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Jewish Community in California Devastated; Sri Lanka Cracks Down on Terrorism; Avengers Endgame Movie Shattering Records; White House's Battle Against Congressional Oversight; Spain's Socialist Party is Celebrating its Election Victory; 272 Election Officials Die Of Exhaustion in Indonesia; Avengers Smash Box Office Records With $1.2 Billion Debut; Marvel Fan Watched "Avengers: Infinity War" 103 Times. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 29, 2019 - 02:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: A Jewish community in California is devastated after a gunman targets their synagogue. We are hearing the horrifying accounts of what happened. Plus, Sri Lanka cracks down as authorities ban the burqa while they search for everyone responsible for the deadly Easter bombings. And fans are saying goodbye to their favorite superheroes.

The ultimate Avengers movie is finally in theaters, and it's already shattered major box office records. Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States, and of course, all around the world. I am Rosemary Church from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. CNN Newsroom starts right now. A U.S. religious community is in shock after a holy day turned into a day of terror.

A gunman killed one person and wounded three others at a California synagogue on Saturday. It happened in the city of Poway on the last day of Passover. This woman killed in the attack is being praised as a hero. Lori Kaye was shot stepping between the gunman and the rabbi, possibly saving his life. The rabbi is recovering after being wounded, and he spoke about the attack on Sunday.


RABBI YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, WOUNDED IN ATTACK: And I walk into the lobby, and I see Lori lying on the floor unconscious. And her dear husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, who is like a brother to me, is trying to resuscitate her. And he faints, and he's laying there on the floor next to his wife. And then their daughter, Hannah, comes out screaming, daddy and mommy what's going -- it's just the most heart- wrenching sight I could have seen.

I got up on a chair right there, and I look at our congregation and I said (Inaudible). We are a Jewish nation that will stand tall. We will not let anyone or anything take us down. Terrorism like this --

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Well, three people were wounded in that attack. CNN's Sara

Sidner spoke to a little girl hit by shrapnel, and she has more now on the shooting.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You heard Rabbi Goldstein, who was injured, his fingers shot off by the gunman, talking about other people inside his synagogue who were also victims. Including a little girl named Noya Dahan, who was eight years old and hit with shrapnel in the face and in the leg. We spoke with her, and here's what she had to say about what happened to her on Saturday.

NOYA DAHAN, WOUNDED IN SYNAGOGUE SHOOTING: My uncle, he was holding my hand, and he was, like, grabbing me and stuff. And the person who was shooting, he was aiming at him. So he -- it hit him in the -- like, it went like that. It hit me, too.

SIDNER: So you got hit with shrapnel?

DAHAN: Yeah.

SIDNER: Little pieces?

DAHAN: No, like, the main one is pretty big, but these ones are little pieces. So this was like a pretty big piece. And then it went back here.

SIDNER: So the piece of shrapnel went in your leg and then came out the other side.

DAHAN: Yeah.

SIDNER: What were you thinking then? Did it hurt?

DAHAN: In the first place when it was like gushing blood, I didn't even feel it. And then after, like, they wiped it and then, like, the blood was off and it was, like, it felt like I had a giantest bruise ever. It was just hurting bad.

SIDNER: Her father says that his daughter was saved by her own uncle. He was grabbing all of the children up, trying to get them out of harm's way when he too was hit in the leg by a bullet and his niece hit with shrapnel there. The father also described the terror and the heartache as he watched the gunman take aim at the people he loved and killed one of the congregants.


CHURCH: Our Sara Sidner reporting there. Well, now to Sri Lanka, which remains on high alert amid warnings more attacks could be imminent. The country's president has banned the burqa, some Muslim women wear. He calls them a security risk and a flag of fundamentalism. This comes in the wake of the deadly Easter bombings. Police think a local extremist group, NTJ, is behind the bombings. They are focusing on the group's leader who died during the Easter

massacre. His sister tells our Sam Kylie up to 18 members of their family are missing and feared dead.


[02:05:05] SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Their plots foiled, three terrorists rant. Bombs primed and on the brink of annihilation, they boast of taking their families with them. They made that video as the police and army were closing in on their position, and then they took the final option, self (Inaudible), suicide, and the murder of their children and wives.

Two brothers and the father of Zahran Hashim, the alleged mastermind of Sri Lanka's Easter massacres, killed themselves, their three wives and six children with three bombs. The Hashim brothers were identified by the police and their sister who spoke to CNN. We have hidden her identity for her own security.

MOHAMED HASHIM MATHANIYA, SISTER OF ZAHRAN HASHIM: I have a suspicion that the six children who died are from our family.

KILEY: Hashim's daughter and wife somehow survived and are stable in hospital. While they recovered, families of people, his gang murdered in nearby Batticaloa was unable to attend services on Sunday. There are government warnings of more attacks like this, where last week, a Hashim follower is filmed on CCTV idling outside the (Inaudible) church, waiting for the end of Sunday school, then he heads down the alley, sets off his bomb.

The blast is felt by worshippers, and then they are struck with incredulous terror. He killed 26 people, 14 of them children. The Santhakumar family lost Sheron, 12, and Sara, 10. He loved art. She was sporty and mischievous. (Inaudible), their little sister is now an only child. How do you feel towards the people who did this to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we are Christians, we are not supposed to retaliate. We didn't expect this to happen, but still we can't do anything.

KILEY: Do you agree?

KAOWSALYA SANTHAKUMAR, MOTHER OF VICTIMS: Yes. The Lord has taught us about love. We cannot do anything, but they will reap what they sow.

KILEY: Terror has now been sown here, but Sri Lankans are determined that it won't produce a harvest of poison, Sam Kiley, CNN, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka.


CHURCH: And CNN's Nikhil Kumar joins me now from Colombo, Sri Lanka with more, so Nikhil, what is the latest on the hunt for more suspects as the country remains on high alert, fearing more attacks there. NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Rosemary.

The country is on high alert. And there is this ongoing search for more suspects, people who might be plotting more attacks. Dozens of people were arrested over the weekend following that shootout in eastern Sri Lanka that Sam referred to in his report. And, you know, the whole -- the Security Service has uncovered as they raided those places, 150 sticks of explosives, 100,000 ball bearings, a drone, ISIS flag, other paraphernalia.

All of that pointed to the sophistication of this terror cell. We know from three Sri Lankan MPs who told CNN that their security details had received warnings of further attacks in the works. So this is very much a tense and a fluid situation that is still unfolding as the authorities here try to get ahead of this group and other perpetrators who might be out there.

Of course, all of this coming after concerns in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks when we learned that the authorities had received advance warning. We know that they heard at least thrice from Indian intelligence telling them that attacks could be in the works. But for some reason that didn't happen, they didn't take any action on that intelligence.

So now, they're working as hard as possible to get ahead of this group to make sure that no further attacks take place. Yesterday was Sunday, one week after the attacks. As Sam mentioned, people couldn't go back into churches from the Catholic community here for their services. So the archbishop of Colombo had a private service at his home attended by the president, the prime minister, and the leader of the opposition in a show of unity, which was broadcast live on television here, so worshippers could join in from the safety of their houses.

All of it underlining just how tense and how fluid the situation here still is more than one week on from those devastating attacks, Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Nikhil, what's been the reaction there to this burqa ban, and what's behind that?

KUMAR: So the president's office, Rosemary, announced this last night, Sunday night local time. It comes into effect today on Monday. The reaction so far, the main body of Islamic clerics in this country, they've supported it. They say that we're supporting this to aid the security services to identify the perpetrators behind those Easter Sunday attacks, their associates, who may still be out there.

[02:09:58] So the message very much from all quarters is that we support this as the Security Services go into small towns around this country, go into villages to try and find other people who may be plotting further attacks. The emphasis here very much is to make sure that nothing untoward happens now, because, you know, for people here, they spend a decade now coming out of the shadow of a devastating civil war, which ended in 2009.

They've spent a decade rebuilding. They've spent a decade embarking on a process of reconciliation. And the last thing that anybody wants here, we've been speaking to people over the past week from the Muslim community, from the Christian community, Buddhist, Hindus. Everyone has said the same thing to us, that the one thing that they do not want to see compromised now is that process of reconciliation.

So the community is trying as hard as possible to hold together. And so far, everyone is supporting this and other measures, even as these measures, you know, there is a palpable climate of fear here. So even as people try to come to terms with that awful death toll, they are quite fearful when they go out. But nonetheless, they say that look. First and foremost, this threat needs to be dealt with, Rosemary.

CHURCH: Indeed. And, of course, the Sri Lankan government dropped the ball on this. The pressure is on to ensure that there are no more attacks across the country. We'll keep an eye on that. And Nikhil, we shall talk again next hour, many thanks to you. Well, for more, I am joined now from Portland, Oregon by Randy Blazak. He is the Chairman of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime and a sociologist. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So we are witnessing an increasing number of hate crimes like this, targeting places of worship, the churches in Sri Lanka, the synagogues in California and Pennsylvania, the mosques in New Zealand, and many more other examples. What is behind these violent and hate- filled crimes, and why are we seeing more of them, do you think?

BLAZAK: Yeah, I mean, it's time to really start putting this in a global perspective. We're not really seeing just something that is happening in the United States or any particular country. We're seeing a global trend towards nationalism. That there is a rejection of globalization and the complexity of the global market for these kind of nationalist movements, whether it's Brexit in England or Hindu nationalism in India, that people are kind of pulling up the drawbridges and wrapping themselves in the flags and engaging in their violence targeted at the other.

People were perceived to be this sort of either the causes of the international changes in the country or the conspirators behind globalization. So you get both targeting of Muslim immigrants, Jews who are believed to be a part of some global conspiracy. The media has been a target. And it's really this kind of overwhelming rejection of globalization in favor of these pseudo fascist nationalist movements.

CHURCH: Why do you think that's happening, though? And do you think leaders are helping to fuel that way of thinking?

BLAZAK: Yeah, I mean, this has been the big issue, that the leaders aren't necessarily the cause of it. They're kind of a manifestation of this nationalistic trend. But they're adding fuel to this fire that will ultimately leave the world in ashes. I mean there is this real hyping of this nationalist rhetoric that whether or not they intend to, they're really fueling a lot of these people who are kind of in the margins and not able to comprehend the complexity of the world at the moment.

And they find solace on the internet. They find solace in the underground. They find solace kind of in the notion of armed revolution and solving problems through these sorts of hyper-masculine violent means. And so I am afraid to say that we're looking at a lot more of these types of attacks until we get a handle on how to help these people manage the complexity of the modern world.

CHURCH: We did, though, all witness the prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, take the lead after the deadly shootings in two mosques in March this year in her country, reaching out to the Muslim community in a way few other leaders have ever done. And we've also seen some religious leaders unite in the aftermath of attacks on synagogues, mosques, and churches in the United States and elsewhere.

It has to be said. But these are rare events, aren't they? What will it take for other leaders across the globe to do the same? And what difference could that make if they do that?

BLAZAK: It can make a big difference, because (Inaudible) people willing to kind of be less defensive. We've been using this term fragility a lot lately. We have a lot of fragile leaders who want to kind of build walls as opposed to opening doors and kind of acknowledging some of the mistakes of the past. And so the road map we have are from former members of extremist groups, whether they're jihadists or white supremacists who have come out of that movement have told us the way they came out is because the people they were taught to hate actually opened their hands and their hearts to them and kind of gave them permission not to hate these people.

[02:14:53] And so we know how to do it. We just have to have good leadership that can follow that path. That can be, you know, a little bit vulnerable in a time when everybody wants to kind of be in a defensive position. And I think that's the way out.

CHURCH: Right. And it's important to look at those ways out. How do you think these perpetrators of hate crimes like this explain and justify their own actions? Is it all about revenge and taking vengeance on those who have attacked their people? And so we have this endless cycle.

BLAZAK: Yeah, I mean, it's really this sort of simplistic way of looking at the world, this us versus them binary. And they get pulled in, and they get pulled in because they're finding their analysis online. They're finding their analysis from extremists. And they're not really engaging in the world as we know it, the way that most people are. And so there is this kind of Petri dish of extremism that happens while these people withdraw from the world and find their community online.

And then it magnifies it, and then all of a sudden there is this justification for violence. And what they see as their global holy war that leads them to commit these acts of violence. And they believe that they're justified in doing it.

CHURCH: Hopefully, we will see better leadership across the globe on this particular issue to help people realize this isn't the path we want to go down. Randy Blazak, thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

BLAZAK: Pleasure.

CHURCH: Well, the people of Spain have voted. But with the country's political divide deeper than ever, it will take a lot of work to form a functioning coalition. We'll take a look at that when we come back. Stay with us.


CHURCH: Well, the White House battle against congressional oversight may intensify this week. U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, is scheduled to appear before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday to discuss the Mueller report. But a source tells CNN Barr objects to committee lawyers joining in the questioning. And he's threatening not to show up if that doesn't change. Barr is also opposed to a closed session with committee members to discuss the full report.

The House Judiciary Committee Chairman said if Barr refuses to testify, the committee will subpoena him. Natasha Lindstaedt joins us now from Colchester, England. She's a professor of government at the University of Essex, good to have you with us.


CHURCH: So Attorney General Bill Barr threatening not to appear before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, because of objections he has to the format. Why do you think Barr is so worried about being questioned by committee lawyers?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think he's worried about being questioned by committee lawyers' that may have much more expertise in this particular subject than even Congress members, who themselves often are lawyers, and some of them are even former federal prosecutors. But the level of expertise may lead to a line of questioning that from the Republicans' perspective will get into nitpicking, fact checking, and that may not make him look particularly good.

And one of the big questions is about obstruction of justice. And why he seemed to present the findings of the Mueller report in such a different way in his press conference and in his four-page summary than the actual report revealed. And so they're going to want to get to the bottom of this. And then he has -- if there are experts sort of asking him this in a way that sort of puts him into a corner.

He might not be so happy with that. But there is another view about why having expert there -- expert lawyers to question him might be a good thing. Typically, when politicians are questioning people in these hearings, there's a lot of political grandstanding. A lot of it is for show. And it sometimes gets off track from the real purpose. So though it's unusual to have their counsels' question someone, it's not unprecedented.

CHURCH: Right.

LINDSTAEDT: And it may enable us to get to the facts a little better.

CHURCH: So what are the optics of a U.S. attorney general refusing to appear before a committee because he doesn't want to answer questions about the Mueller report?

LINDSTAEDT: Well, I think it just illustrates how polarized U.S. politics is at this time. Someone was describing it almost as a warzone. There are just two sides. They're very clearly stuck in their interpretations of the Mueller report. They seem to have vastly different interpretations of the Mueller report. And it just looks that the -- you know, the Democrats in the House who are pursuing Barr and the Republicans are on completely different pages.

I mean he's threatening that he might not show up. I do think they are going to be able to come to some sort of deal and he will show up on Thursday. And, of course, he is showing up to the Senate hearings on Wednesday, but that's a much friendlier environment that he is reaching, that he will be facing. And so, you know, the optics of this just doesn't look good.

CHURCH: Right.

LINDSTAEDT: It just illustrates both to the U.S. public and to the world how divisive U.S. politics is at this moment.

CHURCH: Right. And, of course, the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Jerry Nadler, says the committee will not change the format, and says if Barr refuses to show up, he'll subpoena him and Barr would be held in contempt of Congress. How long will a process like that take? And is it a little a little bit about running out the clock? We've seen that strategy used certainly by the Trump administration. Is that's what's going on here, do you think?

LINDSTAEDT: I think everything revolving around the Mueller report is about running out the clock. Because if they just refuse to do things, just don't comply with some of the requests, then it will get locked into a legal battle. This could take a really long time. And then at that point, it's going to be no longer as relevant to the U.S. public.

And it seems to be what the strategy is, if they just sort of don't comply to things then it's going to prevent the Democrats from getting the information at the time that they want to, which is really right immediately after the report was released.

CHURCH: Right. Natasha Lindstaedt, thank you so much for joining us and sharing your analysis, always appreciated.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Well, Spain's Socialist Party is celebrating its election victory. They'd won the most parliamentary seats in Sunday's hotly- contested general election, but fell short of an outright majority. So now, it's on to the hard task of forming a governing coalition. Something Spain has never had to do before. The country's deep political divide is more apparent than ever. CNN's Espanol reporter Vera Catano has more.


[02:25:11] VERA CATANO, CNN ESPANOL: With more than 95 percent of the vote counted in the general election in Spain, the Socialist Party has won this election, although there is not majority enough of to form government, as it was expected. Five main parties were called today to have the best results. They were the people's party, the socialists, also (Inaudible) citizens and books, this far-right party which appeared in 2013.

And which finally got a little bit more of 20 seats in parliament, which is an important result, but not as big as expected. We have to remember that this party got parliamentary representation for the first time in December 2018. But as we are saying, the socialists won this election. Now, it will be necessary to have coalitions with other parties, because they need to have the support of at least 176 deputies from parliament out of a total of 350.

So the most probably will be that the socialists have a coalition maybe with Unidos Podemos, but they still need more support, so maybe smaller parties will be needed to form this government. We have to remember that this was a snap election that was called by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez because he couldn't get the support enough to approve his government's budget.

He was just as a prime minister one year here in Spain. And then he called for this snap election. But now he has won the vote, as we are insisting. It will be necessary in a country, which is very much bipartisan system. People's party and socialists were the two main parties not a long time ago. This reality has changed. The corruption cases affecting the traditional parties, but also the economical crisis has made new parties to appear and also citizens who are more divided.

This has been a very divided election, although we have this winner now. We'll have to wait until we know the coalitions that can be made to assure that they can form a government. If not, after two months, they will be needed to call for another election. Vera Catano, Madrid.


CHURCH: Thank you so much. Well, some of the survivors in the synagogue attack survived violence in Israel. Why this Israeli is being called a hero for his actions in California. We'll have that in just a moment.


[02:31:13] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and of course all around the world. You are watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. Let's update you now on the main stories we've been watching this hour. The Sri Lankan president is banning the Burqas some Muslim women wear after the deadly Easter Sunday bombings, calling them a security risk and flag of fundamentalism.

Meantime, the country is still on high alert with warnings that more attacks could be emanate. More than 270 election workers have died from illnesses related to overwork following the April 17th vote in Indonesia. According to CNN Indonesia, the election chief admits the tight timeline to deliver results and holding presidential and legislative elections simultaneously were partly to blame.

The city of Poway, California is mourning after Saturday's attack on a synagogue. Survivors are speaking out about the shooting which killed one person. The rabbi wounded in the attack says, the gunman was wearing sunglasses. He looked to the shooter but says, "couldn't see his eyes, I couldn't see his soul". One of the survivors, Almog Peretz was visiting at the U.S. from Israel, joining his family at Passover. He's being praised as a hero in his homeland. CNN'S Oren Liebermann has more.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The streets of Sderot never felt quite safe enough for the family of Ahron Peretz. To many times his family had to run to the bomb shelter, as red alerts warn of incoming fire. In the city of Sderot, right in the edge of Gaza here behind me, living under the threat of rocket fire or mortar fire is a constant. The family of Ahron Peretz left Sderot to try to get far away from that danger.

On Saturday, during the Sabbath on the end of a holiday Passover, police say 19 year old John Earnest entered the Chabad synagogue in Poway and open fire. 34 year old Almog Peretz was shot in the leg. He was at the synagogue with his family, when he heard the gunshots. He sees the shooter aimed at him like a sniper and open fire as Peretz rushed to get his niece and other children out on an emergency exit. That niece, nine year old Noya Dahan, was injured by shrapnel from the shooting.

SIMON PERETZ (through translator): He is now, not just a hero of the family, which he's always been, he is the hero of the entire country of Israel and I'm very proud that I have brother like this, not just that he saved his nieces, but that he saved all of the kids that were there.

In Sderot, Ahron Peretz was celebrating the end of Passover in Israel, when news of the shooting shattered their party.

AHRON PERETZ (through translator): We were very afraid my wife and I. We started to run to figure out how we could get hold of them, how to find out what happened to them.

LIEBERMANN: The family has watched the news nonstop, trying to glean something, anything from San Diego. They're standing in the exact spot a Qassam rocket landed a few years ago destroying their kitchen.

AHRON PERETZ: We had Qassam rockets here we were hit by two Qassam rockets in this house. The children always said, let's leave, let's leave but my wife and I stayed here and they left for the United States. They left because of Qassam rockets. And suddenly, terror comes to them in San Diego which is unbelievable. I didn't believe something like this could happen.

LIEBERMANN: The family's top priority now is getting to San Diego as quickly as possible. The best thing they can do now they say, is to be together. Oren Liebermann, CNN, Sderot.


CHURCH: It has been just over a week since the deadly bombings in Sri Lanka and the country is still on high alerts of the fears, more attacks could occur in the come in coming days. The Sri Lankan tourism industry is among many bracing for tough times as a result of those bombings. Our John Defterios is in Dubai attending a travel and tourism trade show and spoke to a top Sri Lankan tourism official about the situation, John joins us now. So, John, what all did that Sri Lankan official tell you about concerns relating to tourism in the wake of this attacks?


JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN BUSINESS EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, you know, it's a delicate balance Rosemary. This is a fixture on the calendar every year, so Sri Lanka had to be here one way or another. They found themselves in a spotlight. They don't want to be in right now, answering why there were so many security lapses. This is a huge show, by the way.

40,000 participants from 83 countries so, the messages to Sri Lanka is, look we did nearly 50 arrests over the weekend. So, we are on the ball here. They have to convince locals that security apparatus will be ready. But also to the international market, they were expecting a record 3 million visitors in 2019. The official target was two and a half. But they had so much demand after the holiday season at the end of 2018 and of the start of this year, the number was raised.

Now it's a game about rebuilding. So, here's the chairman of the tourism development authority. About the shock he faced immediately and now trying to get security right.

KISHU GOMES, CHAIRMAN OF SRI LANKA TOURISM DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: It was so devastating and I was shocked and I didn't know for a moment, how to respond to it. But surely having understood the situation, we then acted on it, you know, as to what our obligations are, what our accountabilities are, in terms of helping these hotels. We met with the senior management of the hotels and we almost immediately offered assistance in many different areas.

And having said that, we then started visiting all the hospitals, we personally visited, you know, all the injured people and we talk to them and made sure that they were comfortable and they were receiving the right treatments in, at this government and private hospitals.

DEFTERIOS: You know, your international destination has been put on the map by leading publications, and you fought a civil war that lasted 30 years. In your wildest mind, did you ever think your sector would be under such severe attack from an incident like this?

GOMES: To be very honest, no, not at all. I mean, things were very, very peaceful. The perception was that Sri Lanka was the, you know, safest country in the world. That's the kind of perception we had. So, probably -- you know, that's we are a country went wrong. Remind you having said that, you know, we've battled with the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world for 30 long years.

And Sri Lanka had the military power to be able to deal with that effectively. So our military has the capability, they have the knowledge. They had the experience to be able to control this element. Of course, the difference is that, you know, this is a global terrorism and that was a local terrorism. Local terrorism was bad enough. But, with that experience, more than confident that, you know, they will control the situation sooner than later.

DEFTERIOS: Final point. Never let your guard down. This is the message to the security peoples, even the government that just didn't take the threats with a sense of urgency. Is that the number one lesson you have learned out of this?

GOMES: It is. You said it. Clearly, you know, you can't take things for granted. Safest country today can be the most vulnerable country tomorrow. This is global terrorism and we will (inaudible) it can be some other country, you know, someday. Surely, we need to stand together and fight against global terrorism.

DEFTERIOS: Kishu Gomes, once again the chairman of the tourism development authority, Rosemary. He was a 100 meter high hurdle champion in Sri Lanka. This is a very steep hurdle for the country. He admits it right now. He said now, that occupancy rates are just at 25 percent in Colombo, about half what they should be and in the hill stations and tea plantation, resorts only about 33percent. It's been a shock, not as bad as many are reporting from the capital of Colombo right now.

He did suggest that either at the end of this week or early next week, they're going to have a major press conference with the military to announce the new apparatus, the games or the moves they have made against international terrorism and the infiltration until the locals as well. So, they hope that will be the turning point, but they have to come to Dubai the Arabian travel market to suggest we're not, not down forever. We can get back up.


Church: Yes, indeed, John Defterios joining us there from Dubai, many thanks. Well the U.S. now admits it promised North Korea two million dollars for the release of American student Otto Warmbier. Pyongyang reportedly requested the money to cover Warmbier's hospital care. The White House National Security Adviser says, the U.S. Accepted the bill, but never made the payment. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Did North Korea demand money for the

release of Otto Warmbier?

JOHN BOLTON, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: It appears that they did. This occurred before I came into the administration, but that is my understanding, yes.

WALLACE: Did the U.S. Official who was there to get him out of the country, Joseph Yun. Did he sign a document pledging the money in order to get him out?

BOLTON: That is what I am told, yes.

WALLACE: And I guess the bottom, the bottom line question is, did the U.S. pay any money to North Korea, however it was disguise after Warmbier was released?

BOLTON: Absolutely not. And I think that's the key point. The President has been very successful in getting 20 plus hostages release from imprisonment around the world and has not paid anything for any of them.


CHURCH: And Warmbier was released in 2017, but he returned home with brain damage and died several days later. Mozambique is still reeling from the strongest cycle into ever make landfall there. Streets are flooded and thousands of homes are destroyed. The question now, how much longer will it continue, we will have a weather update for you when we come back.


[02:44:00] CHURCH: Well it has been four days since Cyclone Kenneth struck Mozambique and now at least nine people have been confirm dead, five in Mozambique and four in the Comoros Islands of the coast. The remnants of the storm have brought flashfloods that have turned streets into rivers. A group says thousands of people in the area don't have access to much needed relief supplies (inaudible) Pedram Javaheri has been watching all of this. He joins us now with more on the conditions there. Pedram what are you seeing?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMERICAN-IRANIAN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Rosemary, you know, it's dryer across this region of course, it was just six weeks ago we had a tropical system made landfall that. At that time was strongest we'd seen in a decade. This particular storm comes to shore. As a category four equivalent the strongest all time. Observe the closest part of the world.

There is Idai from six weeks ago going right ashore or over Beira which population a closer to half a million and then you work your way towards the north. Just north of Pemba as were this system made landfall as a category four equivalent. The reason I put equivalent on that is because, cyclones are not categorize across this part of the world. [02:45:08] But when you're talking about a storm of that magnitude having winds over 200 km/h. A menacing feature here, and even four days after the fact. Look at satellite imagery. Still, see if thunderstorms still seem convection across this region. That's the last thing you want to see in a storm that is essentially what is left of it becoming a snail's pace movement here with the weak steering environment.

And we know rainfall amounts that exceeded 300 to 400 millimeters, so far, which is about 12 to 15 inches of rainfall in the first four days since landfall. And when you look at this, we're in the tail end of the wet season, and that typically as you go into the months of May, June, and July, the bottom drops out here and very dry conditions persist. But the reason 600 millimeters or about 20 inches is significant in the first four months is because the river levels have already reached pretty high values here in recent months because of all of that rainfall.

So, additional rainfall is certainly not what you want to see. And in the next five days with this week, steering environment, we think another half a meter of rain comes down over this region. So, certainly going to be a concerning scenario here.

And we know upwards of almost a million people have been impacted or displaced by this particular storm. Some 30,000 properties have been destroyed as well across areas of northern Mozambique and for the next couple of days, we'll expect to see a persistent thunderstorms here every single afternoon.

Again, in some cases, those numbers may be similar to what came ashore there with the initial landfall, as far as how much rainfall fell across this region, and that's going to be something we'll follow over the next couple of days.

And Rosemary, you'll notice a rainfall probability here, 90 percent, 90 percent, and then, 100 percent. So, it's going to be a challenge and go over this region.

[02:46:41] CHURCH: Yes, it most definitely will. Thanks so much for bringing us up to date on that situation. Pedram, appreciate it.

JAVAHERI: Thank you.

CHURCH: An historic debut at the box office, Avengers: Endgame sets all kinds of records this weekend. And we speak with one super fan about the movie, and about a record of his own. We'll back with that in just a moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the fight of our lives.




[02:50:47] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three, two, one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No fears, no regrets. Part of the journey is the end.


CHURCH: It is a movie phenomenon. 11 years, and 22 films in the making, Avengers: Endgame. Hit theaters this weekend and it snapped box-office records with a billion dollar global debut.

It is the first time a movie has crossed that mark in its opening weekend. So, let's get more on all of this with Tony Mitchell, also known as Nem: The Infinity Watcher on Twitter. He is a Marvel superfan, who's seen Infinity War, 103 times. Great to have you with us, and congratulations on that record.

TONY MITCHELL, SUPER FAN OF MARVEL: Thank you for having me, I appreciate it.

CHURCH: And, of course, we will get to your Infinity War record in just a moment. But first, of course, let's talk about the final Avengers movie, Endgame, breaking box-office records right now without giving away anything. What did you think, did it live up to all the hype? Did the movie end the way you expected it would?

MITCHELL: It -- you know, it deserves all the money it can get, because that movie is really good. That's all I can say. It's a perfect ending to an 11-year journey. It's just -- it was amaze -- it's a cinematic masterpiece. I can't say enough about this movie. It's definitely a satisfying payoff for all of the people who have been watching all these films since 2008, and it's great. Everybody needs to go see it, at least, 3times.

CHURCH: At least, not 103 times, right? So, let's go back to your own personal record because it's extraordinary. As mentioned, you've watched Marvel's Infinity War more than 100 times. Why did you decide to go after the record on this particular movie? And why was it so compelling in your view?

MITCHELL: Well, after like the sixth or seventh time that I watched the movie, I just happened to think to myself, I wonder if this is a world record. And I looked it up, and it was not, so, I decided to go after it. I wanted to make it a very high mark, and that's what I set out to do.

The reason that I watched it so many times is that it was just -- it's amazing. The Russo Brothers did an excellent job with this storytelling. It -- every -- the lore of it, everything was just out of this world, and it blew me away. It was very -- I don't want to give anything away in case somebody hasn't seen it.

CHURCH: Yes. Exactly.

MITCHELL: But, it was definitely, very bold. CHURCH: So, how did Endgame measure up to Infinity War? Would you watch Endgame more than 100 times, do you think?

MITCHELL: I definitely will not be going after that record anymore. It was a one and done situation. I can -- I will plot anyone who wants to go after that record. Go ahead, you'd be my guest. But it is definitely a movie that I will be watching a lot in the theater.

I've already seen it four times, I'm going back to see it tomorrow morning. So, yes. It's an -- as far as measuring up to Infinity War, it's really just comparing apples to oranges. They're two totally separate movies. They do complement each other perfectly. But I cannot say which one is better than the other. But -- because they're both so amazing.

CHURCH: All right. So, after such dedication, did you feel sad at the end just knowing that that's it, the end of the Avengers movies, did you cry?

MITCHELL: No, I didn't cry. What? Everyone else in the theater did. Everyone else did. But me, I was the only one that was -- you know, standing fast. But, I don't -- I don't think that this is the end of the Avengers movies. I feel like this is a start of a new chapter, and I can't wait to see what happens in the future for these films.

CHURCH: What do you mean, the start of a new chapter?

MITCHELL: Well, if you've seen the movie, you know that there's a lot of passing of the torch, and things of that nature. So, it'll definitely continue.

CHURCH: OK. All right. Well, OK, that's interesting. And I did want to ask you this because an NFL star ruined it for many people. Posting spoilers about Endgame on his social media accounts. And just by police not to do that from Marvel and, of course, all those involved in the movie. And fans understandably were furious. What do you say to him and anyone else who plans to reveal the movie's end before others get to see it?

[02:55:04] MITCHELL: All I can say is that -- you know, I actually I can't say it on T.V.

CHURCH: But, what do you think -- why do you think he --


MITCHELL: Just don't spoil the Endgame.

CHURCH: But why do you think he did it? Do you think it's -- he had no idea that the movie maker set said -- say nothing?

MITCHELL: I don't think he understands the importance of not spoiling a movie of this magnitude. I mean, again, this is an over decade long journey for people. And we don't like it when people spoil our movies. I mean, just don't say anything on social media. But I will say that if you haven't seen the movie, and you haven't been spoiled by now, you need to turn off of your social medias, OK? No Instagrams, no Twitter, get off of it.

CHURCH: Right.

MITCHELL: Because you will -- you'll find something.

CHURCH: Yes. Good advice. Tony Mitchell, great to chat with you. Appreciate it.

MITCHELL: Thank you very much.

CHURCH: Take it out and say that. All right, there is new speculation about what the Duke and Duchess of Sussex might do after the birth of their baby. The Sunday Times reports Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will go to Africa for two weeks when the baby is around six months old.

Now, last week, you'd remember, the paper suggested the couple was considering a longer-term move to the continent. Buckingham Palace isn't commenting on the report. The baby is expected any day now.

I'm Rosemary Church, I'll be back with another hour of news right after this short break. Don't go anyway.