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Defiant Putin Visits Occupied Ukrainian City Of Mariupol; Xi Jinping Begins Three-Day Visit To Moscow Tomorrow; Princeton Punches Ticket To Sweet 16; Israeli Military: Two Civilians Injured In West Bank Shooting Attack; L.A. School Workers Union To Hold Three-Day Strike This Week; 5,000-Mile-Wide Mass Of Seaweed Floating Toward Florida; Coast Guard Fails To Punish Sex Assault On Merchant Ships. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired March 19, 2023 - 14:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: Hello again everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

And we begin with a defiant Vladimir Putin making a surprise visit to Ukraine overnight just days after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for him accusing him of war crimes.

He made a stop in Russian-occupied Mariupol, a city largely destroyed by his own forces. Ukrainian officials slamming the visit saying I'm quoting now, "As befits a thief Putin visited Ukrainian Mariupol under the cover of night."

CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson joining us live now from Kharkiv. What else did Putin do while there?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, the Kremlin says that he arrived by helicopter. And then he was shown in a pretty long unedited video driving a car, being briefed by a top Kremlin aide, driving into the very outskirts of Mariupol. The aid was describing Russian government efforts to build hospitals and kindergartens and residences while also acknowledging that much of the city had been destroyed. That there were ruins of buildings that were being demolished and that much of the city was also empty because Ukrainians had fled.

Putin was shown meeting a couple of people who were living in what were described as newly-constructed apartment buildings. Those people thanked Putin for their new homes saying they had had nothing before that.

And we've been hearing some pretty furious reactions from Ukrainian government officials saying that he had to make this journey under cover of darkness to hide all the damage to the city.

I spoke with a refugee from Mariupol, a woman who fled under Russian bombardment and she said that this was like seeing a serial killer returning to the scene of the crime, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Then Ivan, can you also remind us, you know, and remind the world what Russia's army did in Mariupol barely a year ago?

WATSON: Well, this time last year, I was reporting on refugees. Ukrainians fleeing by the thousands from what the Russians were doing. They had encircled the city, the Russian military, and were bombing it from land, sea and air.

The Ukrainian civilians that I interviewed, and I interviewed dozens of them, said that they hid for weeks in the basements of their buildings terrified. With no electricity, no heat. Some of them described seeing their neighbors killed by the Russian bombardment. And that they described seeing corpses buried in the front yards of their apartment buildings. That they had to gather water from rain gutters.

And again, fleeing under bombardment, traumatized, terrified people including some that had taken shelter in the Mariupol drama theater by the hundreds which was then hit, again by Russian artillery. And we don't know how many people died there.

So that's part of why the outrage is so extreme right now that the president of Russia conducted what the critics are calling basically a propaganda tour whereas the Russian government is trying to show that it is starting to rebuild some of this city, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Quite extraordinary. Ivan Watson, thank you so much.

So Putin's trip to Ukraine also comes before China's president planned visit to Moscow.

CNN's Selina Wang looks at why this is such a high stakes meeting.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Chinese leader Xi Jinping flies to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin, his first visit since Russia invaded Ukraine.

It's a powerful show of Xi's emboldened and diplomatic ambitions and Beijing's support for Moscow.

China's foreign ministry said the country's quote, "proposition boils down to one sentence which is to urge peace and promote talks". Beijing has tried to present itself as a neutral peace broker on Ukraine, publishing a position paper last month calling for a political settlement.


WANG: And casting Xi as a global statesman with fresh momentum after helping Saudi Arabia and Iran broker a historic deal to restore diplomatic ties. But Western leaders are skeptical of Beijing's portrayal as a mediator. Xi and Putin declared a no limits partnership last year when Putin visited Beijing for the Winter Olympic opening ceremony. Xi has met Putin in person 39 times since becoming China's leader even exchanging gifts, including pandas.

China has refused to condemn the invasion or even call it an invasion. Instead, Beijing has parroted the Kremlin's misinformation while blaming NATO.

On China's heavily censored social media, it's all hearts and thumbs up emojis in response to the government's official post about the state visit with comments like "Hope Russia will win soon". "Hope there will be world peace." And "Long live China-Russia friendship."

Beijing has also strengthened economic and military ties with Moscow by boosting trade and holding frequent military exercises.

Western officials have raised concerns that China may be considering providing Russia with lethal military aid. Beijing has denied the accusation.

Last month, Putin told China's top diplomat Wang Yi in Moscow that relations between their countries are reaching new milestones. The two nations bound together by their shared vision for a new world order no longer dominated by the west.

And while Xi he has spoken to Putin multiple times since the invasion, virtually and in person, he's not yet had a single phone call with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Though Ukraine's presidential adviser says negotiations about a potential conversation Zelenskyy-Xi conversation are ongoing.

As Xi heads to Russia, the ability of China to help resolve the conflict hangs in the balance.

Selina Wang, CNN -- Beijing.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in now CNN military analyst and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander General Wesley Clark.

And General, before I ask you about the China president's visit, it's hard to erase the image really that we just saw of Putin in Mariupol driving the vehicle, going through, you know, buildings as if it's nothing. Really as if he's kind of the savior.

How do you interpret what he's doing there? And why? The signal that he's trying to send?

GEN. WESLEY CLARK, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, it may be something for Russia domestic politics, Fredricka. But we see it as a taunt. This is Putin's way of saying you charge me with war crimes, I have Mariupol. And it's the scene of one of the greatest war crimes in recent history. And he's walking there and saying I've got it. You can't do a thing

about it. It's a taunt. It's part of the ongoing information war struggle between Ukraine, the West and Russia on the other hand.

WHITFIELD: And now, the timing of this. This happening just ahead of President, you know, Xi Jinping's arrival there in Moscow. Is it your feeling that Putin will be requesting military aid from China? I mean what is the crux of this meeting? What's the goal?

CLARK: I think the goal for Putin is to bring Xi Jinping and have him offer to mediate the peace talks, have Ukraine refuse the peace talks and then say well, there's no alternative but that you've got to give me more military hardware so I can finish the job. And then there will be world peace.

So I think this -- I think this you know, is step one in a multi-part effort on the part of Russia and China to be able to legitimate Putin's war. To bring international opinion over to their side, to further isolate Ukraine from supporters in the global south and to put more pressure on U.S. domestic politics.

WHITFIELD: The U.S., of course, is going to be watching this meeting very closely or at least, you know, what it's able to extrapolate from the meeting. But what exactly will -- what kind of assurances will the U.S. be looking for, what kind of signals will it be looking for?

CLARK: Well, I think that what's going to happen is they'll be the usual kind of play of parades and flags and so forth. But I do expect that Xi Jinping is going to announce that he's really pushing peace and maybe Putin will kind of say he likes the proposal because it doesn't call for Russian withdrawal.

And what Putin would like is he'd like a temporary break, a cease fire, rebuild his forces, stay where he is and then finish the job on the pretext of something Ukraine does wrong or the West does wrong.

So this is all about this Russia-China strategic relationship. And what we have to worry about, Fredricka, is now China is of course, making a larger footprint in the Middle East with the Iranian-Saudi arrangement and a strengthened relationship between China and Russia. All of this puts more pressure on the West and on the United States for U.S. leadership.


WHITFIELD: Does China think it is convincingly making an argument that it is a peacemaker here or at least its attempt to be a peacemaker?

CLARK: I think it's just a way of China sort of putting its cards forward and saying I want to play in this game.

You know, for a long time, China stood on the background and didn't involve itself in the affairs beyond its boarding. And that was its calling card. We don't get involved in any of these things.

Now China wants to be the leading player in the world on this. And of course, it wants to shape the world the way it wants it which would be a reduction of American influence and a pull back of the United States out of NATO and also out of the Western Pacific.

WHITFIELD: So then in any way, do you see this as a prelude to China's Xi to ultimately reach out to the Ukrainian president?

CLARK: Well, there's no question that China will attempt to also reach out to the Ukrainian president. China, for a long time, tried to buy a machine factory in Ukraine. And if there is an end to the conflict in Ukraine in the near term, China is going to be there wanting to help reconstruction plans.

And so it's going to be a very high stakes competition between the Europeans and the Chinese as to who gets the mandate and the money to rebuild Ukraine. Yes, China will want to be part of that.

But I think that's two or three steps down the line. I think this is just part of China's, you know, Xi Jinping has just been confirmed legally for his third term. So this is his coming out party. I'm coming here to solve the biggest conflict in the world. Watch me. And it plays well at home to his critics also.

WHITFIELD: Poland and Slovakia said last week that they're sending Soviet Era fighter jets to Ukraine. I know for a long time, you've talked about somebody needs to send, you know, some jets in to Ukraine. Is this going to be enough?

CLARK: No, it's not going to be enough. I mean it's just a step forward. Every day in this battle, there are losses on the Ukrainian side. We just don't hear about them. And they've lost a number of aircraft. There are 100 aircraft that are, you know, being used as spare parts for salvaging other -- keeping other aircraft in the air.

So this is part of keeping that fleet going. But we are providing both the antiradiation missiles and the glide bombs that are necessary to give them a little bit deeper attack capability behind Russian lines. And this is very important because there are Russian forces back there that are not committed that if something were to happen in Bakhmut or elsewhere to give a Russian breakthrough, there could be, as President Zelenskyy said, a breakthrough of Russian forces.

And these aircraft, with their ability to deliver air to ground munitions and to attack Russian air defense would be critical in helping to stop and control a breakthrough. So they could be very helpful.

WHITFIELD: All right. We'll leave it there. General Wesley Clark, always great to see you. Thank you so much.

CLARK: Thank you, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Former President Trump's calls for protests have law enforcement officials in New York preparing for a possible week of uncertainty.

In a social media post, Trump says he expects to be arrested on Tuesday for his alleged role in a hush money payment plan made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

In the statement, he urged his supporters to quote "protest, take our nation back". Trump dialed up the rhetoric with a follow up post saying, "We just can't allow this anymore. We must save America. Protest, protest, protest."

The posts are alarmingly similar to his calls for protests prior to January 6th 2021. And have New York Police officials bracing for whatever may happen.

CNN's Gloria Pazmino joining us now with more on this.

Gloria, what kind of precautions are being taken, if they are even sharing that?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes Fred, we know from law enforcement sources that NYPD, federal agencies, the Secret Service, as well as the officers inside the court, they're the ones that provide security there, have all been talking to each other and coordinating ahead of this potential indictment of the former president.

Needless to say that this would be a historic first -- the indictment of a former U.S. President and also a current candidate for the White House. So this is going to require a massive logistical coordination, as far as security is concerned here in Lower Manhattan.

Behind me is criminal court. It is open right now. Hundreds of people get processed through here every single day. And it is possible that President Trump may be one of those next week, if this indictment does come to pass.


PAZMINO: And that really creates just a logistical nightmare as far as security is concerned for local authorities here. But we know that they are working on it.

Now, you mentioned the president's social media posts where he referenced his potential arrest on Tuesday of next week. He also called for protests.

First, I want to tell you what we know about how the process would go should he be indicted. We expect that the president would surrender. He would be brought here to be processed and booked. He would be fingerprinted.

There would be a mug shot that is taken of the former president. And then he would likely be released on his own recognizance. Now as far as those protests are concerned, law enforcement here in New York City is preparing for that possibility.

And the district attorney, Alvin Bragg did respond in a memo to his staff over the weekend telling them that he is working with the authorities to make sure everyone is safe. He said quote we do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or

threaten the rule of law. Our law enforcement partners will ensure that any specific or credible threats against the office will be fully investigated and that the proper safeguards are in place. so all 1,600 of us can have a secure work environment.

So underlining the fact that even if the president is indicted, this is still very much a criminal court that needs to continue to operate. Hundreds of people work here. and It will be a significant security challenge for local authorities, Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Gloria Pazmino in New York. Thanks so much for that.

All right. Still to come, another major upset as number one seed and defending national champion Kansas is pushed out of March Madness.

Plus cafeteria staff, bus drivers and other school workers in Los Angeles are set to go on strike this week. How that could impact the country's second largest school system.



WHITFIELD: All right. Cinderella strikes again at March Madness. Isn't that's what is making this all so much fun? 15 seed Princeton is heading to the Sweet 16 after pulling off another historic upset beating number seven seed Missouri Saturday. The Princeton Tigers are only the fourth 15 seed to reach the Sweet 16 in the men's March Madness history.

CNN's Coy Wire has more.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fredricka. Get this, only about 1 percent of the tens of millions of brackets filled out this year have Princeton reaching the Sweet 16. The school of 8,000 students is taking down giants on this run.

The Princeton Tigers looking to continue that magical run against 7 seeded Tigers of Missouri and after pulling off one of the unlikeliest upsets in tournament history on Thursday beating 2 seed Arizona, Princeton looked downright unstoppable against Missou. They hit 12 three-pointers, jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. End up winning 78-63.

They're just the second Ivy League school in the past 43 years to reach the Sweet 16. Coach Mitch Henderson was a member of the last Princeton team to even win a game in this tournament a quarter century ago. He says this is a dream come true.

MITCH HENDERSON, MISSOURI TIGERS COACH: We are so thrilled to be going to the Sweet 16. It is an absolute pleasure being around these guys. They just grit their teeth and they do it.

I've always dreamed of playing deep into the tournament. As a player got to the second round a couple times. Never got beyond it. So I'm just, I feel like these guys are unbelievable.


WIRE: Defending champ, Kansas down two to Arkansas with just three seconds to go. They need to miss a free throw to have a shot at a rebound to tie or win. And that doesn't happen. So Arkansas pulls off the upset -- 72-71. And coach Eric Musselman, he pulls his shirt off. Musselman showing the muscles.

Down goes Kansas. No repeat champs this year. The 8 seeded Razorbacks are headed to their third Sweet 16.


ERIC MUSSELMAN, COACH, ARKANSAS: I would love to lie and say that you know, I felt composed. But this -- I mean we only led for a minute, 43. And this has been as challenging and up and down season as I've ever been a part of.

And for these guys to be rewarded for sticking with it and being able to go to Las Vegas and participate with only 16 teams still standing, it's really hard to make this tournament. It's really hard to win a game in this tournament. It's really hard to beat the defending champs as the number one seed. We did it.


WIRE: And on the women's side, two big time upsets. 12 seeded Toledo stunning Big 12 champ Iowa state 80-73 for its first March Madness win since 1996.

Florida Gulf Coast, they make it back to back tournaments with a win as a 12 seed knocking off the PAC 12 champ, Washington State, 74-63.

16 more games today -- eight women's and eight men's. Five of which you can watch on our family of networks. That includes Fairleigh Dickinson who's trying to become the first 16 seed to ever reach the Sweet 16. They face Florida Atlantic at 7:45 Eastern on a sister channel TruTV, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: We'll all be watching. Thanks so much Coy Wire.

All right. Coming up another attack in the West Bank and Prime Minister Netanyahu is vowing that anyone trying to harm Israelis will pay the price.



WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back.

New violence today in the West Bank. Israeli Defense Forces say a gunman opened fire on a car with Israeli plates, injuring two civilians inside the car. The gunman has been apprehended. CNN's Hadas Gold is in Tel Aviv for us. She's joining us by phone.

Hadas, what do we know about the status of the victims and why are the plates so significant?

HADAS GOLD, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, what we're actually learning about the victims is that they were actually American Israeli dual citizens, which has now been confirmed by the U.S. embassy to Israel.

And the Israeli settlement leaders in the West Bank have identified one of the victims. They said that he is David Stern. They said that he's a joint Israeli American citizen who lives in an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.


GOLD: And according to images we see from the scene, it appears they were driving down through this flash point city of Huwara in the occupied West Bank, a Palestinian city that often Israeli settlers use the road that passes through there to get to other settlements. It appears a gunman opened fire at the car with Israeli plates. At least 15 bullet holes are through the front windshield.

But, David Stern, the one who was shot, he was alongside his wife. The hospital says although he was shot in the head, they say the injury wasn't severe. Now, why is it significant it was Israeli plates? It was a few weeks ago two Israeli brothers were actually shot and killed in a similar sort of shooting attack. And then just a few hours later is when we saw the hundreds of Israeli settlers essentially go on revenge attack rampages against the villages setting fires to dozens of cars and homes. One Palestinian man was killed as a result. It's a flash point city and an ongoing terrible cycle of violence between Israeli and Palestinians.

So, the big question for tonight is will we see the same reaction? How will the military that failed to control the situation last time, will they be able to control the situation on the ground between Israeli settlers and the Palestinians tonight -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Hadas Gold, keep us posted. Thank you so much.

Still to come, workers from the nation's second largest school system are planning to go on strike. A look at what they are demanding, next.



WHITFIELD: The second largest school district in the U.S. is bracing for major disruption this week. The union representing thousands of L.A. school workers is planning a three-day strike. The superintendent says it will be virtually possible to keep schools open.

This walkout is happening after negotiations broke down after nearly a year at the table.

CNN's Camila Bernal is in Los Angeles for us.

So, Camila, what are the sticking points in the negotiations?

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, what's interesting here is that the union says this is not about the money. Instead, they say this is about the way some of its members have been treated after they started asking for more money. And the union says it's impossible to keep schools open without some of the bus drivers, the custodians, the special ed assistants. And they feel like they're extremely important for the school.

Now, the superintendent says we have today and tomorrow to negotiate. He is very hopeful. But the union says this is extremely unlikely to avoid this strike.


BERNAL (voice-over): The signs will be used Tuesday, when a three-day strike is expected to force school closures in the second largest district in the nation.

JOSE TOVAR, L.A. UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT CUSTODIAN: We're not asking for the world. Just to live above water.

BERNAL: Tovar, a custodian with a full-time job at an early education center, says he makes about $25,000 a year.

TOVAR: I love the job. Especially I deal with 5-year-old kids and make sure to keep it clean for them. Sometimes you don't feel appreciated and respected.

BERNAL: And respect is what his union says this strike is about. While asking for more money, some members have reported harassment for doing so.

MAX ARIAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF SEIU LOCAL 99: Some have been harassed to the point where they've lost their job, they've lost income or they generally -- some are intimidated.

BERNAL: SEIU local 99 is the union representing thousands of cafeteria workers, bus drivers, custodians and other school workers. But the teacher's union is also joining the strike in solidarity.


BERNAL: L.A. USD superintendent is hopeful that the two sides will come to a monetary agreement and says harassment claims are being reviewed.

CARVALHO: We have not been presented with compelling evidence that there's widespread abuses. Are there issues? Yes. Each one of them is vigorously investigated and consequences are applied on the basis of the merit of the allegation.

BERNAL: The union says avoiding a strike is unlikely. Instead, they want to shine a light on minorities and low income workers who keep the schools running.

They see this as a wakeup call for districts in the U.S. to fund education.

ARIAS: Elected officials throughout the country, federal and state, should see what's going on here and think this is happening in just about every district in this country.

BERNAL: The superintendent also believes that when they come to an agreement, the rest of the nation will use it as an example.

CARVALHO: I believe it will be precedent setting for the country. I'll take pride in it, as will the union. For these are some of the lowest wage earners in our community.

BERNAL: Both sides worry about the students who may suffer greatly from school closures.

CARVALHO: Once you're forced to shut down a school, you eliminate some of the protections and rights children have -- the right to food, the right to health, the right to social and emotional support, the right to mental support, the right to have their disabilities addressed in an adequate way.

BERNAL: But the union believes people like Jose need to make more money.

TOVAR: It's a struggle. It's hard. You know, sometimes like I'm thinking to myself, Lord, if I'm going to make it another day, you know, like this.

BERNAL: Because in the end, they say higher salaries for school workers will lead to better schools and better education.


BERNAL (on camera): And negotiations over wages will take place behind the scenes. The union says, look, we could see another strike over the money. They say they don't want to strike. But at the end of the day, they're going to continue to push for what they believe is fair.

In the meantime, you have many, many parents all over Los Angeles trying to figure out exactly what they're going to do with their children this week -- Fred.


WHITFIELD: Yeah, for three days. That's going to be quite the task.

Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

BERNAL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, a massive stretch of seaweed is headed forwards Florida. We'll discuss how this might impact beachgoers. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WHITFIELD: Beachgoers, beware. A stretch of seaweed, 5,000 miles wide, about twice the width of the United States is drifting towards Florida's coast. And it's a seaweed variety called sargassum that forms large pungent blooms.


And this mass could be the largest on record.

I'm joined now by hydrologist and environmental engineer, Dr. Tracy Fanara.

Doctor, good to see you.

So, where is this kind of collection of clumps of seaweed right now? Where is it heading?

DR. TRACY FANARA, ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEER: Yes. So, we get a bloom of sargassum every year. It's been going on for hundreds of years. It comes from the north Atlantic. It's in the Caribbean and eventually into the gulf. We don't know exactly where it will be in peak season and how much of it will come to our shores and hit our beaches in southwest Florida. But this bloom has increased in size, doubled from December to January and now is still growing.

WHITFIELD: Okay. So it sounds yucky. It sounds like a nuisance, but there's an upside to this, right? Because it does provide some shelter, maybe even some food to a lot of marine life. So explain, I guess, how Mother Nature sees benefits of the sargassum.

FANARA: Oh, yeah. Sargassum patches are floating and moving ecosystem. They're essential for crabs and eels and economically important fish like amber jacks, jacks and mahi-mahi. So, sargassum plays a huge role in our ecosystem. In addition to that, it's a carbon sequestration mechanism as well.

WHITFIELD: So then, are there also dangers with it?

FANARA: Yeah. Well, so it is nontoxic algae. It's a nontoxic species. When it comes to shore in mass amounts, that's when it can be a nuisance and be a problem.

So it can come to the shore, black out sunlight. So, photosynthesis can occur underneath when these blooms die and decompose. They can't take oxygen causing something called hypoxic zones or areas with really low to no oxygen further causing ecologic problems. It can suffocate coral reefs, interfere with turtle nesting.

And for beachgoers, it can be a gross day at the beach.

WHITFIELD: Right, because it's so fragrant. It's a strong, pungent smell. But I guess with people for respiratory problems, it can be a real problem. Is that true? FANARA: Yeah. Sulfur dioxide, the gas or one of the gases that is

released from the dying, decomposing sargassum smells like rotten eggs and can give you itchy eyes and respiratory irritation. But what is the one two punch for southwest Florida is that we already have an ongoing toxic species of micro algae called Karenia brevis. And blooms are commonly known as Florida red tide.

So, that bloom is already plaguing southwest Florida. It not only causes mass wildlife death but can also attach on a sea particles and cause people with respiratory issues.

WHITFIELD: So this sargassum and this red tide are coexisting, you know, in southwest Florida. Do we know whether there's going to be, I guess a greater integration of those two on one side of the coast versus the other?

FANARA: That's a really great question. Florida red tide is at the Gulf of Mexico. It mostly impacts the west side of Florida. And in June, during peak season, when we usually see sargassum come to shore, that's really the question.

Will the red tide bloom be intense and will the sargassum interfere with the Florida red tide bloom in the sense that it will outcompete hopefully Florida red tide, suffocate Florida red tide? But if it comes to shore and starts decomposing, it can release nutrients that can feed red tide. We'll see what happens.

WHITFIELD: OK. We will indeed.

Dr. Tracy Fanara, so glad you could be with us. Thanks so much.

FANARA: Thank you so much for having me.

WHITFIELD: Excellent.

All right. Straight ahead, a CNN investigation into allegations the Coast Guard is failing to protect its female service members. Hear from two women who are breaking their silence.


WHITFIELD: All right. This just in to CNN, the city of Miami Beach is now imposing a spring break curfew after a second deadly shooting. The latest happened early this morning two people were wounded, one of them died.

It follows a separate shooting on Friday after violence broke out during St. Patrick's Day celebrations. One person died and another injured. The city manager blames large, unruly crowds for creating a dangerous environment. The curfew goes into effect tonight at midnight.

And a popular baby brand is recalling some of its products due to contamination concerns. Perrigo Company is recalling some lots of its Gerber Good Start SoothePro powdered formula. The company says the products may be contaminated with a bacteria that could lead to serious, even fatal infections. Perrigo has not received any reports of illnesses. Still, it says the customer should not use the product and to contact them for a refund.

And a rare strain of bacteria found in recalled Eye Drops is being linked to dozens of infections, vision loss and even one death.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is urging customers to stop using EzriCare Artificial Fears which was first recalled last month. The agency says it has identified 68 patients with infections in 16 states.


It also says that anyone with signs or symptoms of an eye infection should seek medical care immediately.

And now, to a new CNN investigation which reveals a failure by the U.S. Coast Guard to protect its female service members. Two women have come forward alleging they were sexually assaulted on U.S. ships that are overseen by the Coast Guard. But none of these cases have been prosecuted. Some are calling it the maritime #metoo movement started by a blog post.

CNN chief investigative correspondent Pamela Brown has the story.



PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hope Hicks was initially excited for her so-called sea year, spending months on a commercial ship as part of her program at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, but her excitement soon turned to terror.

HICKS: It was a very hostile environment. There were comments made towards me every single day and then two weeks in, the physical touching started.

BROWN: She says one night after the crew was drinking, she was raped by a superior officer.

HICKS: Ii woke up completely naked in my bed. My room was destroyed. My sheets were bloodied, I immediately knew what happened.

BROWN: In the middle of the Arabian Sea, the only woman on board, weeks away from land.

HICKS: I was scare out of my mind.

BROWN: Her safety and those of the tens of thousands of people who work on commercial ships is overseen by the U.S. Coast Guard, which approves credentials for each crew member and investigates and punishes offenses.

But a CNN investigation found the Coast Guard failed to use its power to prevent and punish sexual assault on commercial ships for decades.

HICKS: I had no idea that reporting to the Coast Guard was even an option.

BROWN: This woman who wants to stay anonymous said she was repeatedly groped and harassed by a member of her crew on board the same ship just two years later.

MIDSHIMAN Y, SEXUALLY HARRASSED DURING SEA YEAR: Every joke, every innuendo, every touch always felt like a threat.

I always slept with my knife, felt like I was constantly hunted.

BROWN: The Coast Guard has not revoked a single credential for a sexual assault at sea in the last decade. Yet it revokes credentials for other lesser offenses.

Case in point, a merchant mariner tested positive for marijuana during a random drug test. The Coast Guard acknowledged it was likely caused by CBD oil his doctor recommended for pain but permanently revoked his credential anyway.

CNN identified more than 25 mariners who held credentials even after convicted of sex crimes on land, though many have left the industry.

Like Michael James Verdin, a registered sex offender who only had a seven-month suspension and continued working on a ship for five more years, and James Ryerse who pleaded guilty to attempted sexual conduct. He was able to return to ship work after suspension of just six months. Both men denied the allegations

MIDSHIPMAN Y: Oh, I'm pissed, I'm tired, I'm angry, and I should be. I'm angry that the system didn't protect me at all. If anything, it suppressed me.

CAPTAIN ANN SANBORN, FORMER ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, USMMA: This is something that should have stopped decades ago.

BROWN (voice-over): Captain Ann Sanborn is former associate professor at the academy and the first female captain of a commercial ship.

SANBORN: I would describe my feelings on the U.S. Coast Guard as they have been absentee, intentionally naive.

BROWN: There are no accurate numbers for how many have been sexually assaulted on commercial ships. Victims are often bullied and belittled into silence.

HICKS: He was like we really need to talk and I told him, you forced yourself on me. And he told me that mariners get lonely at sea. And if I ever wanted to report, nobody would ever believe me.

SANBORN: They're told nobody will believe you.

BROWN: Hope Hicks wrote an anonymous blog post about her attack in 2021 and that sent shock waves through the industry. HICKS: This problem is the most under reported problem, not enough

people have come forward, not enough people have talked about it.

BROWN: As for the man who allegedly attacked Hope, the Coast Guard turned over its investigation to the Department of Justice months ago but no charges have been filed. The Coast Guard renewed his credential last year.


BROWN (on camera): After Hope Hicks' blog post, there's new focus on preventing sexual misconduct. The Coast Guard told my colleagues Blake Ellis and Melanie Hickin (ph) that among changes, they made it easier for people to report incidents at sea and they're taking part in a new monitoring system with the FBI and TSA, which would alert them to mariners who have been convicted of certain crimes.

Pamela Brown, CNN, Washington.