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North Korean Olympic Delegation Arrives in South Korea; Democratic Memo: FBI Interest in Carter Page Prior to Dossier; Florida School Shooting; U.S. Slams Russia for Delays in Cease-Fire Vote; 100+ Girls Missing after Boko Haram Attack; Refugee Chefs Flourish in France. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired February 25, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics is just hours away. We'll hear more from the IOC president ruling again that Russian athletes cannot carry their own flag.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): And in the United States, it's the next chapter, debating if the FBI abused its power. Democrats released their side of the story.
ALLEN (voice-over): Plus in France there's a refreshing idea to integrate Syrian refugees. We'll tell you about the food bringing people together.
HOWELL (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers around world. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN (voice-over): I'm Natalie Allen. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.
HOWELL: Around the world, good day to you. The Winter Olympics closing ceremony is just two hours away. In two hours it happens but you won't see a Russian athlete waving their national flag at it.
ALLEN: Instead they will march under the Olympic flag as they have been throughout the games after the IOC decided to uphold Russia's suspension for state-sponsored doping. We'll hear more from the IOC president about that decision in a moment.
But first a diplomatic dance is underway in South Korea.
HOWELL: The North Korean delegation is in PyeongChang for the closing ceremony and the U.S. delegation, led by President Donald Trump's daughter, Ivanka, is there, too. But those two countries aren't planning to meet. Let's get the latest now from CNN's Paula Hancocks, live in PyeongChang. Paula, after weeks of Olympic diplomacy, involving North and South
Korea, with the United States keeping an arm's length and a firm stance, where do things go from here?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, George, that's a good question because certainly the sporting diplomacy has been fairly successful, at least from the South Korean-North Korean sides.
But obviously the question is, how do you keep that momentum going after the Olympics, after the Paralympics?
The joint U.S.-South Korean military drills will start once again. They were postponed for these Olympics so they wouldn't increase tensions. But they are military drills that annoy Pyongyang every single year.
So I've just been speaking to the South Korean unification minister, asking him how you can keep the momentum going. And he said that he was hoping that this weekend and over the next couple of days with the North Korean delegation, he will be meeting them and he will be hopefully talking about how they can continue this diplomacy in spite of these drills, to make sure that it doesn't affect these improve inter-Korean relations.
Now he also said that they have been talking about the nuclear issues, something we haven't been hearing from other sectors in the South Korean government. But he did say that in the past, the North Koreans refused to talk to them about nuclear. They said they wanted to talk to the United States.
They stop listening if the nuclear word came up and even walked out. But he said that is changing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We explained our position on North Korea's nuclear issues in detail on several occasions, including the January 9th high-level talks and the North Korean high-level delegation's reception with the president.
But North Korea listened closely to what we had to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANCOCKS: He also said there were no concrete plans for the U.S. and North Korea to meet at the closing ceremony or beforehand at a reception. But he did say that he believes both countries understand and appreciate the need for dialogue -- George.
HOWELL: So that's some takeaway there. Paula Hancocks live for us in PyeongChang, Paula, thank you.
ALLEN: So the competition is over at the Olympics. But it was exciting and nail-biting to the very end, with a skiing icon cementing her place as the most decorated Winter Olympian ever. We'll have more on that in a moment. HOWELL: And despite the ruling that will prevent Russian athletes from carrying their flag, at the closing ceremony the Olympic athletes from Russia were able to skate away with the gold in the men's ice hockey final beating Germany in overtime, 4-3.
ALLEN: As we said, nail biting. Let's get the latest now from CNN "WORLD SPORT's" Amanda Davies in PyeongChang for us, as she has been throughout these Olympics.
Let's start with Russia. It is a shame we have to talk about that than instead of the closing ceremonies and all the good stuff but doping is doping. And now they don't get to have their flag glory in the closing ceremonies.
You just spoke with the IOC president.
What did he have to say about the decision?
AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. This is a decision that Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian doping whistleblower had described this week as the most important in the history of the IOC. And when I spoke to him, Thomas Bach admitted that as any sensible person thought, really, after those two failed --
DAVIES: -- doping tests from the Russian athletes here at the Olympic Games, there was no chance that the ban was going to be lifted for the closing ceremony, that the neutral team would be able to march with the Russian flag.
But they have said that within the coming days, the suspension will be lifted if there are no more positive tests amongst the delegation from the Olympic athletes of Russia. And that has left a number of people asking once again if the sanctions have been tough enough.
This is the third Olympics games that Thomas Bach has been president of the IOC. It's the third Olympics games that has been tainted by this issue of Russian doping.
So I put it to him.
Should we even be in this isn't that it is the Russian doping scandal stealing the headlines, should we be here at all?
Shouldn't there have been a blanket ban issued?
And this is what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS BACH, PRESIDENT, IOC: No, because you have always to do justice to individual athletes as well. And you do not make any step further if you just cut every relation, if you don't allow anybody to compete.
DAVIES: So once again, once again the amazing sport and the storylines here in the run-up to the opening ceremony and the closing ceremony, we're still talking about Russian doping.
BACH: Yes, but this is up to you. I think we have seen two weeks of fantastic sport here. And we altogether should not allow that these cases overshadowing the fantastic performance of the Canadian athletes, of the Norwegian athletes, of the German athletes.
DAVIES: But it has overshadowed, whether you like it or not, the headlines are being dominated by Russia.
BACH: Oh, I don't think so in these two weeks, you have only seen headlines about Russia. You have seen great headlined about great sport and this is what the Olympic Games are about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DAVIES: So that was the IOC president, Thomas Bach, defending their decision.
And it might be that the athletes and the officials haven't been able to wear the Russian uniforms or carry the Russian flags but the fans have absolutely been out in force. We saw that earlier today at the ice hockey, where they had that gold medal Russia's or the Olympic athletes from Russia's second gold of the games to celebrate.
Interestingly, they were playing Germany. Thomas Bach himself is a German. Disappointment for him. He actually delayed our interview so he could watch the end of that hockey, which was won by the OAR in overtime, as you said.
ALLEN: And he didn't want to take your pursuit of the sidebar, which it has been the Russians. So good for you for trying to talk with him about that.
Another sad chapter of the Russia situation is the fans so behind their athletes, just imagine if the athletes would do something to honor the fans and as far as the doping goes. But let's move on.
The games are officially over and there were some nail-biting to the end. Tell us about the final highlights.
DAVIES: Yes, it's been a great final day of competition. That men's ice hockey final didn't disappointment. Germany continued their dominance at the sliding center. They won gold earlier today in the four-man bob. Francesco Friedrich (ph) claiming victory there. His second gold of the games actually after also taking gold in the two- man bob earlier in the competition.
That lifted Germany back to the top of the medal table. But that was until Marit Bjoergen, 37-year old Marit Bjoergen, took to the track in the cross-country 30-kilometer mass start event. She managed to claim putting in a sensational performance a really dominate victory to claim her fifth medal of the games, her 15th Winter Olympic medal in total.
This her fifth Olympic Games and it puts her right at the top as the most successful Winter Olympian, male or female, of all time. An incredible achievement and fitting really that her gold medal is the one that lets Norway back to the top of the medal table as we call an end to the competition here at the games, 14 golds tying with Germany.
But Norway have a great medal total overall. And rightly so. Marit Bjoergen will carry the Norwegian flag at the closing ceremony, which gets underway in just two hours from now.
I have to say, conditions --
DAVIES: -- much more pleasant than they were three weeks ago for the opening ceremony. I don't think the members of the audience will need quite so many of those blankets and hand warmers that we had a few weeks ago.
ALLEN: Excellent. We appreciate all your reporting. It's just been a joy and the competition has been stiff. It's just been wonderful. Thank you, Amanda.
HOWELL: Back here in the United States, House Democrats are defending the FBI's handling of the Russia investigation. They're releasing their own memo. They released it on Saturday. Their memo directly refuting the central premise of a Republican memo that was made public earlier this month.
ALLEN: In the middle, Carter Page, this man. He was a foreign policy adviser to then candidate Donald Trump until September 2016. The following month, the FBI obtained a warrant to conduct surveillance on him.
HOWELL: The Republican memo alleges the warrant was based on an anti- Trump dossier funded by Democrats. But Democrats dispute that. In their memo, they say the FBI had been interested in Carter Page, the man you see here, long before they got their hands on the dossier.
CNN's Evan Perez has more.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: The memo from House Intelligence Committee Democrats makes the case that the FBI had plenty of reason to get a secret court order to do surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
This contradicts the memo that was released a few weeks ago by Republicans, which claim that the FBI would not have been able to get permission for that surveillance without an opposition research dossier paid for by Democrats and put together by former British spy Christopher Steel.
Democrats say that the Steel dossier played only a small part in the surveillance application and they say that the FBI had years of concerns about Carter Page's Russian contacts and the possibility that they were trying to recruit him.
They also say that the FBI told the court that the dossier was funded by people politically motivated to discredit the Trump campaign. The memo says that Carter Page surveillance began in October of 2016 and ended in September of 2017.
Page was no longer part of the Trump campaign when the surveillance was actually done. And the Democrats say that the FBI and the Justice Department provided information from, quote, "multiple independent sources" that corroborated Steel's reports.
There's lots of redactions in the report that was put out. And we know that the FBI was opposed to releasing both this memo and the earlier one from Republicans because of concerns of damage to national security -- Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.
ALLEN: And as the Russia investigation continues to unfold, keep in mind some key differences between the Democrats' and Republican memos. Central to these differences, the alleged role the so-called Steel dossier played in the FBI getting a warrant to spy on Page.
The Republican memo put forward by Congressman Devin Nunes claims the dossier was an essential part of the application for a warrant.
HOWELL: The Democratic memo put forward by Congressman Adam Schiff says the dossier was of narrow use in the multiple pieces of evidence presented to the court.
ALLEN: The second major difference: whether the court was informed of the political motivation behind the dossier. Nunes claims the motivation was not mentioned to the FISA court. Schiff, the Democrat, counters the court was informed of all the necessary political context.
HOWELL: All right, now to the uneasy relationship between the presidents of Mexico and the United States. President Enrique Pena Nieto will not be making a planned visit to the White House.
This comes after a confrontational phone call with the President of the United States on Tuesday. "The Washington Post" first reported this story. Mr. Pena Nieto wanted the U.S. president to acknowledge publicly that Mexico does not plan to -- does not want to, will not pay for a border wall.
ALLEN: But President Trump refused. He was repeatedly frustrated the Mexican president expected him to back off from one of his main campaign promises.
With that, (INAUDIBLE) talk about all of this, James Davis. He's the dean of the School of Economics and Political Science at the University of St. Galen. James, this memo, Memogate, it certainly gets into the weeds of an aspect of the Russia investigation. So let's go back over that headline there. The Republican memo alleging the warrant by the FBI to do surveillance on Page was based on a dossier funded by Democrats.
The Democrats dispute that. They say the FBI was interested in Page long before they got their hands on the dossier.
Is that correct?
JAMES DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF ST. GALEN: Yes. I think if you look at this memo, you see that there are, in fact, multiple independent bases for investigating Carter Page. And what's really interesting, if you take a look at the memo, is the number of sources that have been blackened out.
That suggests to me that these are intelligence assets that the United States has around the world and that we don't want to compromise them. This is not information that's just coming out of the Steel dossier but rather a network of American sources.
And they are so important that nobody really wants to let anybody know who they are. So I think there --
DAVIS: -- are bases for this. And don't forget: this is an investigation that was reapproved in a total of three times; a total of four judges, all of whom were Republican appointees, saw enough merit in the FBI's case to approve these warrants for surveillance.
So I think that the memo really puts to rest the notion that this was some kind of a hatchet job by some rogue FBI agents that were interested in thwarting the Trump campaign.
ALLEN: And the other issue we talked about was whether the FISA court was informed of the political motivation behind the dossier. Republicans say they weren't; Dems say they were.
How important is that issue?
DAVIS: Well, it is part of the Republican narrative to try and discredit the FBI and the whole Mueller investigation by claiming that it's somehow political motivated, that there were some rogue agents involved here. But I think this is made very clear that the data from the Steel memorandum that was included in the application for the warrant is identified as opposition research.
But there are other things in this memo that are very interesting. The memo -- or the application for the FISA court warrant, the memo suggests that in April 2016, Papadopoulos, another aide to the Trump administration, was told by Russians that they would be willing to leak emails from Hillary Clinton that could damage her campaign.
It's only about 2.5 months later in July that Trump calls on the Russians to find or release Clinton campaign memos and emails. So there's a lot in this memo, that if you really spend some time reading it, leads you to suggest that there may be, in fact, more going on than we thought.
ALLEN: So Memogate, does it hurt or help the situation?
Does it provide clarity?
And has it backfired for the Republicans, which started it and let's point out that these committees are supposed to be non-partisan, that went ahead and provided these memos.
DAVIS: Right. It suggests that the committee is divided along partisan lines. I think also the effect on the public is probably minimum. I think Trump supporters are going to believe that this is all part of a campaign, politically motivated to discredit Trump's election.
I think Democrats are going to believe once again that there is something here that needs to be uncovered, that the Mueller investigation is legitimate and we're hoping that in fact he can come up with some serious credible answers to some open questions.
I don't think it will change much. But it does really point to the fact that the committee is very polarized and perhaps even dysfunctional, which suggests we really do need the Mueller investigations to proceed along a deep politicized, very professional way and it seems to me that Mueller has been conducting himself in that fashion.
ALLEN: James Davis, we appreciate your analysis. Thank you.
DAVIS: Thank you.
HOWELL: And to your point, so good that you pointed that out, these committees, they are supposed to operate in a non-partisan fashion. It is so telling to see what's happening right now.
HOWELL: Still ahead, almost two weeks after the Florida school shooting, teachers and students prepare to go back to school, where 17 classmates and teachers died.
ALLEN: Also the National Rifle Association says companies cutting business ties with them are showing political and civic cowardice. We'll talk about that.
HOWELL: Some law enforcement officials are being criticized for how they responded to this school shooting in Southern Florida almost two weeks ago. A top Florida congressman now says this man, the Broward County sheriff, should be removed from his post.
ALLEN: Sources tell CNN it appears four deputies were outside the school soon after the shooting began but did not go in and instead took cover. But Sheriff Scott Israel says only one of them was on campus at the time of the attack and that that deputy has resigned after being suspended.
HOWELL: In the meantime, President Trump is again calling for some trained teachers to be armed, saying they could keep students safe.
ALLEN: And there's an outcry over that idea. Law enforcement officials and educators say it is a bad idea, including teachers from the school that was attacked there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARA LERNER (PH), TEACHER: If I had had a gun in my room, it would have been locked in my closet. And by the time I got my keys to get the gun, I would have been shot. There's no reason for me to be armed. There's no reason to give me a bonus for giving me a gun. Put that money in teachers' paychecks and in our pockets.
Put that money into more school security and additional law enforcement on campus. Don't give me bonus and don't give me a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: Sara Lerner (ph) there, speaking to my colleague, Ryan Nobles, on Wednesday.
The surviving students will return to their school, the school where they lost 17 classmates and teachers.
They're planning to continue pressuring officials for gun control reform. Their teachers retired to work on Friday and the principal says therapy dogs are helping them to heal.
ALLEN: Dogs can always help just about every situation.
ALLEN: More company are cutting business ties with the NRA, the National Rifle Association, which is not taking that news quietly.
HOWELL: That's right. In a statement, the NRA says in part, quote, "Some corporations have decided to punish NRA membership in a shameful display of political and civic cowardice."
Our Polo Sandoval reports.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's how this corporate backlash came about. The National Rifle Association offers its members in exchange for their dues discounts with several corporate partners, services like hotels, life insurance, car rental or car purchase, even a wine club.
Well, now some of these organizations have been under increased heat --
SANDOVAL: -- since the Parkland shooting and pressure to sever ties with the National Rifle Association. And this morning, major airlines joining the group, including United.
They took to Twitter, saying, quote, "United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website."
United's competition, Delta, also posting a similar message, saying, quote, "Delta is reaching out to the NRA to let them know that we will be ending their contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website."
These two airlines are not alone. Another major company, including First National Bank of Omaha also turned away from the NRA, saying that customer feedback has prompted them not to renew their contract with the NRA and they are no longer issuing the NRA Visa credit card.
And of course the list is growing there with car rental groups and also a hotel chain. What's interesting here, though, so far from these companies, we haven't heard why or when they made this decision. But when you put it all together, you can see that pressure that has been mounting on some of these organizations.
And now the major U.S. companies saying no to the NRA -- Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
ALLEN: A cease fire vote at the U.N. aims to try and stop renewed bombing in Syria.
But will it work?
We'll take a look ahead here as we push on. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.
HOWELL: A warm welcome back to our viewers around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you so much for being with us. I'm George Howell.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.
HOWELL: Now to the conflict in Syria and the U.N. cease-fire vote. It may be too little too late. The Security Council adopted a 30-day truce resolution on Saturday but there are already reports of more airstrikes in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
ALLEN: The U.S. has blamed Russia for delaying the vote while Russia says it will take more than talks at the U.N. to achieve peace.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Every minute, the council waited on Russia. The human suffering grew. Getting to a vote became a moral responsibility for everyone. But not for Russia. Not for Syria. Not for Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): By decree of the Security Council, it came up to -- you cannot install a cease-fire. Cease-fire is reached by laborious and painstaking process on the ground and we want to make sure that it is reflected there. (END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Let's talk with CNN's Jomana Karadsheh about these developments from the U.N. She's live for us in Amman, neighboring Jordan there.
Jomana, the fact that Russia and the U.S. are fighting in this war yet again muddies how in the world to stop it.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Natalie. And it's not just the United States and Russia. You have so many different regional and international players that are involved in the Syrian war.
This is a very complex battlefield with all these different competing interests in Syria. And that is why there's this feeling that the start of this year, 2018, is the start of an even much more complex chapter in the Syrian war with the fight against ISIS not really the focus anymore for all these different countries, as it's lost so much territory that these different countries now will start fighting for influence and territory in Syria.
When it comes to the situation in Eastern Ghouta, you know, Natalie, you look at the Syrian regime and the government felt like the government has the upper hand in this conflict right now, victory after victory as they call it on the battlefield.
And now the focus in on this rebel enclave on the outskirts of Damascus that has been a real issue for the government. So strategically it wants to recapture this area, especially after all these reports we get on a daily basis of rocket and mortar fire, that the regime says is coming from Eastern Ghouta, targeting the capital.
And the feeling amongst people, when you talk to them in Eastern Ghouta, is their growing similarities to what we saw back in Eastern Aleppo and that the regime is not going to stop until it recaptures Eastern Ghouta.
ALLEN: Absolutely. And we didn't think we would see another Aleppo style situation in this war but we're seeing it. Jomana Karadsheh for us, thank you.
For more now, here is George.
HOWELL: Natalie, that's right.
HOWELL: Let's get more from Kuwait with Panos Moumtzis, the U.N. regional humanitarian coordinator for the Syria crisis.
Panos, thank you so much for taking time with us to talk to us about this ceasefire. This draft resolution sponsored by Kuwait and Sweden, designed to allow aid to come in, to allow civilians to evacuate, to get out. But we understand the fighting continues.
How optimistic are you that people on the ground will, in fact, see some benefit from what happened in New York, given the poor track record, quite frankly, of ceasefires in Syria?
PANOS MOUMTZIS, UNITED NATIONS: Well, sadly, first of all, the resolution took quite a lot of time to come together. But even now that they got together, this morning indeed there are reports of hostilities continuing in Eastern Ghouta.
And that's really a huge concern because, from our side, there's huge humanitarian concerns. First of all, protection of civilians, women, family, children, find themselves in the middle of the conflict with aerial bombardment.
MOUMTZIS: It is quite intense and it is continuing.
On our side we are ready to move in with humanitarian assistance. Food, medical supplies and also to help with evacuations. So it is vital that this Security Council resolution that was adopted, that really it is implemented on the ground; otherwise, it is a piece of paper that won't mean anything for the people.
And there is a sense of urgency for easy implementation. The situation is such that it cannot wait much longer.
HOWELL: And you say that aid agencies are ready but important to point out, there's no set time for the ceasefire to begin. How does that affect the work that your groups do, to try to get in to
these people, who so desperately need that help?
MOUMTZIS: It's really important that the governor of Syria, that the partisan faction (ph), that all of them agree to the cease-fire and all of them agree to facilitate the access of humanitarian workers to reach the people in need in all the areas.
And the ceasefire is not just about Eastern Ghouta, it also covers freeing Idlib, other areas in the country. So for us, it's highly frustrating that now the resolution is adopted but yet this morning we have not really seen any action.
We hope that as soon as possible all parties, all governments with influence take this seriously because we cannot wait much longer and really ensure that, A, there's a party agreement by everybody to a cessation of hostilities and, secondly, they allow us to go in.
It's frustrating because Eastern Ghouta is just about 10 miles down the road from the center of Damascus. And to think that, within such a close proximity, there is one in eight children are severely malnourished.
To think that there's really need on multiple fronts -- food, health facilities, help medicaments and so on and yet people are losing their lives. We have the reports of at least seven people were killed this morning. This is since the resolution has passed. So really it needs to translate to action on the ground.
HOWELL: And for people on the ground, my colleague, Natalie, just mentioned this a moment ago, Aleppo, is that the feeling, the sense again.
Are we seeing another Aleppo?
Is there a trust gap for the people on the ground that the Syrian government will not hold up to its end of the bargain if it does, in fact, follow through with the ceasefire?
MOUMTZIS: We hope it will not be another Aleppo. We hope we will not see entire parts of cities, towns, villages destroyed, bulldozed and many more lives lost.
So really, just the last seven days, more than 500 people were killed. And a number of health facilities were bombed and destroyed. They are not functioning. A peaceful solution really is the solution way forward. History has always taught us that wars was never the solution.
And that's where we hope, with the ceasefire and with the Security Council resolution, that peace and stability will prevail, at least for 30 days to allow us to go in. Clearly what is needed is much longer than the 30 days.
But this 30 days would provide really a breathing space for the people in this area to be able to receive some assistance and also to bring some halt to this extreme air attacks and bombing that takes place in civilian areas. So the protection of civilians is really the most urgent objective at this point.
HOWELL: Panos Moumtzis, thank you so much for taking time. And of course we'll continue to watch this story, as the world will, quite frankly. Thank you.
ALLEN: We'll have to tell you about a program that CNN is sponsoring. We're partnering again with young people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery. That happens on March 14th.
And in advance of My Freedom Day, we've been asking Olympians and other people, actors, what freedom means to them. We asked musician will.i.am that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILL.I.AM, MUSICIAN: The definition of freedom is love. When you truly love, you don't want to harm anyone. You look, you see difference and you appreciate it. You see struggle. You want to make sure you do your best to help people out there struggling. So freedom is love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: People are offering up a lot of good answers. That was a good one, too.
What does freedom mean to you?
Share your story using the #MyFreedomDay.
HOWELL: In Nigeria, families are becoming all the more desperate. There's still no official information about dozens of schoolgirls missing after a school attack. We'll have more as NEWSROOM continues.
ALLEN: Also severe storms in the U.S., some bringing floods that swallowed cars whole. Ivan Cabrera will have that.
HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.
In northeastern Nigeria, parents are desperate for any information about their missing daughters. They say more than 100 girls are missing after suspected Boko Haram militants raided a girls' school on Monday night. ALLEN: But government officials still don't have a clear idea of just what happened and they have been giving out contradictory information since the attack. It has been a week of confusion and mixed messages. Let's go our CNN digital editor, Stephanie Busari. She's in Lagos for us.
And these parents certainly deserve some answers.
Are there any new developments?
STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Natalie, sadly, history is repeating itself with this latest kidnap of these schoolgirls. In eerie echoes of the Chibok girls, only what's trending now is Dapchi girls and not the Chibok girls.
A list has just been released and we can confirm that 105 girls were taken about a week ago from a school in Northeast Nigeria. And their parents are telling us that what the number they know so far is 105. That has also been confirmed by the government.
So that's the latest information that we can bring to you. What we do know about what happened in the attacks is that three trucks full of armed men, who were dressed in military gear, stormed this school with about 900 girls studying there and carted away 105 of them.
And President Buhari has issued a statement, apologizing, calling this a national disaster but frankly people are saying this is a national disgrace. They say that lessons from Chibok don't seem to have been learned and parents were furious when they were told that the girls, their daughters, had been rescued by the army only for an embarrassing retraction to be made, that those girls --
BUSARI: -- actually were not rescued. So as you can understand, there's a lot of anger and confusion on ground. The parents are telling us they just don't know. They have enough information about how their daughters will be rescued, what will happen to them.
And we have been talking to some of the parents on the ground. Take a listen to what they were telling us about what happened to their daughters on that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When we went to check for those missing and present on the day that they wanted to shut down the school, I found out my daughter was among the missing girls when her friend gave me her belongings.
Her friends confirmed to me that she was among those taken away in a vehicle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BUSARI: So there you have it, these parents now facing a sad reality that their daughters could be missing for up to four years, which is what the Chibok girls happened four years ago and some of those girls still not back. But some of these parents preparing themselves for that reality if these girls are not found -- Natalie.
ALLEN: What a tragedy that we're back here again and they cannot keep girls safe in their schools there from these -- from Boko Haram, when the government claimed it was trying to turn back the violence that Boko Haram brings to that area.
Thank you so much, Stephanie Busari. We'll talk with you again as you learn more.
HOWELL: Certainly does put a lot of pressure on the security in that nation.
ALLEN: Well, France opens its kitchens to refugee chefs to share their culinary cultures trying to bring some support and friendship to their refugees' plight. We'll have that coming up.
HOWELL: And Norway plans on shelling out millions of dollars to make this building top of the line. That it is because it's holding some of the world's most precious resources. We'll explain in a few minutes.
HOWELL: Around the world one thing we can all agree on is food. Certainly very important for people around the world. It can have the power to break through cultural barriers.
That idea is helping a French catering company to build a business.
ALLEN: Yes, I think we can all agree that refugees are not always treated fairly with the huge influx of refugees. This company is hiring refugee chefs to help overcome prejudice. Our Jim Bittermann has that from Paris.
JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: There have been times over the past few years when Syrian refugee Mohammed El-Khaldy (ph) did not know where his next meal was coming from.
But after fleeing the conflict in his homeland to Egypt, crossing the Mediterranean to Italy and eventually making his way to France, the well-known television chef is finally back doing what he loves most: preparing meals for others. Khaldy (ph) and his kitchen partner, Nabil Atal (ph), who also fled
from Syria, are part of a flourishing drive by French food entrepreneurs to employ refugees who have worked in the food industry, a way to win over prejudices perhaps one bite at a time.
MOHAMMED EL-KHALDY (PH), CHEF: They try the food, they try the culture, not make your culture and habits and all the sensitive from your country and put it in the food and he will understand you.
BITTERMANN: It's no secret that, here as elsewhere in Europe, as refugees have flooded in over the past few years, they haven't exactly been greeted with open arms. Still, in a food conscious country like France, talent in the kitchen counts for a lot and some believe could even cut through some intolerance.
BITTERMANN (voice-over): At least that's the thinking behind an even more ambitious project here, the kitchens of a catering company called Migratory Cooks. On any given day you might find refugee chefs from Iran, Nepal, Ethiopia or Syria, saucing and slicing and otherwise fine-tuning their native dishes.
And that's part of the idea --
BITTERMANN (voice-over): -- to encourage authentic reproductions of what the refugees used to cook up in their homelands rather than fuse their dishes with French cuisine. For the creators of Migratory Cooks, also points out that this is not some kind of charity project. It is, he emphasizes, a catering business, intended to make money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're a company and we're trying to build a brand around French food that will empower refugees and show that they have something to bring to the French society.
BITTERMANN (voice-over): The young company it seems has found a way out at the same time doing good and doing well or, in this case, eating well because, two years after it was founded, Migratory Cooks has a full agenda of catering events. The asylum-seeking chefs sometimes going along to prepare and explain their dishes to curious customers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe one will surprised. I mean, they ask us, where are the refugees?
Because when they add in mine with the people in the Calais Jungle or on the road or under the -- living under the subway and they realized that they were like us.
BITTERMANN (voice-over): These refugees at least have managed to put their insecure days behind them -- Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.
ALLEN: We like that idea, don't we. Thumbs up, George and me. Norway's government says it's getting ready to fork out $13 million to upgrade its infamous Doomsday seed vault. The vault, as you likely know, is an underground bunker located on an arctic island.
It stores seeds of just about every known crop in the world. It's so cold it's supposed to preserve them in case of catastrophic crop failure.
HOWELL: But an unexpected thaw caused water to flow into the vault's entrance and that's making Norway nervous. So it wants to build an update access tunnel and emergency air conditioning units. The idea is to keep the seeds safe, to keep them cold and dry and ready to go in case of a doomsday disaster.
ALLEN: An unexpected thaw. They got to expected that now with the warming temperatures so, yes.
We have got more news ahead. That's our first hour. I'm Natalie Allen.
HOWELL: And I'm George Howell. The news continues here on CNN. We'll be right back after the break.