Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

South Korea's Ousted President to Leave Blue House; Diplomatic Row Between Turkey and Netherlands; Twin Bombings Kill Dozens in Damascus; Trump Fires New York's Attorney; A Look at Europe's Fight Against Cybercrime; Nude Photo Scandal Rocks U.S. Marine Corps; Drought, Impending Famine Devastate Somalia; Wild Boars Roam Fukushima; Pharaoh's Statue Dug Up in Cairo Slum; Aired 5-6a ET

Aired March 12, 2017 - 05:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[05:00:03] HANNAH VAUGHAN JONES, CNN ANCHOR: Diplomatic row. The Turkish Family minister asked to leave the Netherlands amid tensions that has Turkey threatening retaliation. A live report ahead.

In a rare move North Korea praises its southern neighbor for the ousting of President Park Geun-hye, calling it an historical victory. Our Ivan Watson is in Seoul.

Plus, you're fired. The U.S. president sacked a high profile U.S. attorney after initially asking him to stay on.

Live from CNN London, welcome to our viewers here in Europe, in the United States, and of course around the world. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.

Well, right now in South Korea there are reports that the country's ousted leader Park Geun-hye will leave the presidential Blue House any moment now. That is according to the Yonhap News Agency.

The country's constitutional court upheld Park's impeachment over a corruption scandal on Friday. And on Saturday her opponents rallied in Seoul, many to demand her arrest.

CNN's Ivan Watson live for us in Seoul now with the very latest.

We understand that she's going to be leaving imminently, Ivan. Tell us more.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's what the local media here is reporting. And we are outside the entrance to the so-called Blue House. That's the official residence of the president. And I'll get out of the way so that you can kind of see up the road where we anticipate the impeached president to depart.

Now, of course, she was impeached on Friday but she has continued to reside within that official residence and continued to enjoy the kind of symbolic privilege and protection of its actual walls. But once she leaves that, she really does become a private citizen again. A leader who ends her political career very much in disgrace.

We are hearing that at her private residence on the other side of the South Korean capital that there is a small group of supporters gathered outside chanting "We love you." We've seen over the course of the weekend, efforts and processes underway to prepare that residence for securing the former president who will still enjoy some privileges of security and bodyguards after being stripped of her powers. But, yes, this will be the end, very much, of this leader's political career. And very much also the end of political dynasty in South Korea as well since Park Geun-hye, her father was very much a ruler and dictator of this country for nearly 20 years until he was killed.

And it's very hard to imagine that she will be able to recover from this scandal and disgrace of this corruption scandal and then this impeachment -- Hannah.

JONES: Ivan, we mentioned in the introduction that her opponents were out on the streets celebrating. She does, of course, though, have a huge number of supporters as well within South Korea. And, of course, for many South Koreans now, the future of their country looking very, very uncertain. Has the reality of the situation sunk in this Sunday?

WATSON: I believe so. I mean, yes, there were huge celebrations Saturday night in downtown Seoul. Fireworks display, concerts, people joyous. And that is the culmination of months of mass street protests that helped bring down this leader. But that said, you know, just here where we are outside the Blue House and the official residence, you kind of talk to people who are -- there are not any formal crowds that have gathered here, just a few handful of people that are watching in anticipation here, and almost all of them have expressed a certain amount of sadness because while the people who are celebrating out in the streets were championing this as a moment for democracy for this country, I do believe that there's also a sense that this is unfortunate.

That this wasn't a great moment for this country, though Park Geun-hye enjoys very little popular support. We're talking in polls and in public opinion surveys, single-digit support, 4 percent or 5 percent. So overwhelmingly those polls show that people wanted her out of office that supported this process. That said, it is a somber perhaps moment for many South Koreans to see a leader we're anticipating depart in such disgrace -- Hannah.

JONES: Yes, and we would of course wait to see if she does, indeed, leave the building behind you.

Ivan, I'm wondering, though, what, as you say, there is a somber move within the country the fact that her downfall has been so public. Also some concern presumably that North Korea along the peninsula is praising the way that this scandal has played out.

[05:05:08] WATSON: Yes, I mean, that's an incredible irony here that you have North Korea, one of the world's most repressive regimes, that is also celebrating this impeachment. I'm going to read an excerpt from a statement that came out from the North Korean government, and it said, quote, "The destructive end of Park Geun-hye is the historical victory of justice of the people. With the flame of justice, South Korea should fight vigorously to open up a new world in which their dreams and ideals are fulfilled."

Again, incredibly irony for the North Korean regime to be embracing the downfall of their opponent, Park Geun-hye, who was very tough on the North Korean regime, when this was arguably a very democratic process here that brought down this flawed leader here in South Korea is an example of checks and balances, of people power and of the electorate rejecting somebody who won with a convincing victory in elections in 2012 -- Hannah.

JONES: OK. Ivan Watson, live for us outside the Blue House in Seoul, South Korea. We will, as we said, keep an eye on the situation happening behind you.

Ivan, for now, thank you.

A diplomatic row is escalating between Turkey and the Netherland, prompting protests to break out in both countries. It all began on Saturday when Dutch officials refused to let the Turkish Foreign minister's plane land for a rally in Rotterdam, citing at the time security concerns. Well, later that day Dutch police blocked the Turkish Family Affairs ministers from the Turkish consulate. Well, Turkey responded by sealing off the Dutch embassy in Ankara and said the Dutch ambassador should not return to Turkey, quote, "for some time." The Turkish Foreign minister says the actions by the Dutch government are unacceptable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MEVLUT CAVUSOGLU, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER (Through Translator): This decision is a scandal by all means and is unacceptable. This does not suit diplomatic practices. This is the most extreme point in diplomacy, a written flight permission issued to a foreign minister is canceled with another written document. This is completely unacceptable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Well, the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders tweeted about the Turkish Family Affairs minister saying, quote, "Go away and never come back. And take all your Turkish fans from the Netherlands with you, please. #bye-bye."

Well, let's bring in Netherlands freelance journalist Robert Chesal.

Robert, for our international viewers, just explain the bigger picture for us here. I'm wondering to start with, why would any Turkish minister be attempting to hold a rally and campaign in the Netherlands anyway.

ROBERT CHESAL, FREELANCE JOURNALIST: Well, it's part of a concerted effort by the Erdogan government, President Erdogan himself is trying to prepare the Turkish populace both in Turkey and abroad. You have to understand that there are many hundreds of thousands of Turks in Europe, who still have Turkish citizenship, to prepare them for a referendum which is coming up next month, to give the president far more power than he currently has. So this campaign is to inform and it's a campaign to basically just get Turks living abroad to vote for greater powers for President Erdogan.

Of course we can't ignore the fact that this is also a piece of grandstanding by Erdogan and his ministers. He had staged similar rallies. Had his ministers go to public places in Germany, for instance, to hold big rallies. The Dutch government is facing an election just a few days away, this coming Wednesday, so the Turks -- the Turkish government knew that they were putting the Dutch government in a difficult spot by trying to stage a big rally. As you said, Geert Wilders has been very vocal against the Turkish and the Islamic community here in the Netherland.

The Dutch prime minister facing a tough election coming up knew he could now allow a big Turkish rally to happen in Rotterdam, and hence, he did not allow the Turkish Foreign minister to land. Has mow has the Family minister detained and taken out of the country as a persona non grata. It's a really escalating diplomatic row but basically, it's election grandstanding on both sides, both the Turkish trying to show their might to the Turkish people, saying see, look, even Europe is trying to push us around so it's Erdogan there on the Turkish side trying to gain support for his referendum. And on the Dutch side, obviously the Dutch prime minister saying, listen, you can't push around because if he looks weak, he's going to badly lose that election just a few days from now.

JONES: Yes. The Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte has been accused of bowing to the pressure from the far-right because, of course, their election is just around the corner as well.

[05:10:02] But some strong words in response from the Turkish President Erdogan. He's threatened the harshest response, I believe, to the Netherlands. What might that be?

CHESAL: Well, you have to realize that both Turkey and the Netherlands are members of NATO so anything even coming close to out and out aggression is of course out of the question. What we are likely to see is some sort of economic sanctions, perhaps recalling diplomatic personnel. Who knows? It certainly is an unprecedented diplomatic row. Something like this -- certainly in living memory, we have not seen anything like this in the Netherlands.

I can't remember the last time a minister of a foreign government was basically arrested and escorted out of the country anywhere in Europe in living memory.

JONES: And it's not just the Netherlands as well. Reports today that in Sweden as well in other European countries where these Turkish rallies have been planned.

CHESAL: Yes.

JONES: Or are due to take place, that suddenly they're somehow going to be sidelined.

CHESAL: Yes, I mean, this is very clear. Concerted campaign on behalf of -- on the part of Erdogan and his government in Turkey. You know, they have been really cutting into freedom of the press. They have been sweeping -- there have been arrests of many academics, people in the press, people considered to be political enemies of Erdogan. You know, a lot of freedoms are being cut back in Turkey. The powers of the president are already considerable following the failed coup a couple of months ago.

So, you know, this is really a worrying development and I can see why many European government would, you know, start to resist this attempt to basically use their territory and the Turkish population in their country as a sort of tool to help Erdogan gain more power. I can understand why this would happen.

JONES: Big movements on the European front to watch this here, for sure.

Robert Chesal, we appreciate your analysis. Thank you.

CHESAL: Thank you.

JONES: Well, earlier, my colleague Jonathan Mann spoke to the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey, James Jeffrey, about this growing tension between the Netherlands and Turkey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO TURKEY: Turkey, like Germany and other countries, has hundreds of thousands of dual national Turkish-European Union citizens. And running campaigns in these countries, you'll remember Barack Obama is a candidate in Berlin in 2008, is not uncommon. But the problem is that the right in Europe, particularly strong in the Netherlands before the parliamentary elections next week, sees the Turks as Muslims and as bad. The left in Germany, Netherlands and elsewhere see the Turks as too supportive of President Erdogan and what they see, with good reason, is his authoritarian policies.

So the result is a perfect storm. Europe needs Turkey and Turkey needs Europe given all these threats and challenges we have in the world today. And this is a real mess.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN ANCHOR: The way you described it, you passed over quickly the fact that the Netherlands is having its own election next week ahead of the Turkish referendum. In the Dutch case, is that what this is really about, the Dutch government tried to influence the outcome of that election?

JEFFREY: It's hard to say, Jonathan. Again, I have been following this in Germany and the Netherlands and elsewhere. And you have two sets of issues. Europe is horrified that the right, be it Le Pen in France, the alliance in Deutschland in Germany or Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, will win an ever growing pot of the population and put pressure on the governments in these countries to shift to a much more anti-immigrant, much more nationalistic frame of mind. By the same token, there's tremendous opposition to Erdogan and his authoritarian policies on the left and the center-left in Europe. So all of this comes together. And the result is this terrible situation. MANN: Now the Foreign minister was allowed to speak at a rally in

Hamburg, but there were problems elsewhere in Germany. What is the domestic calculation in Germany? Is it the same?

JEFFREY: It's somewhat similar to the Netherlands but you're dealing with a far more clever politician, Angela Merkel. She took the position that the central government won't decide, they will not ban these rallies by Turkish officials. But rather they'll let the municipalities do it, at the local levels. Cities and towns -- some cities and towns have allowed it to happen. Some have not. But it's been murky enough so that Erdogan has not been able to react as strongly against Germany as he just had against the Netherlands.

MANN: Now when they banned these meeting citing public safety or public order, is that -- is that just a transparent feebly of an excuse?

JEFFREY: Of course. Again, hundreds of thousands of people came to see Barack Obama in Germany in 2008 when he was a political candidate. And there weren't millions of American voters in Germany as there are millions of Turkish voters in Germany today, dual nationals.

[05:15:08] And the Germans sucked up the public problems of closing down streets all over Berlin. This is a patent effort to essentially deny a democratic freedom of speech process because you don't like the people talking, either because you are biased against Muslims or you're biased against people who have taken authoritarian approach to democracy.

MANN: Turkey says it's going to respond, the word that Turkey is using, sanctions. Should they be seeing refugees instead?

JEFFREY: Turkey is playing a crucial role both in taking millions of refugees from Syria and some from Iraq and also working with the European Union. Erdogan won't change that and when he announced his sanctions he said he would implement them after the referendum in April. He's not going to do any sanctions. He's just playing this to show that he's tough, that he can stand up to the Europeans, and this is winning him votes across the border Turkey. All Turks or almost all of them support him and support the right of Turks to listen to whoever they want to in this referendum campaign.

MANN: Ambassador James Jeffrey, thanks so much for telling us.

JEFFREY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: North Korea is lashing out at a top U.S. diplomat, calling her a, quote, "political prostitute." Its state media released a report slamming Nikki Hailey, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. It's a reaction to Haley's Wednesday criticism of North Korea's leader. Then she told reporters Kim Jong-un wasn't a rational person and wasn't thinking clearly.

Coming up on CNN NEWSROOM this hour, bombers strike a sacred shrine in the Syrian capital. Dozens of Iraqi Shiite pilgrims have been killed. We get the latest on the hunt to find out who is responsible.

Also ahead, one of the most celebrated federal prosecutors in the United States is suddenly without a job after getting into something of a showdown with the White House. All that and more after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: Welcome back. Syrian authorities are trying to determine who is responsible for Saturday's twin explosions that killed dozens of Iraqi Shiite pilgrims in Damascus. The attack happened at one of the oldest cemeteries in Syria where descendants of the Prophet Muhammad are buried.

[05:20:02] The Syrian government called the bombings cowardly and it's urging the U.N. to condemn them. We get more now from CNN's Ben Wedeman.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The twin suicide bombers left more than 40 people dead, around 120 wounded. It turns out most of the victims were Iraqi pilgrims going to Shia shrines in a cemetery in the old city of Damascus.

Now it's not clear at this point who was behind these bombings. But given the identity, the nationality of the victims, and also the location of the attack, it's more than likely that the attackers were indeed from ISIS.

Meanwhile, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Chinese journalists in which he said that he and President Donald Trump share a common view when it comes to fighting terrorism and fake news. He also went on to say that American troops in Syria there without the permission of the government in Damascus are considered to be invaders. That doesn't necessarily mean that the Syrian government is going to do anything about it.

Syria, backed by Russia, Hezbollah and Iran, as well as the United States, which is backing Arab and Kurdish fighters, as well as Turkey which is backing factions of the Free Syrian Army, all say they want to take part in the liberation of the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria, Raqqa. How that's going to work out is anybody's guess.

I'm Ben Wedeman, CNN, reporting from Irbil.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: In the U. capital, a man faces arraignment on Monday after he was found outside the White House later on Friday while President Trump was inside. The U.S. Secret Service says that 26-year-old Jonathan Tran was carrying a laptop, a book by Mr. Trump, two cans of mace and a letter claiming information about Russian hacking. Agents found Tran outside the south entrance of the White House shortly before midnight. He told them he jumped the fence. It's the first known intrusion of the complex since Donald Trump took office. In a new development that has rocked an already-shaken U.S. Justice

Department, President Trump on Saturday fired the legendary federal prosecutor sometimes called the "Sheriff of Wall Street."

CNN's Laura Jarrett has our report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LAUREN JARRETT, CNN U.S. JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, after a stunning standoff with the White House on Saturday, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, is out. But we're also learning what exactly he was told and by whom. The president did not call him. The Department of Justice did. The acting deputy attorney Dana Boente called him and asked him if it was true that he was refusing to resign. Bharara said that it was, and then Dana Boente later called him back and said if that's true, then the president says that you are fired.

Now the question is, what suddenly has changed since November when Bharara says that he was told that he could stay on and continue through Trump's presidency. So that is the real question here, is what's changed since November?

Now the White House is not saying much and referred us to the Justice Department. The Justice Department is also not saying anything other than Bharara has been asked to step aside. And so the question is what will we see in these coming days about why exactly we have seen a difference from November until now. Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Laura Jarrett there.

Well, Scott Lucas is professor -- I'll get my words out. A professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham here in the U.K.

Scott, great to have you with us again. Preet Bharara aside, there's been more than 40 federal prosecutors all gone in one day. Now the fact that they're gone is no major surprise, but the manner in which they've gone is quite alarming.

Well, what do you make of it? What do you read into it?

SCOTT LUCAS, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: I think you're absolutely right about the approach. This was the case where Attorney General Jeff Sessions backed by the White House just suddenly said you're all gone with no plans for any replacements, which is the normal procedure. But this is the way this White House operates when it faces opposition. When it face opposition from someone in the Justice Department it just tried to steam roll this over by carrying out these firings.

When it's faced opposition within the State Department it just simply left hundreds of jobs unfilled while they fire top individuals or send them into other positions. So this is very much, you know, White House approach of trying to impose its authority on agencies and on the legal establishment. Whether it gets away with it, that's where we enter a new territory.

JONES: Some are arguing at the moment that the executive, the president, is at war with the judiciary in the United States.

[05:25:03] Given the fact that his travel ban -- his updated travel ban has just been introduced again, is there some coincidence or otherwise in the timing of getting rid of all of these federal prosecutors, Obama era prosecutors, and also trying to get his travel bans through the courts?

LUCAS: No, where there's smoke, there's a fire. This ain't no coincidence. Remember, this is a president who, when he has faced opposition, not just over the travel ban against Muslims, but on other issues, has talked about so-called judges and question whether the judiciary had any right to intervene. This is a president who in January, he and his top advisers fired Attorney General Sally Yates when she dared raised the issue of the link between Trump officials, like National Security adviser Michael Flynn, with Russian officials. So now at any time that this president faces opposition, he's going to try to deny the legitimacy of his opponents. The judiciary happens to be among them.

LEMON: Mostly likely. We'll wait to see what happens next. Scott Lucas, great to get your take on events there in the United States. Thank you.

Now coming up here on CNN NEWSROOM, espionage has gone digital as hackers go after Europe online. We'll give you a rare look at the intel agency tracking their every step.

Plus, nude photos of women serving in the Marines posted online. How one of the victims feel disgusted and betrayed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JONES: Welcome back to our viewers here with me in the U.K., the U.S. and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with us. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones live from London, and these are the headlines that we're following for you this hour.

[05:30:02] Reports say the South Korea's ousted leader Park Geun-hye will leave the presidential Blue House any time now. That is according to South Korean Yonhap News Agency. A court upheld Park Geun-hye's impeachment . The opponents are calling for her arrest but she's lost her immunity.

The Dutch prime minister says the Netherlands wants no part in the political campaign of Turkish ministers in their country. The statement comes after Dutch officials refused to let the Turkish Foreign minister's plane land for a rally in Rotterdam. Turkey fired back by sealing off the Dutch embassy in Ankara.

Twin bombings at one of Syria's oldest cemeteries in Damascus have killed at least 40 Iraqi Shiite pilgrims. Iraq's Foreign Ministry says more than 120 others were wounded. No one has yet claimed responsibility but Sunni terror groups like ISIS have attacked Shiite shrines in the past.

U.S. president Donald Trump on Saturday fired the legendary federal prosecutor Preet Bharara. He was fired for refusing to -- resign himself rather on Friday along with more than 40 other U.S. attorney who were forced out. CNN has learned President Trump's aide called Bharara on Thursday but he wouldn't answer because of rules forbidding any such contact.

And one of the biggest shopping malls in Germany was closed on Saturday over fears of a possible terror attack. Police say they received concrete indications there was a plan to attack the mall in the western city of Essen. Police questioned two men and raided at least one apartment in a nearby town. Germany is of course still on high alert after the attacks last year. Some of which have been claimed by ISIS.

Security analysts say hackers have targeted European governments in thousands of cyber attacks last year. Now as some nations get closer to crucial elections, intelligence agencies are fighting back. They're guarding against espionage and those trying to influence voters.

Our Nina Dos Santos was given rare access to Europe's cybercrime center at The Hague.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNNMONEY EUROPE EDITOR (voice-over): Deep inside one of Europe's most secure buildings behind a bomb-proof facade and unbreakable doors, agents at Europol are tracking the digital footprints of the world's most dangerous hackers.

CNN has been given a rare insight into the EU's fight against illicit online activity. But there are limits as to what and who we can film as the head of the agency's cyber crime center explains.

STEVE WILSON, HEAD OF EUROPEAN CYBERCRIME CENTER, EUROPOL: This is where we have staff from 15 different countries all working together in relation to the cyber crime investigations. Unfortunately because of the needs of the investigations that are ongoing in there I can't take you in.

DOS SANTOS: Secrecy is paramount. Cutting-edge technology just as crucial. From forensic labs to mining date from hardware, to signal blocking rooms used to extract the most infectious computer viruses.

WILSON: I'm going to take you in, I'm sure you're (INAUDIBLE). Many of industries don't have the ability of it, to actually do something.

DOS SANTOS: Now with key elections in some of those states this year, online espionage and extortion has increased thanks to the availability of hackers for hire.

WILSON: They'll be using advances processors today to exploit, things that have never been seen before, that are unknown to the security companies. The use of this type of tactics is extremely difficult to detect.

DOS SANTOS: The trend in Europol's cyber investigations soaring 200 percent since 2013.

ROB WAINWRIGHT, DIRECTOR, EUROPOL: I think cybercrime is probably our longest term of enduring security challenge that we face in Europe. It is a concern for all of us in democracy, that's evidence. What we are seeing, however, is a cyber criminal infrastructure online that is supporting state-sponsored attacked and large scale cyber criminal activity in very similar ways.

DOS SANTOS: The prime suspect, Russia, which Germany says probably infiltrated its parliament's computers in 2015. Among the targets, NATO, which is facing 500 attempted breaches a month. Russia has denied that it's behind these attacks but the EU is on high alert.

JULIAN KING, EU SECURITY COMMISSIONER: We have seen an increase of about 20 percent in the attacks against the commission. Sometimes I think they are seeking to extract information, but there are also attacks which are clearly designed more generally to put a question mark over the correct functioning of the commission in this case or other institutions that have been attacked elsewhere across the European Union.

DOS SANTOS: For those delving into the Web's darker side, they are finding a world where the front line is no longer physical. And the armies are online.

Nina Dos Santos, CNN, in The Hague.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: To Italy now, and police and protesters have clashed in Naples.

[05:35:03] The march was against the visit by the leader of the Northern League, Matteo Salvini. The party is known for its anti- immigrant rhetoric and for criticizing the southern region. But now the Northern League is trying to win the support of the South by tapping into populist ideas.

The U.S. Marine Corps has created a special task force after nude photos of the female service members were posted on the Internet without their permission. Now one of the victims is speaking out.

Our Dianne Gallagher reports now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ERICA BUTNER, PHOTO POSTING VICTIM: In August 2016, I learned that a photo of me was posted on Marines United Facebook page without my consent.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): 23-year- old Erica Butner speaking out earlier this week saying she's one of the victims of the Marine's photo scandal on Facebook.

BUTNER: As a Marine Corps veteran, I am disheartened and disgusted with this scandal.

GALLAGHER: The offending site is called Marines United, a private Facebook group which posts hundreds of photos of active and retired female service members. Some of the photos show the women naked. The group has 30,000 members. And the photos are posted without the women's consent, sometimes listing their names, ranks and social media handles.

BUTNER: Multiple victims recently began speaking out about those unauthorized posts. But they received threats and backlash in an attempt to quiet them. We will not be silenced.

GALLAGHER: So far there are less than 10 victims, according to top officer, General Robert Neller.

GEN. ROBERT NELLER, COMMANDANT, U.S. MARINE CORPS: This is our problem and I own it. We own it.

GALLAGHER: General Neller spoke to the press on Friday condemning those involved.

NELLER: I don't know how many active duty Marines participated or were witting to this behavior. The investigation that's ongoing will help us understand the scope of this. And I can assure you, if there is accountability to be made, those that are involved will be held accountable.

GALLAGHER: News broke when Thomas Brennan, a former Marine and founder of the Military News site, first reported the group to the Marines and the Naval Criminal Investigation Service. Although no one has been charged, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis released a statement Friday, saying, "The chain of command is taking all appropriate action to investigate potential misconduct and to maintain good order and discipline throughout our Armed Forces."

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I'm very concerned that this system was allowed to fester and exist for as long as it did.

GALLAGHER: Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's office has spoken with one of the victims. And the senator says she wants to meet with any others who are willing to come forward. In a letter written this week to the U.S. Senate, Gillibrand demanded an investigation.

GILLIBRAND: If you allow a climate like this to exist, you are not taking that pledge seriously. And you are doing what's necessary to actually get rid of sexual violence within the military.

GALLAGHER: Four military branches are now investigating those involved in posting the photos on Facebook.

In Washington, Dianne Gallagher, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE) JONES: Stay with us here on CNN NEWSROOM. Still to come, winter doesn't seem to want to leave the eastern U.S. just yet. Parts of New York are under a blizzard watch. How much snow to expect is coming up next.

Plus, it is the worst humanitarian crisis in years. We're going to be hearing from an expert trying to fight the deadly food crisis in Somalia.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:41:45] JONES: Welcome back. It is the middle of March and the worst winter weather really should be behind us. However, the U.S. northeast is under a late season blizzard watch. Meteorologist Karen Maginnis joins me now with the latest.

Karen, the clocks have changed where you are. But it seems that the season haven't.

KAREN MAGINNIS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Exactly. Couldn't have said it better because we have a significant late winter snowstorm that is brewing. And the computer models have diverged but they're coming closer together as to how much snowfall.

(WEATHER REPORT)

JONES: Maybe, indeed. Karen, we appreciate it. Thanks.

MAGINNIS: Thank you.

JONES: Now the United Nations is pleading for help to save millions of people on the brink of starvation. Officials are calling the situation inside South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Kenya the worst humanitarian disaster in decades. An estimated 20 million people could die if they don't receive immediate aid.

Here's how one U.N. official explains this emergency.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN O'BRIEN, U.N. UNDERSECRETARY FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: We stand at a critical point in our history. Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations. Now more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JONES: Stephen O'Brien there. Well, he says the worst crisis is in Yemen where continued fighting has left two-thirds of the population of that country in need.

[05:45:07] He blamed all sides for blocking the delivery of humanitarian aid. In Somalia officials say 110 people have already died of starvation.

Earlier on my colleague Cyril Vanier spoke to Fay Hoyland, the media manager for Save the Children in Somalia about the food crisis.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FAY HOYLAND, THE MEDIA MANAGER FOR SAVE THE CHILDREN IN SOMALIA: I've traveled a lot with Save the Children, and I've never seen, you know, a situation as devastating as I'm seeing here in Somalia. And there are 2.9 million people here that are in threat of famine. And you know, malnutrition cases are increasing every day, 360,000 people are suffering from malnutrition, 71,000 of those are severe cases.

And I went to a malnutrition clinic at Save the Children court here in Garowe a few days ago and it's full of, you know, really, really sick children that are hungry and pain. They are terrified about what might happen to them. You know, mommas and children are having to walk long distances for days in search of food and water. And the water they can get hold of is contaminated, it's causing cholera and acute watery diarrhea. And people are dying from that. You know, our sources say 200 people have died from cholera and AWD so far. And there's about 8,000 cases. And people are dying every day over here.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: The U.N.'s World Food Program, the WFP, is active in that part of the world. Can it reach everyone?

HOYLAND: You know, U.N. is really active here, and we are working with the U.N., but they have said that we need $825 million. And only half of that, I believe, they have pledged to date. The U.K. government has stepped up and they pledged 100 million pounds, but we need the rest of the international community to step up as well. We need more funding. You know, Save the Children is here, we are ready to save lives, we want to save lives, but we need more money in order to do that.

VANIER: How do you reach all the people you need to reach when there is conflict? And certainly that's the case in all four countries that are threatened right now, and specifically the case with Shabaab and Somalia.

HOYLAND: You know, it is a problem. Conflict is a problem here and it does provide barriers to access. But we are doing as much as we can. And we are working, you know, in partnership with the government as well, to deploy a mental health unit and to reach places and food discrimination, but we're trying to reach every one we can, but yes, conflict, you know, does pose a problem.

VANIER: I suppose my question is, even assuming, and I understand that is a big if at this stage, you were provided all the resources you need to reach everyone, would that be a possibility in Somalia?

HOYLAND: I think there might -- you know, there is still that problem, that risk that we cannot -- we cannot reach everyone. But, you know, we are working with partnership with NGOs, the government and the U.N. We are doing, you know, what we can.

VANIER: All right. Fay Hoyland, fantastic work. Thank you very much for talking to us and taking the time today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Six years after the powerful earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima in Japan, some residents are just now getting permission to return to their homes. But when they arrive, they may find some unexpected company.

Amara Walker explains.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMARA WALKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After six years, former residents evacuated from some towns near the nuclear power plant in Fukushima will soon be allowed to return home. But in their absence, wild boars have taken up residence. The boars used to live in the mountains away from people. Now they roam freely, walking down otherwise deserted streets and grazing in yards.

SOICHI SAKAMOTO, LOCAL HUNTER (Through Translator): After people left, the wild boar's eco-system changed, they began coming down from the mountains and now they're not going back. They found a place that's comfortable.

WALKER: As nuclear refugees prepare to return home, local authorities say the boars have to go. And have hired hunters to capture and kill them.

TAKAHISA MURATA, PROFESSOR OF ANIMAL RADIOLOGY, UNIV. OF TOKYO (Through Translator): I think it's a considerable risk the wild boars pose when they come down from the mountains to the residential areas and attack people or collide with cars.

WALKER: The boars could also pose a radioactive threat from consuming plants and animals within the radioactive exclusion zone. The Fukushima government imposed a ban on consumption of wild boar meat shortly after the disaster.

Amara Walker, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Plenty more still to come on CNN NEWSROOM. This hour one Cairo slum gives up a priceless treasure. Archeologists say it's hear it's one of the most valuable finds in history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(SPORTS)

JONES: To Egypt now where archaeologists have made a major discovery of an enormous statue of a pharaoh being dead for thousands of years.

Our Jonathan Mann has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MANN (voice-over): A discovery of colossal proportions. Archaeologists have uncovered a colossus, a massive eight-meter statue of what they believe to be Ramses II, one of Egypt's most powerful and celebrated pharaohs. Ramses the Great ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. But the quartzite statue was unearthed from this mighty hole in a Cairo slum just days ago. A crowd looked on as experts used an earth mover to pull the statue's huge head out of the muck. Egypt's Antiquities Ministry calls the found pharaoh one of its most important discoveries ever.

KHALED AL-ANANI, EGYPTIAN ANTIQUITIES MINISTER: We found the bust or the statue. And the lower part of the head and now we remove the head, we found the crown and the right ear and a fragment of the right eye.

MANN: The joint Egyptian-German expedition also found part of a life- sized limestone statue of Ramses' grandson.

[05:55:02] The discoveries were made in Matariya, a working class part of eastern Cairo with unfinished buildings and mud roads. And experts say this area was once home to an ancient city of the Sun God.

DIETRICH RAUE, HEAD OF THE GERMAN EXPEDITION: According to the pharaonic belief, the world was created in Matariya. And that means that every king had to build here, make statues, temples, obelisks, everything.

MANN: Archaeologists are now working to recover and restore the remaining pieces of the Ramses colossus, hopefully in time for the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum next year.

Jonathan Mann, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JONES: Fantastic find there.

Now one homeowner in China's (INAUDIBLE) province made a startling recovery after hearing a loud noise in his home. An SUV skidded off the road near his hour and landed on his roof. The driver says he was only trying to avoid a tricycle and another vehicle when he accidentally put his foot on the accelerator instead changing directions and skidding off the road. Neither the driver nor the homeowner we should say were injured in the accident, which is now under investigation.

Not what you'd expect there.

St. Petersburg in Russia became St. Purr-burg. Can't believe I just said that. On Saturday the city held its International Cat Exhibition featuring some rare and expensive breed. Among the cats the most expensive was priced at a whopping $24,000.

Local media say Russia has one of the highest cat ownership rates in the world. More than one in three households have a feline friend. More the dog person, me, but they are quite cute. And that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Hannah Vaughan Jones in

London. For our viewers in the United States, "NEW DAY" is just ahead. For other viewers around the world, "BELIEVER" with Reza Aslan starts in just a moment.

Thanks so much for watching CNN, the world's news leaders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)