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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 5-6a ET

Aired February 25, 2018 - 05:00   ET




GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Delegates from North Korea arrive to attend the Olympic closing ceremonies. CNN will bring you a live report ahead on sports and diplomacy in PyeongChang.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Also this hour, a confrontational phone call between two neighboring presidents. That would be Mexico and the U.S.

HOWELL (voice-over): And later, from burning down villages to completely bulldozing them, we'll show you new satellite images from Myanmar's Rakhine State.

ALLEN (voice-over): Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, thank you for joining us. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL (voice-over): And I'm George Howell. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


ALLEN: We hate to see it go but just one hour now will be the Olympic closing ceremony and a diplomatic dance is once again underway in PyeongChang, South Korea. Just two weeks ago, U.S. vice president Mike Pence and top North Korean leaders, including Kim Jong-un's sister, attended the opening ceremony.

And although they sat just feet away, they completely ignored one another.

HOWELL: Well, all eyes will be looking to see if that cold shoulder will happen again at the closing ceremony, this time with different actors. The North Korean delegation led by the country's former spy chief arrived in South Korea just a few hours ago.

While the U.S. delegation, led by President Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, has been at the games now for a few days. Ivanka Trump meeting with South Korean president and discussing new economic sanctions on Pyongyang. ALLEN: And all this happening against the backdrop of a sports controversy. The IOC has decided to uphold Russia's suspension for state-sponsored doping. So the Russian athletes once again won't march with their national colors or flags at the closing ceremony.

HOWELL: With competition wrapped up, let's take a quick look at the final medal table.

ALLEN: Norway has broken the record for most medals in a single Winter Olympics, topping the table with 39. But it's a tie with Germany for gold. Both have 14. Then comes Canada with 11 golds and 29 overall. And in fourth place, the USA, 29 total medals, nine of which are gold.

HOWELL: Amanda Davies is in PyeongChang for us and will have much more in a moment there.

Let's start, though, with the catchphrase of these Olympic Games: Olympic diplomacy. CNN international correspondent Will Ripley is also in PyeongChang to kick off our coverage.

And Will, after weeks of Olympic diplomacy involving North and South Korea, the United States keeping an arm's length but a firm stance.

Where do things go from here?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're about an hour away from the closing ceremonies, 35,000 people will gather at the Olympic stadium behind me, George. And as you mentioned, the eyes will on that VIP box for any sign of interaction between the high-ranking North Korean delegation, led by North Korea's former spymaster and the first daughter of the United States, Ivanka Trump.

Now we know in that delegation is one of the officials present is part of the Bureau of North American Affairs. That is a sign that perhaps North Korea is prepared, if there is some sort of informal interaction with Ivanka Trump, they will have somebody who specializes in North American affairs there to facilitate that discussion.

But we just don't know what is going to happen; we possibly could get some details released from the Blue House within the next hour or so about any meetings that would have occurred before the opening ceremonies.

We know that there was a VIP reception and both the United States and North Korean were expected to attend. But we can't sugar-coat that this is an extraordinarily tense time here on the peninsula, despite this recent thaw in Olympic diplomacy.

The United States just days ago announced some of the largest sanctions, in fact, the largest sanctions ever imposed against North Korea, targeting nearly all of the ships that they have operating right now.

North Korean state media putting out an article just within the last few hours calling these new sanctions tantamount to an act of war -- George, Natalie.

HOWELL: All right, Will, thank you, stand by.

ALLEN: Let's go to Amanda Davies.

Amanda, I don't know how to throw a question to you now. Will was in there with an act of war but that's what the news is, though.

But let's lessen a little bit here and talk about the unfortunate chapter of these Olympics and that being the continued doping by Russian athletes.

AMANDA DAVIES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I've been speaking to the IOC president, Thomas Bach, Natalie. And interestingly, he actually admitted that the North and South Korean delegations marching together at the opening ceremony came very --


DAVIES: -- very close to not happening.

I said, "How close?"

He kind of game me a wry smile and said, "Very close."

But of course all the headlines coming out of the IOC today were focusing on the decision of whether or not to lift the ban on the Russian delegation. But it was really admitted any sensible person thought that given were talking about the Olympic athletes from Russia following the letter of that law and spirit of the games as soon as we have seen this week two of their athletes failing doping tests, that that was really never going to happen for this closing ceremony.

There are those people saying maybe it's too lenient on Russia. The fact that we're talking about a couple of days' time providing there are no more positive tests. The suspension will be lifted because this is the third Olympic Games, the third of Thomas Bach's presidency actually, that the issue of Russian doping has clouded things.

People are saying surely this should have been handled in a better manner to prevent all the sporting headlines being overshadowed by the issue of Russian doping if Russia's athletes had been banned altogether, this wouldn't have happened.

But Thomas Bach said that absolutely is not the issue.


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.


ALLEN: Well, they've been about much more than just the Olympics. The competition was great, though. We want to end on saying that.

Thank you, Will Ripley, for your reporting, and Amanda Davies, thank you.

HOWELL: We'll see it come to end.

ALLEN: We'll be watching to see what happens at the closing ceremony.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

Back here in the United States, House Democrats are defending the FBI's handling of the Russia investigation. They released their own memo on Saturday. That memo directly refuting a central premise of the Republican memo that was public earlier this month.

ALLEN: In the middle, this man, Carter Page, 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, saying the FBI had been interested in Carter Page long before they got their hands on that 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: Keep in mind --


ALLEN: -- key differences between the Democratic and Republican memos, central to these differences is the alleged role the so-called dossier played in the FBI is getting a warrant to spy on Carter Page.

HOWELL: The Republican memo, though, put forward by Congressman Devin Nunes, it claims the dossier was an essential part of the application for the warrant. The Democratic memo put forward by Congressman Adam Schiff says that the dossier was of narrow use in multiple pieces of evidence presented to the court.

ALLEN: The second major difference, whether the court was informed that the political motivation behind the dossier, Nunes claims motivation was not mentioned to the court.

Schiff counters the court was informed of the necessary political context.

HOWELL: Now to the uneasy relationship between the presidents of Mexico and the United States. President Enrique Pena Nieto will not make 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 want to, will not pay for a border wall.

ALLEN: President Trump refused; he was reportedly frustrated the Mexican president expected him to back off from one of his main campaign promises. HOWELL: Now we'll be able to get a little context on this with Scott

Lucas. Scott teaches international politics at the University of Birmingham in England.

Scott, live with us, good to have you here today. Let's talk more about what we're seeing with this Democratic memo. It's meant to serve as a counterweight to the Republican memo.

But, Scott, from what you've seen here, does this balance the picture?

SCOTT LUCAS, UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM: Three weeks ago when the Nunes memo was released, well informed analysts immediately said that the information in it was very suspect and that it had a number of distortions.

The Democratic response, just simply, I think, confirms that. The key facts are is that the FBI had multiple sources of information to approach the top secret court in 2016, that it had been looking at Carter Page as a possible Russian agent since 2013.

But this was not motivated by politics, to keep Trump out of office. I think it's also true that -- or should be noted that this surveillance of Carter Page has been extended three times or was extended three times, including twice by Donald Trump's own Justice Department.

So the idea that the FBI and the Justice Department were planning a coup against Trump, which is effectively what Nunes has said, that has sort of fallen apart. Indeed, I think in a sense that the whole Nunes memo has sort of gone by the wayside now because in the last three weeks, despite its attempt to block the Russia investigation, that investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller has continued.

We've had more indictments. We have had another guilty plea. And I saw, I think, Devin Nunes in the Trump White House, although they'll continue to complain all weekend and have been about this, I think they're now pushing water uphill to try to keep this effort going.

HOWELL: Look, we saw the president get into a Twitter war with the ranking Democrat on the House Intel Committee, Adam Schiff, calling him little Adam Schiff. The president uses this term "little" to describe some people.

But on television, the president defended his release of the Republican memo and why he blocked the Democratic memo. Let's listen. We can talk here in a moment.


TRUMP: That document really verifies the Nunes memo and it was -- that's why didn't push hard to have it, if you notice, they did not push it hard because they understood this was going to happen.

You have all these committees, everybody's looking, there is no collusion. No phone calls, I had no phone calls, I had no meetings, no nothing. There is no collusion. I say it all the time, anybody that asks. There's no collusion.


HOWELL: The president pointing out, no collusion. The bigger question here, though, Scott, past Memogate, past the question about what serves as a counterweight to the other, what difference does this truly make?

Is this sort of a distraction or does it actually play into, Scott, the Russia investigation, in your view?

LUCAS: Well, this episode, this entire episode was an attempt by allies of Donald Trump to try to push that investigation aside by claiming it was tainted, by claiming that it is all smoke and no substance.

But the fundamentals that special counsel Mueller, whatever you think of the investigation, he's not going to be deterred by this. His team is not being deterred by this. They simply are getting on with what they see as business as usual, despite the politics. And that means, that in the past week, we have had another Trump adviser, Rick Gates, who has pled guilty to charges. We've had more indictments against Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort. We have indications that there's more --


LUCAS: -- cooperation by Gates and others with the Mueller investigation, which I think will do two things. One is I think that it will increase the possibility that we're looking at Russian financial links to the Trump campaign in 2016.

And, secondly, I think it will increase Trump's attempts to try to blunt the investigation; for example, in that interview last night indicating that he wants attorney general Jeff Sessions to step in (INAUDIBLE), well, that would simply add to allegations of obstruction of justice.

So Trump, I think, would just compound his difficulties rather than wishing them away.

HOWELL: All right, Scott, I want to shift to the other story that's making headlines. The president of Mexico canceling his plans to visit Washington. We understand that at the very least this was because of a confrontational phone call between these two leaders.

The issue: the border wall that Mr. Trump wants, the border wall that Mexico has made very clear it has no plans to pay for.

Is there any room for these leaders to come together, to move forward?

LUCAS: Oh, you can move forward if you simply take the wall away. I mean, it's interesting because Donald Trump in a phone call with the Mexican president last year said to him, and we know this because the transcript came out, he said, look, we're going to pay for the wall. But we need you in public, Mexico, we need you to say that you're

paying for it. Because that's what I've got to tell my people. Well, President Pena Nieto says we're not playing that game. That's what this most recent one call is.

And so he said effectively I'm not coming to Washington or we're not going to have a visit if you continue to try to stick me with the idea that Mexico is building the barrier on the border.

The visit's fallen apart. So it's just simply the symbolism of the wall and the politics around immigration. And while that is going on, and remember we're reaching an imminent deadline about the DREAMers on March the 5th and they may be at risk of deportation.

While that goes on the Mexican president will not come to the U.S.

HOWELL: And at the same time, we understand that the president looking to Congress to get the money for this wall. So ultimately the American taxpayer would, as you point out, stuck with the bill on that. We'll see how it plays out.

Scott Lucas, thank you for your time.

ALLEN: A United Nations vote aimed for a truce in Syria for an area being bombed relentlessly by the Syrian government. Coming up, we'll go live to the region to see if the ceasefire can actually work.

HOWELL: So parents desperate for any information. No official information yet about dozens of missing schoolgirls in Nigeria. We'll have that story ahead.





HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

Turning now to Syria, the U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution on Saturday, calling for a truce in that country's vicious civil war. A ceasefire that is supposed to last a month but there are signs that it didn't even last a day.

ALLEN: Activists say there were more airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta on Saturday. Hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed there over the past week; 99 children among those were bombed and killed. And the U.S. says it doubts Syria's government will observe the truce.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: All eyes will now be on the Syrian regime, Iran and Russia. Our goal with this resolution is clear: the Assad regime needs to stop its military activities around Eastern Ghouta and, for once, allow humanitarian access to all of those who need it.

We are deeply skeptical that the regime will comply. But we supported this resolution because we must demand nothing less. We owe this to the innocent people of Syria, begging for help.


ALLEN: The U.S. ambassador there. Now here's what the Russia ambassador said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I wish to voice deep concern in the light of this public statement by certain U.S. officials, who threaten aggression against a sovereign country, the Syrian republic. And I immediately caution, we will not countenance any subjective interpretation of the resolution that has just been adopted.

We demand an end to this reckless rhetoric and for instead there to be a joining of common efforts to resolve the conflict in Syria.


ALLEN: Jomana Karadsheh is following developments for us from Jordan.

And it's really sad, after all this time to continue to see the U.N. going back and forth over this situation and it's not just the U.S. and Russia involved, there are so many countries involved there in Syria. But this one area, Jomana, is really, really hurting right now the Ghouta area.

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It is a catastrophic humanitarian situation by all accounts, Natalie. And so far, despite this vote at the United Nations, despite this resolution passing, there's absolutely no sign on the ground of a cease-fire even going into effect.

The reports that we're getting from activists on the ground late last night following the vote at the U.N., they say there were some airstrikes right after that. But this morning it sounds like a serious intensification of this campaign going on.

Activists that we have been speaking to are reporting some airstrikes but a lot of artillery shelling, they say, and missile attacks on different parts of Eastern Ghouta. As our producer was speaking with these various activists and medical workers, you could hear some blasts in the background, one after the other.

There's also reports, according to these activists there on the ground, of intense clashes taking place on several fronts in Eastern Ghouta in what they are describing as an attempt by the regime to carry out a ground offensive in the area.

There are reports of casualties right now but it is unclear how many people have lost their lives so far. Of course, this coming after that horrific death toll we are hearing, or more than 520 people killed between last Sunday and Friday -- Natalie.

ALLEN: Jomana Karadsheh there reporting for us there in Jordan. We certainly hope the ceasefire can take hold. Thank you.

HOWELL: Let's get more now 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. It is quite intense and it is continuing.

On our side --


MOUMTZIS: -- 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: In Nigeria, it appears it's happened again. Schoolgirls have gone missing.

Where are they?

Who took them?

We'll have a live report coming up here.

HOWELL: Plus new evidence that Myanmar's campaign against the Rohingya hasn't stopped.





HOWELL: Welcome back to viewers around the world, this is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Here are our top stories.


ALLEN: Parents in northeastern Nigeria are desperate for information about their missing daughters. They say that more than 100 girls are missing now after suspected Boko Haram militants raided a girls school Monday night. If this sounds eerily familiar, it is.

HOWELL: It is, indeed. The government officials, though, still don't have a clear idea of exactly what happened. And they have been giving out contradictory information since the attack. It has been a confused week of mixed messages in Nigeria.

Let's now bring in CNN digital editor, Stephanie Busari, in Lagos.

Tell us, mixed messages here, a lot of confusion.

Have officials said anything more about what has happened?

STEPHANIE BUSARI, CNN PRODUCER: George, once again Nigerian headlines for missing schoolgirls, although this time it is not the Chibok girls but the Dapchi girls. And the latest information we're getting is that 105 girls have been confirmed missing.

This list was compiled by the parents themselves and circulated to various media. But they have been warning that this number could --


BUSARI: -- rise because, when the militia stormed the school, many girls, there were 900 girls in the school, many of them (INAUDIBLE) and ran and hid in bushes. We understand that many of them ran about 30 to 40 kilometers away from the school.

And so last night we're told that two more parents reported their daughters missing, unaccounted for. They could have been taken by Boko Haram militants, which we suspect are Boko Haram militants, or they could still be making their way back.

That's what we're hearing, that the picture's just very unclear. We just don't know where those girls are right now. President Buhari has issued a statement saying that, you know, he's sorry. He calls this a national disaster, says he's sorry for this happening.

But there is widespread anger in the country. People are furious. Parents are furious that lessons from Chibok nearly four years ago just have not been learned. These girls were left unprotected in their schools, effectively (INAUDIBLE) who stormed in and picked them up unchallenged -- George.

HOWELL: President Buhari, who did promise to crack down on this type of terrorism, certainly under pressure and security top of mind right now. Stephanie, thank you so much. We'll stay in touch with you.

In Myanmar, the country's government has bulldozed dozens of Rohingya villages, empty due to the violence that began there last year. This according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

ALLEN: And new satellite images appear to back up their report. Take a look at this. The left image was taken in December 2017. The right was taken of the same village earlier this month, structures and trees leveled.

HOWELL: This image set shows one of the villages in December. Then that same village on February 1st.

And here's another. Look at this village on the left. What it looked like on December 2nd and, on the right, that's this month.

ALLEN: Richard Weir is a researcher with Human Rights Watch and is joining us from New York to talk about this.

You just came back from there.

What is going on?

RICHARD WEIR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, as you have seen from the satellite images that we have analyzed over the past couple of months, a total of 55 villages have been completely demolished, everything cleared away.

We're talking about homes, schools, mosques, everything completely gone in the southern part of one of these townships, where Rohingya villagers were forced to flee.

What we're talking about not just homes, not just schools, not just sites of prayer, we're talking about crime scenes, where the government is actively bulldozing and completely clearing away any visible signs of life and any evidence that would remain in these areas.

ALLEN: It is hard to believe that the government is still doing things like this, that the world can see it.

Is this an attempt to keep the Rohingya from coming back there?

There's no village. How do they come back home with this attempt to reclaim the land from

the Rohingya?

WEIR: Well, the government says that they are engaged in a development effort and they are going to build these villages back better. But as far as the government statements in the past, we know that they have certainly aimed to create a situation where it is not safe for them to return.

And indeed, the High Commissioner for Refugees just last week in the Security Council told the members of the U.N. that it was not safe yet for them to return.

ALLEN: So where does that leave the situation?

WEIR: Well, it's a very dire situation. And as we all know, Rohingya continue to flee from parts of northern Rakhine State, hundreds at a time. You know, this is a situation where we're calling on the U.N. Security Council, U.N. members and donors from Myanmar to call for a halt to these demolitions until the U.N. fact-finding mission can get in there and do a credible investigation.

As of yet, there's been absolutely no credible investigation done, not by the Burmese government, not by the Myanmar government. And so not only are we talking about the loss of villages where these people could possibly return to but the loss of any hope for real justice.

ALLEN: And remind us again, Richard, the numbers of people we're talking about here, displaced.

WEIR: So since August 25th, just since August 25th, nearly 700,000 people have fled to neighboring Bangladesh, sometimes over boat and sometimes just to the north over land.


WEIR: And I tell you, these individuals came mostly with nothing. We watched them flow over the border all of September and into October from Bangladesh.

ALLEN: Very sad story with an outcome we just don't know. But it doesn't look good. Richard Weir with Human Rights Watch, thank you.

WEIR: Thank you for having me.

HOWELL: All right. CNN is partnering with people around the world for a student-led day of action focusing on modern-day slavery. Ahead of My Freedom Day on March 14th we're asking as many people as possible for their definition of freedom.

What does it mean to you?

ALLEN: Queen Sylvia of Sweden is a high-profile advocate for several international children's charities. She is her country's longest serving queen. She told CNN what freedom means to her.


SYLVIA, QUEEN OF SWEDEN: To have a freedom in your heart, you have to know that all your family members, your country, that the -- and the children, that they are happy, that you have been doing what you can to give them freedom. And you may have inner freedom as well. So that's for me freedom.


ALLEN: What does it mean to you?

Share your story using #MyFreedomDay, a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery on March 14th.

HOWELL: Here in the United States, severe storms are bringing tornadoes, flooding and even blizzard conditions. At least two people have been killed. We'll have details on that.

ALLEN: Also, the NRA, the powerful National Rifle Association in the U.S., says companies cutting business ties with them are showing political and civic cowardice.

Are they?

We'll have a story for you.





HOWELL: In the U.S. state of Florida, some law enforcement officials are being criticized for how they responded to a school shooting almost two weeks ago.

ALLEN: Sources tell CNN it appears four Broward County deputies were outside the school soon after the shooting began but those deputies did not go in. Instead, they took cover.

HOWELL: But Sheriff Scott Israel says only one of them was on campus at the time of the attack. And that deputy has now resigned. In the meantime, many educators are rejecting an idea by the U.S. president to put guns in the hands of teachers.

But he brought the proposal up again on Saturday. Let's listen.


TRUMP: We would have had some great teachers that were gun adept, meaning really understood weaponry and guns. And if they had concealed permits, you wouldn't have this problem today. You just wouldn't have it.


HOWELL: Survivors of the school shooting are trying to pressure the National Rifle Association, which is a major political and economic power in the U.S. And now more companies are cutting business ties with the NRA.

ALLEN: There's a sample right there, Delta and United Airlines announced Saturday they will no longer provide discounts to NRA members.

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."

One massive storm system is to blame for catastrophic flooding in the U.S.


ALLEN: Speaking of, U.S. skier Lindsey Vonn opens up about her Olympic journey.


LINDSEY VONN, OLYMPIC SKIER: I still have the passion for what I do. I love going fast. I love the adrenaline. And that is what keeps me coming back.

ALLEN (voice-over): We'll hear more from the three-time Olympic medalist when we come back.






ALLEN: Legendary Bollywood actress Sridevi has died. It was a shock for people. The "Press Trust" in India says she suffered cardiac arrest while in Dubai where she was attending a family wedding.

HOWELL: She was beloved and prolific as a performer, starring in dozens of films during her nearly four-decade long career. She was only 54 years old.

ALLEN: The Winter Olympics closing ceremony is must minutes away. Before we wrap this hour, let's look back at one U.S. skier who had an emotional connection to these games. Lindsey Vonn dedicated her Olympic run to her late grandfather and suffered social media backlash after losing a race.

HOWELL: She spoke to our Coy Wire about why she is not hanging up her ski boots just yet.


VONN: I'm not going to give up just because I'm older or because I crashed a million times. You know, I still have the passion for what I do. I love going fast. I love the adrenaline. And that is what keeps me coming back.

COY WIRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As an athlete, I had hate on the blogs and the social media. And I'm human. It hurt, no matter how much I tried to deny it.

And looking at some of the Twitter reaction you've had to deal with, even during these Olympics, how does that feel to you?

VONN: It definitely hurts. Like you said, no matter how you try to spin it in your mind or out loud, it always hurts. And I try not to read it. I try to stay away from it.

But I also like to know what my fans are thinking and saying and feeling. And I like that engagement with them. So I do my best to filter it. But the only thing I really can do is remember who I am and what I stand for.

WIRE: How about this one?

What does that mean to you?

VONN: You're going to make me cry again. Yes, I miss my grandpa so much.


VONN: I was happy that my grandma watched the Olympics. And there is a lot of people that chose to talk about my grandpa's story and how he served in the Korean War. And I think that made Grandma really happy and made my family happy and proud and I just miss him.

WIRE: I believe he was here with you in spirit. You've said that. You felt it and actually maybe even physically, too.

Did you bring ashes?

Did you bring his ashes?

Tell me about that.

VONN: Yes, I had always planned on scattering his ashes here. I chose to scatter his ashes here because I think it would mean a lot to him. And it meant a lot to me. And it was a big honor. And I still wear more ashes. I wear the in this locket. But yes, he's always with me.

WIRE: Lucy has become a bit of a star. This girl is a celebrity now.

VONN: Oh, yes. WIRE: She works it. She has got that tail wagging, the hair is flowing.

VONN: Yes. We had a lot of fun on the Bounty commercial. She was -- she did four days of doggie training. She loved it. She loved being on camera. And she just, yes, she's born to be in front of the camera, I think.


ALLEN: Who knows? She could be back for more.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

ALLEN: That is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell, live from Atlanta. "CNN TALK" is next.