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Isa Soares Tonight

Ukraine Makes Gains Around Bakhmut; No Sign Of A Ceasefire Between Israel And Gaza Militants; U.S. Border Towns On Edge As Title 42 Expires; Main Opposition Candidate Accuses Russia Of Interference; Quake Survivors Have Mixed Feelings On Presidential Race; Ukraine: Zelensky Didn't Ask To Speak At Eurovision. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired May 12, 2023 - 14:00   ET



CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Hello, and a very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Christina Macfarlane in for Isa Soares.

Tonight, Russia acknowledges its troops have pulled back around the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. We'll have the latest on the fierce fighting

raging there.

Then more rocket fire and more deaths as the conflict between Israel and militants in Gaza grinds on. Plus, American border towns on the edge as the

Title 42 immigration policy ends. We'll be live on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Now, as Russia loses ground in Bakhmut, the public rift between Defense Department officials and the private military company Wagner is growing

deeper. Russian officials acknowledging now that their fighters have pulled back from some areas around the embattled city, ceding territories to

Ukrainian forces.

Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is lashing out on social media, saying, they've not pulled back, they fled, losing 5 square kilometers today alone.

A Ukrainian commander tells CNN, in fact, Wagner forces are the first ones abandoning their positions. This video shows Ukrainian forces at work, part

of their first successful offensive in the Bakhmut region in months.

Our Nick Paton Walsh joins me now from Zaporizhzhia. And Nick, these conflicting accounts of what is going on in Bakhmut, once again indicating

divisions within Russian ranks. What more are you hearing about the reported retreat?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, there is some degree of clarity, and that we now both have the Russian defense

ministry and Yevgeny Prigozhin; head of the Wagner Group, and indeed Ukraine's Armed Forces all beginning to talk of a similar idea, that in the

northwest, 5 square kilometers or so, appear to have been ceded by Russian conventional troops.

Now, according to Wagner, the mercenary group fighting and containing themselves mostly in the city itself, and Prigozhin, the head to have said

that it is the flanks of the city which conventional Russian troops have moved into and have begun fleeing. Now, this is the second episode we've

seen in about 48 hours in which, there appears to have been some form of retreat, according to Prigozhin, also echoed by Ukrainian officials too.

So, certainly, a change I think in the narrative here, definitely no enormous change in territorial control, remember, these are flat-open

spaces, and not a suggestion that the city itself is beginning to change hands. But it's important, because it's an extraordinary display of Russian

disunity. Make no mistake about that.

We don't in Putin's Russia normally hear people like Prigozhin, repeatedly for a week tear apart, and use expletive-laden runs against the Russian top

brass. And now that open dispute appears to be having consequences on the ground territorially. We don't know how the extent that, that will be, we

don't know if it is all of it or if we're going to see more potentially in the days ahead.

But it's an appalling signal for Russia to be sending in terms of morale, in terms of strategic unity, the head of Ukraine's counteroffensive,

particularly around Bakhmut, a city so symbolic for them that they've literally put all their resources into for the entire Winter, Christina.

MACFARLANE: Yes, especially at this time, as you say. And Nick we've also been hearing some reports of strong explosions within Luhansk in the past

few hours -- with Russians actually claiming the use of long-range British Storm Shadow missiles, which we know were provided to Ukraine by the United

Kingdom. Do we know if this is the case, if these missiles have been used?

WALSH: No, and we have no evidence to that effect. I mean, the timing you might argue possibly that the British made an announcement of delivering

these missiles, possibly cognizant of the fact that they might get used on the battlefield. But that in itself is no evidence as to what caused these

explosion. Certainly, I don't think it seems to be an accident, significant, certainly very far inside occupied territory in Luhansk, a hub

for Russia's occupation, make no mistake about that.

And this gets into a pattern of what we've been seeing over the past weeks of targeted strikes against particular bits of Russian-occupying

infrastructure. Be it field depots, railway lines, we've heard about a deterioration of cellphone access to command hubs being hit. This appears

to fit into that. And it also fits into what we've been hearing from a senior U.S. military official.


That they believe the shaping operation phase of this counteroffensive is beginning. And that is when Ukraine would seek to cut communications, to

grade Russia's ability to function as a military force in these occupied areas ahead of a larger push by Ukrainian conventional forces. From us on

the ground, that appears to be happening for a number of weeks now, but U.S. officials putting voice out officially, in the last 48 hours or so.

But certainly, the tempo around this counteroffensive building significantly, Christina.

MACFARLANE: Nick Paton Walsh there live in Zaporizhzhia, thanks very much, Nick. Well, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy may be meeting with the

pope on Saturday in Rome according to Italian's media outlets. Mr. Zelenskyy is already set to meet Italy's president and prime minister

during his visit. Last month, Pope Francis said the Vatican is on a mission to end the war in Ukraine.

Kyiv have also asked the Holy See to help return Ukrainian children who were forcibly deported to Russia. Well, there is no end in sight to the

conflict raging this week between Israel and militants in Gaza. And a source tells CNN, ceasefire talks are quote on ice. Israel launched fresh

airstrikes in crowded residential areas of Gaza today targeting Islamic Jihad.

At least, two Palestinians were killed, Gaza militants intern expanded the range of their rocket fire for the first time in this conflict, aiming --

conflict aiming towards Jerusalem. CNN's Ben Wedeman is covering the violence from southern Israel, and such as this.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Revenge of the freed, that's what the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad is

calling this. A barrage of rockets fired from Gaza, and for the first time in this most recent flare up towards Jerusalem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, shrapnel coming down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just see pieces falling right over there.

WEDEMAN: Our team in Sderot, southern Israel witnessed Israeli air defenses intercepting around 20 incoming rockets on Friday before taking shelter

from the debris. Israeli strikes meanwhile, hitting across Gaza. Cellphone footage obtained by CNN shows a house exploding in the city of Khan Yunis.

Another video shows fire raging in Gaza city on day four of what is the worst escalation of violence between the Israeli army and Palestinian

militants in months.

It also claimed militants had launched nearly 1,000 rockets since the latest violence began. An Israeli settlement, in the occupied West Bank on

Friday, people ran for cover as sirens rang out. A day after one person was killed in the Israeli city of Rehovot when a rocket fired from Gaza hit

this building. Forensic experts today examining the scene.

Meanwhile, at least 33 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza in less than a week. And there are more than 2 million civilians caught inside Gaza whose

lives are now on hold in the mortal danger desperate for a ceasefire. But a diplomatic source tells CNN, the ceasefire talks are now in his words, on

ice. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Sderot, Israel.


MACFARLANE: Our thanks to Ben Wedeman for that. Now, law enforcement and migrants along the U.S. southern border are now dealing with a major change

in American immigration policy. A pandemic-era expulsion rule called Title 42, has now expired. But officials say getting into the U.S. will not be


American Homeland Security says the U.S. is going back to its previous rule, called Title 8, and it is rule people entering the U.S. illegally may

face harsher penalties than previous years. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was -- had this warning for anyone who may think the

border is open now.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY, UNITED STATES: Do not believe the lies of smugglers. People who do not use available, legal

pathways to enter the U.S. now face tougher consequences, including a minimum 5-year ban on re-entry and potential criminal prosecution.


MACFARLANE: Well, I want to bring in Rosa Flores, standing by along the U.S.-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas. Rosa, it appears the influx of

migrants hasn't been as dramatic as anticipated. However, tell us what you're seeing in El Paso, and what impact Title 8 is now having.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, let me start big picture, because according to a DHS official, you're exactly right. You're not seeing the

expected increase, the dramatic increase as soon as Title 42 lifted.


And the city of El Paso just wrapped up a press conference, and they say that they're prepared for the worst, but right now, they're only housing

about 150 migrants. So they are ready and prepared to house more than 1,000. Probably, the best way that I can show you what's actually going on,

on the ground, is by describing the following.

What you see behind me is a border wall. Behind the border wall is the area where migrants congregate and wait to be transported and processed. And

just a few days ago, there was about 2,500 migrants waiting. Now, I want you to take a look at this live picture, this is a drone, that will show

you that area, and just take a look.

All of those migrants are gone. And what has happened is, CBP, the Customs and Border Protection here in the United States has transported those

migrants out for processing. Now, one of the things that the Biden administration had been prepared for, as it prepared for the ending of

Title 42, there's something called decompression.

What that means is that migrants are moved from areas that are over capacity, like El Paso to other areas along the border to facilities there

to be processed. And that is one of the things that they were prepared to do, that is one of the things that is most likely happening, and that's why

we're seeing that right now. Now, Christina, I want to be clear, we still don't know if there will be more of an influx later, but this is what the

scene looks like right now. And of course, we will be here on the border monitoring the situation. Christina?

MACFARLANE: Yes, and Rosa, the Biden administration have said that they were prepared for this, but they have seen some legal setbacks overnight.

Just walk us through that.

FLORES: You're absolutely right. So the Biden administration has been preparing for this for more than a year now, and they've been implementing

various policies. And there's a lot of munition, those policies, there's a nap, there's parole programs, it depends on nationalities, but it boils

down to this. In essence, the Biden administration has been implementing policies that increase the number of ways that migrants can enter this

country legally.

And they've built into those policies legal consequences to deter illegal immigration. One of the most controversial of those policies is an asylum

ban, that bans asylum seekers from seek -- from obtaining asylum in the United States if they've crossed multiple countries, and they don't seek

asylum or protection in those countries.

Well, overnight, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration, arguing that it's -- it creates a dangerous situation for migrants, it's

very dangerous for asylum seekers. That's the first setback. The other setback is out of the state of Florida, where a federal judge blocked the

Biden administration's ability to release migrants into the community without court dates.

Now, Christina, that is something that multiple administrations have used during migrant surges. And what it does is that, it allows them to

decompress detention centers, to make it safer for both the migrants and for the agents that are working with these migrants in overcrowded

detention centers. And that's exactly the statement that was released overnight by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

And why DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told CNN this morning on our air that it's a harmful policy -- I mean, excuse me, it's a harmful ruling by

this judge out of Florida because of the impact that it has on both the migrants and the safety of federal agents. Christina.

MACFARLANE: Rosa Flores, so good to have you there on the ground in El Paso, giving us the situation as you see it. Thank you very much. Now many

migrants fleeing Central and South America end up on a freight train. The journey to the U.S. border is fraught with danger, despair, and somehow

lots of faith. CNN's David Culver has the story near the U.S.-Mexico border.


DAVID CULVER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We're just outside Ciudad Juarez, and this is the last train stop for this freight

train that's eventually going to head into the city, and you can see already dozens of migrants in several of these cars. On top of them, all

about -- asking us if we have water, we have food.

(voice-over): We climb on, the train slowly starts up again heading north, we meet migrants from all over.


CULVER (on camera): He says he's from Honduras originally and wants to go to the U.S.

(voice-over): Felipe(ph) and Masena(ph) from Colombia also hoping to enter the U.S.


CULVER (on camera): I asked her why the U.S.? She said to have a better future.

(voice-over): Omar(ph) from Venezuela.


CULVER (on camera): He's trying to get to Baltimore, Maryland.


(voice-over): We rode for an hour. They've been on here for days, 12 days for Roberto(ph) and his family.


CULVER (on camera): He's with his dad and his sister.




CULVER: He says they've been attacked, they've been robbed. Describes a really treacherous track.

(voice-over): Part of the train journey north for some isn't what's called Labestia(ph), the beast, it's also known as the train of death and often

controlled by cartels. Roberto(ph) also wears a face mask to not infect the others. He tells me, he got sick early on in his travels.

(on camera): He says a lot of them have been sick, and over the journey, he did leave his two kids, young ones.

(voice-over): He tells me his two toddlers, nearly died. So, he sent them back with family in Honduras as he continues on. They stand, sit and sleep

on metal construction beams covered in plastic. Dirty clothes and cardboard used to make it as comfortable as possible. The heat and sun, brutal. At

night, it's the cold and wind. The smells are range(ph), sewage at times and burning trash as we drove past what appears to be an incinerator. Their

soles worn down.


CULVER (on camera): He says it's very dangerous for women too. And they said food is just really scarce right now. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)


CULVER (voice-over): Omar spent four days on board already, food has run out. He showed us the little water he has left and the documents he clings

to, keeping secured in plastic.


CULVER (on camera): Well, he's really through all the different situations that would allow you to enter the U.S. So he's got to print it out in

Spanish, and he's got the address (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) or to his friend in Baltimore, that he hopes to get to. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN


Four days on the train for him. He said the first day, he almost got really sick, because the sun was just so strong. And now he's making sure to keep

cover as much as possible. He wants to go to New York.

(voice-over): For Omar(ph), it's a familiar journey. He left Venezuela six months ago, already expelled once from the U.S. for trying to cross. He'll



CULVER (on camera): Legally or illegally, he will cross, he tells me. I asked him if he's hopeful.


CULVER: I've got a lot of faith, he tells me.

(voice-over): Ultimately, he hopes to get money to send back to his two kids in Venezuela. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)


CULVER: As we pulled into Ciudad Juarez, about 25 miles still from the border wall with El Paso, we and the others climb out.

(on camera): And that's it, you can see first, everyone now getting off, it's basically the last stop.

(voice-over): Omar(ph), among the last off, carrying his only belongings and somehow, a smile.


CULVER: Planning to cross immediately. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)


CULVER (on camera): Yes, well --



And most of those migrants we met had the same destination. This place right behind me, the border wall, that's technically U.S. territory, from

Mexico looking on towards Texas. And you can see it's been barricaded off by Texas National Guard and Texas state troopers. We've also noticed that

the migrants have been split into various groups including single men, families, and unaccompanied minors to begin processing their claims for

asylum. David Culver, CNN, Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.


MACFARLANE: All right, still to come tonight, Pakistan's former prime minister left the court a short while ago after being released on bail. But

he says his legal troubles are far from over. And a former Marine has turned himself in to face manslaughter charges in a case that has outraged

many Americans.



MACFARLANE: Welcome back. Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan is now free from custody. A high court granted him 2 weeks bail on all

charges. But he tells CNN, he thinks he will be arrested again. You can see Khan wearing sunglasses here, leaving Islamabad's high court. His arrest

had led to deadly protests across the country. CNN's Will Ripley explains.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan has at least some time at home now to meet with

his supporters, his advisors and his wife, who he says, now also is facing criminal charges along with a long list of senior officials n Mr. Khan's

party, the PTI who had been rounded up and arrested in recent days including PTI's spokeswoman Shereen Mazari(ph) who appeared right here on

CNN on Tuesday.

She's now locked up along with a lot of others who have been publicly calling these corruption charges against Khan, bogus. Saying that this is

all been fabricated by a government that is working essentially for the military. That's what Khan says, he blames the army chief General Saed Asin

Munir(ph) for his arrest, and he said that on Friday.

So in addition to these strings of senior PTI arrests, Khan believes that more charges against him will come up suddenly, and that he will be taken

back into custody. He says he knows it's going to happen, it's only a matter of time, so we'll see as far as that goes. Now, that could also have

an impact of course, on these protests across the nation which have turned violent and have turned deadly.

And fears are really growing here, because the PTI has been calling for peaceful nationwide protests. Yet, a lot of the supporters of this party,

supporters of Imran Khan, they're young, they are passionate. According to it, those on the ground who have lived in this story and covered Mr. Khan

over the decades, keep in mind, he is an icon in Pakistan, who has been in the public eye since the 1970s.

First as a cricket player, then as a politician. But his platform, ironically, is anti-corruption and rule of law. And now he's the one facing

corruption charges. But if his young passion supporters start to clash with the soldiers that have been called in to keep the peace, and keep in mind,

some of these soldiers have been fighting the war on terror that began after 9/11.

So more than 20 years of battlefield experience, very little if any training I'm told by our journalist on the ground there, very little

training in handling civilian protesters. Well there is a lot of fear that things could get very ugly and very deadly on the streets of Pakistan this

weekend. Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


MACFARLANE: Now, the two warring parties in Sudan haven't agreed to stop fighting, but they're now agreeing to protect civilians. Officials say a

new declaration of commitment which was signed in Saudi Arabia on Thursday, lays the groundwork for humanitarian assistance in Sudan.


Let's hope this could pave the way for a ceasefire. Humanitarian crisis, meanwhile, is only getting worse. The U.N. says nearly 200,000 people have

escaped to nearby countries. A U.S. Marine veteran has just been charged with manslaughter over the death of a homeless street artist. Daniel Penny

surrendered to police this morning, he was filmed putting 30-year-old Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a subway train earlier this month.

Witnesses say Neely had been acting erratically, screaming that he was hungry and thirsty, but had not physically harmed anyone. The case has

triggered angry protests and renewed debate about mental illness and homelessness in America. Let's get more now from Kara Scannell, she's

outside the courthouse in Manhattan.

And Kara, I understand Daniel Penny has now been released on bond. Talk us through what comes next.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure yes. So he was arraigned a little a couple of hours ago, and he was released on a bail package proposed by the

prosecution, that included a $100,000 cash insurance bond, and he has to also surrender his passport and some of his travel is restricted, unless

the judge approves it.

Now, this came after prosecutors laid out what they had found so far, as part of this investigation. Remember this chokehold that led to the death

of Jordan Neely (INAUDIBLE). First, what prosecutors are telling us is that since then, they have interviewed numerous eyewitnesses, they've reviewed

video, security video and security camera footage, they have reviewed 9-1-1 calls, they interviewed the responding officers on the scene.

And they also told us a bit more about the chain of events from that day. They said that Jordan Neely had boarded the subway train at one station in

Manhattan, and then that the passengers observed Mr. Neely making threats and scaring passengers. That's when the prosecution said that Penny got

involved, and he put Neely in a chokehold from behind.

They then went to -- the train then traveled to the next subway stop, and at that subway stop, they said that Penny continued to hold him in a

chokehold, that two other male passengers helped restrain Neely's leg, and then they said that Penny continued to hold on to Neely, Neely had stopped

moving, and Penny continued to hold him down for a period of time.

They did not get into how long that time period was. At that point, paramedics were on scene, they tried to resuscitate Neely and he was

pronounced dead at the hospital. So Penny is now -- you know, he did not enter a plea today, he will enter a plea if he is charged by a grand jury.

At this point, this is a complaint that was brought by the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

And Penny's attorneys are already suggesting what may be some of their defense, saying that Penny risked his life for the safety of the other

passengers. And that Neely's death was an unintended consequence of that, Christina?

MACFARLANE: And Kara, as we've been saying, this has really ignited a sort of debate, really, about the kind of lack of response there has been to

mental health illnesses treated in the city. How have Neely's family been responding to all of this?

SCANNELL: Well, Neely's family has said that they think that this should be a homicide charge, that there was no reason for Penny to hold him in a

chokehold and for that length of time. That he fell unconscious, and then ultimately died. I mean, it is part of this broader debate in New York City

bout homelessness, the issues of mental health and mental issues.

The family says that Neely has suffered from mental illness, following his mother's murder when he was just a teenager. So, he was someone that was

known to the city in the homelessness services, but it has stirred up a bigger debate about safety on the subway between mental health and

homelessness, Christina.

MACFARLANE: All right, Kara Scannell live from New York, thank you. All right, still to come tonight, decision time in Turkey. The latest on a

neck-and-neck election with huge ramifications for the country and beyond.



MACFARLANE: Turning now to an election that's at high stakes even before a single vote has been cast with just two days until Turkey heads to the

polls, one of the main candidates is accusing Russia of interfering with the contest. In a tweet, Kemal Kilicdaroglu says Moscow is responsible for

spreading conspiracies and deep fakes. Russia rejects the accusation.

Sunday's election is said to be a close race between Kilicdaroglu; and current President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially after another candidate

dropped out of the contest on Thursday. All of this comes just months after the horrendous earthquake that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and

neighboring Syria. Jomana Karadsheh has more now from Istanbul.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christina, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in February, there were lots of questions about how

the government's slow and chaotic initial response to the earthquake, and what many here say was the lack of preparedness, how that was going to

impact President Erdogan and his ruling party when it comes to the upcoming elections. Because back in 1999, when you had that major earthquake near

Istanbul that killed more than 17,000 people, that ended up bringing down the coalition government that was accused of failing to respond to that

disaster and it made way for President Erdogan to rise to power. The questions were, how was this going to impact these elections?

We returned to the earthquake zone. We spent time in southeastern Turkey over the past week, speaking to people about their loss, about their life

right now, about recovery, and what they thought of the upcoming elections.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): Few are the tombstones that identify the dead. They call it the Cemetery of the Unknown where more than 4,000 victims of

Turkey's catastrophic quake are buried. Some of the youngest lie here, with poignant clues left for those still searching for their missing loved ones.

Time has yet to heal the wounds of the broken city of on Antakya and its people. Life amid the ruins and mere existence in this deserted town where

elections and campaign promises are overshadowed by despair. Grief, and pain still so raw for those who survived left only to mourn.

Meltem lost her mother, father, sister, brother, little nieces, and the hardest loss of all, her only child.

IHAN, ANTAKYA RESIDENT: This is the last photo.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Little Elan had just turned six. He was with his cousin's for a sleepover when the earthquake hit. Meltem and her husband,

Ihan, dug through the rubble with their bare hands. The three longest days of their lives ended when an Italian Search and Rescue Team recovered the

lifeless bodies of their boy and the rest of the family.


IHAN: They killed them all.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The couple, like thousands of others, blame their tragedy on the state's initial chaotic slow response and on shoddy

construction and government amnesties for contractors who violated building codes. On Sunday, they'll take their anger to the ballot box. "Over the

years, they stole our future from us. Now, our loved ones were taken away from us," Ihan says. "Elections is our only way to hold officials to

account. We hope to slam the doors of hell shut."

Anger may not translate into any major surprises at the polls in the city historically split between the opposition and ruling party, but the stakes

are much higher in strongholds of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan AK party across the massive earthquake zone. There was no time wasted to win back

the hearts and minds of their people in places like Kahramanmaras, the epicenter of the devastating quake. This hilltop project, with a dozen

newly constructed homes, was inaugurated by the Turkish president, the kind of photo op Erdogan needed in the wake of the disaster.

KARADSHEH: The era of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been defined by a construction boom, and he's promised to rebuild the earthquake zone within

a year. And this is what the opposition is up against, convincing people that they, too, can deliver.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Thousands of subsidized housing units are under construction here. More rebuilding in the city center that's rumbled back

to life. But beneath the facade of normalcy, a reality of life in limbo. Mealtime brings hundreds into the food queues. Those who have lost

everything now rely on their state to feed them, most still live in tents. But not even the worst earthquake in generations seems to have shaken the

loyalty of Erdogan's supporters, and they're keen to show us as they wave his party's flag.

"As long as Tayyip Erdogan is in power, our houses will be built," this man tells us. Down the road, the city's old bazaar is bustling once again,

quake survivors struggling to get back on their feet now also facing their country's crushing economic crisis. The 69-year-old, once Erdogan

supporter, says he's boycotting the vote. "They see him as a saint. It's too much," he says. "I can't afford to buy anything. I survive on

earthquake aid."

A cafe nearby is the only escape from it all for students like 18-year-old Zia. He's a first time voter but hasn't decided if he'll cast his vote.

"Should we worry about elections or about the collapsed buildings or the lives lost?" He says, "About what surrounds us or my dreams?" Confusion,

apathy, loyalty, anger, it's just all too much for those still trapped in a life from hell. They can only hope, when the dust settles from these most

consequential of elections, they won't be forgotten.


KARADSHEH (on camera): Christina, there's no real opinion polling data coming from the earthquake zone because of the situation on the ground

because millions of people have also been displaced. But the consensus is that what the earthquake has done is that it has hardened positions in this

deeply polarized country where you've got supporters of the Turkish president and his ruling party, repeating the government's lines that there

were mistakes that were made in that initial response, and that they believe, right now, the only one who can rebuild their cities and who can

give them new homes is going to be Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On the other hand, you've got the supporters of the opposition saying this system, this ruling party, the president must go, and they are going to

take that anger with them to the ballot box on Sunday. What real impact this earthquake has had on people's opinions and their decisions, we are

going to have to wait and see when results start coming out in about 48 hours from now. And people here are very anxious as they head to the polls

in what many here would tell you they view as the most consequential of elections for their country, one that will decide what future direction

Turkey will take, Christina.

MACFARLANE: Such an important weekend ahead as Jomana said now. Thanks to her for that report.

And one quick programming note, be sure to watch CNN's special live coverage of the 2023 Turkey elections hosted by Becky Anderson. As voters

head to the polls to choose a new president and parliament, find out what's at stake and what the election means for Turkey's future. That's this

Sunday, 7:00 PM in London, 9:00 PM in Istanbul right here on CNN.

OK. Still to come tonight, the countdown into the grand final for the Eurovision Song Contest gets underway in Liverpool. We'll speak with self-

proclaimed Professor Song Contest about all of it after the break.



MACFARLANE: The lineup is in. After high energy semifinal, we now know which 26 acts will be competing in the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Finale

this weekend.


ALESHA DIXON, SINGERS: Are you ready? Let the Eurovision Song Contest begin.


MACFARLANE: The English city of Liverpool is hosting this time around on behalf of last year's winner, Ukraine. Ukraine's hopes this year's entry,.

TVORCHI's Heart of Steel takes home the trophy once again.


TVORCHI, SINGER: Don't care what you say or how you feel, oh, I got a heart of steel.


MACFARLANE: Some of the other acts watches that today's grand finals, Sweden's Loreen will be performing her song, Tattoo.

Finland's Kaarija song Cha Cha Cha is getting a lot of attention online as is Kaarija's Let 3 song.


LOREEN, SINGER: I don't care about them all, 'cause all I want is to be loved. And all I care about is you.


MACFARLANE: And that was Loreen that you're seeing on your screen just there.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's president is denying that he asked to address the Eurovision Song Contest. However, on Thursday, the European Broadcasting

Union, which puts on the iconic show, said not only did Mr. Zelenskyy ask, but he was denied. They say his requests would go against the nonpolitical

nature of Eurovision.

Well, I'd like to bring in the leading academic authority on Eurovision politics and self-proclaimed Professor Song Contest, Dean Vuletic, who is

in Liverpool ahead of the final this Saturday. I absolutely love your title, Dean. Kudos for that. It is interesting, Dean. They say this year's

contest is not political because we know this will be the first time ever one nation will host the contest on behalf of another, of course due to the

ongoing war in Ukraine. You are in Liverpool, tell me how this coming together of Ukrainian and British culture is going to be reflected on the

big night?

DEAN VULETIC, EUROVISION SONG CONTEST EXPERT: Well, on the big night, we'll see stars from both countries performing in the contest. Around Liverpool,

we see so many references to Ukraine.


There are Ukrainian songbirds all over the city, the Ukrainian colors. This is really a combination of Ukrainian and British culture. And it's a

wonderful gesture by the BBC.

MACFARLANE: Absolutely it is. It feels, Dean, like trends for what makes a successful Eurovision entry have kind of changed over the years. But is

there a sort of secret formula for something that always seems to work?

VULETIC: No. As you've said, trends do change over the years. And now, the trend is towards authenticity. Audiences like to see songs in national

languages. They like to see songs that reflect the national cultures of the countries that they represent. Eurovision needs to be different to other

televised song contests, and the cultural diversity and the politics is what makes Eurovision special.

MACFARLANE: Yes. And I suppose that's why we've seen sort of a lot of winners, you know, winning Eurovision in their native languages in recent

years. So, Dean, the big question, who is going to win who at least are the favorites would you say here?

VULETIC: The bookies favorite is Sweden. Sweden, very often, is the bookies' favorite because the Swedish popular music industry has been very

successful in Eurovision since the win of ABBA in 1974. ABBA is the biggest act that Eurovision has ever launched. Loreen is representing Sweden this

year with the song Tattoo and she won with Euphoria in 2012. The next big favorite is Finland. Now Finland has a song in Finnish, so it's more

authentic than the Swedish entry. It also combines heavy metal and pop, which is a unique combination so far. In Eurovision, the performance is

very colorful. It's a lot of fun, and that's what will make it stand out among this year's entries.

Also look out for the Croatian act. It's a rock opera with an anti-war theme. It's also very eye-catching, and definitely one that will draw a lot

of attention for its political message.

MACFARLANE: Absolutely. Personally, I'm finding Finland particularly attractive this year, that kind of green and black combos, it's kind of

ticking the boxes for me. So, Dean, I guess this comes up every year, but as you're, I think, part Australian, let's address this now because every

year, people ask why are Australia part of the Eurovision Song Contest? Obviously, this is a European competition. So explain why.

VULETIC: Australia has a very special television station called the Special Broadcasting Service established to reflect the government's multicultural

policies and to distribute programming, multilingual programming to Australia's migrant communities. It was set up in the 1980's. And since

then, it has broadcast Eurovision to the Australian audience. That's why the Australian audience is familiar with Eurovision and that's why

Australians have grown to love Eurovision.

There's a cult following for Eurovision in Australia. Australia debuted in the contest in 2015 to mark the 60th anniversary of Eurovision and it has

been in the contest ever since. Now, we have to see whether Australia's presence in the contest will continue after this year. But certainly,

Australians still love Eurovision and I think Europeans love having Australia in the contest.

MACFARLANE: Yes. And we love having Australia in the contest. So a quick last question here, Dean, and please be brutally honest, what chances do

the U.K. have of doing well tomorrow night?

VULETIC: Well, I think the U.K. entry is a strong one again this year, the chances are really good, measuring the audience's reaction yesterday when I

was at the semi-final. When there was a preview of the U.K. entry, there was a lot of support for it, and it wasn't just British people in the arena

here in Liverpool, there are a lot of tourists from continental Europe. So, I think Mae Muller will do very well.

NEWTON: You're very kind. I hope you are right. Of course. We'll be waving our flags here. And enjoy the night, Dean. You have probably the best job

in the world, some might say, Professor Song Contest. Thank you for joining us.

VULETIC: Thank you so much, Christina. Enjoy the show.

MACFARLANE: I will. Thank you.

And still to come tonight, imagine replicating the power of the sun to create a greener, safer, cleaner future here on Earth. Your scientists are

working on that now and the future is closer than you think.



MACFARLANE: Now Liberace in California is working on technology, which could revolutionize how we make electricity. It's already made some major

breakthroughs. CNN Chief Climate Correspondent Bill Weir reports.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside this building, some very smart people built a star on Earth. Not the Hollywood

kind, that's easy. No, the burning ball of gas in the sky kind, one of the hardest things humans have ever tried.

TAMMY MA, LEAD, INERTIAL FUSION ENERGY INITIATIVE: I was at the airport when my boss called me and I burst into tears.

WEIR (voice-over): Tammy Ma is among the scientists who have been chasing nuclear fusion for generations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, down for a shot on my mark three, two, mark.

WEIR (voice-over): And in the middle of a December night, they did it.

WEIR: And you only need a tiny little bit of fuel.

MA: That's right. Yes. Because our little pellet that sits right in the middle, you can't even see it on this target, is just two millimeters in


WEIR (voice-over): That target includes an abundant isotope found in seawater, and goes into a chamber about the size of a beach ball in the

'60s, but is now a round room 30 feet across with 192 massive lasers aimed at the center.

MA: There are big laser beams about 40 by 40 centimeters.

WEIR: Wow.

MA: Each one alone is one of the most energetic in the world. And every time we do a shot, it's a thousand times the power of the entire U.S.

electrical grid.

WEIR: What?

MA: But your lights don't flicker at home when we take a shot. So, what we're doing is taking a huge amount of energy and compressing it down just

in 10 nanoseconds.

WEIR: Right.

MA: So it's about $14 of electricity.

WEIR (voice-over): A National Ignition Facility then amplifies all that concentrated energy on the target. And if they get it just right, more

energy comes out than went in with no risk of nuclear meltdown or radioactive waste.

MA: In a fusion power plant, you would shoot the same target over and over about 10 times a second, dropping a target in and shooting it with laser.

WEIR: So you'd need a target loader like a machine gun or something, right?

MA: We need a target loader, exactly. So there's still many, many technology jumps that we need to make, but that's what makes it so

exciting, right?

JENNIFER GRANHOLM, U.S. ENERGY SECRETARY: A lot of people were saying you've invested all this money, it's time to pull the plug, because you

guys haven't achieved ignition.

WEIR: Right.

GRANHOLM: I mean, it's called the National Ignition Facility, right? And --

WEIR: At some point, you better get that middle --

GRANHOLM: At some point, you better ignite. Yes, exactly.

WEIR: Ignite something.

GRANHOLM: I mean, it's really hard to replicate the process that's happening on the sun on Earth. It's just really hard. And so when that

happened in December, what it said is that this is actually possible. So, it's no longer a question of "whether," it's just a question of "when."

That fusion is actually possible. Now, let's get to work.

WEIR: Well, Conventional Wisdom and the International Energy Agency tells us it'll be decades before anybody's really plugging anything into fusion



There was a startup called Helia, which says they have a reactor that can fire plasma rings at a million miles an hour, and will demonstrate

electricity by next year. And in fact, in a first of a kind Power Purchase Agreement, Microsoft has already bought fusion electricity from Helia for

the year 2028. The future is coming fast. Bill Weir, CNN in Northern California.


MACFARLANE: And it is Bill Weir.

And finally, tonight, would you eat caviar in the stratosphere? Well, next year, it could be possible. Space tourism venture Zephalto is selling pre-

reservation tickets for just that. The fancy hot air balloon will rise 25 kilometers into suborbital space, allowing guests to marvel at the earth,

the moon, and the stars, and in between gaping at the views. Travelers will be wined and dined apparently by a roving cast of Michelin chefs. All in

all, the dinner will set you back around 120,000 euros well. I think I might book the table, my husband can pick up the tab on that one.

Thanks for watching tonight. Stay with CNN. We've got QUEST MEANS BUSINESS coming up after this short break.