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Attack on Afghan Military Base; Alexei Navalny Out of Jail; 60th Grammy Awards; President Trump and Jay-Z Spar over Black Jobs; Access to Front Lines of Yemen; Fifty-One Syrians Killed in Afrin Operation; Severe Flood in Paris. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:15] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Cyril Vanier, live from CNN HQ here in Atlanta. Thank you for joining us.

We start with breaking news out of Afghanistan. At least two Afghan army personnel are dead after an attack on a military base near Kabul. An official says three of the attackers have been killed, one has been arrested, a fifth attacker remains under siege inside the base.

The assault comes after a Saturday bombing in Kabul killed more than 100 people. There have been three attacks in the space of a week. Families burying their dead after an ambulance packed with explosives blew up on a crowded street. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that earlier attack.

We're joined now by Bilal Sarwari, a journalist in Afghanistan. Bilal -- what more can you tell us about this attack?

BILAL SARWARI, AFGHAN JOURNALIST: The spokesman for the Afghan military defense, General Dawlat Waziri has told me that at least two members of the Afghan military are killed. At least 10 members of the Afghan military are wounded.

According to Mr. Waziri, at least three attackers were killed in the attack, one is detained and another one is missing. One eyewitness, a resident, Tazmam Hanud (ph) who lives outside of that military building has told me that a ladder was used by one of the attackers to climb on the wall and he had placed a blanket or some sort of clothing on the barbed wire.

Afghanistan was put in a very high state of security alert, at least there in Kabul. So it's just another day in Kabul with another security and intelligence failure.

VANIER: Just another day in Kabul, you say. Over the last week, the Intercontinental Hotel has been attacked. An ambulance was detonated, a suicide car bomb in the city center of Kabul. What was the target this time?

SARWARI: Well, this is definitely -- the target is the Afghan military institution. They have been targeted in the past. But what you're looking at is this very clear shift in strategy by Taliban as well as the Islamic state in terms of moving the battle into bigger cities including Kabul.

A few years ago, these sorts of casualties and fatalities would have been the numbers on the frontline somewhere in Musa Qala and Helmand and Kandahar or in another very insecure province. So the fact that Afghanistan continues to lose both its military and civilians in such a big number is quite a shock.

Last night, one of the TV stations, Ariana TV was reporting that one of the coffin centers in Kabul had told them that he had sold around 320 coffins in just a few days in Kabul. I think the weight of these coffins fall on the Afghan society. I think Afghanistan is leading a number of provinces as well as the capital has been targeted.

And it just sort of shows you that Afghanistan has a very, very difficult year ahead. 2018 is not only deadly -- that is the year of defense challenges and competition (ph) for the Afghan government as well as for its international allies.

VANIER: Challenges -- that's putting it mildly. All right. Bilal Sarwari -- thank you very much for the update. Thanks.

The military, the American military intends to reinforce its fight against the Taliban this year. The head of U.S. Central Command says attacks like the ones we saw this week only reinforce U.S. commitment. Here's part of General Joseph Votel's exclusive interview with CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.


GENERAL JOSEPH VOTEL, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: First off, let me express my condolences to the people of Afghanistan, the government of Afghanistan as a result (ph) of another horrendous attack. With regard to what that does to us, it does impact our commitment to Afghanistan, our commitment to the mission in seeing this through, and our commitment to making sure that the Afghan national security forces have what they need to deal with this particular enemy right here.

So as horrible as this is, to me this strengthens our resolve to help them move forward.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And victory is still possible?

VOTEL: Absolutely.


VANIER: Russia's main opposition figure is out of jail. Alexei Navalny is free, at least until his court hearing. He tweeted this video that shows the moment he was arrested by police in Moscow on Sunday. This happened just as he was preparing to lead an anti- Kremlin protest in the Russian capital, one of several dozen protests across the country

Navalny is calling on Russians to boycott the presidential election due to take place in March. He says that that election is going to be rigged in favor of incumbent President Vladimir Putin who's been in power 18 years now.

[00:05:07] It's not the first time Navalny has been arrested and it is certainly not the first time he has organized protests.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Matthew Chance, the long-time Putin critic explains why he's not afraid of being thrown in jail.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Russian police quickly swooped in on the opposition leader fighting through his supporters to drag Alexei Navalny away from the nationwide protests it organized.

The man faces another spell in a Russian jail, an occupational hazard he told me ahead of the protests when standing up to the Kremlin.

As the leading opposition figure in Russia, you've been harassed. You get regular visits from the authorities, the police, the other inspectors. You've been insulted widely and, of course, you've been attacked. How concerned are you in a country like this where opposition figures have been killed in the past? How concerned are you about your own safety, your security?

ALEXEI NAVALNY, RUSSIAN OPPOSITION LEADER (through translator): I'm a reasonable man. I ran my election campaign for 12 months. And out of these months, I spent two in prison. So I have a clear understanding of what this regime can do.

But I'm not afraid and I'm not going to give up on what I want to do. I won't give up on my country.

CHANCE: And it seems there are many Russians on his side in towns and cities across this vast country, Navalny's anti-corruption movement says thousands turned out to support his call for a boycott of March presidential elections. (INAUDIBLE) looks President Putin, already 18 years in power, is expected to be returned.

NAVALNY: The Putin regime is (INAUDIBLE), as the most corrupt. His family is directly involved in the corruptions. According to official data over 20 percent of our population lives below the poverty line -- I think we link (ph) the obvious why are we so poor. Because they steal so much.

CHANCE: Regardless of the popularity of that issue. You have been prevented from standing in these forthcoming presidential elections. Do you think that Vladimir Putin is genuinely concerned or fearful of you as a political opponent?

NAVALNY: He's scared of all real competition. We see in these elections that he'd only allow those to run who do not even resist, do not even do any campaigning.

CHANCE: And Alexei Navalny is certainly not one of those chosen Kremlin friendly candidates. Official opinion polls suggest his support is at barely 2 percent. But in the tightly-controlled world of Russian politics dominated by Vladimir Putin no other opposition figure can rally so many on the streets.

Matthew Chance, CNN -- Moscow.


VANIER: So the Grammys also happened Sunday night here in the U.S. And if you like your music with a heavy dose of politics then the 60th edition of the music awards was for you.

Stars arrived on the red carpet holding or wearing a white rose -- that's a show of solidarity for the #metoo and #timesup campaigns against sexual misconduct and gender inequality.

Singer and actress Janelle Monae was the first to address these issues.


JANELLE MONAE, SINGER: We offer you two words -- time's up. We say time's up for pay inequality. Time's up for discrimination. Time's up for harassment of any kind. And time's up for the abuse of power.

Because you see it's not just going on in Hollywood. It's not just going on in Washington. It's right here in our industry as well.


VANIER: Then came this emotional performance by singer Kesha.


VANIER: Kesha shined a light on the #metoo movement with that song, "Praying". She was joined on stage with other female artists including Camila Cabello who took the opportunity after that performance to also give a speech about immigration. This as she was introducing U2.


CAMILA CABELLO, SINGER: Tonight, in this room full of music streamers, we remember that this country was built by dreamers, for dreamers chasing the American dream. Just like dreams, these kids can't be forgotten and are worth fighting for.


VANIER: And for the actual awards portion of the evening, Bruno Mars took home seven trophies including Song of the Year, Album of the Year, and Record of the Year. So he's by far the biggest winner of the evening.

[00:10:00] And also the show wouldn't be complete without host James Corden taking a jab at U.S. President Donald Trump. In a skit he holds auditions for the Spoken Word album for Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House", that bombshell book that came out recently. But it was one surprise appearance that really got the crowd going.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: He had a long-time fear of being poisoned -- one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's. Nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely pre-made.

JAMES CORDEN, TV HOST: That's it. We've got it. That's the one.


VANIER: At least one member of the Trump administration was not laughing. That's U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. She tweeted, "I've always loved the Grammys but to have artists read the 'Fire and Fury' book just killed. Don't ruin great music with trash. Some of us love music without the politics thrown into it."

And U.S. President Donald Trump is sparring over black employment not with a political adversary but with hip hop mogul Jay-Z. He was hitting back at comments that the rapper made during an interview on Van Jones' new show on CNN.


VAN JONES, CNN HOST: He is somebody who is now saying look, I'm growing -- I'm dropping black unemployment. Black people are doing well under my administration. Does he have a point that maybe the Democrats have been giving us the lip service but no jobs? Maybe you kind of just say terrible things but it put money on our pockets. Does that make him a good leader?

JAY-Z, MUSICIAN: No, because it's not about money at the end of the day. Money is not -- doesn't equate to like happiness. It doesn't. That's not missing the whole point. We treat people like human beings. It goes back to the whole thing, you know, treat me really bad and pay me well.

It's not going to lead to happiness. It's going to lead to like, you know, again the same thing. Everyone's going to be sick.


VANIER: So Mr. Trump was apparently watching the show last night because after it went out, the U.S. President tweeted "Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, black unemployment has just been reported to be at the lowest rate ever recorded."

Now it's true that African-American unemployment rate has a record low of 6.8 percent last month. However, that is still well above the rate of 3.7 percent for whites.

Political commentator and talk radio host Mo Kelly joins us now from Los Angeles. Mo -- I'd like you to discuss the central argument here. And it's really the question that Van Jones was putting to Jay-Z. Donald Trump said essentially, I'm making business and the economy better and that will make everybody better and African-Americans among others should be grateful for that. What do you think?

MO KELLY, TALK RADIO HOST: Yes, that's a new spin on a rising tide lifts all boats -- lifts all boats, which goes back to JFK and also Ronald Reagan. This trickle-down economics policy and thinking that if the economy does better then African-Americans do better.

But at the central issue of this is correlation versus causation. There's a correlation between black unemployment declining and also white unemployment declining. There's a correlation there.

But the causation that Donald Trump said that because of his policies, as he said in his tweet, black unemployment is now hitting an all-time low is categorically untrue because there aren't any specific policies that he can tout which has specifically and distinctly reached out to black Americans and helped them in our specific circumstance.

VANIER: No but Mr. Trump's argument is not that he is putting in place specific policies for the African community -- the African- American community. In fact, his argument to the contrary, as you said, you know, the rising tide lifts all boats. He's saying a better economy works better for everybody. And that is the best thing you can do for minorities, whatever minorities they may be. He said the same thing of Latinos.

KELLY: I would agree with that sentiment that a better economy is better for everyone but that was not the substance of his tweet when he said because of my policies. He's making a direct correlative argument that because of what he's done black unemployment has as an end result become the lowest ever recorded. Yes it is the lowest ever recorded but the policies that has been put in place outside of tax reform which has not even come into effect, I struggle to see how he has done anything specifically other than kept the American economy from going into a ditch which has disproportionately helped African- Americans or Latinos.

VANIER: Are African-Americans doing better under Donald Trump than they were under Barack Obama, economically speaking?

KELLY: I guess you could say you could make the argument but if we look at the numbers in terms of average job gains across the board, gains for the year 2017, it was about 148,000 on average per month. That is the lowest since 2010 which also coincides with President Obama's presidency.

Yes, the nation is at full employment as they say, under 5 percent; and yes more African-Americans have jobs than ever before. But just because not everyone is suffering does not mean that we're not also in a better place overall.

[00:14:56] Yes, there is -- that is just one economic component but I will say as an African-American, I would not say that I'm more comfortable in America than ever before. Just because people have more jobs doesn't mean that America's more hospitable to African- Americans.

VANIER: Well, that really gets at the heart of it because Mr. Trump's argument is that economic empowerment is empowerment -- period. And that's what you seem to disagree with

KELLY: Yes, because of you look at who is making the decisions, if you look at his cabinet, if you look at who's offering the advice and in the ear of this president, you can make the argument that there are many people who are inhospitable, who are not friendly to African- Americans or Latinos such as Stephen Miller or previously Steven K. Bannon.

I would wonder who has the ear of this president. It's not Omarosa who's telling people what's most important to African-Americans. And I can say I get personally tired of hearing this president lecture to us about what is supposedly most important to us.

On the campaign trail he seemed to think that all of us live in Chicago in rundown cities, life of crime. That isn't it. We're not a homogenous group. We have different issues and concerns such as education and healthcare and he speaks to neither.

VANIER: But one of the -- one of the questions going into the Obama era, the Obama presidency was, well how is this going to help the African-American community? And Donald Trump can claim that he is actually doing it.

KELLY: In the short term, he can make that claim but if we look at the fullness of the numbers, President Obama at one point was dealing with African-American unemployment which was about 14 percent and got down to 6.8 percent or so. And in the last year, the Obama presidency I think was 1.5 percent drop in unemployment for specifically African- Americans. In his first year it's only dropped 1 percentage point under Donald Trump.

Just because we're moving in the same direction, I'm not going to be so sure to say that President Trump had a disproportionate impact on African-American specifically. I'm happy where the numbers are going. I'm unhappy at how this president treats and disrespects and also addresses African-Americans.

VANIER: Yes. It's a fascinating issue. Mo Kelly -- thank you so much for coming on the show and weighing in on this. Thanks -- we appreciate it.

KELLY: Thank you -- Cyril.

VANIER: And CNN is getting exclusive access inside the civil war in Yemen. Next, we'll taking you to the frontlines of the battlefield and meeting some of the victims of the conflict.

Stay with CNN.


VANIER: Yemen's prime minister is accusing southern separatists of attempting a coup. Government forces and the separatist group clashed on Sunday in the port city of Aden. At least 18 people were killed in those clashes.

Now, this is an important shift because both sides used to be on the same side fighting the Houthi rebels who control much of the north. But now the separatists accuse the Saudi-backed government of corruption and they want to remove them from power.

The civil war in Yemen is a hard one for news organizations to cover. It's dangerous. It's hard to get access. But we regularly report on what's happening in the country.

CNN's Nic Robertson got exclusive access to the front lines at Yemen's international battleground. Throughout the week, he's going to show you what it's like right now to be in Yemen.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: This is tactical flying. Just feet above the desert, banking around hills close to the Saudi-Yemeni border.

We're in Saudi military Blackhawk helicopters. We're flying some Arabs in Yemen. It's about a hundred miles east of the capital (ph).

The Saudis lead the coalition backing the internationally recognized Yemeni government against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels. Both sides have criticized the civilian casualties.

Apache gunships ride shotgun for protection. We are the first western journalists the Saudi government is taking in to Yemen. They promised transparency.

We travel high in the mountains, visit the Yemeni government front lines.

Let's stay down.

We're keeping low here because we've been told the Houthis down in the valley below might be able to see us.

And the victims of three-year long war -- check this out. He's showing me this is a gun (INAUDIBLE), used to drive this gun -- this is used to drive in (ph).


ROBERTSON: A visit with child soldiers in rehab suffering PTSD, questions Yemen's leaders.

How is the situation here in Aden?

The Houthis, the prime minister told me, are now doing is they are printing their own money with the help of Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no government. We have no government. We have only non-government.

ROBERTSON: And questioned the people about those same leaders.

I met the prime minister yesterday in his office on the other side of the city --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our (INAUDIBLE) says this. He is a liar.

ROBERTSON: What are looking at here?

And meet Yemenis who, despite everything still have hope.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want education. We want to have a shot.

ROBERTSON: Understanding the war here, what everyone's going through, is a little like peeling an onion -- layer after layer.

We want to peel back those layers for you, expose the war and the struggle to survive it.

He says the Houthis used this (INAUDIBLE) of him taking his son to be buried, to say that his son was killed in a coalition airstrike. He says that wasn't true.

So many voices, so many stories and so few have been heard before.

Nic Robertson, CNN -- Yemen.

We see a small town down here. Are there Houthi in this town?


VANIER: CNN has exclusive reporting all this week. So join us for the first installment of the series "INSIDE YEMEN" on CNN later today. That's at 3:00 p.m. in London.

[00:25:00] In Syria now, Turkey's

In Syria now, Turkey's military operation near Afrin has killed at least 51 people -- that's according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Turkey and its allied militias began the offensive just over a week ago and they're targeting the Kurdish YPG. Turkey views those fighters as terrorists. But they're allied with the U.S. against ISIS.

Now the U.S. has forces on the ground in the northern Syrian town of Manbij -- you see it there. Turkish officials say that they have asked the U.S. to withdraw from Manbij but the troops appeared to be staying put. And the head of U.S. central command, General Joseph Votel told CNN in an exclusive interview that they are not looking into leaving Manbij right now.

And severe floods in Paris we've been telling you about those for a few days now. The River Seine is nearing its highest point.

Pedram Javaheri joins us from the CNN Weather Center. So it's looking like it's going to get better after that.

PEDRAM JAVAHER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. And this is the peak of it over the next 24 hours -- Cyril. And you know, we're talking about the wettest winter on record, one of the top three at least since the year 1900s.

So the rainfall has been tremendous. You take a look at the communities impacted -- 250 communities have been impacted, 200 more are at risk across the areas as well. But you put the math in motion, we're talking about typically in the winter months, you would average around 100 millimeters of rainfall. We're closing in on 200 millimeters just in the past less than 60 days alone.

So this is what the River Seine looked like. We've seen the photographs certainly. The economic impact is certainly going to be tremendous as well because we know now even river boat cruises and such services have all been halted, even the kayakers and also boaters are being fined if they're found on the waterways just because of the dangers it poses at this point.

And if you look at the water levels, you see where we are. The blue indication in the past seven days, notice the observed level is not coming up to a peak and the forecast would be about 5.8 almost six meters high -- 6.1 meters is where we were in 2016. You see 8.6 plus meters -- that was back in 1910.

So we're not going to get to record values, very close though to 2016 levels where we lost four lives as a result of this. But there is the River Seine at the very top of your screen right there. And all the tributaries to the south there, we're going to see the water levels continue to rise and then all of it is just the nature of the volume of the water, how it works and work its way downstream will impact all of these communities.

So photographs, looking at such, we know again peak expected some time Monday evening. You look at the maps in motion here and of course, (INAUDIBLE) one of the prominent statues here -- four meters high and that's the normal level of where the water should be close to the base of this.

We're talking about this point, again approaching six meters -- you see where the records were. And then eight-plus meters, we're not going to get there. That's the good news with this. The forecast unfortunately does bring in showers six or the next seven days -- Cyril. So this kind of speaks to how wet it's been this winter but the rain is coming in on the lighter end so we think we will still see the water level want to drop even with the rain falling.

VANIER: Yes. I'm sure that people in those communities that you mentioned, especially around Paris are going to be really relieved when those water levels start receding.

JAVAHERI: Impacting a lot of people.

VANIER: It is indeed. Pedram Javaheri -- thank you very much for following that for us, of course, throughout the night and the day here at the CNN Weather Center as well. Thank you.

Well, the U.S. President gives a wide ranging interview on British television. His thoughts on feminism, Twitter and U.S.-U.K. relations when we come back.




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back. I'm Cyril Vanier. In this hour, we're getting updates on a new attack on an Afghan military base in Kabul. At least two Afghan army personnel have been killed. An official says three of the attackers are dead, another was arrested; a fifth attacker was reportedly still holed up inside the base.

This comes just a day after the car bomb that killed over 100 people in Kabul.


VANIER: President Trump was also asked about his stance on feminism. Piers Morgan asked him about that just days after nationwide rallies to mark the anniversary of the Women's March in Washington.


PIERS MORGAN, ITV BROADCASTER: Do you identify as a feminist?

Are you a feminist?

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I wouldn't say I'm a feminist. I mean if -- I think that would be maybe going too far. I'm -- I'm for women, I'm for men, I'm for everyone.

I think people have to go out. They have to go out and really do it. Then they have to win. And as with -- and women are doing great and I'm happy about that.


VANIER: With me now, Washington bureau chief for "Chicago Sun-Times," Lynn Sweet. She's in Washington.

And the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, a regular on this show, Larry Sabato.

Thank you both for being with us. Before we look ahead to next week in the State of the Union, a couple of noteworthy moments from that interview, the one you just heard, Donald Trump.

And Larry, let's go to you first. Donald Trump wants to make sure you don't mistake him for a feminist. LARRY SABATO, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: I don't think there was any danger of that anywhere, even in his base. So he needn't worry. We can forget about that.


LYNN SWEET, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": Well, the word "feminist" was the Merriam-Webster Dictionary's 2017 Word of the Year. And it means something. And Trump just didn't say he didn't like it, he didn't agree with it, he had to try and diminish it by saying I'm for men and women, so in a sense saying -- trying to be everything to everybody by not even taking head-on the idea that I don't think he would be even want to be caught in the sound bite with the word "feminist" coming out of his lips.

VANIER: Now listen to this, another part of the Piers Morgan interview and was about the retweets by the U.S. president a couple months ago, retweets of anti-Muslim videos that had been first tweeted by Britain First, a radical ultra-right group in the U.K.

He says, "I don't know who they are. I know nothing about them. It was dumb because I'm a big believer in fighting radical Islam terror. This was a depiction of radical Islam terror.


VANIER: "If you're telling me that they're horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you would like me to do that. I'm the least racist person that anybody has ever met."

Larry, there seems to be just no ownership of those retweets.

SABATO: What's amazing is he doesn't seem to understand that most of us at least expect the President of the United States to check into something before he says it and retweets it.

This is a thoroughly obnoxious extremist group in Great Britain, almost everyone, all sides of the political spectrum, condemned what Trump did. And it's caused lasting problems for Trump in the United Kingdom.

They're having trouble finding a way to get him to conduct a visit to the U.K. because of that and other insults that he's hurled at the mayor of London and other things. So this is classic Trump. He simply skips past it to the extent possible; as you know, he indicates that he loves everyone except when he tweets, he doesn't.

VANIER: Yes, and the spokesperson for the British prime minister had to say that those videos were the antithesis of British values.

Lynn, it seems that the president just -- it doesn't matter what he does because then he can just say the exact opposite if an interviewer asks him a couple months down the road.

SWEET: Well, yes, and sometimes I wish -- I wish Piers Morgan had done some more follow-up to nail on this question, what -- did you know who they were? Why didn't you know? Why would you retweet something that might have a sentiment you think you might agree with without asking?

And then even coming to an interview with a -- with a British news outlet, seemingly not prepared to ask an obvious question, not to have been briefed that he may be asked about a matter that is of great interest in the U.K. about his retweeting this group.

So look at the whole --


VANIER: Yes, that's the one thing that he totally owns up to, is that he didn't know what he was retweeting.

SWEET: Well, but does that then excuse -- I mean, there's a certain level -- I'm responsible, you're responsible, Larry is. If you retweet something that is hateful or wrong, it's -- if you take ownership of it. This is what is a fact a life of social media. You can't retweet something and then say, oops, didn't know who it was. You just can't do that.

You retweet it and you, in the center, saying you are -- that is you. That's an expression of you.

One other quick thing about this Piers Morgan that I thought was fascinating since we're on and talking to an international audience, this is the son of a Scottish immigrant. He talked about Scotland as if he really weren't a son, that his mother was from there.

Usually you would expect some kind of recognition beyond his talking about his property there and can't get (INAUDIBLE). Something sometimes, my analysis is, it was something missing, where you could have related so strongly to the -- to the audience, who may have been listening to this.

He is the son of an immigrant, something in this great discussion of immigration you're have in the United States, you never hear him talk about.

VANIER: All right, Lynn Sweet, Larry Sabato, thank you so much to both of you for coming on the show. Always a pleasure --

SWEET: Thank you.

VANIER: -- thanks.

Still to come on the show, scientific exploration plunges to new depths -- literally. New drones are heading for the most remote parts of the world. We're back after this.



VANIER: We are about to get a good look at some of the most remote, unexplored places on Earth. Scientists are sending drones underneath the ice sheets in Antarctica. Their findings could provide critical information about global warming and rising sea levels. Lynda Kinkade explains.



LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's a high-risk mission, starting deep into one of the most unexplored parts of the world, the underbelly of Antarctica.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It hasn't been done before and there are a number of things that could go wrong.

KINKADE (voice-over): An icebreaker is now on its way via New Zealand to deploy a fleet of underwater robots called Seagliders, which are expected to go further than any nation before it, the exploration lasting up to a year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is really a path-breaking scientific endeavor.

KINKADE (voice-over): The robots will then enter into the crevices of the ice sheet and return to the surface to transmit data.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just moved itself by changing its buoyancy, whether it sinks or floats.

KINKADE (voice-over): The aja 3.0 (ph) and Jason Gobat are the scientists on board pioneering data collection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taking samples of salinity and temperature, oxygen and some optical properties of the water.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never has a group of researchers deployed for an entire year instruments that will measure the variability and conditions underneath these ice sheets.

KINKADE (voice-over): The Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has funded this expedition to the tune of $2 million. Because the Seagliders rely on buoyancy to bring them to the surface, there is a risk some will be lost for good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The value of the data that we'll collect part at sea and the risk of losing a few pieces of these equipment, expensive as they are.

KINKADE (voice-over): The last century sea levels rose by 17 cms but the rate is accelerating.

Right now it's near impossible for scientists to accurately predict the fate of these massive ice sheets. Projections for global sea level rise by the end of this century vary greatly from 30 cms to well over 200 cms, impacting coastlines from London to Miami and Sydney to Shanghai. This is what could happen if average global temperatures rise by 4 degrees Celsius, creating a devastating effect in countries like China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and the Philippines, which could lead to millions of refugees.

The scientists behind this mission say future sea level rise depends crucially on what happens to the Antarctic ice sheets, rendering this odyssey essential -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


VANIER: That's it from us for now. I'm Cyril Vanier. "WORLD SPORT" is up next. I'm back in 15 minutes with more world news. Stay with CNN.