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Tsunami Kills at least 168 People in Indonesia; Trump Administration Turmoil; Dems: No Funding for Border Wall with Mexico; Abuse against Women on Twitter; Military Families Get Holiday Surprises. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired December 23, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): 5:00 am on the U.S. East Coast. We continue following the breaking news out of Indonesia. The death toll continues to rise after a tsunami that hit without warning. I'm George Howell.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world.
This breaking story has been dominating our coverage for some time now. Here is the latest. Indonesian authorities confirm at least 168 people are dead after Saturday's tsunami. It devastated parts of Sumatra and West Java.
Officials say it may have been triggered, this is unusual, by a volcano on the island of Anak Krakatau. Some of the areas are popular beach sites, just 55 miles, that's about 90 kilometers, from the capital, Jakarta.
The tsunami struck without warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: In that clip of video, you can see the waves caught beachgoers off guard and forced them to scramble to safety.
There's also some disturbing footage that we'll show you of this disaster when it hit. We warn you: what you're about to see is difficult to watch as it caught so many people by surprise. Take a look.
The moment that concert was cut short, the band keeps playing. But they're unaware of this killer wave about to strike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Our Ivan Watson is following developments in Hong Kong. Certainly the video of that band and the people watching, not
suspecting anything illustrates that this was a tsunami that struck without any warning.
What else are you hearing, Ivan?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Certainly a very frightening scenario, Natalie. It was 9:37 pm on Saturday night in Western Java on stretches of coastline when this deadly wave hit.
It was a holiday weekend in Indonesia for the Christmas holiday. So beaches and beachfront hotels had a lot more Indonesian tourists than usual when the wave struck.
The footage that you've shown of that wave crashing through the stage of a concert there, the band that was playing there is an Indonesian band popular with some young people in Indonesia called Seventeen.
There were many people from the state's power company that had been attending that concert, that celebratory evening. The following morning, the lead singer of the band published this, a pretty emotional statement on his Instagram account. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RIEFIAN FAJARSYAH, SINGER, SEVENTEEN: I just wanted to they that our bass player, Bani, and our manager, Oki Wijaya, passed away. I also ask for prayers for my friends, Andi, Herman and Ujang, who is still missing at this time. Also my dear wife is still missing. The rest of us have broken bones, minor injuries, including me. But we are fine. Please pray that we can find Andi, Herman and Ujang and my wife.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: So Indonesian authorities say this was a 1.5-meter high wave that rushed in to distances of about 500 meters inland, leaving behind death and destruction. The cause of it, they say, was not an earthquake as we saw in September, that created a tsunami that killed some 2,000 in another part of Indonesia.
This, they say, was caused by a volcano on a volcanic island called Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait. Some of our viewers may recognize the name Krakatau. That was the cataclysmic volcano in 1883 that killed more than 30,000 people and, according to some reports, may have driven down global temperatures by more than a degree Celsius due to its enormous ash cloud.
Some 50 years after that cataclysmic eruption, this island, Anak Krakatau, which translates as the Child of --
WATSON: -- Krakatau, grew up. Indonesian authorities say it was very active in recent months, erupting every month throughout the autumn and growing at a rate of four meters a year. That and a landslide underwater appears to have sent this wall of
water rushing towards the coastline.
The Indonesian president issued a statement expressing his condolences, ordering the emergency teams to the area. And there are some concerns, as our sister network CNN Indonesia has had a reporter on the ground, there are concerns that there could be fears of other waves coming in. And there have been some warnings from local police for people to go to high ground earlier in the day on Sunday.
Some of the experts in Indonesia say that perhaps this tsunami was worse; even though there was bigger volcanic activity in recent months because of a high tide Saturday and also a full moon -- Natalie and George.
ALLEN: That's a very powerful volcano. It's a menace to people in that area, of course. But no one expected this. We're about to talk more about it. Ivan, thank you.
ALLEN: Going to talk more about that fact right now with Dwi Rahayu, the program director of Yayasan Plan International Indonesia. The organization's local group is now preparing to deploy an emergency response team to the affected areas. She joins me on the phone from Jakarta.
Dwi, thank you so much for talking with us. We know you're very busy. Talk with us about the affected areas.
How widespread is it and what reports are you getting?
DWI RAHAYU, YAYASAN PLAN INTERNATIONAL: Hi. I do think that this will be an impact that is going to be very much (INAUDIBLE) especially because the location is well-known, a local tourist destination.
So although it has been reported that 168 people are deceased, 745 people injured and at least 558 houses and buildings were reported damaged. But I do think in a few hours the situation will evolve and probably the total number will then be revealed.
ALLEN: Because that's usually how these things unfold. You get the initial --
ALLEN: -- reports and oftentimes, it gets worse.
What about reaching these areas?
We said that your organization is headed there.
What do you know about the road conditions?
Will it be difficult to get in there? RAHAYU: We hope that, although part of the work of the road are due to the damage. But it has already been reopened. I do think that a lot of organizations have been also deploying (INAUDIBLE) assessment although it's not a very crucial problem, logistic wise because the location is quite near the capital city of Jakarta and it can be reached quite easily.
But I do think that there will be congestion due to people also going back. (INAUDIBLE) from the location, many tourists have been visiting their location, probably will go back to Jakarta. And we will expect the kind of problems but not too much (INAUDIBLE) on the road blockage.
ALLEN: We know this had been a holiday. A lot of tourists there at the hotels. Hotels were damaged. There's even video of tourists taking there, watching the water come into the building.
Let's talk about the fact that the belief is, this was caused by a volcanic eruption. That means none of these people had any idea that a wave was coming.
What are you hearing about that fact and the fears that people dealt with from being surprised by this?
RAHAYU: Although it has been -- I do think that the national disaster board has already issued a warning, couple of months ago about the increase of fire (ph) from the ocean. But, yes, you are right that the potential eruption is less likely to be, you know, warned. It is quite sudden.
And although it has not been clarified whether it is due to the volcanic eruption or from other movement in the ocean or (INAUDIBLE) or all that. But, yes, it is quite sudden and people are really unprepared. It's a holiday season. A lot of young people flock to the beach. They have music concerts there, families. I have indication, again, it is quite sudden.
ALLEN: Dwi Rahayu, with Yayasan Plan International, thank you so much for your information. We know your group is headed there. Let's talk again when you get there. You can give us a firsthand account of what they're dealing with. Thank you again.
RAHAYU: You're welcome, Natalie.
HOWELL: For our viewers in the U.S. and around the world, we're following the developments of Indonesia, 168 people at this point killed in the tsunami. This is the early stages, of course. We'll continue to bring you developments as we learn them.
Other news we're following, the U.S. government shutdown. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. federal workers, they are out on the job without pay, at least for now. Others are staying home on furlough and no one knows when they'll be back. The latest details ahead.
ALLEN: Not much ho, ho, ho, not in their holiday.
ALLEN: Also the sudden departure of President Trump's point man on ISIS. How the region will react to the second high-profile resignation.
HOWELL: Welcome back. We're following the breaking news out of Indonesia. Here's the latest as we know it.
Authorities say Saturday's tsunami killed at least 168 people when it slammed into parts of Java and Indonesia. More than 740 others have been injured and hundreds of homes, as you see, have been damaged.
ALLEN: What caused it, that is the unbelievable part here. A volcano may have triggered this disaster, not an earthquake, a volcano, by setting off underwater landslides after it erupted.
One official says this disaster, for that reason, it struck without warning. No one had any idea this wave was coming. He said that Indonesia lacks the equipment to warn of an underwater tsunami threat.
We turn now to the United States top story we're following. The lights are on at the U.S. Capitol this morning. That is a live picture there. But hundreds of thousands of federal workers are home on furlough. Others are working without pay for now.
A partial government shutdown is entering the second full day with no end in sight, at least not until after Christmas.
HOWELL: The Senate adjourned on Saturday with no deal on a spending bill to fund the government. President Trump and Democrats, they are fighting over money for his border wall that he wants.
Vice president Mike Pence has offered to Democrats, come up with $2.5 billion; Democrats' response, no. More from Sarah Westwood.
SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump is still not signaling what he'd consider in terms of a deal that could get 10 Senate Democrats on board and start the process of reopening the government.
White House officials say the president is not budging from his demand for $5 billion for the border wall and they say that money has to be used for the construction of a physical barrier along the southern border.
They say it can't just be used for border security in general, which is one of several potential options that had been floating around Capitol Hill amid the shutdown talks. But make no mistake, despite that current hardline stance, the president has been all over the map when it comes to the funding fight.
First saying he'd be proud to accept responsibility for a shutdown if it was over money for his border wall, then through aides signaling he might be willing to entertain a temporary spending deal passed by the Senate that would have kept the government open through February 8th.
Finally, by Thursday, rallying House Republicans to pass a funding mechanism that did contain $5 billion for the wall, buckling under pressure from conservative allies on Capitol Hill and in the media to avoid what they described as a surrender on the border wall.
The president held a lunch here at the White House on Saturday with Republican lawmakers. No Democrats were in attendance. And those who did attend were mostly conservative allies, like Congressman Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan, Senator Lindsey Graham, allies of the president who already agree with him when it comes to the strategy behind the shutdown.
And as Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said earlier Saturday, the logjam will persist until the president huddles with Senate Democrats to talk about a potential compromise.
But the lack of clarity surrounding what exactly the president might be willing to entertain has caused headaches for some lawmakers, who really have no idea what kind of deal the president might support beyond that hardline stance for $5 billion.
Vice president Mike Pence is leading negotiations for the White House side but earlier this week Pence told lawmakers that the president might be inclined to sign that temporary spending deal, something that turned out not to be true.
Heading into Christmas, both sides appear very entrenched. Washington appears poised to enter what could be a lengthy shutdown. The president canceling his plans to travel to West Palm Beach, Florida, over the holiday amid the legislative logjam --
WESTWOOD: -- Sarah Westwood, CNN, the White House.
HOWELL: Sarah, thank you.
Now another high ranking official in the Trump administration calling it quits over the president's decision to pull troops out of Syria.
ALLEN: His name, Brett McGurk. He was a senior diplomat, serving as the president's own representative to the international coalition battling ISIS, A big job.
But here's the thing. On Twitter, Mr. Trump claimed he didn't know his own envoy and belittled him as an Obama holdover on his way out. Here's more from CNN's Elise Labott.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. envoy in charge of the fight against ISIS has resigned. Brett McGurk told Secretary Pompeo on Friday night that he would be leaving his post on December 31st.
McGurk was expected to leave in February to take up a post at Stanford University. But his decision to leave early came on the heels of President Trump's sudden announcement that he would be withdrawing all troops from Syria.
Now McGurk days earlier was talking to reporters about the new U.S. policy to stay in Syria, not only to defeat the remnants of ISIS but also counter Iran. In fact, McGurk was in the region, meeting with coalition partners to discuss the policy and was sitting with Iraqi leaders, talking about the U.S. commitment to stay in Syria when President Trump tweeted that the U.S. would be withdrawing from Syria.
People familiar with McGurk's thinking say that not only did he feel his credibility was on the line but also he didn't feel he would be able to defend, let alone execute, that policy. McGurk has been the envoy dealing with the 70-plus member coalition to fight ISIS since 2013.
First serving as the deputy to John Allen and then taking over as envoy himself, clearly, has done a lot to reduce the presence of ISIS. But as he said, there are still remnants. He said it would be reckless for the U.S. to withdraw precipitously. I'm also told that the decision by James Mattis, who he was very close to, affected his decision. McGurk saying that he could no longer serve the president in this policy against Syria -- Elise Labott, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: Let's talk more now with Inderjeet Parmar, a professor of international politics at City University of London, live in our London bureau this hour.
Always a pleasure.
INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Thank you.
HOWELL: Let's start with the special envoy in charge of fighting ISIS, resigning his post in protest of President Trump pulling out of Syria.
With Brett McGurk following the lead of General James Mattis, what does this mean to this president to see another domino fall from those who manage some stability when it comes to foreign policy?
PARMAR: I think we know that President Trump has come into power on a campaign promise, America first and, basically, opposition to globalism. So his disruptiveness is a disruptiveness aimed at the kind of post-1945 order, which is basically liberal hegemony. He's opposed to it.
So to some extent, the way in which he's carried out his decision and the unpredictable way he goes about it in general, making policy on the hoof, it would appear, is backed by an underlying instinct.
President Trump is not very good at coherently articulating a strategy but I think those who support him in some respects, they do call it strategic restraint (ph). I don't think President Trump would necessarily see it in that way. But I think they do see that liberal hegemony has overstretched American power.
And I think his own instinct is to pull back from it. We know from quite interesting studies by Bob Woodruff, for example, there's been big rows about Afghanistan and Syria within the White House around this kind of question.
HOWELL: Also interesting, the tweet from the president, indicating -- claiming that he does not know McGurk, does not know this person who is so integral in policy with regard to foreign policy.
Let's also talk about the partial government shutdown. It remains in effect. President Trump remains entrenched, demanding funding for his border wall. Congress has gone home for Christmas and will not reconvene until later in the week. Neither side seems willing to budge. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY.), MAJORITY LEADER: No further votes will occur until the president and Senate Democrats have reached an agreement to resolve this. Let me say --
MCCONNELL: -- that again. We've pushed the pause button until the president, from whom we will need a signature and Senate Democrats, from whom we will need votes, reach an agreement.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-N.Y.), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall. Plain and simple.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: We know there's no give here. We know that even half of what the president is requesting, $2.5 billion for this wall, it is being denied.
So where do you see things going from here?
PARMAR: Well, President Trump is basically in a lot of political trouble, a lot of political difficulties. He suffered quite a significant defeat in November; he's got investigations galore all around his administration. His entire life, if you like, is under the microscope by someone. His appointees are resigning or they're being dismissed for corruption. We know that, therefore, there is a kind of big problem. We also know
one other thing. President Trump has got a very large extraparliamentary mass movement, quite extreme right-wing mass movement. I think that's what he's responding to. I suspect that he sees a future in that particular movement.
He has a very, very strong relationship with those radio commentators and others that have kind of a very cohesive relationship with him. I think that's what he's trying to do. He's trying to go back to at that base and galvanize it and show that he's fighting against those who would open America's borders to criminals and so on.
I think that's what he's doing. He's ramping up that particular aspect on the wall which he was elected on as well.
HOWELL: You point out those pundits who have indicated that if the president does not score, for lack of a better word, on this wall, that it could undermine him when it comes to trying to seek reelection with his base.
Inderjeet Parmar, thank you so much for the insight. We'll stay in touch with you.
PARMAR: Thank you.
ALLEN: We continue to track Saturday's deadly tsunami in Indonesia. We'll hear from a member of the Canadian Red Cross on the ground there in Indonesia -- coming up here.
HOWELL: Plus, President Trump has been making some dubious claims about his border wall. Let get to the facts first. We'll check it all out for you. Stay with us.
HOWELL: Welcome back. We continue following the breaking news out of Indonesia. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Crews are searching for survivors. People are missing after a tsunami swept across parts of Indonesia Saturday night.
HOWELL: The disaster hit popular beach areas in Sumatra and Java. Officials say at least 168 people are dead; hundreds more have been injured. A volcano may have triggered this tsunami, which is unusual here, by setting off underwater landslides. At least one official says the disaster hit without warning.
ALLEN: They don't have a system of warning for a volcano that could trigger it. Earlier, I spoke with Kathy Mueller of the Canadian Red Cross. She's in Sulawesi, Indonesia. That area had been recovering from an earthquake that hit in September.
KATHY MUELLER, CANADIAN RED CROSS: It was a wide swath of land, one kilometer long, which has been impacted by this tsunami. The main access road to a very popular beach resort area, as was mentioned, for the local tourists and the main access road is also damaged.
So that is hampering efforts to actually get to the area that is impacted. And then it's not just going to be the highly populated areas that need attention but any of the remote areas, where people may be impacted and we'll have to make sure that we get to those communities as well.
ALLEN: All right. I'm sure communications are impacted. We do know people are missing, 168 confirmed dead right now.
Any idea how many people may be missing from this?
MUELLER: That's always so hard to say and especially we're still in the very early hours of the response. What the Indonesian Red Cross has done in the past, for example, with the Sulawesi tsunami, which they're responding to, they set up this restoring family events program. So they work at reuniting families who may be missing or separated during a disaster such as this.
So the days to come, things will become much clearer as to what the impact is, how many people are affected, what kind of support they're going to need in the weeks and months ahead.
ALLEN: And you are in Sulawesi and they had a devastating earthquake a few months ago, more than 2,000 people died there. This is a region that sees a lot of this activity but it must be traumatizing.
What are you hearing?
MUELLER: Oh, it is. These people, I wouldn't say they're used to earthquakes but they're in the Ring of Fire, so the country is prone to getting them. Back in late July and early August, the Lombok experience, a series of devastating earthquakes and then the earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi at the end of September.
And now this one towards the end of December in the western part of Java. So what I'm seeing in Sulawesi and I'm sure the same is the same and it's going to be the same in Java is that people are terrified. They would rather stay in a tent than move into any kind of a taller structure because anytime there's an aftershock they're afraid that that structure is going to come down on top of them.
It takes a long time to help people, especially the adults, to work through --
MUELLER: -- that they're experiencing. We find children tend to rebound a lot quicker, we know that they're very resilient. And so the teams of the Red Cross volunteers, they go in and play with the children, get them to try and just be kids again and laugh and play. And we find that they respond really well to that.
Is there any danger, Kathy, that you're aware, that this could happen again since this volcanic eruption?
And I'm sure what's adding to people's anxiety, is the fact this seemingly came out of nowhere.
MUELLER: Well, yes, I'm no expert on volcanic activity. But from what I understand this is an --
MUELLER: -- extremely rare event. So you know, the chances of it happening again, who's to know? But what our priority now is, is to make sure that we're going in, we're providing people with the basic necessities that they need. Things like clean water and some tarpaulins to protect them from the rain. It's the rainy season right now so it's bad enough that people have already lost their homes. We want to make sure they're somewhat protected from the elements.
By doing that, hopefully we can keep disease at bay, which, of course, is always a risk when the infrastructure and everything collapses after a disaster.
ALLEN: Again, Kathy Mueller from the Canadian Red Cross. We'll talk with her again as we learn more about the search and rescue efforts in Indonesia.
Back here in the United States, the other major story at play. The U.S. government remains partially shut down likely until after the Christmas holiday.
ALLEN: Some Christmas gift, huh, for so many workers, many of those workers. Senators from both sides went home with no agreement all because President Trump and the Democrats are fighting over money for his border wall.
Mr. Trump has also been making some claims about the wall that fly in the face of the facts. CNN's Victor Blackwell separates the falsehoods from the facts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A lot of wall has been built. We don't talk about that. But we might as well start because it's building -- it's being built right now. Big sections of wall. We'll continue that. (END VIDEO CLIP)
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: That was President Trump during that contentious Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. He's claiming there that the border wall that he promised during the campaign and for the first two years of his administration is being built.
This is not a new claim. Here is the president just a few months ago at a rally in June.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It's happening. It's not "build that wall" anymore. It's continue building that wall because we're building.
BLACKWELL (voice-over): Look at this. His supporters have even traded in those "build the wall" signs for "finish the wall" signs.
So is this true?
Has Congress approved funding for the border wall?
Well, here are the facts. The week President Trump signed a major funding bill in March, he tweeted, "Got $1.6 billion to start wall on southern border."
He's referring to this section of that huge funding bill, nearly $1.6 billion for U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Procurement, Construction and Improvements, paying for six projects along the border. Not one of them is a border wall.
Look, fencing, fencing, fencing, fencing, planning and design and technology. No mention of a border wall. In fact, there's no mention of that phrase in the entire law. I checked.
Aside from 14 miles of a secondary barrier near San Diego, which is still not a wall, the rest is fencing. Now if you think we're playing a game of semantics here, consider this.
The border wall prototypes in Southern California, remember those?
Congress set aside $20 million to build these eight samples. These were the finalists. One of them was presumably to become the great border wall that the president promised during the campaign. He first toured them in March, just days before he signed that funding bill into law.
So which one is being built?
Not one of them, because the same funding bill that allocated $1.6 billion that the president brags about also says that money can only be spent to build designs deployed the prior year. So no money to build anything new, no new wall designs, not the concrete barrier that candidate Trump promised, certainly not one of the prototypes.
Get this. He toured them in March, March 13th. And then 10 days later, he signed the bill that made it illegal to build them.
Bottom line, as the president fights for billions of dollars to finish the concrete border wall that he promised during the campaign, remember, that despite his claims, he hasn't received a single dollar to start it.
HOWELL: Victor Blackwell putting the facts first. Thank you.
ALLEN: A new study shows a daunting amount of abuse endured by women on Twitter. Ahead, we will speak with one of the study's authors about what they've learned.
ALLEN: The latest now on our breaking news from Indonesia. Authorities saying Saturday's tsunami killed at least 168 people when it slammed into parts of Western Java and Sumatra. More than 740 others are injured. Hundreds of homes and some hotels damaged as well.
HOWELL: Here's the thing. A volcano may have triggered this disaster by setting off underwater landslides. One official says the disaster struck without warning. He said Indonesia lacks the right equipment to warn of an underwater tsunami threat.
A crowdsource study revealed the scale of abuse that women face on Twitter. The so-called Troll Patrol Project was conducted by Amnesty International and Element AI. It studied thousands of tweets sent last year to over 700 women in the U.K. and the U.S.
ALLEN: It found that at least 7 percent of the tweets were abusive or problematic. This amounted to more than 1 million abusive tweets across the year.
Women of color were 34 percent more likely to be mentioned in such tweets than white women. Black women in particular were disproportionately targeted. They were 84 percent more likely to be mentioned in abusive tweets than white women.
Amnesty International went on to say that, "Troll Patrol means we have the data to back up what women have long been telling us, that Twitter is a place where racism, misogyny and homophobia are allowed to flourish basically unchecked."
Let's talk more about it. Amnesty International's Milena Marin worked on the study. She joins us now from London.
Milena, thank you for joining us. It's highly disturbing and it kind of cements what many have thought. You have data now to back it up. Tell us about the key findings and if you can give us maybe, just without getting too gross, some of the examples you've seen.
MILENA MARIN, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: Thank you so much for having me, Natalie.
MARIN: Yes, the study as you mentioned, it's quite surprising. It shows us the true scale of abuse on Twitter against women. Yes, some of the more, the example of tweets are the problematic ones that are not qualifying as abusive but are still extremely hurtful and could be abusive if given to women multiple times, are often calls for them to go back to where they belong, to the kitchen, to the country.
And they tend to be extremely sexist, misogynistic and racist. Online abuse targets women's identity. So the more intersecting identities women have, the more abusive tweets are and the more abuse they receive online.
That's what we found. We found that women of color receive particularly more abuse than white women and black women are disproportionately targeted with online abuse. The more violent tweets include death threats, rape threats. They would be tweets such as, "I know where you live. I'm going to wait for you in front of your house at 9:00 pm. Be ready to be raped."
So this is an incredible level of threats that should not exist on a platform like Twitter.
ALLEN: I remember a female reporter who first reported on issues about Donald Trump during the campaign, same thing: death threats, rape threats for doing her job. It is so vile and it is so sick and, as we just said, it goes unchecked for the most part on Twitter.
Have you revealed your findings to Twitter and have they responded?
MARIN: Yes, of course. We've been engaging with Twitter for over three years now. We've been looking into this issue. When we found is that abuse is silencing for women. We frame it as a human rights issue, their right to freely express themselves on platforms such as Twitter and the violence and the constant barrage of negativity is silencing women.
So we've been talking to them for a long time now. We're asking for them to be more transparent, to release meaningful data about online abuse so that we can engage meaningfully with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, such as Amnesty International, such as tech companies and other organizations and so on.
So far, they haven't released the information we've been requiring. So that's why we had to do the study. We engaged 6,500 individual volunteers. We worked with a tech company and it took us one year do something that Twitter could do very easily, release information, meaningful information, that engages them stakeholders in this conversation. ALLEN: I know you're hoping to expect more from Twitter. So we'll have to see how that evolves.
What about reaction from women around the world, once they've been learning about what you've been uncovering and how women, especially women of color, are being targeted by these hateful people?
MARIN: I think women found it unsurprising. So although we're revealing this incredible scale of abuse, women didn't find it new. Obviously, they've been talking about that for a very long time now and Twitter has failed to listen to them.
But what the study gives them is the data to back up their claims, to back up the information that they've been putting out there for a long time.
Many women have called the study validating. They tend sometimes to normalize this abuse, to kind of think it's a part of the job, it's a part of their careers. If they want to engage audiences on Twitter, they almost have to bear this online abuse.
What we're saying is that's not true. They don't have to bear this abuse. Twitter has to take action and has to improve the conversations and has to improve the platform on how women experience it.
So it's been incredible, the response we had from women. This report has been widely shared on social media and on media. And we're grateful for them to (INAUDIBLE).
ALLEN: We wish you well as you continue trying to do something about this. We appreciate your work and your time for talking with us. Milena Marin, thank you.
MARIN: Thank you so much.
HOWELL: Update you on breaking news out of Indonesia. We now know 222 people are confirmed dead. The death toll has risen in the hour here. It will likely continue to rise. This is in the aftermath of the tsunami that hit parts of Sumatra and Java.
It struck Saturday night without any warning believed to have triggered by a volcanic eruption set off by underwater landslides. Some 30 people are still missing.
ALLEN: The disaster hit beach areas in places like Banten, South Lampong and Pandeglang. Some of those areas, just 55 miles or 90 kilometers from Jakarta, the capital. More than 500 homes, that's the number we have currently, have been damaged, along with at least nine hotels.
This was a holiday when the tsunami hit there in Indonesia and dozens of restaurants damaged as well.
HOWELL: We'll continue to, of course, follow developments out of Indonesia for you.
Ahead for you, military families in the United States are getting special gifts just in time for Christmas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it?
What is it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God!
HOWELL (voice-over): What about that?
ALLEN: Yes, those kinds of gifts. More on the holiday surprises coming right up.
ALLEN: Favorite Christmas song, "There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays." That's certainly true for some U.S. service members just ahead of Christmas.
HOWELL: Happy to sing that song, for sure. CNN's Polo Sandoval has more now on these amazing, heartwarming reunions taking the Internet by storm.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A visit to Santa Claus...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what would you like for Christmas?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For my dad to come home.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): -- turned into a special delivery for these two Minnesota sisters.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy!
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Their father, a soldier stationed in Kuwait, surprised his daughters just in time for Christmas.
It's among the many emotional reunions caught on camera between military members and their families this holiday season. A Wisconsin boy's older brother, serving in the Army, surprised him at
school with a big hug after five months apart. The soldier --
SANDOVAL (voice-over): -- then marched down the hall to his other sister and brother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It made me feel warm inside.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): In this viral video, a little boy presented with a large Christmas gift.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think it is?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. I don't even have an idea yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think you're going to like it.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Inside the box, a loved one in military fatigues.
The personal who posted this wrote, "My nephew got to unwrap the only Christmas gift he asked for a few days early."
A small army of family members kept this airman from even getting through the door in Sacramento.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What the hey.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprise!
SANDOVAL (voice-over): And finally, a Christmas choir concert in Indianapolis, an unexpected interruption.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ms. Avarie Hinton, you have a present under the tree.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): It led to a mother serving in the Navy, embracing her daughter just in time for Christmas.
AVARIE HINTON, DAUGHTER: It's been a really long year. And so many things have happened. And I just missed her so much. It just makes this Christmas extra special for surprising me.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): For some of these service members another deployment could be next. But for now, the current marching orders include being home for the holidays -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
ALLEN: Ah, yes. More of those stories.
HOWELL: Yes, wonderful to see.
We want to update you on the breaking news we're following out of Indonesia. The death toll is rising; 222 now confirmed dead. This after a tsunami hit parts of Sumatra and Java. We'll continue to update you as we learn more here. Those are the images of what's happening there.
ALLEN: Thank you for watching. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: I'm George Howell. The news continues here on CNN right after the break.