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Never Ending Gun Problem Issue in U.S.; President Trump to Visit Florida; Ramaphosa Sworn in as South Africa's President; x-Trump Campaign Close To Plea Deal; Warning Signs Of The High School Shooter; Oxfam New Independent Coalition To Review Allegations; Body Of Worker Returned To Philippines From Kuwait; Skiing Takes Center Stage On Day 7. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired February 16, 2018 - 03:00   ET


[03:00:00] NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: He was deliberate, calm and had an escape plan. New details this hour on the 19-year-old school shooter in Florida.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: In Turkey, America's top diplomat breaks protocol by meeting with the Turkish president without a translator.

ALLEN: Also ahead this hour, the man who Nelson Mandela would succeed him had been sworn in as the new South African president. Can he bring an end to the political corruption and abuse of power in that country? We will take a look this hour.

Hello, and welcome to our viewers live around the world. We are live in Atlanta. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell from CNN news headquarters. Newsroom starts right now.

First, the very latest on the deadly mass shooting that happened in the U.S. State of Florida in the city of Parkland, a community that is in mourning. That is the site of the 18th school shooting in the United States this year.

ALLEN: Family and friends are remembering the 17 people gunned down Wednesday. They include athletes, teachers, coaches, and a young girl who volunteered to help victims of hurricane Irma. Many of the students just 14 years old.

Thousand gathered for a candlelight vigil on Thursday night. Sadly a scene we see after these massacres. Of course, for many of the people here it is just a chance to say good-bye to friends and classmates and to demand that this never happens again.

HOWELL: All right. Let's talk a bit about the shooter. Police say 19- year-old, was expelled, the student, Nikolas Cruz, he confessed to the shooting. His social media accounts reveal racist and threatening posts. And police have been called to his family home, 39 times since 2010.

ALLEN: A judge has denied bond for him. And his public defenders are painting a sad and disturbing picture of the teenager.

HOWELL: That's right. CNN's U.S. senior correspondent Kyung Lah reports, and we do warn you this report does have some disturbing video.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. CORRESPONDENT: Shuffling to the closed circuit court camera, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz barely raised his eyes speaking once to confirm his name.




LAH: This is what falling through every single crack in society looks like say his public defender.


GORDON WEEKES, EXECUTIVE CHIEF ASSISTANT PUBLIC DEFENDER: He has been experiencing, enduring mental illness his entire life. That has been an ongoing issue that he has been dealing with.


LAH: Adopted at birth, the shooter's public defender says Cruz lost his adoptive father more than a decade ago. He suffers from brain development issues and depression. At school the Miami Herald reports the shooter had a history of fights and had been suspend for bringing in ammunition, eventually expelled for disciplinary reasons.

Then last November, a major trauma, say his attorneys, Cruz's adoptive mother died unexpectedly from the flu and pneumonia. He ended up working at this Dollar Tree, where Hunter Vukelich was store manager.


HUNTER VUKELICH, FORMER, DOLLAR TREE: My manager brought me in said we were hiring someone. He had been through stuff. His mom recently died. She felt bad for him.


LAH: The shooter was living with the family of a former classmate near the store.

VUKELICH: You could tell he was a little off. But there are people that are off that you wouldn't say let's lock him away because he is that dangerous.

LAH: When you say he was off what do you mean?

VUKELICH: His laughs (ph) were like, you know, he showed acknowledgement but he wouldn't go out and seek a conversation with anyone. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LAH: Cruz did however manage to legally buy an AR-15 almost a year ago. The tragedy is all painful to Cruz's own attorneys.


WEEKES: This is a loss for this community. A tragic loss 17 children.


LAH: Now on suicide watch, the lawyers say Cruz recognizes what he has done.

MELISSA MCNEILL, PUBLIC DEFENDER: He is sad. He is mournful. He's remorseful. He is fully aware of what is going on. And he is just a broken human being.


LAH: The court appearance was a short one. More will follow. He is being held without bond.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

ALLEN: We are joined now CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes who is a former assistant director of the FBI. He comes to us via Skype from Fairfax, Virginia. Tom, thank you for joining us.


ALLEN: I know this is a difficult subject. We are here again. There were signs the shooter was a threat. This threat had gotten to the federal government level. Also, Broward County officials have been called to his home 39 times since 2010. How did he slip through the cracks to be able to carry out a massacre?

[03:05:06] FUENTES: Well, I think there are so many way he did slip through the cracks. First of all, it sound from neighbors and friends and others that knew him, that he had a lifelong mental health problem.

Once he becomes an adult, turns 18, even parents had they still been alive and were dealing with his issues would not be able to get information from the medical professionals or the psychiatric professionals on his condition, his medication, his status, whether he is getting better or worse.

So, we have all those issues. And the latest one with social media, you know, the accusation that somehow the FBI when notified about a YouTube posting that he placed last fall, saying that the he was going to be a professional school shooter, and they went to YouTube, they went to the complainant to get more information, he didn't have any more information. He lived in Mississippi didn't know who posted it.

They went to YouTube. And all they had was that one statement. YouTube pulled it. And then with investigative guidelines, that the FBI has concerning people's civil rights their rights to privacy and their first amendment rights using social media, you know, that enters into it.

And whether the U.S. attorney's office will be willing with that little information to issue subpoenas so that they could find out what his internet address was and trace it back. Where did he live, where was that posting from? At that point they didn't have any idea if it was from Mississippi or South America for that matter.

ALLEN: Everything you are saying illustrates the complexity of this issue in such a significant way, seriously. But when it comes down to guns, and assault rifles, and magazines that can carry out a massacre, can't -- is step one to try to rid this country of this scourge is step one being able to figure out how to protect people's second amendment rights but also how to protect the rights of innocent people who can get mowed down in a massacre?

What's prohibiting common sense gun legislation to prevent massacres?

FUENTES: A big part of it is it's such an emotional issue that we don't even have the discussions. Every time one of the school shootings happens. We have the statement that well we can't talk about now. We have to mourn. We have to pray. We have to do other things. It's not the right time to discuss it.

And then by time theoretically might be the right time. We have another one. So, we hear that with the Las Vegas shooting most recently. That it's not the right time. Have to mourn. We'll talk about it later.

There is never going to be an opportunity to get enough time and space between the mourning period and the discussion period before we have another one. And that's what...


ALLEN: Who should lead the discussion, Tom, when it's time, we have leaders in this country that are charged by citizens to protect people, we just saw a glimpse there of President Trump. His comments did not mention gun control when he spoke about it. Who is dropping the ball when it comes to protecting our citizens?

FUENTES: Well, everybody. Start with the American public. They're not making the demand, if their elected officials and representatives don't want to do something, and there was something like 70 some percent approval following a previous shooting for a change in the laws to use a background, more thorough background investigations, stop the gun show loophole, where you can buy weapons and ammunition without a thorough background check.

And have a tighter prohibition, let's say, if a person is judged to be mentally ill, that takes a lot of steps to actually have a formal judicial judgment someone is mentally ill.

And with this kid's problems all his life, we still didn't have that. And then, you have the issue of being arrested, being charge, being investigated for threats of violence or any of that. That's not enough to take prohibit somebody from buying a gun. They have to be convicted of the crime.

They have to be convicted. So those -- that can take a couple years if ever, with our plea-bargaining system. So, really the public doesn't demand it. The policymakers then don't do it. And then we go in. We're going to mourn. We are going to have, you know, this praying and mourning.

ALLEN: Sure.

FUENTES: And whining and complaining and do nothing - once again.

ALLEN: Yes, it is just, it's -- insane circle of violence. Tom Fuentes, thank you for helping us understand this issue. We just hope that at some point, perhaps, this country can figure it out. Thank you, Tom.

FUENTES: We have to at least talk about it or we won't figure it out.

[03:09:59] ALLEN: He made some valid points there.

HOWELL: Absolutely. And you hope the conversation will lead to some substantive changes. There are so many families that are demanding it, demanding it to happen.

Many students are remembering one of the favorite teachers of that school, Scott Beigel, he taught geography there.

ALLEN: Students say he saved their lives, ushering them back into the classroom when he was shot and killed. One of those students, Kelsey Frend spoke with CNN's Andersen Cooper.


KELSEY FREND, FLORIDA SHOOTING SURVIVOR: I saw a lot of things that I shouldn't. I saw my teacher, I saw two, very sad images of two students, and a puddle of blood that I had to walk close to and blood on the stairs. Everything was thrown. Gunpowder all over the place. It really felt like a movie. If I am going to be honest, it was that terrifying.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: How do you, I mean, I know you said you only slept a couple of hours tonight. Are you exhausted? Are you on adrenaline or?

FREND: I'm -- I'm exhausted, but I can -- I'm still pushing. Because I love this teach who very much. And I'm going to continue to push for this teacher and keep his name out there. Because he saved 10, 15, to 20 kid's lives. And I'm very thankful for him. And he was my super hero.


ALLEN: Well, the U.S. President Donald Trump plans to travel to Parkland, Florida to meet with families, survivors and local officials. No official word yet when that will take place.

HOWELL: On Thursday, the president framed the tragedy in terms of mental illness.

Our Jeff Zeleny reports.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My fellow Americans, today I speak to a nation in grief.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE: An all too familiar ritual unfolded across Washington today in the wake of another mass shooting in America. Flags lowered to half-staff from the White House to Capitol Hill.


REP. MIKE THOMPSON, (D), CALIFORNIA: Mr. Speaker can you tell us when the House may muster the courage to take up the issue of gun violence?


ZELENY: But despite cheers from democrats there were no signs today Washington is any closer to addressing gun violence in the wake of the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook. President Trump did not mention the word gun in his brief remarks from the White House. Instead, talking about mental health.


TRUMP: We are committed to working with state and local leaders to help secure our schools and tackle the difficult issue of mental health.


ZELENY: While offering no specifics the president said it was time for action.


TRUMP: It is not enough off to simply take actions that make us feel like we are making a difference. We must actually make that difference.


ZELENY: It's the fourth major shooting he's addressed since taking office. Each time he said it has not been the right moment to talk about guns. After the massacre on the Las Vegas strip.


TRUMP: We'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by.


ZELENY: And the rampage inside the Texas church.


TRUMP: But this isn't a gun situation, I mean we could go into it, but it's a little bit soon to go into it.


ZELENY: The White House had no daily briefing today. But the question we asked press secretary Sarah Sanders 136 days ago still lingers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does he believe that he could bring something new to the gun debate that has been, you know, I guess locked in typical politics for so many years.

SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think there will be time for the policy discussion to take place. But that's not the place that we're in at this moment.


ZELENY: That moment has not yet arrived. Trump's presidential campaign was strongly supported by the NRA. Before running for office he criticized his party's stance on guns, writing, "The republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions. I generally oppose gun control but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun."

But since taking office, President Trump has not expressed any support for a gun policy or any type of gun control measures. In fact, he has only talked about it on a day when America is reeling from another horrific shooting.

Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.

HOWELL: Alyssa Alhadeff was only 14 years old, 14 when a bullet from a military style assault weapon ended her life along with 16 other classmates and teachers.

ALLEN: Her mother says she knew her daughter was dead as soon as she heard about the shooting. Lori Alhadeff spoke with CNN's Gary Tuchman about her unbearable loss.


LORI ALHADEFF, ALYSSA ALHADEFF'S MOTHER: She was meant so much more in this world. She would have given this world so much more. She was so passionate, and just had the zest for life.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How does a mother cope in this situation?

[03:15:03] ALHADEFF: Right now I am fighting. I'm not fighting my daughter is dead. But I am fighting for all of these kids here. All of them. Because these are the ones that have to go back to that school. And they have to feel safe. I have two other children. And they have to feel safe in their heart. OK, but we can't let shooters just walk in. Just walk in that school without any security. Nothing!

TUCHMAN: You feel our government leaders should have done more over the years to protect your child and others?

ALHADEFF: Well, exactly. OK. If you have people with illnesses and people already know that this, this kid was a problem. How do we just let him go, let him lose, the kids were joking, saying we knew, they knew about this kid. He deserves the death penalty. He doesn't deserve to live.

TUCHMAN: What would you like the president and Congress to do right now?

ALHADEFF: They need to get these crazy guns out of these kids' hands. Get them off the streets. They need to put metal detector at every entrance to get into the schools. They need more security.

Alyssa, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I would have taken the bullets for you. I would have protected you. And I'm sorry I wasn't there. I love you with all of my heart. And so does your dad.


HOWELL: And on that note, let's bring in Peter Matthews, Peter a professor of political science at Cyprus College in Southern California joining from our L.A. bureau this hour. Peter, thank you for being with us.


HOWELL: The pain is raw. The passion among these families it is real for politicians to do something. But, we've seen this happen before. The question now to you, is the political will there to advance finally the debate on gun control in the United States?

MATHEWS: You know, George, Sandy Hook wasn't that long ago. And the problem is not just the NRA which is a problem with the funding of members of Congress, quite literally. But there is also the gun manufacturing industry which is actually supporting the NRA.

Over half the NRA funding comes from gun manufacturers, private corporations that want to sell their guns. And that's why they try to block, and they are going to successful in blocking any kind of gun regulation, even sensible regulations.

And this is a total tragedy. My heart broke when I heard that mother talk about her daughter and say she would have taken the bullet for her. And it's just unbelievable, George, what can we say. It needs to be -- something needs to be done. And the politicians should break free from the NRA and gun industry and do something for America.

HOWELL: OK. But the NRA aside. Look, we've seen massacre after massacre, I mean, is there anything that you can foresee that might change this dynamic for lawmakers to finally take some action here?

MATHEWS: Well, certainly, more regulation, for example, on background checks and more than that. Stop people from being able to buy guns at gun shows, over the counter. This young man, he bought a gun legally at 18 years old. And even though there were signs and warnings that he was mentally deranged and disturbed.

You know, on YouTube he had posted that he was going to become a professional school shooter. Another young person saw that on YouTube and called the FBI apparently. And then nothing was done, because I don't know why and we wonder why.

So what can be done? We need to get Congress to really pass regulations, safety checks, background checks, and maybe more security at schools. You know, at this point. And we know for a fact, statistically, that the states in the United States, states that have more gun ownership, the rates of ownership have more deaths.

The states with lower gun rates of gun ownership have lower deaths. It's also true of nations worldwide. So there is, it's not a rocket science to figure what has to be done. Will there be political will and will the lobbying, the special interest lobbying, stop any kind of significant change, and it has so far.

HOWELL: All right. So we heard from the President of the United States, Donald Trump, who responded to what happened. Here is what he had to say. We can talk about it in a moment.


TRUMP: I want to speak now directly to America's children, especially those who feel lost alone, confused, or even scared. I want you to know that you are never alone and you never will be.

You have people who care about you, who love you, and who will do anything at all to protect you.


HOWELL: So the sentiment there we're there for you, but Peter, no specifics on what actual steps he would push to make changes. Your thoughts?

MATHEWS: None at all. In fact, President Obama took more practical steps including executive orders to rein in this gun violence. And President Trump is using just words and no action. Because he also, as many republicans are, are beholden to the NRA and gun industry, unfortunately.

[03:20:00] And his voting base is of course holding him back from taking the steps perhaps. But he needs to do something, seriously. I mean, for example. We had -- we can have gun registration not just

background checks, but very strict regulation who can buy the guns and then have registration to where the government can track these guns and have more security at this point to make a transition to a more peaceful society.

We have 300 million guns in America, in American homes, George. In about one third of the homes. So each person in the home owns several guns and that is completely dangerous situation.

And one more thing. When people die of suicide and homicides with gun violence in America, which is about 30,000 people in 2014, what happens is, it's in a moment of passion that people get shot and killed by their own relatives or people who they know acquaintances.

It's not strangers. It's not the mass shootings which killed the most people in America. It is people who know each other and guns available right there in their homes.

HOWELL: A lot of the families that we are hearing from, certainly are looking for some action to be taken.


MATHEWS: Yes, they are.

HOWELL: The question, will that happen. Peter Matthews, thank you so much for your time and perspective today from Los Angeles.

MATHEWS: Thank you, George.

ALLEN: And that is the question. We're learning a lot more about of course, the heroes, the people that were killed, 17 victims in this horrible massacre. The victims all of them teachers and students have been described by their friends and families. Here is an example of one.

Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Dworet was a star swimmer and he was just months away from graduating. Nicholas would have headed for the University of Indianapolis this fall.

HOWELL: Alaina Petty was just 14 years old. A community leader who volunteered last year after hurricane Irma struck Florida. Her family says that she was vibrant and determined that she loved to help others.

Aaron Feis, 37-year-old assistant football coach. And he threw himself in front of students. Threw himself in front of students to shield them from the bullets that took his own life. Those who knew him say that he was always the kind of person who would put himself second as he did there.

We'll be back after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ALLEN: Former Trump campaign aide Rick gates is close to a plea deal with special counsel Robert Mueller. Sources familiar with the case tell CNN Gates is poised to cooperate with investigators and could help in building a case against President Trump or his team.

HOWELL: Gates and former Trump campaign manager, Paul Manafort they pleaded not guilty to financial crimes unrelated to the campaign.

A White House official says Gates potential cooperation wouldn't pose any risk to the president.

[03:25:02] Now to South Africa, that nation has a new president who says that he intends to lead with humility, faithfulness, and dignity.

Cyril Ramaphosa was sworn in on Thursday just hours after the scandal ridden Jacob Zuma stepped down. Mr. Ramaphosa was a trade union leader during apartheid and worked closely with Nelson Mandela during his presidency.

ALLEN: Now he says he's going to crackdown on corruption and lift the country into prosperity, but has a long road ahead of him. Mr. Ramaphosa set to give his first state of nation speech on Friday evening, local time.

Let's get more now from Eleni Giokos. She's live for us in Johannesburg. And he does have a lot on his plate, and promises much for South Africans. Where does this new leader start and what does he have to bring to the table?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, it's a lot that he has to bring to the table. He's got to give the right messaging not only to South Africans, but to business as well as to the international investor community and the credit rating agencies that have been circling for quite some time.

And of course, South Africa's bonds have been downgraded to junk by two credit rating agencies. So there is absolutely a lot at stake. Importantly he's has got to give some kind of sense of how he is going to overhaul the ANC.

He keeps talking about renewal of the party. So they've got to clean up the rot. Many are saying that its institutional corruption that has created division within the party. So he's got to give the right messaging about how he is going to fix that problem.

How he is going to sort out unemployment sitting at 26 percent. Spur economic growth but at the same time pull back spending. So there is so many points on the agenda.

And restore confidence that has eroded through the years because of a scandalous Jacob Zuma presidency. And importantly, I think he is also going to have to talk about whether he going to change people in key profiles and positions, cabinet ministers, whether the finance minister is going to stay in position.

The state turned enterprises ministers, public enterprises. And a few other key members that have been known to be so-called Zuma men.

ALLEN: What more, Eleni, do we know about him as far as the -- first of all, he is one of the richest men in all of Africa, how did he make his wealth? And is that an issue as far as his business interests?

GIOKOS: Well, it's a very fascinating story. I mean, he was part of the Nelson Mandela administration and one of the architects of the economic policy when it comes to the ANC.

He was also handpicked by Nelson Mandela to succeed him. But he didn't win favor in the party then left his political hat. And then he went into business. I mean, we're talking about a man that's been involved in mining, in the Telco industry, even fast food.

I mean, he's the guy that brought McDonald's to South Africa. He is very wealthy. He is very well known amongst business circles. And in fact, he's gotten the vote of confidence from the investor community. If we see how he rand and the markets have been responding to the news.

He is also a trade unionist. And that's also a very important background. So you've got a combination sort of capitalistic view and then you've got the labor angle as the well. And hopefully a combination of both which of course is going to be interesting and contradictory in some sense that he'd be able to shift South Africa, and turn it around the way that people have been hoping to see post- Zuma.

ALLEN: We'll hear what he has to say in his first state of the nation speech Friday evening there. Eleni Giokos, thank you so much.

HOWELL: The story we're following here in the United States, this mass shooting. Seventeen people gunned down and we're learning more about the gunman who may have posted comment online suggesting that he wanted to be a professional school shooter. And there were many other warning signs. We'll tell you.

ALLEN: Also ahead here, America's top diplomat is trying to improve ties with Turkey after President Erdogan warned of an Ottoman slap.


[03:31:25] ALLEN: Welcome back. You are watching CNN newsroom live from Atlanta. I am Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell with the headlines we are following this hour. South Africa has a new leader, set to give a state of the nation speech Friday evening local time. His name, Cyril Ramaphosa. First full day of President. Sworn in Thursday hours after Jacob Zuma stepped down after numerous scandals. Mr. Ramaphosa is promising to crack down on corruption.

ALLEN: The former campaign adviser for Donald Trump Rick Gates may be ready to talk. Sources tell CNN Gates finalizing a plea deal with Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller. He pleaded not guilty back in October to financial crimes unrelated to the campaign. HOWELL: Meantime, Mueller's team interviewed Steve Bannon. This week

sources say that President Trump former strategist answered all the questions in contrast to his appearance before house committee there, Bannon said the White House has instructed him not to talk.

ALLEN: Florida Judge has denied bond for the 19-year-old former student who police say admitted to one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. History. He is charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. His public defender says he is a broken young man who suffered from mental illness his entire life.

HOWELL: Meantime, thousands of people came together. Mourning with a candlelight vigil on Thursday night. Remembering the 17 people who were all gunned down.

We are learning more about the shooter.

ALLEN: Some who knew him say they saw the red flags. Official were aware. Our Drew Griffin has more about that.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The warning signs were all there. In person and on social media. Photos of guns, knives, extremist comments, posted under political videos I want to shoot people with my AR 15. That quote attached to a YouTube video of a Donald Trump supporter being pushed around at a rally. Under a video about Antifa, he posted F-Antifa, I wish to kill as many as I can and I am going to kill them in the future. The comment that prompted a call to the FBI. I want to be a school shooter. Ben Benite called the FBI when he saw that post.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Came out to my office the very next morning. In person and met with me.


GRIFFIN: Those who knew Cruz, say his life was filled with trouble. This video from a concerned neighbor shows him brandishing a bb gun. He was expelled from school. Obsessed with guns. And when his adopted mother died in November he ended up with nowhere to live. The family of a friend took him in. Their lawyer said Cruz didn't get up as usual yesterday. But they had no idea what was about to happen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They saw depression. Obviously lost his mom. They helped him get a job at a dollar tree store. Got him going to adult education, try to get his GED. He seemed to be doing, doing better.


GRIFFIN: Former manager at a store where Cruz works says the suspect broke his arm. Only recently having the cast removed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He seemed guarded. He didn't seem aggressive or mean. Just seemed like, you know he was nice, quiet. You could tell he is a little off.


GRIFFIN: School mates described him as weird, odd, strange. Brody Spino grow up with Cruz and they use to ride the school bus together. Cruz with two doors down in the house where the police were often called.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police were there almost every other week. How much we knew he moved. Because the like police officers showing up there.

[03:35:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah. Always getting in trouble. He was like, evil kid.


GRIFFIN: Spino describes Cruz as unusual. Always pulling pranks, running through neighbor yards. Egging his car. At a young age, prone to violence against animals.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Surprise heed was able to purchase a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am not surprised he was the one who did it, but I am surprise he got ahold of it.


GRIFFIN: So many people we met said not only was this preventable it was predictable. In Parkland, Florida, Drew Griffin, CNN.


HOWELL: The U.S. Secretary of State is in Turkey. Trying to improve relations between the United States and Ankara. U.S. official say that Rex Tillerson had a productive meeting with the Turkish President and foreign minister on Thursday.

ALLEN: Relationship between both countries has been strained mainly over Syria. Turkey had launched a military offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters which the U.S. support in the fight against ISIS.

HOWELL: Senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski is traveling with secretary Tillerson, joining us now live, from Ankara. Good to have you with us. Talk about the meeting between Tillerson and Erdogan. Going against typical state department standard. Mr. Tillerson did not have his own translator.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: We were supposed to hear that too. The meeting we thought would last an hour. Lasted 3 and a half hours. You can only hope there was something productive going on in there. It was between Secretary Tillerson, Turkish President, also the Turkish foreign minister who is acting as the translator. That is part of what is raising eyebrows among former state department people. Tillerson didn't want to have his own people in this meeting. Or his own translator. Generally in the meetings, can't say all the time. But of the secretary of state especially an intense meeting.

Something so, with so much tension. They've want how to have policy people. Staff members in there. On the U.S. side have their own translator to make sure the secretary's words and ideas are being conveyed exactly as he wants them to be to the Turkish President. The way the state department responded to this. They said they have of a great working relationship. They know each other from previous conversations. The Secretary of State made the determination that he wanted to do it this way. He feels fine how his words might have been conveyed. Some analysts we talked to.

Former state department people feel like this is an unusual break from protocol. They called it, dangerous naive, on his part, or poor staff work. On the part of his aids that are traveling with him here. And state department said a productive meeting waiting to hear from the Secretary of State, as well as Turkish side to see if they might have made any progress over the stale mate that really heated up the rhetoric between the two nations. George.

HOWELL: Described as an unusual break in protocol. Michelle, the question will this meeting have any real impact on the relation between the United States and Turkey we shall see? Michelle Kosinski live, thank you so much for your time today.

ALLEN: Coming up -- Filipinos return home after one of their -- comb patriots is found dead in Kuwait. We have a live report from manila coming up.


[03:40:45] ALLEN: One of Britain's largest aid agency, Oxfam announcing a commission to investigate allegations of sexual crime by aid workers.

HOWELL: Majority says women rights experts will lead the commission and review Oxfam's culture as a whole. The agency also says it has shared with authorities in Haiti information about the men accused of hiring prostitutes during relief efforts after the 2010 earthquake. Oxfam has apologized but denies a cover up.

As part of the CNN freedom project, focus on ending modern day slavery, we are following the repatriation of thousands of Filipinos from Kuwait after a Philippine worker was discovered dead there.

ALLEN: This was the emotional scene in manila, hours ago as the body was returned to her loved ones. Authorities say he was found in a freezer at the home of her employers. CNN's Alexander Fields spoke with her family.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Joanna was the kind of daughter who want to give her parents a better future. When she left her home here in the Philippines to try to do that. Her mother tells me. She delivered herself to her death.

Her family heard from her the last time in 2016. Her father says -- when she last contracted us she said she was fine. That was it. Authorities now say her body had been in a freezer up to a year kept in home where she had gone to work in Kuwait. Her mother explains what the autopsy shows. Her arms were broken and she had many bruises.

Her waist and her side looked like they were kicked. They said they saw her body was bent forward crouching like this. That is all they know how their 29-year-old daughter died so far from home. Joanna grew up here near these rice field in 2013, typhoon came through and destroyed everything. Flattened her family's entire home. She decided in order to help her parents rebuild. She had to find a job to pay her more money. Only way to do that she thought was to leave the Philippines.

The money she sent back, helped the family build a new house and put her sister through school. Her mother says she still had many dreams for us to get out of poverty. She had so many hopes. Joanna's death triggered the sudden return to the Philippines of thousands of women who set out on a journey to Kuwait. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte offered them a free flight home and stipend. We speak to some of who returned to manila.

What was your life like in Kuwait? How did your employers treat you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know, ma'am. They're not treating the Filipino, no dignity, you know? No dignity. Seem like, animals. Working, no sleeping. Like that, no food.

FIELD: Michelle ran away from her employer's home. Julie said she was hit and touch inappropriately and she ran away too. Without the sponsorship of their employers they say they were living illegally in Kuwait and looking for other jobs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Especially outside. No security. The program to return the women home comes with guaranteed amnesty from Kuwait for overstaying their visas. The women hope to return to Kuwait legally. If it's money they need.

[03:45:00] Officials in Kuwait are sharing information with Filipino authorities on the investigation into Joanna's death. They insist the nearly 200,000 Filipinos living there have, a decent life.

(END VIDEO) ALLEN: Alexandra is in manila now she joins us now live with more

about this. Just a terrible rage for this woman, Joanna and her family. Thank you for the story. But this hardly an isolated case. President Duterte said come home, we'll take care of it. Kuwait is not the only issue here, how about the other country, this is a big issue which need a larger solution.

FIELD: Yeah, the question here is how do you ensure protections or greater protections and how do you improve the conditions of this women working in a number of countries all over the world. They are living with employers, it is hard for them to reach authorities. To report when things have gone wrong. You heard the women in piece talking about the fact that once they leave their employer they well have no options.

They find themselves living in a country without proper paperwork. I spoke to Joanna's family about this, they say perhaps she was in fear, perhaps she wasn't brave enough as they put it and set out and try get help. Given whatever situation she may have found herself in. Again they have a phone call between 2016 she seems to say that everything was fine. They believe her employer was within ear shot. This is a young woman we really hoped she would have money to actually come home in 2018. She has returned to the Philippines. Her body was returned today. Made its way to manila. Her sister and brother were there to receive the remains.

The body will now go on to the hometown in the Philippines. Where the family will lay her to rest. Certainly this investigation is just beginning authorities here in the Philippines are in close contact with Kuwaiti officials who had identified her former employers as a principal suspects in these case. They believe the employers have left Kuwait. High level meetings happening between officials on both countries to try to address the issue pointed out how to improve conditions for this women whoa EDSON: working all over the world. You got more than 200,000 Filipinos working overseas in Kuwait.

ALLEN: Again, we hear too many times how this workers are abused. Alexandra Field for us there in manila. Thank you.

HOWELL: Still ahead on newsroom some of the world's best athletes are competing right now at the Olympics. Even they can't have days off. Live in Pyeongchang ahead.


HOWELL: Now to the winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. Seven medal events are up for grabs today and already there were some major upsets in the skiing events. Let's bring in CNN world sports' Amanda Davies with the latest from Pyeongchang, South Korea. Good to see you.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN WORLD SPORTS: And you, George. Serious reminder today of unpredictability of sport. There aren't any guarantees. Just a day ago we are talking about a possibility Shiffrin winning five gold in five events. Now after a bad day at the office. She cast out, whether or not she will compete again. [03:50:00] Having won the giant slalom yesterday. Thursday, the 22-

year-old was going for her second gold in two days her favorite event, the slalom. She was defending champion in it, but really didn't go to plan. She could finish fourth. And, Sweden's contender taking gold. Admit she'd vomited before her first run. She felt she had a virus. Now said it was by nerves. The athlete dominated the slalom events all of this year. Having already pulled out of tomorrow's super G.

Now said she will do the downhill training runs next week. And then she how she feels before deciding to compete. Really it is a case of what a difference a day makes. Austria's, knows the feeling as well. Taking gold in the men's super g as the unbelievable. A huge turn around for him the other way. Given he crushed out in the combine. He hurt his hit and then finished ninth in yesterday's downhill as the defending champion.

I was there watching this one, this morning. And one of his Austrian team put it together. Today is a good day, yesterday wasn't. That is the Olympics. That is a message that the U.S. figure skating, Nathan Chen might just want to hold on to overnight. The huge pressure. The 18 year old U.S. champion stumbles his way through his short program. It was really painful. Quite heartbreaking to watch. Being considered to be at the gold medal contender here at games. He is actually down in 17th place after day one. A huge distance behind the defending champion Hanyu who is virtually faultless. Hanyu posted the second the highest score ever recorded.

Second only to his own world record which isn't bad at all for somebody who has injury concerns hanging over him. Great news as well. For South Korean fans on what is a lunar new year in public holiday here. And, they took their first ever gold in the sliding sport. The skeleton. Passed a huge crowd trying to get in there towards the 22 year old who is quickly becoming a real superstar here. That was South Korea's second gold of the game. It still is Germany leading the way with nine golds. Norway in second place with six. One ahead of the Netherlands and the USA. A real day of contrasting emotions to keep us all on our seats.

HOWELL: Indeed, Amanda, thank you very much.

ALLEN: Certainly North Korean athletes competing in the Winter Olympics have captured the attention of spectators, competitors and politicians. But CNN's Ivan Watson spoke with some defector who has carved a new life for themselves in the South and have a stock warning for those who may be swayed by North Korea's diplomatic charm offensive.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hard at work in the kitchen. This dish from North Korea served up with a smile on the side lines of the winter Olympics here in South Korea.

Do you want to go see any Olympic sports? This ambivalence due to the last minute decision to invite North Korea to the Olympics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was dragged around, beaten and treated like a slave in North Korea.

WATSON: All three women are defectors who fled North Korea, more than a decade ago. Restaurant owner Bok has mixed emotions about her homeland. She says she was almost moved to tears watching the opening ceremony when North and South Korean athletes marched under the same unification flag. But she insists, the North Koreans will never be allowed to visit her food stall even though it is just walking distance from the Olympic plaza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have no freedom of movement. Because they're constantly being watched. Her friend warns that the smiles on the faces of North Korean cheerleaders are pure propaganda.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of us defectors know that is a mask the North Koreans are wearing, they're forced to smile.

WATSON: Lee knows the North Korean system well. She spent 11 years as a nurse in the North Korean military. Today Lee works to undermine the North Korean regime. Every month she joins activists loading plastic bottles with rice and U.S. bee sticks full of banned TV shows. Care packages sent floating downstream to hungry people in North Korea. A defector and leader of a group that claims to represent thousands of North Korean defectors says he is angry that South Korea's President warmly welcomed the sister of North Korea's dictator.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The North Koreans conducted nuclear tests just a few months ago. Now we're marching together at the Olympic. It's that really a reconciliation, is that really a message of peace?

[03:55:10] WATSON: There are more than 30,000 North Korean defector who have taken refuge in South Korea. Some like the women, are deeply suspicious of the North Korean government. They also they're also about the poverty, hunger among ordinary people in their homeland. Those shortages a problems few people face here in well-fed, South Korea. Ivan Watson, CNN, Pyeongchang.


HOWELL: All right. And celebrity couple. Jennifer Aniston and Justin Thoreau have separated. Say it ain't so.

ALLEN: Can you belief that. The actors have split after just 2 1/2 years of marriage. Seven years as a couple. They released this joint statement saying this decision was mutual and lovingly made at the end of last year. We are two best friends who decided to part ways as a couple. Looking forward to our continuing cherish friendship

It was amicable. Wish them well in that. The end of the show. End of t celebrity news this hour. Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues right after the break with colleague Max Foster live in London. Thank you very much for watching. .