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Russia Employs New Tactic in Missile Strikes; Cartel Behind American Kidnapping Apologizes; California Faces Extreme Weather; Proposal Lays Groundwork for Battle with Republicans; President Xi Jinping Gets Another Term; Secret Talks Ended Siege in Mariupol; Demonstrators Demand Early Elections, Govt. Reforms; Harry & Megan's Children Listed As Prince And Princess; Decades Into Fight, Progress But Concerns About Aids Remain. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired March 10, 2023 - 02:00   ET



KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber. Ahead on "CNN Newsroom," a deadly wave of Russian missiles and drone attacks slammed Ukraine, including the use of a weapon a top official says it has no capabilities to counter.

Mexican cartel responsible for kidnapping four Americans and killing two of them issues an alleged apology.

We are live in Beijing as Xi Jinping is handed and unprecedented third term as Chinese president.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: We begin in Hamburg, Germany where police are investigating a deadly shooting at Jehovah's Witness Center. Police were seen entering the three-storey building with guns drawn. According to local media, six people were killed and seven others wounded. Authorities say it's not clear whether the shooter is among the dead.

According to police, an event was taking place at the Jehovah's Witness' kingdom hall at the time of the attack, which is believed to be an isolated incident. There is no word yet on motive. We will bring in more information when it becomes available.

Moscow unleashed a massive barrage of missiles and drones across Ukraine on Thursday, leaving at least six people dead and more than 20 wounded. Russia used a new tactic in the strikes, firing different types of missiles and drones at the same time. That included some missiles the Ukrainians can't shoot down like Russia's hypersonic missile.

For more, Salma Abdelaziz joins us from London. Salma, what more are we learning about those attacks and how Ukraine is recovering?

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: Ukrainian officials are describing it as an unprecedented attack because of the array, the different types of weaponry that were used to strike over seven different regions of Ukraine yesterday. More than 80 different types of missiles used, plus several Iranian-made drones. The result of that was several people killed, several injured. Neighborhoods, residential buildings destroyed.

The city of Kyiv, the capital, 15% of that city had no electricity, no power for a period of time. We understand that air raid sirens in Kyiv were going off for nearly seven hours yesterday. Kim, you can imagine how terrifying that was for residents.

Then there's this unprecedented or rather very rare attack on the city of Lviv. All the way in the west of the country, that was also targeted yesterday. That's right up near the Polish border, a place that has been considered a safe haven and where no one really has died of attacks by Russian missiles for -- since last spring, since last year. So, truly extraordinary in the scope and scale of it.

Just to give you a sense of this, Kim, I know we have a list to show you, a graphic to show you of all the different types of weapons that were used. I want to pull that up. Again, over 80 types of missiles. If you take a look at that list, something might stand out.

For example, the Kinzhal cruise missile, that's a hypersonic missile, so it's able to evade Ukrainian air defense systems. Very crucial that that was used. You're also seeing that this is an air, land, and sea attacks. These missiles were fired from warships in the Black Sea. So, a truly gruesome attack in just again that scope and scale of weapons used by Russia.

For its part, the Russian defense ministry is saying that this attack was retaliation for across border and alleged cross border attack by Kyiv. Now, Kyiv itself has denied that attack. But again, it shows you how much that retaliation impacts civilians far from the frontlines. Ukraine considers this, of course, a violation of the rules of war.

BRUNHUBER: All right, thank you so much, Salma Abdelazis, in London.

We want to welcome our viewers in North America who have joined us. I'm Kim Brunhuber. It has been more than six years since $130,000 in hush money was paid to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her from going public about an alleged affair with Donald Trump just days before the 2016 presidential election.

Now, the Manhattan district attorney is signaling that its investigation into the matter is coming to an end and hinting that the former president could still face criminal charges.


"The New York Times" reports that Trump has been offered a chance to testify next week before the grand jury that has been hearing the evidence. Trump has always denied the alleged affair with Daniels and claims he has no knowledge of the payoff. Hush money itself is not illegal, but falsifying business records to hide such payments could be.

The Mexican drug cartel thought to be responsible for kidnapping four Americans last week and killing two of them has reportedly issued an apology letter. The gulf cartel also apparently handed over five of its members to local authorities. That is according to images post online and an official familiar with the investigation. CNN can't confirm any of that.

Meanwhile, the remains of the U.S. tourists who were killed will be paid tribute on Thursday.

CNN's Rosa Flores has this update.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All four of the Americans who were kidnapped are back on U.S. soil. The two Americans who were injured have been in the United States since Tuesday getting medical attention. The other two Americans, the Americans who were killed will return to the United States late on Thursday.

There was a caravan of vehicles that crossed from Matamoros to Brownsville, Texas that carried their caskets. They were taken to a funeral home. A second autopsy is expected. This as we are learning more about the hours and the days after the kidnapping of these four Americans.

Mexican authorities are saying that they found a clinic where these Americans were given first aid, and that they also seized an ambulance that was used to transport the Americans to that clinic. It's important to note that in Mexico, there are private ambulance services and that there are also clandestine clinics in the area.

Now, we're also learning from Mexican authorities that Mexico has sent hundreds of troops to this area to secure the border. According to Mexican authorities, that includes 200 Mexican army soldiers and 100 National Guard members. All this as a source within the state A.G.'s office telling CNN that this is still an ongoing investigation and that they are investigating all angles.

Rosa Flores, CNN, Brownsville, Texas.


BRUNHUBER: Americans were friends from South Carolina who drove to Mexico so that one of them could undergo a procedure. The case has put a greater spotlight on medical tourism, which has become a growing business in Mexico.

David Vequist is the founder and director of the Center for Medical Tourism Research. He is with us from San Antonio. Thank you so much for being here with us. So, I just spoke about this being a growing business. How common is medical tourism? DAVID VEQUIST, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR MEDICAL TOURISM RESEARCH: Thank you for having me. It is a very large and growing business in Mexico. (INAUDIBLE).

BRUNHUBER: I think we might be having some problems with your audio. We will try and join back with our guest a little bit later if we can sort that out.

All right, coming up next, we will have some more here on "CNN Newsroom." Please do stay with us. We will be right back.




BRUNHUBER: Winter weather alerts have now been posted for nine western states and in the crosshair parts of California. They've been hammered by ferocious storms in the past few weeks. They're bracing for more extreme weather.

California Governor Gavin Newsom requested a presidential emergency declaration as an atmospheric river event begins moving across the state. Millions of residents are facing excessive rainfall. Mountainous areas are being inundated with snow and that is on top of the deep snow pack already in place.

Authorities are urging residents to prepare two weeks of essentials ahead of the storm and avoid driving when possible. Listen to this.


CYNDI FOREMAN, DIVISION CHIEF, SONOMA COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT: You know, a big message to people is if you don't have to be out, please don't be out. Don't drive through standing water. You don't know how deep it is.


BRUNHUBER: The extreme weather will continue into the weekend. CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam has the latest.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: New overnight, the Weather Prediction Center really upping the ante with this latest atmospheric river event pounding the state of California with heavy rain and snow. They have issued their highest alert level for flash flooding in and around (INAUDIBLE) County. And to put that into context, this is the first time they've done that since 2010.

Still overnight, the moderate rate of flash flooding for the San Francisco Bay region. And then look for the day on Friday, that high risk level extends for the south, including San Luis Obispo as well as the central Sierra Nevada mountain range. I will explain why this is important. Remember all the various atmospheric river events we've covered so far this winter dumping copious amounts of snowfall, burying homes and vehicles quite literally, right? Well, guess what? This particular storm is going to be significantly milder than the previous atmospheric river events because we're tapping into that deep tropical moisture just south of Hawaii. In fact, you can pretty much track that cloud cover train all the way from Hawaii into the state of California.

The various computer models that meteorologists look to show and indicate that the freezing level is actually going to be a thousand feet higher than what we previously anticipated yesterday. That means more rain will fall out of the system on top of that deep snow pack that you saw just a moment ago.

There will still be snow, several feet of it across the Sierra Nevada mountain range, but more rain anticipated across the Central Valley all the way to the coastline. This is going to allow for rapid snow melt, the potential for flash flooding, landslides and mudslides. National Weather Service is picking up on that heavy rainfall and our flood watch continues.

Here's the first atmospheric river event, lasting through the day on Friday, moves inward along with that moisture plume, and then looks what's waiting in its wings, another rain and snow event anticipated by the end of the weekend and into the early part of next week. Back to you.


BRUNHUBER: Wall Street is looking to rebound after another dismal day for the Dow. Let's look at the U.S. Futures right now. As you can see there, all down there. On Thursday, the Dow fell 543 points with heavy losses for bank stocks.


Investors are keeping an eye on February's unemployment numbers, due in the coming hours, and expected to have a major impact on the Federal Reserve's interest rate decision later this month.

President Joe Biden is looking to cut $3 trillion from the federal deficit with his new budget. He is proposing a minimum tax on the nation's billionaires and a repeal of the Trump era tax cuts on the wealthiest Americans.

CNN's Phil Mattingly reports.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Biden's budget is not intended to pass the U.S. Congress. Certainly, the policy proposals, whether on the tax side of things, whether investments, whether lowering costs for Americans, whether maintaining the current status quo on entitlement programs like Medicare and social security. If what he put on the table could get to his desk, certainly, he would be thrilled.

However, that is just not the reality. It is not the reality when Democrats control both chambers of Congress, let alone when House Republicans are in the majority in that chamber.

However, the budget, as the president detailed in a long, wide-ranging speech in Philadelphia, is so much more than just a policy document, more than just a document of values or priorities. It is very clearly a political document.

And the president making clear that whether it's near term fiscal battles like increase in the debt ceiling or even laying out a platform for a likely 2024 reelection bid, this document is critical. Take a listen.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Instead of making threats about the fall to be catastrophic, let's take that off the table. I want to make it clear. I'm ready to meet with the speaker anytime -- tomorrow, if he has his budget. Lay it down. Tell me what you want to do. I'll show you what I want to do, see what we can agree on. What we don't agree on, let's see what we -- we vote on.

MATTINGLY: All expectations among the president's staff advisers are that he will run for reelection. There's no question. The near-term issue on the president's plate is that ceiling increase. He has made it clear that without Republicans putting their budget on the table, he is not going to have any meetings without Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the near term.

He has also made clear that when it comes to the debt ceiling, he is not negotiating at all. His top advisor is saying that that is not a bluff. That is, in fact, where the budget is so critical. Each element of the president's proposal is designed to undercut what Republicans are planning to put on the table, whether it's on spending cuts, whether it's on proposals going forward related to specific programs.

The president wants to invest, and these are critical contrast, when you talk to White House officials, that they want to hold up, hold up to when the near-term political battle on the debt ceiling, hold up to when the long-term political battle when it comes to a reelection campaign in 2024.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


BRUNHUBER: China's president is securing his grip on power with an unprecedented third term. We're live in Beijing with a look at the challenges facing Xi Jinping over the next five years in office.

Plus, an inside look at the secret negotiations that allowed thousands of Ukrainians to leave a steel plant under heavy attack early in the war. We will have an exclusive report coming up. Please stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all of you watching us here in the United States, Canada, and around the world. I am Kim Brunhuber. This is "CNN Newsroom".

China's National People's Congress has handed Xi Jinping an unprecedented third term as president. That makes him the longest serving head of communist China since its founding in 1949. Xi was also named chairman of the Central Military Commission.

CNN's Steven Jiang is live in Beijing. So, Steven, take us through the importance of this, the challenges on his plate, and what messages he is sending now.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: Yeah, Kim, there is no cliffhanger in this -- quote, unquote -- "election." And if anything, we have been anticipating this for years because back in 2018, the same legislature actually scrapped a longstanding presidential term limits in the country's constitution, really paving the way to this big moment for Xi on Friday.

In this political system where the Communist Party is the only ruling party, Xi Jinping's real power actually derives from his position as the head of the party and the head of the two million strong military which, by the way, is actually not a national army but technically the party's army.

But still, symbolically, this is very significant because now Xi has been given a third term for all the important titles he holds. And really, this is the latest reminder that he is the most powerful Chinese leader in decades. His iron grip over the party, the state, the government and the nation remained as firm as ever despite rumors and speculations.

This is also, you know, a new era where we can see how he wants to further consolidate and reassure the party's dominance in every aspect of Chinese life, not just in politics and ministry, but also the economy and society.

But, of course, he still faces challenges on multiple fronts. The economy is facing a lot of strong headwinds both domestically and internationally. Rising tensions with the U.S. and the west, in general, is something he actually highlighted himself, name-checking the U.S.-led west as out there to compress, to suppress, and contain China, but vowing to fight back, so things may get even worse.

But, if there is one thing that is clear, that is now this is very much a one-man show. But the potential pitfall with that, Kim, of course, is he may find himself in a situation where he has no one else to blame when things go wrong as we saw last November when protests erupted nationwide against the draconian zero-COVID policy. Kim?

BRUNHUBER: All right, appreciate it. Thanks so much, Steven Jiang, in Beijing. North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un is again showing off his daughter at a high-profile military event. According to state media, she appeared next to her father at a live fire artillery exercise. The girl is believed to be Kim's second child and is estimated to be about 10 years old. She first appeared by Kim's side last November.

Western observers believe the recent public appearances of Kim and his daughter meant to show that the Kim family dynasty backed up by the North Korean military will continue after he is gone.


In the coming hours, President Biden will welcome European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the White House. The two are set to discuss continued cooperation on Ukraine. They will also discuss China as well as investments in clean technology. Von der Leyen is coming to Washington on the heels of her visit to Canada. She is trying to secure Canadian raw materials needed for Europe's climate strategy.

Early into Russia's invasion of Ukraine, a brutal siege unfolded in the ravaged city of Mariupol, now under Russian control. Thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians fought -- sought refuge in the fortress like Azovstal iron and steel plant which Russia bombarded for weeks.

It was feared those trapped inside would never make it out alive. But secret talks were underway that allowed a safe evacuation and surrender which then allowed Russia to fully seized Mariupol and secure its long south land bridge with Crimea.

CNN's Alexander Marquardt has this exclusive report.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Three months last year, Russian forces laid siege to the Azovstal steel plant. More than 2,000 Ukrainians, both soldiers and civilians, taking shelter deep underground.

In the port city of Mariupol, it was Ukraine's last stand after Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke on state television ordering the plant sealed off -- quote -- "so that not even a fly can escape."

These new exclusive videos show that some of his top generals were dispatched for intense, never before seen negotiations for the release and surrender of those in Azovstal.

These clips and photos are from Oleksandr Kovalov, a Ukrainian member of Parliament, who had previously served as a Soviet paratrooper. He told us he reached out to old contacts in Russia's security services.

OLEKSANDR KOVALOV, UKRAINIAN MP (on screen translation): There are some people with some degree of sanity who wanted to help. And some wanted blood and continued shelling and bombing with hatred.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Soon, Kovalov said, two senior Russian military intelligence generals were involved, Alexander Zorin and Vladimir Alexseyev. Both are highly-decorated.

General Zorin Soen was involved in Russia's campaign in Syria, seen here with President Bashar al-Assad. General Alexseyev is the deputy head of Russia's military intelligence sanctioned by the U.S. for cyberattacks, including election interference, and the E.U. and U.K. for the 2018 poisoning in England of a former Russian intelligence officer and his daughter.

This clip shows Alexseyev at the steel plant surrounded by Ukrainian troops from the Azov battalion, which Russia calls Nazis. Zorin photographed there, too.

KOVALOV (on screen translation): There are moments that we were worried about a moment of trust. When we did everything so that the two sides came together, looked into each other's eyes, the Russian side promised that there would be a civilized exit for our soldiers.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Three times Kovalov went to Mariupol, which he says was under constant shelling. A senior Ukrainian military intelligence official, Dmitri Usaf (ph), joined him and took charge of the talks with the Russian generals.

KOVALOV (on screen translation): We tried to show the whole world that it is possible to find a compromise, if only for the sake of saving people.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): In early May, the civilians were released. Soldiers still under attack. On May 16th, a final deal was struck. Soldiers would leave, Russia would take over Mariupol. The first Ukrainian soldiers emerged on stretchers. Many others carried or limping. They surrendered their weapons. General Soen (ph) seen here speaking with the Azov (ph) commander.

KOVALOV (on screen translation): Everyone behaved professionally. There was no provocation from either side.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Kovalov says he went with the soldiers as they were taken deeper into Russian-occupied Ukraine.

KOVALOV (on screen translation): We have shown that these communication bridges work. The main thing is the desire of people to hear each other and go towards each other. Still, not everything is lost in this life, you can still be human. Even at war.

MARQUARDT (on camera): Kovalov tells us that he continues to try to work on bringing home those remaining fighters who are at Azovstal. He says there are around 2,000 who are still being held in Russia or Russian-held territories.

And for his work in Mariupol, the head of Ukrainian Military Intelligence wrote a commendation letter to Parliament, praising Kovalov for his important and invaluable help in ending the siege at Azovstal.


Alex Marquardt, CNN, Lviv.


KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Protesters in Georgia aren't going away quietly even as the ruling party has withdrawn a controversial foreign agents bill. Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the parliament in Tbilisi. Some are calling for early elections, while others want government reforms that will help move Georgia toward membership in the European Union. Georgia's president congratulated protesters on what she called an important victory. Here she is.


SALOME ZOURABICHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: (Speaking in a foreign language)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I commend the authorities for taking the right decision to revoke this law. They recognize the true power of the people. The unity exhibited on Tbilisi streets with this move.


BRUNHUBER: Georgia's interior ministry says it is releasing all the demonstrators detained this week, but it's still investigating those who attacked police and committed other violent acts.

51-year-old Siamak Namazi is a businessman with dual U.S. and Iranian citizenship. Back in 2015, he was arrested by Iranian authorities while visiting the country. Now, as he remains in Iranian custody today longer than any other American currently held. He spoke by phone exclusively with CNN's Christiane Amanpour from the notorious Evin Prison. Namazi asked for U.S. officials to ramp up efforts to secure his release and explain why he was willing to take such a dangerous step. Here he is.


SIMAK NAMAZI, BUSINESSMAN ARRESTED IN IRAN: The very fact that I've chosen to take this risk and appear on CNN from Evin Prison, it should just tell you how dire my situation has become by this point. I've been a hostage for seven and a half years now. That's six times the duration of the hostage crisis. I keep getting told that I'm going to be rescued, and deals fall apart or I get left abandoned.

Honestly, the other hostages and I desperately need President Biden to finally hear us out, to finally hear our cry for help and bring us home. And I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. So, this is a desperate measure.


BRUNHUBER: Now, CNN has reached out to the Iranian and U.S. governments for comment. Tehran hasn't replied but the White House gave us the following response here. Iran's unjust imprisonment and exploitation of U.S. citizens for use as political leverage is outrageous, inhumane, and contrary to international norms. The United States will always stand up for the rights of our citizens wrongfully detained overseas, including Siamak Namazi. And senior officials from both the White House and the State Department meet and consult regularly with the Namazi family and will continue to do so until this unacceptable detention ends and Siamak is reunited with his family.

Rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians flared again late Thursday, this time in downtown Tel Aviv's entertainment district. A 23-year-old Palestinian man was fatally shot by police after he opened fire on pedestrians wounding three Israelis. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls it terrorism. Hamas claimed responsibility and said it was retaliation for the earlier killings by Israeli police of three Palestinians in the West Bank.

Against this backdrop of escalating violence is a growing wave of Israeli anger toward the government. Now look



BRUNHUBER: This is the 10th week of large street protests. Israelis are upset over a proposed legislation that would among other things, allow Supreme Court decisions to be overturned by a simple majority in parliament. Now, the idea is so unpopular many say undemocratic, and even Israel's president is demanding the government reverse course. Those days' large protests were billed as a day of disruption even forcing the U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to alter his brief visit to Tel Aviv.

CNN NEWSROOM continues after a break. Please stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Police in central Japan have arrested three people for what they're calling sushi terrorism. It's in response to a viral trend. People filming themselves at restaurants grabbing items off conveyor belts, licking the food, and then putting it back. According to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, a 21-year-old and two teens were arrested for the unsavory practice. Restaurants have been forced to make changes like not using the conveyor belts for unordered food and installing security cameras to watch customers.

There are millions of asteroids in the solar system but scientists have their eyes on one in particular, the newly discovered space rock called 2023 DW as a very small chance of colliding with Earth on Valentine's Day in 2046. That's according to NASA. And the European Space Agency have added it to their respective Risk lists.

So, here's what we know. The asteroid is the size of the Olympic swimming pool out, about 150 feet in diameter. It was discovered almost two weeks ago by an observatory in Chile. But NASA says there's no reason to panic yet tweeting, "we've been tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW that has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046. Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbit years into the future."

Well, they're just toddlers with children of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have new big roles. CNN's Max Foster explains they've been officially listed on the British Royal website as Prince and Princess.


MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Archie and Lilibet were never granted formal royal titles when they were born, but they automatically became Prince and Princess when their grandfather, King Charles became the monarch.


That's now being reflected on the official royal family website, so that's how they'll be known going forward on official correspondence. Lilibet first used her royal title earlier this week when it was announced that Princess Lilibet had been christened in California. A spokesperson for the Sussexes told CNN the children's titles have been a birthright since their grandfather became monarch.

This matter has been settled for some time in alignment with Buckingham Palace. So, we can read into that that Charles gave his approval for them to use these titles. If he had objected, we'd have to change the law to stop them using it but there's no suggestion that he ever considered that.

Max Foster, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: I'm Kim Brunhuber. For viewers here in the U.S. and Canada, the news continues after a break but for our international viewers, "WORLD SPORT" is next.



BRUNHUBER: A short time ago, the German Chancellor spoke out about the deadly shooting at a Jehovah's Witness center in Hamburg, calling it a brutal act of violence. According to local media, six people were killed and seven others wounded. Police with guns drawn were seen entering the three-story building on Thursday. Authorities say it's not clear whether the shooter is among the dead.

According to police, an event was taking place at the Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall at the time of the attack which is believed to be an isolated incident. There's no word yet on motive so we'll bring you more information when it becomes available.

Another Norfolk Southern train derailed on Thursday this time in rural Calhoun County, Alabama. Officials say 37 cars went off the tracks but the train wasn't carrying hazardous materials and there are no reports of injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. The accident came on the same day the CEO of Norfolk Southern testified before a Senate hearing about the derailment near East Palestine, Ohio last month.

So, that Alabama crash is just the latest in a string of train accidents across the U.S. Lawmakers in Washington, DC are now demanding answers from the company at the center of it all. Here's CNN's Brian Todd with more.


ALAN SHAW, CEO, NORFOLK SOUTHERN: I want to begin today by expressing how deeply sorry. I am.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): The CEO for Norfolk Southern in the hot seat on Capitol Hill Thursday following a toxic train derailment in February in East Palestine, Ohio near the Pennsylvania State Line.

SHAW: The events of the last month are not who we are as a company.

TODD: A bipartisan group of senators grilling Norfolk Southern calling for the company to support new safety measures outlined in the proposed railway Safety Act of 2023.

SHAW: The company followed the Wall Street business model, boost profits by cutting costs at all costs.

SEN. J.D. VANCE, (R-OH): This is an industry that just three months ago had the federal government come in and save them from a labor dispute. It was effectively a bailout. You cannot claim special government privileges. You cannot ask the government to bail you out and then resist basic public safety.

TODD: The Senate bill includes new safety requirements for trains carrying hazardous materials. Also, a requirement to have a minimum two-person crew on every locomotive. CEO Alan Shaw would not endorse all the provisions in the safety bill defending Norfolk Southern's safety record.

SHAW: We are committed to the legislative intent to make rail safer. Norfolk Southern runs a safe railroad.

TODD: Shaw repeating that the area around the crash site is safe.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R-SC): Would you live there, given what you've seen?

SHAW: Yes, sir.


SHAW: I believe that they are safe. I believe that the water is safe.

TODD: And that the company has pledged $21 million in health for East Palestine and 7.5 million for communities in Pennsylvania.

SHAW: All of this is just a down payment. We will be in the community for as long as it takes. TODD: Residents in East Palestine have reported headaches, coughing, and other ailments after the fiery crash involving vinyl chloride. However, Shaw would not directly answer questions about paying for residents' medical bills. SHAW: Senator, we're going to do what's right for the citizens of --

SEN. BERNIE SANDER, (I-VT): What's right is to cover their health care needs. Will you do that?

SHAW: Everything is on the table, sir.

TODD: One environmental health advocate told CNN it could take decades to find out the final cost of being exposed to vinyl chloride.

WENONAH HAUTER, FOOD & WATER WATCH: Vinyl chloride causes cancer. If the soil is used in gardens, children play in it, it can be very dangerous. And the chemical will leach into groundwater.

TODD (on camera): And Norfolk Southern has now been ordered by the EPA to clean up the remaining contaminated soil and water in the area. That's according to a top EPA official who also testified at that Senate hearing, who also said that if Norfolk Southern doesn't complete the work, the EPA will and will charge Norfolk Southern triple the cost.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: A spokesperson for Mitch McConnell says the U.S. Senate Republican leader will stay in the hospital for a few more days. He's being treated for a concussion after he tripped and fell into Washington Hotel on Wednesday night. The 81-year-old McConnell is the Senate's longest-serving Republican leader in history. He was first elected in 1984 and has served seven terms in the Senate.

The U.S. is updating breast cancer screening regulations for the first time in 20 years. The Food and Drug Administration will now require mammogram facilities to notify patients about the density of their breasts.


That's breast tissue is found in about half of the women undergoing mammograms, so while it is common, it also increases the risk of breast cancer. And because it shows up white on the screen, it makes cancer which also shows up white more difficult to detect. According to the U.S. data, about one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes.

In the 20 years since former U.S. President George Bush announced an emergency plan to fight the HIV AIDS epidemic, amazing progress has been made. People who would have died are now living normal lives. Whereas David McKenzie reports from South Africa at the fight isn't over.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you started taking the medication, did you start feeling better straightaway or it took a long time?

PHILISANDE DAYAMANI, 14 YEARS OLD: I feel better straight away.

MCKENZIE (voiceover): It's an epidemic that many have forgotten.

DAYAMANI: It wasn't easy for me to accept. Many people cry when they have (INAUDIBLE)

MCKENZIE: Philisande's young life upended when she tested positive for HIV last year. Years ago, her mother died of suspected aids.

DAYAMANI: I first cried. I started by crying. Then it eventually happened, I knew that I have to take my pills. These are the most important ones.

MCKENZIE: And they're easy to take?

DAYAMANI: It's so easy. Nothing is harder by taking pills.

MCKENZIE: Life-saving antiretroviral drugs that she will take for a lifetime.

DAYAMANI: I got it from breath.

MCKENZIE: How do you feel about that?

DAYAMANI: I feel normal. That's part of life.

MCKENZIE: Part of life for nearly 6 million South Africans on treatment. The country still has the highest HIV burden in the world. People who could otherwise die living normal lives. It's an extraordinary public health achievement.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many hospitals tell people, you've got AIDS. We can't help you. Go home and die. In an age of miraculous medicines, no person should have to hear those words.

MCKENZIE: 20 years ago, when President George W. Bush announced the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief or PEPFAR, the region was in crisis. In the hardest-hit areas, the virus was seen as a death sentence. Because it often was. Life expectancy dropped by 20 years. Child deaths had tripled. Multiple generations were at risk.

BUSH: Seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many.


MCKENZIE: John Blandford, CDC's director in South Africa has been HIV positive since the mid-80s, and on antiretroviral pills since the 90s. BLANDFORD: Despite the fact that we had a highly effective therapies starting in 1996, that were -- but were largely limited -- available in Western Europe and the United States. And so, the challenge was then getting the effective drugs, life-saving drugs, to the places where they were needed most.

MCKENZIE: And in those regions, PEPFAR saved more than 25 million lives.

Like 64-year-old Julius Malepyan Luzoto (PH) who's been on treatment for 10 years.

JULIOS MALEPYAN LUZOTO, HIV POSITIVE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

MCKENZIE: If you have faith in the pills, they will work for you he says. You'll start to get sick if you skip the treatment. But public health officials say that the AIDS epidemic is at a crossroads.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking in a foreign language)

MCKENZIE: Infection rates among men who have sex with men and young women remain stubbornly high. So, these groups have been a special focus. And globally, more than 600,000 people still die of AIDS, despite wide access to prevention and treatment that can save their lives and stop the spread of HIV.

A lot of the world has sort of forgotten about HIV, but you haven't forgotten.



MOSHABESHA: No, we haven't forgot. We still have people who are dying of HIV. Yes, it's not as big as big numbers. We have seen it before. We still see HIV impacting the lives of people in the household. We see children who are still born with HIV. We still see young people still being exposed to HIV because of issues of vulnerability. So, we can't -- we can't put -- we can't -- we can't forget it.

DAYAMANI: It's a very big risk, like for a person just to take a medication if they're HIV positive. And also, not to be sure that they are not HIV positive and they have to go test. It's a very risky thing.

MCKENZIE: Why is it risky?

DAYAMANI: Because a person can die without knowing what killed them.

MCKENZIE: Philisande wants to become a doctor or a singer. The burden she has to carry is one no child should carry. But in the next 20 years with enough well, this virus can be beaten.

David McKenzie, CNN, Johannesburg.

(END VIDEOTAPE) [02:55:00]

BRUNHUBER: Well, in this final note before we go. Emmy-winning American actor Robert Blake has died. He was 89.


ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: Somewhere over the rainbow.


BRUNHUBER: Blake's daughter tells CNN her father died peacefully on Thursday surrounded by family. Blake began acting as a child and had a successful film and television career including his TV detective Baretta, and as a killer in the movie In Cold Blood. Well, all of that was overshadowed in 2001 when Blake was charged with murdering his second wife, Bonny Bakely. He was eventually acquitted of those charges but later lost a civil suit brought by Bakley's family.

All right, thanks so much for watching. I'm Kim Brunhuber. I'll be back with more news after a break. Please stay with us.