Return to Transcripts main page


In Syria, There Appears To Be Little Letup To The Violence Even As A Russian Ordered Humanitarian Pause Is Underway For A Second Straight Day, UN Experts Are Warning North Korea Is Going Around International Sanctions To Send Syria Supplies Which Could Help Produce Chemical Weapons, White House Aide Hope Hicks Admits She's Had To Tell An Occasional White Lie While Working At The White House, America's Gun Violence Has Claimed Thousands Of Lives, A Sad Day For Family, Friends, And Fans Of A Bollywood Legend, Saying Goodbye To Sridevi, 110 Girls Who Were Kidnapped In Northeastern Nigeria Last Week, American Actress Evan Rachel Wood Is Opening Up About Being Sexually Abused And What It Has Done To Her Life, Germany's Top Court Is Cracking Down On Pollution. Aired: 3-4a ET

Aired February 28, 2018 - 03:00   ET


ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: In Syria, the first day of the ceasefire failed to stop air strikes and aid workers are raising the alarm once again. A live report day is going. The Presidential adviser and son- in-law stripped of the security clearance that he needs to review top secret material. We will hear from a former White House adviser on how this will impact Jared Kushner's work. Plus, a final good-bye to a beloved Bollywood actress; fans across India paying tribute to Sridevi.

Hello and welcome to our viewer's joining us from all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church at CNN headquarters in Atlanta. This is "CNN Newsroom."

In Syria, there appears to be little letup to the violence even as a Russian ordered humanitarian pause is underway for a second straight day. Activists in the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta say artillery fires and air strikes continued through Tuesday and until the ceasefire was scheduled to resume an hour ago.

The measure is to let civilians escape the besieged area, but it's not clear if desperately needed food and medical supplies will be allowed in.


INGY SEDKY, SPOKESWOMAN, ICRC SYRIA: The situation is deteriorating every day and it's getting worse and worse and we cannot wait more than that to bring aid in. It should be regular either to eastern Ghouta or any other place within Syria. Delivery of aid should be regular and we cannot wait till more people are losing their lives.


CHURCH: And CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is in Amman, Jordan, monitoring the situation in Syria. She joins us now. So, day two of the humanitarian force in Syria is now underway. Day one did not go very well at all. What are the expectations and what are you hearing?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, Rosemary, a short time before the start of that so-called humanitarian pause at 9:00 a.m. local time, we are hearing from activists that the air strikes and artillery shelling were continuing, that it was mostly focused on the town of Douma. That is not far from where that humanitarian corridor that was announced by the Russians and the Syrians is.

And you know, in the past hour, we haven't had any reports of violence, but that could also be issues with communication. We'll have to wait and see how this is unfolding today and if any sort of pause in hostilities is actually holding.

What you find in these cases is a lot of these ceasefires are very, very fragile and they do tend to collapse and we have seen it in the past and we've heard these concerns from people on the ground in eastern Ghouta.

And if you look at a day like yesterday, you have both sides accusing each other of violating the truce and not really abiding by it. You had air strikes and artillery shelling reported pounding different parts of eastern Ghouta with a number of people killed on that day. And also at the same time, we heard from the regime accusing the rebel groups that it describes as terrorist groups as targeting the route that leads to that humanitarian corridor.

So, we'll have to wait and see if today is any different and waiting to see that, too is the humanitarian aid groups that are also waiting to evacuate hundreds of people, possibly up to a thousand. Those are the sick and the wounded who need urgent medical attention. But for these groups to be able to move they need to make sure that there is a pause in hostilities. They need to make sure that they have guarantees from all sides that they will be able to safely move in and carry out these evacuations.

And also in Syria, we've seen is in the past, Rosemary. There's also layer of bureaucracy. They need to make sure that they will be allowed to move through checkpoints. So, it is a very complex situation. And again, five hours is not a long time when it comes to the pause in the fighting. So we'll have to wait and see how this all plays out today.

CHURCH: Yes, and we know you will be watching there from Amman, Jordan. Watching this day two of humanitarian pause there in Syria. Many thanks to you.


CHURCH: Well, UN experts are warning North Korea is going around international sanctions to send Syria supplies which could help produce chemical weapons. Now, this comes as the Syrian regime is being accused again of attacking its own people with chlorine gas. CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is following the story from Seoul in South Korea. He joins us now. So, Ivan, what more are you learning about North Korea's role in Syria and how is Pyongyang responding?

IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, CNN has gotten to look at parts of as yet unpublished confidential United Nations panel of experts report which alleges that North Korean ballistic missile specialist traveled several times to Syria in the latter half of 2016 and in 2017. It also alleges that there were shipments of supplies that could be used to make chemical weapons being sent from North Korea to Syria.

A United Nations Security Council diplomat has told CNN that these include acid resistant tiles, valves, and thermometers, and that these tiles could be used for the interior walls of a factory that would be making chemical weapons. Another three towns that have been mentioned in the report as places where North Korean ballistic missile specialist and military specialist are currently active are the Syrian towns of Barzeh, Adra, and Hama.

The report goes on to say that Syria denies that it is sending military and missile experts to Syria, and that any of those experts, any of those North Koreans on the ground are actually sports trainers, which if taken at value - face value would represent an incredible commitment on the part of North Korea and Syria to developing Syria's sports program in the midst of a raging Civil War.

Separately from this, Syria and North Korea have a very long history of military to military cooperation going back decades. And in fact, in 2007, Israel carried out a bombing raid against what it said was a nuclear facility in Syria. And subsequently, the White House published a report saying that it believed that North Korea was active in helping build or at least provide technical expertise to Syria for that bombs nuclear facility. Rosemary?

CHURCH: And Ivan, this all comes as we are getting new reports that a North Korean ship may have violated Security Council resolutions, what more can you tell us about that?

WATSON: This is the latest of several reports that have come either from the U.S. government or from its ally, the Japanese government. In this case this is Japan which published photos of what it said was a North Korean tanker and a Maldives flanked tanker in the east Sea of Japan - East China Sea, rather, parked side by side with their lights on at night. And the Japanese government suspects that this was a ship to ship transfer. We've seen other photos like this of what appeared to be similar alleged activities.

Now what's interesting here is that the North Korean ship here is named the Chon Ma San and it was specifically singled out by the United States Treasury Department in sanctions published over the course of last weekend that singled out 27 entities, 28 vessels and one individual, all accused of helping North Korea circumvent United Nations Security Council resolutions that are supposed to ban it from exports of coal, for example and reduce its imports of oil.

So, the U.S. government and the Japanese government have accused North Korea of doing - of circumventing the sanctions by doing these alleged ship to ship transfers out at sea. The Japanese government says it has protested this and brought this specific case to the United Nations Security Council, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Many thanks to our Ivan Watson, bringing us all of those details. I appreciate that. I want to turn to Washington now and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation appears to be extending beyond meddling in the 2016 Presidential election to Donald Trump's business dealings before he was a candidate.

Sources tell CNN, some witnesses have been asked about the timing of Donald Trump's decision to run, why his plan for a Trump Tower in Moscow fell through and whether the Russians had compromising information they could use to influence him. Well, officials from at least four countries reportedly talked about ways to take advantage of President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.


CHURCH: According to "The Washington Post," it's unclear whether the officials from Mexico, Israel, China, and the UAE actually acted on the conversations. But they considered using Kushner's complex business arrangements, his lack of experience and his financial problems as leverage to manipulate him. Meantime, Kushner's security clearance has now being downgraded within the White House.

David Gergen has a unique perspective on all this. He has served as a White House adviser to four Presidents. Thanks so much for joining us.


CHURCH: Well, as we've been reporting Jared Kushner's security clearance has been downgraded from top secret sensitive compartmented information clearance down to secret clearance. What does that mean exactly, and what sort of information will he not have access to going forward?

GERGEN: Well, he won't have access to the most sensitive information, which is often the most important, if you're trying to negotiate a Middle East peace as he's been charged by the President. What it means is there is, in fact, this top secret sensitive information, is that which is often collected from human intelligence, it affects spies or others, it can be listening in. But if you are in national security and you're talking about the Middle East, it also means that you can't share any of the information with anybody else. You can't share it outside the White House. So, frankly it's the most sensitive information the government has.

And if you're trying to sort out policy and understand what the options are and understand what the views are within the government and understand where the other side is coming from, you need access to that. So as a practical matter, it's just extremely hard to see how Jared Kushner can remain the Director of US Diplomacy in the Middle East. It's very hard to see how he can remain a key link to Mexico as he's been charged to do. And by stripping Jared Kushner of his top secret security clearance it really strips him of a lot of his authority and capacity to act as a diplomat for the United States government. CHURCH: So, you would expect to hear very soon some sort of

announcement that Jared Kushner will not be heading up this effort to find peace in the Middle East and trade in China? Will that have to be the case given what we know now with this downgrading of his clearance?

GERGEN: Well, fair question. I must tell you that the lawyers inside - the Jared Kushner lawyers, lawyers inside the White House have been saying basically his duties won't change. I just think that's a non- sustainable position. He's going to have the - he's going to have the national security establishment come down on his head if they try to do that.

It also, I must say, raises a question of whether Donald Trump - he has the power to reverse this. He personally can grant top secret clearance to his son-in-law. But in that case he would so undercut his Chief of Staff General Kelly that it's hard to imagine General Kelly staying on.

There's one other piece of material here that he will no longer have access to. It's really important, and that is something called the President's Daily Briefing, which is a collection of reports of what's been coming in through the intelligence community over the past 24 hours, but also an assessment and analysis. It's the basis for briefing the President. Jared Kushner would not be able to sit in those briefings. It's the basis of a briefing the President each morning and it is the basis that past Presidents have used to get the greatest mastery of international affairs was through that President's Daily Briefing.

Donald Trump doesn't read it very often, but he does get briefed out of it. And Jared Kushner would have neither the capacity to read it or the capacity to sit in on the meetings when the intelligence from the report is being discussed.

CHURCH: David Gergen, many thanks.

GERGEN: Thank you.

CHURCH: And we'll take a very short break here. But still to come, a source says White House aide Hope Hicks admits she's had to tell an occasional white lie while working at the White House. More on what else she's saying and not saying when we return. Plus, in just a few hours from now, the surviving students of the Florida school shooting return to their classrooms, and their governor has a plan to keep them safe.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, a top White House aide told congressional investigators that who work for President Trump has occasionally required her to tell white lies. But Hope Hicks says she hasn't had to lie about substantive issues for Mr. Trump according to a source.

At the same time lawmakers say Hicks refused to answer key questions about her time in the White House during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday. The testimony was part of the panel's Russia investigation.


ADAM SCHIFF, MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: This is a breathtakingly broad claim of privilege that I don't think any court would sustain and I think the White House knows that. This is not executive privilege, this is executive stonewalling.


CHURCH: And speaking of the Russia investigation, the White House is once again on the defensive over whether President Trump is doing enough to stop Moscow from launching cyber attacks on the United States. Our Jim Acosta reports.


JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: It was a stunning admission from the Director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Mike Rogers, revealing that the President has not issued a directive to put a stop to Russians cyber operations designed to disrupt US elections.


JACK REED, US SENATOR, RHODE ISLAND, DEMOCRAT: Have you been directed to do so?

MIKE ROGERS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: No, I have not, but if I could flesh this out.


ACOSTA: That admission left lawmakers exasperated.


REED: We had not taken on the Russians yet. We're watching them intrude on our elections, spread misinformation, and we're just essentially sitting back and waiting.

ROGERS: It's probably fair to say that we have not opted to engage in some of the same behaviors that we are seeing.


ACOSTA: Rogers went on to say Russia has yet to really pay for what they did in 2016.


ROGERS: I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion that there's a little price to play here. CLAIRE MCCASKILL, US SENATOR, MISSOURI, DEMOCRAT: The notion that you

have not been given this mission to stop this from happening this year is outrageous.


ACOSTA: Thrown once again into Russia damage control mode, the White House tried to push back on the notion that the President even needs to direct the NSA to take action.


SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Nobody is denying him the authority. We're looking at a number of different ways that we can put pressure. Look, this President, as I told you last week, has been much tougher on Russia than his predecessor.


ACOSTA: Russia was on the President's mind in the morning as he tweeted that he's the victim of a witch hunt. A new CNN poll shows the majority of Americans don't approve of the President's handling of the Russia probe.


SANDERS: Let's not forget that this happened under Obama, it didn't happen under President Trump. If you want to blame somebody on past problems, then you need to look at the Obama administration. The President is looking at all of the different causes and all of the different ways that we can prevent it.


ACOSTA: The White House is also on its heels on the issue of gun control, insisting the President does support the idea of raising the age limit to 21 for buying some weapons.


SANDERS: The President still supports raising the age limit to 21 for the purchase of certain firearms.


ACOSTA: That clarification came after sources told CNN the President was backing away from the proposal. Mr. Trump didn't even mention the idea when he met with the nation's governors.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We really I think have the support of the NRA having to do with background checks, very strong background checks and a very heavy section on mental health.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: That was just before Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told

reporters the President like the idea of raising the age limit but as a concept.


SANDERS: In terms of the concept, there is still support for that but how it would be implemented and what that might look like is still part, very much part of the discussion.


ACOSTA: But a key GOP congressional source tells CNN there does not appear to be a path forward for the age limit proposal which is fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association. House Speaker Paul Ryan sounded more supportive of strengthening the nation's background checks system.


PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We shouldn't be banning guns for law-abiding citizens. We should be focusing on making sure that citizens who should not get guns in the first place don't get those guns.



CHURCH: Well, the US gun control debate is followed closely by the students who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. They will return to class in just a few hours from now without the 17 classmates and teachers they lost two weeks ago.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, Florida's Governor, Rick Scott wants to invest $500 million to keep student safe.


RICK SCOTT, GOVERNOR, FLORIDA: My goal is to make massive changes in school safety. Significant increased mental health resources and keep the guns out of anybody that's dealing with mental illness or is potentially a threat to themselves or others. There is nothing more important to make sure the schools are safe.


CHURCH: The US Congress has been slow to act on gun control. So individual states are taking action on their own. In Florida, the Senate is said to consider a bill that will give law enforcement more power to remove guns from people considered to be a threat. The bill does not include a ban on assault weapons.

In the State of Washington the legislature passed a ban on bump stocks which allows semiautomatic weapons to fire more quickly like an automatic. And in Rhode Island, the governor signed an executive order to make it easier to identify red flags of people who could be dangerous.

America's gun violence has claimed thousands of lives, but definitive research into it is hard to come by. A lot of that is because of a provision in a 1996 Federal spending bill called the Dickey Amendment. It essentially banned the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using government funds to advocate or promote gun control.

The doctor who headed up gun prevention analysis at the CDC back then is speaking out about the need for research as we see more and more mass shootings. His name is Mark Rosenberg and he joins me now in the studio. Thank you so much, sir, for talking with us.


CHURCH: So let's talk first about the Dickey Amendment. What it is exactly and whether you want to see it stay or whether it should go.

ROSENBERG: It's important to understand that the Dickey Amendment was a compromise. It was a compromise between the NRA-led factions which wanted to do away with the whole injury center at CDC despite the fact that the leading cause of death for young people 1 to 44 are injuries. The NRA was so angry at the research we had done that they wanted to do away with the whole center.

The research we had done looked at the question does having a gun in your home protect you and your family or does put you up on more risk? The NRA had said for years of having a gun in your home is a way to protect your family, that if you care about your family if you are a real man, you'll have a gun in the house.

So we supported the study that looked at that question. And what it found were some pretty amazing results. They found that not only did having a gun in your home not protect you but it doubled, tripled or quintupled the risk that someone in your family would die. The risk that someone in your family would die from homicide went up by 200%. That's a tripling of the risk.

So when we did that, the NRA got very, very angry and wanted to shut down the whole research enterprise. The compromise was the Dickey Amendment. It said none of the funds that go to CDC shall be used to promote or advocate gun control, but it didn't say that CDC couldn't do the research. It was really just a shot across the bow, a warning shot that said if you want to do this research we can make your lives miserable.

CHURCH: So we see the power of the National Rifle Association just in that itself. We're trying in this country to find some sort of middle ground because the NRA as we've seen with that, they don't want gun control in any way, and then you've got those who are asking for gun control and the young teenagers were out on the streets saying enough is enough, we don't want to be shot in our schools anymore. They want some form of gun control.

Some want to go further and get rid of some of these semiautomatics, which of course the NRA is opposed to. How do you find that middle ground? How do you - how do you appease both sides and get some controls put into place because that was powerful research you did back then in the late 90s which would apply to today. So we have the research, do we not? Now it's time to actually find a solution.

ROSENBERG: There's four questions that we really have to answer and only four. The first question is what's the problem? Who, what, where, when do people get shot? With what kind of weapons? Where are they acquired? And what's the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator? Are these shootings increasing or decreasing? But what's the problem? That's the first question to answer.


ROSENBERG: The second question is what are the causes? What's the role of mental illness? What's the role of drugs? What's the role of easy access to guns? What's the role of gangs? What's the role of crime and domestic violence? So what are the causes? That's the second question.

The third question is the most important for us to answer now. What works? What works to prevent gun violence and at the same time works to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners? Why do we have to protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners? That's the law of our land. That's the Second Amendment to our Constitution. It's important and it's real. But we can find things that both reduce gun violence and protect the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

CHURCH: Like what? Where can they go? Because this is the frustration, isn't it? Because people feel they don't have time to do this research. A lot of people think we already know what the problem is. It's access to guns on one side of the equation. And then the NRA would have another argument that they are mostly responsible gun owners. So, looking at that solution, what are they?

ROSENBERG: So you have two very polarized sides. The problem is neither side knows what really is going to work. We don't know if arming all the teachers is going to end up in more students being shot and killed or it's going to protect the students.

CHURCH: Well, one area where there does seem to be agreement is tougher background checks. President Trump has proposed it. It seems to have bipartisan support. Most people say yes, this is what we need. A part of that would be to check that someone is mentally able to be in the possession of a gun. So that would be a starting point, would it not to sort of establish, okay, how broad does this have to be, this background check?

ROSENBERG: Absolutely. Better background checks, more complete data, retention of the data so it can be used by law enforcement authorities is very important. But without closing the gun show loophole, without covering the 40% of private sales of guns, the background check is not going to be totally effective.

CHURCH: How hard would that be to do?

ROSENBERG: It wouldn't be hard to do, but you have get legislative support to pass it.

CHURCH: But how hard would it be to get that support?

ROSENBERG: In this current setting, very hard because the NRA says we don't want any further laws passed about guns; a zero tolerance policy, nothing whatsoever and people are afraid. People in Congress are afraid to go up against the NRA.

CHURCH: Mark Rosenberg, thank you so much for coming in and talking to us about it.

ROSENBERG: Thanks for addressing this important issue.

CHURCH: And we'll take a short break here. Still to come a mass kidnapping in Nigeria. What the government is doing to bring back more than a hundred missing girls and a sad day for family, friends, and fans of a Bollywood legend, saying goodbye to Sridevi, their tributes. We're back in a moment.


CHURCH: A warm welcome back to our viewers joining us from all around the world, I am Rosemary Church. I want to update you now on the mains stories we've been following this hour. A Russian ordered pause in hostility is supposed to be on the way for second day in war torn Syria, but it's not clear if it's actually holding.

It didn't on Tuesday. Activists in the rebel held enclave of Eastern Ghouta reported shelling and artillery fire from Syrian military positions while Russia and the Syrian government accuse rebels of shelling humanitarian corridors. In the meantime a UN Security Council diplomat tells CNN that North Korea has been sending supplies to Syria that could be used to make chemical weapons, the diplomat was citing a yet unpublished report by a UN panel of experts.

It appears Special Counsel Robert Mueller is looking at whether the Russians tried to influence Donald Trump before he ran for office. Sources tell CNN witnesses have been asked about the timing of Mr. Trump's decision to run, why a Trump Tower deal in Moscow fell through and whether the Russians had compromising information to try to influence him.

We are learning more about 110 girls who were kidnapped in northeastern Nigeria last week. The government has released their names and says they are 11 to 19 years old. It's believed the militant group Boca Haram took them from the school during a raid last week. Their abduction is reminding many people of the kidnapping of nearly 300 school girls in Chibok four years ago.

CNN's Farai Sevenzo joins me now from Nairobi, Kenya, with more on all of this. Farai, pressure is growing on the government right now. What exactly are they doing to find these kidnapped girls?

FARAI SEVENZO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely right Rosemary, it is a question of reaction and catch up for the Nigerian government since these events unfolded in Dapshi nine days ago. As you mentioned in your introduction, we now know the names of 110 girls and the youngest are 11, and up to 19. We heard also from our team on the ground in Nigeria in the northeast there that a family lost a 14-year-old girl as well.

So, they're very young women and what is the government doing? As I say, they are playing catch up in reaction to these events. The President went on - made a public statement on Monday and said, "I assured these people that everything is being done to relocate these girls," and he has also dispatched the head of the Air Force, Mr. Sadiq Abubakar to personally search for the girls and has dispatched him to Yobe state where this attack happened, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And what is the government doing to ensure that these kidnappings by Boko Haram don't happen again? Can they even give parents a guarantee like that?

SEVENZO: Rosemary, that is a very difficult guarantee for any government to give to a terrorist organization like Boko Haram. They are Islamist insurgents and we know from our headlines from all over the world whether we are talking about the Taliban in Afghanistan, whether we are talking about Lone Wolves in London or Paris or Barcelona. It is a worldwide kind of problem, but of course this insurgency has been going on since 2009 and Boko Haram is one of those groups that seem to attack and then flee to the forest near the Cameroonian border. And despite the Nigerian military are investing millions of dollars in new aircraft, bombs and rockets and whatever it may be, they seem to be unable to guarantee the safety of their citizens.

We are talking of course about putting people in the schools that are being attacked. I mean one father, let me give you an example, told our team on the ground that no security came to Dapchi the day the men came. Now, over a hundred soldiers have taken over the village and that is their dilemma, do they stay put with their Armed Forces in these remote areas and schools and how can they take a such a mobile and vicious, and basically no morals bound these guys from attacking young women as young as 11 years old, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is a terrifying story for those young girls and indeed for the parents as well. Farai Sevenzo bringing us up to date on the situation there from Nairobi in Kenya. We thank you.

Well, over the past year, CNN's Nima Elbagir has been reporting on the difficulties many African migrants endure as they triy to get to Europe. She recently caught up with one Nigerian man who is now back home after an unsuccessful attempt to make that journey.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No food, no water. Nothing.

NIMA ELBAGIR, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The last time he saw Victor, he was lying on the floor of a Libyan detention center just rescued from slavery, begging to be sent back home. Now he is back in Nigeria, but has he found his happy ending? How do you feel being back here?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people lost their lives over there. I am happy that I didn't lose my life. I am back home now so I can also take another step, so I am happy.


CHURCH: Grateful for his life, but still struggling to survive, more of his story Thursday only on CNN. Nima also went undercover to expose the dangers many migrants face in the journey from Nigeria to Libya and then Europe. So called pushermen, human smugglers told Nima when she was posing as a migrant that she would probably be raped and she shouldn't fight back. She talked with the "Daily Show's" Trevor Noah about that.


ELBAGIR: I'd spend about 45 minutes in a car with him just - I mean, it's ridiculous, but it's horrible to even think about it. You know, him kind of squeezed against me, the intimidation. And he looked down and he saw my wedding ring and he said to me, "Are you married?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "That doesn't exist anymore. Not on this journey."

And it was - it was tiny glimpse into what these kids - these 17, 18, 19 year old girls, how must it feel for them?


CHURCH: Amazing. And CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern day slavery on March 14th and in advance of My Freedom Day, we asked American Rapper Rakim what freedom means to him.


RAKIM, AMERICAN RAPPER: To me, freedom means consciousness and awareness and understanding because to me it doesn't matter where your physical is at, it's about how you feel in your head. You can lock me up in a cell, but if I'm conscious enough to understand what's going on, I can still have a sense of freedom knowing that, you know, I'm a person of mind and body. You lock my body up, my mind is still free. So to me, freedom means consciousness, awareness, understanding.


CHURCH: And what does freedom mean to you? Share your story using the #MyFreedomDay.

American actress Evan Rachel Wood is opening up about being sexually abused and what it has done to her life. She testified before a US House subcommittee on Tuesday during a hearing on the Sexual Assault Survivor's Bill of Rights Act. Wood told lawmakers she was raped and tortured in two separate instances.


EVAN RACHEL WOOD, AMERICAN ACTRESS: What makes me more hurts and more angry than the actual rape and abuse itself is that piece of me that was stolen which altered the course of my life. Because of this abuse may already spiritless person when I was pushed onto the floor of a locked storage closet by another attacker after hours at a bar. My body instinctively knew what to do disappear, go numb, make it go away. Being abused and rape previously made it easier for me to be raped again not the other way around.

Not a day goes by when I don't hear the words this man whispered into my ear over and over, "You're going to be fine, you are going to be fine, you are going to be fine." And then small voice sang back., "No, no, no, no," until it faded into nothing. And I remember the feeling of shutting down or freezing and utter shock taking over and I couldn't even make a sound. I felt a piece of me disappear, a piece that has never returned. In other words, I was not fine and I am not fine.


WOOD: The aftermath of rape is a huge part of the conversation that needs much more attention and in this case, I can speak from my own experiences. So often, we speak of these assaults as no more than a few minutes of awfulness, but the scars last a lifetime. Even though these experiences happened a decade ago, I still struggle with the aftermath; my relationship suffers, my partners suffer, my mental and physical health suffer. Seven years after my rapes, plural, I was diagnosed with long-term PTSD which I had been living with all that time without knowledge about my condition. I simply thought I was going crazy.


CHURCH: And Wood told CNN, she felt it was important to testify to give a voice to survivors everywhere.

Mumbai is saying farewell to beloved Bollywood legend Sridevi for the past few hours, hundreds of her fans have waited in line to pay their respects. The 54-year-old actress accidentally drowned in a hotel bath tub last week during a visit to Dubai. Police say there was no foul play and reporter Liz Neisloss joins us now from Mumbai in India. Liz how is Sridevi be remembered and how are people coping with the shocking news of her untimely death, are they still trying to process this?

LIZ NEISLOSS, CNN REPORTER: Well, shocking I think is the correct word, this was an actress whose popularity transcended the normal popularity of the average Bollywood star. As you probably know, there are so many beautiful and talented women in Bollywood, but Sridevi had a particular appeal. Many people feel that they grew up with her. She began making films

at the age of four and by the time, she died she had made nearly 300 films. She did films in five different languages and she was considered someone who is extremely versatile who could do drama, who could do comedy, who was a great dancer. Her fans will go on and on and list all the fabulous quality that she possessed, so it is fair to say the fans and admirers are really, really stunned by this woman's sudden death.

CHURCH: Liz, what is happening now as family and friends and fans pay their last respects and follow Sridevi's final journey to the cemetery?

NEISLOSS: Well, as you may see a bit of chaos around me, family members, Bollywood stars and actually the general public had gathered to pay their last respects, to actually view the mortal remains of Sridevi. It is expected that her body will travel from that location near her apartment, to this location where Hindu funeral rites and cremation ceremony will be performed. The public and the press are not allowed inside, but you can still see, there is an eagerness to have any part of this ceremony.

CHURCH: Understood, Liz Neisloss following the final journey there of Sridevi. It is just after 2:00 in the afternoon there in Mumbai. Thank you so much for that. We'll take a short break here, but when the comeback, ditching the diesel, some German cities now have the right to ban cars that use the old technology. But will that mean an end to heavily polluting vehicles on their roads? It is complicated. We will explain that. Plus, declaring war on the world's plastic binge one supermarket aisle at the time. The small changes that could make a big difference to the environment. We will be back in just a moment.


CHURCH: Germany's top court is cracking down on pollution. It says Dusseldorf and Stuttgart have the right to impose a limited ban on diesel vehicles, those two cities have some of the most polluted air in Europe. CNN's Atika Shubert reports on why this is a landmark ruling.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: This court order essentially sets a precedent for German cities. It names Stuttgart and Dusseldorf, but for Munich and Homburg and other cities considering a diesel ban basically places the responsibility on city governments to find a way to reduce diesel pollution and get it under EU legal limits.

According to the EU, at least 26 cities and towns across Germany are regularly in violation of diesel pollution limits and they estimated in 2016 that as many as 400,000 premature deaths are caused by diesel exhaust and so as a result, they had been considering things like a ban of diesel cars, but as you can imagine, this is a politically unpopular move not just because the automobile industry makes up about 15% of the GDP, but also because of how many diesel cars are on the roads.

Almost 50% of cars on the roads are diesel cars, so it would have a tremendous impact on drivers as well, but as this court ruling makes clear, the city governments have to find some way to get those diesel exhaust fumes out of the air. Atika Schubert, CNN, Berlin.


CHURCH: The mayors of Stuttgart and Dusseldorf are urging commuters to rethink the way they get around and take their cars less. They are also bracing for a possible avalanche of red tape.


THOMAS GEISEL, DUSSELDORF MAYOR: (Through an interpreter.) What I personally regret is that the court did not take into account what a high administrative burden these kind of diesel bans will entail. I have always said, it will be an almost impossible task.

FRITZ KUHN, STUTTGART MAYOR: (Through an interpreter). For the city of Stuttgart, the most important thing now is to concentrate on reducing pollutants, we need to improve short distance public transport and call people to change their transport means.


CHURCH: The German diesel rolling is being watched closely across Europe where it could have wide environmental implications. Germany has about 15 million diesel vehicles on the road, the ruling would affect most of them. Researchers say it could cost up to $18 billion to upgrade just the cars that meet the Euro's standard - the latest emission requirements.

The United Nations has sounded the alarm on plastic waste calling it a planetary crisis, but some retailers are taking action against the packaging products that includes a supermarket in Europe as CNN's Isa Soares found out doing good also means good business.


ISA SOARES, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Plastic - a constant presence in the convenience of our daily lives, but the planet is paying a high price for a throw away culture. From coffee cups, to water bottles, some eight million tons of plastic trash leak to the ocean each year. And of the estimated 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic ever produced, only 9% has ever been recycled. But the war against the world's plastic binge is gaining momentum with governments and big retailers under growing pressure to reduce waste and think more sustainably about disposable packaging.

Ekoplaza Supermarket in the Netherlands is hoping it can bring about change an aisle at a time. This is the world's first plastic free supermarket aisle, organic and a little lane of hope where customers can buy a wide selection of groceries, all 100% plastic free.

As the cofounder of the campaign "A Plastic Planet," Sian Sutherland is hoping to take this global. This she tells me is a game changer.

SIAN SUTHERLAND, FOUNDER, A PLASTIC PLANET: Right now, you will go into a supermarket, you have no choice but to take home that shed load of plastic that you don't want. So, all we wanted was to say in a day where you can buy gluten free, fat-free, dairy free all of these things free, just give us one aisle and that aisle is of course of symbol. It's a symbol of what change can be in the future. It's a symbol of what the future of food retaining will be.

SOARES: Also at the vanguard of the growing anti-waste movement is an unlikely eco warrior. Richard Eckersley is a former Manchester United footballer, who recently set up the UK's first zero waste shop, Earth, Food, Love in Totnes, in the southwest of England.

RICHARD ECKERSLEY, FORMER MANCHESTER UNITED FOOTBALLER: I wanted something to contribute. I wanted to contribute and I wanted to use the resources that I've gained in football to put into something and this just seemed like a perfect fit. It's just trying to provide people with everything that normally comes in plastic without plastic, basically.


SOARES: Here, customers are encouraged to bring their containers and fill them up with as many as 200 organic products, from dried foods, to washing up liquid and it seems it is catching on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've just wandered in here for the first time, so I just bought a few herbs and paper bags, but I will definitely be back with all of my containers, because I think it is a terrific idea.

SOARES: Sian says the momentum is here to stay and the most sustainable material we can use replace plastic are already out there.

SUTHERLAND: Paper, card, wood pulp, grass, glass, tin, not plastic lined, aluminum - now, there are so other materials. There won't be one thing that directly replaces plastic, it will be a plethora of things, many different things.

SOARES: Outside the box thinking that may just help break our plastic habit. Isa Soares CNN, Totnes, in the Southwest of England.


CHURCH: A bit of a breakthrough there. All right, let us turn to the weather now in parts of Europe who are in a deep-freeze right now. We get the forecast from meteorologist, Allison Chinchar. Good to see you, Allison.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST, CNN: And good to see you, too, yes, understand just how cold a lot of these locations are, I want to show you what they would normally be, because we are not just talking a degree or two or even five below average in some places. Take a look at this, Moscow yesterday morning, their temperature was -22 minus. Their average is -7. Take Berlin for example, -15 yesterday morning. Their average is -1, so that is something to understand. Now, the other thing to note is you also have to factor in the wind in a lot of these locations.

Paris for example, it's -7 there right now, but it feels like it's - 15, thanks to the wind. Copenhagen -8 for the actual temperature, but it feels like it's -18. Now that wind is not only making things feel cold, but it's also helping to enhance the sea effect snow taking place along the eastern coast of the UK. Take that in addition to the next system coming up from the Iberian Peninsula, this is why some areas of the UK, especially around areas of Ireland are going to be looking at pretty substantial amounts of snow, even minuses on top of what they've already had.

Widespread you're talking 10 cm to 15 cm but some areas will pick up even more than that. One thing to note, this frigid air is going to start to separate, but take a look at this, because we want to kind of give you some perspective on exactly what the temperatures are like for some of these locations. When you think of cold places, you think Iceland, you think Greenland, but that is not going to be the case right now. In fact, the high temperature forecast for today in Reykjavik is 6 degrees. This means, it is actually expected to be colder today in both Nice, France and Venice, Italy.

Now one thing to note and this is the good news here, Rosemary, is that the temperatures will start to warm up. That Arctic air is going to start to push back away. The thing is, however even though we will warm, it's really just going to bring temperatures back to where they normally would be this time of year, so not technically a warm-up by any means.

CHURCH: Oh dear, all right, thank you so much, Allison Chinchar for the heads up. We will take a short break here, but still to come nobody wants to get caught sleeping on the job especially when you work at the White House. There's a little hit there, we will be back with more when we comeback.


CHURCH: I'm guessing you've been there, you're at a meeting, your boss is droning on and on and maybe you nod off for a little bit, but when your boss is Donald Trump, your cat nap won't go unnoticed, you can be sure of that. Jeannie Moos has that report.


JEANNE MOOS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: He's a guy who is known for being pretty awake...

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: And you will not deny it. Jim, Jim. No, don't be condescending.

MOOS: But there he was caught napping head drooping even as his boss, the President, spoke on school safety.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The headline was Trump wants all teachers to have guns.

MOOS: It had been a valiant effort senior advisor Stephen Miller yawned, scratched his ear, rubbed his face, stretched his neck, but to no avail, he fell asleep. At one point, his elbow slipped off the chair.

With his tough views on immigration, critics unloaded. "I guess you could say Stephen Miller was a dreamer." "I feel personally safer knowing that Stephen Miller is asleep on the job." Miller joins Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.


MOOS: Not inspired enough to stay awake during the President's speech in Saudi Arabia. Of course, the inopportune snooze cuts across party lines. Liberal Presidents like Bill Clinton have done it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To live up to their purpose and potential.

MOOS: Waking up cupping his ear as if trying to hear. Even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ...alienating America from its allies.

MOOS: Dozed through President Obama's State of the Union blaming it on California wine at dinner.

RUTH BADER GINSBURG, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT: At least, I was 100% sober because before we went to the State of the Union ...

MOOS: President Reagan fell asleep while sitting next to the Pope and Tucker Carlson nodded off sitting next to TV hosts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is really asleep.

MOOS: He drifted off during an early-morning commercial and woke up after they came back from break. But you know what qualifies as a sleep emergency? When a 911 dispatcher nods off while taking a call from a woman seeking help for unconscious husband.


MOOS: At least Stephen Miller didn't snore. Jeannie Moos, CNN.

TRUMP: I want highly trained people.

MOOS: New York.


CHURCH: And I hope you're still awake. Thanks for your company this hour, I am Rosemary Church. Remember to connect with me anytime on Twitter. Love to hear from you. The news continues now with Hannah Vaughn Jones in London. You are watching CNN. Have a great day.