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Hearings, Investigations, Rallies and Rhetoric in the U.S.' Divided Government; 2020 Candidates on the Campaign Trail; Elizabeth Warren Enters Race for the White House; U.S.-Backed Forces Assault Last ISIS Enclave in Syria; U.S.-Backed Forces Assault Last ISIS Enclave in Syria; Venezuelan Leaders Urged to End Standoff over Humanitarian Aid; Virginians Split on Governor's Future; Male Tiger Kills Prospective Mate at First Meeting; Duke of Edinburgh Voluntarily Surrenders Driving License; Grammys and BAFTAs to Honor Best in Entertainment. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired February 10, 2019 - 05:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): As U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle work to negotiate border wall funding, President Trump deals with the harsh realities of a divided government.

And also ahead this hour, a CNN exclusive report from the front line in Eastern Syria where U.S.-backed forces have lost an assault on the last ISIS enclave in that country.

And later, the entertainment awards season is in full swing, with women front and center at the Grammys and the BAFTAs. We'll go live for a chit-chat about that.

Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: Thank you again for joining us.

If the past few days is any indicator, the next two years of divided government in Washington will be a doozy. Consider this: the acting attorney general, in what some would call a contentious hearing and what some others would call a partisan circus. And that is just the beginning of the hearings and investigations on the horizon.

Then there is the new focus on climate change. For example, the green new deal, unveiled by a veteran lawmaker from Massachusetts and a young congresswoman from New York, whom the Right has in their crosshairs.

Add to that the already long line of Democrats taking on the president in the 2020 campaign. Lest we forget, immigration: President Trump will hold a rally in El Paso, Texas, Monday to make his case yet again for a border wall. And the clock is ticking again toward yet another government shutdown.

That is because President Trump and lawmakers have a Friday deadline to make a deal about border security.

Mr. Trump still wants $5.7 billion for his wall on the border with Mexico but so far bipartisan negotiators have proposed less than half that.

Mr. Trump tweeted, "Dems just don't seem to want border security. They look to be making this a campaign issue. The wall will get built one way or the other."

Well, no matter what, they need to agree on something or the federal government could shut down again next week. And as the political standoff heats up, there is a physical standoff at the border.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers with razor wire and traffic barriers are facing a caravan of about 1,800 migrants at the Rio Grande River. They want to enter the United States. CNN's Martin Savidge is in Texas, watching it all go down.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Texas town of Eagle Pass has been invaded. Thousands of federal, state and local authorities, even military personnel have flooded this usually quiet community on the banks of the Rio Grande.

SAVIDGE: Look at that. It's a combination of Customs and Border Protection vehicles and Texas State Troopers. They are all lined up, literally, side by side, all nose facing towards Mexico.

And then if you take a look across the Rio Grande on the other side of the border, just recently, we've seen this. Mexican authorities now lined up, facing exactly the opposite direction.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Eagle Pass's mayor is grateful but also a bit taken aback.

RAMSEY ENGLISH CANTU, EAGLE PASS MAYOR: We are extremely appreciative of the work that they do but this is something that is unprecedented.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Law enforcement patrolling vehicles on ATVs, bicycles, even horseback. Helicopters monitored from above while high powered air boats prowl the shallow water of the Rio Grande.

The security surge is in response to the arrival of a caravan of 1,800 Central American migrants just on the other side of the border, said to have their sights on seeking U.S. asylum.

President Trump has declared such caravans a national security threat and uses them to justify a border wall, painting asylum seekers as invaders, something he did again in his State of the Union speech.

TRUMP: As we speak, large organized caravans are on the march to the United States. SAVIDGE (voice-over): Federal authorities appear a potential repeat of last November's chaos near San Diego, when tear gas was used to drive back migrants rushing the border area. Thursday, Border Patrol agents rehearsed in riot gear on one of the town's two public bridges to Mexico. Bridge defenses are being beefed up.

PAUL DEL RINCON, PORT DIRECTOR, EAGLE PASS: Part of our preparations include insulation of temporary impediment measures on our bridges such as commix boxes, concertina wire and jersey barriers.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): So far authorities say no caravan members have crossed illegally into the U.S. Local leaders credit not just the American show of force but also a new stepped-up effort by the Mexican government, using its military and national police to keep caravan members under control.

But processing 1,800 asylum seekers will take months.

SAVIDGE: This isn't going to be a short-term thing.

RINCON: It doesn't seem like it. It doesn't seem like it . But we stand committed. My officers stand committed.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): No one in Eagle Pass can tell you when or even how this international showdown will end -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Eagle Pass, Texas.


ALLEN: Immigration, border security certainly to be an issue for the next presidential election. And Democrats are lining up to take on President Trump. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren officially kicked off her campaign Saturday.

And on Sunday, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar will join the race. And it is already a --


ALLEN: -- crowded field. Look at that. At this moment, 11 people have either announced their candidacy or formed exploratory committees. And that doesn't count those still thinking about jumping in.

Of that list, Senator Warren, who still faces criticism for claiming Native American heritage. She did officially announce her bid for 2020 Saturday and her message of tackling corruption and protecting the middle class resonated with the packed crowd. Our MJ Lee was there.


MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Elizabeth Warren is now a candidate for President of the United States. And if you listen to her speech, you've heard her say one word over and over again and that word was "fight." And this is going to be so fundamental to her candidacy and her

campaign, this idea that people need to come together to fight and take on a rigged system. And as much as she talked about fighting, I have to note that there was mention of unity and bringing the country together and healing when she said that there is simply no room for bigotry in the White House. Take a listen to what she said.


WARREN: Whether it is white people against black people, straight people against gay people, middle class families against new immigrant families, the story is the same. The rich and powerful use fear to divide us.

We're done with that.


WARREN: Bigotry has no place in the Oval Office.


WARREN: This is who we are. We come from different backgrounds, different religions, different languages, different experiences. We have different dreams. We are passionate about different issues and we feel the urgency of this moment in different ways.

But today, today, we come together, ready to raise our voices together until this fight is won.


LEE: Her speech also offered us a pretty good blueprint of the policy positions that are most important to her. And I have to say no surprises there because these are the issues that she has talked about so consistently, even over the last month after she announced her exploratory campaign on New Year's Eve.

Just to tick off a couple from the list, her anti-corruption bill taking on Wall Street, her support for Medicare for All and her support for the green new deal as well. And, of course, there is also the proposal to tax the rich, which she just unveiled last month.

Now I was also trying to count the number of times she actually said the word "Trump" in her long speech. And it was only twice, when she was talking about the fact that she believes this is the most corrupt administration in living memory.

However, even though she was reticent to say the word Trump in her speech, make no mistake, this was a drawing of contrasts between herself and the president of the United States and this, of course, will be what we see over the next couple months as more Democrats jump into the race. How candidates can stand out and make that case for being the best candidate that takes on President Trump.


Senator Warren is, as you might know, one of President Trump's favorite targets. And he made note of her announcement with this tweet.

"Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to me as Pocahontas, joined the race for president. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate? Or has she decided that after 32 years this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign trail, Liz."

Scott Lucas is joining me from Birmingham, England, professor of international politics at the University of Birmingham and founder and editor of "EA WorldView."

Always good to see you, Scott. It looks like the gloves are off. President Trump still doing what he likes to do to Elizabeth Warren. She has taken some hits for the Native American situation but she certainly did come out running and was quite feisty and articulate in her launch.

What do you make of it?

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Well, Natalie, let's contrast what happened yesterday. That is Elizabeth Warren staked her candidacy for president by talking about women's rights, by talking about workers' rights, by talking about the environment, by talking about dealing with corruption and special interests.

In other words raising a whole range of issue that are of concern to Americans. Donald Trump's response was not to talk about the issues, not even to talk about Warren's record but to issue a tweet which was racist, which joked about the mass killing of Native Americans.

You will notice in that tweet it said "TRAIL" in all caps, a reference to the Trail of Tears. He does a contrast that all of us have in trying to cover this, including the media.


LUCAS: Do you actually try to cover the issues amongst not only Warren but the many Democratic candidates emerge?

Or do you let Trump take the initiative by trying to degrade and denigrate those Democrats as well as degrading and denigrating, for example, Native Americans or women or other groups, if he thinks that he can grab the news cycle with it?

ALLEN: Yes, we certainly have heard from Native Americans on what they think of how the president treats that situation.

You mentioned other women. And there are other women who are going to run for president. Kamala Harris is also in, from California; senator Amy Klobuchar may announce today, Sunday. It is a diverse field so far. But as you can see, is there a rock star candidate, Scott?

LUCAS: No, there's no leading candidate but I think that is actually a good thing. That is when you have this diversity of candidates, not only women but, of course, men for example, Cory Booker, who has announced, when you have a diversity of people from different ethnic and minority backgrounds, different experience, different range of ages, you will get a debate on issues, you will get a debate which raises a lot of questions that we don't necessarily agree on but we need to discuss, from the environment, to the economy to foreign policy.

I think if you simply have a rock star Democrat, it becomes a question of personality. As we saw in 2016, when Hillary Clinton was the frontrunner, what would I rather have, a competition of spectacle and celebrity like we had in 2016?

Or a number of people, 10, 15, 20, who actually try to get us into a realistic discussion on what we need to do as Americans in the years ahead?

ALLEN: Scott, I want to add, that spectacle, that celebrity won.

So my question is, remember Michelle Obama, "When they go low, we go high," how do you campaign, how does somebody here who will prevail campaign against Donald Trump?

LUCAS: Well, just in my opinion, and that is a great question, I think we had a spectacle of division in 2016 and I think we've had a spectacle of division since then, us versus them, men versus women, United States against the world, even against its own allies, often in terms which are insulting, which are just tearing us all down.

How we counter that?

With a spectacle of decency. Yes, you have rallies and big events. That's how you gather publicity. But you do it by being decent in your language, decent in your policies and decent in your respect for others.

ALLEN: Decency, that's not a bad word to end on. Scott, we always appreciate your insights. Thank you.

LUCAS: Thank you.

ALLEN: From the air and on the ground, ISIS is under attack in its last Syrian stronghold.


ALLEN (voice-over): We have an exclusive report. We'll be live from near the front lines with our Ben Wedeman coming up here.

Also critical foreign aid, there it is just sitting there. It is for the people of Venezuela but it is not moving. We'll have more about that. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. (END VIDEO CLIP)





ALLEN: We have a CNN exclusive for you now. ISIS facing another major defeat. On Saturday, U.S.-backed forces launched an assault on the terror's group last enclave in Syria. It's a small town near the Iraqi border. Just a few years ago, ISIS controlled a self-declared caliphate across much of Iraq and Syria.

Its territory in those countries may be down now to just a few square kilometers. Our Ben Wedeman is on the ground covering this battle in Eastern Syria and he joins me live with the latest.

Ben, we appreciate you and your crew joining us at this time. We've heard that on Saturday ISIS was putting up little resistance.

What are anti-ISIS forces saying now?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we've seen is the day began with massive explosions as coalition aircraft pounded targets to the eastern part of the town behind me.

Speaking with Syrian Democratic Forces commanders here, they are telling us that they are indeed running into more resistance today than they did overnight. They say one of the problems they are encountering is that ISIS has built an extensive network of tunnels and that they are sort of popping up in one house and then going through the tunnels to another house.

So it is very hard to pin them down, so to speak, despite these really constant airstrikes that are going on.

And we do know that the SDF has taken casualties; two of their fighters were killed when a rocket, a missile, hit a building just about 300 meters up the road from me. And there were casualties as well. So it does appear that the resistance is increasing in this second day of the battle.

ALLEN: And Ben, you've been covering this for many years now and we always know that civilians get caught in the middle. There may be 1,000 in that town.

What do you know about what is being done to try to protect them?

WEDEMAN: Well, Natalie, the fact is that we really don't have a clear idea of how many civilians are in the town. For days now we've been told that there were 1,500 civilians. But what we have seen is that every dozen some (ph) up to 200 people have been able to flee the town behind me. But speaking with one of the civilians who managed to flee from there

yesterday, they told us that there are still many, many civilians inside. Now what is being done, there was a pause in the fighting for well over a week, in which it was hoped that as many civilians as possible could get out.

But it appears that, despite this pause, there are still many civilians left inside. We have no idea how what means they have to protect themselves. But certainly given the level of airstrikes and bombardment with mortar and artillery it's going to be a very difficult and danger was situation for the civilians left inside this town behind me.

ALLEN: All right. We'll continue to follow it. Thank you, Ben Wedeman, we really appreciate it.

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro is still not allowing foreign aid into his country to help citizens. He has imposed a blockade on a border bridge that connects to neighboring Colombia, where the supplies are stockpiled.

But at a nearby pedestrian crossing Saturday, a group of Venezuelans gathered to protest the president's blockade.


ARGENIS PALMA, VENEZUELAN CITIZEN (through translator): I ask Mr. Nicolas Maduro to, please, put hand on your heart for all of us. The aid isn't for you. It's for us and we need you to understand it and to soften your heart, Mr. President. With all due respect, Venezuela needs the aid. We need help.


ALLEN: Mr. Guaido, the Venezuelan opposition leader, also calling on Maduro to end the blockade. He says rejecting aid could be considered --


ALLEN: -- a crime against humanity. As Stefano Pozzebon reports for us, both leaders being urged to find a solution for the sake of all of those in need.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. There is not a solution in sight yet for the humanitarian aid stalemate on the Colombian-Venezuelan border.

Meanwhile here in Caracas, aid workers urge both sides to stop politicizing the issue and saying that the aid should be allowed into the country, because a lot of people are desperately in need.

We were able to speak with the president of the International Red Cross Federation, Francesco Rocca. His presence here in the capital of Venezuela in CAS is itself a sign of how serious the situation is for the Venezuelan citizen and how serious the conditions are for most Venezuelans. This is what he said about the issue of the aid.


FRANCESCO ROCCA, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS/RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES: I would like to see this kind of respect for the humanitarian aid. I would like to really, I hope that both sides will clear the table from this kind of discussion, talking about a lot of aspects that must be fixed in this country.


POZZEBON: Rocca urged both sides to clean the table and allowing the aid -- and allow the aid to be properly managed, because both sides are saying that they're working for the best and the good of the people.

But as long as there is no political solution found and the two sides don't find common ground to show to each other, it really seems that even aid has become a political issue -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Caracas.


ALLEN: And that aid is so much needed. Countless people in Venezuela face a daily battle with hunger. And as their desperation increases, some are also changing their political allegiances. CNN's Sam Kiley reports from one of the poorest neighborhoods in Caracas.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Petare, a slum, home to about 750,000 of Venezuela's poorest people. These locals have little yet they know of others much worse off, of children who face starvation if no one helps. So they do volunteering to cook donated food.

It seems incredible in an oil-rich nation such as Venezuela that you would have therapeutic feeding centers and this is one of dozens just in this one barrier alone. This small bowl of rice and beans is the only meal these children are going to get each day.

Three million Venezuelans have fled this country, food is rationed and in short supply.

ISABEL BLANCO, FOOD CENTER VOLUNTEER (through translator): Here, for one to eat, it's become difficult. Sometimes I even can't get food for one.

KILEY: These slums used to support President Nicolas Maduro who's blocking aid being brought in by his rival, Juan Guaido. Guaido is recognized as president by the U.S. and many other nations. Now the barriers are hotbeds of descent.

Marvelys is a soup kitchen volunteer. We meet in secret. Her cousin campaigned against Maduro and paid a heavy price for it. And after we return from an opposition rally, the special forces were looking for him. They had seen his video, Marvelys says.

MARVELYS PAREDES, COUSIN OF JHONNY GODOY (through translator): He came out with his hands up and they take him up the stairs. You hear a first shot. You hear a first shot and you can hear him pleading with them not to kill him. They go further up and you hear a second shot. One of the neighbors then saw how they put a cloth in his mouth and killed him. They suffocated him.

KILEY: Amid widespread criminal murder and political killings, the government has said nothing about Jhonny's death. He's become just another reason for Venezuelans to leave -- Sam Kiley, CNN, Petare, Caracas.


ALLEN: What a waste of a life there in Venezuela.



ALLEN: The crowded field of Democrats looking to take on President Trump in 2020 just got everyone even more crowded. When we come back, why the candidates may want to carpool on the campaign trail.

Also, Virginia's defiant lieutenant governor fights for his job as one of his accusers says she is ready to testify. We sort through the chaos in the state of Virginia.





ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers all around the world. We appreciate you watching CNN NEWSROOM. Here are our headlines.


ALLEN: The scandal involving Virginia governor Ralph Northam seems to have divided residents of his state. According to a "Washington Post"/George Mason University poll, Virginians who were surveyed are split, 47 percent each, about whether he should stay in office or resign.

Most respondents say they were offended by the racist photo that appeared on his medical school yearbook page.

And the man who would take Northam's place has his own troubles. One of the two women saying who has accused lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault says she will testify if there are impeachment hearings.

But in a statement Saturday, Fairfax called his encounters with his accusers "consensual." For more, here is CNN's Kaylee Hartung.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Justin Fairfax has taken a leave of absence from his law firm. He's no longer the chairman of the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association but he's still lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, refusing to step down amidst allegations of sexual assault that have been brought against him by two different women.

Now Virginia's Democratic leaders and lawmakers are very widely calling for his resignation. A joint statement by Virginia's Democratic legislators here in Richmond say they acknowledge that he is owed due process.

But they say given the serious nature of the allegations, they no longer believe he can fulfill the duties of lieutenant governor and he needs to address all of this as a private citizen.

The one prominent Democrat we can name who is not calling for Fairfax's resignation is the governor, Ralph Northam, who is embroiled in his own controversy. He gave his first interview since that racist photo was uncovered on February 1st to "The Washington Post" on Saturday.

And he said, quote, "It must take tremendous courage for women to step forward and talk about being the victims of sexual assault. These allegations are horrific, they need to be taken seriously.

"Lieutenant governor Fairfax has suggested and called for an investigation. I strongly support that."

Fairfax calling for an investigation say it will clear his name but maintaining all the while he will not resign. If he doesn't resign by Monday, though, there is one member of Virginia's house of delegates, a Democrat, who says he will introduce those articles of impeachment before the legislature. By no means would that mean that a vote on his impeachment would be imminent but it is undoubtedly a threat that Fairfax is hearing.


ALLEN: Kaylee Hartung reporting for us. We'll continue to follow it.

Amid fallout over her claims of Native American heritage, the senior senator from Massachusetts though is now officially running for president.



ALLEN (voice-over): Elizabeth Warren, that is her on Saturday, launching the campaign for the White House 2020.

WARREN: This is the fight of our lives, the fight to build an America where dreams are possible, an America that works for everyone.


WARREN: And that is why I stand here today to declare that I am a candidate for President of the United States of America.


ALLEN: Democratic hopefuls are fanning out all across the country. Iowa will be the first state to vote in 2020. Its caucuses will be next February 3rd. But Elizabeth Warren will be there Sunday and New Jersey senator Cory Booker, also running, is there now.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-N.J.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I plan on crisscrossing the state. Nobody is going to work harder in the state of Iowa than I will. I'll do longer days. I will do more events. I'm just going to really work hard.

I think the people of Iowa deserve to have presidential candidates try to reach out and I'll do as much as I can possible to meet every single person, shake as many hands as I can, have as many conversation, roundtables. I'm just really looking forward to earning Iowans' respect and I'm willing to go talk to them.


ALLEN: Cory Booker there. He heads to South Carolina Sunday and he may run into New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand; she is already there. She hasn't officially announced she is running yet but that is not stopping her from campaigning.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-N.Y.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will take on institutional racism. I will take on the health care system, where black women today in New York City are 12 times more likely to die in childbirth.

I will take up institutional racism in our health care, in our education system, where black women today have the highest debt of any other group of people in America because they don't have enough money to go to school. They take on loans.

And because of the lack of equal pay in this country -- and they only make 68 cents on a dollar for a white man -- they have a hard time paying back that debt. So it holds them back.


ALLEN: Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro also announcing his candidacy on "THE VAN JONES SHOW" here at CNN. He talked what it would mean to be the first Latino U.S. president.


JULIAN CASTRO (D-TEXAS), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that there is a special meaning for the Latino community that I'm running for president. You know, I know that there are a lot of parents out there who can tell their little boy or little girl hey, look, you can do it because he's doing it.

At the same time, I've always believed that whenever you serve in office, you have to serve everybody. And so I'm proud of my background. I do think that there will be -- my candidacy but I'm also aware that I have to have policy proposals and a vision that includes everybody.


ALLEN: A new headline from the royal family: the Duke of Edinburgh is known as a fast driver -- until now. Ahead here, why Prince Philip is slamming the brakes on his time behind the wheel.





ALLEN: An attempt to breed two endangered Sumatran tigers has ended tragically. Zookeepers say the male, named Asim, attacked killed its perspective mate, she was called Melati. At the London Zoo on Friday, handlers had high hopes when they earlier put

the pair into adjoining cages.

Their introduction seemed to go well until the animals were brought together. And that is when the male lunged and mauled the female. Zoo workers separated the tigers but it was too late to save her. Again, the Sumatran tiger is critically endangered.

Buckingham Palace says the Duke of Edinburgh has voluntarily given up his driver's license but prosecutors are considering whether to bring charges against 97-year-old Prince Philip after he was involved in this car crash here that injured two people last month.

Our Anna Stewart is following this story for us.

Anna, hello to you. First of all, why now is there talk of charges against the prince?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a little over three weeks now since this accident and the police investigated it like any other car accident. And now they have made the decision to pass that file on to the CPS, the crown prosecution service. And they will decide whether or not to bring a charge here. Now if they were to do that, the most likely one is the charge of

driving without due care and consideration, which can ultimately result in a fine. It can also result in other cases in points off your license or even disqualification but Prince Philip has now agreed to voluntarily give up his license.

That will be taken into consideration as to whether they bring charges.

A woman involved in the car crash, Emma Fairweather, who broke her wrist, spoke to the "Sunday Mirror" and says that he is making the most sensible decision he can but she did say perhaps it has come a bit late.

And Prince Philip has come under a lot of criticism here. It would have been a very difficult decision for him. He values his independence and is also a very keen driver.

ALLEN: And if he were to be charged, how unusual would it be to bring a charge against a member of the royal family?

STEWART: Of course it is not an everyday occurrence that this sort of thing happens but not unheard of, either. Prince Philip's daughter, Princess Anne, has been involved in a number of speeding offenses over the years. In 1990, a court banned her from driving for one month.

She was also convicted of a criminal offense more recently in 2002, after her dog attacked two children in a park. So it is not unheard of. The royal family are not above the law, apart from Her Majesty the Queen, who actually is.

ALLEN: She is the one. All right. Anna Stewart, following that one for us, we'll wait and see what happens with Prince Philip. Thank you.

We're getting a sneak peek at a royal garden. Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, has teamed up with two landscape artists for what is being called the Back to Nature Garden. It will be part of the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London held every year in May.

The duchess' garden aims to show how nature improves human well-being.

We're kind of all connected, aren't we?

It will feature a treehouse, a swing, a campfire, a waterfall; some of the plants will be edible.

Women will take center stage at two major awards shows this Sunday. Next, we preview the Grammys and the BAFTAs.






ALLEN: For the past few weeks we've been focusing on all the actors for awards in Hollywood but tonight it is time for the singers and the musicians. For the 61st Grammy Awards that will be handed out. And our Stephanie Elam reports, women have a good shot.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Cardi B and her monster jam to Brandi Carlile and her evocative vocals, women are front and center in the big Grammy categories.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is momentum behind them based on what happened last year, the lack of female representation in the winners, the lack of female representation in the industry.

ELAM (voice-over): While the main categories were expanded from five nominees to eight, the most nominated artists are still men.

Kendrick Lamar is up for eight Grammys, followed closely by Drake with seven nominations. The four of them are up against each other for album of the year, along with H.E.R, Janelle Monae, Kacey Musgraves and Post Malone.

JEM ASWAD, "VARIETY": Hip-hop, R&B and pop are so big that it seems likely that those categories will carry every major award.


ELAM (voice-over): Post Malone's "Rock Star" is also up for two Grammys, including record of the year. And while Post is expected to perform, he will likely have to do it without 21 Savage, who is featured on the hit song. British foreign Savage was taken into ICE custody a week before the Grammys. Officials say he is in the country illegally.

Other contenders for record of the year are Zedd, Maren Morris and Grey for "The Middle;" Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper's "Shallow" from "A Star Is Born" and Childish Gambino's ...


ASWAD: I feel like if there is one song that captured the zeitgeist for 2018 in both the best and the worst ways, it's "This is America." You have got that incredible video with so much meaning.

ELAM (voice-over): Hosting this year, a woman with 15 Grammys of her own, Alicia Keys.

ASWAD: She is exactly the right person. On the one hand, you very much have the establishment but, on the other, she has got hip-hop in her blood. ELAM (voice-over): More women on stage and among the nominees. And perhaps more female Grammy winners -- Stephanie Elam, CNN, Hollywood.


ALLEN: But wait, there is more. There is another ceremony, where women will be front and center, the prestigious BAFTA awards in the U.K., the British Academy of Film and Television Arts ceremony will recognize the year's top films and is seen as yet another precursor to the Oscars. "The Favourite," a film led by an ensemble of A-list actresses, is the top contender with 12 nominations.

Meanwhile "Roma," a film that follows the life of a housekeeper in Mexico City, is also expected to win big.

Other contenders include Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody," which has nine nominations.

One of our favorite guests to talk about things like this, Richard Fitzwilliams is here for a preview of the BAFTAs. He is a film commentator and joins us from London.

How are you, Richard?

RICHARD FITZWILLIAMS, ROYALTY COMMENTATOR: Hello. And it should be a fascinating night, particularly since Oscar voters cast their ballots in just two days. So what happens tonight at the BAFTAs could have an effect.

You're absolutely right; "The Favourite," a movie about Queen Anne, that is expected to win best picture.

But it faces tough competition from "Roma," which, as you mentioned, is a semi-autobiographical of his childhood, certain to win best foreign film, certain to win Best Director for him and could win best picture. It is expected to win at the Oscars, where the "A Star Is Born" star having faded.

ALLEN: Right. We have not seen them get out of their chair.

Well, Lady Gaga has gotten out of her chair once for best song. Perhaps Bradley Cooper has been stuck in that seat since the season has started.

And the other person that is expected to win is, of course, the star of "The Favourite," Olivia Colman. Tell us about her role here and how she did this in the film.

FITZWILLIAMS: What is so remarkable about Olivia Colman's Queen Anne is that she seems to inhabit the part. It is part comedy and yet part tragedy. You're torn between the very moods that she shows as someone who quite frankly is totally neurotic and emotionally so reliant on her lovers, both of whom, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, have got nominations for best supporting actress.

And the reason it is so gripping is that she invests the role with so much humanity. There is no question that she will win tonight.

Glenn Close certainly won't; she is certainly good in "The Wife" but it is a mediocre movie.

On the other hand, it looks as if that will win at the Oscars. But there's also Remy Malik, "Bohemian Rhapsody" he is the favorite, playing Freddy Mercury, and he's absolutely marvelous. There's an outside chance Christian Bale, who's a British actor, of course, could win for playing the monstrous vice president, Dick Cheney, in "Vice."

One thing is fascinating this evening though. BAFTA places great store on diversity. Three out of the 20 acting nominees are persons of color, which is a bit disappointing and rather low. There are no nominees in the best director category for women. That is something that is very regrettable.

You never really hear, with Lynn Ramsey helming it, should have been in that category. On the other hand, very encouragingly, out of the 20 acting nominees, seven of them play LGBT characters.

ALLEN: That is remarkable. Certainly is. We're all gaga over here about, you know, this season, when Hollywood --


ALLEN: -- rolls out the red carpet. We get to see what everyone is wearing.

How is it received there for the BAFTAs, what big to-do is it there for you?

FITZWILLIAMS: Oh, it is a tremendous evening and, of course, it has changed so much since 20 years ago; it was at the tail end of the awards ceremonies. And now they have changed not only the positioning, which is absolutely ideal, but also, I mean, there is the fashion aspect of it, there is the fact that it celebrates British cinema with a couple of special categories.

I suspect "Bohemian Rhapsody" might do rather well and "The Queen," of course, movies of that sort, I mean, one of the things with British movies is that -- one of the reasons "The Favourite" is likely to win is that there is this tradition in the BAFTAs.

We think back to "A Room with a View," "Howard's End," "Sense and Sensibility," "Shakespeare in Love" and then more recently "The Queen" and also "The King's Speech," movies which link with Britain's past are favorite stars, oh, indeed with royalty are, I think, movies that have the edge.

Equally we could have a very exciting best supporting actor contest between the Mahershala Ali as Don Shirley, the American classical pianist genius, and Richard E. Grant as the flamboyant bohemian, one in "Green Book," the other in "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"

That is still too close to call, as is best supporting actress. That is supposed to go to Rachel Weisz playing Sarah Churchill in "The Favourite." But Amy Adams has an outside chance for playing the vulpine wife, Lynne Cheney. So it will be fascinating.

ALLEN: We will be wanting to see it and we want to talk with you again afterwards perhaps. Thanks so much. We always appreciate your previews, Richard Fitzwilliams for us. Thank you, Richard.


ALLEN: And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen. For viewers in North America, "NEW DAY" is next. For everyone else "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is next.