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Bezos to Unleash His Intimate Secrets; Wasted Efforts in Brussels; Venezuelans Lined Up at Night to Receive Foreign Aid; Brexit Negotiations In Brussels At An Impasse; Jeff Bezos Accuses National Enquirer Of Extortion; Aid Trucks Arrive At Colombian-Venezuelan Border; War On ISIS; Immigration Debate; From Waste To Art. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 8, 2019 - 03:30   ET



GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Brexit and the backstop, Theresa May heading to Dublin for another crucial meeting but her back still against the wall on that delicate sticking point at Irish border.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also, ahead this hour, racy selfie steamy text messages. Billionaire Jeff Bezos reveals all the juicy details to expose what he says is a blackmail attempt by the National Enquirer tabloid. We'll have that.

Plus, this.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: "I'm afraid," says Salam (ph). "Do you understand? I'm afraid. All I have left is my daughter and son."


HOWELL: Broken and lost. At the -- as the end from ISIS nears in Syria, those that lived through the hell of that group's reign share stories of shattered lives.

We are live from CNN headquarters in Atlanta. And we want to welcome our viewers all over the world. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. CNN Newsroom starts right now.

HOWELL: The European Union is standing firm. No new deal on Brexit. The British Prime Minister Theresa May went to Brussels hoping to reopen the U.K. withdrawal agreement, and once again she came back with nothing.

ALLEN: The impasse stems from that backstop we keep talking about, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Well, in just a few hours, Theresa May she's on the move is to meet with the Irish prime minister in Dublin, hoping for a better outcome than she got in Brussels. Our Nic Robertson will be covering that for us. He's our international

diplomatic editor. She -- editor -- he is live in Dublin for us. And Nic, so much at stake for Theresa May and for Britain and Ireland, all of it leads to a lot of uncertainty.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Huge amount of uncertainly, Natalie. It is a stormy day here; the winds tend to described in some weather forecast as dangerous. I think Theresa May will be in for a political bumpy ride when she gets to. She's expected to have dinner with the prime minister here in the evening, Leo Varadkar.

It's been a lot of diplomacy on -- from Irish politicians and diplomats through this week, even sending the deputy prime minister to the United States to push that case. And I think what Theresa May is going to hear from the prime minister here today is very much in keeping with what both the European Union leaders and Irish officials here have been saying in the recent weeks.

That this negotiation, the withdrawal agreement is not going to be open, if Theresa May wants to get some of what she wants, these legal assurances, it will have to come in what's called the future relationship, that yet to be negotiated between Britain and the European Union.

Not only that. Today, the Irish prime minister before Theresa May gets here goes up to the north -- goes us to Northern Ireland to meet with political leaders there to canvas their opinion as much as Theresa May did a couple of days ago.

We've been talking to people here in Dublin though, to get an idea of what they think. And I think those views that they hope will be very similar to what -- to the prime minister's view.


ROBERTSON: Don't be afraid, the last words of legendary Irish poet Seamus Heaney. They have a prophetic feel in Dublin today. Brexit is looming. And there's a lot at stake for Ireland.

At the nearby pub, the weekly restock finish. Tell me what do you think about Brexit?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's going to change the whole economics, the whole of Irelands, both Britain and the Republic of Ireland, and Ireland, the main republic.

ROBERTSON: A hard Brexit possible border controls and its impact on peace.

What about the question of the border, the backstop at the border? Could you compromise on that? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. I think the league (Ph) of honor

should be kept down, you know. It's out with the peace process.

ROBERTSON: Are you afraid of what some of the implications of the outcome might be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm actually from a border country. That's where I live just by the border. I think the effect that's going to have on those kinds of real rural communities and agriculture sector over there is going to be huge. Yes.

ROBERTSON: But not just fears for themselves but for the U.K. as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel sorry for English.

ROBERTSON: Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they don't seem to know what they're doing. They're in a mess. They're going to suffer economically and probably socially.

ROBERTSON: Some pity but a lot of loathing for London's politicians too.

[03:04:59] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Britain chooses to pull out without plans in place. And we'll get all of the bad press.

ROBERTSON: Could this government compromise on the border issue?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With this government, right, with this government need to compromise.

ROBERTSON: Could they do it do you think on the backstop issue on the border issue?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, why would you want to compromise with people who have no plan who keep changing their minds?


ROBERTSON: The frustration level, you know, you have to say here is quite high. You get that idea of sympathy from people and the sense that the British political leaders really don't know how to handle what -- what the public called for in a referendum, Brexit.

But the sense of frustration here is that Ireland is going to be damaged and this is something that the politicians here really don't want to allow to happen. And the hard line on that is making sure that the backstop stays in place. And on that, I don't think Theresa May is going to have a particularly warm, you know, warm convivial dinner on that issue tonight.

ALLEN: Yes. I want to ask you about that. You know, she runs into one wall after another. And now she's here to see what she can do. What is the relationship? Is there one between Theresa May and the prime minister there?

ROBERTSON: You know, Britain always had a long and strong, and sometimes troubled relationship with Ireland. And there's a deep history here. A troubled history, if you will. But the relationship between the pair is not one that stretches back very far. They're both sort of relative newcomers to their job.

The prime minister here is under political pressure on many other issues, not least the health service here in Ireland, the same way as Theresa May is back in the U.K. But the Brexit issue is the most pressing one. And the prime minister has stood firm on this position and has support here for that reason.

So, I don't think that there's a history of a long relationship between the pair. Theresa May when she was in Belfast a couple of days ago, did say that she wanted to improve the relationship between the two countries going forward that she would try to have more meetings at senior government level with Irish government officials in the years to come.

But that's aspirational. And very much that's the tone of everything she wants, aspirational but without real solid plans.

ALLEN: Yes, Nic. As you say the wind of change are blowing and they're blowing viciously there in Ireland today. We know you'll be covering it. We'll see you again. Thanks so much.

HOWELL: Natalie, the winds are blowing and the clock is ticking. You saw that clock there, 49 days, 14 hours and it's just ticking away.

ALLEN: And it feels like yesterday we're going, it's so far off, they got a long way to go.

HOWELL: Yes. Really, yes.

ALLEN: And now, it's -- now it's upon us.

HOWELL: Coming up. Well in an explosive blog post, the Amazon founder, the world's richest man, Jeff Bezos is accusing the National Enquirer of attempted blackmail and extortion.

ALLEN: He's come out fighting. Bezos of course also owns the Washington Post. The Enquirer's publisher has long ties President Trump. At its core, it's a story of threats, sex, and politics.

Here's the story from CNN's Oliver Darcy.

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: It doesn't get much more explosive than this. In a tell-all blog post published Thursday afternoon, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos accused the National Enquirer of, in his words, "extortion and blackmail."

This all goes back to when the National Enquirer published a story revealing that Jeff Bezos had been involved in an affair. In that story were text messages the National Enquirer obtained between Bezos and his mistress. Bezos has since launched an investigation into how those messages were leaked in the first place. And with the politics may have been a motivating force. The National Enquirer CEO is of course, David Pecker, a long-time friend of Donald Trump's.

And because Bezos owns the Washington Post which covers Trump critically at times, the president is no fan of Bezos. Bezos as he is being blackmailed now for investigating whether there were any politics at play behind the National Enquirer story.

According to one of the e-mails Bezos released, the National Enquirer chief officer Dylan Howard threaten that if he did not drop his investigation the magazine might publish a more revealing photos of him, among other things.

In another e-mail, a lawyer for the National Enquirer's parent company suggest in a agreement which Bezos spokesperson would say they have no evidence politics is at play.

Bezos said he would not capitulate to extortion and blackmail. He instead chose to publish all the messages online and they are really quite extraordinary. It's going to be interesting now to see how this plays out moving forward. We reach out to National Enquirer but they have not responded to our request for comment.

Oliver Darcy, CNN, New York.

HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Areva Martin. Areva, a CNN legal analyst joining this hour in Los Angeles. Areva, thank you for your time.


[03:10:00] HOWELL: So, Jeff Bezos is accusing Pecker of blackmail and extortion and it's all in writing. Bezos published the letter that he received from AMI legally. Do you feel that this crossed the line, that this alleged threat to publish more photos and text messages? Is this extortion and blackmail?

MARTIN: Well, it's definitely outrageous, George. When you look at what Bezos has published, essentially you have AMI telling Bezos unless you come forward and acknowledge that the reason we were following you or investigating this relationship you were having outside of your marriage, unless you say that that reason was not politically motivated, we're going to publish more unflattering photographs, potentially photographs of a sexual nature.

So, this is really a form of sextortion when you think about it. And Jeff Bezos is a billionaire. But imagine if this were a 16-year-old girl or someone not as rich and powerful as Bezos to be told essentially that if you don't -- if you don't do, if you don't agree to do what we're asking you to do, we are going to humiliate you, we are going to embarrass you, we are going to publish revealing photographs of you and a woman who is not your wife. So, this is quite extraordinary, George. HOWELL: Areva, you touched on this, Bezos also points to the top. The

man leading the National Enquirer, David Pecker, also a long-time ally of the U.S. President, Donald Trump. It lays to bear that question of whether this was somehow politically motivated. And Bezos points out he has long been a political target of President Trump.

MARTIN: Well, I think you have to look at it in the totality. We know Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. We know Donald Trump has had a very contentious relationship with Bezos and the Washington Post. We've even seen a tweet where the president suggested that Amazon, the company Jeff Bezos own should pay a higher rate for shipping its products.

We've heard the president and we've seen him issue tweet after tweet attacking the Washington Post. So, Jeff Bezos says, look, this entire story that's being published by AMI is -- it's related to David Pecker's relationship with the president and it's a smear campaign and he even goes further. And he says this is a form of extortion, it's a form of blackmail.

And I think we also have to look at this non-prosecution agreement that AMI has with federal prosecutors. We have to step back to the time when AMI was brought into the controversy with Michael Cohen over this catch and kill stories.

AMI was accused of, you know, buying stories and killing stories that were detrimental to the president during the 2016 campaign. We saw Michael Cohen was indicted for campaign finance violations related to those catch and kill stories.

Then as part of that non-prosecution agreement with AMI where AMI promised to participate and cooperate with the special -- with the federal prosecutors, in exchange, there was an agreement that they would not be involved in any criminal activity for at least three years.

So, the question, George, that everyone is asking is, is this a letter from AMI to Jeff Bezos? Does this constitute criminal conduct on the part of AMI? Does it violate this non-prosecution agreement? This is bigger than just some salacious story about a billionaire and a girlfriend or a mistress.

Lots of interesting questions about the relationship, or possible relationship to Donald Trump and this non-prosecution agreement.

HOWELL: It's interesting, Areva. Bezos put it all out there. And now again, we're talking about David Pecker. Again, to your point here, does this violate that agreement with prosecutors? What would that mean for David Pecker?

MARTIN: Well, it would be disastrous for David Pecker if there's a determination that AMI engaged in a kind of criminal conduct. That prosecution agreement makes it very clear that as long as the prosecution agreement is valid and active that AMI cannot be involved in any criminal activity. So, we -- we don't have all of the facts. We haven't verified the

statements that have been made by Jeff Bezos. But there's a possibility that both federal and state law has been violated by this term -- by this -- you know, the statements made in this letter to Jeff Bezos where, basically, they're demanding that he says that the reason his text messages to his mistress were first published that this entire story is completely unrelated to any political motivation, that there's no political motivation.

And one of the questions is when you think about blackmail, George, usually there's money involved, someone is saying, you know, give me X amount of money and I won't do something in exchange for that money. So, the question is going to be, is what Jeff Bezos is being asked to state publicly. Does that have the same kind of value as you typically see in a blackmail case or a case that would be prosecuted by prosecutors?

[03:15:04] HOWELL: Areva, just briefly. And you raise this point earlier. This seems to be a pattern of AMI, the heavy handedness but towing the line, right? Can they continuously do this or can anything be done about it by people who, unlike Jeff Bezos may not have the wealth and the ability to slap them down as we've seen.

MARTIN: Well, they've met their match, clearly with Jeff Bezos, because rather than capitulate and you know, to agree to the terms that were demanded in that letter, Jeff Bezos goes public. He says I want the entire world to see the kind of correspondence that I've received from AMI.

That even if it causes him personal embarrassment, even if it causes, you know, further strain in his relationship with his wife and his family, he wasn't willing to allow AMI to use those strong-arm tactics that we know they have been so famous for in the past.

So, it may be the end of the road for the kind of tactics that AMI have been involved in that have been so publicly known and have really been highlighted over the last couple of years as we've seen investigations with Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

HOWELL: Areva Martin with context and perspective, thank you.

MARTIN: Thanks, George.

ALLEN: Well, we'll follow this story for sure.

HOWELL: Yes. That's complicated and interesting, to say the least.

Democrats call it congressional oversight. President Trump says it is presidential harassment.

ALLEN: Either way, the reality is almost every aspect of Mr. Trump's life is under the microscope from his personal finances and business to his family and his charitable trust, the inauguration, and the 2016 campaign.

HOWELL: And they're all the focus of the investigations by lawmakers or prosecutors.

Our Pamela Brown has more.



PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump fuming over multiple investigations involving his administration. According to a House intelligence committee aide, Chairman Adam Schiff has hired former members of the National Security Council to help with committee oversight of the Trump administration.

It's unclear how recently the officials worked at the MSC or if they even served under President Trump. But he took to Twitter to express his frustrations, attacking Democrats for initiating wide ranging investigation examining his finances and potential ties to foreign nations. Well beyond the initial Russia scope.

Trump tweeting that Schiff, quote, "is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so." Adding, I hear other committee heads will do the same thing, even stealing people who worked at White House, a continuation of witch hunt."

Add the president, once again claiming he is the victim of, quote, "presidential harassment." But according to a new CNN poll, nearly half of Americans, 48 percent, think Donald Trump's campaign colluded with the Russian government to help Trump get elected. While 42 percent say there was no collusion. A sign the American public may support new oversight investigations set to begin in the Democrat controlled House.

NANCY PELOSI, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We will not surrender our constitutional responsibility for oversight. That would make us delinquent in our duties.

BROWN: Oversight that could include obtaining the president's taxes and an investigation into the administration's child separation policy for undocumented immigrants.

TRUMP: We keep hearing about investigations. Fatigue.

BROWN: The president has insisted an onslaught probes would be countered by the Republican held Senate.

TRUMP: Now we can investigate, they look at us, we look at them. It goes on for two years. Then at the end of two years nothing is done.

BROWN: The Senate Judiciary Committee continuing the spirit of congressional partisanship voting along party lines to confirm William Barr as attorney general.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: The nomination will be favorably reported to the floor. BROWN: As attorney general, Barr will be responsible for determining

how much of special counsel Robert Mueller's report will be publicly released.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: My objective and goal is to get as much as I can of the information to Congress and the public.

BROWN: But some Democrats say they're uneasy about Barr's unwillingness to commit to releasing the full report.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN, (D) CALIFORNIA: This is particularly concerning as nothing in existing law or regulations prevent the attorney general from sharing the report.

BROWN: And according to a new CNN poll, the vast majority of American nearly 90 percent say they want the Mueller report made public, while just 9 percent say it's not necessary.

Now it's unclear who Schiff is hiring and how recently they left the Trump administration but for context, it's not unusual for the House intel committee to hire people who recently worked in the National Security Council for their intel expertise.

[03:19:56] Of course, what makes this unique is that the House intelligence committee has announced this investigation, this wide- ranging investigation into the president himself.

Pamela Brown, CNN, the White House.


ALLEN: An update now to a standoff in Washington. Acting U.S. Attorney General, Matthew Whitaker will testify before the House judiciary committee on Friday after a tense back and forth between congressional Democrats and the Justice Department.

The committee's Democrats want to ask Whitaker about his conversations with the White House over Robert Mueller's investigation. Whitaker had threatened to skip the hearing after the panel warned it could subpoena him.

Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler assured Whitaker he won't be subpoenaed as long as he voluntarily shows up and answers the committee's questions.

We keep you posted on that one. I guess we could say that after every story we do. Sorry.

Next here on CNN Newsroom, humanitarian aid arrives at the Venezuelan border but the country's president refuses to allow it in. We'll have the latest.

HOWELL: Another story we've been following after an emotional two weeks, a search team brought some closure to the family and fans of football star Emiliano Sala. We'll explain after the break. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOWELL: Shipment of very much needed humanitarian aid for Venezuela has reached that country's border. But the people who need it, who that need that food, water and medicine, they still don't have it.

ALLEN: And the reason is maddening. It's because the trucks are stuck on the Colombian side of the border. President Nicolas Maduro's government blocked a key bridge into the country so the aid trucks cannot get through.

CNN's Isa Soares has more from the border.


ISA SOARES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm at the Simon Bolivar Bridge, and you are seeing everyone here on a rather hurried pace because of aid across that bridge the border between Venezuela and Colombia closes, behind me is Colombia, in front of me is Venezuela will open again at 6 o'clock in the morning.

People are buying -- are making their way back home after buying basic staples food, some of them actually coming for medication. Anything that they could get their hands on, of course, because there's a short supply on the other side. Very expensive. Little that is left is very expensive.

Now meanwhile, as people make their way and about 15 or so minutes away from here in a bridge that's called La Tienditas is brand new, built three years ago but it's never even being use or inaugurated the first truckloads of the U.S. aid has started to arrive.

[03:25:07] They carry basic goods for a lot of the people in Venezuela. Now they are standing, they're staying in the warehouses in La Tienditas Bridge. And there's a reason for that. Because on that bridge on the Venezuelan side of that bridge Nicolas Maduro's forces have basically blocked the bridge with two blue containers and one petrol tanker.

And now what you have really is a test of the wills. Will Nicolas Maduro, will his men let that aid through. If they do, then Nicolas Maduro looks weakened and a lot of his generals will then defect and support the people.

But if they don't, then Juan Guaido who takes so much of his presidency on this will look like he's not in control of the country. And worth bearing in mind, too, that Juan Guaido at the moment is a man with a microphone and a phone but he has no territorial control of Venezuela.

So, a high stakes game. But people have been telling me every single hour that I've been here, where is our aid. And if it doesn't cross, one lady said to me. We're going to pump that bridge, we're going to cross it, and we're going to move these tankers ourselves.

Isa Soares, CNN at the Venezuelan-Colombian border. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: It certainly shows the desperation of the people there.


ALLEN: Well, France is ordering its ambassador in Italy to come home as the war of words between Paris and Rome heats up. France's foreign ministry says Italian politicians have been antagonizing them for months.

Italy's far-right government has been lobbying insults at French President Emmanuel Macron after he criticized the rise of populism in Europe.

Tensions came to a head earlier this week when one of Italy's deputy prime ministers met with the yellow vests, that group of French anti- government protesters.

HOWELL: British police say they identified the body of Argentine football player Emiliano Sala. The star forward had just been signed to the English Premier Club Cardiff City when the plane that he was -- the plane that he was in went missing over the English Channel more than two weeks ago.

A private search team recovered his body from the crash site on Wednesday. The pilot's body though, has not yet been located.

ALLEN: We have some gripping stories ahead here from our Ben Wedeman. Shell shock, exhausted, and afraid. The survivors of ISIS tell CNN their stories. We'll go live to Syria when we come back.


ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers around the world. We appreciate you tuning with us. You are watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Natalie Allen.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm George Howell. The headlines we are following for you this hour. The British Prime Minister Theresa May has little to show from her talks with E.U. leaders in Brussels. They are at impasse over the Irish border backstop. And once again the Prime Minister was told that Brexit would not be renegotiated. In the coming hours, she is to meet with the British -- the Irish Prime Minister in Dublin.

ALLEN: The world's richest man and founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, said the National Enquirer tabloid tried to blackmail and extort him. In an explosive blog post, he include e-mails, he says are from Enquirer officials. The e-mails described compromising photos the tabloid said it would release unless Bezos said publicly that its coverage was not politically motivated. The Enquirer's publisher is a longtime friend of Donald Trump.

HOWELL: Trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Venezuela, they've arrived at that country's border with Columbia. But here's the thing, it is unclear when the supplies will make it to the Venezuelan side. The Maduro government has blocked the key bridge at the border, preventing the delivery of that important humanitarian aid.

ALLEN: With the once great ISIS caliphate now just a small pocket of resistance in Eastern Syria, thousands of people, mostly women, children and the elderly, are free and no longer living under the strict Islamic law the terror group brutally enforced.

HOWELL: And many talk about the horrors that they've endured, but others speak, believe it or not, the good days under ISIS. They spoke with our Ben Wedeman.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They arrive in pickup trucks, dusty shell-shocked, exhausted and afraid from the town of Baghuz Fawqani, all that's left of the so-called Islamic State. Adult males are immediately taken aside for questioning, American, British and French personnel are here searching for ISIS members, but we were forbidden to film them.

Twenty eight year-old Dura Ahmed from Torontom, Canada arrived at this barren spot in the vast Eastern Syrian plains this morning. She came to Syria at her husband urging.

DURA AHMED, CANADIAN NATIONAL LIVING IN SYRIA: I don't anything about ISIS or anything. He said just come and see, just come and see.

WEDEMAN: So she came four years ago.

There is a war in Syria.

AHMED: But when you come to Raqqa, it looks like a war. You're there with -- you're eating Pringles and Twix. You're just saying, you know, this is -- you feel like you're in a war.

WEDEMAN: Do you still believe in the idea of (inaudible)?

AHMED: I believe in Sharia, wherever Sharia is, you know.

WEDEMAN: Was it worth it?

AHMED: Do I regret it, coming? You mean? No. I don't. In a sense I had my kids here.

WEDEMAN: We also met this 34-year-old former graphic designer from Alberta, Canada. She declined to give her name or show her face. Her husband ordered her to come to Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's like, he's like -- you have to come here. He's like, it's obligatory for you to come here. You have no choice. As your husband, he's like, I'm telling you to come here. And as a Muslim wife, you have to obey. Even though it was really hard for me to do it, I had to.

WEDEMAN: It's difficult to determine who might be with ISIS and who is not. The answers to our questions often ambiguous. Dalha Hatib is from Western Syria and he told me he was just visiting a friend and couldn't return home because of the fighting. There are many foreigners, including Chechens and ISIS's last enclave, the town of Baghuz Fawqani, he told me.

It is strange, I say, that you find a Chechen in Baghuz Fawqani, isn't it?

I don't know if it is suspicious or not, he responds, but among those fleeing, there are real horror stories of life under siege. Abdul Rahman from Iraq recounts that his home was hit with an air strike at 3 a.m. He lists those who were killed that night.

My mother, my brother, his wife, his son, my sister, my wife, my daughter my uncle, his wife and their two children, he says. Only Abdul Rahman, he's kid sister and his father, Salam, survived, but were badly wounded.

[03:35:00] I'm afraid, says Salam. Do you understand I'm afraid? All I have left is my daughter and son.

This experiment implemented twisted version of God's will on earth has brought nothing but death, destruction, displacement and despair. This is how the mad dream of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed Calipho or Caliph of the Islamic State comes to an end.

The subjects of the dying caliphate herded on to buses bound for already crowded camps further north, all illusions shattered.


HOWELL: Our senior international correspondent, Ben Wedeman, is now live with us. Ben, you shared so many stories. You've spoken with so many people. I'm curious to ask you of anything that stood out most to you during your conversations with people who endured so much hell.

WEDEMAN: I think what stood out most, George, was these two Canadian women, both of whom didn't really regret that they had come and lived in the Islamic caliphate and didn't seem to be overly concerned about what happened while they were there.

It seemed that they were sort of -- spent most of their time holed up in their homes, neither of them really spoke any Arabic, and they were living in their own little world where they said their husbands would bring them everything they needed and they never really had to go out. And they were unrepentant in terms of their commitment to the concept of an Islamic state. George?

HOWELL: Some people don't get it until it affects them, I suppose, Ben. Ben Wedeman live for us. Ben, thank you for the reporting. We'll be right back after the break.


ALLEN: Welcome back. The Pentagon is sending 250 active duty troops at the U.S. border with Mexico. That is on top of 500 Texas trooper sent by the state's governor. Some 1,800 migrant are waiting on the Mexican side of the border.

HOWELL: They are hoping to cross in the United States near Eagle Pass, Texas in order to seek asylum. Most of those in the caravan came from Honduras, others from Guatemala, and El Salvador. Our Martin Savidge has details now.


[03:40:10] MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Eagle Pass isn't exactly the quintessential sleepy American town on the Mexican border, but it usually is pretty quiet and they've never seen anything like they're seeing right now play out. It is an international standoff.

On one side, the American side, you got this huge build-up of security forces. And then on the other side, the Mexico side, you've got this migrant caravan of roughly 1,800 people, 800 of which are said to be women and children that are now waiting to try to come across, and in most cases, it is believed to seek asylum in the United States.

This all began on Monday, when the migrant caravan was actually bust in, according to local authorities by the Mexican government, 51 buses to be exact. And now those migrants are being held just across the Rio Grande, which is the border here in a warehouse, an empty one and being fed three times a day and they're being protected, guarded, overseen by the Mexican federal police.

This is something we haven't seen before in these kinds of caravans coming north. And the question now is, how will that asylum process begin? Well, we know that this is really a very small crossing point. They can only handle, they claimed, Customs Border and Protection on the U.S. side, 16 to 20 people a day.

You don't have to be an Albert Einstein to do the math to realize 1,800 people it's going to take about six months. And the worry is, the frustration, the anger, the waiting will eventually drive many of those migrants to consider storming across the border.

Hence, while there is this very large security build-up on the American side of the border. It includes about 2,000 law enforcement and in addition, 250 federal active military troops. How this plays out? No one really knows, but they're watching very carefully.

Martin Savidge, CNN, Eagle Pass, Texas.


HOWELL: Martin, thank you. U.S. House Democrats are attempting to tackle climate change in what they're calling their Green New Deal resolution. It covers issues related to clean energy programs and the creation of new jobs.

ALLEN: But as Miguel Marquez reports, it probably won't ever be passed as a bill, but it could have an impact.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: I'm so incredibly excited that we are going to transition this country in to the future.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The transition Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is talking about is her first piece of legislation, a nonbinding resolution, the Green New Deal. It goes beyond climate change, way beyond.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Today is a day that we truly embark on a comprehensive agenda of economic, social and racial justice in the United States of America.

MARQUEZ: Surrounded by House and Senate veterans, the freshman Democrat from New York took center stage.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, do you want me --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You go, yes, please.

MARQUEZ: The same resolution being introduced in the Senate by Ed Markey from Massachusetts, elected to Congress 13 years before Ocasio- Cortez was born.

SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We now have the troops. We now have the money. We are ready to fight.

MARQUEZ: The resolution just 14 pages long by some estimates could cost trillions, calls for a revolution in the way we live. Viewing climate change as an existential threat to the entire world, fire, drought, rising sea levels, increasingly violent storms, famine and mass migrations is what we face they warned if radical change isn't embraced now.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: We're here to say that small incremental policy solutions are not enough.

MARQUEZ: The Green New Deal calls for a 10 year national mobilization, the goal in one short decade to bring greenhouse gas emissions to zero, meet 100 percent of energy needs by renewable sources, overhaul transportation systems, create millions of high paying jobs, bring equality in healthcare and equal justice for underserved minority and impoverished communities.

REP. JOHN SHIMKUS (R), ILLINOIS: We should be open to the fact that well transfer schemes suggested in the radical policies like the Green New Deal may not be the best path to community prosperity.

MARQUEZ: Other Republican said, the plan sounded more like communist economic doctrine. House Speaker Democrat Nancy Pelosi first seemed to throw cold water on the idea, calling it the green dream while talking to Politico, then she changed her tune.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I welcome Green New Deal and any other proposals that people had out there.

MARQUEZ: The Green New Deal could divide progressive and centrist Democrats. 2020 hopefuls Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirstjen Gillibrand support the resolution. But will it fly with the party's center?

[03:45:03] PAUL BLEDSOE, PROGRESSIVE POLICY INSTITUTE: The Democrats have to stay united on climate change to face down Donald Trump's climate nihilism (ph). I think we can do that. We can't let resolutions like this divide us.

MARQUEZ: Now, it is worth underscoring that this is a resolution. It does not have the force of law, even if it is passed by the House of Representatives but not likely to get through the Senate and certainly the president isn't likely to sign it either.

But there are members of the House and Senate talking about specific pieces of legislation to bring the Green New Deal into effect, at least in parts or in whole. But as they say, the devil is in the details. Back to you.


ALLEN: Let's talk more about this with Miranda Green, she is a Congressional reporter for The Hill, she did not change her last name just for this interview. Her name is Miranda Green. Thank you Miranda, how are you?

MIRANDA GREEN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE HILL: Thanks for having me. I'm doing well.

ALLEN: Yes, thanks for coming in. Well, right off the bat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday indicating that this might be some pie in the sky, here she is. This is a quote. "It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions that we receive. The green dream or whatever they call it, nobody knows what it is, but they're for it, right?"

Does that kind a knock it down a notch what AOC and her colleagues are proposing?

GREEN: Well, I wouldn't say that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or any of the co-sponsors of this resolution would say that it did anything to knock down the power of this. Introducing this resolution today on Capitol Hill, they wanted to really enforce the fact that this is a historical moment.

Not only is this one of the largest pieces of legislation, it's a resolution that kind of calls for an ambitious goal of bringing United States to using a 100 percent renewable energy for its electric grid by 2030. But it also calls on a bunch of different issues that Democrats are hoping that they will see in this Congress.

This is the first time that Democrats are in a position of power where they can actually try to work on legislation to try to bring climate change to the forefront for the first time in eight years. And so, while Nancy Pelosi's comments might have been seen as kind of putting them in their place or taking away some of the legitimacy of the Green New Deal, they would argue that, you know, why old best might seem ambitious, it is also important to be innovative in this moment and that is a start. ALLEN: I was listening to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez talk about this on

public radio this morning. She didn't really say how this is going to transpire. So, how in a practical sets is this different from former measures to get renewable energy at the forefront and push back on dirty polluting oil? The goal is ambitious, 10 years to carbon neutral in the United States.

GREEN: Right. So, this is just a nonbinding resolution. So, it is not a bill. This is not something that can be voted on and eventually become a law. What is important here is to see that Democrats are coming together and trying to come up with ideas on how to address this really big issue.

And it is an issue that lawmakers and Democrats and Progressives say that not only Republicans haven't been touching on but also Democratic lawmakers haven't been doing enough. And so, Ocasio Cortez, her argument here is that while this kind of seems like an all- encompassing bill, the resolution itself talks about bringing clean water, transitioning to clean transportation, moving away from airplanes. It talks about wanting to bring family farming.

I mean, it really does kind of sounds, when you get into the nitty gritty of it, a bit of a wish list. But her argument here is that this is just where you start. You start with a conversation running and this is how Democrats can then take from this gold list and then bring in important bills and try to pass legislation through the House.

ALLEN: Right, because she even admitted. Look, she was asked point blank, do you have power? She laugh and goes no. I don't have any power yet, I'm just coming in here. So, the question is, can this proposal with clean energy get momentum? Can it be a road map to cut into polluting energy and get things done?

GREEN: I would say it already has. I mean, while Ocasio-Cortez is still a freshman lawmaker, and of course, she is going to laugh and say she has no power, it is mesmerizing to see how much she has done to bring this issue to the forefront in such a short period of time.

She was just brought into Congress, became a lawmaker at the beginning of this month, yet no one knew what the Green New Deal was two months ago. The second thought, the midterms were over, we started hearing about this push to try to bring a special select committee to Congress to deal with this issue and now we have this resolution.

So, while she herself can't bring this bill forward and while obviously Democrats are still going to face opposition with Republican leaders, and the House, and then if they, of course, pass anything through they sought to deal with the Senate.

[03:50:00] It sounds a lot to show that America now knows what this issue is. And it shows that Democrats really do care about tackling climate change which, of course, is something that many people are fearful of what will happen if we don't address it as soon as possible. ALLEN: Right, this issue has been up time and time and time again. And this country has not acted on it. So, we will see what AOC can do with it. We really appreciate your insights. Miranda Green for us. Thanks so much, Miranda.

GREEN: Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead, award season is in full swing and the movie, The Favorite, is among the favorites this year and it's just one of the films about women that are having so much success. Stay with us.


ALLEN: While in India, a new way to see the Seven Wonders of the World.

HOWELL: They don't exactly match the official structures, but as our Nikhil Kumar shows us, they come with a strong message on recycling and environmental awareness.


NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI'S BUSINESS CHIEF: What could be better than staring at a Paris icon in the morning light? Except this isn't Paris and this isn't New York. And this isn't real. It is New Delhi and this being in India, of course, there's a Taj Mahal.

Seven local artists have turned a former landfill into a park. And they use scrap metal to create replicas of famous international landmarks. They're billing it as the Seven Wonders of the World.

ZAKIR KHAN, ARTIST WHO RECREATED STATUE OF LIBERTY (through translator): Delhi generates a lot of scrap, especially from vehicles. The local corporation's plan was to transfer scrap from bad places to good places and to spread awareness.

KUMAR: The park is part of the government's Clean India Project. And as well as recycling metal and creating a new green space, the park is also using clean energy. It's all part of a plan to get people thinking about environmental awareness and recycling.

RHAM KUMAR, ARTIST WHO RECREATED LEANING TOWER OF PISA (through translator): The local corporation is part of a good idea and sure does this place. And they asked us to make the replica of seven wonders here.

KUMAR: In addition to the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel tower, the Statue of Liberty, and the statue of Christ the redeemer, the park also has replicas of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and the Coliseum. Oh, and this cute little guy in a tree, just because.

Nikhil Kumar, CNN, New Delhi.


HOWELL: That is smart and effective. ALLEN: I like that, yes.

HOWELL: Very cool. So we are in the middle of the entertainment award season with the Britain's BAFTA on Sunday and the Oscars in a couple of weeks.

ALLEN: Well, women are being snubbed from the Director category at both awards, but films about women are finding success. Here's Nick Glass with that.


NICK GLASS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Another Sunday and yet another flawing flock for Lady Gaga. The awards season began what seems like a lifetime ago, way back in early November. And we, the media, do seem to obsess about the styling and the props. Demand for wardrobe change is unremitting.

The season's leading actresses would never dream in turning up in the same outfit they wore last Sunday. A lot of thought and effort goes into every single appearance. But something rather more profound is also going on this year beyond the red carpet looks, movies about women are being celebrated.

[03:55:04] Roma, directed by the Mexican Alfonso Cuaron, is a semi- autobiographical film about how he was brought up by his nanny. Substantially, a story of women deserted by their men, one of them a domestic servant.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way the characters started to be close to our own lives was something really magical. I live along with my child and with the woman that helped me raise him and that is my little small family. So, I think, this is really moving for women that have had to stand alone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't do it anymore. I can't take the humiliation.

GLASS: As this title suggests, Glenn Close is absolutely the central character in The Wife, a woman who spent a lifetime playing second fiddle to her novelist husband, as her performance has already brought her multiple awards.

GLENN CLOSE, OSCAR NOMINEE, THE WIFE: We're getting the point where women are taking control and nurturing stories that will give them good roles themselves and other good roles for women.

GLASS: Another Hollywood reporter round table just for actresses, she elaborated further on her movie.

CLOSE: It's two women writers, a novelist and a screenwriter, and co- starring a woman editor, the costume designer. So, to me that was amazing serendipities timing, but it is a fact that it took 14 years to make. GLASS: The Favorite took even longer to reach the big screen, 20 years in the making. Two women courtiers fight for the favor of the British queen in the early 1700s, a rare movie with three women in the central roles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dear friend, how good to see you returned from power. I'm sure it you be pass her, one day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Young girls growing up can see stories being told where a woman takes a central role, but she is not peripheral to the story, she is driving the story and say you as a kid could go, oh, that is me.

GLASS: This year as it happens, there are more female Oscar nominees than before, although some way of parity with the men. As was evident from the annual photo call, still only about a quarter of the nominees are women. As the Oscar president put it, of course, we need to do better.

Nick Glass, CNN, London.


ALLEN: Go girls. Thanks for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues after the break.