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Two Hostages Rescued by Israeli Forces; Allies Raised Their Eyebrows to Trump's NATO Message; Kansas City Chiefs Breaks Another Record. More Civilians Died in IDF's Strike; Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Back in Hospital; Female Shooter Killed in Texas; Helicopter Crash Killed Six People; King Charles Out in Public. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 03:00   ET




MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from the United States and all around the world. You're watching CNN Newsroom, I'm Max Foster in London.

Just ahead, Israel says it has rescued two hostages from Rafah while the IDF conducts a series of strikes in the southern city. We're live in Tel Aviv with the details.

Reaction to former U.S. President Donald Trump's shocking comments about NATO member nations who don't pay, how his words are seen by world leaders.

And the Kansas City Chiefs now have back-to-back Super Bowl titles. And one world famous fan got to see her favorite player win.

UNKNOWN: From London, this is CNN Newsroom with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: The Israeli military says two hostages held in Gaza for 128 days are now free and back in Israel after a covert operation overnight. The two men, 60-year-old Fernando Salman Marman and 70- year-old Louis Har, are said to be in good condition and are now in a Tel Aviv medical facility. They were kidnapped by Hamas on October the 7th.

Israeli forces also say they conducted a series of strikes in Rafah. The Palestine Red Crescent Society says more than 100 people have been killed in those strikes, with video obtained by CNN showing some of the aftermath here.

U.S. President Joe Biden voiced concern over a potential Israeli ground offensive in Rafah during a phone call with Israel's prime minister and discussed efforts to free the remaining hostages.

Journalist Elliott Gotkine following these developments for us and CNN's Nic Robertson as well, standing by for us in Tel Aviv. Just take us through, Nic, how they managed to get these hostages out. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it was a

very, very fast operation, a complex one. One, the IDF said that they've been planning for some time, that they're waiting for the right window of opportunity to arise. That arose in the early hours of this morning, 1:49 is the precise time.

The IDF spokesman said that the special forces were able to covertly get into the building where the two hostages were being held. They described, the IDF describes an intense firefight where some of the special forces literally threw themselves on the two hostages to make sure that they were protected in this firefight.

But this was intensely fast because the IDF spokesman said that one minute later at 1:50, that's when the Israeli Air Force came into play and they started laying down covering strikes in that area to prevent Hamas getting to that building and to allow the hostages to be taken out of the building safely. They were taken out literally under fire taken to a safe place.

Now that time, 1.50 a.m., is when the Palestinian Red Crescent began indicating that they were receiving casualties from Israeli air force strikes in the area. They're now saying that as many as 100 people were killed, many injured, women and children among them. It is not clear if these two incidents are exactly the same, but they come from the same location in Rafah and they happened at the same time.

Now the IDF says when they got the two hostages out, one of them 60, one of them 70, they were given a quick medical check when they got them to a safe area and then taken on helicopters to a hospital just outside Tel Aviv.

And to give you an idea of how fast the whole thing is, not just this minute lightning covert operation radar with extraction under covering fire. The families were called literally within a couple of hours of the raid taking place at 3:30am. The families say they got a call.

The IDF made this news public at 4:30am in the morning here. Huge news for many Israelis who have been looking to the IDF to rescue hostages and some of the family members have now spoken. They've been into the hospital, they've seen their loved ones and they've now spoken describing them as essentially alert, in bed, pale, smiling, asking questions about the family.


They've lost weight according to the family members. But of course, you know, among the families of these two men, a huge sense of elation at the moment, Max.

FOSTER: OK, Nic in Tel Aviv, thank you. And Elliott, obviously wonderful news for those families and the hostages, of course, but it's pretty small, if symbolic, victory in the grand scheme of things.

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, JOURNALIST: Yes, I think it's basically depends on your perspective as to how you view this. Israel will be jubilant and will feel emboldened to try to carry out more operations like this. And we'll also hold this up as further justification of saying, look, this is where Hamas is. This is where the hostages are. We have to go in.

And Prime Minister Netanyahu over the weekend saying, if you're telling us not to go into Rafah on this planned ground operation, then you're effectively telling us lose the war, leave Hamas there.

So this will be seen in that context in Israel. And let's not forget that this is only the second successful rescue of hostages by Israel in four months. The only other was a female Israeli soldier. They haven't rescued any other hostages. So this will be seen as a great relief in Israel and also as a symbolic victory, as you said.

On the other hand, of course, the Palestine Red Crescent saying more than 100 people killed. We don't know how many of those are militants or Hamas connected, but as Nic says, women and children among those. And I suppose the concern will be just a foretaste of what is to come.

Now, this isn't the first time there have been strikes on Rafah. The war came to Rafah in the wake of the Hamas terrorist attack since October the 7th. There have been strikes on and off. But what there will be concerns is there are more than a million Palestinians there, many displaced multiple times from other parts in the Gaza Strip.

Israel says it's planning to evacuate all of them to other areas to give them safe passage and to enable a ground operation to take place. So where are they going to go? How on earth are you going to move that many people?

And there are grave concerns expressed over the weekend from the Emiratis, the Saudis, the European Union, talking about the potential for an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe. And the head of the U.N.'s humanitarian affairs division talking about there being nowhere to go for these Palestinians.

So still very large concerns about a ground operation, when it will happen, how it will take place. Israel says it won't, we understand from Israeli official saying they want it done and finished in time for March the 10th in less than a month's time in time for Ramadan, but a lot of unanswered questions still.

FOSTER: I mean, you talk about the number of Palestinians in that region, just explain the context here. I mean, they all moved from every other part of Gaza, didn't they, into this area. So that's what makes a ground operation in Rafah completely different. Everyone is there, not just part of the Palestinian population.

GOTKINE: It's about half the entire population of the Gaza Strip. The population was about 250,000 before the war. Now it's over well over a million. And so, in that sense, the population has ballooned. There are tent cities we've seen from satellite images that have erupted.

And a lot of people went there seeking refuge from the other places where they came from in the Gaza Strip, where Israel was carrying out operations.

FOSTER: The chance of civilian casualties is much higher now.

GOTKINE: Well, this is the big concern. But Israel says it will provide safe passage and in order to enable them to go in and destroy what it says are four Hamas battalions in the Gaza Strip in Rafah and saying that this is the last bastion of Hamas and that this is what they must do in order to say job done. But how do they do that and keep track of the Hamas terrorists they're trying to get?

GOTKINE: This is another question that needs answering because it's not just the hostages that Israel is after, it's not just to try to rescue, it's not just the Hamas militants that Israel wants to kill, especially the leaders such as Yahya Sinwar, whom they believe to be underground in as part of Hamas's tunnel network.

They also want to destroy the tunnels that go from Egypt, under the border, into Rafah, and from where it is believed a lot of this equipment, rockets, rocket launchers, guns, rocket-propelled grenades, and materials to build this sprawling tunnel network, where many of those things came from.

So Israel wants to destroy those so that it doesn't then just allow Hamas to replenish, regroup, rearm, and then carry out another attack on Israel, which it has said it would do.

FOSTER: Elliot, thank you so much.

Now, the Senate is a big step closer to passing a $95 billion foreign aid bill that provides crucial assistance to Israel but also to Ukraine. The chamber voted on Sunday to advance the bill. Eighteen Republicans backed the package despite opposition from former U.S. President Donald Trump. It comes after Republicans blocked a wider bill that included bipartisan border deals.

If the bill is eventually passed by the Senate, it's unclear. whether House Speaker Mike Johnson would hold a vote on it. The bill is also expected to include humanitarian assistance for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Ukraine.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial comments on NATO are facing intense criticism at the same time. Here's what the former U.S. President told his supporters at a campaign rally in South Carolina.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us? I said, you didn't pay? You're delinquent? He said, yes. Let's say that happened. No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want.



FOSTER: Trump's primary opponent, U.S. Republican candidate Nikki Haley, is calling his comments irresponsible, whilst U.S. President Joe Biden says Trump will, quote, "abandon our NATO allies."

CNN's Paula Hancocks joins us live from Abu Dhabi. This is obviously sending shudders through the corridors of power amongst allies, but also a lot of them suggesting that Donald Trump doesn't really accept how those alliances create security within America.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max, I mean we can tell what President Trump thinks of alliances and NATO because he has been very clear about it when he was president. So now he had threatened in the past to pull the United States away from NATO. He had been complaining that he believed that other member nations were not paying their fair share. They were not paying the recommended 2 percent of GDP towards NATO.

Now it is true that a majority of those countries do not go to that 2 percent guideline, but it's not a binding contract. Other countries pay even more than that. But this is not what Donald Trump was wanting. He wanted all these countries to be paying more, believing that the United States was having to share too much of the load at this point.

So we know his feelings about NATO. We know his feelings about certain alliances as well. He never really saw the need for these alliances around the world and many of those relationships have had to be rebuilt since U.S. President Joe Biden took power.

In fact, we have seen NATO being more powerful. There's more unity within NATO, certainly since Russia invaded Ukraine since the U.S. President Joe Biden was in power as well.

So, what we're seeing here really is a sense of what could happen if Donald Trump does win the U.S. presidency again. And as you say, there is concern around the world. We've heard from the NATO Secretary General, for example, Jens Stoltenberg, who said, quote, "any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S. and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk."

Now, this is really at the core of NATO. It is Article 5, which is a promise of collective defense that if one member nation is attacked, then all member nations are attacked. It is really the basis of NATO that all member nations would come to the defense of that one particular country.

And this is really what President Trump has undermined at this point and it does raise concerns that if he does win the U.S. presidency what would that mean for NATO itself? The European Council President Charles Michel, for example, saying that these comments were reckless, adding that they only serve Putin's interest. Max?

FOSTER: Paula, in Abu Dhabi, thank you so much for that. For more analysis let's go to Leslie Vinjamuri. She's director of the U.S. and America's program for Chatham House here in London. Thank you so much for joining us, Leslie.

We should point out that this doesn't just affect Europe, does it? Because there are key NATO partners in Asia as well that will be worrying about these words.

LESLIE VINJAMURI, HEAD, U.S. AND THE AMERICAS PROGRAMME, CHATHAM HOUSE: That's right. America has important alliance relationships with South Korea, with Japan, who are always looking back very concerned about what a Trump presidency would mean, whether the U.S. would continue to support those countries.

And remember, those are countries that are sitting in a very, potentially very insecure region with China, North Korea, and nuclear powers, South Korea and Japan, of course, are not and have relied on the United States for their security.

And so there is just a sort of, there is a veil of uncertainty that is hanging over America's allies, but also its close partners around the world who are waiting to see what happens in this election. And I think, you know, the surprising thing always to me is that many more Europeans believe that Donald Trump will be successful in that election in November than the Americans I talked to.

So, I think the level of fear and concern, and at some level, it doesn't really matter if Donald Trump actually were to remove America's formal commitments. It's the daily blast of saying that he might that creates an extraordinarily uncertain and unpredictable environment.


And here in Europe, as you know, we're seeing many people say that it's time for Europe to plan for an alternative scenario than America really coming to its defense.

FOSTER: He does have a point though, doesn't he? To some extent in terms of the money, European countries don't put in as much money and some of them just don't live up to the promises of what money they are going to put in. So, there is that, and that's quite an appealing part of this.

But when we consider Russia, China, if he goes through with this promise to effectively weaken the power of NATO without America behind it in the same way, it does open up an opportunity for Russia and China to fill that vacuum on the world stage and does change the world order.

VINJAMURI: Well, I think certainly Putin is enjoying the fear that Donald Trump is instilling in America's closest partners and perhaps waiting to see if he'll have a friend in the White House.

But I think, you know, just to be very clear, that call for NATO's members of NATO to step up their defense spending to 2 percent of the budget, that came in 2014 before Donald Trump. And we have seen consistent movement forward. In 2014, there were only three members hitting that target. Now there are over 10. There's a long ways to go. But again, if you look at who's spending on defense, the top defense

spender in NATO is Poland. It's not the United States. Europeans have stepped up a lot, especially since Russia invaded Ukraine.

So, I think the commitment is serious. The direction of travel is correct. I think Europeans know that they need to do more. But there is a question of how do you motivate and creating chaos and fear and signaling support in effect to Russia is not a sound way to do it. Not only not sound for Europeans, it's not good for the United States.

FOSTER: Can I also speak how this plays into the U.S. election campaign? Obviously, it does. And that's what Trump is all about right now. And he's helped, isn't he, perhaps, by this latest special counsel report looking into how President Biden handled classified documents.

And one of the headlines that came out of that was concerns about his age and his memory. That's a huge challenge, isn't it, for Biden in this campaign now, and he's got to address it somehow because Democrats are frankly concerned about it if you look at all the polling.

VINJAMURI: Absolutely. And you know, the most extraordinary thing is that report was actually good news for President Biden. They decided not to pursue charges, they put it to rest. But then, you know, as we know, a council decided to spend a significant amount of time talking about the president's age, and over the weekend, we saw the media on all sides just pick up on that claim and run with it.

And the extraordinary thing, as I look at this, is nobody's saying, you know, is this a president who has the capability to build coalitions to get major policies through spending on infrastructure to increase jobs, to drive forward American growth, to create a strong economy.

They're saying, does he remember the names of foreign leaders on television? And we know this is a problem for President Biden. It's been a problem for President Biden when he was a young president. We also know that it's a problem for President Trump.

So, I think there is a sort of a question of how do you communicate, how will this president and his team come up with a strategy to communicate this effectively, to own the age, to talk about wisdom and judgment and the policies. But right now, they are fighting an uphill battle because quite frankly, even the media that generally is more fair when it comes to the president are not helping him out.

FOSTER: OK, Leslie, thank you so much for your insights, so much more we could talk about with U.S. politics right now, but we'll have lots of time for it, of course.

Now, the other big story in the US, the Kansas City Chiefs are back- to-back Super Bowl champions. A live report from the stadium in Las Vegas next on CNN News.


FOSTER: Well, the Super Bowl doesn't always live up to the hype, but this one certainly did. The Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers with a touchdown in overtime. That makes the Chiefs the first team in 20 years to win back-to-back Super Bowls.

In Kansas City, thousands of fans gathered outdoors in the very cold temperatures to cheer their crowd and their team, and the Chiefs' most famous fan, Taylor Swift, was at the game, of course, to congratulate her boyfriend, Travis Kelce with a kiss surrounded by onlookers.

CNN's Andy Scholes, live in Las Vegas. Andy, I couldn't watch it, but reading all the commentary this morning, it sounds like such an exciting and close game.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Max, I mean, the first Super Bowl here in Las Vegas certainly lived up to the hype, but it did look like that way early on. I mean, this game was a defensive struggle in the first half. It was punt after punt, after field goal, fumble here, but in the end, it was Patrick Mahomes with the ball to go win the Super Bowl, and we're just watching a legend right now.

He did everything he needed to do to get the Chiefs on top once again. We'll show you how it all went down. As you mentioned, Taylor Swift was here to support her boyfriend, Travis Kelce in Super Bowl 58 when she showed they showed her on the jumbotron. She even chugged her drink for all of her fans.

Now there was not a lot of offense. Like I mentioned in the first half, we pick it up the Chiefs down 10 to 6 and punting. And this is the play that really changed the game. The ball hits a Niners player's foot. They can't field it. The Chiefs recovered just totally swinging the momentum.

The next play Mahomes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling Chiefs take their first lead 13 to 6. Niners though they would come right back, Brock Purdy to Jauan Jennings. The Niners go back on top of Jake Moody's extra point gets blocked. And that would be huge because the Chiefs would drive down and kick a field goal in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter to send this game to overtime.


It's just the second overtime game in Super Bowl history. Niners would get a field goal in their first possession and then Mahomes with the ball needed to go 75 yards to win it all. And he did just that. Finding Mecole Hardman for a three-yard touchdown to win the Super Bowl.

Chiefs beat the Niners 25 to 22, their third Super Bowl title in five years. And Taylor Swift joining in on the celebrations on the field, giving Travis Kelce a nice smooch and hugs there right next to the podium. Mahomes was named the MVP for the third time.

You know, lots of people counted this Chief's team out, but Mahomes says they are one resilient bunch.


PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: Battled through the adversity that we battled through this year and guys staying with the process, keeping believing. You just, you never know how it's going to happen. It was a true road in the playoffs and we were able to come through and be Super Bowl champs.

TRAVIS KELCE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TIGHT END: Knowing that we were going to get everybody's best shot to have the doubters, to have the road that we went through. Man, it meant everything to even get to this point. But to find a way through adversity yet again for four quarters, five quarters. Man, I couldn't be more proud of the guys.


SCHOLES: Yes, Mahomes is now just the fifth quarterback ever to have three Super Bowl titles. The Chiefs, the first to go back-to-back since the Patriots back in 2005. And Max, coach Andy Reid, both previous times they won the Super Bowl, said he was going to celebrate by eating a cheeseburger. And he said the exact same thing after winning it here tonight in Las Vegas.

And hey, there's an In-N-Out burger actually right across the street from the stadium. Who knows? Maybe Andy Reid is over there right now enjoying himself a burger.

FOSTER: Andy, I'm just wondering how you and the rest of the sports fraternity feel about talking about a player's girlfriend all the time because it does get a bit ridiculous, doesn't it, when you win the Super Bowl and even then, you're described as Taylor Swift's boyfriend.

SCHOLES: Well, you know, let's see. Right now, Taylor Swift is probably one of the most five famous people in the entire planet, Max. So when she injected herself into this NFL world, it really was this phenomenon. We've never seen something like this before, right? So, it's been a lot of fun.

You know, the past three months her attending these games and getting all the cut away seeing her reactions to this. I will tell you this, Max. Here in Vegas at the Super Bowl, it was probably 70 percent 49ers fans. I mean, they're they have an easier trip and you know, the Niners haven't won a Super Bowl since 1995. So their fans were really hoping they went.

So it was majority Niners fans. When they would show Taylor Swift on the jumbotron, they booed her. The stadium booed her, which I'm sure is the only stadium in the entire country right now booing Taylor Swift.

But in the end, Chiefs fans so happy and then it was a -- they -- we had talked all season that jokingly that the NFL was scripted, right, Max? Because of these endings, they kept happening. And I mean, what an ending here. Taylor Swift celebrating big kiss with Travis Kelce on the field, winning Super Bowl 58, couldn't have scripted it any better.

FOSTER: Well, she's bringing more fans. Can't -- we can probably say, can't we? Andy Scholes, thank you so much for bringing us that from that historic night in Vegas.

Now concern mounting over a possible Israeli ground operation in the southern Gaza City of Rafah. A closer look next to the situation there.




MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Max Foster in London. This is CNN Newsroom.

Back to our top story. Two hostages held by Hamas in Gaza since the October 7th attack are now back in Israel after being rescued in a special operation overnight. That word comes from the Israeli military, which said the two men are now at a medical facility in Tel Aviv, are in good condition as well.

The operation took place in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where the IDF also says they conducted a series of strikes. The Palestine Red Crescent Society says more than 100 people were killed in those strikes.

Joining us now from Tel Aviv is Noa Landau, Deputy Editor-in-Chief at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Thank you so much for joining us today.

I'm just wondering what the Israeli public will be making of this, because it's pretty clear that the government sees it as a great triumph, of course, getting those much-missed hostages back home moment for the families as well. Does that give the government more momentum to push into Rafah, do you think?

NOA LANDAU, DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HAARETZ: Well, Max, this rescue operation is definitely a positive, heartwarming moment, not only for Louis and Fernando's loved ones, but for every Israeli who's been anxiously waiting for hostages' safe return home.

But at the same time, it is important to remember this was a tactical victory and a much larger tragic catastrophe. There are still 134 Israeli hostages in Gaza as we speak. So, in order to bring them all home, a difficult deal with Hamas is still very much needed because this means Israel has to pay a price for their release, including the release of more Hamas prisoners and the ceasefire. This has become a highly contentious political issue here in Israel.

FOSTER: A lot of work has been going on to some sort of deal, right? And we saw Antony Blinken putting all that work in, European leaders putting a lot of work in, all the Israeli allies. It hasn't happened because Netanyahu rejected the terms that Hamas had presented to him. We don't know the exact terms, so we can't read much into that. But what is next?

LANDAU: So, some on the Israeli far right, which are some of Netanyahu's voters, are just not willing to pay the price. It is very likely that they will now use this operation to claim that military means are better than a diplomatic deal.

But with all the joy on the safe return of Louis and Fernando, a larger deal will still save more lives, plain and simple. So that is still what most of the hostages' families also expect from their government.

FOSTER: A huge amount of concern expressed in parts of Israel, as indeed the rest of the world, about the number of civilian casualties coming out of all of this. Going into Rafah is obviously going to create a much higher chance of civilian casualties because so many of them have fled there. What will be the reaction within Israel to that risk?


LANDAU: So there are definitely parts in Israeli societies that are aware of that risk, and in the government, I'm sure, as well. We do not know yet what are the plans, but as I said, a deal will save a lot of lives on both sides, so it should still be the preferred option. The problem is, as I said, it's a very controversial issue within the public itself.

FOSTER: In terms of Palestinians that are in this area of Rafah, they don't really have anywhere to go, isn't it? That's the truth, isn't it? But the Israeli government could mitigate that by saying, we are going to find a way of getting civilians out. Then the challenge becomes, how do you filter the civilians from the militants that they're trying to target? And many Israelis, obviously, are supportive of that.

LANDAU: So that's what the world is currently demanding of Israel. If there is an operation in Rafah, civilians should be evacuated. But as you said, it's not that simple. This is a very complicated issue. Egypt has to be in the picture and Egypt doesn't necessarily support that. So, I think this is going to be very messy, of course, as war is.

But if there is still a way to prevent that, and also release the prisoners, I mean, I personally think and also most of the families of the hostages think that this will be a better option.

FOSTER: There's only been two, I think, successful extractions of hostages, as I understand it. It's quite a difficult argument, isn't it, for Netanyahu to make that the military extraction of hostages is more effective than any deal as you've been talking about there?

LANDAU: Well, the problem is that you know, the people who opposed the deal will use it to show that there is another way. Of course, you know a deal will save again more lives on both sides but they will still try to claim that the military is able to release some of the prisoners without a deal.

FOSTER: You'll be aware that within America, a lot of critics of the administration and the way they've handled all of this are saying, doesn't feel as if there's any sort of currency that the U.S. has with any sort of deal negotiations because they haven't had any success so far.

And obviously in Washington, there's a huge amount of support for Israel, unconditional support, report, support, arguably. Do you think how much, you know, weight really is the Netanyahu government putting into the opinions of the Americans, frankly, right now, and Antony Blinken in particular?

LANDAU: Well, it's not a secret that this is also a controversial issue in the United States and not only within Israel. But I'm not sure the American support is totally unconditional at this point. I mean, we do see more and more demands.

And I would also say that, you know, the United States did manage to break a deal in the first round, you know, when some of the other prisoners were released. Of course, it was also Qatar and Egypt and all the different players involved, but United States had a massive part in it. So, I'm not sure that they can't manage this time.

I mean, this is last moment pressures within negotiation framework so we have to remember this also that this is now an ongoing negotiation at the very last moment and there's always also, you know, both sides also try to kind of threat with different scenarios and means.

For example, Hamas also threatened yesterday that, you know, if Israel doesn't meet all of their terms which some of them are draconian, then there will be no deal at all. We'll see in the coming days.

FOSTER: OK, Noa Landau, thank you very much for your insight today from Israel.

LANDAU: Thank you, Max.

FOSTER: U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is back in hospital. The Pentagon says Austin has symptoms, quote, "suggesting an emergent bladder issue," and has transferred his duties to his deputy Kathleen Hicks.

Biden administration officials were notified quickly, unlike Austin's previous stay of the hospital for prostate cancer treatment.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez has the latest from the White House.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN REPORTER: The Pentagon announced on Sunday that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was transported to the hospital for what they described as symptoms suggesting an emergent bladder issue. This comes after the defense secretary was hospitalized in early January for complications following prostate cancer surgery.

Now he was discharged in mid-January, but the episode caused a firestorm on Capitol Hill and at the White House because the president and lawmakers did not know in early January that he was hospitalized or for the reason.


Now, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has since come out and apologized for that, saying that he would better communicate in the future. And that is what the Pentagon is doing today, also taking note in this statement that White House and congressional notifications have occurred.

Now, again, he was admitted to the hospital for this emergent bladder issue, the Pentagon maintaining that they will provide updates as they have them.

Priscilla Alvarez, CNN, the White House.

FOSTER: Police in Texas are trying to figure out why a woman armed with a long rifle entered the church of fame televangelist Joel Osteen and began firing.

More now on the shooting from CNN's Jean Casarez.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This happened between services at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. The afternoon service had finished, people were leaving. But the Spanish service was about to begin.

According to the Chief of Police Troy Finner, it was about 2 p.m. when a female shooter entered.


TROY FINNER, CHIEF, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: She entered the building. She was armed with a long rifle and a trench coat with a backpack, accompanied by a small child, approximately four to five years old. Once she entered at some point she began to fire.

I want to compliment the off-duty officers who will work in extra employment here. One T ABC agent four years of service, 38 years old, and HPD off duty officer, 28 years old, two years of service. Both officers, officer and agent engaged striking the female. She's deceased here on the scene.

Once she went down officers reported back to us that she threatened that she had a bomb. So, we searched her vehicle, our bomb squad and also the backpack. No explosives were found, but she was also spraying some type of substance on the ground.


CASAREZ: Houston's Fire Chief Samuel Pena says that the bomb squad was on scene Hazmat. They went through the entire building to make sure that nothing else was found. They did not find any explosives at all. They believe this is an isolated incident, but it is a criminal investigation that is just beginning.

Jean Casarez, CNN, New York. FOSTER: And tragedy striking the world of distance running the fastest

marathoner in the world and his coach are killed in a crash in Kenya. More on that story after the break.



FOSTER: The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board confirms there was precipitation at the time of Saturday's deadly helicopter crash in California. The crash killed all six on board, including two leading figures in Nigeria's financial sector.

Our Stephanie Elam brings us the latest from Lagos.

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN DIGITAL SUPERVISING EDITOR, AFRICA: The CEO of a major Nigerian bank was among six people killed after a helicopter crash Friday near the California-Nevada border. Herbert Wigwie, CEO, access holdings, his wife, their eldest sons, were on board the flight, Access said in a statement. While the former chairman of the Nigerian exchange, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, was also on board, according to the Edo State governor.

The group were in an airbus helicopter which crashed just after 10 p.m. Pacific Central Time and burst into flames near an interstate in Halloran Springs, California, U.S. authorities said. The devastating incident has plunged the nation into mourning with Nigeria's President Bola Ahmed Tinubu speaking of his shock and grief in a statement.

Tinubu referred to Wigwe and Ogunbanjo as, quote, "exceptional Nigerian business leaders" and extended his condolences to their families. Wigwe was described as a, quote, "colossus figure in Nigeria's financial sector." He was a renowned philanthropist who funded the education of hundreds of children, according to Access Bank.

At the time of his death, Wigwe was building a university to offer world-class education to Africans, the group said. Wigwe's impact also extended to the arts. He was a renowned arts collector, and also a longtime sponsor of shows on CNN.

Investigators say they will return to the crash scene Sunday to continue documenting the site ahead of a preliminary investigation report to be released in the coming weeks.

Stephanie Busari, CNN, Lagos.

FOSTER: Current marathon world record holder Kelvin Kiptum and his coach are dead following a car crash in Kenya. Authorities say Kiptum was driving Sunday when he lost control of the vehicle before hitting a tree. Both men died at the scene.

Kiptum set the marathon world record last October in Chicago with a time of two hours and 35 seconds, a record ratified only days ago. He was just 24 years old. In the Caribbean, authorities in Trinidad and Tobago say they are

working to clean up an oil spill that's still not under control. They say it happened last Wednesday when a ship overturned, but they don't know what kind of boat it is, because only the bottom of the hull is visible.

Officials say the coastline in the area is now blackened as a result. They say several government agencies are assisting as well as a thousand volunteers.

Coming up, the hottest new reality show isn't a reality show at all. Why millions of people are breathlessly following the nine-month long world cruise once on TikTok? That's just ahead.



FOSTER: In England, King Charles went on his first public outing nearly a week after Buckingham Palace announced he had been diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer. The 75-year-old monarch attended church Sunday with his wife, Queen Camilla. That's his estate in Sandringham.

The palace shared last Monday that King Charles would step back from his public duties whilst he's undergoing treatment. He's expressed his gratitude for the public support, saying it's brought him, quote, "great comfort and encouragement." He's also heartened at how revealing that illness has raised awareness of cancer.

Now hundreds of people are sailing right now on Royal Caribbean's cruise ship, the Serenade of the Seas. It's not your average vacation, it's a world cruise. The ship is traveling to seven continents over nine months and the passengers are making themselves at home on this trip of a lifetime. Many of them are filming their journeys and TikTok is obsessed.

Lynda Kinkade shows us why.


MIKE JACOBS, CRUISE SHIP GUEST: I don't think we're --

NANCY JACOBS, CRUISE SHIP GUEST: I don't think we're micro famous.

M. JACOBS: We're not famous.

LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than 60 countries and many wonders of the world. That's on the itinerary for this somewhat famous couple. MD nesters Nancy and Mike Jacobs are aboard the Royal Caribbean's Serenade of the Seas ultimate world cruise, which sets sail in December.

N. JACOBS: I'll give me the grand tour.

KINKADE: Hundreds of thousands of people are tuning in to their day in their life videos on social media. With their three children now grown up and out of home, the couple saved up to splurge about $150,000 on their so-called gap year, documenting the good, the bad, and the comical. These digital nomads have gone viral.


M. JACOBS: We never expected so much interest in the world cruise. We've been planning this for two years. And, you know, for us, it's the trip of a lifetime, but we did not know so many other people would be so interested.

KINKADE: This isn't the first round the world cruise, so why is it gaining so much attention? It's the internet, according to one expert.

LAURA JACKSON, DEPUTY HEAD OF TRAVEL, THE TIMES & SUNDAY TIMES: Historically, we would not have been able to video ourselves in the Drake Passage and get that online speedily. And now obviously you can.

UNKNOWN: Hi guys.

KINKADE: Social media influencers are already accustomed to uploading videos multiple times a week or a day, content creators now using their talents as they cruise the seas.

JACKSON: We just want to see people in the buffet. We want to see people doing their laundry. We want to see people just sitting on deck having a nice time. It is the kind of brilliant drama that's basically no drama, drama. And I think that's to be honest why we're all loving it.

UNKNOWN: This just happened.

KINKADE: And it's safe to say accounts like Kara Harms (Ph) will keep people on their toes.

UNKNOWN: Breaking World Cruise Bingo News.

We're crossing off the minor mysteries.

KINKADE: But as some passengers are receiving unexpected fame, others are simply enjoying the experience with family.

BRANDEE LAKE, CRUISE SHIP GUEST: I think it's just really interesting that the world is so obsessed on TikTok with the cruise. The best part of the cruise is going to sleep and waking up in a new country. It just going to sleep and waking up and having a new experience. The worst part is trying to pace myself and not eat too much food.

UNKNOWN: There's quite a few crowds.

KINKADE: With seven months to go, viewers are sure to stay tuned to this reality show at sea.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.

(END VIDEO CLIP) FOSTER: They're having a good time.

Thanks for joining me. I'm Max Foster in London. I'll be back with more CNN Newsroom alongside Bianca of course, after this short break.