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Immigration Enforcement to Begin Nationwide Raids; President Trump Backs Away From Citizenship Question on Census; Security Level Raised for British Tankers in Strait of Hormuz; Who Are the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps?; Monsoons Threaten Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh; Tropical Storm Barry. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired July 12, 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: Some 2,000 immigrants will be the target of a nationwide raid over the weekend. Many of the families living in fear. The politics behind this move.
In Bangladesh, monsoon rains threatened a million Rohingya refugees living in makeshift shelters.
Vatican officials opened two tombs, hoping to crack a decade-old cold case. Instead, they discovered a twist even more puzzling.
Live from CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm George Howell. The "CNN Newsroom" starts now.
Around the world, good day to you. Across the United States, thousands of immigrant families who have already been given court orders to leave this country have reason to worry. Over the next few days, deportation raids are expected to start on Sunday in 10 different cities in the United States. They will be targeting some 2,000 migrant families. You will remember these same raids had actually been planned for last month, but President Trump delayed them.
Our Ed Lavandera has been speaking with many of the families. The people are worried they could be rounded up, and others afraid they could become collateral damage.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you talk to undocumented immigrants that we have spent the better part of the last year doing, this is a fear that these people live with constantly, so it is nothing new when it gets announced like this, which is rather out of the ordinary.
It does send shockwaves and those ripples of fear through these undocumented communities and mostly because, by and large, what you will find is you will find undocumented immigrants living in a home with U.S. citizens. So it really is a very complex and very sensitive situation as all of these stories will begin to unfold over the coming days. This is a fear that looms over these people's heads all the time.
One of the things that I've discovered in talking to a lot of these people over the years is they've made contingency plans, a kind of a plan of what to do if you -- if a teenage child comes home from school and discovered that their parents didn't come home from work. They have packets of information, phone numbers, bank account numbers, you know. They have that kind of stored away so that they know what to do in case something like this happens.
Those plans are being essentially dusted off here over the weekend. We've spoken with undocumented immigrants who say they plan on -- almost like they're preparing for a hurricane where they're buying up supplies here, food and water, because they don't plan on leaving their homes for most of the weekend.
HOWELL: That is a reporting of our Ed Lavandera. The mayors of those cities where the raids are expected, they are bracing for whatever happens next. From Los Angeles to New York, here in Atlanta and points in between, mayors are stressing their support for immigrants.
They're also pointing out that their cities police departments are not the agencies carrying out these raids. Instead, that will be the work of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, otherwise known as ICE, for sure. The mayors say that they've been kept in the dark, mostly not told directly of what has been planned for their cities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR FRANCIS SUAREZ, MIAMI, FLORIDA: We don't know because the federal government hasn't communicated with our government. They haven't told us what their parameters are. They haven't asked us to support what they are doing or given us any information on who they are targeting, how they are targeting them.
So frankly, we are in the dark. I don't know how -- whatever the crisis is in the southern border relates to the city of Miami. We don't know how to inform anyone of what's going to happen. So, those who are in fear, I can understand their fear. I can understand why they would be afraid.
But frankly, we don't have any information to allay their fears or to -- as mayor, what I hope is that the people that they are focused on are people that are very dangerous because those people obviously shouldn't be in our community to begin with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: There is this from the mayor of New York City. The mayor is calling it a policy of fear and division. In a tweet, he said that his city will help immigrants fight for their rights and offering a phone number to call for legal help.
As these immigration rates are planned, the U.S. president is backing down on another demand, asking U.S. residents if they are citizens. Instead, the president issued an executive order to get the information a different way. Our Kaitlan Collins has this.
[02:04:59] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After weeks of chaos and shifting legal strategies, President Trump announced that he's going to abandon his effort to add that question about citizenship to the 2020 census. It is something they have been trying to do not only for the past several weeks, as you have seen it play out in the courts, but also it's a question the president has wanted on the census for some time now.
He made clear as he came out to the Rose Garden news conference that he still thinks that is a question he has a right to ask. But instead, because of what seems to be a pretty perilous path forward about whether or not this would have the legal justification, the president said he's going to sign executive order that would instruct all federal agencies and departments to turn over data that they have, so then the Commerce Department could try to compile a list of how many citizens and noncitizens are living in the United States.
Now the president insisted he is not abandoning his effort. He is not backing down. But what we are seeing is they are taking a very different path than what administration officials have said they felt was going to be their next step here.
What's interesting about the step that the president is choosing to take is it's an idea that career officials over at the census bureau came up win in January 2018, and said it would be a better way, a better method forward instead of adding that question to the census, because they said it would give you a more accurate count, but would also be less expensive and less legally perilous.
Now the president is going to move forward with this. It's unclear whether or not he signed an executive order yet, but what we are seeing is the president taking a different path forward because even though his attorney general insisted over the last several days they had multiple avenues they could go down, clearly they did not think any of those avenues were going to be successful.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN, the White House.
HOWELL: Let's talk more about this now with Siraj Hashmi. Siraj is a commentary writer and editor at the Washington Examiner. He joins us this hour from Washington, D.C. Thanks for your time today.
SIRAJ HASHMI, COMMENTARY WRITER AND EDITOR, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Thank you for having me, George.
HOWELL: Let's start with some of the president's remarks around this question on citizenship because it was the Supreme Court that ruled he couldn't include it in the census, but Mr. Trump passed the blame elsewhere. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As shocking as it may be, far-left Democrats in our country are determined to conceal the number of illegal aliens in our midst. They probably know the number is far greater, much higher than anyone would have ever believed before. Maybe that is why they fight so hard. This is part of a broader left-wing effort to erode the rights of the American citizen and it is very unfair to our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Again, keeping in mind it was the conservative leaning Supreme Court that made this final decision, but the president passing blame elsewhere, how significant is this moment with regard to checks and balances?
HASHMI: It's a pretty big moment, George, because what would happen if a citizenship question was added to the census, we would see a reallocation of federal funds to districts based on however many people were recorded in those particular districts, whether they are citizens or noncitizens.
And that also would change the landscape in terms of congressional races based on where congressional districts are drawn because if we are basing however many citizens vote in a particular congressional district, and you have, say, one district that has more noncitizens than another, then it is going to change the numbers quite a bit. It may favor one party over the other, say, a Republican over a Democrat.
In this particular case, Chief Justice John Roberts saw that the reasoning behind the Trump administration's adding of the citizenship question was based on more partisan reasons and seen more contrived and a pretext of something that could be considered more partisan in the future.
HOWELL: The president clearly backing down on this, instead ordering the entire government to get him the numbers on citizenship. Clearly, this is an avenue that has been available already, so why the extensive court battle, taking it all the way to the Supreme Court again if this was already an option?
HASHMI: A lot of this has to do with politics and specifically with Trump's base, because President Trump came to office on immigration reform platform, building the wall to curbing both illegal and legal immigration. With respect to this particular census question, about adding citizenship, just by going through a court battle, it's showing his base that he's at the very least fighting.
And even if he loses, he can at least turn to his base and say, hey, I tried my best, but the establishment is against me, far-left Democrats are against me, and we're just going to have to try to win reelection so we can actually add it next time.
HOWELL: With regards to the issue of immigration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has indicated it is prepared to start immigration raids around the country coming on Sunday. So you'll remember those same raids, they were called off weeks ago. Mr. Trump said that he delayed those raids at the request of Democrats.
[02:10:00] So in this game of what seems to be political leverage with Mr. Trump now following through on these raids, does it put more pressure on Democrats around immigration reform?
HASHMI: One hundred percent because Democrats in many ways had been seen as sort of obstructing the Trump agenda in many ways, and that comes to immigration in particular because if you remember earlier this year, we had the 35-day government shutdown and what happened was Trump eventually caved to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.
While that level of obstruction works for the Democrats, it is a little bit different when it comes to ICE raids because ICE raids at the very least are given by court orders. If there are particular people who are in this country illegally or don't have documents, then there's very much a warrant issued for their arrest and eventual deportation. And it really puts Democrats in a bind here because there's not a whole lot they can do, at least in the congressional level, to stop those.
HOWELL: And to your point, the president always points that these are people who the courts have ruled, are in the country illegally. What are your thoughts about the overall impact of these raids, that they're being announced so publicly, again?
HASHMI: Well, in many ways, this is to try to get the Democrats to talk to the negotiating table, and say Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer came to the negotiating table and saying, hey, President Trump, we will give you funding or more funding for the border wall if you call off these raids. That could be simply a political tactic.
I can't hundred percent say that what is -- that's hundred percent the case, but it is something that at the very least, seeing it or announcing it publicly will at least get Democrats to stir of it and that's kind of what the Trump administration is after right now.
HOWELL: Siraj Hashmi, we appreciate your time and perspective. Thank you.
HASHMI: Thank you for having me.
HOWELL: In Pakistan, 11 people are dead and 67 others injured after a rail crash. A passenger train on its way to Quetta collided with a freight train in Punjab Province on Thursday. Pakistan's railway minister blamed it on human error and negligence. The prime minister there has asked that emergency steps be taken to counter decades of neglect of railway infrastructure.
United States has decided not to oppose sanctions on Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, at least for now. A U.S. source telling CNN that the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, made the decision after getting advice from senior officials. The move to delay possible sanctions is meant to keep the door open to diplomacy. But other sources say the decision would change in the future.
Now to a maritime standoff between Iran and the United Kingdom. British media reports the U.K. has raised the threat level for its tankers in the Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, just a day before Iran allegedly tried to intercept the British tanker at the region. Iran denied that it was involved in the confrontation. We get more now on this from CNN's Sam Kiley.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the whole of the Middle East indeed, even more widely, it's been a very tense 36 hours as we now know that the HMS Montrose Royal Navy frigate Type 23 lowered its weapons, its 30-millimeter cannon as well as Belfed machine guns, and pointed them at Iranian sailors on board three different boats, attacked craft, that the U.S. and U.K. have said was attempting to herd the British ship, the British Heritage, into Iranian waters.
Now, this was a ship owned by BP that was not carrying any crude oil because it had elected earlier on to go dark after it not transmit its location after electing not to take on board 140,000 barrels of crude oil from Basra because of the threats that were coming more and more frequently from Iran to retaliate against Britain for the seizure of the Grace 1, an Iranian tanker that was carrying Iranian oil from Iran to Syria, allegedly, in breach of international sanctions against the Damascus regime.
Now, the British insists now that two officers on board that ship have been arrested, pending charges for smuggling oil. But the Iranians have denied the incident occurred at all in the gulf here, either between the British, and they insist that Grace 2, that ship was not heading into Syrian territory but was heading elsewhere.
Sam Kiley, CNN, Abu Dhabi.
HOWELL: Sam, thank you. In the meantime, a commander of Iran's revolutionary guard is slamming the U.S. for creating chaos around the world. That's what he says in a tweet.
[02:14:59] Major General Qassem Soleimani accused America of inherently bringing insecurity. He says there isn't a single region where the U.S. has ever introduced security by its force and presence.
The U.S. considers the revolutionary guard a terror organization. CNN's Becky Anderson takes a closer look now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Defenders of Iran borders will give strong and firm responses against any invasion.
BECKY ANDERSON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): They are Iran's most elite fighters, 150,000 battle ready troops across air, land, and sea, all to keep this safe. The country's Islamic revolution is set up by its ultimate power, its original supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, to protect the regime from the inside out against threats like western- inspired coups that they've seen before.
But the war with Iraq is changing everything. The gruelling eight years in transient blood-soaked battle is transforming IRGC into a much more conventional outward-looking force.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have no territorial ambition, not even inside Iraq.
ANDERSON (voice-over): That's not exactly true. The guards are now storming around the region with simple goals, resist, survive, and expand, sending weapons and people to combatants in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have received moral political and material support in all its forms from Iran since 1982.
ANDERSON (voice-over): The war with Iraq wiggling out in other ways, the IRGC helping rebuild the country. And from there, entangling itself across every part of the economy, banking, shipping, farming, oil, a multi-billion dollar conglomerate embedded within one third of the economy.
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm announcing our intent to designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization.
TRUMP: It's a regime of great terror.
ANDERSON (voice-over): The Americans call them terrorists, blaming them for years of bombings.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Iran recognizes the United States as its force enemy.
ANDERSON (voice-over): They consider themselves freedom fighters who are in many ways a law unto themselves.
HOWELL: Still ahead here on "Newsroom," we are following the catastrophic flooding in Bangladesh, affecting a population that's already one of the world's most vulnerable. How Rohingya Muslim refugees are coping with the devastating monsoon season, ahead. Plus, we're following tropical storm Barry as it looms on the horizon as a potential hurricane headed for New Orleans. The forecast as "Newsroom" continues (ph).
[02:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
HOWELL: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom." I'm George Howell. In Bangladesh, Rohingya Muslim refugees struggle to survive even in the best of circumstances, but lately, things have gotten even worse. Heavy monsoon rains are making their lives even more difficult.
Over the past few days alone, thousands of people have been displaced within the refugee camps in Cox's Bazar because of floods and landslides. UNICEF says two young boys have drowned in the floodwaters. There is more rain in the forecast as monsoon season stretches on. Our Ivan Watson reports.
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The monsoon season has arrived in Bangladesh and is causing chaos for people already living in crisis. The rains flooded overcrowded refugee camps in Cox's Bazar, which are home to around a million Rohingya Muslims. Most of them fled nearby Myanmar during a military crackdown, which the U.N. says could amount to genocide, claims Myanmar denies.
Hundreds of makeshift shelters collapsed in muddy landslides. Thousands of families relocated to temporary shelters. Hafiz Ullah and his family were sent to a nearby school since their house was a flood risk. But in the process, they lost nearly everything.
KAWSER, ROHINGYA REFUGEE (through translator): We were staying at another place when the rains came. In that time, our things were stolen. I have lost everything of mine that's why I have to live in the dark now. I lost my light and battery.
WATSON (voice-over): The couple's children were already malnourished before the rains hit. Now the floods have made their difficult young lives even harder.
HAFIZ ULLAH, ROHINGYA REFUGEE (through translator): We can't cook anything because I think my stove is damaged. We don't have food to eat now so we can't give anything to our children. They can't drink the water and they can't go outside because of the floods.
KAWSER (through translator): My children are suffering from fever, but we don't have any medicine. We are living in real hardship here.
WATSON (voice-over): Even before the floods, the situation in the camps was dire, a daily struggle to collect much-needed aide, now complicated after some main pathways collapsed.
BERTA TRAVIESO, EMERGENCY MANAGER, UNICEF COX'S BAZAR: It's difficult because the paths become very muddy. People have a lot of troubles sometimes to reach the service points for children to go to school because there are not sufficient infrastructures in the camps and because of the crowdedness.
WATSON (voice-over): Aide agencies say they are scrambling to help people in the camps and they are trying to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases. The Bangladesh Foreign Ministry told CNN that it is well prepared along with the U.N. system to face any eventualities, in terms of the Rohingya refugee camps.
The priority for Hafiz Ullah is to fix his makeshift shelter so that the family can come back home. His neighbors are doing the same, but basic building materials provide flimsy protection from more heavy rain. There's another deluge forecast this week and months of monsoon season still ahead. The lives of those who had so little to begin with are now even more precarious. ULLAH (through translator): We're just living with crisis. We lost everything. But so what? At least we are alive now.
WATSON (voice-over): Ivan Watson, CNN.
HOWELL: Ivan, thank you. And here in the United States, tropical storm Barry. The National Hurricane Center warns that it could bring life-threatening storm surge along the Louisiana coast. The governor of that state as well as President Trump declared an emergency in the U.S. state. This is ahead of the storm. It could become a hurricane by Saturday. The governor warns that it could be a rough couple of days ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. JOHN BEL EDWARDS (D-LA): This is a very significant, severe weather event. The National Weather Service, they are using terms like "life-threatening floods." This was never going to be a win (ph) event, not to say that you won't have significant win (ph).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[02:25:03] HOWELL: Let's bring in our meteorologist Derek Van Dam. Derek, I was just in New Orleans just a couple of weeks ago. The Mississippi River is already high, now here this comes along.
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yeah, that's right, George. We are really in uncharted territory here for New Orleans and that is, just as you say, because we have a tropical system moving towards the mouth of Mississippi River, when the river is already flown and has already flooded and all that water is trying to exit the mouth of the Mississippi River at the same time that storm is moving in.
So this is the latest from the National Hurricane Center, 85 kilometer per hour sustained winds with this particular system. It's looking more and more organized as the minutes and hours clock on. Now, the official track from the National Hurricane Center brings it into a landfall by early Saturday morning along the south coast of Louisiana, just at the southwest of New Orleans. That puts New Orleans in a very precarious position, more on that in just one second.
We don't want to get lost in the minutiae here. Is it going to be a tropical storm? It is going to be a hurricane? That just is simply not the main point we are trying to drive home. This has the potential to bring catastrophic flooding to some locations because of the combination of elements here, a flooded river, coastal storm surge, and an abundant amount of rainfall.
Here's a look at the warnings. That shading of red is a hurricane warning. The shading of blue including (INAUDIBLE) and New Orleans is a tropical storm warning and that is in effect right through Saturday into Sunday morning as well. Look at the rainfall totals, over 500 millimeters in some locations. That will flood any city or any location, right, so let alone the storm surge threat and they are already swollen Mississippi River.
We have serious problems here. We already know that New Orleans has been tested, in fact, in Katrina, back in 2005. We learned a lot of valuable lessons. We updated the levee system and it was tested in some major hurricanes like Isaac back in 2012. It worked admirably. It worked the way it should be. But this may be the Achilles heel for New Orleans because we have a tropical system moving in and floodwaters are trying to exit at the exact same time.
Let me explain what's going to happen here or what could potentially happen. With an easterly wind just compounding that effect of water, bringing in from the Gulf of Mexico, it will eventually move its way into the Mississippi River. It is forced to work its way upstream towards New Orleans. And the issue here is that New Orleans sits in a bowl, much of the city actually sits below sea level. And some of the levies that we've noted are actually below the forecast crest of the Mississippi River near New Orleans.
Check this out. We have a gauge in the predictions here. That is a forecast crest of 19 feet. So when you have water levels already at 16 feet, you got two to four feet of storm surge and heavy rainfall possible. Some of these levies that we have dotted out here are sitting below 20 feet, so they could be overtopped with this forecast. George?
HOWELL: Bad news for black men (ph) perished there along the mouth of the Mississippi and certainly bad for the Ninth Ward, the lower Ninth Ward that was hit really hard with Katrina.
VAN DAM: Absolutely.
HOWELL: Derek, thank you. Still ahead here on "CNN Newsroom," hoping to crack a decade-old cold case. Vatican officials opened two tombs, but what they have discovered has left them with even more questions. Plus, the U.N. approved the human rights inquiry into the Philippines's brutal crackdown on illegal drugs. How Manila is responding, as you watch "CNN Newsroom" worldwide.
[02:30:56] HOWELL: A very warm welcome back to our viewers all around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Atlanta. I'm George Howell with the headlines we followed for you this hour.
British tankers in the Strait of Hormuz were reportedly put under the highest level of security. And the day before Iranian gunboats allegedly tried to intercept the British tanker. British media report the U.K. raised threat level in the region to critical on Tuesday. Iran denied that it was involved in the confrontation.
Monsoon rains are causing extensive damage at Rohingya Muslim refugee camps. This all happening in Bangladesh. Thousands of families have been replaced displaced after a landslide destroyed their makeshift homes. UNICEF says at least two children have drowned, and there's more rain on the forecast. Deportation raids are planned to begin Sunday in, at least, 10 different U.S. cities, targeting some 2,000 migrant families who've already been giving court orders to be removed from the United States. Immigration advocates are telling undocumented residents, "know your rights."
Immigration, it's not just about borders and laws, it is also about blood and families. Real people trying to make a real living, and about work, work that needs to be done. Our Ed Lavandera traveled across the United States uncovering the country's deepest need for undocumented workers. Here's a preview of his upcoming special report.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You dreamed as a child of living in Iowa?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I wanted those clean streets, friendly people, green grass everywhere, I mean, and when I came here, I said this is where I'm staying, this is what I've always wanted.
LAVANDERA: As being the only citizen in your family, you've seen your family basically slowly disappear from Iowa.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
LAVANDERA: What's that been like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sad. My stepdad and my younger brother, they both got deported. The hardest one I think was when my mom got detained, and then on my birthday, she sent me a birthday card. And yes, I guess I've never talked about that.
LAVANDERA: Hard to talk about? Was that so hard?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your parents aren't around. Her and my sub-dad we're both detained. And like on Mother's Day, she wasn't there.
HOWELL: So many people living in fear. A CNN special report, "THE HIDDEN WORKFORCE: UNDOCUMENTED IN AMERICA". It airs 10 p.m. Friday in New York City. That is 10 a.m. Saturday in Hong Kong. Only here on CNN.
The family of a teenager who disappeared 36 years ago was hoping for answers after information led them to tombs on the grounds of the Vatican. But after the crypts were pried open even more questions were raised. CNN's Delia Gallagher has this story from Rome.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: A mysterious tip-off has led investigators to a cemetery inside the Vatican to search for the remains of a 15-year-old girl, Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in 1983 in one of Italy's most notorious unsolved crimes.
Look where the angel indicates was the anonymous tip sent to Emanuela's family last summer. Which brought investigators to these two tombs under the statue of an angel holding a sign, Rest in Peace.
Emanuela was the daughter of a Vatican employee who lived with her family inside the Vatican and vanished after a music lesson on June 22nd, 1983. Her brother Pietro has devoted his life to trying to find her and understand who would have wanted to abduct her and why?
There have been many hypothesis throughout the years, he says, from mafia extortion to sexual exploitation. He says that by agreeing to open up these tombs, the Vatican is finally admitting after 36 years that someone inside may have been involved.
But when workers pulled back the heavy marble slabs of the tombs, a surprise was in store, there was nothing inside. Not the remains of Emanuela, not even the remains of the two German princesses that were said to be buried there.
The Vatican says they will now examine documentation of construction work that took place at the cemetery in the 1800s, and again, in the 60s and 70s that may have resulted in the relocation of the princess's remains. Emanuela's brother says he is relieved but now has even more questions.
[02:35:55] PIETRO ORLANDI, BROTHER OF EMANUELA ORLANDI WHO WENT MISSING IN 1983 (through translator): I thought that today we could finally make a step forward even if painful. Instead, we're at starting point. But we do have now the Vatican cooperation, and I hope we will keep on the being concrete.
GALLAGHER: A day that was supposed to bring answers for the family of a missing 15-year-old girl has now turned up two empty tombs and only deepened the mystery at the Vatican.
Delia Gallagher, CNN, Rome.
HOWELL: Delia, thank you. The highly controversial war on drugs in the Philippines has now drawn the attention of the United Nations, and the Philippines government is not happy about that. The country officially acknowledges that some 6,600 people have been killed there since the crackdown was launched some three years ago.
Police, say most of those deaths were the result of gun battles with drug dealers. But critics say the actual number may be four times higher -- 27,000 people. The youngest known victim was just 3 years old.
So, now the U.N. Human Rights Council wants to find out why so many people have died? It passed a resolution Thursday to start a formal inquiry. The Philippine's ambassador slammed the measure as "one- sided", but the ambassador from Iceland who pushed for the vote said it was long overdue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HARALD ASPELUND, AMBASSADOR, PERMANENT MISSION OF ICELAND TO THE UNITED NATIONS IN GENEVA: And the past three years, Special Rapporteur Monte told us, have issued 33 statements on the Philippines, 33. Most recently, 11 special rapporteurs jointly called for an independent investigation into the human rights violations in the Philippines, citing a sharp deterioration and the situation across the country.
EVAN GARCIA, AMBASSADOR, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE TO THE UNITED NATION: The United Nations is a collection of sovereignties, not a sovereign collective. Thus, the Philippines rejects this resolution. It cannot, in good conscience, abide by it. We will not accept a politically partisan and one-sided resolution, so detached from the truth on the ground. It comes straight from the mouth of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland. First, the judgment, then the proof.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And the president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte did not reject the idea of U.N. investigators, but rather said, "Let them state their purpose and I will review it," he said.
Greek police say they have never communicated like this. This after the body of an American scientist was dumped in an abandoned Nazi bunker on the island of Crete. Ahead, we go inside that shelter.
Plus the word, Chernobyl is synonymous with disaster with ruin. But Ukraine's new president wants to change that. Why he says there is new life in the deserted atomic city. Stand by for that.
[02:41:24] HOWELL: The U.S. singer R. Kelly has been arrested again in Chicago. A source telling CNN that the 52-year-old is facing 13 new charges, including sex trafficking in New York, attempting to influence a pending case in Atlanta, and child pornography.
The singer was already facing 21 other charges including sexual assault, and sexual abuse. Kelly has denied any allegations of sexual misconduct.
A homicide investigation is underway in Greece after Suzanne Eaton's body was found inside a former World War II Nazi bunker. The American scientist had disappeared during a run last week. Two locals discovered her body in the underground shelter near the city of Chania on the island of Crete. CNN's Arwa Damon explored the bunker and saw where the body was likely dumped.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That right there that is one of the cave-like entrances into this fortified tunnel system where Suzanne's body was found. And you can tell that the forensic teams have been through here obviously as well. Now, this area is not that far off the main road, but it's not that easy to find either. You have to take a couple of a dirt roads, a pathway, and then it's hidden in the middle of this olive grove.
The chief of police told us that it was two locals who came across Suzanne's body deep inside this tunnel system, about six days after she was first reported to be missing, and they were just exploring.
This was all fortified and dug out by the Nazis who used it quite extensively. And it goes on for quite some distance, and it's like being inside a labyrinth. This isn't the sort of place that a random person would know about and one of the main theories is that whoever carried out this hideous crime already knew that this entire underground system existed.
The Chief of Police had told us that when those two locals found Suzanne's bodies, and then, the forensic teams came on site, they also were able to determine that she had suffered from some small stab wounds, but that was not the cause of death. The cause of death was determined to be asphyxiation. And now, there is a massive homicide investigation that is underway.
Now, we actually came and walked through here earlier. So, we can take you straight through and show you this area over here.
Just around the corner here is an area that fits the description of where the police chief told us that Suzanne's body was found. They believe that it was dropped from one of those upper openings. And then, deliberately concealed, presumably, so that no one would find it.
The police chief told us that in the four years that he's been here, he has never even seen anything remotely like this. And the locals we've been talking to, they're shocked, they're horrified.
This island is a popular tourist destination. This kind of violence, it just isn't meant to happen here. Arwa Damon, CNN, Crete, Greece.
[02:45:11] HOWELL: Arwa, thank you. Sudan's transitional military council says that it has foiled an attempted coup by former and current officers. The military council says 12 people were arrested including the alleged leader of the uprising, the state news agency reports the failed coup was meant to obstruct a power-sharing agreement between the council and the opposition.
The country has been marred by unrest by violence since the President Omar al-Bashir was forced out in April that led to a power struggle between the military and the opposition.
North Korea is lashing out at its southern neighbor after Seoul moved to upgrade its weapons arsenal with fighter jets from the United States. Pyongyang warns this could make the peninsula more dangerous.
Our Brian Todd reports it may also threaten the peace process. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A stinging verbal attack and a warning from North Korea's merciless young ruler to his neighbor to the south. Kim Jong-un is apparently furious over South Korea's purchase of sophisticated warplanes, F-35 fighter jets from the United States.
In a new statement, Kim's foreign ministry calls South Korean official's "impudent and pitiful" for talking about reconciliation while buying the jets. And says, North Korea has no choice but to develop and test the special armaments to completely destroy the lethal weapons reinforced in South Korea.
PATRICK CRONIN, SENIOR FELLOW, HUDSON INSTITUTE: There could be another missile test. There could be a provocation but it would be limited.
TODD: This comes less than two weeks after one of the most promising moments in the denuclearization talks between North Korea and the U.S. President Trump's meeting with Kim Jong-un at the Demilitarized Zone. Trumps brief stroll into North Korea and words of harmony.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Stepping across that line was a great honor. A lot of progress has been made, a lot of friendships have been made, and this has been in particular a great friendship.
TODD: So, why would South Korea's purchase of those fighter jets, a deal that's been in the works for about five years get Kim riled up now?
CRONIN: He now needs to show strength again that he's not negotiating away. The security guarantees of North Korea, the jewels, the nuclear weapons, he has to show that he's standing up to try to reduce the threat posed to North Korea.
TODD: But analysts believe there's another factor at play. The jet South Korea is buying, the F-35 is a stealth plane and can often go undetected by radar, which experts say strikes at a particular fear of Kim Jong-un's.
FRANK AUM, FORMER SENIOR PENTAGON ADVISER TO NORTH KOREA: North Korea believes that it will allow South Korea to conduct decapitation operations that takes out the North Korean leadership. And can do so covertly without giving North Korea chance to conduct a retaliatory second strike.
TODD: A top state department official recently spoke to CBS about Kim's paranoia.
ELLEN MCCARTHY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INTELLIGENCE AND RESEARCH: Based on our understanding of the media, and things that he has said, you know, he really does think that the U.S. is looking for regime change.
TODD: Something U.S. officials have consistently denied. But will the South Koreans purchase of this menacing fighter jet and Kim's anger over it, derail the diplomatic dance between Trump and Kim?
CRONIN: It is an impediment that is going to be repeated with other statements, others -- other systems in North Korea, in South Korea, in United States, for the coming years. This is part of the terrain of negotiating down an adversarial relationship. So, we have to get used to this. We have to have more resilience and a thicker hide.
TODD: Analysts say, despite North Korea's latest threat, President Trump and Kim Jong-un can keep denuclearization talks alive with their unique personal relationship. But experts do worry that time is running out because of Kim's ultimatum to advance nuclear talks by the end of this year or a bust, and because of Trump's reelection campaign, where he may have to appear like he's getting tougher with North Korea.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
HOWELL: About three dozen people on an Air Canada jet were injured Thursday. This when sudden and severe turbulence sent them flying in a way that they never wanted to. Passengers on the flight -- that flight from Vancouver to Sydney Australia, they screamed as they were violently tossed around in the cabin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just seem that the plane just sank and then flew up. A lady in front of us, I don't think she had her seat belt. She hit the ceiling.
MICHAEL BAILEY, PASSENGER OF AIR CANADA FLIGHT 33: And a lot of screaming. The seat in front of me, the girl hit the -- hit the plastic overhead, and actually snapped and broke it, and the oxygen masks came down.
JESS SMITH, PASSENGER OF AIR CANADA FLIGHT 33: We hit turbulence and we all hit the roof and everything fell down, and stuff, set people went flying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[02:49:51] HOWELL: A total of 284 people were on board that plane. The jet diverted to Honolulu, Hawaii where passengers could get medical check-ups.
Chernobyl, it is the site of the world's worst nuclear accident in 1986, it killed thousands of people. But now Chernobyl is getting a new life as an official Ukrainian tourist attraction. Our Cyril Vanier, explains.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster has already become a tourist attraction. Now, Ukraine's president is giving the visitors an official thumbs-up. Volodymyr Zelensky is hoping to shift the focus from what some have labeled dark tourism, and emphasize instead the sights environmental regeneration.
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): You know, we must give this territory of Ukraine a new life. We have to turn our problem into our advantage. Chernobyl is a unique place on the planet where nature revives after a global man-made disaster.
VANIER: Foreign diplomats were invited to the nuclear site this week to watch as the president inspected the new confinement shelter surrounding what remains of Chernobyl's fourth reactor. It was largely destroyed in the 1986 explosion.
For more than two decades, Ukrainian authorities maintained an exclusion zone around the reactor before finally allowing tourism in 2011. Now, the president says he wants to crack down on corrupt employees and show visitors the flora and fauna at the Chernobyl site.
ZELENSKY: We have to show this place to the world, to scientists, ecologists, historians, and tourists. Unfortunately, until now, the exclusion zone is also a symbol of corruption in Ukraine. We will stop the bribes that security officials collect from tourists.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pleased to report that situation in Chernobyl is stable. In terms of radiation, I'm told it's the equivalent to a chest x-ray.
VANIER: In reality, the recent HBO series about the disaster is likely to boost visitor numbers more than any presidential initiative. But Zelensky is keen to give the region a more mainstream tourist appeal. Cyril Vanier, Atlanta.
HOWELL: Cyril, thank you. Still ahead, billionaires are leading way into space. Why three of them in fact, are competing to take people where most humans have never gone before.
HOWELL: This week continues our special month of coverage on CNN "SPACE 50". As the anniversary of the first moon landing approaches 50 years on, are still a space race. Our space -- our Rachel Crane reports, this time, it's the billionaires who are competing against each other to take us far, far away.
RACHEL CRANE, CNN INNOVATION AND SPACE REPORTER: Bezos, Branson, Musk, the three billionaires racing toward space. With NASA focusing more on its Moon and Mars missions, the opportunities for the three companies have never been better. So, what exactly are their ambitions? Simply, it seems to be get humans to space for tourism, exploration, and perhaps, even colonization. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic seems to be the most tourism focused. [02:55:01] RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP: I got frustrated the fact that I couldn't go up on a NASA space ship or Russian spaceship. So, decided to build a space line and obviously, if you have your own space line, you certainly want to make use of it. And I've always wanted to be an astronaut, and I've always wanted to you know, look back at our beautiful earth and marvel at it.
CRANE: The Company had a successful test in February. Sending its crude spaceship to 88 kilometers above Earth. The company's second time to space.
Jeff Bezos's Blue Origin also has tourism goals. But he's recently announced he's setting his sights on the moon.
JEFF BEZOS, FOUNDER, AMAZON AND BLUE ORIGIN: It's time to go back to the moon this time to stay. The price of admission to do interesting things in space right now is just too high because there's no infrastructure.
CRANE: The Company has introduced a new lunar lander concept and already began testing an engine the lander would use. However, it's Elon Musk's SpaceX that's been getting the most liftoff action.
It's been handling cargo missions to the International Space Station since 2012. And its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets have proven they have the muscle for space travel.
ELON MUSK, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, SPACEX: I think it's going to give the government options. So, it's good to have options for advancement of human space flight. And yes, it comes just a good thing.
CRANE: But at SpaceX's Crew Dragon that has gained recent attention. It could be the first American spacecraft to carry NASA astronauts to space since 2011. While it had a successful mission in March, April brought major setbacks when the company confirmed the craft was destroyed during another test.
Still where it stands, all three companies have yet to send people into orbit. But it's looking more promising every day.
BRANSON: I think the exciting thing for the world now is that you have Jeff, you had Elon, you have ourselves creating different approaches to take people into space, and to colonize places like the moon in -- to in future years. So, an incredible new era of space exploration is arrived.
CRANE: Rachel Crane, CNN, New York.
HOWELL: Thank you for being with us for CNN NEWSROOM this hour. I'm George Howell at the CNN center in Atlanta. Let's do it again right after the break. More news. Stay with us.
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