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King Charles III Treated for Cancer; Secretary Blinken Meets Egyptian President; IDF Warns Civilians to Evacuate Gaza City and Khan Younis; Landslides and Flash Floods Grips Los Angeles; 123 People Dead in Chile Wildfires; Russia Continue With Attacks in Ukraine; Earthquake Survivors Recall Tragic Moments; China Brace for Frigid Cold Weather. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired February 06, 2024 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world and to everyone streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead, Buckingham Palace reveals that King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer. What we know about the state of his health and what it means for the royal family moving forward.
Plus, the IDF warns civilians to evacuate parts of southern Gaza but most of them now displaced by war have nowhere left to run.
And one year on from the devastating earthquake in Turkey, the signs of destruction are still impossible to miss. We will revisit some of the areas hardest hit ahead in a live report.
Good to have you with us. Buckingham Palace is facing new questions today about King Charles III and his cancer diagnosis. The 75-year-old monarch is undergoing treatment in London after the palace made the surprise announcement on Monday, but they did not say what type of cancer it is. King Charles was recently treated for an enlarged prostate, but a royal source says he does not have prostate cancer.
In the meantime, doctors have advised him to postpone any public duties, but he will continue with state business and official paperwork. Wishes for a speedy recovery have been pouring in from around the globe and within London.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE DAVIES, RECRUTER: Just right now, it's quite devastating actually. I didn't know about that. It's sad to hear. It's sad to hear (inaudible).
IMOGEN HOLDER, INSURANCE BROKER: I feel quite sad about it. I think it's interesting with all the news about him that it's not to do with the prostate thing and they've said it's kind of a different cancer. But hopefully they've caught it early and it will be a positive outcome for him. MAHMOUD MOEIT, TOURIST FROM EGYPT: That is really sad news for all
the world, not only for the citizens of the United Kingdom. We pray for him and we are really hearted to hear that bad news. We pray for him to get a quick recovery.
BEN TAN, TOURIST FROM U.S.: I mean, it's shocking. Anyone like that, they feel almost like immortal. And then something like that happens and it's a reminder that we're just human beings.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Let's bring in CNN's Anna Stewart. She joins us live from London. Good morning to you, Anna. So, King Charles was very transparent about his enlarged prostate treatment, but now the palace is not disclosing details about the King's cancer diagnosis. And as a result, we are seeing much speculation about what type of cancer this might be. What more are you learning about this?
ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You can hear some of the speculation there in those sound bites from members of the public and I have to say it's speculation within my own family and friendship groups, everyone wondering, well, what cancer is it? What stage is this at? And it is interesting that the palace has given us information, they've given us a cancer diagnosis which is certainly more open I would say than we had with the late queen.
For instance, we still don't actually know what the cause of her death was or what her ailments were in the latter years of her life. We have a diagnosis but there are lots of unanswered questions here and I'm not sure whether we'll ever actually get any answers on them. As far as we are aware, the King will be having outpatient treatment. We don't know what that treatment will be or for how long.
And the guidance very much is they don't want the media camped outside of a hospital. They don't want us to be running commentary. The King will essentially be working from home. He won't be able to do public facing engagements, but he will be able to go through his red box. He'll be able to go through all those documents. He'll be able to hold private meetings as usual around of course all of those treatments.
It's not dissimilar in many ways, Rosemary, to the news that we have of the Princess of Wales who of course recently underwent abdominal surgery. We don't know the ins and outs of why or what it regarded. We know she's recovering for some time. So again, more information that we've had in the past about a royal member's family -- member family's health, but actually not all of the information perhaps the public would want, but perhaps you can never give the public all of the information they might like.
CHURCH: Indeed. And what if any are the likely constitutional ramifications of this announcement?
STEWART: Well, it's such a shock announcement. And when you get that sort of announcement, it's a stark reminder that we have a constitutional monarchy and there are certain roles that a monarch performs. For instance, appointing a prime minister or dissolving parliament or giving royal assent, which is essentially sort of the rubber stamp on new pieces of legislation that come out of parliament. There are some constitutional roles here.
Now, at this stage, King Charles clearly feels that he can perform all of these roles. He is simply not going to do public facing engagements. There are constitutional measures in place though, if he were to get more unwell and were unable to perform those functions. There are councils of state, which is the monarch's spouse, the four next members of the royal family in the line of succession.
And actually, they've also added Prince Edward and Prince Anne to that mix as well. So, there are a number of people that the King could appoint to help him perform those duties at some point. At this stage, that seems very unlikely. Clearly, the hope is here that there will be swift treatment and that King Charles will be back to performing his usual public facing engagements and all of the other work that he does constitutionally. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Anna Stewart in London, many thanks. Dr. William Dahut is Chief Scientific Officer at the American Cancer Society. He joins me now from Florida. Thank you, doctor, for being with us.
Yeah, thanks for having me on tonight.
CHURCH: Now we don't know what type of cancer King Charles may have. The palace is not disclosing those details. But what does it tell you that the king's cancer was detected while he was undergoing treatment for a benign enlarged prostate?
WILLIAM DAHUT, CHIEF SCIENTIFIC OFFICER, THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY: Well, you know, first of all, speaking for the American Cancer Society, we want to express to the King and his family our support. Regardless of who you are, anytime you have a cancer diagnosis, it really can be a terrifying thing. So, to focus on your question, you know, when you have a procedure, almost any procedure, a lot of other tests sometimes are done.
It can be blood work, chest x-rays, CT scans. Any of those other tests sometimes can pick up what we call an incidental cancer. Oftentimes when you do a test, I mean actually a procedure to actually decrease the size of the prostate, what's done is a small tube is placed through the urethra where the prostate then is shaved a bit to make the passage of urine easier and the bladder is nearby. So sometimes you'll see actually abnormalities in the bladder which is right near the prostate at that point.
CHURCH: So, if there's a possibility that this is bladder cancer or some other similar cancer, how serious might that be given what we know so far that the King is already undergoing outpatient treatment?
DAHUT: Well, I think it's good news that it's outpatient treatment. It wasn't something that needed to be done emergently, something he needed to have treatment done in the hospital immediately, so I think that's good news. The fact that the treatment was already started meant that the doctors thought that there was something it couldn't wait. It wasn't something we'd be postponed for a few months.
So, there is a sense there of at least some concern that treatment started right away. But I think again that it's good news that things are being done as an outpatient.
CHURCH: And what type of outpatient treatment do you think King Charles would be receiving at this time since it did happen very quickly, didn't it?
DAHUT: It's a little bit hard to know. You know, the fact that it's an outpatient treatment in general, that would make it seem like it could either be radiation, which would be outpatient daily, or it could be some sort of drug treatment, which could be chemotherapy, a targeted therapy, or potentially a bit of immunotherapy. You know, it's really hard to know what that is without knowing actually the site of the cancer.
CHURCH: And no mention has been made of any planned surgery at this juncture at least. What does that tell you?
DAHUT: Well, it could be a couple things. One, it could be the kind of cancer where there are treatment options besides surgery. It could mean that there needs to be a treatment first and then that's followed by surgery. Or it could be in some cases, I don't know if that's the case for the King, hopefully it's not, a situation where the cancer has spread outside of a local area. If that's the case then a local treatment like surgery wouldn't make sense. That would be something where you would need a drug treatment most likely.
CHURCH: And you talked to us about the type of test that King Charles would have had or undergone during his prostate treatment to reach this cancer diagnosis and you mentioned the possibility and we don't know, we don't want to speculate here, but you mentioned the possibility of bladder cancer. Talk to us about that because that is contained at least within the bladder, isn't it?
DAHUT: Well, bladder cancer comes in two different types. One we call it superficial bladder cancer, and that's bladder cancer that's actually has not invaded the muscle of the bladder. That tends to be treated by a resection of individual tumors in the bladder, often followed by an installation of drugs or immunotherapy into the bladder itself.
If the tumor has invaded the muscle of the bladder, then oftentimes chemotherapy is given prior to treatment.
And then often after the chemotherapy, surgery is done to remove the bladder or sometimes radiations done. If the cancer has actually spread to distant areas, then chemotherapy is usually the treatment of choice. So, again, we really don't know the situation, but for bladder cancer, whether superficial or muscle invasive is really the key to it.
CHURCH: And doctor, what would your message be to any of our viewers watching this when it comes to keeping an eye out for the possibility of cancer in any form?
DAHUT: So, a couple things are really important here. First of all, as terrifying the word cancer is, if cancer is found early, it's often very curable. You know, cancer mortality rates have fallen by about 34 percent over the last 30 years or so, so we know cancer early detection is important.
We also know that for folks, even at the age of 75, screening makes sense if you have a life expectancy of 10 years or more. So, whether that's breast cancer screening, colonoscopy, prostate cancer discussions, or lung cancer if you're a smoker, screening can find a cancer early on where it can be treated, oftentimes with a cure.
But if you have a symptom that is concerning to yourself, doesn't make sense, trust your body, talk to your physician, have that particular symptom evaluated, and in which case, if there is something of concern, it can be treated before you wait too long.
CHURCH: Dr. William Dahut, we appreciate your expertise on this matter. Many thanks for joining us.
DAHUT: Thanks so much for having me today.
CHURCH: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is now in Egypt, the next stop on his latest high-stakes trip to the Middle East. He is set to sit down for talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the hours ahead. Now this comes one day after Blinken met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for more than two hours in Riyadh. The two men discuss regional coordination to end the fighting in Gaza and plans for the enclave after the war.
During his trip, Blinken will also sit to make clear that the U.S. is not looking to escalate tensions after its recent action in the region. I want to bring in journalist Elliott Gotkine who's following developments for us live from London. Good morning to you Elliott. So, what more are you learning about Secretary Blinken's meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince on Monday and of course what's expected to come out of this meeting with Egypt's president today?
ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Rosemary, this whistle-stop tour by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has, I suppose, an overriding objective, and that is to try to push along the proximity or to get to a position where we could see an end to the war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. How do you do that? Well, there's two aspects to it. One is dealing with the present and one is dealing with the future.
Dealing with the future the day after the war in Gaza I suppose would have been the focus of the conversations with the MBS as he's known the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia holding out the carrot if you like, of normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel as a means of incentivizing Israel to get to that position of ending the war in the Gaza Strip.
Now, whereas before October the 7th and the Hamas terrorist attacks, Saudi Arabia seemed inclined to normalize relations with Israel without any concrete steps towards an independent Palestinian state, that now seems to be off the table. The Saudis seemingly saying that is now a prerequisite for Saudi normalization with Israel. So that would have been the focus there. There'll obviously be bilateral issues between Saudi Arabia and the United States to try to sweeten any kind of deal.
In Egypt, Qatar and Israel today, the main focus will be on the present, how to get a humanitarian pause in place in the Gaza Strip, how to facilitate the release of the more than 100 hostages that were abducted in the Hamas-led massacre of October the 7th and have been in captivity now for more than 120 days in exchange for the freeing of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, and also how to get more humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.
And whereas the Saudis don't really have any leverage with Hamas, the Egyptians and the Qataris do. So that will certainly be a focus of the conversation there. And also, of course, how to talk about the overall security arrangements that could be in place. And that would be enough to secure Israel's backing to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. For now, of course, we know that Israel has said, with Prime Minister Netanyahu emphasizing time and again, that Israel needs to maintain a security presence in the Gaza Strip.
Also, worth noting that Netanyahu is dead set against an independent Palestinian state, as is Hamas, of course. How Secretary Blinken is going to square all of those circles is obviously unclear, but certainly he's making every effort to do so. And that's going to be the focus of those conversations now in Egypt, then Qatar, and then Israel and the West Bank later today. Rosemary?
CHURCH: All right, our thanks to Elliott Gotkine joining us live from London.
The Israel Defence Forces is again calling on civilians to leave neighborhoods west of Gaza City and in Khan Younis to the south. And now there's fear of what could happen next on the ground in Rafah in Gaza's far south, once Israeli troops reach the area and expand operations.
CNN's Nada Bashir has more, but first we want to warn you. Her report contains graphic and disturbing images that may be hard to watch.
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Surrounded by chaos and panic, the wounded lay quiet. This little girl's pain masked by shock. It is all too much. This mother shields her child's eyes from the horror, telling him, don't look.
In the morgue at the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Hospital, the bodies of those who did not survive lay shrouded on the ground. The tiles beneath still bloodied.
A doctor here says at least 14 were killed as a result of a series of airstrikes by the Israeli military on this mosque in the central region of Deir al-Balah. The IDF, however, did not respond to CNN's request for comment on the incident.
Locals here are left to sift through the rubble, retrieving fragments of bodies. Those killed said to have been leaving the mosque following morning prayers.
UNKNOWN (through translation): This neighborhood is full of people who have been displaced, all taking shelter in schools. Clearly there's nowhere safe anymore, not our mosques, not our schools, not in the streets. Nowhere in Gaza is safe.
BASHIR (voice-over): But just as there is no escape from the airstrikes, it seems there is also no escape from grief. The families of Gaza's latest victims, old and young, left to share in their unending morning. Elsewhere, in this hospital in central Gaza, at least 20 women and children have arrived seeking safety, forced to flee once again after being ordered by the Israeli military to evacuate their shelter in Gaza City.
WALLA AL-ARBEEL, DISPLACED GAZA RESIDENT (through translation): The Israelis came and surrounded us with tanks. We were not able to go out. There was no food, no drinks, no water. We were not even able to turn on the lights. We were scared they would see us.
ISRAA AL-ASHKAR, DISPLACED GAZA RESIDENT (through translation): They took all the men and started beating them. They stripped their clothes off and took them to the tanks. After that, they told all the women to go down to the basement and they deployed explosives. They wanted to lock us in and then blow up the whole building. They wanted to kill us. We told them that we are civilians, that there are children with us, that we have done nothing to deserve this. We begged them, and then they agreed to let us out.
BASHIR (voice-over): Troubling accounts like this shared with CNN by several women forced to flee Central Gaza, though CNN has received no comment from the Israeli military. What comes next for these families and for all in Gaza is unclear, but there is little hope left. In Rafah, now home to more than a million Palestinians, tent cities for the displaced continue to grow.
This region, once said to be a safe zone, now facing relentless airstrikes. Israel's defense minister has warned that troops will soon enter the southern city, they say targeting terrorist infrastructure. But there are deepening fears over the potential for a humanitarian catastrophe and the looming threat of untold bloodshed in the South. Nada Bashir, CNN, in London.
CHURCH: Still to come, dangerous flooding and mudslides are damaging some of the world's most expensive neighborhoods as a powerful storm pummels California.
Plus, with the death toll rising, the battle continues to try and contain dozens of wildfires in Chile.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [03:20:00]
CHURCH: California is bracing for another day of dangerous weather from a system known as an atmospheric river. Heavy rainfall is now moving into the San Diego area after hammering Los Angeles and other parts of the state over the past two days. More than 120 mudslides have been reported across the LA metro area, with some coursing through the extremely affluent communities of Beverly Hills and Bel Air. CNN's Veronica Miracle picks up the story.
VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Catastrophic flash flooding leaving a path of destruction across many regions of California.
KAREN BASS, MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: Let me be clear. This storm is a serious weather event. This has the potential to be a historic storm.
MIRACLE (voice-over): Nearly 40 million people under flood watches. A state of emergency in place for eight counties with evacuations in some areas. On Sunday, Los Angeles experiencing its wettest day in nearly 20 years, more than a month's worth of rain in 24 hours, prompting high water rescues.
Three people plucked from this tree after escaping their flooded car. Vehicles stranded, some completely submerged. And for L.A., it's nowhere near over parts of the area or forecast to receive close to half a year's worth of rain by Tuesday.
The storm also bringing widespread hurricane force winds to parts of the state, including the Central Coast and Bay Area. At least one person has died due to high winds after a tree fell on him while he tried to clear debris from his home in northern California. In Santa Cruz, residents woke up Sunday to a mess.
UNKNOWN: I don't remember a storm since we've lived here where we had so many trees come down. All of the neighbors here have no power.
MIRACLE (voice-over): On Monday morning, more than half a million people faced power outages, others contending with the mud.
DAVE CHRISTANSEN, RESIDENT: This is the foundation. This is where the house sits now. And that's the culprit.
MIRACLE (voice-over): The National Weather Service warning of numerous damaging landslides in Los Angeles County along the Santa Monica Mountains and adjacent foothills.
SCOTT TORO, RESIDENT OF STUDIO CITY, CALIFORNIA: We were in the house, my wife and I, and it was like -- it sounded like a plane crashing or maybe of a freight train or something like that. Just boulders and mud.
MIRACLE (voice-over): All from an atmospheric river slamming into Southern California, moving at a snail's pace. Parts of San Diego reeling again after just getting back on their feet after a storm two weeks ago.
UNKNOWN: This is all hands-on deck, but we could use a break from Mother Nature.
MIRACLE (on camera): An incredible amount of destruction here. Now the neighbors have done a really good job of cleaning up the mud. But if you take a look at this garage here, you can see massive boulders. Those came pummeling through the back of the house. I'm gonna take a step back and show you where that debris came from, the top of this hillside. This area has become so oversaturated that the hillside has become so unstable and the rain is not over yet so the threat continues. Veronica Miracle, CNN, Los Angeles County.
CHURCH: Let's bring in CNN's Karen Maginnis from the Weather Center. So, Karen, how is it looking right now?
KAREN MAGINNIS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, we knew that this was going to be a multi-day event, 24 to 48 hours. It actually began on Sunday, this atmospheric river, which just unleashes a bunch of water from the Pacific. It's fairly mild, so the snow levels are fairly high up, but that snow is going to be increasingly heavy, even into the Great Basin and the Four Corners.
All right, this is the Pacific Coast Highway. Just a portion of it closed, but in both directions. This was in Monterey County around Lime Kiln State Park.
And bless you, Los Angeles Fire Department, their air operations for rescuing this gentleman who was going into this wash to rescue his dog. He went to the hospital, he was rescued by their air operations. The dog looks a little less for the wear. He's feeling pretty lucky though that he pretty much escaped any serious harm. He was being well taken care of.
So, it all ended well, but loss of damage from debris flows, rock slides, portions of highways that were closed off because of the -- with the ground collapsed underneath these roads. It is fairly widespread damage. I heard one person say this may not have been the huge catastrophic event that we were all touting, but it's a thousand cuts and I think that's a very good description and that we did see scenes like this all across Los Angeles County, San Luis Obispo, North Central California, Marin County had downed trees, downed power lines, 120 mud slides just in L.A. County itself.
Well, we're not finished. We still have Tuesday, even into Wednesday and Thursday, when you get into the interior sections of the West for the Great Basin. Snowfall for the Grand Canyon, for the Wasatch, for the Uinta's, for the Uncompahgre Mountains. There's gonna be a secondary area of low pressure on the backside of this. So, it keeps that moisture in place across Southern California, the rainfall ramps up right around San Diego. So, we could see some pretty hefty rainfall totals for San Diego. The
mountains you're going to see substantial snowfall. Some areas could see two and three feet of snowfall. Take a look at this. In Bel Air, you saw those pictures from those well-known neighborhoods in Southern California. Well, Bel Air saw just under a foot of rainfall. We still have excessive rainfall risks across this region, and the flash flood threat still continues. Now in the yellow, but don't let that lull you into a false sense of security. It's still gonna be very dangerous. Rosemary?
CHURCH: We appreciate you, Karen Maginnis. Thanks for bringing us up to date on the situation there.
The death toll from dozens of wildfires burning in Chile has risen to at least 123 people, with hundreds more missing. Two coastal cities popular with tourists are among the hardest hit, with many homes reduced to rubble. Chile's finance minister estimates the damage in one region alone will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The fires come in the midst of a summer heat wave, and scientists say climate change and the El Nino weather pattern are only making these types of fire events worse. Chile's president says it is the deadliest disaster the country has faced in more than a decade.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GABRIEL BORIC, PRESIDENT OF CHILE (through translation): The fire in Valparaiso is a serious emergency, the most catastrophic in our country since the earthquake of February 27, 2010.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Britain's King Charles has been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer. Just ahead, we will see who picks up his public duties while he undergoes treatment.
Plus, Ukraine is using sea drones powered by jet skis to attack Russian ships. Just ahead a rare interview with one of those pilots.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Let's get you up to date now on our top story.
This hour, Britain's King Charles III is undergoing treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer. The monarch is postponing his public duties for now, with other members of the royal family expected to step up their roles.
CNN's Brian Todd has more.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A 75-year-old King with a cancer diagnosis. One of the most prominent and popular heirs, Catherine, the Princess of Wales, in her early 40s, out of commission for months after her abdominal procedure. It's since been announced that her husband Prince William, who had pulled back from public duties to focus on his family, will now return to some of those duties sooner than expected.
Still, royal experts say this is a monarchy that's stretched thin. And Queen Camilla, who is 76 years old and active, can't do all of the public engagements herself.
SALLY BEDELL SMITH, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: It is a huge vacuum. The queen has been doing a lot more than she typically would.
TODD: Only so-called working royals can carry out public engagements on behalf of the king. That group was supposed to consist of 14 family members. But because Prince Harry and Meghan stepped away from royal life and Prince Andrew was forced to step away because of his association with the late accused pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein, there are only 11 people to do that.
More than half of them are over age 70. And with King Charles and Princess Catherine out temporarily, it's down to nine.
SMITH: Now we're relying for at least the public portion of what the royal family does on Charles' sister, Princess Anne, and his younger brother, Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, and his wife. They have all typically been very active, but there's no doubt that there is a real gap in what the royal family is able to do.
TODD: Harry and Meghan stepped back as senior members of the royal family four years ago, amid growing tensions in the family and accusations that Meghan had experienced racism. Meghan spoke about it with Oprah Winfrey.
OPRAH WINFREY, TV HOST: There's a conversation with you, --
MEGHAN, DUCHESS OF SUSSEX: With Harry.
WINFREY: -- about how dark your baby is going to be?
MEGHAN: Potentially and what that would mean or look like.
TODD: Royal watchers say there's no doubt that with the family stretched this thin, the loss of Harry and Meghan is being acutely felt right now.
KRISTEN MEINZER, ROYAL WATCHER: I think Harry and Meghan, not only did they have the star power and the international attention, they had diversity within their relationship also, but they really connected with younger people in a way that I think would have been helpful right now.
TODD: At the very least, royal experts say, Harry and Meghan could have helped with what has become a crushing schedule of public events. Just last year, the working royals split up a total of more than 2,700 visits and events between them. SMITH: There's been a sort of proliferation of obligations that didn't
exist in earlier times.
TODD: With the family stretched so thin, some are wondering if it's time to elevate the profiles of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the daughters of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, both in their mid-30s with a notable amount of glamour and style.
Royal watchers say as toxic as their father's association with Jeffrey Epstein remains, the daughters are not associated with that and have likely achieved enough separation from it in the public eye.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
CHURCH: A newly unveiled border deal of the U.S. Senate may already be dead before a key vote on Wednesday. At least 23 senators publicly opposed the bill and only 41 votes are needed to sink it. The Speaker of the House has already said the bill is dead on arrival if it gets out of the Senate.
The $118 billion deal would include the first major change to U.S. immigration law in decades but Republicans are calling it too weak.
Well, if the proposed border deal does pass in Congress, it will extend the special immigrant visa program for Afghans who worked with the U.S. government during the war in Afghanistan, and also provide a pathway to citizenship for Afghans who are living temporarily in the U.S. under a humanitarian parole program.
Andrew Sullivan is the Director of Advocacy for No One Left Behind, a group that helps America's allies in Iraq and Afghanistan evacuate and resettle here in the United States. I appreciate you being with us and thank you for your service.
ANDREW SULLIVAN, DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY, NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: Thank you so much for having me, Rosemary. Excited to talk to you tonight.
CHURCH: So, the bipartisan border security bill may not even survive in its current form, with House Speaker Mike Johnson insisting it's dead on arrival. Part of that bill provides a pathway to citizenship for Afghans paroled into the United States after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan, and extends the special immigrant visa program to those Afghans who served the U.S. government. What happens to those people if Republicans reject this bill outright.
SULLIVAN: Well, we've been disappointed that it's taken Congress this long to stand with our Afghan allies. Really, since before the withdrawal, No One Left Behind and other groups have called for supporting our Afghan allies. That's passing domestic adjustment for Afghans that arrived during the evacuation. But it's also for extending the Special Immigrant Visa program and opening up additional pathways for our allies. Unfortunately, if it doesn't pass, you know, they really cannot wait
much longer. They continue to be targeted by the Taliban. The SIV process continues to take far longer than it should. By statute, it's supposed to be nine months, but the most recently quarterly State Department report has the process taking 608 days.
So, unfortunately, our allies will remain in limbo. They will remain targeted by the Taliban, and it's incredibly worrisome if Congress does not decide to stand with our Afghan allies.
CHURCH: So how critical is it that the U.S. stand by its promise to protect all those Afghans who serve the U.S. government? And what message does it send these wartime allies if this country abandons them again?
SULLIVAN: So, I think it's incredibly important that we stand with them. I think there is multiple dimensions to it. So firstly, it's a veterans issue. I, myself am an Afghan veteran. There are over 830,000 U.S. veterans that serve in Afghanistan. Many of them are suffering from moral injury because we've not stood with our Afghan allies, our brothers, and sisters in arms. This is a good way to address that.
Secondly, if we don't stand with them, what message does it send to allies across the world, whether it be the Western Pacific, Eastern Europe, the Levant? I think it shows that America is not necessarily the most reliable partner. I think it would have negative downstream effects for future national security.
And then lastly, quite frankly, it's just the right thing to do. I mean, America is a nation that keeps its promise. We have a moral obligation. So really, I think, you know, if we fail to keep the promise to them, all three of those things will suffer.
CHURCH: And Andrew, how many Afghans and their families have pending applications for these special immigrant visas and what will happen to them if these visas don't get processed?
SULLIVAN: Yes, Rosemary, unfortunately, the scope of the problem is still incredible. Currently, there are nearly 150,000 pending SIV applications. That's just for the principal applicant. It doesn't count the family members. So really, it's 150,000 families that are waiting.
If we can't improve the SIV process, they're going to continue to languish. Afghanistan is facing really dire economic conditions. And again, as I mentioned, there are reprisals going on by the Taliban and other terrorist groups. So, every day that we don't improve the program is another day that those families are at serious risk.
CHURCH: And why have some of these Afghans who serve the U.S. been forgotten and left in Afghanistan? What is the backstory to this?
SULLIVAN: You know, it's unfortunately a case of multiple presidencies and multiple congresses forgetting our allies. I mean, this is not endemic to one presidency nor one congress. I think, quite frankly, for years now, if not decades, we just have not prioritized this. We've asked a lot of our Afghan allies. They've stood bravely next to
us shoulder to shoulder in combat operations and in our diplomatic activities. And unfortunately, across, you know, administrations and multiple congresses, we just have failed to live up to our American promise to them.
CHURCH: Andrew Sullivan, we appreciate your work and you joining us. Thank you.
SULLIVAN: Thank you, Rosemary.
CHURCH: Ukraine says at least five people have been killed in another wave of Russian shelling. Attacks were carried out in several regions in the east on Monday, with residential buildings, houses and power grids apparently targeted.
It comes after Moscow claimed a Ukrainian attack on the Russian occupied region of Luhansk left at least 28 people dead over the weekend.
Ukraine is relying more on drones to try and level the playing field with Russia, both in the air and at sea.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen spoke with a member of a secretive Ukrainian unit who says they used sea drones to sink a Russian warship last week.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was one of the most brazen and most successful operations by Ukraine's military intelligence service. Sea drones attacking, and the Ukrainians say sinking, a Russian warship inside occupied Crimea. And he was one of those involved. His call sign is 13 from the elite sea drone unit named Group 13. So secretive we had to hide his face and change his voice.
"We used 10 drones in the operation," he says. Six of them hit the Corvette Ivanovets. CNN cannot independently verify that the Ivanovets was sunk, but video provided by the intelligence agency seems to show the mini-sea drones evading machine gun fire from the warship and then massive explosions.
"Their weapons are not designed to deal with such small sea drones," 13 says. "In most cases, they use anti-ship guns."
Ukraine barely has a functioning navy. But the Magura drones pack a massive, around 500 pounds of explosives. These sea drones might not look like much and they might not go very fast, but the Ukrainians say they've been extremely effective at attacking Russia's Black Sea fleet and even sinking warships.
"The main thing is to feel the drone," 13 says. "Not everyone can hold a firm grip. If you squeeze a little, you can lose control of the drone. I would say it's like working with jewelry." Asymmetrical warfare, they call it, and the Ukrainians, outmanned and outgunned, say they need to do a lot more of it.
After visiting the southern front this weekend, Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy telling Italian media he not only plans to fire his top general Valerii Zaluzhnyi, there could be a larger government shakeup. A front-runner to become the new commander-in-chief, the defense intel boss known for brazen attacks against Russian military and infrastructure targets.
"The Russians are waking up at night to explosions," he says. "Explosions in the air, explosions directly at the facilities. They see the real picture of war. They see burning oil depots, destroyed buildings and factories and so on. This is all beneficial."
And the Ukrainians vow to continue hunting Russian military vessels in this battle of David versus Goliath on the high seas.
Fred Pleitgen, CNN, in southern Ukraine.
CHURCH: Coming up, it is the first anniversary of the massive earthquake that killed tens of thousands of people in Turkey and Syria. And even a year later, many survivors are still struggling to pick up the pieces.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone.
Tuesday marks one year since a series of devastating earthquakes levelled entire cities and villages in both Turkey and Syria, killing more than 55,000 people. Hundreds marked the grim anniversary in Hatay, Turkey on Monday, a choir bringing people to tears. Many who lost their homes and loved ones in this tragedy are still struggling to pick up the pieces.
And CNN's Scott McLean joins me now from Antakya in Turkey.
So, Scott, one year after this massive earthquake killed tens of thousands of people, how are people coping and what is the scene there?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Rosemary. Yes, we're one year on in the city center of Antakya. This used to be the old, historic, famous bazaar here in this very ancient city, and it doesn't look much different than it did a year ago.
Earlier this morning at 4:17 a.m., exactly one year since the earthquake, the president said, thank God his country has passed this historic and painful test. And while the earthquake is obviously long over the recovery is not. Even many of the buildings that survived, like this one, they will need to be desperately repaired, or in many cases, they'll need to be torn down. And look over here. I mean, there is a whole city that looks like
this. You either have places where the rubble has been cleared away, leaving empty lots, or you have buildings that are standing that are just hanging on by a thread.
And because of local elections coming up next month, all of this is rather tinged with politics. You've had criticism of the local government for failing to enforce building codes because many of the buildings that fell here were actually fairly new.
You've also had criticism of the national government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan for its slow initial response, and also, for what he said this weekend where he implied that one of the reasons why this city has not had all the resources that it needs to rebuild because it voted for the opposition party.
And so one year on, the shaking may have only lasted a few seconds, but it is abundantly clear here that the impact will be felt for generations.
MCLEAN (voice-over): On February 6th last year, people around the world said prayers for Turkey. Five and a half days later, they witnessed this miracle. Cezayi Karabas (Ph) and his then six-year-old daughter, Shangul (Ph), somehow pulled out of the rubble without a scratch.
"My house was here," he shows us. "Even we didn't know how we survived. It was cold, we had no food or water, but God gave us strength." But Karabas is not as lucky as he seems. His wife and four- year-old son were killed. "On one hand," he says, "you feel happiness. On the other, you feel sadness. I didn't know if they made it out. But deep down, I knew they probably hadn't."
One year on, signs of destruction are impossible to miss. Some streets still look like the earthquake happened yesterday. And most others, the destruction has been replaced by blocks of lifeless empty lots. The rubble has mostly been cleared away, but mass reconstruction still seems a long way off.
Only a small fraction of the 650,000 homes the government promised to build have been finished. There are almost 700,000 people still living in hundreds of these sprawling container cities. They are basic. People have power and water, but not much else. It's all meant to be temporary, but you won't find many people here with any immediate plans to leave.
"We're waiting for the government to give us an apartment," Ismael (Ph) says. "Until then, we don't have another place to go." Beyond the destruction, the quake killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey alone. But some are still missing.
Cidem Nuer's (Ph) brother, sister-in-law and niece were never found. "It's been a year, and there's no trace of them," she says. "I'd even settle for one cell. Imagine what it's like to envy someone who's found their relatives dead. My niece was six years old. Do you know how difficult it is to go to an orphanage and look for her every day?"
In the seaside city of Iskenderun, Sema Gulec's (Ph) 25-year-old son Batuhan (Ph) was never found, after his building collapsed that morning.
You believe in your heart that your son is still alive? "I will be waiting for him all my life," she says, "hoping. Deep down, I want a miracle to happen. Sometimes at night, I dream he shows up at my door."
Khalid Qassar (Ph) is one of the more than three million Syrian refugees living in Turkey. His house collapsed in the earthquake. It's now this empty lot. He had to move to a new city to find this tiny apartment. But there, his kids can't attend school because of a law that requires refugees to remain in the province they are officially registered in. Countless other kids are in the same boat.
Are yo worried about your children's futures? "My God, I worry a lot," he says. The last school year was wasted, this year was wasted, and I don't know what will happen with them. I don't know."
MCLEAN: So, Rosemary, there is no official data being kept on the number of Syrian children displaced and right now out of school because of it, but we did speak to one nonprofit in Gaziantep that is helping to try to teach some of those kids Turkish. They have 120 kids that they are helping, but they have more than 500 on their waiting list.
They say that is just one center in one neighborhood, in one city. They figure that the scale of the problem across the country has to be in the tens of thousands. This is an issue that, left unsolved, you could have a generation of Syrians in this country with very little education. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Scott McClean joining us live from Antikya in Turkey. Many thanks for that report. I appreciate it.
And still to come, harsh winter weather in parts of China is preventing many people from getting home for the Lunar New Year holiday, one of the busiest travel events of the year. We'll have a report on that back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Football superstar Lionel Messi is in Tokyo now saying he regrets not being able to play in Hong Kong over the weekend. Messi mania swept over the city in the buildup to the game between his Inter-Miami team and a squad of Hong Kong standouts, but the mood turned angry when fans realized the World Cup champion was not going to play.
Many fans booed and demanded a refund, but Messi says he was injured. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIONEL MESSI, PROFESSIONAL SOCCER PLAYER (through translator): Unfortunately, that's just how it is in soccer. It can happen in any match that we have an injury. It happened to me. I couldn't take to the field in Hong Kong. And it's unfortunate because I always want to participate. I want to be there and more so when it comes to these matches where we travel so far and people are so excited to see our matches.
Hopefully, we can play another game in Hong Kong and I can attend the match as I always do when I can. But frankly, it's a shame I could not participate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Tech company Snap Inc. is set to lay off 10 percent of its workforce, accounting for about 500 jobs. Snapchat's parent company made the announcement Monday in a regulatory filing. It comes amid massive tech industry layoffs as big players seek to insulate themselves from economic concerns.
Snap said in part, quote, "in order to best position our business to execute on our highest priorities and to ensure we have the capacity to invest incrementally to support our growth over time, we have made the difficult decision to restructure our team.
Well, heavy snow, rain and ice are causing all sorts of headaches for China's Lunar New Year celebrations, with tens of millions expected to hit the roads or fly to visit loved ones for the country's biggest travel holiday.
CNN's Marc Stewart has more on how they're dealing with the delays.
MARC STEWART, BUSINESS JOURNALIST (voice-over): Parts of China at a standstill during one of the most treasured times of year. Cars are stuck, some highways look like parking lots. There is such desperation, people are doing whatever they can to chip away the ice- covered pavement.
It's all part of a winter blast hitting as hundreds of millions of travelers head home for the Lunar New Year holiday. Tang Zitao is in the middle of it.
TANG ZITAO, HUBEL PROVINCE RESIDENT (through translator): This journey has been too long, and it is indeed a torture.
STEWART: He told me his six-hour drive is now taking more than 24 hours. What are the road conditions like? Are you seeing snow? Are you seeing ice? How bad is it?
ZITAO (through translator): The snow has been falling since the day before yesterday. It has melted a little, but it then turned into ice. So, the road is very wet and slippery.
STEWART: He is one of many on a treacherous journey that has left some travelers stranded without food and water. Who needs warm water, this little girl asks as she goes car to car with her mother. Other villagers offer noodles and porridge from over the fence.
It's not any easier if you're taking the train. It's packed inside the station in central China as passengers deal with delays. Much of this mess a flashback to 2008 when blizzards left 24 people dead and hundreds of thousands of people stranded. Yet there's a spirit of determination to make it home.
ZITAO (through translator): No matter what, we always head home for the Spring Festival. It is a Chinese tradition.
STEWART: A tradition that could be hindered by unforgiving forces of nature.
Marc Stewart, CNN, Beijing.
CHURCH: And thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'm Rosemary Church. CNN Newsroom continues next with Bianca Nobilo.