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CNN NEWSROOM

Guaido: Country Has Collapsed after Major Blackouts; Brexit in Peril if PM's Deal Fails; India's General Election Will Be Held from April 11; My Freedom Day; Indonesian Accused Of Killing Kim Jong-nam Released; Search For Answers After Ethiopian Airlines Crash; Boeing Faces Safety Questions After Second Crash Of Brand New 737 Make Within Five Months; Ethiopia; U.S. Allies Again Attack Terrorists' Last Syria Enclave; CNNI On The Front Lines In Eastern Syria. Aired 1-2 ET

Aired March 11, 2019 - 01:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: A woman accused of killing the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is now free after prosecutors dropped the murder charge. We'll be live with the details.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Widespread grief over the deaths of 157 people after a flight crashes in Ethiopia. Now questions about the plane model, China and Ethiopia now grounding their entire fleet of Boeing 737 Max 8.

VANIER: And Venezuela's opposition leader plans to call for a state of emergency telling CNN that the ailing nation has "already collapsed." We're live from the CNN center here in Atlanta I'm Cyril -- I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen and this is CNN NEWSROOM.

VANIER: And we start with breaking news in the murder trial of Kim Jong-un's half-brother. Siti Aisyah, an Indonesian woman who was accused of the 2017 killing of Kim Jong-nam walked free on Monday. The lawyer said it was unclear why prosecutors will not pursue the case against her.

ALLEN: Charges against a Vietnamese national remain. Prosecutors accused the two women of exposing Kim Jong-nam to the deadly nerve agent VX as he entered a Kuala Lumpur Airport killing him within minutes.

VANIER: Ivan Watson is following this from Hong Kong. He's been covering this case from the beginning. Ivan, what are you learning?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, this is a pretty bombshell development here with the prosecutors in Malaysia dropping charges against one of these suspects, the Indonesian national Siti Aisyah. And we didn't really have quite an explanation of why this happened. We've just translated a statement from the Indonesian embassy in Kuala Lumpur saying that this was engineered according to Section 254 of the Criminal Code of Malaysia which I confess I haven't had time to look up just yet.

I think we have a sound bite from the lawyer for Siti Aisyah. I apologize, we don't have that right now, Cyril, but the end result of this is that one of the two suspects who have been detained in the aftermath of this unbelievable assassination that took place in Kuala Lumpur International Airport in February of 2017 of the half-brother of North Korea's dictator it was conducted allegedly with VX nerve agent that one of the two suspects has now been released and is expected to return to Jakarta back to Indonesia within a short period of time.

Both suspects had pled not guilty and their lawyers claimed that they were scapegoats and actually claimed that they believed that they were participating in a reality T.V. show when the half-brother of the North Korean dictator died of poisoning. Cyril?

VANIER: Now, Ivan, this is a rapidly developing case. I mean, the story -- the story broke just moments before we asked you to come on air, so any information that you get from the lawyers obviously will be interested in finding out about. But meanwhile, this case involves the Kim family. We're talking about a dictator with a nuclear weapon here. So obviously it's going to be sensitive. Are you getting a sense at all of whether politics are factoring into the legal stuff here?

WATSON: There -- this is an incredible case because again it was an assassination carried out in front of security cameras in broad daylight in the International gateway to Malaysia in the airport there and it involved North Koreans. Because charges have been pressed, four North Koreans are wanted in connection with this murder. Their location at this time unknown. They're wanted by Interpol for return to Malaysia.

The two suspects that were caught were these two young women, an Indonesian and a Vietnamese. Now the Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong, her lawyer now is making an appeal to the prosecutors in Malaysia for charges against her to be dropped arguing that in fairness since the Indonesian suspects charges have been dropped that now her charges must be dropped as well.

We do get a sense of some of the pressure that's been applied behind the scenes. I spoke with the prime minister of Vietnam just a couple weeks ago in Hanoi asking about this case and he did not want to talk about this though subsequently, diplomats from the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry indicated to me that they're working very actively behind the scenes to protect their national from facing possibly the death penalty in Malaysia in connection with this murder.

So you get a sense that this high-profile murder of a high-profile individual connected to Pyongyang that their efforts behind the scenes to try to free the Indonesian and Vietnamese person from being -- from facing execution in connection with this while no North Koreans right now are currently facing any charges because they're at large somewhere. Cyril?

[01:05:37] VANIER: Ivan, thank you so much for shedding some light on this. We'll keep getting updates from you over the coming hours. Ivan Watson from Hong Kong, thanks.

ALLEN: And now to the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash and the repercussions for the plane's manufacturer while they're growing. Both Ethiopia and China now grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. That's the same type of plane from Sunday's crash in Ethiopia which killed all 157 on board.

VANIER: Ethiopia says the decision was made as a safety precaution, but China says it wants assurances from Boeing and U.S. regulators before resuming the flights. The 737 Max 8 is also the same models from last year's Lion Air crash in Indonesia which killed 189 people. It was still unclear what caused the Ethiopian Airlines crash and there's no evidence that the two incidents are linked.

Here's what we do know right now about that deadly crash in Ethiopia. Officials say it went down six minutes after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Sunday. It was on its way to Nairobi, Kenya. There were 149 passengers, seven crew members, and one security official on board, and again, all were killed.

ALLEN: The victims came from 35 countries, most of them from Kenya. The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines says the senior pilot who had an excellent flying record reported technical difficulties and asked for permission to turn back to the airport before the plane crashed.

VANIER: Now, this tragedy involves one of Africa's largest and safest -- it has to be said -- Airlines.

ALLEN: Journalist Robyn Kriel made it to the crash site earlier and has a close look at the devastation for us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBYN KRIEL, JOURNALIST: The sun is setting in the area where this plane crashed, a really large sort of Calvinists field in amongst mountains south of Addis Ababa in the area of (INAUDIBLE). It is an incredibly remote area. It was difficult to get to across this about 500 meter crash site. There are debris strewn from pieces of the plane's fuselage, to burnt-out newspapers in French, to Ethiopian Airlines paper napkins, business cards, and even pieces from what looks like flight maps that would have come from the cockpit.

As I said, the Sun is setting, a couple of hundred people mostly from the surrounding villages have gathered here to witness what is an incredibly horrific crash site.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: And Robyn Kriel joins us now. She is headed back to the crash site. She's on the phone with us. Robyn, from that short cliff there we can see that they have very little to go on just as far as the pieces of this plane. What would be they looking -- what will they be looking for next?

KRIEL: Well, I believe at this point, what investigators will be doing and I do understand some international various embassies personnel or citizens were involved in this crash, they will be sending out people to figure out I suppose forensically who was on board and make sure that DNA matches and collect anything else that is out.

There was an enormous amount of debris as I'm sure you saw from that video that was just throwing around in the wind because it was such a large crash site. It was about 500 meters and the wind was very strong. And so I think normal amounts of evidence being able -- you know, it seems to try to figure out exactly what went wrong on Ethiopian Airlines 302 might have been in some way destroyed perhaps by the people walking around.

As far as security, they do as good a job as possible given the remoteness and the lack of communication and (INAUDIBLE) that they had.

ALLEN: Had they talked about other priorities? We always know the search for the black boxes that's such an important piece of the puzzle when something like this happens.

KRIEL: Basically. They've been searching for the black box, but also just trying to make sense of just the scope and magnitude and also putting together all the other pieces of evidence such as the pilot. We're hearing that he made some kind of a distress signal that he gave some kind of signal to the ground before the plane went down. Also understanding, well, you know, did this plane have any issues before, where it had been, did it have an issue before taking off that they -- that they delayed the flight. All those sorts of questions will be on.

But today really just recovery operations, trying to establish who was onboard, making sure that family members have been notified, making sure that all personnel are accounted for. And as well as that we have to remember that Ethiopia is grieving the loss of one of -- European Airlines is essentially its national airline, its national pride, and they are extremely upset about this.

And yesterday when I went to the crash site, when I got there, a number of it Europeans apologized to me for this. So they're taking it -- they're taking it very hard.

ALLEN: Well, Robyn Kriel, we know you'll get there and have more for us when you arrive. We appreciate your reporting for us. Thank you.

VANIER: All right we're looking at this from all the angles and one of the important angles is in Kenya. CNN's Farai Sevenzo is in the capital Nairobi. Farai, the plane crashed in Ethiopia, Ethiopia Airlines, but the country that's actually paying the highest tribute in terms of human lives is Kenya.

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Cyril. I mean, you know, the thing is you must remember that where I'm standing right now is Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Right behind me is the International Arrivals. Now, just consider this. 24 hours ago people were supposed to be streaming through those gates from that ill-fated ET3o2 flights from Addis Ababa. And the other thing you must remember as you said, 32 Kenyans killed.

But that's also not really the issue. The issue is about the United Nations losing so many staffers. We are here in Nairobi which is really a kind of a hub of all the humanitarian organizations that help out in South Sudan, in Somalia, all these beleaguered nations that have all these unrest and stress going on in terms of international governance.

And then of course, the World Bank, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program, they all operate from Nairobi. And so it was really just a routine flight as many of their staffers would take. Why Addis Ababa? That is the seat of the African Union. That is where the African policymakers are.

And these conversations are gone between the non-governmental organizations and the African governments take place between these two great cities Addis Ababa and Nairobi. And that is why this morning, this 24 hours when that plane was nearly due to land here and all these people that never made it, the sense of loss is heavily felt amongst the NGO community who are so heavily present here in Nairobi.

It's not for nothing that Kenya and Nairobi has a United Nations Avenue because they are so prevalent, in a part of all the work we do as journalists who lies a great deal or all those people that were on that plane. They come out, they tell us about human rights abuses, they tell us about international migration, all the stories we cover in terms of development. And that is why it's such a massive shock but this has happened between Nairobi and Ethiopia.

VANIER: Farai Sevenzo reporting live from Nairobi, thank you, Farai.

ALLEN: Let's look at what might have happened now. Geoffrey Thomas is the Editor in Chief of AirlineRatings.com, a site that tracks airline safety. He joins us now from Long Beach, California. Jeffrey, we appreciate your time.

I want to start with this. This is the second crash at Boeing's new 737 Max aircraft. That's the same aircraft that crashed and killed everyone in the fall during a flight in Indonesia. It plunged into the ocean. And now we hear that both Ethiopian Airlines and China are grounding this type of aircraft. Do you think that is necessary here?

GEOFFREY THOMAS, EDITOR IN CHIEF, AIRLINERATINGS.COM: No. Look, I think it's premature to ground the aircraft. I mean, the 737 Max and the 737 family have got a fare -- these two crashes notwithstanding, have a superb record, incredibly reliable. And the Lion Air crash, we must remember here that while there was some focus on these software changes, a background software changes to the Max over the previous (INAUDIBLE).

The reality is this accident with related to Lion Air was all about maintenance, a faulty angle of a tech sensor that the testing of that, and then the pilot's reaction to the problems that been caused on board. And they appear to have not followed a very straightforward procedure that's been part of Boeing for the last 60 years and that's when you have a runaway stabilizer, trim -- this is the stabilizer at the back, you've got the trimming of the airplane to trim the nose down.

When that -- when you have a runaway stabilizer trim where you get excessive pitch board, you've got a visual and aural warning that this is happening beside you, and you simply turn it off, and you fly the plane manually. It's a very simple straightforward system.

[01:15:25] ALLEN: That I want to ask you because our guest analyst last hour indicated that this system -- this new system can be tricky for pilots that aren't trained on it. And it's interesting, isn't it not, that this pilot, in this case, said something is wrong, we need to turn back immediately. And that's the same thing that happened there in Indonesia.

THOMAS: OK. So, yes, there have been reports that it is tricky to handle. I mean, we also get contrary reports saying it's not. But where you have the problem, you simply turn off the stabilizer trim, and the problem goes away.

That's the issue. And that's what is perplexing about the Lion Air crash is where they simply didn't follow straightforward procedures. And it goes with the Ethiopian crash, we will simply have no idea what caused that.

Although they have I do concede there are similarities in the unstable speed, the erratic speed, and altitude ratings, but we don't have the final readings down to the point of impact either to understand more fully what went on.

And, of course, we need the copy of voice recorder and digital flight data recorder. So, a lot of this is premature. Considering that the Lion Air crash we know a lot of about that, and it doesn't -- it appears to be more maintenance and pilot error than anything else.

ALLEN: All right, we appreciate your insights, we'll talk with you again. Hopefully, they will find those black boxes. We'll have more to talk about. Geoffrey Thomas, thanks, Geoffrey.

THOMAS: Thanks, Natalie.

ALLEN: We are also getting more details about the victims on the doomed flight. 19 United Nations staff members among the dead. Also, a Georgetown University law student from Kenya, he was on his way home to Nairobi after the death of his fiancee's mother. And the wife and children of a Slovakian lawmaker lost their lives as well.

VANIER: ISIS is under siege, but its leaders may have escaped. What we know about the latest fighting in Eastern Syria. Coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:20:00] PATRICK SNELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there. I'm Patrick Snell with your CNN "WORLD SPORT" headlines. We started England's Premier League where the title race is playing out to be a nail-biting thriller.

On Saturday Man City beating Watford 3-1, so the pressure all on Liverpool Sunday as they hosted Burnley. Under pressure, The Reds would deliver Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Both netting braces as they cruise to the 4-2 victory, they now trail City by one point and turn their attentions to a crucial Champions League matchup on Wednesday at Bayern Munich.

Staying in the Premier League, Man United are a new team since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took to the wheel there after the departed former head coach Jose Mourinho.

The Red Devils were yet to lose in the Premier League until that is they make Arsenal on Sunday. The Gunners getting a goal from Granit Xhaka and a penalty from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a 2-0 victory. Arsenal now leapfrogging United into fourth spot. And hamming Solskjaer his first defeat in English Premier League as manager.

And finally, to Formula E, where British driver Sam Bird was on the podium after Sunday's race in Hong Kong. He was even celebrating his second win of the season. But then, he was stripped of his trophy because of a collision with Andre Lotterer on the penultimate lap. The Lotterer was leading but he failed to finish here to a punctured tire. So, Bird was hit with a five-second penalty resulting in a win for Edoardo Mortara with a sixth-place finish for Bird.

That's a look at your "WORLD SPORT" headlines. I'm Patrick Snell.

ALLEN: The last 24 hours have seen another round of intense fighting in eastern Syria. U.S.-back forces once again trying to seize the country's last ISIS enclave.

VANIER: And that was the scene on Sunday. Explosions lighting up the night sky here, heavy gunfire. The largely Kurdish U.S. allies say ISIS has run out of time to surrender. CNN's Ben Wedeman and his team have been watching the battle firsthand. He joins us live now from eastern Syria.

Ben, yesterday, you and your team walked through an ISIS encampment. Why don't you tell us what you saw and what happened?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Cyril, before I get to that, let me just give you a feel for the situation we're in right now. It's early morning, it's just after 7:00. It was actually relatively quiet overnight. We were sleeping on this roof. But now that the Sun is up, we have a very clear view of the encampment itself.

And we're going to try to zoom in on an ISIS flag that is still flying -- still flying after certainly, the initial two or three hours of that -- the bombing last night was intense indeed. And after that, things went relatively quiet. And I think maybe now, you might be able to see that ISIS flag, that's one of several we've been able to see this morning from our rooftop position.

And as far as -- yes, that ISIS encampment, it was an ISIS encampment. Obviously, we wouldn't want to be wandering inside there if it were still an ISIS encampment, but we were able to see for instance that indeed, as people who had come out and told us that they had built tents and in those tents, they had built trenches to protect themselves from the bombardment. But rather than me describe what we saw, let's just see how it actually was.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: We were going to go forward to an area closer to where the ISIS encampment is. But because of this fighting apparently, a battle has broken out a new one. So, we're not going any further. This is as far as we can go at this point.

Now, it appears that -- and if you can see here, that gunfire is hitting around the corner from us because there's a sniper in an Isis building just 200 meters from where we are. So, if we were to go around at this corner here, we'd be exposed to that sniper.

Now, Scott McWhinnie is holding the camera around the corner. But not going that around the corner himself because of the possibility of getting hit by that sniper.

I want to go --

No, no, no, it's OK. That's fine.

[01:25:40] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- about the tents and the tunnels.

WEDEMAN: OK. Well, and then, I don't want to go out there.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WEDEMAN: OK. So, that was just me with Scott McWhinnie the cameraman and Adam Dobbs, our other colleague. And definitely, it was rather dodgy out there. But that was just an hour before the actual operation began. So, that was an indication of things to come. Cyril?

VANIER: Ben, how has ISIS been hanging on to this last pocket of territory? Because I remember, you and I couple weeks ago already, we were saying they've probably only got a few days left.

WEDEMAN: Yes, and they've been able to hang on to it by the presence of tens of thousands of women and children. A month ago, we were being told by officials from the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces that there were only 1,500 civilians in the entire town of Baghouz, not this encampment behind me.

But they got their figures seriously wrong and conceded so. It turns out that there were more than 30,000 people inside and that is why the operation has taken so long. This is the third time an assault has been launched to retake that camp, to retake the final sliver of land occupied by the state that called itself Islamic.

The other two times lasted for a few days and they had to stop because they wanted to allow as many civilians as possible to come out. Now, in the last two days preceding the beginning of this third attempt to retake the town, there were -- the encampment, there were only a few -- a few dozen people coming out. And I think that was the signal that whoever isn't coming out, hasn't come out yet isn't going to come out.

And this operation had to go ahead. So, yes, officials here concede there probably are civilians inside. These are clearly civilians who have no intention of ever surrendering or coming out and handing themselves over to the authorities here, and will probably die in this operation. Cyril?

VANIER: Yes, and Ben, we did see that ISIS flag that you showed us at the beginning of your report that's still flying in the distance behind you. So, that already tells us a big part of the story, and what we need to know about what's still going on in Baghouz.

Ben Wedeman reporting and team. Thanks to all of your team for your efforts and stay safe out there. Thank you, Ben.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Well, ongoing blackouts are causing misery in Venezuela. The opposition leader says, he'll take action. But he fears that country has already collapsed. We'll tell you what he told CNN just ahead here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[01:31:58] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Natalie Allen.

Here are the headlines this hour.

An Indonesian woman accused of the 2017 killing of Kim Jong-un's half- brother walked free on Monday. Prosecutors said they would not pursue the case against her. Charges against a Vietnamese national remain. Prosecutors accuse the two women of exposing Kim Jong-nam to the deadly nerve agent VX, as he entered a Kuala Lumpur airport killing him in minutes.

VANIER: Crews are combing the site of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people on board. 19 of the victims were United Nations staff members. The Nairobi-bound flight went down just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Airlines' says the pilot reported technical difficulties and was given clearance to turn back.

ALLEN: U.S. President Donald Trump will square off yet again against Congress for border wall funding this week. He'll ask for $8.6 billion for the wall in the 2020 budget.

The House Speaker and Senate Democratic leaders both said the President won't get what he wants.

VANIER: CNN has been on the front lines watching as heavy fighting again erupts in eastern Syria. U.S.-backed forces are trying to seize the country's last ISIS stronghold. They also say time is up for the terrorists to surrender. They have laid siege to the area since last month. ALLEN: Venezuela has entered a fourth night of widespread power

outages and the opposition leader says his country has already collapsed from the problems that that's caused.

VANIER: Juan Guaido told CNN the blackouts have cost Venezuela hundreds of millions of dollars and had made it hard to get basic needs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUAN GUAIDO, VENEZUELAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): There is no service in the hospitals. These were the best hospitals in the country. If we are in the capital, what is it like kilometers inside Venezuela where there hasn't been or there has been very little gasoline with periodic cuts in electricity without basic goods, with inefficient public transportation?

You can say with all responsibility that Venezuela has already collapsed. There's been an exodus of talent. There are many specialists, many technicians that have found opportunities elsewhere, so they don't have the manpower. They don't have the technical capacity to do it quickly.

The proof is it's been four days. More than $4.1 billion lost in the national economy, and minute-by-minute, that grows. So I don't think they can recover fully.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: And we also asked Guaido if he thinks his rival, President Nicolas Maduro would ever step down without violence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[01:34:57] GUAIDO: He is the one making it harder and doing that today. Twelve hours ago, we counted 17 murders. We can't call it any other way.

Imagine if in your country, you wake to the news that there's been four days without electricity because of corruption, because they steal from electricity plants and 17 people died. That's murder.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Guaido says he will call for a state of national emergency to address this crisis. The country had already been dealing with hyperinflation and food shortages among so many other issues.

VANIER: Guaido blames the blackouts on poor management, old infrastructure and a forest fire that destroyed electrical lines. The government claims a U.S. cyber attack is what caused the outage.

The power outages are also affecting air travel in Venezuela. CNN's Patrick Oppmann went to the main airport of Caracas to see what conditions are like there.

ALLEN: Yes. And he recorded this footage on his phone since cameras are not being allowed. Here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm at Caracas's main airport, and people are waiting here, -- they've been waiting for hours for any word if the flight is going to leave on time, if it's going to leave at all. If people want to get out of this country, ever since the blackout, really. It's been very, very difficult to get food, to get information, to be in a place with power.

And the airport was supposed to be operating normally, the government said, and yet I've come here and I found people lying and sleeping on the floor, holding their kids, waiting in line, the entire airport. I've never really seen lines like this.

That don't have regular power here and some emergency power. There's no air conditioning. The boards that would show your flight arrival times and departure times are not working. It's very hard to get any information.

So if people want to leave, they're just essentially coming here and doing the best they can. But for many people, it's very, very frustrating because you are waiting here in the dark. There's no air- conditioning. It's very hot. And it's not clear if flights are going to leave at all.

We're filming on our phone, or my phone because you just can't come here with cameras. We've seen increased security checkpoints outside the airport, increased police and military presence here. They don't want us filming in places like this that show just how bad the blackout has been for Venezuela, and how, despite what the government is saying, they're having a very hard time getting places like this airport back online.

Patrick Oppmann, CNN -- Caracas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: One example there of what people continue to deal with.

All right. The stakes couldn't be higher for Britain's Prime Minister especially now. The time is running out for Theresa May to sell lawmakers on Brexit. We'll have the latest and the crucial vote coming up this week. Coming up for you next.

[01:37:54] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VANIER: Another very big week for Brexit begins. British lawmakers will vote again on the Prime Minister's Brexit deal, the one that they rejected two months ago. And Britain's foreign secretary says if they reject it again then Brexit itself might be at risk.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY HUNT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: If the deal fails, then in the end, the government has to obey the law and parliament is responsible for the laws. That's why we have an opportunity now to leave on March 29th or shortly thereafter.

And it's very important that we grasp that opportunity because there is wind in the sails of people trying to stop Brexit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Ok, so if lawmakers do reject Prime Minister Theresa May's deal this Tuesday, there are some options.

Let's go over them. A new set of votes will kick off. On Wednesday, parliament will decide whether to leave the European Union without a deal.

And if that fails, there will be a vote Thursday to ask for extension, basically to delay Brexit.

But right now Britain is still set to leave the E.U. March 29 -- that is just 18 days away.

VANIER: Yes. The uncertainty of what's going to happen is taking its toll on those living in Northern Ireland.

Nic Robertson has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Belfast, peaceful, for decades separating Catholic, mostly pro-Irish communities from Protestant mostly pro-British communities. But Brexit may just be changing that historic divide.

(voice over): On both sides, murals tell of a bitter violent past. The troubles that took thousands of lives, but as the Brexit deadline looms, there's common exasperation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been (INAUDIBLE). They just want to get on with their lives and, you know, do that which is right for their families and work, you know, and Brexit has been a mess from start to finish.

ROBERTSON: Do you feel that the politicians in Westminster, Theresa May and cabinet are doing a good job on this so far?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. This has been disastrous. There's been the tensions within various parties. In Westminster both the Conservative Party and Labour Party.

ROBERTSON: Catholics and Protestants alike have simply had enough.

(voice over): What are your thoughts around on Brexit at the moment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just a feckless endeavor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not being phony or anything -- I don't really want to know about it. ROBERTSON: Non-Catholics on the fourth (ph) road, a sense that thanks

to Brexit pressing social problems, drugs and unemployment are being neglected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're not doing enough for kids. The kids leave work, and socialize and going to the clubs or something.

ROBERTSON (voice over): You need jobs is the bottom line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Jobs, jobs.

ROBERTSON: And Brexit is putting those the jobs at risk, you think?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

ROBERTSON: On the Shank Hill road, the Protestant heartland, a surprising number of people dismayed with their own representatives in the Democratic Unionist Party.

(on camera): And the politicians here are they handling it well enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're worst -- (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Getting it wrong totally and getting money for nothing, sitting in their houses, you know, it's ridiculous.

ROBERTSON (voice over): And when a straw poll on the streets suggests most people from both communities want to keep the border with the south open.

(on camera): Do you think that it could make trouble in the security sense as well?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We think so. I think the days have sort of been and gone.

ROBERTSON: While a pharmacist in the Catholic area tells us that a hard border, and a hard Brexit would be disastrous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That potentially means that life saving medicines won't be available to the patients and that's just unacceptable.

ROBERTSON: Among the dozens we spoke to, nationalists and unionists the dominant emotions were weariness and anxiety about Brexit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doesn't matter if it's the working-class people (INAUDIBLE).

ROBERTSON: The wall that divides Belfast stretches like a scar across the city. It won't be gone any time soon.

[01:44:58] But in the communities it separates, fatalism is eroding the usual factualism as Brexit hurtles towards an as yet unknown conclusion.

Nic Robertson, CNN -- Belfast, Northern Ireland.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: It will be the world's largest display of democracy. We'll go live to New Delhi after the break to talk about the upcoming election and the 900 million people who can vote. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Just about a week left before spring officially arrives. A milder temperature is arriving across portions of the southern U.S. here.

And notice the trend here, frontal boundary locked across portions of Texas, Louisiana on into Mississippi. That's where the persistent wet weather, at least some afternoon thunderstorms could be seen across the region but southerly flow out of the Gulf of Mexico keeps the area rather mild.

Atlanta -- cloudy conditions around 22 degrees, Dallas on the cooler end of the perspective, about 12 degrees with a few scattered storms and still seeing winter continue in places such as Montreal there.

Snow showers possibly highs just above freezing but multiple shots of cool air but not before we really get a nice mild trend here for much of the week, not until early this weekend, we see another shot of potentially winter's last breath.

And in places like New York City, you notice the trend goes up, comes right back down. So this is the time of year you see that seesaw battle as we often see in autumn and also spring where temperatures are pulling in different directions and finally the appropriate season wins out. And of course, milder weather ahead of us.

Back towards the west though, it is all about the active weather, plenty of snowfall into the higher elevations from Wyoming into areas of Colorado while into the tropics we go quiet conditions and warming up rapidly in this region.

Havana lower 30s, Nassau into the Bahamas, upper 20s there, Should remain dry. Belim a few thunderstorms. Paranam partly cloudy skies, highs around 31.

ALLEN: All right. Now to Indian elections.

Voters in the world's largest democracy will head to the polls beginning April 11th. The election coming off the back of escalating tensions between India and Pakistan over the disputed Kashmir region.

VANIER: And despite economic and sectarian tensions, current Prime Minister Narendra Modi will seek reelection but other politicians are already trying to win over the 900 million people eligible to cast a vote.

All right. Let's go to Nikhil Kumar. He's live in New Delhi. What is the landscape that Mr. Modi faces? [01:49:57] NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well Cyril --

Mr. Modi was and remains the biggest player on the political stage in the country but the landscape as we head into this election has changed.

It's gone from a contest where it looked like a Modi win was inevitable to something that is not so certain anymore.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KUMAR: It's the biggest electoral show on earth. And this time it's all about this man, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Fresh from a tense fight with archrival Pakistan that's fired up his base Modi and his Hindu Nationalist Party, the Janata Party are still facing a tight contest.

In 2014, years before Brexit, before Trump -- he rode a populist wave to win in a landslide. He promised to generate jobs for the roughly 12 million young Indians who enter the workforce each year.

And to borrow a phrase from another populist leader, he promised to make India great again, to stand up to foes like Pakistan, and restore national pride.

But as he seeks re-election, there are questions about his record. That's fired up the opposition, Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the principal opposition Indian National Congress Party says Modi has failed.

RAHUL GANDHI, OPPOSITION LEADER: Mr. Narendra Modi has spent five years, five years wasting India's time.

KUMAR: For their critics, Modi and his Hindu Nationalist base are also a threat to India's secular fabric. Although majority Hindu, India is home to multiple religious minorities including more than 172 million Muslims.

In recent years, Human Rights Watch says Hindu vigilantes who consider the cow a sacred animal have mounted a violent campaign against beef consumption and those in the cattle trade that's claimed at lest 44 lives, including 36 Muslims.

(on camera): On the economy, experts say joblessness has worsened despite healthy growth. Many are also complaining about the impact of two big Modi policies. 2016 currency ban that sparked nationwide chaos and a new goods and services tax which some small businesses say was badly implemented.

(voice over): Experts say economic factors were among the reasons Modi's party suffered losses in key state level elections in December.

So could Modi be a one-term leader or will he be triumphant again? The answer is in the hands of the more than 800 million people who are eligible to vote over the coming weeks.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KUMAR: So Cyril, as you can see, a number of issues which together have turned what didn't look like much of a contest a few months ago into a tight race -- Cyril.

VANIER: All right. Nikhil Kumar reporting live from New Delhi. Thank you so much -- Nikhil.

ALLEN: All right.

In three days, March 14th, CNN will partner with young people around the world for a day of action against modern-day slavery. Activists have been taking their battle against human trafficking to the street in cities and towns around the world.

VANIER: A21 is a nonprofit that organized the walk for freedom in scores of countries last year. Nick Watt reports even more events are planned this year.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Every country on earth faces the scourge of modern-day slavery. From world capitals to quiet street corners, an army of modern-day abolitionists is walking for freedom and for the people who have had theirs denied.

CHRISTINE CAINE, A21 FOUNDER: It's one step, one person. That we believe that one step can make a difference and all of our steps combined can actually make a thunder that is a roar that will help to awaken people.

REPORTER: Christine Caine is an Australian activist who along with her husband Nick founded the non profit A21 in 2008. Back then far fewer people had heard of modern-day slavery.

Now leading more than a thousand people down Los Angeles' famed Hollywood Boulevard, she marvels at how far this movement has come.

CAINE: You are just walking right through near the Chinese theatre and people are looking at the stars of all the famous people and all of a sudden they look up and they see these signs, "slavery still exists", "slavery is in your backyard".

I think in particular right now there is so much chaos and divisiveness in the world. We found one cause where people from every continent, every race, every ethnicity, every culture and tradition can come together and say we can unite around this, the one thing we can all agree on is that we need to abolish slavery everywhere forever.

KARENA BRADSHAW, VOLUNTEER: People have a voice. We have a right, you don't have to live in bondage. We are set to be free and we are coming to make freedom known.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People saying it's time that we step up. WATT: A21 coordinated 475 walks in 2018 in more than 50 countries,

and organizers say they're planning even more walks in 2019, starting in March as part of My Freedom Day.

[01:55:02] From Canada to Norway, India to Guatemala, Spain to South Africa. Tens of thousands of people around the world are now in lockstep, demanding freedom for modern-day slaves.

CAINE: Everyone is just doing their part. And if we all do our part then together I think we can really help to abolish slavery everywhere.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: We hope so.

Students are leading the charge on Freedom Day. Here are some of the answers from students in Hong Kong.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is education because education leads to (INAUDIBLE) and the keys to protecting freedom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My idea of freedom means no boundaries, either physical or mental.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom is the right to earn a living regardless of race, color, relations, social stages or where you come from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALLEN: Tell the world what makes you feel free? Share your story using the #MyFreedomDay.

VANIER: All right. We look forward to that.

Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Another hour coming up with Rosemary Church and George Howell.

Thanks for watching CNN.

VANIER: Have a great day.

[01:56:19] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END