Return to Transcripts main page
Accused War Criminal Driving for Uber; Journalist Trains Reporters to Stay Safe in Conflict Zones; Seven Nations Eliminated in Eurovision Semi-Finals; U.K. Has First Coal-Free Week since 1882. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired May 15, 2019 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] NICK WATT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and thanks for joining us. I'm Nick Watt and you're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Ahead this hour, preparing for the worst. We're following reports the Trump White House is reviewing military plans just in case tensions between the U.S. and Iran take a bad turn.
Plus the fight for Sudan's future protests and military leaders appear to have struck a deal over who will rule the troubled country. And later, singing, dancing, and politics. Why this year's Eurovision Song Contest is being marred by calls for a boycott.
Iran loomed large as senior U.S. and Kremlin officials met in Russia. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. With the U.S. deploying more ships and bombers to the region here's what Pompeo said about the possibility of war with Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: We fundamentally do not seek a war with Iran. We've also made clear to the Iranians that if American interests are attacked, we will most certainly respond in an appropriate fashion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: The U.S. says its military buildup is a response to threats by Iran and it's proxies while Iran says it's reconsidering parts of the nuclear deal. With neither side backing down the New York Times reports that the U.S. administration has discussed a plan to send 120,000 troops to the region if Iran strikes U.S. forces or speeds up its nuclear weapons program. U.S. President Donald Trump says that's fake news. If he had a plan, it would be bigger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, would I do that? Absolutely. But we have not planned for that. Hopefully, we're not going to have to plan for that. And if we did that, I would send a hell of a lot more troops than that. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei remains defiant in the face of those U.S. military moves. State media reports that he says there will be no war with the U.S. and Iran won't negotiate with the U.S. on the nuclear deal. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has more from Tehran.
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tension certainly remains high here in the Persian Gulf region between the United States and Iran. And therefore it was very important for Iran's supreme leader to come out and essentially say that there is not going to be a war with the United States and that Iran would continue to resist.
Now, some of what he said was on the Supreme Leader's own Web site. I want to read some of it. He said and I quote, "The Iranian nation's definite option is resistance against the U.S. And in this confrontation, the U.S. will have to withdraw. This is not a military confrontation because no war is to happen. We don't seek a war nor do they talking about the U.S. of course. They know a war wouldn't be beneficial for them."
Now, he goes on to say, This confrontation is a confrontation of will powers and our will power is stronger because in addition to our will power we also enjoy relying on God." Essentially what the Supreme Leader is saying is that Iran is going to outlast the United States here in this region and certainly outlast the pressure that Iran is now under from the Trump administration.
Another very interesting thing that the supreme leader said as well. He also said that there are not going to be any negotiations with the Trump administration. He called negotiations poison and called negotiations if they were to happen with a Trump administration double poison because he thinks the Trump administration is demanding a lot from the Iranians but not willing to give very much back.
All this of course coming, so we've seen some interesting messaging coming out of here out of the Islamic Republic with political officials like for instance the foreign minister saying that Iran does not want an escalation in the situation, that the U.S. is the one escalating the situation unnecessarily while military commanders here in Iran are saying that if there is an escalation with the U.S. that they would be willing and ready to strike back. Fred Pleitgen, CNN Tehran.
WATT: As the U.S. and Iran ramped up the rhetoric, the British commander of the coalition against ISIS is downplaying the alleged threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAJ. GEN. CHRISTOPHER GHIKA, BRITISH ARMY: There's been no increased threat from Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria. We're aware of their presence clearly and we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in. But as I say, we see no -- we have no part of Iran on our mission.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[01:05:13] WATT: The U.S. military is now challenging its British ally on that assessment. Central Command Spokesman said this, recent comments from Operation Inherent Resolve's Deputy Commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to the intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region.
Now, adding to the tensions in the Middle East, Iranian allies, the Houthi rebels in Yemen claiming responsibility for a drone attack on Saudi oil pumping station on Tuesday, and also the deepening mystery surrounding who or what damaged four ships near the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday of the Emirati port of Fujairah.
Iran's Ambassador to the U.S. says his country definitely isn't responsible. For more on what is being called a sabotage attack, here's CNN's Nic Robertson.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, that investigation is still ongoing. And what we understand from the Emiratis is they're forming a conclusion of what they call a sabotage on these four vessels was perpetrated by a rocket or some sort of missile.
Now, images of the damage that we've shared with an expert leads him to believe that this could potentially damage caused by a mine stuck at the end of the ship at the level of the water, the waterline on the ship which is why water was able to get into several of these vessels.
The Emirates have not so far announced their conclusions of who is responsible. However, their intelligence does seem to align with the United States who were assisting them in their investigation. This intelligence over recent weeks have led to believe that Iran or its proxies may be on the verge of perpetrating some sort of maritime attack and the gulf here.
So the concerns are it's looking like Iran may have had a hand. Iranian official are denying this, absolutely, calling for a broad investigation, suggesting that the United States is potentially you know fueling -- unnecessarily fueling tension at this time.
So right now, it's not possible to say who precisely was responsible, but into all of this, Saudi officials have reported that Houthis in nearby Yemen are have tried to use an armed drone to attack one of their oil pipelines.
They say that pipeline was in badly damaged, that no one was injured, but this incident in itself again, fits that narrative of rising regional tensions of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates against if you will, Iran and its regional proxies. So tensions really continuing to escalate. Nic Robertson, Fujairah, in the United Arab Emirates.
WATT: To Los Angeles now, and Dalia Dassa Kaye, Director of the Center for Middle East Public Policy at the RAND Corporation. I want to start with this idea that the U.S. is claiming that Iran is threatening the shipping and also U.S. troops in the region.
Now, listen, John Bolton who has the president's ear is a well-known hawk on Iran, and also, the U.S. and other countries in the past have massaged intelligence to justify foreign intervention. Should we believe the U.S. administration when it talks about these alleged threats from Iran?
DALIA DASSA KAYE, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MIDDLE EAST PUBLIC POLICY AT THE RAND CORPORATION: Well, I think that we should step back and review the evidence carefully and not jump to any conclusions. I think it is concerning that there are questions about the U.S. credibility including from very close ally as your segment just showed. And that really undermines our ability to get broad international support should the Iranians engage in acts that are hostile to U.S. interest or allied interest.
So I think that the problem here is that the actions of the United States being so unilateral and provoking an unnecessary crisis really Iran has led to a lot of uncertainty about what U.S. objectives are and a lot of folks questioning how credible our assessment is.
But there's no questioning Iran would have the motive and the means to attack us in some -- in some serious ways in variety of places in the region Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and in the -- in the Persian Gulf. So we should take these threats seriously. But again, the credibility is in question.
WATT: You just referred to this as an unnecessary crisis? Could you explain that?
KAYE: Yes. Well, I think it is. Unfortunately, you know, here we are talking about war. The Iranians just last week indicating they were moving -- scaling back on some of their commitments in the nuclear deal, still measured but worrying.
And all of this was really provoked by the U.S. decision to leave a nuclear agreement that was supported by the international community and that was working, and that the Iranians were complying with. So, unfortunately, the chain of events that are unfolding in the last couple of weeks are entirely predictable.
Most of these are were triggered by that fundamental decision of the United States to break this agreement, and not just break it but decide to break it in a way that puts such a squeeze on Iran punishing not just the Iranians but all of our allies internationally and threatening them if they continue business with Iran which is really backed Iran into a corner and you can expect the kind of escalation cycle we're seeing now unfortunately.
[01:10:49] WATT: But, I mean, Iran is not going to provoke the U.S. in any way will they?
KAYE: Well, I mean, look, I think the Iranians are facing a lot of domestic pressure. The economy is tanked. There's a lot of domestic unrest and they are not -- certainly, right now, it looks like the Iranians are interested in salvaging this nuclear agreement with the Europeans and others, and we should take those efforts seriously and hope that they succeed.
But it's not clear that Europeans can really even if governments would like to, it's not clear they can convince their own companies to give up the American market for the Iranian market. So if Iranian's do not see economic relief and they don't see an off-ramp to the current pressure, they certainly will have motivations to at least try to gain back some leverage and send the message to the United States and others that there will be a cost for this maximum pressure campaign.
WATT: Because this nuclear deal is frankly pointless without the U.S.
KAYE: Well, I wouldn't call it pointless. It's managed to survive a little bit on life support without the United States. But absolutely, I think the United States could have left the agreement but not threatened everyone else in the agreement or anyone else doing trade with Iran and things might have been able to just move along.
But the agreement is going to find it -- I think it's going to be very hard to keep this agreement afloat if Iran really is truly cut off in terms of its oil exports internationally. The Chinese will likely continue to defy U.S. extraterritorial sanctions and trade with Iran but it will lose important European markets, potentially India, Turkey, and others.
So the way -- it's the way in which the United States chose to leave this deal that has been so threatening and destabilizing.
WATT: And I mean, what is going to happen in the next couple of weeks? I mean, where do you see this going, some more sort of saber- rattling and then everyone will just get back in their box?
KAYE: Well, I hope we can move toward a de-escalation, at least, of the talk of conflict and get more back to the discussion of where we can get to a negotiated strategy. I think that's the concern is it's not clear what the administration's endgame is. They say they would like the Iranians to go back to the negotiating table, but that will require some concessions from the United States, at least giving up on taking away these waivers to other nations to be able to do business with Iran.
Even if we still will refuse to do business with Iran, we could let other countries do so. We're going to have to give them some concessions to get them back to the table. Otherwise, I think we will likely see no movement back to negotiations and unfortunately continued escalation that could unintended or otherwise potentially lead to conflict.
Hopefully, it will simmer down but I do not see good outcomes in terms of the direction we're moving right now.
WATT: And just very, very quickly because we are running out of time. This New York Times report that the Trump administration has a plan for 120,000 troops to go to the region, quickly, but that surely would be catastrophic.
KAYE: Well, again, you know, these reports are concerning but we need -- I think we shouldn't jump to conclusions yet. There are lots of planning documents out there. I think there's -- our military and others understand how costly war with Iran could be. This would not be an easy conflict. It would be very damaging for U.S. interest and regional stability.
So I would -- I would look at those reports skeptically. I mean, I seriously but also be careful not to jump to conclusions that were about to head to war with Iran although I am concerned about the potential for escalation to possibly some limited strikes, but hopefully we will not get there in the next two weeks or for that matter the next couple years.
WATT: Dalia Dassa Kaye joining us from Los Angeles, thank you very much for your time.
KAYE: Thank you.
WATT: Meanwhile, President Trump is downplaying the trade war with China, but sources say talks between the two sides have halted.
[01:15:00] U.S. stocks regained some grand after Monday's selloff. The Dow closed up 207 points in its one day gain since April 12th. President Trump is set to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping next month at the G20 summit and predicts that the dispute will soon be resolved.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're having a little squabble with China because we've been treated very unfairly for many, many decades or actually a long time. And it should have been handled a long time ago and it wasn't. Then, we'll handle it now. I think it's going to be -- I think it's going to turn out extremely well. We are in a very strong position.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: Our Steven Jiang joins us now from Beijing. Steven, President Trump calls it little squabble, what are they calling it over there?
STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING SENIOR PRODUCER: Well, you know, Nick, the Chinese government has really trying to project this image of strength and the confidence here, through state media. And they've been pushing back very hard on Mr. Trump's claims in today's People's Daily, that's the mouthpiece of the rooting Communist Party, and a very scathing commentary without naming Mr. Trump.
This article basically saying the U.S. president is only fooling himself, if he keeps saying the new tariffs he imposed on Chinese import have been benefitting the U.S. economy and American consumers. Now, this article makes this argument that we've been hearing quite a lot, which is these tariffs imposed by Mr. Trump are mostly paid for by U.S. importers and the cost will be eventually a pass down to average consumers.
Now, what's interesting, of course, is even with these scathing commentaries and editorials, the Chinese are also leaving the door open for more talks. We keep seeing headlines saying on one hand, if the U.S. wants to talk, the door is open. On the other hand, if they want to fight, bring it on.
So, the problem right now is, given how far apart the two sides remain on a number of key issues and how neither side is showing any signs of backing down. And it's really just difficult to imagine what can be achieved or resolved even if the two leaders do sit down, next month, doing the G20 Summit. Nick.
WATT: And Steven, what are some of those big issues that are keeping the sides apart right now?
JIANG: Well, it depends on who you talk to. The Americans, of course, claim Chinese -- the Chinese side has really, you know, walked back on a number of key issues U.S. concerned, including how they plan to codify any final agreements into Chinese laws. The Chinese said, look, we've -- how could we walk back from anything
that have never been really permanently written or agreed on in the first place. Now, in terms of other issues, we know a lot of these are long-standing issues between the two sides. We're talking about intellectual property theft. We're talking about a force of technology transfer, as well as the subsidies in key industries.
So, as of now, they are really trying to tout each other. We want to keep talking but we are not backing down from our respective positions. So, it's really a stalemate of sort in this, I think, seemingly protracted trade war. Nick?
WATT: Thanks a lot, Steven. Now, sources say that Donald Trump Jr. has now reached a deal to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. The Republican-led panel issued a subpoena for the President's son last month. He had said he would not comply.
Sources say the interview will now take place behind closed doors and be limited to five or six topics. Among those topics, though, will be the Trump Tower Moscow project and Trump Jr.'s controversial meeting with a Russian lawyer, in New York.
After weeks of protests, some of them deadly, military leaders and opposition groups in Sudan, say they have reached a deal to end the violence and eventually see power handed to a civilian government. More on this developing story, that's next.
Plus, will Madonna buckle and boycott the Eurovision Song Contest. We'll explain why some protestors are calling on her to cancel her performance.
[01:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) WATT: In Sudan, military leaders and opposition groups say they have agreed to a three-year transitional period, leaving eventually, to a civilian government. This, according to Sudan State media, the deal is expected to be finalized in the coming hours.
The country has been scarred by violence since the military ousted long term President Omar al-Bashir, last month. Tens of thousands of pro-democracy supporters have been protesting for weeks, demanding that the army officers, who took power after overthrowing Bashir, step down.
Elsadig Elsheikh is the director of the Global Justice Program at the Haas Institute. He joins us now from Berkeley, California. So, we've just heard in the past few hours, some kind of breakthrough, some agreement between the military and the protestors, a positive sign, right?
ELSADIG ELSHEIKH, DIRECTOR OF GLOBAL JUSTICE PROGRAM, HAAS INSTITUTE: That's correct. In the last few hours, we had that -- the military -- Transitional Military Council and the Forces of Freedom and Change, reached an agreement for the minimum for three years transition period and transfer in power to civilian rule.
However, we have yet to know the details of that agreement which will be announced on Wednesday, in the morning, Khartoum time.
WATT: OK. And, you know, because we thought, earlier this week, that we were also on the verge of a breakthrough in these talks between the protesters and the military who have been at odds since Omar al-Bashir was removed from power, I mean, so Monday, we thought we had a breakthrough, and then, we saw this violence. Who do you think was behind this violence, earlier this week, and why?
ELSHEIKH: It is very hard to guess, right now, who is behind this violence and atrocity, again, it's the protesters and civilians. But it's definitely an element from the former old regime, whether the military council know them or not, that's something need to be discovered.
As you are also aware that they agreed the transition -- the civilians opposition and the military council that they are the need for beginning an inquiry, committee of inquiry about Monday's events. Money in opposition believes that they cannot buy what the military council been declaring those (INAUDIBLE) elements. And the military council spokesperson -- they guessed they know who those elements are.
So now, the question is, why we don't bring them to justice. My personal assessment, I think, the military council is extremely -- cannot control the (INAUDIBLE) of the former regime and those, indeed, could be elements from the (INAUDIBLE) of the former regime try to spark some kind of division and given execute for the military council to crack down on the sittings.
However, that also seems to show the military council that they are not having any power and (INAUDIBLE) ground with our people who came to an increasing number to support the sitting. [01:25:18] WATT: I mean, signs of progress, but it is very clear that there are groups probably on both sides who do not want this agreement to go forward, correct?
ELSHEIKH: I'm not sure if I can call them both sides, because it seems the opposition is almost in -- sided on one side, under the alliance of Freedom and Change. However, this coalition of political party that initiated by the former regime in the last five years. And those political parties, actually the (INAUDIBLE) have the representation in the ground.
And those people could be tied to those elements which, of course, they had to be disenchanted with the agreement because they know that the next legal measure will be (INAUDIBLE)
WATT: And I want to ask you about Omar al-Bashir. He, of course, was president for about 30 years, was removed from office back in April. What is going to happen to him? I mean, he is wanted at the ICC on charges relating to the Darfur campaign. He is also were told by Sudan state prosecutor going to be prosecuted for the killing of some protestors in the past few weeks.
The military has said that they will prosecute him but not extradite him. He is, right now, in jail. What does the future hold for Omar al-Bashir?
ELSHEIKH: I think, you know, one of the best ways for us to look forward to our future of Sudan that's grounded in democracy, rule of law, freedom and justice and peace. I think, I believe that if we have independent judiciary, I think they will be capable of trying al- Bashir inside Sudan.
And in my personal opinion, I think, trial him in the ICC is not really productive at the -- at the moment, because it might spark another kind of chaotic reactions toward the revolution and the aspiration of the Sudanese people.
I think, the Sudanese people, what they want to see, they want to see a stability, rule of law, international human rights and the government to work for them to lift the burden of (INAUDIBLE) measures. So, if those steps are being ushered in -- with the civilian-led government, I think whether to try al-Bashir in the ICC or in Sudan, it became a secondary movement.
WATT: Elsadig Elsheikh, joining us from Berkeley, California. Thank you very much for your insights.
ELSHEIKH: Thank you for having me.
WATT: In the U.S. State of Alabama, the Republican-led Senate just passed a bill, outlawing almost all abortions in the state even for victims of rape or incest. Doctors who perform the procedure could get life in prison.
The legislation sets up a direct challenge to Roe versus Wade, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. One Democratic lawmaker, who opposes the bill, says Republicans are acting like hypocrites.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDA COLEMAN-MADISON (D-AL): Republicans, you guys used to say, we want the government out of our life. We want them out of our business. We want them out of our bedroom. Yes, you heard me say I want you out of my bedroom. Now, you're in my womb. I want you out. You don't control this. You don't own this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATT: The bill will take effect in six months if the governor signs it into law. There are likely to be legal challenges.
Brexit followers out there, mark your calendar for the week of June 3rd, mark them for the fourth time. Because that's when the British Prime Minister Theresa May plans to hold yet another vote, the fourth, on her deal to leave the European Union.
Lawmakers have rejected the prime minister's Brexit deal, three times already. This fourth time's the charm plan was announced during a meeting between Mrs.May and opposition Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The hope to finally get this deal approved before parliament breaks for the summer.
Next on CNN NEWSROOM, a CNN exclusive, how an accused war criminal slipped through the cracks and became a driver for Uber and Lyft.
[01:32:03] WATT: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Nick Watt with the headlines this hour.
President Trump is denying a report that the U.S. has a plan to send 120,000 more troops to the Middle East. The "New York Times" reports the U.S. would roll out the plan if its forces are attacked, or Iran speeds up its nuclear weapons program. Mr. Trump says the report is false, that he would send even more troops.
President Trump is calling the trade war with China q quote "little squabble, and insists talks have not collapsed. But sources say negotiations have halted. An apparent sticking point in the talks is the U.S. insistence that China put trade reform into law.
Sudanese military leaders and opposition groups have agreed on a three-year transition period for transferring power to a full civilian government. This according to Sudan's state media. The deal is expected to be finalized in the coming hours. This comes a month after Sudan's military ousted longtime president Omar al-Bashir.
Yusuf Abdi Ali is an Uber pro diamond driver with a healthy 4.89 rating. But CNN has found that he's also allegedly hiding a dark and disturbing past.
Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has our exclusive report.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yusuf Abdi Ali is an accused war criminal, facing a civil trial in Virginia, alleging he is responsible for atrocities including torture and attempted murder in Somalia in the 1980s. While awaiting trial, he has been driving for Uber.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes sir, he is just coming now.
GRIFFIN: Undercover CNN producers last week ordered an Uber in northern Virginia. Yusuf, listed on the app as an Uber pro-diamond driver with a 4.89 rating, picked them up. Yusuf Ali also told us he drives for Lyft.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you from?
YUSUF ABDI ALI, UBER DRIVER: Originally from Somalia.
GRIFFIN: Sir, I was surprised to see that you drive for Uber and Lyft. Did the background checks of those companies not reveal the fact that you're accused of torture and murder and about to face a trial here for basically terrorizing communities?
Just how Uber and Lyft missed the accusations exposes a potential hole in their screening process. A simple Google search of Ali's name brings up article after article about his alleged brutality as a commander in the Somalian security force.
A major expose day by CNN in 2016 found the alleged war criminal --
ALI: Oh, CNN -- ok.
GRIFFIN: Working as a security guard at Dallas International Airport, a job he was fired from shortly after the report aired.
And a search would have also revealed this -- a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary, with villages telling terrifying stories of Yusuf Ali's actions, the man they knew as Colonel Tuke (ph).
[01:35:01] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two men were caught, tied to a tree, oil was poured on them and they were burned. I saw it with my own eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He caught my brother. They tied him to a military vehicle and dragged him behind. He said to us, if you have enough power get him back. He shredded him into pieces. That's how he died.
GRIFFIN: Faren Warfa (ph) is a Somalian who claims in 1988 Ali tortured him for months. Then shot him twice and ordered guards to bury him alive. He survived and since no international court has jurisdiction Warfa has turned to civil court in the U.S. to seek damages. In court filings, Ali acknowledges he was a colonel in the Somali National Army, but denies having attempted extrajudicial killing and torture and denies directing any such actions by his subordinates. Ali told us he's been an Uber driver for a year and a half, and that background check he said was easy.
ALI: If you apply tonight, maybe after two -- two days it will come up.
GRIFFIN: Last year, Uber tightened its background checks after CNN found convicted felons were able to become ride-share drivers. Both Uber and Lyft say their background checks include criminal offenses and driving incidents and the company that does the screening check tells CNN in a statement that they rely on public criminal records that have been adjudicated in a court of law, rather than unverified sources like Google search result. Ali has never been convicted of a crime, only accused.
Mr. Ali -- I have to give you an opportunity to respond to all the allegations. You may not wish to respond to all the allegations but the allegations are that basically, you tortured peoples, murdered peoples.
Both Uber and Lyft say they don't review social media or conduct Google searches as part of background checks on potential drivers. But when we pointed out Ali's these history through a simple Google search, both companies took immediate action to remove him. Lyft banned Ali altogether for life. Uber suspended him pending review.
His trial is expected to wrap up in Virginia this week.
Drew Griffin, CNN -- Atlanta.
WATT: All this week, CNN is introducing you to people who have made a lasting impact on our reporters throughout the years.
For Anderson Cooper, it's a journalist who took action after his friend was killed reporting on the front lines. Here's Anderson's story of Kim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The realities of war, captured on camera by journalists Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What just happened?
TIM HETHERINGTON, JOURNALIST: I think we were the targets. (INAUDIBLE), very close overhead, incoming.
COOPER: This is Tim in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan in 2007. He spent a year on and off embedded with U.S. troops, making a documentary called "Restrepo".
They were on the front lines of battle, the combat intense. Their footage as up close as you can get.
But for Tim, reporting from war zones was about so much more than just capturing firefights. Sebastian's film "Which way is the front line from here?" is behind the scenes look at Tim's work and his mission.
SEBASTIAN JUNGER, JOURNALIST: For me it was there is a certain amount of adrenaline to do with combat and filming that. I mean for me the really important story is being close to these men. And that's what it is about. That's what really I'm there for.
COOPER: These pictures by Tim Hetherington (INAUDIBLE) has been traveling with us this past week.
I first met Tim in 2009.
HETHERINGTON: They all say that.
COOPER: We were in Afghanistan together, reporting on the fight against the Taliban. Tim was our photographer for that assignment, and his talent was obvious from the start. But I soon came to know his humor, his kindness and his bravery. And I saw firsthand how his curiosity about the world gave him the ability to connect with people.
HETHERINGTON: It's a sensitive situation.
COOPER: He started off a colleague, I came to consider him a friend.
HETHERINGTON: You carry on, no problem.
COOPER Tim went out of his way to interact with his subjects no matter where he was in the world.
HETHERINGTON: How do you say "very good" in Tamul (ph). Alam?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elam.
HETHERINGTON: Ok. You want -- you know English -- elam.
COOPER: In 2011, Tim went to Libya to cover the rebel forces who were fighting against the regime of Moammar Gaddafi. It would be his last assignment.
[01:40:01] This video is from that trip, taken before a mortar fired by Gaddafi's forces landed near Tim and a group of journalists in a city called Misrata.
Sebastian Junger was supposed to be with him on that trip.
Do you remember where you were when you got the news?
JUNGER: The phone rang, and it was a mutual friend of our saying Tim has been hurt. And the news was that Tim and some other journalists were hurt.
COOPER: I read that they have been out earlier in the day, and sort of felt like they had pushed their luck. And that Tim decided to go back with the rebels to take photographs of the aftermath of the attack.
JUNGER: So they all went back, and who lived and who died, and who was wounded, who wasn't depends on sort of where they were in the group when the mortar landed.
COOPER: Tim was hit by shrapnel in the leg. His femoral artery was cut. He bled to death in the back of a pickup truck on the way to the hospital. Sebastian believed Tim's life could have been saved, if the others with him knew how to administer some basic first aid.
JUNGER: I just though oh, had I been with Tim I wouldn't -- I would have -- I wouldn't have known what to do either. I would have watched him die, right and which I can't imagine what that would have been like.
And I just thought I have got to start an organization that will train people like myself and like Tim and everybody else --
COOPER: And so he did. In Tim's honor, he started an organization called RISC -- Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues. This non profit seeks to provide free medical training for journalists who cover conflict zones.
They use real life scenarios. Journalist practice on dummies and actors. Many of these journalists are freelancers which means they don't have companies to pay for their insurance or security, or to outfit then with the medical supplies they may need on the front lines.
Sebastian wants to change that status quo, and do what he can to prevent another death like Tim's.
What do you think Tim's legacy is?
JUNGER: I think he represents to a lot of people a certain very human way of taking in and understanding the world. Realizing that we're sort of all part of the joy and the pain of this planet. And that there's a way to connect other people in very different circumstances, just through your shared humanity.
HETHERINGTON: You seem very intelligent for nine.
I think the important thing for me is to connect with real people, you know. To document them in this extreme circumstances, you know, where there aren't any kind of neat solution the way you can't put any kind of neat guideline, and say this is what it's about or this is what it's about. It's not. And I hope that my work kind of shows that.
WATT: We'll keep sharing these inspiring stories all this week. And tune in on Sunday morning at eight in Hong Kong for an hour long "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" special.
We'll be back a moment.
[01:43:11] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WATT: Seven countries have been knocked out in the first semifinal round of the Eurovision song contest.
WATT: Alas it was the end of the road for Montenegro, Finland, Poland, Hungary, Belgium, Georgia and Portugal. Nearly 200 million people are expected to tune in on Saturday for the final which pits singers and bands from different countries against one another in a live final with public voting.
But controversy is threatening to overshadow the competition which is being hosted by Israel this year. Opponents of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories are protesting the contest and asking artists to boycott artists including Madonna who is booked as a guest performer for Saturday's finale.
The pop icon is defiant thought telling CNN "I will never stop playing music to suit someone's political agenda nor will I stop speaking out against violations of human rights wherever in the world they may be.
Michael Idato is the entertainment editor-at-large for the "Sydney Morning Herald" and he joins me now from Tel Aviv. Michael, I mean that statement from Madonna was kind of defiant but it doesn't say she's actually going to show up. What is the latest? Is she or isn't she?
MICHAEL IDATO, ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR-AT-LARGE, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD: Well, she is here. There's been no update to a statement that was made during the press conference on Monday by the executive director of Eurovision, Mr. Jon Ola Sand, essentially saying that the contract has not yet been signed with her and if in fact, the contract wasn't signed she's obviously not going to perform on Eurovision stage. And they are going to be quite strict about that.
To give that a little bit of context, (AUDIO GAP) Justin Timberlake was booked as an interval act for this Saturday, final of the event. And he in fact was signed and booked an announced only a couple of days before the actual event.
So I think based on historical form, I imagine she will perform. I don't think that 11th hour the nature of the contract signing is a big deal in the minds of Eurovision but certainly they made the point of signing if in fact the paperwork is not done. It seems very E.U. (ph) in that way but I have to (INAUDIBLE) she won't be on the Eurovision stage. But I think right now the sense is that everyone is expecting her to be there.
WATT: And Michael -- you know, for people watching who unlike me did not grow up going gaga over her. I mean this is a big deal. Eurovision was a huge part of my childhood and it's still a huge, huge event. Tell our viewers just a little bit about why it started. And what it means?
IDATO: Essentially it was born in post-war Europe and in fact, in a practical sense what had happened in post-war Europe was co-axial television cable -- a very analog form of physical transmission had been laid across Europe. And in order to use that cable, to give it a function, the European Broadcast Union came up with a bunch of options of events that might utilize that across the continent.
The idea of a pan-country sort of singing competition was conceived. It was the idea that would have a set of values designed to unite the continent that obviously is coming out of the Second World War, had been brutally scarred by conflict.
So essentially the first one was held in Switzerland. There were only I think seven countries performing. Each of them submitted two songs and I'm pretty sure Switzerland won which is unsurprising, maybe.
Essentially since then it obviously evolved into something much, much bigger. It now has an audience of around 200 million people. This is the 64th edition of the competition. There are 41 countries competing including obviously Israel and Australia, where I'm from, neither of which are physically in the European continent but has been members of the European Broadcasting Union and have been invited at different points in the history of the competition to compete.
[01:49:56] So in a sense it's a tool. It has a history of being pitch (ph) and silly in this aberrant buck (ph) season -- a lot of color and silly.
At the same time, its origin is as a tool of soft diplomacy, essentially, you know, it's the sort of thing I think we probably see a lot of now, internationally certainly I'm based in Los Angeles and there's a lot soft diplomacy in L.A. simply because I think in a case like America it's used where its measure is deemed to be more effective than traditional diplomacy.
And in the other situations Israel is probably an example of that, it's used where there's a perception of traditional diplomacy, you struggle and it has failed. I think people see this as an opportunity to have international dialog with dozens involved, politicians, you know, political groups. And people who are traditionally kind of sort of at loggerheads in this situation.
WATT: I mean this was designed to unite but right now it's dividing. I mean I want to read a couple of open letters that had been published by both sides of this.
One group who are calling for the boycott. They published a letter among them Peter Gabriel, Roger Waters, Nadine Westwood. Their letter reads in part, "Eurovision may be light entertainment but it is not exempt from human rights considerations."
And then the letter that came back from the other side including Sharon Osbourne and Gene Simmons. They say "We believe that unifying events such as singing competitions are crucial to help bridge our cultural divide."
But when anyone tries to sing in Israel it seems to cause problems. IDATO: Look, I think the issue here is really I suppose about
branding. There's a perception on the part of the pro-boycott that Israel uses an event like this to advances its brand, to kind of present itself to the international stage. And I think there is a sort of -- there's a feeling that they shouldn't be allowed to do that. That's the argument that they shouldn't be allowed to do that because there is much more going on and sort of the issues like human rights I think we draw into that conversation regardless of what the conversation.
The counter-argument which it certainly is prevailing here, certainly with the 41 countries no one has withdrawn on the ground that the competition being in Israel and Madonna obviously has said that she's not going to back out. The opposing argument, of course, is that this is an opportunity to have a dialogue that actually sines a spotlight with all of these artists who come here and that their job really, you know, its' funny we criticize actors and celebrities and they get involve din politics and yet in a situation like this, we demand they participate.
And in fact the position of most of the artists here they should be here is one of and certainly I that conflicts that it's the position that seems to have been taken is that it's not their place to have political debates. It's their place to come here, to sing, to represent Iraq and their country.
And in a soft diplomacy sense, evade a tangible demonstration of 41 countries many of whom have conflicts and many of whom of whom have had conflicts in the of the competition. Can you come together into a room and actually, you know, kind of get along in a sense, you know, to celebrate the music they are performing. But also the relations between all of those countries.
WATT: Michael Idato joining us from Tel Aviv -- thank you very much.
The U.K. hits a major milestone in reducing its carbon footprint. Coal free for a week they say it's the first step towards a new normal.
[01:55:00] WATT: For the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the United Kingdom has gone more than a week without burning any coal to generate electricity.
As Simon Cullen explains, the U.K. has grand plans to be completely carbon free in just five years.
SIMON CULLEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In Trump's America coal is king. During his campaign and throughout his presidency, Donald Trump has championed the U.S. coal industry.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The coal industry is going to make a very big comeback, ok? I'm telling you! CULLEN: On the other side of the Atlantic, though, it's a
dramatically different story.
FINTAN SLYE, DIRECTOR NATIONAL GRID ESO: The U.K. has just experienced its first full week without any coal generation on the system. So, for the first time since 1882, when the first coal generation power station opened in London, we had a full week without any coal on the systems.
CULLEN: The change of pace has been rapid. Over the past decade, the share of coal-fired power has fallen from about a third to less than 3 percent. It has been replaced by renewable energy sources like wind, solar, and biomass.
DR. NINA SKORUPSKA, CEO, U.K. RENEWABLE ENERGY ASSOCIATION: The U.K.'s world leader in off-shore wind. But solar has been the surprising game-changer.
CULLEN: For a country that was powered by coal through the Industrial Revolution, the change has been significant. There're now just coal-- fired power stations still operating in the U.K. The rest like the one here in central London either sit dormant or have been converted into office space.
For those that remain active, their days are numbered. The U.K. government has set a target for the energy system to be coal free by 2025. The electricity system operator has set an even more ambitious and difficult target. It wants to phase out all fossil fuels including gas-fired power.
SLYE: We set ourselves out a clear ambition not by 2025, we will be able to operate the system at zero carbon. First of all, really a few hours then a few days, then potentially a week without any carbon on the systems.
SKORUPSKA; We've done the easy, you know, easy lifting of the challenge. The more difficult part is yet to come.
CULLEN; The Industrial Revolution has long gone. Britain is now in the midst of a renewable revolution.
Simon Cullen, CNN -- London.
WATT: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Nick Watt.
The news continues on CNN right after this.
[01:57:28] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)