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Venezuela's Maduro Rejects Ultimatum For Early Election; Trump: If ISIS Returns to Syria, So Will the U.S.; Pope Francis Arrives in UAE on Historic Trip. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 4, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


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NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro says no to the E.U., rejecting an ultimatum calling for early elections.

CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): A historic visit: Pope Francis is in the United Arab Emirates, the first pontiff to ever visit the Arabian Peninsula.

ALLEN (voice-over): It's the biggest sporting event of the year for Americans and the New England Patriots are Super Bowl champs yet again.

VANIER (voice-over): Thank you for joining us, I am Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN (voice-over): I am Natalie Allen, we are coming to you live from Atlanta, where the Super Bowl was just held, and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

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ALLEN: We begin with the political turmoil in Venezuela, where the country's sitting president has rejected an ultimatum to call new presidential elections.

VANIER: Several European nations have given Nicolas Maduro until the end of Sunday to call elections or else they would recognize Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as president. But Mr. Maduro told Spanish channel laSexta that he would not cave in to pressure.

ALLEN: He also had a message for Donald Trump, saying the U.S. president risks, quote, "staining his hands with blood for trying to force him from power."

Earlier President Trump told CBS News he's still not ruling out sending U.S. troops to Venezuela.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS HOST: What would make you use the U.S. military in Venezuela?

What's the national security interest?

TRUMP: Well, I don't want to say that. But certainly it's something that's on the -- it's an option.

BRENNAN: Would you personally negotiate with Nicolas Maduro to convince him to exit?

TRUMP: Well, he has requested a meeting and I've turned it down because we're very far along in the process. You have a young and energetic gentleman but you have other people within that same group that have been very, very -- if you talk about democracy -- it's really democracy in action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Despite the international pressure president Maduro continues to defend his legitimacy.

ALLEN: Meantime, his rival has announced plans to bring in humanitarian aid from abroad. Reporter Stefano Pozzebon has the latest for us from Caracas.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, increasing pressure on Nicolas Maduro's shoulders not only by those remarkable comments by U.S. President Donald Trump, but also by other European countries, many in the European countries such as Spain, France, Germany and the U.K., all coming on Juan Guaido's side demanding fresh, free and fair elections as soon as possible.

But at the same time, Nicolas Maduro isn't giving no sign that he's bucking against that pressure, that he's given an inch to his opponents' demands.

For a fourth time in 10 days on Sunday, Maduro was seen rallying his troops surrounded by military officials and denouncing a plot to for a coup attempt against his rule and really portraying himself as a leader who's not ready to leave without a fight.

On the other side, Juan Guaido again detailing on Sunday the logistics of the humanitarian aid plan that is meant to bring an end to the deep economic and humanitarian crisis here in Caracas saying that the opposition.

The Venezuelan opposition will gather humanitarian aid from abroad in three different points around the Venezuelan border, one is in (INAUDIBLE) the other is in Brazil and one on an unspecified Caribbean island and that it will demand to the armed forces that the aid will be let into the country.

But, again, increasing pressure both aboard and here at home in Caracas at the end of this dramatic power tussle is nowhere to be seen -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Caracas. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: And President Trump has also had some comments about other American troops. He says he wants to keep U.S. troops in Iraq to keep an eye on Iran.

VANIER: His comments came in an interview with CBS on Sunday, where he added that he's not convinced Iran is actually abiding by the 2015 nuclear deal, despite what his intelligence chiefs say.

ALLEN: Right, Mr. Trump also acknowledged that pulling U.S. troops from Syria may cause a power vacuum there; however, he says, if ISIS makes a comeback, so will the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We got to get out of these endless wars and bring our folks back home. Now that doesn't mean we're not going to be watching with intelligence. We're going to be watching and watching closely. North Korea --

BRENNAN: Isn't that harder when you --

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BRENNAN: -- don't have troops on the ground?

TRUMP: Well, everything's harder. But, you know you pay a big price for troops on the ground. We're spending hundreds of billions of dollars on military. We're the policemen of the world and we don't --

BRENNAN: Because the concern in here by your intelligence chiefs, though, is that you could in that vacuum see a resurgence of ISIS.

TRUMP: Sure.

BRENNAN: See a resurgence of terror groups like Al Qaeda --

TRUMP: And you know what we'll do?

We'll come back if we have to. We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: All of this comes as Mr. Trump is gearing up for Tuesday's State of the Union address. The theme will be choosing greatness.

VANIER: Yes, the speech will reportedly cover a variety of issues facing the U.S.; among those issues immigration and the southern U.S. border. The president may decide to declare a national emergency. Boris Sanchez has the details.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: On Sunday afternoon, the Pentagon confirmed something CNN had previously reported out last week.

Sources at the Pentagon telling CNN that the White House was prepared to deploy some 3,500 troops to the U.S. border with Mexico to help customs and border protection agents that were stationed there.

The Pentagon on Sunday made the official number closer to 3,750. That would lead to a total of some 4,300 U.S. troops on the border with Mexico. Democrats have said that the move is essentially a propaganda move by the president, using American troops as tools to sell his message of border security.

It does lead to more questions about what else President Trump might do to bypass Congress and install his vision of border security along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The president has been frustrated by negotiations with Democrats. During an interview with CBS over the weekend, he has effectively said that negotiating with Democrats was a waste of time and he called out House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying that she was bad for the country. Listen to this.

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TRUMP: Well, I think that she was very rigid, which I would expect. But I think she is very bad for our country. She knows that you need at a barrier. She knows that we need border security. She wanted to win a political point.

I happen to think it is very bad politics, because basically she wants open borders. She doesn't mind human trafficking or she wouldn't do this because you know the trafficking --

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered you over a billion dollars for border security.

TRUMP: Excuse me?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She offered over a billion dollars for border security. She doesn't want the wall.

TRUMP: She's costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars because what's happening is when you have a porous boarder and when you have drugs pouring in and when you have people dying all over the country because of people like Nancy Pelosi, who don't want to give proper border security for political reasons, she's doing a terrible disservice to our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: A spokesperson for the House Speaker shot back at President Trump, saying that he was reckless during the first government shutdown and suggesting that he had been dishonest in misrepresenting, mischaracterizing where Democrats stand on the issue of border security and immigration. We should point out CNN did see a preview of what the president would be saying Tuesday night during his State of the Union address. There was no indication that he would be declaring a national emergency during his speech.

Instead, a White House official suggested that the president would try to have some unifying words for the country, using the occasion to provide a path forward for the nation following that record-breaking, divisive government shutdown -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with president in West Palm Beach, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Joining us is CNN political commentator and Republican strategist, Alice Stewart.

Alice, are you hearing anything about what the president might or might not say at the State of the Union?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. This is a great opportunity for the president to really make his case directly again to the American people about the success of this administration to date.

I expect him to talk about the economy; and it's doing well, the unemployment is rate is at a strong level. And he can remind folks of some of the key reasons he was nominated for president and number one for many people, including myself, the Supreme Court nominees he's been able to get through, reducing federal government regulations.

But more than anything what he really wants to do is take this time to reinforce his commitment to securing the border and how national security is so important. And as we are going through --

(CROSSTALK)

VANIER: Tell us specifically about that.

STEWART: We're running up on the potential for another possible government shutdown. We have the deadline for House and Senate members to make another deal February 15th.

And if they are not able to, the president has indicated that he is not afraid to, if need be, take some type of emergency action, potentially declare a national security issue along the border and go the extraordinary measures and redirect funds in order to build this wall and secure the border.

So this is a time for him to make that case and stress what he sees as a crisis along our nation's border and convince Americans and certainly members of the House and Senate that the --

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STEWART: -- time to act is now on securing our borders. VANIER: So, Alice, to be clear, on the possibility of declaring a national emergency, are you hearing that is he leaning towards that or not?

STEWART: He's said it's still an option, it's on the table. Everything is on the table when it comes to this area and he is no doubt frustrated with the fact that Republicans and Democrats have not come together and united behind what he saw as a good faith effort to try to secure the border when he pitched his proposal to allocate $5.7 billion for the wall.

VANIER: OK, but let me stop you there for a second. You say he's frustrated. There are negotiations going on right now, bipartisan negotiations; Democrats are talking to Republicans in Congress.

They say they could actually find a deal but they just don't know that they can find a deal the president would approve. He's been saying that's a waste of time.

Are those negotiations irrelevant?

STEWART: If they don't come together and find an agreement that finds funding for the wall, it appears it will be irrelevant. He's clear he wants money for a wall. And Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats have been quite clear they do not.

But, look, we can all agree, Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate members agree that national security is an important issue. We have 70 percent of Americans want to provide some type of protections for DREAMers and certainly TPS as well and that's part of the deal.

So in order for them to get that, which is something that their constituents want, they need to be more flexible with regard to what they need to give up in exchange for these important protections.

VANIER: So I want to --

(CROSSTALK)

STEWART: -- all options are on the table for sure.

VANIER: I want to play something for you. An interview that my colleague, Jake Tapper, did earlier on CNN that really caught my attention. He spoke to one of the Republicans, on this committee, Republican senator Richard Shelby.

And he says that the committee will be calling in the experts, border experts, to find out what they really need. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), CHAIR, SENATE BANKING COMMITTEE: We have asked the professionals the people that do the work that know something about the border, know what they need. Do they need a wall, they need a fence, they need more technology, do they need it all? We are going to find out what they want. I think it's not what I need or what the Speaker needs or even the president needs, it's what we need to secure our borders.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Honestly, it's stunning to me that this is where we are. The government was shut down for almost five weeks. It could be shut down again in two weeks and now they say they are going talk to the experts. It seems like that's the first thing you would do before you set border policy.

STEWART: Well, certainly. And I agree 100 percent with you and with the senator. This is something that these conversations should have been had, in my view, when the president was running for president and making these campaign promises.

But I voted for this president but I never thought that Mexico was going to pay for this wall and that being off the table, that he needed to be a lot more willing to negotiate with members of Congress in order to make that happen.

Senator Shelby agrees with many other people; Congressman Will Hurd, who has 800 miles along our southern border agrees, we don't need a wall from sea to shining sea, we need boots on the ground, we need drones in the air, we need technology,

I think these are important components. We have heard the president be a little bit more willing to negotiate on some of these areas but he is really hell-bent on some type of wall in some areas along the border.

I think if we can come to an agreement on a partial wall in order to satisfy this president and also the other aspects -- we need drug detection equipment along the southern border as well; we also need additional judges to help adjudicate folks coming into this country.

So there is a lot more than just bricks and mortar along the southern border. We also need humanitarian assistance and other ways to secure the border to make it happen.

VANIER: Alice, you are making it sound like the devil is in the details, which it absolutely is, it often is for policy but this just isn't a very detailed-oriented president. We have to leave it at that for this week, Alice, always a pleasure speaking to you, thank you so much.

STEWART: Thanks, Cyril.

ALLEN: We are turning now to our top story from the sports world, that would be the Super Bowl and the Pats. The New England Patriots are this year's champs yet again, having beaten the L.A. Rams 13-3 a short time ago right next consider here.

VANIER: It's the sixth championship for the Pats and quarterback Tom Brady. CNN's Andy Scholes was at the game, joining us live from just outside the stadium.

Andy, tell us everything.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CALIF.), CHAIR, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If you like offense, this was not the Super Bowl for you. This was a defensive struggle. Fans on social media were joking the Snooze Bowl, the Boredom Bowl. Just, you know, the Punt Bowl, because so many punts, both the Patriots and Rams.

This could not get any offense going in the first half. And it's pretty ironic because this was just the second highest scoring season --

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SCHOLES: -- in the NFL and its history, yet we got the lowest scoring Super Bowl ever. Not what we expected to see in this game.

It was 3-3 all the way into the fourth quarter for the first time ever in the Super Bowl. And we finally got an exciting play, with Tom Brady finding Rob Gronkowski, that got the ball all the way down to the 2. And on the very next play, running back Sony Michel punches it in for the Patriots. And someone finally scored a touchdown. The Patriots took the lead 10-3 with 7 minutes to go.

Now, the Rams had a chance to tie it. Jared Goff, watch this, throws a perfect pass to Brandon Cook but he can't haul it in. And that turned out to be a very big play because, on the very next play, Goff, a terrible pass, picked off by Stefan Gilmore. And that would pretty much do it. The Patriots win 13-3.

Julian Edelman the game's MVP, he had 10 catches for 141 yards; Brady, a champion now for a sixth time. And our own Hines Ward spoke with Brady right after the game.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HINES WARD, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: What does it mean to win six, man?

TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: You know --

WARD: You're the greatest of all time.

BRADY JR.: I don't believe that.

WARD: Huh?

BRADY JR.: I don't believe that. I don't think about that. I just think I play with so many great guys on so many great teams and I still get to do it. I'm 41 years old and play a sport I grew up loving and I'm proud of my team tonight.

HINES: What about Jules, man?

BRADY JR.: He was like a little Hines Ward tonight, wasn't he? HINES: He balled you, man.

BRADY JR.: Yes, he played his butt off. I knew he was going play his butt off. He was so focused we needed him big time and he came through.

HINES: Congrats, my brother.

BRADY JR.: Thanks, appreciate it.

HINES: What is it about the Super Bowl that you just keep making plays, man?

I get so geeked up when I see you run around and making play after play after play for Tom Brady?

JULIAN EDELMAN, MVP: I don't know. I just try to go out and have a good week of practice and, you know, try to make the play when the number's called.

HINES: MVP of the Super Bowl, what does that mean?

EDELMAN: It's pretty crazy.

HINES: Is it surreal?

EDELMAN: It's pretty surreal. I'm still, you know.

HINES: You are not going sleep tonight, I guarantee you that.

EDELMAN: I don't know yet. I just want to say hello to my little baby girl, Lily, I love you, I miss you and I can't wait to see you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And Brady is now the oldest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl at 41 years old. I was right next to him as he was celebrating with his family on the field and they were so happy, it was just like they won their first Super Bowl.

And I actually spoke with Tom Brady's dad, Tom Brady Sr., asking him what it's been like watching his son win six Super Bowls.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BRADY SR., QUARTERBACK'S DAD: I was proud of him at five, I was proud of him when he didn't have any. But now that he has six, it's extra sweet, you know. It's just -- it's not even something that you could fantasize with. And we just have been living the dream for about 18 years now. So we are very thankful.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: You know, the Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl for the fourth time in five years. Some people are tired of the Patriots and tired of seeing Tom Brady out there winning. But I say we should appreciate this moment because this is like watching Michael Jordan when he was in his prime. You don't know how many more chances you get to see Tom Brady win a Super Bowl. So I, for one, am happy that I was there to get to see him win his sixth.

ALLEN: That's really cool.

How long do you think Mr. Brady is going to hang in there?

SCHOLES: You know what, I asked his dad that question, I said how many more do you think he's got?

He wouldn't give me a straight answer but Tom Brady is on the record saying he's not retiring and will be back next year. At this point, you can't count out the Patriots, you pretty much have to pencil them in that they will be making another trip to the Super Bowl.

So don't be surprised if Tom Brady goes for his seventh, at least sometime in the near future.

ALLEN: All right.

VANIER: Andy, I am with you on that. It's just amazing seeing legends play, whatever team you are rooting for. Andy Scholes, outside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium here in Atlanta, just outside the CNN certainty matter the fact. Andy, thank you so much.

ALLEN: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right.

VANIER: Virginia's governor rapidly losing support even from his own administration in the midst of a major controversy over a racist photo. We'll have more details on that.

ALLEN: Also, new details in the search for football star, Emiliano Sala; two weeks after his plane went missing his family and fans may be closer to closure.

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VANIER: Search teams have found the wreckage of a plane that was carrying Argentine football star, Emiliano Sala.

ALLEN: His family had held out hope to for so long. But he and the plane's pilot were flying over the English Channel on their way to Wales when the aircraft dropped out of sight. For the latest, here is Patrick Snell. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was two weeks ago on Monday that the plane carrying Argentine footballer Emiliano Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared from radar as it flew from Western France to the Welsh capital city, Cardiff.

The 28-year-old South American, who had just become the English Premier League's record signing, was returning to Cardiff after saying his goodbyes to his former teammates.

On Sunday, authorities in the U.K. confirming wreckage has been found on the first day of a privately funded search off the island of Guernsey carried on out behalf of the Sala family.

They follow pleas from high-profile stars from the world of football, including Argentine greats Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona to resume the search after the initial search had been called off after three days.

Among those helping to help fund it through a crowdfunding campaign, French World Cup winning star Kylian Mbappe. It comes after a highly emotional weekend in Cardiff, which saw the Welsh club and its players pay a poignant tribute to Sala at his first home match since his disappearance as the manager, who signed the striker, visibly fought back tears. It's expected more details on the recovery operation will he released later on Monday -- Patrick Snell, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: Such a tragic story there.

We have the fate of a Bahraini refugee and footballer. It rests in the hands of authorities in Thailand now. Hakeem Al-Araibi appeared in a Bangkok court hours ago in an effort to fight --

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ALLEN: -- his extradition back to Bahrain. It was decided he will remain in jail for 60 more days as he prepares a defense. He has refugee status in Australia and plays for a Melbourne club. He's also critical of the Bahraini government and says he was tortured in his homeland before fleeing in 2014.

VANIER: He was arrested in a Bangkok airport in November while on honeymoon. Bahrain alleges that he helped protesters vandalize a police station. They want him back. Former Australia football captain, Craig Foster, is spearheading a campaign for his release. We'll speak to Foster live from Bangkok in the next hour.

ALLEN: The Virginia Democratic governor is bombarded by calls to resign. He is losing support from his own team. On Sunday Ralph Northam held a meeting with top administration officials of color. Sources say none of them told him to stay in office and fight.

VANIER: Northam is facing pressure from Democrats nationwide after this racist photo in his medical school yearbook went public. Jessica Dean has the details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: New reporting here in Richmond, Virginia, where a source with direct knowledge of the governor's thinking on all of this, is telling CNN that as of right now, the governor's thinking has not changed, that Governor Northam has no plans to resign.

In fact, that press conference that was scheduled and held over the weekend was there as a platform for the governor to explain the photo and that it was supposed to be a forum for people to begin to understand the governor.

And hopefully, the governor was thinking that it would give him time to kind of think through what his next steps might be. We are told the governor is evaluating things minute by minute, day by day.

But right now, the only reason that the governor would resign is if he was not able to govern effectively. And currently, he doesn't believe that is the case.

Now, the legislature is scheduled to meet on Monday here in Richmond. And it will be interesting to see if anyone brings this up. Right now, no talk from anyone officially publically about any sort of removal from office. But again, we'll see what the days bring -- in Richmond, Jessica Dean, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Christians and Muslims are welcoming Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi, what's in store for his historic trip and what it means for the region -- when we come back.

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[00:30:00] VANIER: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM here in Atlanta. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: And I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has rejected an ultimatum to call new presidential elections. Some E.U. nations had threatened to support the opposition if he didn't do so by Sunday.

Mr. Maduro also told Spanish Channel laSexta that U.S. President Trump risks, these are his words, staining his hands with blood for trying to force him out.

VANIER: And the U.S. President tells CVS, pulling troops from Syria may cause a power vacuum, but he adds that if ISIS returns, then so will the U.S, and he says the U.S. can get there very fast. Mr. Trump also says he'll keep troops in Iraq to keep an eye on neighboring Iran.

ALLEN: The New England Patriots, they did it again, Super Bowl Champs. They beat the Los Angeles Rams in a low-scoring game, 13-3. It's been called, what, the snooze bowl.

VANIER: Snooze fest.

ALLEN: Yes. Snooze fest right here, in Atlanta. It's the sixth Super Bowl win for the team and Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, their first, and the game's only touchdown came in the very last quarter.

Pope Francis is making history in the United Arab Emirates. He arrived on Sunday, becoming the first Roman Catholic pope to ever visit the Arabian Peninsula.

VANIER: The region is the birth place of Islam, but it's also home to millions of Christians. CNN's Becky Anderson has more from Abu Dhabi.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: It's the kind of visit that comes once in a lifetime.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think exciting is the, you know, the correct word to describe the feeling. I visited Rome, but here, it's a completely different atmosphere.

ANDERSON: This visit is history in the making for the million-strong Catholic community in a country with 200 different nationalities, practicing a variety of faiths. Francis will become the first pontiff to say mass on the Arabian Peninsula, a region overwhelmingly, Muslim.

Bishop Paul Hinder who has lived in the Middle East for over a decade says the diversity of the Catholic community here is what makes it so special.

PAUL HINDER, BISHOP, UAE, OMAN AND YEMEN: The majority usually are Indians and Filipinos, but we have Christians from the Arabic-speaking countries.

ANDERSON: Tickets to the papal mass were assigned through a lottery system, with ticket holders officially given the day off work. And the excitement is palpable when you speak to church goers here in Abu Dhabi.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody wants their tickets, asking me, oh, where are the tickets? We want to come, even those who are working, they told we will be absent for our job just to be -- just to be here and be with the Pope.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a dream that the Pope is coming here. And it's amazing how the dream is coming true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Pope coming is a picture of every Christians' joy, I don't think there are other Muslim country that can do any better than this.

ANDERSON: The public mass is expected to attract 135,000 faithful, according to the organizers. The American Deacon Donald Fox will be among those assisting Pope Francis on the day. DONALD FOX, DEACON, SAINT JOSEPH PARISH: I definitely will -- I have to try to insure that I don't show my nervousness. It will definitely be the largest type of celebration that I've ever done.

ANDERSON: There's a feeling of real impact in a country that very consciously promotes an image of tolerance. Pakistani Faisal (INAUDIBLE) has lived in the U.A. for nearly a decade, and has previously seen the Pope in person, describes what this visit means to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's coming to my home. It is as if Jesus is coming to my home.

ANDERSON: A sentiment shared by many members of what is this tightknit community.

Becky Anderson, CNN, Abu Dhabi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: First, it was epic heat in Australia, now epic rains have forced thousands from their homes. Forecasters warn some residents to expect even more water.

Karen McGinnis has our story, next.

VANIER: And a new study says people can save themselves and the planet by changing what we eat and how much we eat. Stay with us.

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VANIER: OK, impressive pictures right here, even more impressive weather record rains continue to hammer Queensland state in Australia, with forecasters warning that intense storms could continue through Thursday, at what's being called once-in-a-century floods, have forced thousands of people in coastal Townsville to abandon their homes, as streets have been turned into rivers.

ALLEN: Spillway gates at the Ross River dam had to be fully opened which will only add to the water's rise. The weather office says lives and property in the area are at risk.

VANIER: Meteorologist Karen McGinnis joins us now, live. She's looking at this. Karen?

KAREN MCGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. And yesterday, we showed you video, drone video of just how expansive this flooding is. It isn't just confined to the city of Townsville, but it extends inland, it extends northward towards Cairns, also to the south, towards Mackay.

All this is part of the regime associated with the monsoonal flow. It's very typical for this time of year. But even by those standards, this is quite extraordinary, this area of low pleasure and going clockwise around this, in the southern hemisphere, that's the direction it goes, and it picks up the moisture from the coastal

-- from the Coral Sea, throws that moisture on shore, and those catch basins in those areas, really have no place to go, with the staggering rainfall amounts.

I want to show you this video. When you take a look at this, it's absolutely heartbreaking. Now, these people, obviously, are trudging through the water, trying to save what little possessions they have. There is sandbagging going on.

But authorities are saying 10,000, possibly 20,000 homes could be affected by the flooding. This is particularly heartbreaking. A woman is walking through these flood waters with her dog on a tire.

They're saying that these flood waters are dangerous, especially because of the sewage associated with it and other debris that can be found in the water, needless to say, the critters that we have talked about, the alligators and the snakes.

All right, what can expect in the forecast? It looks like the rainfall continues here. Now, some is going to be more than the other. Cairns has not seen the brunt of it, but certainly has seen some heavy precipitation, but look at this, in particular, I want to point out Townsville, monthly average just around 300 millimeters.

Already, we have seen -- in Townsville, we have seen over 1,000 millimeters of rainfall. That's about 42-inches of rainfall and all of that is going downstream, and they are alerting folks who live along the Ross River, at various locations.

They're saying be alert, be aware that the flood waters could rise here very rapidly. That's the reason why authorities said tens of thousands of people could be affected already, such a broad area.

It looks like this will continue at least until Thursday of this week and perhaps beyond. Back to you guys.

[00:40:13] ALLEN: Goodness, flooding and extreme heat. All right, you got to feel for Australia. Karen, thank you.

Well, eating the right kinds of food could not only save our health, it could also help save our planet. That is the finding of a new study published in the Medical Journal, The Lancet.

VANIER: The Planetary Health Diet recommends a lot more fruits, nuts, vegetables and whole grains, no sugar and very little meat, one steak a week, in fact. Dr. Walter Willett is the Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.

He's a professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He's one of the people who co-wrote this study and came up, and recommended this diet. I asked him if he thinks it's really doable.

DR. WALTER WILLETT, PROFESSOR, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Whether it's radical or not, depends on where you are sitting, maybe from the standpoint of someone living in the U.S. at this point in time. But this is very consistent with what the Mediterranean diet were 40 or 50 years ago, when people were consuming that and they were the healthiest people in the world.

At that time for some parts of the world, this would actually mean an increase in dairy products and meat, a little bit of increase. So, the picture looks very different depending on where you're starting from.

VANIER: And the study draws that connection, you told us about that, about human health and the health of the planet. What is that connection?

WILLETT: First of all, that, this isn't just about eating less red meat and moderate amounts of dairy, it's eating a lot more of healthy plant based protein sources such as nuts, legumes, soy products, and more fruits and vegetables, and consuming our grains mostly in the whole grain form. That has big impacts on health.

But also, bringing a pound of beef to the table has a huge environmental impact, partly because there is an extremely inefficient conversion, we have to feed somewhere between 20 and 40-calories to a beef cattle to bring one calorie to the table as beef.

And all of that time that that cattle is alive, it's pumping out large amounts of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxides which are all greenhouse gases. Moreover, there's lots of pollution from fertilizers that go to make those crops.

There are land degradations; species extinction because we're cutting down forests, plowing up prairies, so the environment impacts of this animal-based form of agriculture that we use in the United States is serious. It will mean a really degraded world that we're going to pass onto our children if we don't change course.

VANIER: Yes, the overall numbers I got from the study are really startling. I actually didn't suspect it was that much. The study teaches us that the food industry, the agri business, is the main way that we harm the planet, globally.

It represents almost a third of carbon dioxide emissions, 40 percent of the land, available land on the planet is used to make, grow food and 70 percent are freshwater goes to that, as well. The study makes some really, really fundamental points, and I thank you for -- something tells me we're going to be talking about this again, in the years to come. I thank you for coming on the show today.

WILLETT: Really good to be with you, we have to have more conversation, thank you.

ALLEN: And we will. But that's it for now. I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for watching.

VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. You've got "WORLD SPORT" up next with Patrick Snell. And we're back after that. Stay with us.

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