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Russia Says It Will Allow Evacuations From Azovstal Plant; Ukrainian Forces Retake Village In Northern Kharkiv Region; E.U. Proposes Ban On Russian Oil Imports By Year's End; Afghan Refugees Stay in U.S. Permanently; Wanted Correctional Officer to Turn Herself In; Actress Amber Heard Takes Stand; Bolsonaro's Reaction to DiCaprio; Four Astronauts to Return to Earth; Russian Cosmonaut Takes Command of ISS. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired May 05, 2022 - 02:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in Lviv, Ukraine. And ahead this hour, the Ukrainian commander inside a steel plant in Mariupol says the enemy is in the compound as bloody battles raged on with civilians trapped inside.

ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And I'm Rosemary Church in Atlanta. I will have our other top stories, including the U.S. Fed takes historic action to quash inflation. And so far the markets like what they're hearing, how the interest rate hike will impact you.

SOARES: Welcome to the show, everyone. It's 9:00 am here in Ukraine. And we are awaiting word on whether Russia has made good on its latest pledge to allow civilians to evacuate from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Now humanitarian corridors announced by Moscow are supposed to be open right now. But that promise to pause fighting comes as Russian forces have been doing, well, the opposite.

Russian attacks have been intensifying on the complex where hundreds of civilians including 30 children, according to Mariupol's mayor are holed up along with the city's last remaining Ukrainian fighters. And here's how a Ukrainian commander inside the plant describes the situation. Have a listen.


LT. COL. DENYS PROKOPENKO, AZOV REGIMENT COMMANDER (through translator): For two days now the enemy has broken into the territory of the plant. These are heavy bloody battles, and I am proud of my soldiers who are making superhuman efforts to contain the enemy's onslaught.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SOARES: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says 344 people were evacuated from Mariupol and other nearby areas on Wednesday. We don't know if any of them were rescued though from the steel plant.

To the north in the Kharkiv region, Ukraine says a counter offensive is pushing forward and reclaiming more territory. Ukrainian forces have now taken back the village of Moldova, which is just 21 kilometers or about 13 miles from the Russian border and should not be confused with Moldova, the country. It is the latest village to come back under Ukrainian control in the last two weeks.

Meantime, Ukraine says Russian forces have made few advances in Luhansk and Donetsk regions despite having bombardments on a number of fronts. Russian forces have been trying to move south from the Kharkiv region in an attempt to surround Ukrainian forces defending Donetsk.

And in Luhansk region, new drone footage shows really stunning devastation in the town of Popasna. The drone, as you can see there appears to have been used by the Russian military as they tracked Ukrainian troops amid intense street fighting. And we are now learning that Belarusian ministry has begun an inspection of its reaction force, which will involve testing the readiness of its forces to respond to "a possible crisis situation."

The U.K. defense ministry said in his latest update in the last 20 minutes. The Russia may look to inflate the threat Belarusian exercises to post Ukraine to keep Ukrainian forces in the north and further from the battle for the Donbas.

Let's get more on all of this. Joining me now from Kyiv is Matti Maasikas who is the E.U. ambassador to Ukraine. A very good morning to you, Ambassador. I know you are in Kyiv. And from what I understand you've met with Ukraine's prosecutor general who is leading the investigation into war crimes committed by Russian forces. We understand and correct me if I'm wrong that the first stage of this investigation is completed. But what more can you tell us?

MATTI MAASIKAS, E.U. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: The -- at this stage gathering the evidence and preparing for pressing charges is what -- is what the teams are doing. Mainly the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine but with the international help and the first charges have impressed but of course, unfortunately, with each and every liberated town and village, new evidence is coming -- is coming up. So this work is very, very big.

SOARES: Give us a sense, Ambassador, of what you have been hearing. Of course Ukraine saying 9000 cases of war crimes being investigated.


SOARES: What have you been hearing on the ground?

MAASIKAS: I think -- I think the number is correct for the time being. But terrible crimes are being committed as we speak. So, each and every day brings more evidence, brings more on this -- on this area.

SOARES: And how exactly ambassador is the E.U. and the U.S. helping with this probe into war crimes?

MAASIKAS: They're experts on the ground even helping the Ukrainian experts. There is -- there is a massive operation coordinated by E.U. institutions in Brussels. Countries like the U.S., the United Kingdom and others are providing experts. It's not only about gathering evidence, it's also about the legal proceedings, legal assistance to get this cases to court. And it's a very, very big chunk of work which will -- which will -- which will last for quite a long time.

SOARES: Right. So, I mean, there's a challenge in itself just verifying so many of these cases, but what are you saying then there's the next step, getting them, making sure these crimes go to court which is --


SOARES: -- does not happen.

MAASIKAS: Exactly. And here, of course, identification is crucial as well.


MAASIKAS: Ukrainians have been quite successful there especially on the perpetrators of the crimes in Bucha. But this is the -- it's a very big one.

SOARES: On that, on taking it to court, talk us through and the challenges of taking, for example, the crimes that we've seen being committed in court in Bucha there. We've heard from, you know, from the Ukrainian sighs, the naming of the soldiers involved. They're saying they know who was involved. How do you then take that information once you've verified it? How -- what do you have to do in terms of the challenges to get this to court?

MAASIKAS: One needs, of course, to bring concrete persons and concrete -- and concrete evidence (INAUDIBLE) together. And then these legal proceedings internationally, are always -- they entail awful lot of work and also -- and also time.

SOARES: Yes. Let me ask you very quickly before we let you go, Ambassador about the E.U.'s proposal to ban oil imports from Russia. How difficult do you think it will be to get all members on board? I mean, we know Hungary, Slovakia and others have already said they won't agree to this current -- to the ban in its current form. And I suppose the other question, if you could answer this, is this -- does this go far enough?

MAASIKAS: Everything that we do the E.U., U.S., U.K., other partners who are imposing sanctions, it's been done with one goal, to make it harder and in the end impossible for Putin's regime to finance this war. And the current sanctions package over the E.U. is already six (INAUDIBLE) so it is logical to say that, obviously, we have -- with each and every time we have realized that more needs to be done.

The discussions among the member states are ongoing as we -- as we speak and you're rightly referred to member states being in different positions, landlocked countries depending on one particular pipeline or in different situation but I'm confident that the consensus, that the solution will be found and it will be found In the coming days.

SOARES: Matti Maasikas, appreciate you, Ambassador for taking time to speak to us. Thanks very much.


MAASIKAS: Thank you.

SOARES: And we'll have much more from Lviv in the coming hour but first I want go to -- back to Rosie in Atlanta. Good morning, Rosie.

CHURCH: Hi there, Isa. Thank you so much. We'll get back to you very soon. Well, the U.S. Federal Reserve is fighting back full force against inflation raising interest rates by half a percentage point on Wednesday. Last time, the Fed increased rates this sharply was in 2000 when U.S. inflation was over half of today's rate. The Fed warned the war in Ukraine and COVID lockdowns in China are weighing down economic activity and it could take a while for prices to come down.


JEROME POWELL, U.S. FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR: I'd like to take this opportunity to speak directly to the American people. Inflation is much too high. And we understand the hardship it is causing. And we're moving expeditiously to bring it back down. We have both the tools we need and the resolve that it will take to restore price stability on behalf of American families and businesses.


CHURCH: The Fed's decision save U.S. financial markets soaring. Wall Street had its best day in two years. Blue chip stocks gained more than 900 points. The S&P 500 is up three percent and the NASDAQ rose 3.2 percent. And we are seeing positive results in the Asia Pacific markets. You can see they're all moving in the right direction.

Ryan Patel is a senior fellow at the Drucker School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. He joins me now from Los Angeles. Great to have you with us.


CHURCH: So, the Dow soared more than 900 points on U.S. The Fed was raising interest rates by half a percentage point. The goal, of course, to reduce inflation without pushing the country into recession. But can that be done?

PATEL: Well, it needs to be done, Rosemary. But I think it's a really fine balance. I think why the market reacted the way it did is because the Fed stated last meeting that they were going to do this and that they were going to, you know, this increase in interest rate, really, let's just be honest, is really after the inflation. So, the market reacted accordingly thinking that the Fed will have this in control.

And to your point, this is a step for investors to pay attention to -- that say that this will happen and could cause a curb for inflation that causes some price certainty, unlike what we've seen over the last few months.

CHURCH: And Ryan, inflation is currently at a whopping 8.5 percent. So how long will it likely take to bring that down with this new interest rate hike? And what is an acceptable inflation level?

PATEL: That's a great question. I think, you know, the Fed stated it, you know, we're going to see, you know, 50 basis more points over the next couple of months. You know, Jerome Powell had said that 75 basis points is not something they want to talk about right now. But it's on the table. I mean, we may be seeing even another three percent increase by the end of next year. And so, what that means is that many analysts are looking at hoping that the inflation is at its peak.

And again, when we think about what it's at its peak is of all the other uncertainties from the Russia-Ukraine war. And, you know, obviously, Shanghai being -- their port being shut down, right? That's where, you know, if we got any more crisises, don't blink an eye that the Fed won't step in and be even more aggressive than before.

CHURCH: Yes. It does seem that we get one crises after the next, doesn't it? And of course, this is the biggest interest rate hike in 22 years and the markets rallied on use of the Fed's aggressive approach to inflation even though there will be more, of course, more to come, but perhaps not as aggressive going forward. Explain that that to us.

PATEL: Well, compared -- I think you and I had a conversation last year if you recall that we were talking about that this was not transitory. And the -- and the Fed was saying that the inflation was transitory. Well, it's the opposite. The Fed is making a hard stance and addressing that there is an issue and that there needs to be a stronger monetary policy. Once again, as I mentioned, the market reacted to it.

But with the aggressive rate over the last, you know, two decades, it's really -- it's really to combat the price and certainly for those families that can't afford things and I think that's where we're seeing the aggressiveness, Rosemary, is because the things are starting to get out of control when it comes to pricing things.

CHURCH: And let's look at that because interest rate hikes will of course mean that buying houses and cars will be harder and if anyone has credit card debt, they will be hit extra hard, of course. What's your advice to those who had plan perhaps to buy a house or car and those carrying over any credit card debt or any other debt, what should they do?


PATEL: One, personally avoid the credit card debt. It has the highest interest rate. I don't need to say that unless the Public Service announcement but please do whatever you can do knock that down. As for the, you know, as for the home, you know, home loans, I think we're going to see home prices kind of peak out, kind of -- kind of flat line. And because, you know, we're not going to see more aggressive home ordering buying, I mean, is it going to, you know, really going to shut down loan origination?

We've seen that in the last couple of months that it's coming down, but they're still not enough to demand, you know, none of supply in the housing market. So, we don't see that recession bubble-ish kind of that -- we're talking about with the real estate, unless more supply comes on the market. And I think you're going to see less -- little less demand, which is not an issue and obviously, for the loan aspect, you know, for the cars.

It's interesting of what you can afford today that we can't afford tomorrow. And I think people are going to feel -- I mean, many people in the middle who could afford a loan today is not going to be able to afford in a couple of months. And that means you got to go back into the savings and not be able to take some of these loan amounts that you can't afford and pay. And so, being fiscally responsible is going to be even more important than ever for many consumers in the next 12 months.

CHURCH: Some great advice there. Ryan Patel, always good to talk with you. Many thanks.

Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is sharpening his rhetoric against the Republicans ahead of the high stakes midterm elections, when control of Congress will be at stake. On Wednesday he went after what he called the ultra MAGA agenda of those who still support Donald Trump's Make America Great Again movement. He said MAGA Republicans are protecting billionaires at the expensive working class Americans and took aim at Republican Senator Rick Scott's economic plan. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me tell you about this ultra MAGA agenda. It's extreme as most mega things are. It will actually raise taxes on 75 million American families, over 95 percent of who make less than $100,000 a year.


CHURCH: Mr. Biden claims his administration will reduce the deficit by a record amount as opposed to Trump's administration which increase the deficit every year he was in office.

Still to come, the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control issues a disturbing warning about what might happen if federal abortion rights are overturned.


[02:21:28] CHURCH: For a third straight day, anger spilled into the streets over the U.S. Supreme Court's likely plans to strike down the landmark abortion rights law Roe vs. Wade. The ruling is not yet final but the leak draft opinion has set off nationwide protests and the top court may be feeling the heat from the court of public opinion. On Wednesday night, crews installed taller fencing around the entire perimeter of the Supreme Court to keep protesters at bay. CNN polling shows the majority of Americans support legalized abortion.

Well, meanwhile the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning more people may die if Roe is overturned because not all American women will have access to safe and legal abortions.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, DIRECTOR, U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: Those who have resources will easily cross state lines to be able to do so and those who don't may take matters into their own hands. And may not get exactly the care that they need in order to do so. And I do think that lives could be at stake in that situation.


CHURCH: Our Gary Tuchman visited a nonprofit women's clinic in the state of Tennessee to see what might happen if Roe v. Wade is indeed overturned.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): These two men are anti-abortion protesters trying to convince the frightened woman behind the wheel not to drive into this Women's Medical Clinic parking lot, where she has an appointment for an abortion. The woman who walked up to the car is the co-director of the clinic, assuring the patient who speaks little English, she is safe with her and that they will protect her while she's here.

This type of confrontation at the Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health in Tennessee is very common. But it's happening at a very unusual moment in time. With the knowledge that legal abortion may be ending very soon in the state.


orinne Rovetti is a nurse practitioner and one of the other co- directors of this clinic, which provides all types of gynecological health care.

ROVETTI: What kind of society is that that we forced people to motherhood when they're not prepared or ready to do that or know that they're already stretched to their limits and cannot support another child.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Under a Tennessee law passed in 2019, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe versus Wade, this state will then ban abortion 30 days after the ruling is issued.

TUCHMAN (voice over): Exceptions will only be allowed to prevent the death of a pregnant woman or a serious injury. Dr. Aaron Campbell is one of the physicians who performs abortions here. He's the medical director.

DR. AARON CAMPBELL, OBSTETRICIAN AND GYNECOLOGIST KNOXVILLE CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH: I think people will pursue unsafe illegal abortions and I think people will get sick and die. And I think that blood and their death will be on the hands of these lawmakers that are passing these laws.

TUCHMAN: Dr. Campbell's late father was also the medical director here for many years.

CAMPBELL: I think he would be devastated.

TUCHMAN: There are very few places that provide abortions in Tennessee. There was another clinic just a few miles away from here.

CAMPBELL: On New Year's Eve, our local Planned Parenthood affiliate was burned down ruled to be in arson.

TUCHMAN: And it hasn't reopened.

CAMPBELL: It hasn't reopened. It's not been rebuilt.

TUCHMAN: Doing this type of work has long been intimidating and often frightening for the medical professionals. Many of the patients who come here for routine checkups do it partly out of support and loyalty for the clinic. Lisa being one of them. And she shares the employee's emotions about what the Supreme Court seems poised to do.


TUCHMAN: For now the anti-abortion protesters say they will continue to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not here to intimidate people here but you do and you know that. Well if the child was outside the womb, we wouldn't be acting like this.


TUCHMAN: And the clinic employees say they will continue to do their jobs, but they know the writing is on the wall, and that perhaps there is now not much they can do about it.

What are you going to start telling your patients?

CAMPBELL: I don't know. I don't know that any of us now.


TUCHMAN: I just talked to one of the other co directors of this clinic. She says she was born in 1979, which was six years after Roe became the law of the land. She says she finds it incomprehensible that Roe will no longer exist. And that's one of the reasons she believes she still has hope that one of the conservative justices might change his or her mind. This is Gary Tuchman, CNN in Knoxville, Tennessee.

CHURCH: Hundreds of Ukrainians are breathing a sigh of relief after living under Russian occupation for weeks. Next, they speak to CNN following their departure from the occupied city of Kherson.



RUSSELL BARNES, CEO, DAVID LLOYD LEISURE: I think that there's an understanding that wellness and fitness and well-being is important in a COVID. And that is certainly what we're seeing. Not only are we seeing a significant demand to -- for membership across our state but we're also seeing an increase in usage, existing members using the clubs more.

In that, on top of hybrid working, you know, we've got lots of data to tell us that members are going to -- not going into the offices as much. We're a suburban baked business. We've seen people come and use the clubs differently. And that is all positive for us. And so, on the negative side, we've got an increase in the cost base. While on the positive side, we've got a greater demand for what we're offering. I think someone has to be absolutely committed to improving their mental and physical well-being. But we will hold their hand every step of the way.

SOARES: I'm Isa Soares, coming to you from Lviv, Ukraine. And we are awaiting word on whether Russia has made good on its latest pledge to allow civilians to evacuate from the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol. Humanitarian corridors announced by Moscow are supposed to be open right now. We have yet to hear anything on this from Ukrainian officials.

Those that have made it out, leaving their homes, as well as families behind, are calling themselves lucky. That is the case with hundreds of Ukrainians who were allowed to leave the City of Kherson after weeks of living under Russian occupation. Nick Paton Walsh spoke with some of them as they finally tasted freedom again.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voiceover): Their road to salvation here is a dusty track. Where few who know the route, just follow the car in front. Above the trees, the dust likely from fires caused by distant shelling. These are over 100 cars that have run the gauntlet out of Kherson, the first city Russia occupied.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No school, no almost hospital, at the moment it's terrible. So, many Russians -- military there. It's terrible.

WALSH (on camera): What did they do? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They -- at the moment, they do nothing.

WALSH (voiceover): Eyes here tell of exhaustion, hours held at Russian checkpoints. The only emotion left after two months under the Russian gun, a slight smile of freedom. The idea donning that life under occupation is behind them, even if a life displaced by war is ahead.

WALSH (on camera): You can see just in the length of this queue here, the scale of the desperation that we're talking about here. People fleeing Russian occupation, leaving this morning at first light from the City of Kherson, the first to be occupied by Russia at the start of the war. Some of them on their fifth attempt to get out.

WALSH (voiceover): Something this time was different, it was easy.

We left early when they were all asleep, she says. Goods have dried up. Everything is from Crimea, she adds.

Edic (ph), in front, squeezed 10 in here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Staying here is good. No one's shooting the -- we tried for a week to get out.

WALSH (voiceover): We were just on the way to get out and they let us pass as human shields when things were flying over us, she says. It was terrifying.

Five attempts, Edic said. They didn't let us through. Just turned us around.

They fled a city where things were not going according to the Kremlin's plan. The sham referendum Russia planned to consolidate control never happened. And this weekend, almost at the moment when they introduced the Russian currency, the Ruble, the internet and cell service suddenly went off. For even the youngest, the hope ahead is palpable.

It was sad to leave he says, but where we're going will be better.

This is happening as villages and roads change hands daily here. These Ukrainian soldiers in the next village anxious to not have their location or faces shown.

We evacuated 1,500 people over the last week, one said. Kids, elderly. Russians led them through if they say they are going to Kherson. Further on, they drop off their cars, bikes, and go on foot to our side.


Across the fields, the agony of Russia's blundering and senseless invasion pours out. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Chornobaivka, Ukraine.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SOARES: And still to come right here on the show. The Kremlin response to a proposed ban on Russian oil imports by the European Union. That is next. Do stay right here with CNN.

SARAH DAVISON-TRACY, AUTHOR, NO LONGER UNTOUCHABLE: When we decided we want to rise up and do something when we come to connect with and care about each other. I think, now I want to do something about what is happening with them and human trafficking around the world.

My name is Sarah Davison-Tracy, I'm an author and I just published a book called, "No Longer Untouchable". A story of human trafficking, heroism, and hope. I wrote the book over the last seven years in collaboration with five young women, four of whom were trafficked out of Nepal into India.

Devisara "Hannah" Badi is one of our five storytellers. She has been a leader. She has been a visionary for this book but also for her people in Nepal.

DEVISARA "HANNAH" BADI, BADI COMMUNITY MEMBER: I have one brother and five sisters. One sister, she was sold out in Brussels, in India when she was very little. So, it was a very long time -- my parents and we were looking for her. But that -- there was a, like, big challenge for us on how to rescue her. Like, how to, you know, get her back to Nepal.

DAVISON-TRACY: I wrote this book with the hope and a dream that these stories would elevate these young women's voices and would bring freedom to the many, many millions who are not yet free.


STEPHEN JAMIESON, GLOBAL HEAD OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY SOLUTIONS, SAP: I'm Stephen Jamieson, global head of circular economy solutions at SAP. The aim of the circular economy is to eliminate waste, circulate materials, keep products in use as long as possible, and regenerate natural systems.

We're talking about a fundamental reworking of how we deliver the economy. At the moment we're based upon an extractive system which depends upon nature but is ultimately extractive. That will only go one way in the long term. A regenerative economy ultimately creates abundance of opportunity, abundance of materials, abundance of resources that enable us to thrive as a species and thrive as a piece of nature and part of nature.

CHURCH: Severe storms are expected to keep pounding Oklahoma in the coming hours after bringing in a tornado Wednesday night. The twister hit the town of Seminole leaving a number of buildings damaged. There are no initial reports of injuries. But officials say that more than 12,000 homes and businesses have lost power.


Earlier in the day, tornado watches were issued for millions of people across Oklahoma and Texas. Parts of the U.S. have been pummeled by severe storms and tornadoes for several straight days. But forecasters say the spring storm season still has a long way to go

The Kremlin is calling sanctions a double-edged weapon after the European Union proposed a sixth sanctions package on Russia for its war on Ukraine. Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the West will, "Pay a heavy price in trying to harm Moscow."

Meantime, the European Union may find it tricky to implement its proposal to ban Russian oil imports. The Czech Republic and Bulgaria are seeking exemptions from the ban, while Slovakia and Hungary say that they need at least a three-year transition period.

And thank you so much for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. For our international viewers, "World Sport" is next. And for those of you in North America, I'll be back with more news after a short break. You're watching CNN. Do stay with us.


MICHAEL CLERIZO, AUTHOR AND CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, WSJ. MAGAZINE: The Seiko Prospex. By the way, Prospex means professional specification which is appropriate because this watch has its origins in a 1965 expedition to Antarctica by a Japanese crew. Seiko was the giant of Japanese watchmaking at the time. So, it got the job of making a watch that could endure the hardship conditions of Antarctica. This is a watch that you can wear up to 1,000 feet underwater. It always reminds me of a Japanese samurai warrior with all these different layers of metal and wood over them. It can take a beating, and it can respond.

So, if you are looking for something that has that robustness, that strength, but at the same time you just want something that looks very striking, and will grab peoples' attention, this is a great watch.



CHURCH: Welcome back. The United States Navy has moved more than 200 sailors off the aircraft carrier USS George Washington following multiple deaths among the crew. According to the Navy, seven people have died in just the last year, four by suicide, three of those in a single week. Now, an investigation has been opened into the Command, Climate, and Culture on that ship.

In a statement to CNN, the navy says, "Our current focus is on ensuring that we are providing a safe and healthy environment for our sailors aboard GW and ensuring we are supporting the GW by providing them the resources to do so. We have full faith and confidence in the leaders in place on that ship to make the best decisions to care for their crew."

But one of those sailors who died by suicide was Master at Arms Seaman Recruit Xavier Sandor. He was just 19 years old. CNN spoke to Xavier's parents about the way their son described the living conditions on the ship.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN SANDOR, FATHER OF U.S. NAVY SAILOR WHO DIED BY SUICIDE: He said it was awful, dad. People shouldn't have to live like this. You know, there were -- he loved his job. He did his 12-hour shifts. And how do you sleep on an aircraft carrier where jackhammering and smoke and smells during the day? So, he would sleep in his car. It's just awful. No sailor should have even been living on that ship in those conditions.


CHURCH: Just heartbreaking. We want to bring in Jeffrey Smith now. He's an associate professor and history department chair at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: It is, of course, a tragic story but one we need to shine a light on. Multiple suicides on the USS George Washington, a nuclear- powered ship that's been docked in Virginia for a year undergoing a major overhaul. Now, you have studied military suicides extensively. Why do you think we're seeing this happen during a non-combat situation? And what could make sailors feel so desperate that they would take their own lives?

SMITH: Well, as you mentioned, there is currently an investigation into the conditions aboard the ship. So, it's probably a touch premature to speculate as to the exact causal factors at play there. However, as you also mentioned, history, I think, can play a role here in helping us understand some of the larger context of what we see.

And so, that's what my colleagues and I did when we published a study that examined active-duty U.S. army suicide from the 19th, 20th, and 21st Century. And what we found was that active-duty and active-duty during wartime with an increase in suicide rate is really more of a modern phenomenon. Historically speaking, combat is a time in which you would usually see a decrease in suicide rates.

CHURCH: Yes, it's just -- it's so strange. It seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? But the Navy has moved more than 200 sailors off the USS George Washington. And as you mentioned, has opened an investigation into the Command, Climate, and Culture on the ship, the results are expected later this week. How extensive though would you expect that investigation to be given the Navy has already said in that statement that it has full faith and confidence in the leaders on that ship?

SMITH: Yes, I can't really speak to exactly what the navy will or won't say in those reports, but from what my research and my colleagues' research seem to indicate is that, hopefully, they're looking to factors away from the battlefield. So, we're thinking of things such as sociological factors, economic factors, psychological factors because, as we know, suicide is a multifactorial problem. And so, we probably need to approach it from a multidisciplinary perspective. CHURCH: Yes, of course. This is, particularly, high level of suicide on this ship in an -- in that non-combat situation though. The Navy also says that it's focusing on providing a safe, healthy, and supportive environment for sailors on board this aircraft carrier. But clearly, that was not the case for those who took their own lives. So, what changes need to be made to ensure that this doesn't happen again and that life on these Navy ships is made more tolerable for all sailors on board?


SMITH: Yes, that's a great and difficult question. Unfortunately, telling the Navy what to do is a bit above my pay grade. However, I would say that, hopefully, they're taking into account some of the historic trends that we've seen over time. And that, as I previously mentioned, they're looking at some of the broader aspects and broader issues at play here as they intersect with sociology, intersect with economics, intersect with people's psychological well-being, and that that's all incorporated into their actions.

CHURCH: We heard from the family of the young 19-year-old who took his life, and they talked about the living conditions. They talked about the constant smells. The constant noise, that factor that would make it very difficult, if you were doing night shift to sleep during the day. And certainly, if that noise is continuing into the night. Do situations like that drive people to the point of feeling that they have no way out? They can't walk away and that suicide is the only option? Is that what we could be talking about here?

SMITH: Potentially. But, again, I really can't speak to that. The historic patterns that I've seen seem to indicate that what we're noticing here, you know, from a larger perspective is a change in U.S., from my research, army suicide that happened during the Vietnam era. During the Vietnam era moving forward into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we saw a decided change in the nature and the style of suicide that was manifesting in the U.S. Army.

CHURCH: All right. Jeffrey Smith, thank you so much for talking with us on this very sensitive topic. We do appreciate you joining us. Thank you.

SMITH: Thank you.

CHURCH: And a note for those in the United States, if you are thinking about suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available around the clock. The hotline's number is there on your screen.

U.S. President Joe Biden is asking congress to open a path to legal residency for thousands of Afghan refugees who arrived in the U.S. last summer as the Taliban retook control. In March, about 60,000 Afghan refugees in the U.S. were given temporary protected status, meaning they can legally stay for at least 18 months. But the President wants Congress to go beyond that and allow those refugees and their families to eventually apply for green cards and become permanent residents. It's been nearly a week into the search for an Alabama correctional officer and the inmate she is accused of helping escape from jail. Officer Vicky White and inmate Casey White were last seen leaving a detention facility last Friday. The two are not related. Well, now the Lauderdale County Sheriff is urging the correctional officer to turn herself in.


RICK SINGLETON, LAUDERDALE COUNTY, ALABAMA SHERIFF: Vicky, you've been in this business for 17 years. You've seen this scenario play out more than once. And you know how it always ends. Go ahead and end it now.


CHURCH: A warrant was issued for Vicky White's arrest on charges of permitting or facilitating escape in the first degree.

Actress Amber Heard was -- has testified for the first time in the tumultuous defamation case filed by her ex-husband Johnny Depp. Heard took the stand on Wednesday and described the early days of the celebrity couple's romance. She told the court she endured both physical and sexual abuse during the marriage. Depp is suing heard for $50 million over a 2018 op-ed where she described herself as a victim of domestic abuse. In earlier testimony, Depp said he has never struck a woman and that Heard was abusive towards him.

Brazil's President is lashing out at American actor Leonardo DiCaprio for his recent comments about the importance of the Amazon Rainforest in the climate crisis. With deforestation of the Amazon advancing at a record pace, DiCaprio is actively urging Brazilians to vote in that country's election in October. But President Jair Bolsonaro who has allowed an extensive development of the Amazon since 2019 is pushing back. He denounced the actor's remarks about the Amazon as nonsense and said DiCaprio should, "Keep his mouth shut.:

Well, three NASA astronauts and a European astronaut have begun their day-long return to earth after spending half a year aboard the International Space Station.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And the Crew Dragon Endurance has undocked from the International Space Station.


CHURCH: The returning crew will spend the day making the long journey back home, splashdown off the Florida Coast is expected early Friday. Before exiting, NASA Astronaut Tom Marshburn formally handed command of the space station to Russian Cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev. The spirit of cooperation was especially meaningful given the war in Ukraine raging below them. TOM MARSHBURN, NASA ASTRONAUT: And I relinquish control of the command of the Space Station to you.

OLEG ARTEMYEV, RUSSIAN COSMONAUT: I accept command. I accept command. Thank you for the key. Thank you for friendship. It was in -- an unbelievable time together.


CHURCH: Incredibly symbolic at this time. I want to thank you for your company. I'm Rosemary Church. Our breaking news coverage continues after this quick break. Do stay with us.