Return to Transcripts main page
Charges Abruptly Dropped Against Russian Journalist; Report Slams Oxfam Response To Haiti Abuse Allegations; Botswana's High Court Scraps Ban on Gay Sex; Vatican Report Calls Non-Binary Gender "Fictitious"; Hong Kong Government Postpones China Extradition Bill Debate. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired June 12, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:16] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and thanks for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.
Ahead this hour, a victory for protestors in Hong Kong. The government postpones debate on a controversial bill after thousands of demonstrators hack the streets. Plus, Oxfam's culture of tolerating poor behavior. A new report finds the British charity look the other way when faced with allegations of sexual abuse. And later, the trip of the iceberg. One man's bold plan to get clean drinking water way thirsty city.
Glad you could join us, and we are tracking developments in Hong Kong. Where the cities lawmakers appeared to have blinked in the face of another massive protest. The government was supposed to be debating a controversial extradition bill right now, but they say that's delayed after what you see here.
Thousands of demonstrators gathering on the streets over the past several hours. The bill they are rallying against will let criminal suspects be extradited to mainland China. Critics' fear that could allow a crackdown on political dissidents or journalist.
For more, CNN's Andrew Stevens joins us now live from the streets of Hong Kong. So, Andrew, why did legislators decide to delay debate on this controversial bill and what impact might that have?
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the simply case, Rosemary that there were so many demonstrators down here that the legislators could not get to work.
This is the legislative council behind me, that -- the black building directly behind me. And as you can see in front, there is now a sea of umbrellas, who just had an absolute massive downpour here. It hasn't deterred most of the protesters though.
And if you imagine that sea of protesters pretty much wraps now around the entire building. So, even though there is other entrances to the Legislative Council, they decided that they would postpone these the hearing is called the second reading, the second of three readings before a vote is taken. And they would let us know which they haven't yet when it would resume.
But you can see the demonstrators here who have been filing in since the early morning. Hundreds and hundreds and thousands, and building up to now, tens of thousands of protesters surrounding the Legislative Council building.
And they've put these barriers in place. Pretty much around as much as the perimeter as they can to try to slow down any sort of police advance. Now, there is quite a strong police presence behind our camera position here. But they're about 400 to 300 meters behind us. But they have not moved in the last three or four hours as we've been standing here.
So, at these states, the protesters feel that it's partly a job done. They have postponed this. A long way to go, the protesters we speak to, Rosemary, say that they've got no intention of leaving until they actually get something more concrete from the government. Now, to this stage, the government is not doing anything like changing its mind on this bill.
CHURCH: Right. And as you say and we don't know when they're going to resume debate on this, perhaps testing the resilience here of the protesters. What will they do if this may take hours possibly, days before a debate is resumed on the bill? What's the plan?
STEVENS: Well, the government has given legislators 66 hours of debate time on this second reading. So, if they're doing an eight- hour a day that could take us through towards the end of next week. So, this is going to be a long drawn-out process.
The demonstrators say they are planning to stay -- many they say they're planning to stay. There has been some confrontation here. The police have used pepper spray on several occasions as protesters pushed into barriers very close to that Legislative Council building. But the pepper spray did nothing to deter anybody that the big crowds are still here. So, it is pretty much a standoff at the moment. The police have for the main part of the time stood back and watched this develop.
As you can see, the protesters have basically taken over the barricades which was supposed to be used for the police or by the police. At the moment, the police are holding -- they holding ground but quite a long way from the Legislative Council buildings.
CHURCH: All right. We shall, of course, continue to monitor this story. Our Andrew Stevens coming to us live from the streets of Hong Kong there just after 1:00 in the afternoon. Many thanks to you.
Well, in an abrupt turnaround, Russian authorities dropped drug charges against a prominent investigative journalist. Ivan Golunov is free after a unified show of support by the Russian media and the threat of a massive protest march. Matthew Chance has a report.
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ivan Golunov emerged from his house arrest to the applause of supporters and fellow journalists who'd gathered outside to greet him. It is this rare show of public unity and support that seems to have forced the Russian authorities to set him free. He gave thanks, wiping tears of relief from his eyes.
IVAN GOLUNOV, RUSSIAN INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST (through translator): I'm glad that justice has triumphed and that the criminal case is dropped. I hope the investigation will continue and that no one will ever find themselves in the same situation as me. CHANCE: One of Russia's most prominent investigative reporters,
Golunov faced up to 20 years in prison after police allege they found him with illegal drugs, a charge he categorically denied.
But there was broad suspicion the charges were fabricated to silence him. His expose aides of official corruption in Moscow had made him powerful enemies. There were also concerns he'd been beaten in police custody. The outpouring of public support seems to have caught the Russian authorities' off-guard.
These were the identical front pages of Russia's three most prominent business dailies on Monday. "We are, I am, Ivan Golunov", they read an unprecedented show of solidarity from organizations who rarely veer from the Kremlin life. And in a country where organized assembly is tightly controlled, sympathizers stage the single person protest to circumvent restrictions. Ivan Golunov case seems to have struck a sensitive chord.
Even Russia's most prominent state T.V. anchor often dubbed up the Kremlin's propaganda in chief are raised questions about the arrests. Police were not blameless, Dmitry Kiselyov suggestive, and has acted quite rough, he says. Even on Russia's compliant state television, a sense the authorities had gone too far.
It's why they appear to have acted unusually quickly. The interior minister himself appearing on national television announcing police suspensions and interior ministry firings. He also offered reassurance. "Regardless of the professional affiliation of any Russian citizens then, their rights should always be protected."
And comes as an enormous relief to the many Russians alarmed at how corrupt and unaccountable their country had become. But the question for the Kremlin is whether this climb down would dissipate public anger or merely encourage anti-corruption campaigners here to press on. Matthew Chance, CNN, Moscow.
CHURCH: A new report paints a damning picture of the charity, Oxfam and its response to a sex scandal in Haiti, a British charity regulator says Oxfam had a culture of tolerating poor behavior. Abuse allegations emerged in 2011 and a year after the devastating Haiti earthquake.
That prompted an internal investigation, but Oxfam didn't make the allegations public until last year. Some Oxfam employees were accused of exploiting women and children and there have been allegations that Oxfam's country director for Haiti hired prostitutes.
Joining me now to talk more about this is Larry Lieberman he is the former chief operating officer for Charity Navigator and is now CEO of Coolest Charity. Good to have you with us.
LARRY LIEBERMAN, FORMER CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER FOR CHARITY NAVIGATOR: Good to be here. So busy day.
CHURCH: So, the U.K. Commission said in its findings that Oxfam failed to meet promises made and staff failed to heed warnings and Oxfam displayed a culture of poor behavior. What was your overall response to the report and does it go far enough?
LIEBERMAN: The report certainly seems accurate and fair. The charity commission talks about having gone through over 7,000 pieces of evidence. They've done an investigation in this situation that Oxfam could never have done on their own. And I think all in all, given the size of Oxfam, the work they done -- they do, the reports well balanced.
CHURCH: Now, according to the findings, Oxfam abused victims were sent back to war zones after raising complaints against aid workers. That's very disturbing. What should be the consequences of such actions? We know at this point Oxfam is going to investigate a little bit more they apparently don't know anything about this. What's your response to that?
LIEBERMAN: Well, first, it's far worse than just disturbing. I mean this is truly horrendous. These -- what we -- what we had a year ago were allegations of impropriety, misuse, abuse, assault, and what we now know conclusively is that this is a fact. This abuse occurred, it occurred on Oxfam's watch.
And what we have -- and I think the powerful language in the report is that this is a concern to the entire aid sector. And it's not just Oxfam, I think, the work done by Oxfam is extraordinary.
They do work that no government could do. They do work that private sector couldn't do. They save lives, and certainly, they are the last line of defense, for way too many of our world's population. But if --
CHURCH: Indeed, indeed, but there are many levels of these complaints and that -- that's what's really horrifying here because the report also accuses Oxfam of underplaying the scale of allegations made by victims in Haiti and the U.K. in an attempt to protect the charity's reputation and keep donations flowing in. What should happen to a charity that behaves like that?
I mean, given would you say they do a lot, but this is unforgivable what is happening to children and to women in various parts of the world. This specifically looks at Haiti and the United Kingdom. And it that is a real worry it's actually that the problem here is watching over some of these people in positions of power over those who are vulnerable.
LIEBERMAN: Yes, absolutely. I mean, and what I think what we're hearing now from Oxfam in response that they're investing 3 million euros and then another 550,000 euros to hire new staff and train new staff and change their culture, really isn't likely going to be enough, right?
These are enormous problems of supervision and accountability. And new structure need to be put in place. And organizations far smaller than Oxfam don't even have those kinds of resources to supervise their staff and retraining their staff.
So what we're going to see, God willing is a widespread change within the 8th sector and within other (INAUDIBLE) other portions of the not- for-profit world where far more is being invested in the supervision training of staff so that something like this never occurs again.
CHURCH: And as you say, I mean, Oxfam is such a huge charity and presumably these sorts of problems could occur and may be occurring in other charities. So, this is a wakeup call. Is it not to those charities to put in place some of these procedures to ensure that this does not happen again? But how can you be sure that it won't, particularly in these larger charities?
LIEBERMAN: You know, we're not looking for a situation where an organization is not able to do the work that they've set out to do and do so well, right? An organization like Oxfam may just be too big to support all the different operations that it's got going on. It may need to be reorganized in a way so that anyone countries version of the organization doesn't have such widespread authority over staff all over the world.
CHURCH: Yes, perhaps that is the key, finding a way to keep these charity groups manageable at that manageable sizes. Larry Lieberman, thank you so much for joining us. We do appreciate it.
LIEBERMAN: Thank you.
CHURCH: And still to come on CNN NEWSROOM, as the world celebrates the LGBTQ community, gay rights activists are hailing a big victory after a landmark ruling in Africa. We'll take a look at that.
Plus the Vatican under fire for its views on sexuality. What the church is saying about gender identity? That's still to come. Do stay with us.
[01:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: Well, gay rights activists are celebrating a landmark ruling in Botswana. The country's high court has overturned a Colonial Era ban on same-sex relations. This comes as several African countries review similar laws, as CNN's David McKenzie reports.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the extraordinary scenes and a landmark ruling in a court in Botswana. Now, the LGBT communities say that this is a major success for their movement, and it will bring their community in Botswana, at least, out of the shadows.
The ruling was unanimous, and the ruling itself was emotional. Here is one line, a Democratic society's, one that embraces tolerance, diversity, open-mindedness. It struck down Colonial Era laws which made it illegal for same-sex sexual contact, punishable of up to seven years.
Now, an activist I spoke to in Botswana says it will also enable them now to access health services and get legal aid. It's a success in that country for that community, following on from other successes in Southern Africa, including Angola and Mozambique.
Of course, here in South Africa, LGBT rights are enshrined in the constitution, but there have been setbacks. Just last month, a Kenyan high court ruled that in fact, they would keep those rules in place, those Colonial Era rules.
And there are some 30 odd countries give or take, in Africa, that also have those rules in place, criminalizing gay sex. Several countries, in fact, have the death penalty punishment for that.
So, human rights activists, gay rights activists, have said that this is a major achievement of their movement on the continent and elsewhere in the world, but they say it's a case sometimes of two steps forward, one step back. David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.
CHURCH: And as this is happening in Botswana, the Vatican is coming under fire for rejecting the idea that people could choose or change their gender identities. In a new report on sexuality, the church described non-binary gender as fictitious.
The 31-page document starts off by saying it is becoming increasingly clear that we are now facing what might accurately be called an educational crisis, especially in the field of effectively and sexuality. LGBTQ activists are slamming the report.
Joining me now from Los Angeles is CNN religion commentator, Father Edward Beck, thank you so much for being with us.
FR. EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGIOUS COMMENTATOR: Sure.
CHURCH: So, the Vatican released this 31-page guide for teachers on how to deal with questions concerning sexuality and in it, claimed non-binary gender is fictitious, rejecting the notion that people can choose or change their gender identities.
Why use the word, fictitious, when we all know it is a fact people are choosing their gender identities and why does the Catholic Church want to deny them that right?
[01:20:05] BECK: Well, Rosemary, I think what the document is trying to say is that there is a biological a priority fact about gender identity, that it's not simply a choice, it's not simply sociological or even anthropological that there is biology that says someone is born male or female.
Now, if someone then chooses to change gender or identify with the different gender, that's another situation. But the Vatican document is trying to say that the cultural influence right now seems to be that you just choose it, whatever you feel, whatever you want, is what it can be.
And they're trying to say, well, it's more than that, because, of course, the church's emphasis is on family, procreation, the roles of male and female, so they're trying to -- the Congregations for Catholic Education, who put out these documents, so it's not like Pope Francis promulgated this as church law or teaching, or something.
It's one congregation saying to Catholic educators, we would like you to include in teaching children about this, that we believe there is a biological existential reality to gender identity.
CHURCH: Yes, the Vatican has its stamp of approval on this, though, doesn't it? And reaction has been swift. LGBTQ groups across the globe have condemned this report, calling it despicable, the American Catholic Organization.
The New Ways Ministry, calls it a harmful tool which will be used to oppress and harm, not only transgender people, but also lesbian, gay and bisexual people too. How concerned are you that this document could put some lives in jeopardy because of its rejection of the rightful peaceful to choose their own gender identity?
BECK: Well, Rosemary, I think what's unfortunate is the timing of this and in coming during gay pride --
CHURCH: I want to get to the timing and moment, but let's -- I would like you to address that question.
BECK: Well, I think that what the document says, very clearly is, absolutely, we cannot discriminate, there should be no violence, there should be no bullying, that everybody should be accepted, so in the document, if you read the full document that is clear that that is the church perspective.
What it's trying to say, even in the title, is an invitation to dialog that there is another perspective that the church holds, that this isn't just an individual choice. So, I think what hasn't been reported i that --
CHURCH: But why isn't it?
BECK: Well, because --
CHURCH: So, if a male is born and feels he has the mind and the thinking of a woman and wants to make that transition. Who is the church to say that he shouldn't do that? BECK: Well, the church isn't saying you shouldn't do it, but the church is saying you are born either male or female, X or Y chromosome, and that there is a gender identity that is assigned, except for hermaphrodites, which are very rare occasion, as we know, that someone is born either male or female, so that that gender is God-given, is created, and is biological.
So, it's not saying that someone can't change, I mean, Pope Francis has embraced transgender people, he has met with them, he said there needs to be compassion, understanding.
But I think the teaching simply is that, if we get to a cultural point where we're saying, well, you just choose whatever you want to be, is that factual reality, or is that just a sociological evolution that is saying, well, it really doesn't matter?
And the church is saying, well, hold on. That we have a long history of saying that someone is, in fact, created by God, male or female. In the scriptures, it says God created them male and female, he created them.
So the church is trying to just reemphasize that we need a dialog as to where do we really meet with regard to this teaching and this understanding.
CHURCH: All right. Now, you mentioned the timing, because when we look at the release of this, it's right in the middle of pride month, being marked across the globe. How deliberate was that timing?
BECK: Well, I have seen nothing that said it's meant to coincide with pride month. Now, we know that this has been in the works for a while. When it gets released is sometimes arbitrary. I think, though, it's kind of tone deaf of the Vatican congregation to release it now.
And I also think, Rosemary, what disturbed me was, it doesn't seem, in the document, that the experience of transgender people or people who choose to identify with a different gender, has really been represented.
I would have liked to have seen interviews, consultation, their experience represented, so that with the document says they want a dialog, well there's no dialog evident in the document. And I think that really weakens the perspective of the document. And hopefully now, with some of the controversy, some of that dialogue may, in fact, begin.
CHURCH: Indeed. Father Edward Beck, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
BECK: Thank you, Rosemary.
[01:25:12] CHURCH: Donald Trump and Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, trading insults on the campaign trail, just ahead, guess which one called the other a dummy and a loser. We'll that with you, back in a moment. CHURCH: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Rosemary Church. I want to check the headlines for you this hour.
Hong Kong lawmakers are postponing the debate over a controversial extradition bill. This, as a new round of protest rocks the city.
The bill would allow criminal suspects to be sent to Mainland China. And critics say those powers could be used against journalists and pro-democracy activists. An earlier protest, Sunday, may have been Hong Kong's biggest, in decades.
A Russian investigative journalist is now free, after authorities dropped drug charges against him. Ivan Golunov is known for exposing Moscow City officials' corruption. His release follows a rare show of media unity in his support and the threat of mass protest march.
A historic ruling for gay rights in Botswana, the country's high court has overturned a Colonial Era law, criminalizing consensual same-sex relations. This comes in a country and region where homosexuality remains largely taboo. A gay rights organization says at least 32 African countries have laws making gay sex, illegal.
Well, the race for the White House is not looking good for Donald Trump. According to a new poll from Quinnipiac University, it shows six top Democrats beating the President, in 2020, former Vice President Joe Biden, with a 13-point edge. CNN's Kaitlan Collins has more on the rivalry.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I love Iowa, I've gotten along great. I won Iowa by a lot.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump in Iowa today for the first time this year. But he doesn't have the state to himself.
TRUMP: Joe Biden is a dummy.
COLLINS: The potential 2020 rival, who has consumed him the most, is also in town.
TRUMP: When a man has to mention my name, 76 times, in his speech, that means, he's in trouble.
COLLINS: But the two men, who have traded jabs for weeks, won't come face to face, or even within 100 miles of each other.
[01:29:51] Trump will stay on the western side of Iowa before heading to Des Moines for a fund raiser while Biden campaigns toward the east. Though they may not be in the same air space sources say Biden is definitely occupying Trump's head space which he made obvious today as he lashed out at the former vice president.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he's the weakest mentally. Obama took him off the trash heap but he's even slower than he used to be. Who's the loser?
COLLINS: The President has continued phoning aides and allies early in the morning with one key question. Is Biden a threat to his presidency?
Sources say the President was frustrated after internal campaign polling showed him lagging behind Biden in states that will be critical to a 2020 win. And at one point even doubting if his own campaign's numbers are real though he claimed otherwise today.
TRUMP: My poll numbers are great.
COLLINS: Trump's concern --
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look folks --
COLLINS: -- is that Biden will threaten the blue collar appeal that won him the 2016 election.
TRUMP: The best thing that ever happened to the farmers as me.
COLLINS: While some advisors have told Trump to back off singling out Biden by name those close to him say he enjoys having a foil no matter how far away the election is. Publicly, Trump says he's ready for the fight.
TRUMP: I'd rather run against, I think Biden than anybody.
COLLINS: And as Democrats flood key states in hope of becoming the nominee, Trump's campaign is planning some counter programming of their own in order to take back the airwaves and distract from presidential hopefuls.
Now, of course, these are two men who have been trading insults for weeks, but something about having the two of them in the same state seems to intensify their attacks on each other. And of course, this is a president who prides himself on being a counter puncher. According to those closest to him they'll only expect the President to continue to escalate his attacks on Joe Biden as long as he is seen as a Democratic frontrunner.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN -- traveling with the President in Iowa.
CHURCH: Ron Brownstein is CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor for "The Atlantic" and he joins me now from Los Angeles. Always great to have you with us.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: So dueling events --
CHURCH: -- in the key U.S. state of Iowa for the President and the former vice president. Joe Biden calling Donald Trump an existential threat to America. Trump responding calling Biden a dummy. A little taste of what's to come in the 2020 presidential campaign.
But what we are seeing is the President elevating Biden and playing right into the vice president's plan to make this a two-man race. Who will likely come out on top with this dueling strategy, do you think?
BROWNSTEIN: First, didn't today have you checking your calendar I mean it felt like it should have been June 2020, not June 2019. But it's just sort of reminder of how extraordinary the level of engagement is this far away not only from the primaries but from the general election and also that what we had in President Trump is someone who is I think going to set a new precedent for how involved an incumbent gets in trying to shape the primary of the other party. This is extraordinary what we are seeing.
Look, I think the President taking on Joe Biden plays into Joe Biden's strategy because as you noted and had noted, Joe Biden doesn't really want to engage directly to the extent he can avoid it with the other Democrats.
He wants to kind of focus voters immediately on the choice between him and President Trump because he realizes that his trump card in this very crowded Democratic it is very cry to crowded Democratic primary field is the belief among many Democratic voters that he is the best positioned to beat Donald Trump.
And that argument is centered -- the foundation of that argument is on whether Biden can win back some of those blue collar voters in a state like Iowa across the Midwest who stampeded toward Trump in 2016.
CHURCH: Yes. Because of course, Trump's internal campaign polling shows that in a two-man race, Biden is leading in states that actually helped elect Trump back in 2016 like Michigan and Pennsylvania.
And a new poll from Quinnipiac University shows Biden with commanding lead in the 2020 race. 53 percent to 40 percent over the President. However, we all learned a very hard lesson, didn't we, back in 2016, the polls cannot be trusted.
How reliable are any of these indicators at this juncture? And can we even be sure that Biden will become the Democratic nominee in the end?
BROWNSTEIN: A lot of questions there. No, we cannot be sure that Joe Biden will become the Democratic nominee. But, he is in a strong position in the one sense that we talked about before. Biden's strongest constituency in the Democratic primary are older voters, both white and non-white, over 45.
In this Quinnipiac poll today he led three to one among any other candidates among voters older than 45. Voters older than 45 were 60 percent of all the voters in 2016.
And not only are they the majority of the electorate, if you look at Biden's other top competitors, many of them are better suited to compete for younger voters like Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders despite his own age is much stronger with younger voters. Kamala Harris may turn out that way as well.
[01:35:00] So I think Biden, obviously he struggled both in 1988 and 2008 and there are signs that (INAUDIBLE) stumbled even already. But he has a structural advantage and that he is planning on the bigger side of the field and he has less company there than those who are competing for primarily I think a more youthful audience.
As for the polls, I would just point people for one fact out of the polls today which I think today is the most interesting and telling of all of this flurry of general election polling.
Donald Trump's approval rating in that Quinnipiac poll was 42 (ph) percent. His share of the vote against every Democratic candidate they tested was somewhere between 40, 41, or 42 -- never higher.
This idea that there is some vast hidden Trump vote beyond those who say they approve of him I think is very problematic. It did not happen in 2018. And I think his approval rating will remain the best gauge to how he stands in 2020.
CHURCH: All right. Well, still on polls, let's take a look at a new CNN/Des Moines Register poll for the key state of Iowa showing Biden as the first choice among likely Democratic caucus goers there -- way ahead of the other Democratic presidential candidates. But the research also shows there is not a lot of enthusiasm surrounding Biden.
Is that what President Trump is trying to do here? Kill off any excitement for Biden with derogatory comments about his age, his health, his intelligence?
BROWNSTEIN: Well first, just to go back to what we were talking about, in that CNN poll in Iowa, the age gap again was the driving factor with a four-way pile up among younger voters between Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. But Biden with commanding lead among older voters. People should be watching that And that is I think the key dynamic we're going to see all the way through.
Look, Biden's argument as I said is based on electability above all. He was first elected to local office in 1970 which means that he would be the party's nominee 50 years after he first won office.
That has never happened in American history. We've never had someone become their party's nominee for the first time 50 years after they first won office.
And what that means is he's taken a lot of positions over that 50 years the party has evolved away from. We saw it just the other on the so-called Hyde amendment, on Medicaid. We've seen it on bussing, on issues relating to race and gender obviously coming together in the Anita Hill hearings in 1991.
So there are going to be a lot of younger Democrats who are not enthusiastic about reaching back into the past in that way. What he's got going for him is this kind -- he uses the word existential threat. Democrats feel an existential threat over the prospect of Donald Trump winning for a second term and many Democrats consistently in polling see think Biden is the best chance to beat him.
Now, if he doesn't perform well in the debates, if he doesn't perform well against other Democrats that will obviously be eroded. But as long as that holds up, he has a hammock or a safety net under him and allows him to survive some of these issues about his earlier positions that might take out another candidate.
CHURCH: And Ron -- You mentioned this. For the most part Biden has ignored his Democratic rivals, he has instead has gone after Trump. Is that the best strategy for him to keep hitting back at the President on every issue and anytime he attacks Biden? Or could that backfire?
BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think the general strategy of focusing on Trump rather than the other Democrats is the best strategy for him. Because he is trying to avoid looking like part of this, you know, vast unruly herd. He can't ignore them forever. And certainly when the debates start, they will be directly engaging with him.
We're seeing more of that already with people like Elizabeth Warren at the California Democratic convention las weekend saying the small ideas is over. Or Bernie Sanders saying there's no common ground.
They want to engage with him even if not vice versa. And I think that there is a difference. What he's basically saying that he's going to offer in effect a return to normalcy, to a more kind of civil, less partisan, less polarized politics. And he's got to be careful and I think he is being careful about kind of holding to this line of being forceful and firm and taking the case to Trump but not descending to Trump's level of name-calling.
And don't forget, I mean from Biden's point of view, Trump calling him names isn't all bad because it reminds the kind of swing voters, particularly those suburban white collar voters whoa re really finding economy exactly what they don't like about Donald Trump which is the way he comports himself as president.
CHURCH: Right. And of course, it keeps Biden's name out there, doesn't it.
Ron Brownstein -- always love to chat with you and get your analysis. Appreciate it.
BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.
CHURCH: Well, actor and comedian Jon Stewart appeared before the U.S. Congress Tuesday, angry and unemotional. He's furious that lawmakers not yet fully funded a health care program for 9/11 victims and first responders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[01:39:47] JON STEWART, TV HOST: They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs with courage, grace, tenacity and humility. 18 years later, do yours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And though some members of Congress were present, there were many empty chairs in the committee room, something that made Stewart even angrier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEWART: Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders, and in front of me a nearly empty congress. Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Well, a lawmaker in the room defended the turnout. He pointed out that every member of the subcommittee was there at the hearing and that members from the full committee may have been on other official business.
Well, coming up. Looking for solutions in Cape Town's crisis. After the break the challenging plan to apply a new water supply from the Antarctic. We'll explain.
CHURCH: India is evacuating almost 300,000 people as tropical cyclone Vayu makes its way towards the northwestern part of the country. Officials fear about six million people could be impacted overall. The storm could become the strongest to strike this region in decades.
We turn now to our meteorologist Pedram Javaheri who joins us with more on the timing of this cyclone. Pedram -- what are you learning?
PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey Rosemary -- within the next 24 hours we expect this storm system to strengthen just a little bit more, potentially get to category three equivalent, and then make landfall sometime thereafter across this region of Gujarat and western Gujarat on Thursday afternoon.
There it is. Pretty impressive depiction on satellite imagery. 160 kilometer per hour power winds and, frankly, when you see a storm of this magnitude across this region of the radiancy, not a sight you see very often, especially when you work your way into this far to the north. So on approach like thunderstorms, we know the wave heights estimated just north of the storm system sitting at 25 feet or seven and a half meters.
So it's going to be a destructive system certainly. And that's we have hundreds of thousands already evacuating this region. Water temperatures are conducive for additional growth there sitting at about 30 degrees Celsius. 28 degrees Celsius is where water temps need to be to for storms to maintain their intensity.
[01:45:00] And you take a look, the last time a storm of category three equivalent or stronger in strength (ph) made landfall here was this week, 21 years ago back on the night of June in 1998. That storm took with it 10,000 lives across this region of Gujarat. Of course, we know at that, there was very little communication with the workers on the coast there that were most severely impacted by the storm system. So evacuations in place really a good sign. And you notice, well expect to strengthen in the next 24 hours on approach to land to 175 kilometers per hour.
The concern with this particular area as is often the case with the landscape of areas we look at carefully are the bays here because this particular bay, you'll see water want to funnel into this region. Storm surge often the deadliest part of a system here. That could be an area to watch right across this region.
Of, course about a 250 mm amount of rainfall or more possible. So all of this is going to be a very intense 24 hours across this region of western India -- Rosemary.
CHURCH: Yes, absolutely. And we appreciate you keeping an eye on all of that. Thank you so much -- Pedram.
JAVAHERI: Thank you.
Well, last year Cape Town, South Africa nearly became the first major city to run out of water. Years of drought forced officials to declare an emergency. Each household was permitted about 50 liters a day per person, that amount had to cover drinking, cooking and washing.
A search for a solution sparked some innovative ideas including dragging a massive iceberg from the Antarctic to Cape Town to use as a fresh water supply. Nicolas Sloan, a marine salvager, is working with experts to fund an initial tow, it's expected to cross 200 million to drag am iceberg through the rough waters of the Antarctic ocean.
Joining me now from Boston is Caroline Winter, who wrote about this story for Bloomberg Business Week. Great to have you with us.
CAROLINE WINTER, BLOOMBERG BUSINESS WEEK: Thanks for having me.
CHURCH: And it has to be said, it is an extraordinary story and undertaking, towing an iceberg from the Antarctic to Cape Town to bring drinking water, to that city's four million people where they're having some problems there.
So how exactly does Nicholas Sloan plan to tow a 100 million tons- iceberg to South Africa?
WINTER: Well, It's hard to summarize, but in short, what he plans to do is go out to Antarctica, not all the way to where the ice actually breaks off. He's going to meet the ice breaker about halfway to Cape Town. And after checking it out by satellite and finding an iceberg that is the right size and shape. He will look at it with the radars, sonar, make sure that it doesn't has any weak points.
And if it looks good, then he plans to wrap a net around this iceberg and have two supertanker's basically guide it, along with the current and the super tankers will be led by tugboats who will push you out. They will push out the Sphere -- this massive iceberg and at some point they'll have to switch in through different currents that will help bring them all up to the western coast of South Africa.
CHURCH: It is amazing. And presumably he's done all his calculations to work out what he needs to sort of power that and shift that massive iceberg and of course, it has to be fit too but this has been done before but on a much smaller scale.
But what's the likelihood of success, and how will Sloan ultimately convert the ice into drinking water once it gets to Cape Town?
WINTER: Right. Well, no one has done this, so of course, there's no telling what will happen. And it's possible that the entire iceberg will break into pieces and leave dangerous debris in the pack of other ships.
But you know, if it does work and if they get all the way to the west coast they will use a mooring system to park this giant ice cube basically off the coast and use equipment to create a shallow kind of layer on top of the ice to create an icy flurry, which will be pumped into tankers that will kind of ferry it to land, where there will be a pipe system that will feed into the multiple system of Cape Town.
So it's also they are very complicated but they planned it out.
CHURCH: And of course with more than two billion people across the globe right now struggling to get access to clean drinking water how might this idea be applied to their needs and who would fund it. If of course this works?
WINTER: Right. Well, I mean that's part of the reason the story was really interesting to me is that of course water pumps are becoming more and more serious throughout the world.
As you mentioned more than two billion people lack access to safe drinking water, demands for safe drinking water was supposed to outstrips supply by 40 percent in 2030, which is only 11 years from now.
[01:49:58] So of course, (INAUDIBLE) puts Cape Town is an ideal position to try, this. the currents go right there. It's not that far from Antarctica. There are a few other places -- Australia, Chile -- where this might be possible, but it's not going to solve all the world water problems. A better solution is going to be taking better care of what we have and having better government oversight so there are not (INAUDIBLE) is any solutions and that sort of thing.
CHURCH: Right. And of course, with major concerns right now about -- major environmental concerns about the melting of these icebergs in Antarctica -- what sort of impact could this half.
If this is successful and this iceberg is moved and perhaps others are moved as, as they look at the environmental impact of such a thing?
WINTER: They're not going to be chipping off icebergs from the land. They're taking icebergs that have already broken off and that are on their way to melt into the ocean. So the glaciologist who I spoke with said that it's not going to have a big impact. That it's one giant iceberg, a future giant Iceberg. It just mean that that freshwater will be melting somewhere else, on land perhaps or the ocean.
Of course, you know, if this really explodes as a practice, it could affect the salinity of the ocean, but then again, it's already doing that as well.
CHURCH: Right. It is fascinating. We will certainly follow this story. It will be interesting to see if he has success with this
Caroline Winter -- thank you so much for joining us and for sharing that.
All right, fascinating there.
Well next on CNN NEWSROOM, how the U.S. women's soccer team recorded the most lopsided victory in World Cup history. We'll take a look.
CHURCH: Welcome back everyone.
Well, Facebook has a tough decision to make over a new video of its founder Mark Zuckerberg posted on Instagram.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FOUNDER, FACEBOOK: Imagine this for a second, one man with total control of billions of people's stolen data -- all their secrets, their lives, their futures. I owe it all to Specter. Specter showed me that to whoever controls the data controls the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: How about that? It's hard to tell but the video is what's known as a deep fake created by an Israeli company as part of an art project call "Specter". The clip has been manipulated with an active voice replacing by Zuckerberg's and is meant to show how technology can be used to manipulate data.
Facebook was criticize last month when it refused to take down a doctored video of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appearing to slow her words. As for the Zuckerberg clip, CBS wants it removed because the network owns the original footage that was used in that.
Well, retired baseball star David Ortiz has taken his first steps at a Boston hospital since being shot in the Dominican Republic on Sunday. His former team, the Red Sox, flew Ortiz to Boston for a second surgery. His spokesman says Ortiz will be in intensive care for a while.
[01:54:58] Ortiz and a friend were shot Sunday night at a nightclub in Santo Domingo. One suspect, Eddy Feliz Garcia, is being held in connection with the shooting. He's charged with being an accomplice to attempted murder.
Investigators are looking for at least one other suspect. The reason for that shooting is not clear at this point.
We now turn to France where the U.S. women's soccer team recorded the biggest victory ever in the FIFA Women's World Cup. Crushing Thailand 13-0. Our Amanda Davies was on hand to capture the mood and excitement around the U.S.' dominant report performance.
AMANDA DAVIS, CNN SPORTS WORLD ANCHOR: So that was the U.S.A. laying down a marker. A record world cup victory, the biggest win ever and only suggested the defending champions are just doing enough for the win in their opening match and put the bed as they lined up for the kick off the U.S.A. with seven players on the half way line. Absolutely showing their intent and enough off to instill fear in this side in the world number 34.
Ahead of the game, Thai coach had talked about how she wanted to use their opponents as a benchmark of what they need to do on the biggest stage. (INAUDIBLE) dared to dream of an upset.
But it was sadly blatantly clear from the off they were only going to be one winner here and they were going to win bug. We just didn't know how big.
And after their first effort into the back of the net, had been just allowed. It was five goal hero Alex Morgan who finally put them ahead after 12 minutes. The second quickly followed and so did the Mexican wave. It's a largely American support, really started enjoying that threat pair to advance.
The Thai band deserve as much credit as they team. They kept at it. They showed an incredible spirit which was applauded by everybody inside the stadium.
But 10 minutes after half time after halftime, and after three quick goals to make it seven nil, we were all asking when it was going to stop.
Then, it was if the U.S.A. could get the record which they duly did. The cheers getting bigger with every goal. The impact these U.S. players and what they were doing was clear looking at the fans around me, seeing them cheer every move from the likes of Morgan, Megan Lapino (ph) and Carly Lloyd (ph). But they're not just setting the standards for the next generation but all the talk of the challenge of the likes of France and England the U.S.A. showed this evening in brutal fashion why they're still the women's football benchmark for so many around the world.
Amanda Davies, CNN -- France.
(END VIDEOTAPE) CHURCH: And you are watching CNN newsroom. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with another hour of news right after this.
Do stick around.
[01:57:41] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)