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Pedestrians Plowed in Flinders Street; North Korean Military Defected to South Korea; President Trump Heads to Vacation House with his Tax Cut Victory; Cardinal Law Will Receive Full Vatican Funeral; Melbourne Police: Vehicle Deliberately Struck Pedestrians; President Trump Warns Countries Over U.N. Jerusalem Vote. Aired 3-4a ET
Aired December 21, 2017 - 03:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[03:00:00] ROSEMARY CHURCH, HOST, CNN: A young North Korean soldier crosses the DMZ, the second military member to defect in less than two months.
We are live in South Korea.
And the U.S. warns it will be taking names Thursday when the U.N. votes on Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Plus, survivors who were abused by priests are speaking out against a celebration of a former cardinal's life. The disgraced or not, Bernard Law will receive a full Vatican funeral.
Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around t world. I'm Rosemary Church, and this is CNN Newsroom.
And police in Melbourne, Australia are trying to sort out by vehicle slammed into at least 13 pedestrians at a crowded intersection in the heart of the city. They are not yet sure if it was an accident or deliberate.
The incident happened at the Flinders Street station. What we do know, the driver and another person have been arrested. One small child is in serious condition with a head injury. One other person has also been taken to the hospital.
With me now on the line, eyewitness Cameron Von Borstel. Thank you so much for being with us. What exactly did you see, Cameron?
CAMERON VON BORSTEL, EYEWITNESS: Thanks, Rosemary. Essentially, I was a couple meters up the road when the incident happened, I heard a very loud commotion, it just sounded like a car accident, and I turned and saw a lot of people screaming and running away from the incident. And I thought, what on earth could they be upset with.
So I wandered maybe 10 meters down the road and that's when I saw essentially a lot of people lying around on the roads and a lot of people trying to help those people up off the road.
CHURCH: And Cameron, at any point, did you see this vehicle try to break or try to stop before it hit these people?
VON BORSTEL: I definitely heard a braking noise. So it sounded like the brakes were hit before impact. There was a screech, there was a bang, and there was a lot of screaming. So, I didn't get -- I didn't see the impact, but I definitely saw the aftermath.
CHURCH: And of course the first thing that people always think of, in situations like this, particularly in pedestrian areas here, where there are access, there's access to cars, people worry about the possibility of a terror attack.
Authorities are certainly not indicating that's the case. They even don't know if this is deliberate or an accident at this point, but what is the situation there on the ground now? What are you able to tell us, the presence of police, et cetera?
VON BORSTEL: Yes, at the moment the...
CHURCH: All right, sorry to interrupt. We're going to listen to a press conference now in Melbourne. Let's listen in.
RUSSELL BARRETT, POLICE COMMANDER, NORTH-WEST DIVISION: At this stage, we believe it's a deliberate act. So I repeat that, at this stage we believe it is a deliberate act. However, we do not know the motivation and it is still early stages of the investigation.
Police and emergency services will remain on scene for the foreseeable future. We are requesting people to avoid the area. I'll repeat that. The crime scene will be in place for a considerable period of time and we are urging people who can avoid the area to avoid the area.
Police will continue to have a strong presence in Melbourne Street tonight. People may have items and vehicles within the crime scene. At this stage, they will not be able to be retrieved, until the crime scene is re-opened.
We understand this has been a very traumatic event, and there will be witnesses, victims, and family members affected. Anyone who witnessed the incident is urged to attend the Spencer Street Police Station at 313 Spencer Street, Melbourne to make a statement. Welfare services are present at that location. We encourage anyone with any other information to contact crime stoppers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mention to us -- you mention to us about you believe it was deliberate, can you tell us why you believe that?
BARRETT: We believe based on what we've seen, that it's a deliberate act. The motivations are unknown. It's still early in the investigation.
BARRETT: Still too early in the investigation to gain any understanding. [03:05:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have they been charged at this stage?
BARRETT: No, they haven't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you rule out terror?
BARRETT: At this stage, it's early stages in the investigation and the motivation is unknown. (Inaudible) It's early stages of the investigation.
CHURCH: All right. Listening in there to that news conference with the Melbourne police, they say that they believe this was a deliberate act, but they do not know what the motivation was at this time. They've said this is a crime scene, it will remain that crime scene for the foreseeable future.
They've asked people to avoid that area. We know at this point that the driver and another person have been arrested.
Once more, a child is in serious condition with a head injury. And 13 pedestrians at a crowded intersection there in the heart of the city have been affected by this.
So we're keeping a very close eye, just reporting again there in Melbourne, Australia, police saying that they do believe that this is was deliberate act, this Suzuki SUV running into this crowd of pedestrians there on Flinders Street. This is a pedestrian area of course where these cars do have access to people walking in the street area.
This is a crime scene, we heard from the police there and it will remain that so in the foreseeable future.
Let's go back to our witness, I was talking to Cameron Von Borstel before we went to that news conference. Cameron, I'm not sure if you heard there, but the police saying this was, indeed, a deliberate act. So just relay to us what you saw in the lead-up to this accident taking place.
VON BORSTEL: Yes, essentially in the lead-up, it was just a typical, you know, afternoon in Melbourne. People heading home from work. It was around 5.30. You know, everyone was filtering out of the offices.
I'm honestly completely shocked there were only 13 people involved because that intersection is one of the main entrances to the train station. Everybody uses it. That crossing is incredibly busy. So to hear that number is only 13 is a God send.
CHURCH: And are you shocked to hear that this was deliberate? Of course we have to put that in the context, a similar incident occurred in January 2017, another deliberate act and sadly, there were fatalities in that incident. And that's just a few streets away from Flinders Street location. VON BORSTEL: Yes, that's right. That wasn't even a drivable street.
That was just a street for pedestrians. A car mounted it and just went nuts, drove straight down the middle and hurt a lot of people. I think it was three fatalities for that one. And like you said, that was not too long ago. So to hear that this one was only intentional is a little bit frightening.
CHURCH: And what is the situation there, can you see the police presence at this point from your vantage point there?
VON BORSTEL: I can. At the moment I'm sitting opposite the Flinders Street station, there's a one very big police van with all this balance equipment inside. There's tons of police, there's so much tape all around the station.
They are allowing people access to the station so I can people coming in and out of the station so they can safely get home and such, but the streets surrounding the station are completely empty. It's just police and everything is cordoned off.
CHURCH: Yes, we heard there from the news conference the police there saying that this is a crime scene and will remain that for some hours. People are to avoid the crime scene area. So it's interesting that you say people are being allowed access to Flinders Street station now.
VON BORSTEL: Yes. Essentially it's almost major hub for all of the trains in and out of the city. So essentially if they did block that off, that would cause a lot of commuter confusion. So I'm kind of glad they are allowing access to the station at least. But getting into the station, it looks like it's quite a long trek you've got to walk all the way around the street.
CHURCH: And, Cameron, just taking you back to the actual accident, because you saw the vehicle in the lead-up to this. What about once it had plowed into those people? Were you able to see the driver and the other person in the vehicle?
VON BORSTEL: No. So I could see the rear of the vehicle. Essentially the vantage point I had was from behind where the incident happened. So essentially I could see the rear of the vehicle.
[03:10:01] I couldn't see any door open, I couldn't see any of that. And as soon as the police got there, that was the first thing they did was rush to the vehicle, because that was the last anyone could see of it.
CHURCH: And we heard too, the police they are aware of course that there are people. People with their own vehicles there parked in the area. They're not going to have access to those a number of people would be affected by this, no doubt.
VON BORSTEL: Yes, definitely. The street that runs along Flinders Street station is quite long. It's about a kilometer long in total. And there are cars parked all along it. And no one can access their vehicles. CHURCH: All right, Cameron Von Borstel, an eyewitness there near
Flinders Street station, thanks so much for joining us and explaining to us what you were able to see.
And just repeating to our viewers now, we heard from the police at the news conference that this accident that happened at Flinder Street station is believed to be a deliberate act, but the police do not know at this point what the motivation was.
But the driver and another person in that vehicle have been arrested. Thirteen pedestrians were plowed into there and we know that one small child is in serious condition with a head injury. We will of course continue to follow this story and bring you the details as they come into us at CNN.
But let's move on now to another story we've been following. And another North Korean soldier has defected to South Korea. He crossed the DMZ Thursday morning.
South Korea's military says no shots were fired during the defection, but a while later, its forces did fire warning shots as North Korean guards searched for the defector near the border. The soldier is now in South Korean custody.
In all, four members of North Korea's military have defected to the South in 2017. Prior to this year, there had only been four defections from North Korea's armed forces in the past five years.
So we do want to bring in our Paula Hancocks, she's live from Seoul. Paula, what more are you learning about this latest defection, and what happened after he made it into South Korea?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, what we're hearing, Rosemary, from military at this point is that he's a young man. He's a -- they say 19 or early 20s. He had a firearm on him as well as he crossed over. But they say there was no shots fired as he crossed into South Korea.
As you say, this was 8.04 a.m., 10.30 a.m. -- sorry, 9.30 a.m. The military says that then they saw North Korean soldiers approaching the border, clearly looking for that defector to try and stop him. They said they fired 20 warning shots in the direction of the soldiers and just about 40 minutes later, they did hear firing from the North Korean side, but that didn't land in South Korea.
So even though there was no direct exchange of fire between North and South Korea and soldiers on the DMZ, the very fact that there is firing taking place would concern many.
Obviously, there's concern for miscalculation a great concern here on the border. And it's something that we are seeing more of.
Remember just last month, you saw that defector running across the DMZ, being fired upon by his former North Korean comrades, and being shot four times. He has survived. But we are seeing a significant increase in the number of soldiers
trying to defect across the DMZ. This used to be a route that was a rare defection route. It was deemed too difficult, too dangerous. But we are seeing a significant increase in the number that are taking that risk now. Rosemary?
CHURCH: And Paula, what are North Korea's response to this latest defection likely be? And what will happen to this young man's family as a result of his actions?
HANCOCKS: Well, what we've seen with the previous man, Oh Chong Song who defected was that he was obviously taken into South Korean custody, and according to some officials, we saw a definite uptick in the border control, the border guards, the number of guards that were there.
It's reported that they had changed the guards that had not stopped that defector from coming to South Korea. You would imagine that maybe they would be punished. Certainly, the family of that defector, many defectors that come to South Korea will go to China. Understand that their family would be under increased scrutiny, would potentially be sent to a political prison or what would be like.
And they know they could take some of that -- some of that blame for their defection, which is just a tremendous added guilt for those who do defect. But also shows the desperation as to why they defected.
CHURCH: Indeed. Paula Hancocks, joining us live from Seoul in South Korea, where it is 5.15 in the early evening. Many thanks.
Well, the U.S. president heads into his holiday break this weekend with a legislative victory and renewed focus on Jerusalem. Donald Trump and congressional republicans celebrated the passage of the tax reform bill at the White House on Wednesday.
[03:15:01] Later Thursday, the U.N. General Assembly holds an emergency session to consider a resolution condemning the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
With the latest poll showing only 33 percent of Americans supporting the tax reform bill, the next challenge for republicans is selling it to the public.
Jim Acosta has the details.
JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: The president, who promised if elected Americans would be winning so much, they would be sick of it, finally scored a victory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's always a lot of fun when you win. If you work hard and lose, that's not acceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: GOP leaders delivered on their tax-cut plan promise after a last-second glitch forced the House to vote on the package a second time. But House Speaker Paul Ryan vow taxpayers won't view the bill as a mistake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The message to the families in America who have been struggling paycheck and paycheck, your tax rates are going down, and your paychecks are going up.
This is the kind of relief that Americans deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The tax explain it does offer modest cuts to middle class families, but there are bigger gains for the wealthy and large corporations while creating uncertainty in the nation's health care system by repealing the mandate to buy insurance in Obamacare.
Then adding more than a trillion dollars to the deficit over 10 years. The president relished the idea of taking down Obamacare.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hate to say this, but we essentially repealed Obamacare, because we got rid of the individual mandate, which was terrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The GOP bill also spares the so-called carried interest loophole, preserving a massive break for billionaire investors, something white House economic advisor Gary Cohn blamed on Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GARY COHN, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISOR: We would cut carried interest. We've been trying to cut carried interest, probably we tried 25 times.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then what?
COHN: We hit opposition in that big white building with the dome at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue every time we tried.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Democrats are accusing republicans of raiding the treasury to reward their contributors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) UNITED STATES SENATOR: There are only two places where America's popping champagne, the White House and the corporate boardrooms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now republicans have to sell their plan at a critical time, the upcoming midterm elections looming next year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) UNITED STATES SENATOR: Absolutely. I mean, we're looking forward to it. My view of this, if we can't sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: A new CNN poll finds a big majority of Americans now want democrats in control of Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: It is laid upon the table!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: That may be why House Speaker Paul Ryan is not guaranteeing he is sticking around after 2018.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. I'm still focused on getting our agenda done. On questions on way down the line, I'll address those on way down the line. But in the meantime, we've got a lot of work to do, I'm here to stay, I'm not going anywhere. If there is something changes down the road in the future I'll address that down the road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Other distractions won't help the GOP from the president's son Donald Trump, Jr. claiming forces inside the U.S. government are trying to sabotage his father.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, JR., DONALD TRUMP'S SON: There is and there are people at the highest levels of government that don't want to let America be America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: To the Russia investigation and its impact on members of the Trump family, like the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I'm telling you, that he deserves the scrutiny. You know why? Because he was involved in the transition and involved in the meetings that call into question his role. OK, well, then if he's innocent of that, then that will come out as Mueller examines all the facts. And if he's not, that will come out, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Still the president said their prayer should go to the media heading into the holidays.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So with that, I'm going to ask Ben Carson, you can say if you want, because you need the prayer more than I do, I think. You may be the only ones. Maybe a good solid prayer and they'll be honest. Is that possible?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: No word on when the president will sign this tax bill. It could happen down at Mar-a-Lago, the president's winter retreat.
White House officials aren't ruling that out, even if his richy resort may not be the best backdrop for signing a bill that's supposed to help working class Americans.
Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.
CHURCH: We are following breaking news in Melbourne, Australia, where a vehicle has plowed into 13 people at the Flinders Street station there. We know at this point, the police are calling this a deliberate act. But they are not aware of the motivation at this point. Two people have been taken into custody.
We will follow this on the other side of the break. So stay with us.
[03:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
CHURCH: We're turning now to our breaking news out of Melbourne, Australia. Police say a driver deliberately drove a vehicle into intersection in the heart of the city. Two people have been arrested, including the driver.
At least 13 pedestrians were taken to the hospital, including a small child in serious condition.
Joining us now is Annelise Nielsen of Sky News. So, Annelise, what more information are you learning now that the police have told us this was, indeed, a deliberate act?
ANNELISE NIELSEN, MELBOURNE REPORTER, SKY NEWS: That's right. Police have confirmed that they are treating this as a deliberate act by these two men. And they confirmed that just a short time ago. They still have this entire area partitioned off.
We're right in the heart of the Melbourne CBD here when this incident took place. It was at 20 to 5 when there were thousands of people walking through the streets, they were walking toward Flinders Street station, which is one of the -- which is the busiest train station here in Melbourne and it's also right in the heart of the city near our shopping districts.
And so many people were out doing Christmas shopping. What police have told us is they believe this white Suzuki vehicle was driven down Flinders Street that hit 13 different people. They've been taken to local hospital where they've treated for injuries, some of them are quite serious.
As you said, one of those victims is a young girl, and she's being treated for head injuries in the nearby children's hospital, and that is obviously an incredibly serious situation.
Police partitioned -- or blocked the streets off right after the incident happened. As you can imagine, at each of these street blockades, there were thousands of people trying to see what had happened.
And we are just a few blocks from where we had an attack in Melbourne just in January of this year, a similar incident, a driver plowed through Bourke Street which is the main shopping street here and where thousands of people were doing their shopping tonight.
And I think for a lot of people, that it has brought back those memories and there has been a lot of people who are quite distressed. There's been an ambulance workers on same dealing with people who are in shock and also helping those who were injured.
Many people had to be diverted away from the scene and that is still happening now and they are being diverted to other train stations. This is still rush hour time in Melbourne, one of the busiest times of the year.
Police have said they will keep the city partitioned off overnight as they were collecting evidence. We can see them are already going down the street here, collecting CCTV vision from different shops and talking to witnesses, many of whom are still in the stores in the restaurant where they were just meters away from where this incident happened.
CHURCH: And Annelise, as we mentioned and you just reported, the driver and another person in that vehicle have been arrested. What are witnesses saying about what they may have seen in terms of the driver just after this incident took place?
NIELSEN: Well, what witnesses have said is that they saw the car going down Flinders Street, and have made no attempt to slow down or veer away from pedestrians. It then crashed into a bollard on Flinders Street, and there the police were able to remove these men from the car.
They stayed on scene for quite some time. And we're trying to ascertain whether they're still here or they have been removed. But police do have these two men within their custody and they are questioning them over this incident. CHURCH: And how are people there responding? We can see people just
over your right shoulder there. They seem fairly relaxed, it doesn't seem to be any panic on the street at all.
And we understand too from a witness we spoke to, that Flinders Street station is up and running and operational.
[03:24:56] NIELSEN: Yes, that's right. Things have had to move on. And I think one of the concerns with that was that if we allowed any big crowds to form around it, it could pose its own security risk. So police were very quick to move people on. But certainly a lot of the people who witnessed it were absolutely in shock.
We've heard one witness say that people were flying like rag dolls. People were running to help these victims as they land the street before emergency crews could arrive, although we're told they were at the scene very quickly.
But so many people here who are working the time and they are coming out now just to discover the scene. As I was explaining before, it brings back memories to this attack that happened in January of this year where the driver going through Burke Street on main shopping mall.
In that attack, 34 people were hit, six people died. That's probably a criminal case at the moment where the driver is facing those charges. But it is certainly fresh in the memory and it's something that's been quite an issue around Melbourne since that attack.
We've had bollards put up around all our major landmark and our sporting arenas and around our train stations, even Flinders Street station itself does have bollards around it for this type of incident, but I think it just puts that fear in people's minds, that even if they do walk down the street, that something like this could happen to them.
CHURCH: It's certainly a major concern. Other cities across the globe are tackling that very issue. Annalise Nielsen joining us there from Sky News. Thank you so much. We will of course go back to you if you learn any more information on this. Much appreciated.
All right, we're following another story. The late Cardinal Bernard Law will receive a fuel cardinal's funeral at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Pope Francis will be at part of the ceremony as well, all to the dismay of some sex abuse survivor in the United States.
Law resigned as the archbishop of Boston in 2002 after reporters uncovered a wide-ranging sexual abuse scandal in his archdiocese. He was accused of protecting priests who were abusing children and some of those victims spoke out after Law's death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXA MACPHERSON, BOSTON ARCHBISHOP SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM: I feel like Cardinal Law's passing at this juncture, it does nothing to rectify anything in my life or those of any survivors that are still with us. He never fully addressed the crisis. He never reached out to us. He never inquired about our well-being, or put protective measures in place to stop this atrocious behavior.
MITCHELL GARABEDIAN, ATTORNEY: Pope Francis, if you're listening, listen closely. Try to learn what the victims are saying. We need -- victims need -- survivors and victims need more than words. They need action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: And the man who succeeded Law as Boston archbishop had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN O'MALLEY, ARCHBISHOP OF BOSTON: Right now, the hurt is still there, the healing is still necessary, and we must all be vigilant, particularly for prevention of child abuse and to create safe environments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: Cardinal Law's funeral is set for the next few hours. The same day as the pope's address to the Vatican's governing body, the curia.
Vatican correspondent Delia Gallagher joins me now live from Rome. So, Delia, the Catholic Church would have been fully aware that giving Cardinal Law a full Vatican funeral would trigger outrage from the numerous sex abuse victims at his archdiocese. Why would the Vatican have decided to go ahead with these plans regardless?
DELIA GALLAGHER, VATICAN CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That's right, Rosemary. It's certainly something which is bound to cause even more controversy. The Vatican officials I've spoken to have said it is protocol when a cardinal dies in Rome that the pope gives the final blessing.
Of course the problem with that is, we know Pope Francis is a pope who breaks with protocol when he wants. And so his decision not to do that in this case is bound to raise more controversy. But the Vatican says this is a religious event.
A funeral is not a tribunal, they say, or a judgment on the life of the man.
We might also add, Rosemary, that you know, in context, when a cardinal dies usually we hear rather effusive statements from the Vatican about his life, and so forth. That has not happened. Obviously, in the case of Cardinal Law the pope sent a telegram which was very low key, about Cardinal Law and, indeed, Cardinal Sean O'Malley whom we just heard from, also issued a very balanced statement, also speaking about the failures of the time that Cardinal Law was archbishop in Boston.
So, on balance from the Vatican's point of view, it is a measured and low-key event, yet no doubt the pope's decision to be at the funeral will create even more controversy in a life that has already been quite controversial. Rosemary?
CHURCH: Delia Gallagher joining us there, live from Rome, where it is nearly 9.30 in the morning. We thank you.
[03:30:02] We're going to take a short break, but we will have more for you on our breaking news out of Melbourne, Australia, where a vehicle has plowed into pedestrians near the very busy Flinders street station. Police say this was a deliberate act. They don't know the motivation at this time. A small child is in serious condition. Another person has been taken to hospital. We will have more details on this when we return. Do stay with us.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CHURCH: We welcome our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. This is CNN newsroom, I'm Rosemary Church. Want to update you on our breaking news that we're following this hour. Police in Melbourne, Australia, say a driver deliberately plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in the heart of the city. Two people have been arrested, including the driver. Police say 14 people were injured, including a child in serious condition in hospital. Police have not yet determined the motive. We turn to Ivan Watson who joins us live from Hong Kong. So Ivan we know from the police this was a deliberate act, but we don't know a lot more about this.
IVAN WATSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: That is right. The police have made clear that the motivation at this time behind this is unknown. That is something certainly that we'll be following very closely. But let's keep in mind, this took place at around 4:45 p.m. Melbourne time. That is less than three hours ago. So the authorities are very much in the preliminary stages of establishing what they say is going to be a crime scene for some time there in Melbourne. The incident took place near Flinders street station that is an iconic building, in the heart of the city. One of the busiest shopping districts, also an area people transit through, and coming into rush hour time, right before the Christmas holiday. The description of a white Suzuki vehicle ramming into pedestrians there, as we've heard some 14 people being taken to hospital there, including a child of preschool age as well. When it comes to also the investigation, the police have said that they immediately arrested two people on the scene, including the driver. They have not been identified yet.
[03:35:07] We do not know yet about charges potentially that could be placed against these two people. When it comes to the question of motivations here, we do have to take into consideration, a violent incident that took place almost a year ago, January of last year, just blocks away from where this took place, a ramming incident involving a vehicle that killed six people. In that case, the authorities ruled out terrorism, said that terrorism was not involved in that deadly incident which lead to city officials starting to put kind of planters, basically obstacles that could help protect this busy pedestrian area from vehicle-type attacks. Another piece of context, in December of 2016, almost exactly a year ago, Australian police did foil what they say was a terror plot inspired by ISIS, aimed at using improvised explosive devices around that same very area, running up to the Christmas holiday. So those are two important one deadly incidents, not terror related, another that could have become one that was foiled in that same vicinity almost year ago today. Rosemary.
CHURCH: It has to be said, Australian authorities do have a good reputation and a good record for foiling attempts like this, or once they happen, certainly following up on them. Just want to make the point, as you said, this took place at 4:45 p.m. in Melbourne, it's now 7:36 p.m. So, of course, this is continuing and we heard from authorities there that this is a crime scene and will continue to be a crime scene for many hours to come. People are to stay clear of the area, although the Flinders street station is still operating. So what we need to focus on here now, Ivan, is that this has happened in various cities around the world, where there's a situation where vehicles are near pedestrian areas. And it may come to a point where various countries need to determine whether that is very wise.
WATSON: Yes, and that is a question that of course will come up for down the road. I mean again, for now, because this is so immediate, not only is the treatment of the victims here of utmost priority, but also the gathering of information here. So the Australian police have put out a call for images, for example, for video that people could have been filming at the time of the incident. They've also put out a call for eyewitnesses to come forward to deliver statements, because they're trying to suck up as much information now as possible to try to figure out what and why this could have happened.
But when you ask a question about these ramming incidents, that is also a major concern. Again, we don't know the Australian police say they don't know what the motivations are behind this incident, but there's certainly been a deadly and disturbing pattern of terror- related attacks around the world, involving vehicles plowing into pedestrians. That seems to be a tactic that has not only been publicly called for by both Al Qaeda and by ISIS, but it is something that has been implemented with deadly results in a number of incidents this year.
You recall December 19th of 2016, there was an incident that took place in Berlin in a Christmas market there, where at least 12 people were killed. Since then, there have been more than a half dozen similar incidents taking place several times in London, in Stockholm, in Barcelona and in southern Spain, in Canada, and most recently, October 31st of this year, eight people killed when a man went down a bicycle path on the west side of Manhattan and rammed into people there. So this is something that is increasingly becoming a concern in major metropolitan areas. Rosemary?
CHURCH: It most certainly is. Ivan Watson joining us there from Hong Kong, bringing us up to date on the situation in Melbourne Australia and giving some context there, some history of similar accidents that have occurred in the past. Many thanks to you Ivan.
And Jim Stupos owns a donut shop in the area of Flinders Street station nearby and witnessed what happened. He joins us now on the phone. So, Jim, talk to us about what you saw exactly in the lead up to this accident and then in the aftermath.
JIM STUPOS, OWNER, WALKERS DONUT SHOP: Hi, Rosemary. I was probably 20 yards away from it, across the road. I saw this white Suzuki SUV speeding at about a hundred kilometers, about 60 miles per hour, and the intersection was completely full.
[03:40:05] Probably the busiest intersection in Melbourne here. And the car just literally plowed into them. All you could hear was people hitting the car, bouncing off and screaming. The only thing that slowed down the vehicle was the amount of people that it hit. It was awful.
CHURCH: That is a horrendous thing for you to witness. And then once the vehicle did come to standstill there, were you able to see the driver and the other person in the vehicle?
STUPOS: No, I wasn't. I only saw the footage that was on the internet. I saw -- the police responded within a minute almost. A minute, two tops and they had the vehicle surrounded. I didn't see them pulled out of the car, but I heard that is what happened. I was more concerned with the people lying on the road. The vehicle didn't seem to speed up, but it didn't seem to slow down. Terrorism is everybody's first thought, but thought maybe somebody had fallen asleep at the wheel, but it wasn't.
CHURCH: It's extraordinary what you said. You said police were there within a minute. Where were -- is that usual there would be a lot of police around that particular area?
STUPOS: Yes. There's a station across the road. Because the intersection is so busy, there's always police around. But I was amazed at how quickly they were here. Police cars were turning up within minutes.
CHURCH: The police do have a pretty good record in Melbourne, Australia, don't they, for responding very quickly to situations like this? Do you remember back in January this year, just a few roads -- streets away from Flinders street station, there was a similar incident, but there were six fatalities? Do you remember that incident?
STUPOS: Yes, absolutely. I was here on that day as well. I didn't witness the incident, but, yes, the city was in virtual lockdown again. It was a lot of traffic. I remember, because I was driving to the store and the city was gridlock, basically.
CHURCH: And of course no link has been made by Australian authorities at this point between what happened just a few hours ago there in Melbourne and what happened back in January. But just talk to us about the situation. I'm assuming you're still there nearby. What are you seeing right now?
STUPOS: Right now it's a fairly subdued scene. The vehicles are still there. There's debris all over the place. Police and SWAT Team are walking around with big machine guns. There's detectives. And there's major collision investigation. So there's police, in terms of the chaos before, it's just calmed down. The car is still there where it stopped.
CHURCH: And of course for the benefit of our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, it is now 7:43 in the evening there in Melbourne, Australia, as the police continue to try to piece together what exactly happened here. They have been able to establish this was a deliberate act, but they do not know at this point what the motivation was. So, Jim, talk to us about the people you saw being taken to the hospital. Because we understand now 14 people were hit by this vehicle.
STUPOS: Yes, I thought it would be more, to be honest. I was surprised it was only 14. A little child apparently, I heard through other people speaking in the internet, but there was a lot of people being put into ambulance. A lot of people with backpacks on, you know, look like business people as well. Sort of a cross-section of the community, basically.
CHURCH: Jim Stupos, thanks so much for going us and sharing your story with us, what you were able to witness at this accident where the police there in Melbourne, Australia, have said it was a deliberate act. They don't know at this point what the motivation was, but two people including the driver have been arrested.
[03:45:01] We will, of course continue to follow this story and bring you the details as they come in to us. We'll take a very short break here, but still to come, a big day ahead at the United Nations where the U.S. has a warning for countries that don't support its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. We're back in just a moment.
CHURCH: Welcome back, Donald Trump is threatening to cut financial aid to countries that don't support his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The U.N. general assembly will vote Thursday on a resolution criticizing the move. The U.S. vetoed a similar measure in the Security Council on Monday. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley says she will be taking names of those countries that don't support the U.S. decision on Jerusalem. She sent a letter to U.N. Representatives that reads in part, we are not asking that other countries move their embassies to Jerusalem, though we think it would be appropriate.
We are simply asking that you acknowledge the historical friendship, partnership, and support we have extended and respect our decision about our own embassy. The President will be watching this vote carefully. We will take note of each and every vote on this issue. Joining me now to discuss all of this, CNN global affairs analyst Aaron David Miller via skype from Washington, D.C. He is also the Vice President for new initiatives and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson international center for scholars. Thank so much for being with us.
AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Pleasure. CHURCH: Aaron first, the U.N. Security Council rejected the U.S.
decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Now Nikki Haley sends out a letter before the large U.N. general assembly vote, essentially threatening members. How will this likely impact that vote, do you think? And what is likely to happen before at the U.N.?
DAVID MILLER: Well, not at all positive. This is not the first time the U.N. Ambassador and President Trump frankly has talked about -- both of them have talked about taking names and determining who stands with the United States and who stands against. Frankly, I doubt whether this sort of warning, threats, or coercion is going to have much of an impact. 193 countries sit in the U.N. and the vast majority clearly already in the Security Council, in a 14-1 vote, have expressed their opposition to the U.S. statement last Wednesday. And the general assembly, which the U.S. cannot effect, is likely to deliver an even more resounding blow to the latest Trump initiative.
But I think, Rosemary, it drives home the point that this decision, taken last Wednesday by the President, has nothing to do with the pursuit of Israeli/Palestinian peace. It was done largely for domestic political reasons, and it strikes me that the administration, in fact, will probably revel in the campaign at the U.N. play on the fact that the President has fundamental doubts about how useful the United Nations can be. He is already talked about freeloading allies who don't do their part. I think domestically, frankly, the isolation of the U.S. paradoxically will play quite well for him.
[03:50:26] CHURCH: Interesting. And let's just listen to what the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, had to say on her first day on the job back in January this year, and then I want to come back to get you reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Our goal with the administration is to show valuable at the U.N. And the way that we'll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, have the backs of our allies, and make sure that our allies have our back as well. For those that don't have our back, we're taking names. We will make points to respond to that accordingly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHURCH: So even back in January, we're hearing this "we're taking names, we're watching," this language, very threatening coming from the Trump administration, and nothing has changed in nearly a year. Does that work, or will the Trump administration need to change strategies here, if as you say, they are likely to receive a pretty stunning rebuke when the U.N. General assembly votes on this very issue?
DAVID MILLER: The administration has little faith in multilateral diplomacy, particularly when it comes to economic matters and political matters. So this, I think, is quite consistent with their view, or the President's view that he is a transactional man, and if he gives, he is going to get. The problem is, it's not going to work. And the pursuit of Israeli/Palestinian peace was frankly mortally wounded even before the President made his statement on Jerusalem. This is not going to help matters. All is not lost.
The Trump administration purportedly is going to bring out an initiative in the spring, and there's all kinds of possibilities, if they're prepared to create a fair degree of symmetry on the issue of Jerusalem, if in fact they were serious about Israeli/Palestinian peace, the president would not have issued the statement, or alternatively, he would have made a different statement, in which you would have acknowledge the fact that the U.S. embassy should be in west Jerusalem. But Palestinians have connections, associations, legitimate claims to the east and during the course of the negotiations.
If negotiations produced a foundation for a two-state solution, the United States would be prepared to put its embassy to a Palestinian capital and Palestinian state in east Jerusalem. That would have been a serious statement, designed to create some measure of symmetry. But this was not, again, Rosemary, so much about negotiations as it was about fulfilling a campaign commitment, preserving the President's base, and creating a situation where the President, as he said last Wednesday, I am delivering. It was the end of the year. He did not want to exercise the national security waiver even though he has exercised that waiver. So the embassy will not be moving any time soon to west Jerusalem, but he made a significant, symbolic, though very consequential statement.
CHURCH: What role then will the U.S. end up playing in the effort to find peace in the middle east, now that it has recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and it intends to eventually relocate the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem?
DAVID MILLER: There are a lot of options Rosemary that remain. If in fact the document that the administration chooses to issue, is fair- minded, broad-minded, and understands the importance that Palestinians attached to Jerusalem, it's quite conceivable, if they're prepared to create a certain, you know, reality to their peace process and diplomacy, that they can in fact get this back on track. But it's unclear to me at this stage whether or not that is what they have in mind.
CHURCH: Aaron David Miller, always great to get your analysis and your perspective on this issue. Many thanks.
DAVID MILLER: Thank you.
CHURCH: And we'll take a short break, but when we come back, we'll have more on the breaking news out of Melbourne, Australia. A car deliberately plowing into pedestrian's at the Flinders street station. We're back in just a moment.
[03:56:10] CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. I do want to update you on the breaking news we've been covering. Police in Melbourne, Australia, say a driver deliberately plowed into a crowd of pedestrians in the heart of the city. Two people have been arrested, including the driver. Police say 14 people were injured, including a child in serious condition in hospital. And police have not yet determined the motive. The last update from Melbourne police came about an hour ago. That is when they told us this was indeed a deliberate act, but they were not aware of the motivation, and they called the crime scene a place they would prefer people to stay far away from. Although the Flinders street station is still operational.
And Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull tweeted this. He said, as our federal and state police and security agencies work together to secure the scene and investigate this shocking incident, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and the emergency and health workers who are treating them.
Just to remind our viewers that it is nearly 8:00 p.m. in Melbourne, Australia. This took place just over three hours ago. So police are working very hard there in Melbourne, Australia, to try to determine the motive here. And we'll be following this story very closely and have the latest for you after a quick break. For our viewers in the United States "Early start" with Dave Briggs and Christine Romans is up next. For everyone else, Isa Soares picks up from London. You are watching CNN.