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Trump Steals the Show in Pennsylvania; China's Parliament to Remove Presidential Limits; U.S.-North Korean Talks; Bannon Stirs Up Europe's Far Right; Steel Industry Split on Tariffs; #MyFreedomDay; Poison in the U.K.; Saving Northern White Rhinos from Extinction. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired March 11, 2018 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. president rallies for a Republican candidate and that included a loud endorsement of himself for 2020. He also previewed a new campaign slogan.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): It's a little bit like the last one. Plus China extends its tenure of President Xi indefinitely. This has just happened. We'll take you live to Tiananmen Square.
VANIER (voice-over): Also later in the show, he is the last male of his species. And because this is 2018, he has a Tinder profile. Thanks to science and a fundraiser there is new hope that the northern white rhino can be saved.
ALLEN (voice-over): Certainly hope that happen.
Welcome to our viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. Glad you're with us. I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER (voice-over): I'm Cyril Vanier. We're live from CNN Headquarters here in Atlanta.
VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump went to the state of Pennsylvania on Saturday. It had not been billed as a victory lap after recent successes. He supposedly went there to help a fellow Republican win a tight congressional race.
ALLEN: Representative Rick Saccone is in danger of losing the race to a Democrat in a usually Republican district. Mr. Trump was on hand to try to prevent that.
VANIER: And while Donald Trump gave a full-throated endorsement of Saccone, the visit quickly turned into a promotion of himself for the 2020 campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We can't say make America great again because I already did that. Right? But our new slogan when we start running in, can you believe it, two years from now, is going to be -- Keep America Great, exclamation point. Keep America great!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Jason Carroll has a closer look at Mr. Trump's speech.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight felt very much like a campaign rally as opposed to a rally kicking out there in north springs of lone (ph). Donald Trump went over a laundry list of what he says were and have been his accomplishments so far in office.
He mentioned tax cuts, he mentioned tariffs on steel and aluminum, he mentioned some of the inroads he's made with negotiations with North Korea. He mentioned the economy.
One by one he went over the accomplishments made in office so far. You look at one of the campaign slogans that's been listed up here tonight, promises made, promises kept. That is what Trump and the GOP is hoping voters here are going to remember here in the 18th district.
Donald Trump carried the district by some 20 points but the reality is the race right now between Republican Rick Saccone and the Democrat challenger, Conor Lamb, is too close for comfort.
One recent poll showing Saccone only up by 3 points. And what President Trump is hoping is he's hoping all of that energy that he had out here tonight will translate into voters here that will get behind, hopefully, he's hoping, will get behind Rick Saccone come Tuesday for that special election -- Jason Carroll, CNN, Pittsburgh.
ALLEN: In that speech, President Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for helping bring North Korea to the negotiating table.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: President Xi of China has really helped us a lot. They've really helped us. And because 93 percent of the goods come in through China going into Korea, North Korea. 93 percent. So that's pretty powerful. And they've been very good. They could have done more but that's OK.
I say to them, you've been great. You could do more but they've done a lot. They've done more, China has done more for us than they have ever done for any other president or ever done for this country. And I respect that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ALLEN: There's been a major change in China. As of a few minutes ago, the U.S. may be working with President Xi for years to come.
VANIER: China's parliament and National People's Congress has just approved a constitutional amendment to abolish presidential term limits. President Xi, already one of the most powerful Chinese leaders in decades, will now be able to rule indefinitely perhaps, perhaps for life.
ALLEN: Removing China's presidential term limits will have major consequences inside and outside the country. Our Matt Rivers joins us now live from Beijing.
Matt, this has just happened, it's official.
Why has the Communist Party decided to go along with this idea?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of different potential domestic political reasons for that, Natalie. But I think what you can see this as is really just a coronation of what critics would call a brand-new dictatorship here in China, the likes of which we have not seen since the guy right behind me, Mao Zedong, the founder of --
RIVERS: -- Communist China. What you now have seen Xi Jinping do is completely take over the government apparatus here in China.
And really it started late last year during the 19th Party Congress, where Xi Jinping was re-elected as general secretary of the Communist Party, but also he had Xi Jinping thought, as it's formally known, written into the party constitution.
What analysts will tell you is, by doing that, that made him the most powerful Chinese political figure since Mao Zedong. If you criticize Xi Jinping, in essence you're criticizing the Communist Party itself.
So if you ask why these delegates at the National People's Congress are going along with this, even if many of them perhaps have differing opinions as to whether this is a good thing or not, they're not going to speak out because the reality is that Xi Jinping is too powerful for that at this point.
He is an incredibly powerful politician. He is now the head of the general -- the head of the Communist Party, he is the head of the military and now he could be president for life if he so chooses.
That means that China is basically now under one-man rule. It will follow Xi Jinping's vision for China. He views China as ascendant. He views China as perhaps competing with the United States in just about every arena imaginable over the next couple of decades.
And this abolishment of term limits just kind of formalizes or seals this deal that he has been able to accomplish in his first five years in office. ALLEN: Interesting, Matt, you talk about inwardly some of the people that we see here. Members of the Communist Party may not be for this.
But what about the people?
China does not welcome dissent but are there rumblings in the country about this country going backwards to one-man rule, like you mentioned with past dictators?
RIVERS: Absolutely. This is not a monolithic society. People have differing opinions. Whether they can voice them publicly is certainly another story altogether.
But yes, there is absolutely concern. We were speaking earlier today, actually, with one of the more prominent vocal critics in China, a former newspaper editor for a state-run newspaper, actually.
And he is one of the few people who have spoken up and said he thinks this is a terrible idea and that he doesn't want his children to look back at these days and not see him stand up for what he believes is a grave injustice here in China.
So there's certainly a healthy amount of suspicion as to Xi Jinping's motives here. He says or the state media say it's really just all about making China a more strong country. But people would point to that and say that's just an excuse for creating yet another dictatorship here in China.
But whether there is dissent or not, the effect is that it's not public because Xi Jinping is all-powerful at this point. The state is all-powerful and there is no room for dissent. And I can guarantee you that right now the CNN signal here in China is being blacked out.
If you were staying in a hotel, for example, here in China, it would be black because any time there is an open and honest conversation about whether Xi Jinping staying in power for life is actually a good thing for the world's second most important country, the government here just doesn't want to see that.
ALLEN: They certainly don't hesitate to black out media coverage, that certainly doesn't look like something that will change under Xi Jinping as he continues here.
What about the region, Matt?
Does this have the region concerned?
RIVERS: I think what other countries are going to be looking at this situation is perhaps a good thing and a bad thing. The good thing, you know who you're dealing with and there is stable leadership. If you're planning to be talking about China in 2025, you can pretty much bet that Xi Jinping is still going to be in power barring some sort of unforeseen circumstance, that you can do some long-term planning.
But if you are feeling a bit hesitant about China's vision, if you are feeling hesitant about his incredible political repression here domestically, if you are feeling hesitant about his military expansion in the South China Sea, if you are feeling hesitant about the terrible loans that China often puts out to developing countries in order to gain political influence there, then, yes, you are looking at this development here and saying, that's not a good thing.
So there is good and bad to this if you're an international figure, looking at dealing with China. But at least for planning purposes, you know that this guy is likely going to be around for a very long time.
ALLEN: As we mentioned, this decision was made just moments ago there in Beijing. Our Matt Rivers for us, appreciate it, Matt, thanks.
VANIER: And part of President Trump's speech was dedicated to North Korea and his upcoming meeting with its leader, Kim Jong-un. While Mr. Trump praised China for its help in setting the stage for the meeting, he also faulted his predecessors.
ALLEN: Yes, saying that the situation should have been handled at some point --
ALLEN: -- over the last 30 years. Still, at Saturday's rally, Mr. Trump struck an optimistic tone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: South Korea came to my office after having gone to North Korea and seeing Kim Jong-un. No, it's very positive, no. After the meeting you may do that but now we have to be very nice. Let's see what happens. Let's see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Andrew Stevens joins us now from Seoul with a closer look at this upcoming Trump-Kim meeting.
Andrew, President Trump says the meeting's definitely happening. Beyond that however, we don't know very much more at this stage.
ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: We don't know very much more at all at this stage. The South Korean delegation who carried the invitation of Kim Jong-un to meet with Donald Trump has actually just landed here back in Seoul in the last hour or so.
And they are now, we understand, at the Blue House, briefing the president. Not expecting a press conference at this stage. But there may be some details coming out over the coming hours.
But at this stage, there is no details. We don't know where it's going to be, we don't know exactly when, the president said by May. So it's very much open to speculation at the moment. Certainly, as you see there, Donald Trump putting a pretty positive
spin on things and saying he believes that Kim Jong-un is at least going to honor his commitment to no tests, no nuclear missile tests or nuclear bomb tests, while these talks are underway.
So Donald Trump is rather surreal sitting there, listening to Donald Trump telling his people to stop booing Kim Jong-un, just goes to show how far things have changed in the last week or so.
But the administration obviously is scrambling now to put together some sort of framework. We're getting mixed messages, we're hearing from the White House that there has to be some conditions that Kim has to take concrete steps toward denuclearization before this talk goes ahead.
Now Donald Trump hasn't mentioned any concrete steps; neither has the South Korean delegation either, Cyril. So, again, we don't know whether the U.S. is going to now start playing hardball before we get to the actual meeting.
VANIER: Andrew Stevens, live from Seoul, South Korea, thank you very much for the update.
A big part of the speech was also about domestic policy and domestic politics. Let's talk about that with Gina Reinhardt, she's in the U.K. She a senior lecturer for the Department of Government at the University of Essex.
Gina, Mr. Trump hit on a lot of his usual topics during his campaign rallies, he was tough on crime. One of the most notable moments of the speech was he seemed to be calling once again for the death penalty for drug dealers.
So this seems to be a theme that he's going to ride on?
GINA REINHARDT, SENIOR LECTURER, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: It definitely does. He has landed on this as something that is palatable to some people and very favorable to others. And it's just audacious enough for him to really, really cling to it because he likes to make sort of bold, audacious claims.
And he's, I think, going to ride with it because he hasn't had a lot of objection to it yet.
VANIER: I'd like you to listen for just a second.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was joking and I said, huh. President for life, that sounds good. Maybe we're going to have to try it.
President for life. But I'm joking. But I'm joking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: OK, Gina, that wasn't the one I had in mind. However, that was also an interesting moment. Mr. Trump saying, yes, he would like to be president for life like President Xi.
But hey, media, don't take me too seriously, I was just kidding, media's always making a big deal about these pronouncements.
Still, though, when you hear that from the U.S. president, is it good form for the U.S. president to be making that kind of joke?
REINHARDT: Certainly not. The president for life is essentially a dictator, as your reporter said earlier. And the change in the constitution and the policy in China is really quite scary.
And it should be scary to everyone because it means that there can be no peaceful transition of power to another or opponent group.
So if Donald Trump were to become a president for life, then he would be a dictator of the U.S. as well. I think it's reflective of the lack of respect he has for American political institutions. He did say he was joking. I do think he was joking. But the joke itself I think is in poor taste.
VANIER: Yes, if you listen to the whole speech, he praises China. But there's not just that, also saying the Chinese president has done more for his administration than any other Chinese president in the past. Then his criticism, of course, here domestically, he actually --
VANIER: -- called -- this didn't get picked up but he actually called an American journalist an SOB.
So there's always this balance with Mr. Trump, where his criticisms are leveled at countries that you could call -- that are not necessarily allies of the U.S. And then here he is actually using expletives against journalists. But this seems to work with this crowd.
REINHARDT: It absolutely works with this crowd. Don't forget that his supporters are people who enjoy the fact that he challenges the establishment. And they're also willing to listen when he claims that he's accomplished things or that, what the media is saying are gaffes or mistakes, aren't really there.
And they listen to what he says. They believe what he says. So if he says that it's not a problem that the president of China could now be president for life, that everything's going to be great with North Korea and let's give them a good chance, people think, oh, look, this is an average guy, he's being a nice guy right now and he's standing up to reporters that he doesn't like and that's fine.
And for Trump, that's fine, too, because he likes to be praised for things like that, for sticking to his guns. What bothers him is when people say they don't like him. And this crowd is not going to say that.
VANIER: No. The fact remains, however, that President Trump carries Pennsylvania -- carried Pennsylvania in the presidential election by a wide margin. And now in this special election that's happening, for a House seat, the GOP candidate is actually in a very tough spot.
What does that tell us about the president, if anything?
REINHARDT: Well, it definitely tells us that his support is slipping and that even though his hard-core supporters haven't changed, there is, I believe in the -- what we would consider swing or undecided voters, voters who maybe weren't paying that much attention to the presidential election, there has been more attention to the Democratic candidate.
And there's been a lot of money going into the Democratic campaign there. It shows that the president is losing some of his base, I think.
VANIER: Gina Reinhardt, speaking to us from the U.K. today, thank you very much, we appreciate having you on.
REINHARDT: Thank you, Cyril.
ALLEN: His former right-hand man, Steve Bannon, is gone from Washington politics but he's not gone. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you miss it? (INAUDIBLE).
STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF STRATEGIST: No, I don't, not a second.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN (voice-over): Doesn't miss it. He has something to say, though. President Trump's ex-adviser traveling in Europe, stirring up the far right. We'll take you live to France -- coming up here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: Let them call you racist. Let them call you xenophobes. Let them call you nativists. Wear it as a badge of honor. Because every day, we get stronger and they get weaker.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: He's still at it. That's former White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, speaking Saturday before a cheering crowd of France's far right National Front, it's trying to rebrand itself after doing poorly in last year's French presidential election.
VANIER: Bannon hasn't been in public much since he was kicked out of the White House last August but lately he's been making the rounds among Europe's right-wing parties, groups which share his ultra- nationalist views.
CNN's Melissa Bell joins us from Lille, France, where the National Front is holding its two-day party Congress.
You listened to the speech by Steve Bannon.
Did the crowd actually like Bannon?
MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They loved it, Cyril, they loved his message. Their side, because they believe they have a lot in common, was winning, Steve Bannon explained he was cheering Europe's populist uprising was the furthest advance.
He believes even more than the United States and they love to hear that. Also he focused his message very much on economic nationalism. That's for Marine Le Pen has been one of her focuses since she took the presidency of her father's party back in 2011.
The idea that the poorest need to be looked after the best and that economic nationalism carries the introduction of measures to keep business at home or what was needed.
So it went down extremely well, he got a standing ovation. But perhaps the most chilling part was when he encouraged the crowd, Cyril, to identify the press and to boo them, which they did with alacrity.
VANIER: What about Marine Le Pen herself, the far-right candidate, former presidential candidate?
How does this fit into her narrative?
She's been trying to make the party more mainstream and here comes Steve Bannon, saying, hey, you should actually own the label of racist and xenophobe.
BELL: Well, when you listen to that line that we just heard that quote out of context, that appears to be what he's saying. In fact, he made the point several times during the speech you heard and in the press conference that followed, denying the idea that either he or the populists in the United States or the parties he was speaking to in Europe were either racist or nativist.
What he was saying was, ignore the mainstream media, ignore the mainstream politicians, ignore political correctness, let yourself stand up for what you believe in. That was the gist of his message.
The provocateur, he's used that line that's become the headline. And you're right. Marine Le Pen has been trying to distance herself from the image of the National Front that it had under her father, trying to point out that it was not racist, it was not nativist, that it was all about economic nationalism and making France great again, reflecting that American message.
So in fact she really did go in her direction, focusing on economic nationalism. That's not to say it hasn't got the indication to receive him vision within the party. There are those who believe that it is a reminder of what so many French electors rejected at the last election.
VANIER: Melissa Bell, speaking from Lille, Northern France, great to talk to you, thank you very much, Melissa.
ALLEN: Our top story, Chinese President Xi Jinping now able to rule his country for life.
But why is he solidifying his power?
And is he now effectively a dictator?
We'll discuss that coming up.
VANIER: Plus President Trump promises new tariffs will bring back U.S. steel jobs. But some U.S. companies say, not so fast. We'll explain why. Stay with us.
VANIER: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier.
ALLEN: I'm Natalie Allen. Thanks for joining us live in Atlanta.
Let's talk about this with Robert Lawrence Kuhn, a long-time adviser to the Chinese government, the author of "How China's Leaders Think" and the host of "Closer to China" with R.L. Kuhn on the China Global Television Network.
Thanks for being with us.
ROBERT LAWRENCE KUHN, CHINESE GOVERNMENT ADVISOR: Hi, Natalie. Interesting day.
ALLEN: Isn't it though. The first question to follow up on your book title, "How China's Leaders Think," what is Xi Jinping thinking with this move?
KUHN: Well, first of all, we have to understand it in context. What this is, there were 21 different clauses in this amendment. And the whole point of it is to strengthen the governing system of China.
China is a party state system, where the party controls the state. Everybody's focusing on Xi and the abolition of term limits and it is important. But we need to understand the context within this party state system.
In October 2016, Xi Jinping was made core of the party. That meant the collective leadership of the past was no longer operative, that he was, in essence, for the party, the decision maker.
Then just this last October at the 19th CPC National Congress, his name was put into the party constitution as the Xi Jinping thought on socialism, the Chinese characteristics for a new era, it's a big phrase. But what it means is that he is the arbiter of Marxism and party theory.
That means in terms of being the core and the interpreter of Marxism, that gives him ultimate power. Xi doesn't even need a position when he has that and the party continues to run the country.
ALLEN: Is that a good thing?
How could it be a good thing for the country when one person has the ultimate power?
KUHN: There are two issues. One is how it happened and now the presidential abolition of term limits coordinates the party and military, the three largest positions. So they're now coordinated because he already had that power in the government.
The other provisions strengthen the party dramatically. Now the question is, OK, to what end?
What is the result?
That's a question only history can resolve. But I can tell you what is being said here in Beijing. There are two general categories.
One is that China is in this so-called new era looking forward to the mid-century, 2050, when China emerges on the center stage of the world. The vision is to be prosperous, strong, culturally advanced, harmonious, beautiful, a large vision.
And they say only a very strong person can bring this about, so we need that. Second problem is short-term. The next three years, they talk about three major battles, controlling financial risks, reducing pollution and ending extreme poverty. And because there are interest --
KUHN: -- groups that are opposing the reforms, particularly in state- run enterprises and financial services, et cetera, that you need a tremendous power. So with this abolition of term limits, in addition to his party powers, now you wrap it all together, people have to realize they either get on the program to reform and promote rule of law, the things that Xi Jinping wants to do, because they can't outwit or outwait Xi Jinping.
ALLEN: Right. So I understand, you explained the inner workings of the Chinese system.
But the bottom line is, if he just now created a dictatorship, is this good or not good, considering he can rule forever?
Is this good or not good for the people of China?
KUHN: I would say a large majority of the people think it's good to have stable, consistent leadership. Only history will be the final judge.
But there are substantial problems when you have one-man rule. It's clear. You're dependent upon the physical health; you're a hostage to fortune of an individual, you're making a system below them less robust.
So if something happens, there could be more political turmoil after that. So look, there are tradeoffs. Every system of government has tradeoffs. So China is going big-time for individual control, consistency, not just for five years or 10 years but now into the foreseeable future.
They're setting the dates; 2035 may be sort of an intermediary date which people are looking to achieve. During this time, they're putting their -- China's putting its fortune on the shoulders of one individual. There's no question about that.
And hopefully the people around him will be loyal enough and have enough vision to tell him the truth, even if he doesn't like to hear certain things.
ALLEN: He certainly has pushed out critics. And it will be interesting to see if this can really be something for the country, when you think back to the legend of Mao, et cetera. We appreciate you breaking it down for us, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, thank you so much.
VANIER: In the heart of America's steel country, President Donald Trump is promising to resuscitate the struggling steel industry with tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. He has been getting backlash, however, from trading partners, specifically from the European Union.
ALLEN: The E.U. has said it would place reciprocal tariffs on U.S. goods but it is also indicating it may seek exemptions from the tariffs. At Saturday's rally in Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump vowed to fight any retaliatory actions by the E.U.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They said, we don't want to pay tariffs. I said, let's make a deal on NAFTA. If you make a decent deal, a fair deal for the American worker, the American people, you'll have no problem with a tariff. I said the same thing to the European Union. I said, look. You're
killing us. We're losing $100 billion a year. You're not accepting our product. Then they say, we want those tariffs taken off.
I said, good, open up the barriers and get rid of your tariffs and if you don't do that, we're going to tax Mercedes-Benz, we're going to tax BMW. You want to have money...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: With the new tariffs, the big question, what happens next?
Struggling U.S. steel workers hope it brings jobs back.
VANIER: But others worry the tariffs could actually lead to job losses. Ryan Nobles looks at how one steel city could be affected.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There may not be a place in America paying closer attention to President Trump's proposal to slap a hefty tariff on steel imports than Northeast Ohio.
TIM BERRA, PRESIDENT & CEO, HEIDTMAN STEEL: I mean, that's what shaped this valley.
NOBLES: Whether it is the making of steel, the fabrication of steel or the use of steel to make products like cars, medical equipment and buildings, Cleveland's economy is heavily reliant on the resource and the impact of these tariffs could be massive and immediate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There will be a net loss of jobs in the steel consuming industry, for sure.
NOBLES: Heidtman Steel is smack dab in the middle of the steel supply chain. They buy millions of pounds of raw steel, process it and sell it to companies like automakers.
There's about a ton of steel in a vehicle on average.
NOBLES: Heitman's president and CEO, Tim Berra, said that the tariff plan may offer a quick boost, but then a degree of uncertainty.
BERRA: You see all the steel here? Every day, it goes up in value. That's good for us. Short term. It's still questionable how it's going to impact us long term. NOBLES: Heidtman, a family owned Ohio company, counts automakers
among its biggest customers. The auto industry at this point is nervous about the proposal. The American Automotive Policy Council put out a statement in the wake of the announcement --
NOBLES (voice-over): -- warning that, quote, "This would place the U.S. automotive industry which supports more than seven billion American jobs at a competitive disadvantage.
Bill Gaskin, the president emeritus of the Precision Metal Forming Association, represents hundreds of companies that buy and use steel in their products. And 150 of those companies are based in Ohio. And he warns a decision could lead to job losses and companies closing.
BILL GASKIN, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, PRECISION METAL FORMING ASSOCIATION: It leaves very little to hire people and do the other things that a company has to do, especially invest in new equipment.
NOBLES: But the people actually making the steel itself are for the tariffs, including Tony Panza, who spent years inside the mills in Cleveland and now represents his fellow employees through the local United Steelworkers. He argues that tariffs will balance the global playing field and create jobs immediately.
TONY PANZA, UNITED STEELWORKERS LOCAL UNION: And certainly, you know, more people working here, more tax money, more tax dollars going to the communities, going to the states. I think in the long run, it benefits everybody.
NOBLES: Gaskins disagrees. He argues, in the U.S., there are 160,000 steel jobs versus more than 6 million that are related to companies that consume steel.
GASKINS: It's very hard to make the case that this generates more jobs.
NOBLES (voice-over): Ryan Nobles, CNN, Cleveland, Ohio.
ALLEN: We'll have to revisit that plant and see what happens in the future.
British police are scouring hundreds of pieces of evidence and witness testimonies hoping to find answers to the mysterious nerve agent attack against a former Russian spy and his daughter last week.
VANIER: On Saturday the British home secretary held an emergency meeting with senior cabinet members. She told reporters afterward that the government is committed to offering investigators all the support they need. Meanwhile, Sergei and Yulia Skripal and a police officer who assisted him are still in serious condition.
ALLEN: When you think things could not get worse for civilians in Syria's Eastern Ghouta. We'll have a live report ahead here.
VANIER: Plus conservationists hope this northern white rhino's pretty face will be enough to land him a date and save the species. Why not? Stay with us.
VANIER: Something we keep telling you about because it matters to us here at CNN, My Freedom Day. CNN is partnering with young people around the world for a student-led day of action against modern-day slavery and it's coming up. The day is March 14th.
ALLEN: In advance of My Freedom day, we're asking students what freedom means to them. Here's what students from Smithfield High School in Virginia had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What freedom means to me is making my own decisions and creating my own path.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To me freedom means being able to walk the streets alone as a woman, not having to worry about what I'm wearing or whether or not a guy is pursuing me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To choose how others perceive you in society and to govern your own actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: Tell the world what freedom means to you. Share your story using #MyFreedomDay.
The Syrian government offensive against Eastern Ghouta killed 20 more people on Saturday. Video shows members of the White Helmets rushing to save lives in the town of Douma. The volunteer rescue group says airstrikes there killed four children.
VANIER: There are reports more than 1,000 civilians have been killed over the past few weeks. This as the Syrian military ramps up its ground campaign. It's reportedly trying to cut off two major towns from the rest of Eastern Ghouta.
CNN's Jomana Karadsheh is tracking this offensive from neighboring Jordan. She's currently in Amman.
Jomana, does the regime discrimination between rebel fighters and civilians in this offensive or not?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Cyril, when you talk to people on the ground, they tell you that they most definitely don't. They describe this as the most brutal of campaigns, relentless bombardment over the past three weeks, where no home no hospital, nothing, they say, has been spared and, as you mentioned, more than 1,000 people killed.
On the other hand, you hear from the regime saying that it is -- they're essentially blaming the rebel groups on the ground, saying they are the ones holding civilians, they are hostages, that they're using them as human shields.
The regime and the Russians have announced opening what they call these humanitarian corridors, two of them at least, for people to be able to leave Eastern Ghouta.
But only a handful of people have taken up that offer and moved through these corridors. And why that's not happening, you've got the regime again saying that they're being prevented by these rebel groups, who they say are targeting the corridors.
People say that they fear what might be on the other side. They're worried about going into regime-controlled territory. But we've also heard some reports, Cyril, that it is rebel groups also preventing civilians from leaving.
So no matter how you look at this, they seem to be trapped in this bloody fight, with both sides determined to fight until the bitter end.
VANIER: Where are we in this offensive?
Is the regime actually close to capturing Eastern Ghouta?
KARADSHEH: When you talk to people on the ground, when you look at what's going on, on the battlefield, it does seem like it's a matter of time. It's no longer if Eastern Ghouta is recaptured by the regime; it looks like when is that going to happen?
Over the past week or so, we've seen the regime really push with this ground offensive on several fronts. But they do seem to be making advances.
On the eastern front yesterday, according to the regime and also opposition activists, they captured the town there, the town of Mesraba, and also reports that they're really closing in on the main town of Eastern Ghouta and Douma.
And they are trying to cut off these two main towns, Harasta and Douma, from the rest of Eastern Ghouta. That is important for the rebels, it is a main supply route for them.
Clearly as we've seen in the past, the regime does have the upper hand when it comes to the battle. They do have the firepower and the airpower, thanks to their allies, the Russians and the others also on the ground.
So it really seems, Cyril, that we are looking at the regime advancing, making more and more advances on the ground. And the question is, how is this going to end, with both sides, as we mentioned, determined to fight until the end here?
The feeling is we are going to see a repeat, what we've seen in other rebel-held areas where they come to some sort of agreement and evacuation deal as they have been called in other parts of the country, where rebel fighters and their families and some civilians are moved out into that shrinking territory controlled by the rebels in other parts of Syria.
VANIER: It's reminiscent of what we've seen in other parts, as you say. Aleppo comes to mind, for instance.
VANIER: Jomana Karadsheh, reporting from Amman, thank you very much.
ALLEN: Coming up, one of the most famous golfers in the world may be making an extraordinary comeback. Tiger Woods could be poised to win his first tournament in a very long time.
ALLEN: There's so many endangered animals in Africa. But poachers have pushed the northern white rhino to the brink of extinction, all for their horns.
VANIER: Now there's a move to reverse that trend after the world's last male survived a health scare. CNN's Lynda Kinkade reports on this.
LYNDA KINKADE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): He's the last male of his species and without him the northern white rhino will become extinct. So when 45-year-old rhino Sudan in Kenya became sick two weeks ago, his caretakers were gravely concerned.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since I've known Sudan for eight years now, Sudan is my great friend. He's a very (INAUDIBLE) rhino. We are feeling so sad that he's not feeling well.
KINKADE (voice-over): Sudan was suffering from an infection from a leg wound and was in so much pain he kept to his pen for several days. Vets feared it may be the end for him. But thankfully he's --
KINKADE (voice-over): -- slowly regaining his strength after a round of painkillers and antibiotics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As we look at it now he's an animal that is showing the will to live. He's strong. He is eating properly. He's happy, that is fantastic. So it's just the pain and the wounds.
KINKADE (voice-over): That's a relief to scientists who are trying to find a way to save the species through in vitro fertilization since attempts to mate Sudan with two remaining females failed. Sudan even had his own Tinder profile created by conservationists to
raise money for a $9 million fertility experiment. Experts hope to mix Sudan's sperm with an egg from a female northern white rhino and then implant the embryo into a southern white rhino.
Poachers hunted the northern white rhinos to the brink of extinction, their horns selling for $50,000 a kilo. But really good now scientists say they are concerned with something much more precious, a full recovery for Sudan and a continued hope that he won't be the last of his kind -- Lynda Kinkade, CNN.
ALLEN: Hang in there, buddy.
VANIER: The Tinder profile can only help.
VANIER: Tell you about Tiger Woods, he has not lived up to his reputation in a long, long time. But that might be changing.
Is Tiger finally back to his old winning self?
It looked that way Saturday. This was at the Valspar Championship in Florida.
ALLEN: Tiger finished one stroke back in a three-way tie for second. A win on Sunday would be his first since 2013, ending an embarrassingly long drop for this former champ.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TIGER WOODS, GOLF PRO: I've been in this position many times. I've won my share of events here and overseas. And so I know what it's like to be one back or near the lead. I've been here before. I just need to execute now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALLEN: A lot of people will be watching on Tuesday, see what happens there. It's Valspar.
That's our hour but we have more ahead. I'm Natalie Allen.
VANIER: I'm Cyril Vanier. We'll be back with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM after the break, stay with us.