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Terror in Sri Lanka; Cyclone Kenneth Hits Mozambique Weeks After Deadly Idai; Canada Floods; What North Korea Wanted; French President Promises Economic Changes; Spain Decides; Drive for Freedom; Biden Joins the Race; Saudi Arabia Executes 37 People, Crucifying One, For Terror-Related Crimes; Prime Minister: Some Of The Bombers Were Being Monitored; Prince William Visits Mosques Attacked By Gunman; Duterte Threatens Canada: Take Back Your Trash. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired April 26, 2019 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Sri Lanka warns of more attacks as a frantic search for more suspects continues after the Easter Sunday bombings. We're live in Colombo with the latest.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Also this hour, the most powerful storm in Mozambique's history makes landfall just weeks after another powerful storm decimated the entire town.
HOWELL: Plus, the former vice president of the United States now wants the top job, Joe Biden's entry into the 2020 election.
ALLEN: Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. We appreciate you tuning in. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: I'm George Howell. CNN world headquarters "Newsroom" starts right now.
Sri Lanka's government is asking Muslims not to gather publicly for Friday prayer as the prime minister warns there is a possibility of more attacks. At least 70 people are in police custody at this point, suspected of helping the suicide bombers who targeted churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.
ALLEN: Authorities have lowered the death toll, however, from 359 to 253, saying many of the victims' bodies were severely damaged. Also, the country's defense secretary has resigned after the government admits it missed repeated warnings about the bombings.
CNN's Nikhil Kumar is live this hour in Colombo for us. Hello to you, Nikhil. There are developments in the investigation and the threat of more terrorists. What is the latest there?
NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: The latest, Natalie, is that the authorities are moving really on two fronts. One is trying to piece together what happened on Easter Sunday. Everybody who is involved from the (ph) international links we had, the comments from the U.S. authorities, for example, that this was ISIS-inspired, authorities here also acknowledge that we have the claim from ISIS as well.
So all of that alongside the investigation to try and stop any further attackers who might be out there from mounting further terrorist attacks. The authorities here raided a house earlier in the week in Southern Colombo where they found explosives. Nobody else was there. This is among various locations raided by them. That is still unfolding.
It all of course comes after a warning from the prime minister here that there were concerns about other people out there who might be preparing to mount further attacks.
Of course, as the Christian community mourns here, the country at large mourns here, there is also this warning that you mentioned earlier to the Muslim community from authorities here to if they can avoid Friday prayers, do them at home, and this is because of the risk that they may be targeted when they go out to pray today.
I'm in fact standing not too far from a major mosque in Central Colombo. As you can see, there is heavy security at the entrance. This is a mosque where Friday prayers will take place, the afternoon prayers. I'm not very far, about half an hour away, but there is very tight security all around the mosque to ensure the safety of everybody who does go in to pray. Natalie?
ALLEN: Right, and just to help us appreciate the scope of this attack and the people that could have been involved, 70 arrests, and they still believe there could be more dangerous people out there, that is quite something. It is hard to grasp that number. And could you also talk to the fact that they did miss a warning and how that is affecting people in the country?
KUMAR: That's right, Natalie. This is a country that if you visited this country in the 80s, if you visited in the 90s, if you came here in the early 2000s, it was in the grip of a violent and vicious civil war. Curfews were common. Checkpoints were very common across this country. People were used to being stopped by the security forces. That all ended though in 2009 when that war came to an end. People here have been getting used to normalcy.
Now in the aftermath of these devastating attacks, one question that they are asking again and again is that if there were warnings, why would they hid it because why we would be back here again into reality where we have to deal with curfews again, where people are concerned about going out into public places in case they are targeted by these other perpetrators who may be out there.
So people are quite angry, even as they tried to come to terms with the immense tragedy that befallen this country. Natalie?
ALLEN: Absolutely understand that. Nikhil Kumar for us there in Sri Lanka. Thank you so much.
HOWELL: A police source says investigators found bomb-making designs and materials at a house they raided south of the capital city. CNN's Will Ripley has this for us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You guys with the FBI?
The answer comes later from Sri Lankan police who tell us these four silent men are with the FBI, driving off in an USV with diplomatic plates on the trail of a terror network.
[02:05:07] The front gate is partially open then quickly closed as we pull up to the house on sheriff lane. Police and neighbors say this is rental. The owner hasn't lived here for years. The new neighbors moved in about two months ago, offering 40,000 rupees, about $230 a month, twice the normal asking price.
Police won't allow us inside the house, but they did describe what it looks like inside. They said there was evidence that people have been living there. Things like clothing scattered around but no beds. They found bomb-making materials but most of them have been cleared out. There wasn't even any food in the kitchen. It seems like whoever was in there, they were there to work.
Police say the items found inside included packaging for (INAUDIBLE), batteries, and designs for bombs. This neighbor doesn't want to show his face.
People in this neighborhood tend to keep their doors open --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
RIPLEY: -- to be friendly.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
RIPLEY: Did these people do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
RIPLEY: What did they do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are just inside. They don't speak much. They were just very silent.
RIPLEY: (INAUDIBLE) lives next door. He says the new neighbors were clean cut with short beards. They blended in.
How many people would go in and out of the house?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see two men.
RIPLEY: Two men?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two men, yeah.
Neighbors were shocked when Sri Lankan security forces raided the house late Sunday afternoon hours after the horrific bombing attacks on three churches and three hotels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They came and they searched around. They came here and searched everywhere. They just go inside. They told us to go behind.
RIPLEY: Our camera catches a glimpse of two police K9s. We are told there were bomb-sniffing dogs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am scared, yeah.
RIPLEY: You are scared?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have children and my family is here. Of course I was scared.
RIPLEY: Neighbors say their sense of security and neighbourly trust is lost.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't trust anyone now. Because of these people, we can't trust anyone.
RIPLEY: Police tell us now they are searching for other houses with similar profiles, recently rented by well-paying tenants who keep to themselves, on the trail of a terror network that may be hiding in plain sight.
Will Ripley, CNN, Narammala (ph), Sri Lanka.
ALLEN: Still ahead here this hour, we will hear from Sri Lanka's prime minister.
HOWELL: Absolutely. He explains why several of the bombings suspects were not arrested even though the country's intelligence services were watching them.
ALLEN: We turn now to Mozambique where much of the northern region is being battered by the strongest cyclone to ever hit the county.
HOWELL: Cyclone Kenneth made landfall on Thursday, you see it there, bringing heavy rainfall and destructive winds.
ALLEN: It comes on the hills of the devastating Cyclone Idai which killed more than 700 people in Central Mozambique last month.
HOWELL: CNN's Eleni Giokos is following the story live in Johannesburg in neighboring South Africa. Eleni, given the devastation from the previous storm, what are you hearing about preparations and the situation on the ground?
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN BUSINESS AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: George, we just got off the phone with a hotel in Pemba which is one of the most densely populated areas within the province of Cabo Delgado. The hotel manager said that things are pretty calm right now, the winds
have subsided, and there is no rain that most -- all the strong storm actually occurred last night but of course they are still sitting, waiting and are on high alert.
But right now, guests opted not to leave. They are still staying at the hotel. The guests that were sitting and were staying closer to the coastline moved farther into the hotel to try and stay away from any waves that could have occurred because of the strong storm that occurred overnight.
But for now it seems calm. But we got to remember that Pemba right now is one of the most populated areas within that region. But if you move to the north, it is least populated. However, the northern part of Mozambique is with many villages, very difficult to get to, especially if we are expecting very heavy rainfall.
And remember the rainfall that is expected, because of Cyclone Kenneth, is twice as much that was experienced during Cyclone Idai that hit the country in mid-March.
We don't know much about the devastation or the catastrophe that has occurred in Mozambique, but we do know that in its path, Cyclone Kenneth has already created a lot of damage in the Comoros islands.
We also got to remember that the next 24 hours are going to be very pivotal to assess the damage and of course the first responders are going to try and get into those areas. Flights to Pemba have been halted right now. Schools have been closed.
[02:09:57] But as I said, we spoke to a hotel manager who says that things seemed pretty calm right now. The cyclone is expected to last for a few days. It is a very slow-moving cyclone. Heavy rainfall is expected. The United Nations is talking about 70,000 people that is expected to be impacted and of course the government says that around 30,000 people have been evacuated from key areas.
HOWELL: Eleni Giokos with the very latest there. Eleni, thank you. We will stay in touch.
ALLEN: And now, we turn to Ivan Cabrera to talk about what she just said -- Eleni said, about it being slow-moving and that what makes this even more dangerous?
HOWELL: Yeah, more dangerous.
IVAN CABRERA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Good to see you, guys. Every single storm has its own unique way of doing things, right? This one is no different. It is much more sparsely populated to the north and I think despite the fact that it is weaker storm, Idai had bigger impacts. Let's go to the wall here and show you what has been going on.
It is a quite -- just horrific season at this point here with Kenneth. We will show you the history. Look at that below thunderstorm activity. This intensified rather rapidly. We saw that eye. It was wide discernible on satellite through the day on Thursday. Unfortunately, sometimes the storms weaken before it make landfall. This had a complete opposite effect. It strengthened right before it crashed across the northern part of Mozambique. It did so at 16:15 (ph) local time on Thursday with 220 kilometers per hour winds. That is an equivalent of a Category 4 typhoon in the Western Pacific.
But notice where it is now, everyone is asking, where are the winds now? We don't have that. What happens is when these storms made landfall, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center will stop putting out advisories here. So the last advisor we had, the winds are much higher than they currently are right now as far as the satellite estimate here.
We are talking perhaps 80, 90 kilometers per hour gust. I'm thinking the weather is actually worse further south. You see that global thunderstorm less so across the center. Now, you see any movement here? It's not moving all that much and so this is going to be the issue with the cyclone that like it was with the Idai as well.
Cat. 4 historic storm, strongest ever to hit Mozambique and then of course on the hills of Idai that made landfall as a Cat. 2. So it is a much weaker storm as far as the intensity of the wind, but the storm surge was more significant, and also we had a much higher population across the region here.
So again, as I mentioned, all these storms are very different and that you do have to take into account the population density, the coastal arrangement here, how much storm surge you get with the shallower coast. You can certainly get into the meters and meters of storm surge. There is the storm spinning in place, right? It's not moving anywhere. That concerns me because that's where I think we are going to be looking next for the potential of some significant rainfall over half a meter.
This is the part now where I call the information blackout. We really don't know what the effects are in Mozambique until we start getting pictures because sometimes the worst hit areas are cut off, villages that we can't get to for certain days. So it will take a while to really figure out the scope of the storm and what it did this time to that area.
HOWELL: All right. Ivan, thank you.
ALLEN: Ivan, thanks.
HOWELL: Rising floodwaters continue to devastate Eastern Canada. At least 3,000 homes in Quebec have been flooded and other 2,000 are inaccessible. The country's capital is under state of emergency.
ALLEN: A hydroelectric dam on Rouge River in Quebec is at risk of failing. Officials have urged people in the area to immediately leave and with the Ottawa River rising, the city's mayor has declared an emergency.
HOWELL: Up next here on "Newsroom," new details of what North Korea wanted to release -- wanted rather to release American Otto Warmbier. We have a live report from Seoul ahead on that story.
ALLEN: Also, after months with sometimes violent protests, France's president promises tax cuts and economic reform, but will it be enough to end the unrest and show the yellow vests that he finally feels their pain? We'll get into that.
[02:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
ALLEN: North Korea's Kim Jong-un is leaving Eastern Russia following his first ever summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. As always, the North Korean travels in a custom-built armoured train. Vladivostok is close to North Korea so it is a relatively short trip back to Pyongyang, unlike the one he took across China for a summit with U.S. President Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam.
HOWELL: And in another development to tell you about, sources are telling CNN that North Korea presented the U.S. with a $2 million bill for hospital care for Otto Warmbier when he was released. He is the American student who was arrested and let go a year and a half later with severe brain damage. Warmbier died less than a week after coming home.
ALLEN: CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us from Seoul. This bill that the United States received from North Korea, it sounds like a bizarre and rather disgusting request. How is it being viewed?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, Natalie and George, this is -- North Korea is known for its aggressive tactics, but certainly this is quite shocking even by North Korean standards. So what we understand from two sources familiar with the situation was that when Joseph Yun, the former point-man for North Korea from the Trump administration, when he went to Pyongyang believing he would see Otto Warmbier not knowing for sure he would be able to bring him home, he was given a pledge to pay this bill, this $2 million bill.
Joseph Yun is not confirming that part, saying it is a too sensitive topic. But he did admit that he had spoken to both Rex Tillerson, the former secretary of state, and that had been confirmed as well by the U.S. president that he must do all he could to bring Otto Warmbier back.
So the sources say that he had the permission to sign that invoice and another source says that they never actually paid it. The Trump administration has not given money to Pyongyang in any form for Otto Warmbier.
Now, we understand also from this source that when there was a negotiation for the release of three more Americans detainees in Pyongyang that they made it very clear they were not going to give anything in response to that. But certainly it has raised some eyebrows. That was a question to Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, for an official comment.
She said that they don't talk about hostage negotiations and that's one of the reasons why they are so successful in these negotiations, but certainly there are some questions as to what exactly happened.
ALLEN: Understandable questions, aren't they? All right, let's talk about the outcome of the summit between North Korea and Russia. What can you tell us?
HANCOCKS: Well, certainly, both leaders walking away considering that they had a successful summit. There was nothing specific that came out from the summit but both sides or at least the Kremlin had warned beforehand that there was going to be no official signing, statement, anything like that because they had nothing grand to declare.
But what we did hear from both leaders at the end of it was that they had forged their friendship, they are much closer, and they had discussed the situation on the Korean peninsula.
[02:19:56] We heard from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, also saying that he had been talking to Kim Jong-un about talks with the United States and that Kim Jong-un had asked him to talk to the United States and give his desires for the future pass of this process to President Donald Trump.
So what we've seen here is really Vladimir Putin inserting himself into this process. And certainly from a North Korean point of view, Kim Jong-un will go home. He just left Vladivostok recently, we understand, after going through the war memorial this Friday. He will leave as well considering this to be a success and also showing to U.S. that he does have other allies.
In fact, there was KCNA statement media report saying that it is now up to the U.S. to change its attitudes and if they don't, then potentially things could go back to the way they were. This is a threat that we've heard from Kim Jong-un just a couple of weeks ago. It shows that he is once again emboldened. He is not isolated. He has an ally in Russia and has shown that very publicly to the U.S. president and is now calling on the U.S. once again to change attitudes.
ALLEN: He is definitely reaching out in interesting ways. All right, Paula Hancocks for us. Thanks so much, Paula.
HOWELL: The French president, Emmanuel Macron, says that he is ready to make deep economic and political reforms. He is hoping to appease yellow vest protestors who have been marching for almost six months now.
ALLEN: Right. The demonstrators want an end to the country's widespread economic inequality. Many have demanded the president resign. But Mr. Macron hopes his reforms will tie them over although it may be too little, too late, as we hear from our Melissa Bell in Paris.
MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It was in the end by way of a press conference when the French president spoke to the French people, not has he had imagined in a form of a speech that had been due to take place on the night of the fire of Notre-Dame.
His plan had been to announce the measures upon which he decided at the end of a months-long grand debate which has followed the government's intent to try and listen to the demands of the yellow vest protesters. President Emmanuel Macron made clear that he was on full listening mode.
EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): This time has transformed me, too. I think I've touched much more deeply the depth of it. What many of my fellow citizens are living with pains and misunderstanding. We are a country. I said this to myself before the election. We are waiting for huge amount, sometimes too much. And so we can think it is so unfair and so on. And sometimes, I was not aware of that expectation. This expectation justifies certain anger.
BELL: Emmanuel Macron did go on to announce significant measures like tax cuts for the middle classes, decentralization of France governance, and things like a thousand euro minimum pension level for everyone inside France. So, radical measures at any other time. But will they be radical enough to answer the demands of the yellow vests?
They have grown over the course of the last few weeks, fewer in numbers on the streets of Frrance Saturday after Saturday, and yet more radical in their demands, more revolutionary in their mood. It is unclear whether those announcements made by Emmanuel Macron tonight will make much of a difference to their enthusiasm together once again on May the 1st.
Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.
ALLEN: We are just days away from Spain's third general election in four years and the rising right-wing party VOX could make significant gains on Sunday.
HOWELL: CNN's Isa Soares takes a look now at how VOX is already transforming the political landscape there.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Crammed between the sea and the Andalusia mountains and as far as the eye can see is a shimmering white city draped in plastic. This is El Ejido in Southern Spain. And here, produce is king (ph). With each plastic greenhouse brings much of Europe's fruits and vegetables, from peppers to (INAUDIBLE).
But the most important seed sprouting here isn't produce (ph), but a political party. VOX is Spain's first elected far-right party since the death of the dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. And a century is already shaking up the political landscape. I met VOX's local candidate.
Last year, they won nearly 30 percent of the vote in regional elections here in El Ejido with a pledge of national unity to put a stop to corruption and illegal immigration.
JUAN JOSE BONILLA, VOX CANDIDATE FOR EL EJIDO (through translator): I'm 43 years old and I grew up in El Ejido. I was born in El Ejido. I have run up and down this town. Today, we don't dare let our children do the same. There is no safety. There are robberies and rapes. There is lot of crime.
[02:25:00] BELL: Do you blame migrants?
BONILLA (through translator): Yes. Spanish people commit crimes and migrants commit crimes. Majority are migrants.
BELL: But a walk through El Ejido shows how much it is dependent on seasonal labor, mostly carried up by migrants from North Africa.
What VOX has been able to do in Southern Spain is exploit voter frustration in particular the question of immigration. While the number of migrants coming in from across the Mediterranean have in fact fallen, Spain has become one of the main entry points for migrants with roughly 63,000 arriving in Lucia (ph) last year alone.
While they are needed here, the cultural differences have made many Spaniards feel uneasy. Despite this, I struggle to find anyone who will openly acknowledge their VOX supporters.
This woman tells me people want change. They want to change and to try to something new, but unconsciously, (INAUDIBLE).
"We are fed up of so many migrants," tells me this lady. "They come without paperwork. They do what they want, what they feel like. We are very tired of them," she says.
Across Spain, VOX has been accused as derided (ph) as far-right and populist, anti-Islam and anti-migration. In fact, its leader, Santiago Abascal, is borrowing from President Trump's book.
Your leader says he wants to build the wall in the border, Spain border with Morocco, and he wants Morocco to pay for that wall. Do you believe that?
BONILLA (through translator): I don't care if the wall is made of bricks, steel or wire. We want is to close the door so that migrants don't flood Spain, because Spanish people cannot stand that flood of migrants.
BELL: While their message may seem unfiltered, it is one that that is resonating with many Spaniards. They feel abandoned as well as betrayed by Spain's main political parties.
Isa Soares, CNN, El Ejido, Spain.
ALLEN: A Saudi woman is driving across the United States to shine a light on injustices in her country. Manal al Sharif was arrested in 2011 after defying Saudi Arabia's driving ban, and now she is taking to the open road again in partnership with the Human Rights Foundation.
HOWELL: From California to Washington, she's calling on the Saudi kingdom to release a detained activist with campaign for the right to drive. We spoke with al Sharif a little earlier. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANAL AL SHARIF, SAUDI ARABIAN ACTIVIST FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS: They just signed the first female ambassador in D.C. here. And at the same time, the same ambassador, she needs her father's permission to travel. So that's the huge contradiction between when they talk about women's rights and they still not recognize as full citizens in my country. They need a male guardian.
Today is my birthday. I still need my father's permission to travel abroad. And that is for me is (INAUDIBLE) that to acknowledge and recognize the Saudi women as full citizens in my country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: She can't travel without her father approving her. Well, you can watch my full interview with Manal coming up in our next hour.
HOWELL: Looking forward to that. Still ahead, Joe Biden is off and running now. The former U.S. vice president hits the campaign trail and joins the already crowded field of Democrats vying for 2020.
[02:30:58] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to viewers all over the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM: I'm George Howell.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I'm Natalie Allen. Let's update you on our top stories. Sri Lanka's government is asking Muslims to not gather in public for Friday's prayers after Sunday's deadly bombings. The prime minister warning sleeper cells could be planning more attacks. Officials have lowered the death total to 253 as some bodies were badly damaged.
HOWELL: Northern Mozambique and its surrounding areas are getting hammered right now by a powerful storm. You're seeing it there cyclone Kenneth. Made land fall on Thursday bringing heavy rainfall and distractive winds. The storm coming just weeks after the devastating cyclone Idai battered central Mozambique. That storm killing hundreds of people there.
ALLEN: A hydroelectric dam in Quebec, Canada is on the verge of failure, as floods devastate this -- devastate this region. Officials have urges to people to get out of the area immediately. The rising waters have been caused by a combination of rain and snow melt.
HOWELL: The former vice president of the U.S. Joe Biden has announced he is running for president. That makes him the 20th Democrat now to crowded field entering the race to take on Donald Trump. Biden launched its campaign in an online video on Thursday, again casting the 2020 election, as a battled to redeem "the soul of America from the Trump presidency."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are in the battle for the soul of this nation. I believe history will look back on four years of this president and only embrace as an aberrant moment in time. But if we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House, he will forever and fundamentally. All to the character this nation, who we are and I cannot stand by and watch that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: So, Joe's in and here's the look of what is become a very crowded field of Democratic contenders. As we mentioned, there are now a total of 20. And despite Biden joining in after all the others, many polls show him at the top.
HOWELL: Let's hear more now about what Joe Biden's entry the 2020 race means with Julian Zelizer, Julian, a CNN political analyst joining this hour from New York. Good to have you with us.
JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thanks for having me.
HOWELL: So, Julian. Mr. Trump's seems to be paying close attention to the former vice president even mentioning him in a phone interview that he just -- I recently gave with another network saying "I think that when you look at Joe he's not the brightest light bulb in the group," Mr. Trump says. Should President Trump be concerned about Joe Biden entering this race?
ZELIZER: Sure. He should be consumed about Biden, because Biden is polling very well and he's polling well in areas that President Trump will need to win in 2020. And frankly he should be worried about a lot of the Democrats in that, he is not in a particularly strong position right now, he's approval is low. He's under a major investigation and so any candidate with formidable skills such as Biden is going to concern him regardless of what he says on his Tweeter account or interviews.
HOWELL: Even in our Jeff Zeleny pointing out in his reporting the hearing from sources that the President is mentioning Joe Biden and talking about at the State of Pennsylvania which again President Trump flipped Republican in his win perhaps concerned about what Joe Biden would mean for Pennsylvania. The other question I have for you, I get in this crowded field of Democrat contenders.
Some who are better known than others, where does the former vice president enter this race? Clearly, he leads the race at this point but can he hold that?
ZELIZER: Well, it's going to be difficult. I don't think it's inevitable that he will be the winning nominee. He's facing not only a crowded field, but a very talented field from Kamala Harris to Elizabeth Warren to Mayor Buttigieg, Pete Buttigieg. These are candidates who are proving they can do well and then there's Bernie Sanders who is actually in some polls ahead of Biden. [02:35:04] And Biden brings certain weaknesses. He's campaign before,
it hasn't gone well. He's not a particularly good fundraiser. And he has a record from his time in the Senate that on key issues is really at odds with where the Democratic Party has evolved. And so, there are many pitfalls for him between now and say super Tuesday to see if he really can sustain this position.
HOWELL: What did you think about Mr. Biden's first video message, using Charlottesville as a centerpiece, never making any mention of those Democratic contenders nor any of the issues that they're talking about it on the campaign trail instead he seemed to be laser focused on the general elections.
ZELIZER: That's smart for him. His biggest argument is he's electable and that he offers the best opportunity. Not necessarily to fulfill all the dreams of Democrats in terms of policy but to defeat President Trump. And so, he wants to stay on that message and he define his campaign around Charlottesville. The moment when he realized that something had gone wrong in this country. And that he had re-enter into the political sphere.
So I think overall, while there are criticisms of the video it was effective for what he wants to do.
HOWELL: We are talking about Joe Biden the centrist obviously. The question, can he really be viable candidate in such a time of deep polarization among both Democrats and Republicans.
ZELIZER: Well, that's a big issue, you know, he's promising to reach out to Republicans and promising that he will be able to somehow find this center which is pretty elusive in American politics. And obviously, people point out that when he was vice president with Obama. President Obama promised initially that he would be able to work with Republicans, but nothing of the sort happened.
The GOP wasn't interested in compromise. And they remain a party that's even more extreme right now. So, some people will ask and it sounds good what Biden is offering. But is it realistic to make that promise and is that the best strategy for Democrats in 2020?
HOWELL: Let's talk about Joe Biden's decision to call Anita Hill. You remember Biden led the hearings on Clarence Thomas' confirmation and questions about sexual harassment regarding Anita Hill back in 1991. He was criticized for overseeing and even participating in harsh interrogation of Hill, Thomas of course later going on to join the Supreme Court. What do you make of that decision to reach out to Anita Hill in recent weeks and then, her reaction in the interview she gave to the New York Times?
ZELIZER: Well, it suggests he understands he has a problem. This goes back to his own record which is highly problematic. This was a real big moment in his career. Where he was on the wrong side of history and many felt he really didn't treat her the right away or give enough time, attention and offer other witnesses an opportunity to say what they experience with Clarence Thomas. And so, he needs to deal and do something. The call didn't really
work well, because Anita Hill said, you know, she wants to see more, she wants to see that he's serious about his understanding of what went wrong. So, I think on the same day he opened his campaign, we saw the opening of one of the problems that he's going to be dealing with in the months ahead.
HOWELL: Julian Zelizer we appreciate your time today, thank you.
ZELIZER: Thanks so much for having me.
ALLEN: Another story we are following, on Tuesday Saudi Arabia announced did executed 37 people convicted of terror related crimes. It was one of the largest mass executions in the kingdom's history. Now, CNN has learned that many of those condemned to death insisted their confessions where completely false and were written by the people who torture them. CNN'S senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon is in Istanbul and she's been following the story.
Arwa it's very disturbing the reports coming out about perhaps these people who were executed might not even have done anything, even committed a crime.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Natalie we're getting this information from documents that were exclusively obtained by CNN's Tamara Qiblawi. It is our official court documents. Hundreds and hundreds of pages of them that involved the trails of 25 of the 37 men who were executed on Tuesday. And if we just focus in on one of these cases as an example.
The case of the Awamiyah 24, that's references to anti-government demonstration that took place in the predominantly Shia City of Awamiyah in that particular case. According to these court documents, a number of these confessions were extracted because the defendants were tortured and this is according to the court documents themselves
[02:40:04] Now, in this particular case, this was something that was raised by the United Nations back in 2017 when it was asking the Saudi authorities to look into this. And the Saudis back then have responded saying that it was pretty much an open and shut case that the individuals had confessed and that justice had been served. What we now know from these court documents themselves that -- is that at least some of the defendants stated in court that their confession was extracted under torture, under duress.
So one of these defendants is a 27 years old. He is blind, partially blind and deaf. And just listen to what he said in court according to the court documents. The man, Munir Al Adam said, those aren't my words, I didn't write a letter, this is defamation written by the interrogator with his own hand. Another of the man who was executed. When he was arrested, he was just 17 years old.
And he was arrested as he was set to board a plane to go to the United States to enroll in university back in 2012. He was defended by his father. His father said according to these court documents that his son was subjected to psychological and physical abuse which drained his strength. The interrogator then dictated the confession and force them to sign and so the torture would stop.
And according to the father that is why his son signed these documents. Now, Saudi officials have not responded directly to CNN's request for a reaction to what is evident in these documents and to questions as to why these allegations of torture were not investigated.
They had previously said, following Tuesday's executions that they believe that justice had been served, that they have a zero tolerance policy.
But what these documents are serving to show, Natalie, is what Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and organizations have long claimed. And that is a process where individuals are executed for crimes they did not necessarily commit and in some cases, because of evidence, because of confessions that were extracted under torture.
ALLEN: It's very to disturbing, Arwa Damon with the latest on that one for us. Wait and see if the Saudi leaders have anything to say about it. Thanks Arwa.
HOWELL: Sri Lanka is still certainly and mourning after the deadly terror attacks in eastern -- on eastern morning. And officials are trying to stop more attacks that could be coming. CNN sits down with the country's prime minister ahead.
[02:45:14] ALLEN: The world's tallest building is showing solidarity with terror victims in Sri Lanka. Dubai's Burj Khalifa lit up with the colors of Sri Lanka's flag on Thursday. Honoring the more than 250 people killed on Easter morning in a series of suicide bombs.
HOWELL: Police in Sri Lanka, say suspects are still on the run and there's a lot of confusion in that country over how many suspects there are, and the likelihood of another attack.
ALLEN: Now, people are demanding answers from the country's top officials. CNN's Ivan Watson spoke with the Sri Lankan prime minister about what they're learning about the bombers.
RANIL WICKREMESINGHE, PRIME MINISTER OF SRI LANKA: They are middle class, upper middle class, well-educated, educated abroad. That is surprising because they've been looking at other places for possible ISIS connections. But these people also known and they will be monitored by the Intelligence.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They were being monitored as the monitored, some of them?
WICKREMESINGHE: They were being monitored by the Intelligence.
WATSON: Some of the suicide bombers?
WICKREMESINGHE: Some of -- some of them, yes.
WATSON: And yet they were still able to carry out these deadly attacks?
WICKREMESINGHE: Yes, they said -- they said they didn't have sufficient evidence to take them in.
WATSON: What about the Ibrahim family? Mohamed Ibrahim, the head of Ishana Exports?
WICKREMESINGHE: Their father was a well-known businessman. He's a well-known businessman.
WATSON: And politically connected.
WICKREMESINGHE: Politically connected. I think he's contested on some political party here. And the children were different, I mean, them.
WATSON: And his sons have been named as suicide bombers.
WATSON: Do you have information about any of these suicide bombers having been arrested in the past and released by the authorities because of political connections?
WICKREMESINGHE: Well, some, I think were taken in for questioning. And I've just asked them for a full report on who was questioned. But this whole issue is going around whether they were taken in and released. So, I've asked the police for a full report.
WATSON: Can you tell me about possible links to ISIS? ISIS has claimed responsibility.
WICKREMESINGHE: We feel there is a foreign link. And now that ISIS has claimed responsibility, it could be them. So, that -- this is why we -- we've asked for help to trace it.
WATSON: And this possible threat of a second wave of attacks?
WICKREMESINGHE: Well, they can do it at some time. Not now. Maybe six months down the road. So, we have to identify them and, at least, get some more in. Maybe then we can take the precautions.
ALLEN: Prince William is in New Zealand where he's been visiting survivors of last month's mosque attacks in Christchurch. He also spoke at the Al Noor mosque.
HOWELL: Of the fifty people shot and killed that day during Friday prayers, 43 were at the Al Noor mosque. The prince told the audience, the man had been driven by a warped ideology that must be defeated. CNN's Kristie Lou Stout is following the story live for us in Hong Kong. And Kristie, there were some poignant moments for sure during the prince's time there.
KRISTIE LU STOUT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very, very poignant moments. You know, one moment that took place -- this is a two-day visit yesterday in Auckland when Prince William visited a pediatric hospital and had a conversation with a 5-year-old girl who had just come out of a coma. She was suffering critical injuries from this terror attack that took place almost over a month ago. And yet, she's having this conversation with the prince. Asking him, "Do you have a daughter?" And him, answered, "Yes, her name is Charlotte."
Just a moment of such sensitivity and support. And that's why he's there. You know he is there in Christchurch today to offer support and to pay tribute to the victims of one of New Zealand's darkest days. Six weeks ago today, terror took hold of Christchurch targeting two mosques, taking the lives of 15 Muslim worshippers, and wounding 50 more.
He is there, Prince William to offer royal family support. He has been meeting with survivors of the attacks as well as victim's families. He is been meeting with first responders and emergency personnel, including a meeting with the New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush that took place yesterday. He's also been meeting with Muslim community leaders.
Earlier today, just a few hours ago, he gave a heartfelt speech at a hospital in Christchurch. He says that he stands together with New Zealand -- the people of New Zealand and that the forces of love will always prevail over the forces of hate. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRINCE WILLIAM, DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE: To the people of New Zealand, and the people of Christchurch, to our Muslim community, and all those who have rallied to your side. I stand with you in gratitude for what you have taught the world these past weeks.
I stand with you in optimism about the future of this great city. I stand with you in grief for those we have lost. And with support for those who survived. And I stand with you in firm belief that the forces of love will always prevail over the forces of hate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[02:50:06] LU STOUT: Prince William is in New Zealand on behalf of his grandmother, the Queen. He is there at the request of the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said that he wanted -- she wanted him to come to her country to provide comfort, and also because he has this special connection with New Zealand, and especially, Christchurch.
It was not that long ago in 2011 in the wake of another tragedy to hit that city when Prince William paid a visit to honor the victims of the earthquake that took place there. That leveled many parts of Christchurch and took the lives of over 180 people.
Eight years on, he has returned to Christchurch. This time remembering the victims of the attack. But also, paying tribute to community that he's chosen to respond to terror not with fear or with hatred, but with love, action, and compassion. George.
HOWELL: Kristie Lu Stout, thank you again for the report.
ALLEN: Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte is no stranger to controversy. Just ahead, here his latest threat to Canada over garbage.
HOWELL: A war may be brewing between the Philippines and Canada over garbage. The Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, says that he will go to war if Canada doesn't take back tons of trash that had shipped to Manila several years ago.
ALLEN: The containers were labeled as plastic for recycling, but inspectors found that wasn't the case. Take a listen to Mr. Duterte's warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RODRIGO DUTERTE, PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES: I want a boat prepared. I'll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out or I will set sail --
I will advise Canada that your garbage is on the way. Prepare a grand reception. Eat it if you want to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: All right, let's talk about this with Angelica Pago she's with Greenpeace in Southeast Asia. And she joins us from Manila.
All right, Angelica. Talk with us about what's creating this problem? There's a tug of trash war between Canada and the Philippines. What's behind it?
ANGELICA PAGO, MEDIA CAMPAIGNER, GREENPEACE SOUTHEAST ASIA, PHILIPPINES: Yes. It was in 2013 that it was found out that several hundreds -- no, hundreds of containers from Canada has been missed -- have been miss declared and was found to be containing trash, unrecyclable trash, to be -- to be exact.
Now, it's been six years, and we're -- the waste is -- the wastes are still here, and we do not know where it is and what to do with it. So, I know that our president pronouncement met can be quite heavy in the years, but I think it's high (INAUDIBLE) for us to talk about it, and not just to talk about it, but for Canada to take action and take back their waste here from the Philippines.
ALLEN: Prime Minister Trudeau has said, he's working on it but that's the only thing I've read about this. But the issue of global waste is becoming issue. What to do with it -- it's for years, developed countries have shipped recyclable waste overseas for processing but it's not getting processed or in this case, it's not what they thought it was.
[02:55:01] PAGO: Yes, the problem with this kind of system -- global system of waste management that we have is, developed countries or richer countries are dumping them to poorer countries. But putting responsibility -- the responsibility to manage these wastes to us who can barely manage our own domestic waste problems.
So, something systemic should be done where the problem is we're looking at this problem from a programmatic point of view. We are looking at managing the waste, but I think with the kind of problem -- the mounting garbage problem that the world is experiencing now, we should be looking at waste generation from the start. From our own -- from our own consumption, from the companies producing these unrecyclable plastic wastes.
They should stop, we should not be feeding more waste or garbage into the world because we cannot (INAUDIBLE) it, we can no longer manage it. This should stop.
ALLEN: Well, we'll see what the reaction might be. We know that last year trying to move to ban foreign garbage is a way to reduce environmental damage. The restrictions have reportedly led to recycling waste piling up and developed countries know where to send it. And there's even reports that cities now -- big major cities in the United States aren't recycling anymore because there's no one to take it. How big is this?
PAGO: Yes, this is now we're looking at. We're seeing a problem that means our -- we do not really know where to put our garbage anymore. So, since China has done their ban, or prohibited waste from entering their country, rich countries such as -- like what you said, U.S., Canada and other countries, European countries are scrambling on where to put their -- or put or to dispose their waste.
And from a developing country perspective, from us here in the Philippines, we should not be part of that. We do not have -- we do not -- we should -- that should not -- we should not be part of their waste management plan. They should manage their own waste or for -- as a suggestion, it would be good if they look at how they generate their own waste.
This particular case should make -- should make Canada take a cold hard look at how -- at their own domestic waste generation, and not look at us here in developing countries to solve their problems for them.
ALLEN: Right, right. It seems like it's going to get a problem -- the problem is going to get worse before it gets better, perhaps. We appreciate you helping us understand it Angelica Pago. Thank you.
HOWELL: And thank you for being with us for this hour of NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: Don't go anywhere, we'll be right back with another hour. Stay with us.