faith for every one of us that's been advocating for our chibok girls to continue even when the rest of the world moved on to other priorities. we want to be able to say every of our chibok girl is back. every one of them.
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>> that is the hope, indeed, that we can soon say that. at this point, saying, though, 82 of these schoolgirls have been released. still ahead here on cnn, we want to take you back to france. you see the scene here in le touquet, this live image at 11:19 in the morning, bl you see emmanuel macron there front and center, one of two candidates that french voters will decide to be their next president. the other marine le pen in henin-beaumont. live pictures as cnn covers this presidential race. stay with us. with all the over-the-counter products i've used. enough! i've tried enough laxatives to cover the eastern seaboard. i've climbed a mount everest of fiber. probiotics? enough! (avo) if you've had enough, tell your doctor what you've tried and how long you've been at it. linzess works differently from laxatives. linzess treats adults with ibs with constipation or chronic constipation. it can help relieve your belly pain, and lets you have more frequent and complete bowel movements
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welcome back to "cnn newsroom." i'm george howell. we're following up on questions about the former national security adviser, michael flynn. what did the trump transition team tell him about his contacts with russia's ambassador? a former u.s. official tells cnn transition team members warned flynn in november about the risks of communicating with the russian diplomat and that such conversations were likely being monitored by u.s. intelligence. this was weeks before flynn reportedly spoke with the ambassador about u.s. sanctions on russia. flynn subsequently resigned. let's get more now on this story with "politico" reporter sylvia borelli, live for us in london this hour. let's talk more about this. so, with news about flynn, he was warned about these contacts
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with the russian ambassador but went on with the conversation anyway. the bigger question here, though, is, is this something that many in the united states, americans still care about, or is this more inside baseball with regards to flynn's legal woes? >> reporter: right. hi, george. well, at this point, right, the question is, if he was warned, why did he go on and speak to the russian ambassador on so many occasions about something so sensitive like the sanctions? but even if he hadn't been warned, someone who was part of the transition team and is about to, you know, be part of the government, why would he engage in conversations with the russians in the first place, regardless of any warning? but at this point, you know, he's been fired three months ago. this has been going on for so long. sally yates is expected to testify tomorrow. at the same time, we don't know
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how much she is going to be able to say because a lot of this information is classified. so, you know, at this point, it looks like people have moved on, although, of course, this russian meddling and the investigations connected are still lingering and quite important. but you know, it depends on how much we'll know from here going forward. >> silvia, you touched on the nuance in this, a lot of broader questions involved. but on the broader question, a lot of americans following this, it is a complex investigation. cnn and many other outlets certainly digging for information and following the leads, but is this something that does become inside baseball for many people, or is this something that you feel people are still following very closely with regards to michael flynn? >> reporter: i do think it has become inside baseball, because the guy's gone. he's no longer there.
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if you listen to president trump, he blames obama for having even put him in that post in the beginning, although that was years before his team came on. and then, you know, you could go in to argue, well, how about the vetting process and the ability to vet their officials by the trump administration? but that, again, you know, is part of the blame game and it's a bunch of opinions and speculation right now. so, i think people are starting to get tired with the flynn story, to an extent. >> and certainly, the blame game, as you point out, it is important to point out that the former president did fire flynn. civ silvia borelli, thank you for being with us from london at 10:26 in the morning. stay with us here on "cnn newsroom." the venezuelan political and economic crisis is getting worse. coming up on the program, how the trump administration is
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they give awards for being hot and 100 years old? we'll take 2! [ laughing ] xfinity x1 gives you exclusive access to the best of the billboard music awards just by using your voice. the billboard music awards. sunday, may 21st eight seven central only on abc. it is 5:30 a.m. on the u.s. east coast. welcome back to viewers here in the united states and around the world. you're watching "cnn newsroom." good to have you with us. i'm george howell live in atlanta. >> and i'm hannah vaughan jones live for you in london. 10:30 in the morning this sunday. let's bring you the headlines now this hour. nigerian officials say 82 of the missing chibok schoolgirls are now free. they were released after successful negotiations between the nigerian government and the terrorist group boko haram. the girls are believed to be from the group of 276
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schoolgirls who were kidnapped back in 2014. more than 100 girls, though, remain missing. the former u.s. official tells cnn members of president trump's transition team warned former national security adviser michael flynn about risks of communicating with russia's ambassador. the official says the warning happened in november, weeks before flynn reportedly discussed sanctions with the ambassador. flynn subsequently resigned. former palestinian prime minister ismail haniyeh, has been named the new leader of hamas. hamas is the militant palestinian group that governs gaza. live images in france this hour. take a look here. you see voters headed to the polls there in the french capital. 11:31 in the morning. the polls have been open for some time in this historic presidential race. the contest pits far right's marine le pen against the centrist candidate, emmanuel
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macron. macron has led in the polls but his campaign said friday that it was hacked in a bid to sway the vote. well, for more now on that french presidential race, we're joined now from paris by jenny did i giovanni. jeanine is the middle east editor at "newsweek." good to have you on the program. personality and politics, who factors which have played such a crucial role in this campaign for both candidates, given that they are polls apart in both personality and politics, but i'm wondering which is more important when it comes to voters, ordinary french citizens, going to the polls today and casting their ballot. which is the overriding factor? >> reporter: well, i think this is what we're going to see today, and there's many factors at stake. it's a rainy day here in paris, it is a gusty day. is this going to prevent people from coming out to the polls. we have two very different people, as you've said. we've got marine le pen, who has promised in many ways to restore
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the national identity of france, which in her world means ridding the country of immigrants, of dual nationals, of coming out of the eu in what would be called the frexit into a kind of redo of the british brexit. on the other hand, we have emmanuel macron, 39 years old, young, fresh, a former banker who has clear ideas, a liberal. so, the two of these are basically polarizing the country in a very distinct way. this is a historic election. it's the first time since the 1950s that the two main french parties have been knocked out completely, and the challengers are two basically independents that came out of not from the traditional political background. >> and marine le pen has very much pitted herself as the protector of france, given the fact that france has such a recent history, unfortunately, with terrorism, how important is
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that as a selling point for the french public to say, elect me and i will protect you from further attack? >> reporter: absolutely. and remember, this is the first election that has ever taken place during a state of emergency. we have been under a state of emergency since the terrorist attacks, which have left more than 250 people dead, since 2015. so, france is in a very vulnerable state, and marine le pen has played into that in a very big way, playing on people's fears, playing on the globalization that she sees as a demonic force that has basically turned the frenchness of france into a more global commodity. she doesn't want that, so she plays to people that basically want to see jobs restored, want to see france taken back to a time of great glory. this is not very different from what donald trump did or what putin does in russia. indeed, these are the people she aligns herself with, and they with her. trump has made no secret that le
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pen would be his choice. >> interesting that you mentioned the united states there. we do have this alleged e-mail hacking situation in france now on the macron campaign team, similarly to what we saw with the dnc in the united states over their presidential campaign. how much of a role? i know we're restricted in terms of what we can actually report about this because this election is very much live and happening right now, but how much of a factor do you think this alleged hack might be when it comes to how people cast their vote? >> reporter: well, what's interesting is if you were not following the elections with a fine-tooth comb, as we journalists or political analysts are, you probably wouldn't know, because the mainstream french papers, "le monde" did do a q&a about it, but absolutely, the contents which we believe might be personal and financial -- we don't know -- have not been revealed. and if you were just watching the main french channels, if you were just an average citizen who wanted to find out what was going on, you probably would
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know very little, if not nothing about it. so, the french electoral commission basically said they did not want this in any way to tamper with what would be the results. so, when it was announced late friday night, those of us who got on the internet and began trolling it to see what we could find, very, very little. we don't know a lot yet. but clearly, there is one thing that i've always believed since the beginning of this election -- there are two countries that have a huge interest in what happens in france, the united states and russia. it is very important, the results here, not just what's going to happen today, not just who will get in, but the long term. marine le pen is not doing a short-term strategy. she's looking at the elections in 2020. her niece, marion le pen, who is a very strong contender for the next elections down the road, has been really coming out clearly in this election. i think that we need to look long term at the future of
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europe, at what happens today, and the impact it will have. >> and of course, there is an argument, i suppose, that emmanuel macron could benefit from this alleged hack as well, that people might see him as a victim and somehow feel sorry for him. that's one argument as well. janine di giovanni, thank you for joining us from paris. >> thank you. now a mandatory evacuation under way right now for about 50,000 people taking place in hanover, germany. construction workers recently discovered unexploded bombs from world war ii. the evacuation remains in effect until experts defuse the deadly ordinance. hanover was heavily bombed by the allies in 1943, and finding unexploded bombs decades later is not unusual there. tens of thousands of women across venezuela led antigovernment protests saturday as the political and economic crisis gets significantly worse.
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[ chanting ] women there are demanding elections and an end to the violence. protesters have taken to the streets almost every day for five consecutive weeks now. the opposition says the venezuelan president, nicolas maduro, is a dictator who has ruined the economy. >> translator: nicolas maduro wants through these means to avoid what no politician can avoid, a popular vote. the only thing we politicians cannot avoid is for people to judge us through their votes, through a popular vote, so the protests will continue until the government understands that it must listen. today i am here accompanying venezuelan women. this country has the name of a woman. we must not forget that. >> and the story has spread beyond venezuela's borders as well. president donald trump of the united states says that the u.s. will work with the peruvian government to help the people of
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venezuela. at least 36 people have been killed in the country since early last month. the u.s. ambassador to the united nations is now criticizing the venezuelan president. ambassador nikki haley says in a statement, "we are deeply concerned about the maduro government's violent crackdown on protesters in venezuela." president maduro's disregard for the fundamental rights of his own people has heightened the political and economic crisis in the country." nikki haley there. still ahead here on "cnn newsroom," this year's run for the roses was paved with mud. ew. but it was perfect for one horse to clean up at churchill downs. we'll have that information for you ahead. plus, a tribe in vanuatu is upset by the retirement of britain's prince philip. why he's a local legend to these south pacific villagers, ahead.
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welcome back. the winner of this year's kentucky derby was no sleepwalker, a thoroughbred named always dreaming thundered around the muddy track at churchill downs to become the latest triple crown contender. our coy wire was there. >> reporter: a dreamy day at churchill downs here in louisville, kentucky, as the favorite, always dreaming, wins the 143rd winning of the kentucky derby. this marks the fifth straight year that the favorite has taken the run for the roses, the most since the 1890s. always dreaming got out to a great start and was helping to set the pace from the very beginning, fighting the elements, the wet and sloppy track, running strong, despite the heavy, muddy hooves. he endured to the end. it's safe to say that always dreaming is a mudder like no other. the winning team collects an
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estimated $1.2 million. the horse was bought for over $300,000, but the silver lining in this story, the jockey, john velazquez, has two triple crown wins, two kentucky derbies, two hall of fame stakes, a hall of fame rider having claimed over millions in earnings. he is the chairman of the jockeys guild and of the permanently disabled vokeyes fund. i spoke with him in the locker room before the race, and his mission he says is to work off the track to raise money to support those who have come before him and those in need of help. a sweet, sweet win, not just for a horse named always dreaming, but for one of the good guys in the sport, jockey john velazquez. it is a wonderful day at churchill downs and one to be remembered. the dream is alive for always dreaming. now the question is can he and velazquez take the second jewel of the triple crown, the
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preakness stakes in two weeks in baltimore? i'm coy wire for cnn in louisville, kentucky. >> coy wire talking about a mudder like no udder. >> and also -- >> got to give that to him. >> and sporting the bow tie. >> coy wire there. >> he can do it. switching gears, the u.s. state of california has had the distinction of having the worst drought in the u.s., but now that goes to florida. derek van dam is here. >> george, they are breathing a sigh of relief in california because the drought is over, but in florida they're struggling to breathe because the drought is ongoing and has caused significant wildfires. >> wow. >> you can see some of them now. this is a wildfire just outside of tampa. some of these fires have closed interstate 75, a major artery there running north and south across the state. that was to motorists for several hours there on saturday. and it's unbelievable, because at the moment we have 106 total active fires with 29 of these fires actually about 100 acres or more.
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there are large fires as you can see on your tv screens right in front of you, all because of the extreme drought that is now plaguing parts of south-central florida. in fact, about 5% of the state under extreme drought conditions with the latest drought monitor. we have severe drought conditions, at least 39% of the state of florida, and this has caused significant wildfires since the beginning of the year, january 1st, 2017. we have seen over 90,000 acres burnt across the state. and again, 29 active wildfires right now. and unfortunately, about 320 fires since the beginning of the year have been due to arson-related activity, and that's charred over 20,000 acres. so, a serious situation there, all exacerbated by the fact that drought continues to worsen throughout that state. switching gears, about 1,000 miles away from florida, we focus in on the central united states, where flooding is occurring, a complete opposite phenomen phenomenon, of course. there are 20 river gauges that are recording major flood stage,
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56 recording moderate flood stage. now, the storm system responsible for the flooding continues to move eastward, and that's good news because we start to dry things out, but that doesn't mean the rivers still aren't cresting. that's going to be a concern for the mississippi river through the course of the rest of the weekend. now, welcome to spring in the united states. i focused in on upstate new york because that shading of white there just outside of toronto and outside of buffalo, new york, that's snowfall, folks. they could be experiencing up to an inch, maybe even two inches of snow for the day today. below-average temperatures right through your mother's day weekend. that's still seven days away or so. temperatures running about 10 to 15 degrees below where they should be this time of year. i don't know. for me and george, i would say, we are breathing a sigh of relief because we like the cool air in atlanta because it can get very hot here, but not this week. >> yeah, not this weekend. have to take advantage of it. >> we will. >> derek van dam, thank you. >> all right, george. thank you both. still ahead on the program this hour, prince philip's retirement
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an unlikely following is mourning the retirement of britain's prince philip. a tribe in vanuatu sees the queen's husband as a sacred son of a mountain god who holds the key to their happiness, and now they fear he'll never venture to their tiny village in the south pacific again. as britain's prince philip announced his retirement this week, an unlikely fan base reacted to the news. >> translator: prince philip has said one day he will come and visit us, but with the announcement that he will retire and no longer travel, we still believe that he will come, but if he does not come, the picture that i'm holding it means nothing to us. >> reporter: to these villagers in vanuatu, he's seen as more than a prince. he is divine. >> translator: prince philip is important to us because our ancestors told us that part of our custom is in england, so that's why prince philip is important to us.
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>> reporter: according to legend, a pale-skinned son of a mountain god left the island in search of a powerful woman, and these villagers believe that queen elizabeth ii's elderly husband is that celestial son. back in 1974, the island was known as new hebrides and ruled by colonial britain and france. the royals made a trip here, but these villagers didn't get a chance to see him, fueling the mystery surrounding the man. now, word has spread of his stepping down, but his devout followers still hold hope that one day he'll return. >> translator: we are looking forward to prince philip coming. if he comes one day, the people will not be poor, there will be no sickness, no debt, and the garden will be growing very well. >> matthew bayless spent time with that tribe in vanuatu and wrote a book about this. this is a cult following, isn't it? do they actually believe prince
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philip has divine powers and healing powers as well? >> it was certainly expressed to me when i was there with 100% conviction, yes. despite that, that there are other purposes to having a cult like that in that particular place, yes. >> is the duke of edinburgh aware of this following? is he aware he has people sort of bow down to him not just in the uk but also in a tiny corner of the south pacific? >> absolutely. he's been aware of it since 1978, when there was a formal ceremony when a photograph was sent to the islanders, and ever since then they've exchanged various gifts and messages, and he's met men from that specific part in the palace several years ago. so, yes, he's well aware of it. >> we heard in that short report several of the villagers saying if he is going to retire and he never comes to visit us, then effectively, this picture i'm holding of him means nothing to me now. does that mean, that's it, no
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more godlike role? >> i would be very surprised. the thing about tann et the thing about tann anna is it creative place and the beliefs are fluid and always changing, and i would be surprised if within the next few days someone else didn't pop up and say, yes, but this is clearly not what's happened. he's withdrawn from his public duties and become, you know, gone into seclusion and might well be preparing for a transformation of status into something else. so, i would be very surprised if the mourning people lasted very long, but who knows. >> one wonders as well about succession as well. obviously, prince philip is in reasonably good health. he's 95, nearly 96, but here in the uk, we're obviously looking forwards when the queen perhaps moves on and then charles takes over as successor to the throne, as the heir to the throne. does it work the same in vanu u vanuatu? will prince charles become the successor to his father, prince philip, as and when prince philip is no longer with us? >> i raised that question with them when i was there, and
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responses varied from, you know, you're not understanding the point. it doesn't matter, because he will come to us in spirit, even if he's not sitting in his body in buckingham palace anymore. and other people suggested, yes, we might need to ask someone else from the royal family if they will come and do the same job. >> well, it's very interesting. it's a fascinating tale. matthew, thank you so much for coming. and this is your book. so, read it if you want to learn more about the vanuatu tribe. thank you. that's it for this hour of "cnn newsroom." i'm hannah vaughan jones in london. >> and i'm george howell in atlanta. "new day" starts next and for others, a cnn special report "missing: madeleine mccann." thank you for watching cnn, the world's news leader. -- captions by vitac --
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of the billboard music awards just by using your voice. the billboard music awards. sunday, may 21st eight seven central only on abc. a historic vote in france with the european union at stake. >> a massive hacking attack has drawn immediate comparisons with allegations in the united states. >> were these simply embarrassing as we saw in the case of hillary clinton or something more damming than that? >> the trump transition team warned former national security adviser michael flynn about his contacts with russia. >> it's not the action but the cover-up that is coming around to bite him. when sally yates testified next week. >> the president asked him to conduct a vie


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