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New Gun Safety Proposal; White House Proposes Arming Teachers, Backpedals On Raising Age To Buy Guns; Golfing Great Vows Crowd With Second Place Finish; Scientists Discover Rare Ice Trapped Inside Diamonds; South Korean Envoys Make Case for Trump-Kim Jong-un Meeting; Russia Claims to Test-Fire Hypersonic Missile; U.K. Russian Spy Mystery. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired March 12, 2018 - 02:00 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 White House unveils its proposals to curb gun violence in schools. Raising the legal age to buy a rifle is not one of them but arming some teachers is.
Now that U.S. President Donald Trump has agreed to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, South Korea is getting busy selling the meeting to its neighbors.
Plus the Tiger Woods comeback, it looks like it could be happening. The superstar golfer couldn't quite seal the deal on Sunday at the Valspar Championship but he seems to be on top of his game once again.
It is great to have you with us today. I'm Cyril Vanier at CNN Headquarters here in Atlanta.
VANIER: The U.S. president, Donald Trump, is supporting new gun and school safety proposals nearly a month after the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. But he is backing off some of the strong language that he used just last month, when he said he would consider raising the age limit to buy certain guns.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You can't buy a handgun at 18, 19 or 20. You have to wait until you're 21. But you can buy the gun, the weapon used in this horrible shooting at 18. You are going to decide. The people in this room pretty much are going to decide. But I would give very serious thought to it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: Let's see what the White House is proposing with CNN's Boris Sanchez.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The White House promoting a multipronged effort to try to prevent school shootings in light of last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The White House announcing the creation of a new federal task force that is going to be headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the purpose of which is to study school violence and explore policies and funding strategies that would best address the issue.
Secondly, the White House is going to push Congress to enact certain legislation. The so-called fix NICS bill that would incentivize local municipalities to report certain information to the national background checks system and the Stop School Violence Act which would provide funding to schools to better defend themselves.
Perhaps the most controversial part is the third aspect. The White House is going to be advocating for states to enact certain policies, one of them very controversial, something that the president has long talked about, dating back to the 2016 campaign, is the hardening of schools.
The White House wants local municipalities to push for certain school personnel to receive training in order to be able to carry concealed weapons in schools.
Secondly is the idea of risk protection orders, which would allow law enforcement to take weapons away from individuals that are deemed at risk, also preventing them from being able to buy firearms for a certain amount of time.
I was able to ask a senior White House official if they believed that the NRA would back that kind of move, fearing potential lawsuits like the one we saw in Florida last week. They said that, no, that they believed that the NRA would get behind this proposal.
There are two things we have to point out are not included in these guidelines from the White House. First, raising the age, the minimum wage to be able to buy an assault-style weapon, from 18 to 21, something that President Trump was very vocal about shortly after the Parkland shooting.
And secondly, the issue of comprehensive universal background checks, not mentioned in these guidelines at all, though the president said he was warm to the idea during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House two weeks ago.
It appears that the White House is now moving back from even where the president was shortly after the shooting in Parkland -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, at the White House.
VANIER: And students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have been demanding action on gun control. Two of them spoke to CNN about these White House proposals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACLYN CORIN, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: Making sure that schools are safe is a definite aspect of what we're pushing. But it's -- mental health and school safety is only two-thirds of what we're pushing. Gun control is really what we need to focus on, especially universal background checks.
DAVID HOGG, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: I was respecting Trump for really showing that he is not like the other politicians, he is not owned by the NRA, because he wanted to take steps in the right direction and show you shouldn't be able the get an assault rifle or any weapon if you're below the age of 21.
But now that he -- after he met with the NRA the other day, he has shown that he is no better than the rest of them and he is just as afraid.
To President Trump, I would say this, show us that you're better than the other politicians. Show us that you want to take action and save our future, because God knows we need it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: And let's bring in a friend of the show, political analyst and columnist from Metro Papers, Ellis Henican, also a Pulitzer Prize winner. He joins us via Skype from New Orleans.
You are again back home. I thought you were back in New York. Good to have you back.
ELLIS HENICAN, POLITICAL ANALYST AND COLUMNIST, METRO PAPERS: Good to see you, man.
How are you?
VANIER: So tell me what you think about these White House proposals, the package that came out --
VANIER: -- on Sunday on guns?
HENICAN: The first thing you have to say, Cyril, is that it's a miracle that there is such a thing. This was not where the Trump administration thought it was heading. It was certainly not where the folks connected to the NRA were hoping it was heading.
And you got to give those kids in Florida credit. They have forced this issue, not only into the national conversation but truly into the political arena in a way that the White House cannot afford to continue to ignore it. So the first thing we should say hosanna that there is such a thing.
VANIER: OK, fair enough. But we just spoke earlier today on CNN to some of those students from the high school, from the Parkland, Florida, shooting. And they were not happy because they said originally they kind of thought that Mr. Trump was going to stand up to the NRA and they feel he failed to do that.
Let me play for you what Mr. Trump said, during that televised meeting just two weeks ago, about gun control when he had this bipartisan meeting of legislators around him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The reason I had lunch with the NRA on Sunday -- I called them. I said you got to come over. I said fellow, we got to do something. And they do have great power. I agree with that, they have great power over you people. They have less people over here.
Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can't be petrified. They want to do what's right. And they are going to do what's right. I really believe that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: So look, Ellis, the students that we spoke to feel that, in the end, Trump did not make good on that promise.
HENICAN: No, they have got a pretty good point, don't they?
All that encouraging sound from the earlier comments are not represented in this latest plan.
You know, you get the sense that there is a pattern here, right?
We've seen it on immigration. We've now seen it on guns and two or three other issues, where the president makes a bold and appealing process. Once they get slapped around inside the White House and the advisers and the lobbyists have their way, they tend to get heavily watered down. I think that is what's happening.
VANIER: But is the students' assessment true?
That what they were saying is Mr. Trump is in the pocket, like so many other politicians, of the NRA. Their words, not mine.
Do you think that's true?
HENICAN: Well, there is truth to it.
These things are all a matter of degree, right?
Again, I think, on the NRA side of the argument, which is essentially a slippery slope argument, right, is that if you -- any kind of legislation or regulation of guns, you're going to go down this slippery slope where, before you know it, a federal agent is going to be showing up at your house and grabbing your handguns.
That's the real position of the NRA. So to the extent that they move away from that to any degree, whether it's any fixing the background checks, whether it's adjusting the ages, whether it's trying to get rid of the bump stocks, anything at all to me is -- no, it's not what the president suggested. It's certainly not what those kids want.
But I think there is some genuine progress here. I'm seeing glimmers.
VANIER: OK, yes. The NRA is actually suing Florida after the governor signed off on a bill to raise the gun age, the legal age at which you could buy a gun in that state, from 18 to 21.
There's something else I wanted to bring up with you. Only 24 hours ago, we were listening to Donald Trump talk about meetings. He referred to them as blue ribbon meetings, where people meet and talk and talk and talk and they then write up a report. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We can't just keep setting up blue ribbon committees with your wife and your wife and your husband. And they meet and they have a meal and they talk, talk, talk. Two hours later, then they write a report. Look, that's what I got in Washington. I've got all these blue ribbon committees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: And yet, Ellis, one of the things that we're getting in this White House package is this commission that is going to provide recommendations to prevent school violation. And this should be within a timeframe of about a year. I mean, this just doesn't square with Donald Trump, 24 hours ago saying we need immediate action.
HENICAN: Yes. I thought he made more sense the first time. You're right. I mean, it seems to be a pretty much of a direct contradiction of those comments.
But, you know, that is an old political trick, which, if you don't want to do something, find a blue ribbon committee and let them study it until some of the political pressure wears off. And I think those kids are making a good point; that is, I know what's happening here.
VANIER: Ellis, always a pleasure to speak to you. Thank you.
HENICAN: Good to see you, Cyril.
VANIER: The wheels of diplomacy are turning after U.S. President Donald Trump said he'd meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. South Korea, which brokered these talks, is sending its envoys to its regional allies to get their support. Seoul's --
VANIER: -- national security adviser is in Beijing to talk to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Meanwhile, South Korea's spy chief, Suh Hoon, is in Tokyo to go over this with prime minister Shinzo Abe. This is probably going to be a harder sell for Japanese. Let's bring in Paula Hancocks. She's in Seoul; Matt Rivers is in Beijing.
Paula, so, again, the South Koreans are sparing no efforts to make this work. And for the moment, they're the ones doing all the legwork to organize this.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, yes. Clearly they're the ones that have started this process, at least in the past few days, having met last week with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong- un, and then having that same delegation going to Washington and taking that invitation from the North Korean leader, which was accepted very quickly by the U.S. president, Donald Trump.
Now we did have some more insights over the weekend from the Blue House here in Seoul, saying that when Mr. Trump accepted that invitation, he was actually saying that it could happen as soon as possible, potentially in April.
It took the national security adviser from both South Korea and the United States to suggest to him that he had to wait until after the North and South Korean leaders had met, that it was more beneficial to have it later, which is why we hear from the delegation it could be by May.
So we do know that the South Koreans will meet with Kim Jong-un, Moon Jae-in in April at some point up in the DMZ, the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.
But at the moment, those two delegates who actually went to Washington, are now traveling around the region, to China, to Russia, to Japan, to explain exactly what is happening, what has been said from each side to try and make sure that everybody is on board with this potential U.S.-North Korean meeting.
VANIER: Matt Rivers is looking at this from the Chinese angle.
Matt, China appears to have been sidelined so far. They appear to take no place in pushing this diplomatic initiative.
But is it fair to assume they'll go along with this, encourage this meeting?
MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, absolutely, because, frankly, this has been their proposal -- or at least what their preferred solution to this crisis has been -- for years and years and years now.
The Chinese government has consistently said that the only way to come up with a lasting peace solution on the Korean Peninsula is if the North Koreans and the United States sit down in the same room and hash this out.
But I think you're right to point out, Cyril, that there will be a little concern on Beijing's part, that they don't have at least a role in the process at the moment, that they really didn't do anything specifically when it comes to South Korea being able to broker this potential meeting between the United States and North Korea.
That said, that has not stopped the Chinese government from taking credit for putting things in place to allow this situation to happen.
So the Chinese government has talked about the fact that they signed onto and enforced the toughest-ever sanctions levied against North Korea and that they also proposed this so-called suspension for suspension proposal, which the Chinese have long said, if the North Koreans stopped testing missile tests and nuclear weapons, that the Americans and the South Koreans can suspend their joint military exercises.
They say that's effectively what happened here. Now others would say the military exercises didn't stop. They just got postponed a couple of weeks because of the Olympics.
But that's the line that Beijing is pushing here, that they have had a stake in this process moving forward. And I think when President Xi Jinping meets with the South Korean national security adviser, he is going to advocate for a Chinese role in these negotiations, if they do, in fact, happen in May.
VANIER: Paula, back to you in Seoul.
How do South Koreans feel about this meeting?
We saw the anti-North Korean sentiment be expressed with protests during the Olympics.
How do we actually feel that Mr. Trump is going to meet with Kim Jong- un?
HANCOCKS: Well, Cyril, there are concerns that Mr. Trump said yes quite so quickly, that there are no preconditions to sitting down with the leader of North Korea. There are concerns that this gives Kim Jong-un a legitimacy that some believe he should not have, meeting on an equal footing with the U.S. president.
But also bear in mind that, just a few months ago, these two leaders were exchanging very personal insults. They were threatening to destroy the other leader's country. At one point, they were talking about the size of nuclear buttons.
So certainly this is a vast improvement to many people, the fact that diplomacy has now taken over from those words of war that we've really heard for a significant amount of 2017. There were concerns on the Korean Peninsula that military conflict could break out --
HANCOCKS: -- in some sense. So I think there is a sense of relief that diplomacy has taken over now.
But, of course, there is concern about what exactly could happen within this meeting. The U.S. president is not a predictable president. He doesn't play by the same rule book as previous U.S. presidents have, as you can see by the fact that he said yes very quickly to a meeting with Kim Jong-un.
And Kim Jong-un is not a predictable leader. So there will be some concerns as to what exactly could be said behind closed doors.
VANIER: Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea. Matt Rivers is in Beijing in China. We're trying to get the regional perspectives on this. Thank you very much. We'll talk to you again next hour. Thanks, guys.
Coming up, Russia shows off a so-called invincible missile.
What does the U.S. have to say about it?
We'll tell you after the break.
VANIER: Russia is putting the U.S. on notice with the launch of a new missile. It claims the weapon is invincible and cannot be stopped by missile defense systems. CNN's Michael Holmes tells us what the missile can supposedly do and what the U.S. thinks about it.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Russia's defense ministry says it has successfully tested an advanced hypersonic missile. It's one of the invincible strategic nuclear-powered missiles with unlimited range that Russian president Vladimir Putin revealed during his annual address to parliament, claiming they will render NATO defenses completely useless.
In a statement, the defense ministry said, quote, "A MiG-31 fighter crew of the Russian Aerospace Forces conducted a combat training launch of a hypersonic missile of the Kinzhal high-precision air missile system in the designated area," unquote.
According to the ministry, the missile designed to eliminate ground and sea targets hit the designated target and confirmed the operational performance of the missile system. The video released by the ministry shows a jet carrying the missile, some parts of the missile blurred.
The United States and military experts have repeatedly downplayed Russia's claims of developing such weapons, calling it "Putin election rhetoric." U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Sunday that those capabilities are, quote, "still years away."
GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I saw no change to the Russian military capability. And each of these systems he's talking about, that are still years away, I do not see them changing the military balance. They do not impact any need on our side for a change in our deterrent posture.
HOLMES (voice-over): While Putin's boasting about Russia's resurgent military might have been intended to strengthen his role as a strong leader at home and on the world stage, Mattis believes the show of force is still against Russia's own interest.
MATTIS: Let me talk about the end state, how many years away they are, how much money they want to put into this arms race that they're creating with themselves. At the end of the day, they can sink all that money in. It does not change my strategic calculation. I just assumed it would all happen at great expense to the Russian people.
HOLMES (voice-over): -- Michael Holmes, CNN.
VANIER: British investigators say they have found traces of a nerve agent in a restaurant and in a pub in Salisbury in the U.K. A week ago, a former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned in Salisbury. They're both still in hospital and in critical condition.
Authorities say the risk to the public is low but they are urging people who were at the restaurant or at the pub to wash their clothes as a precaution. Nick Paton Walsh has more. But first, a warning: his report does have graphic images.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We still know troublingly little a week on about what happened to Sergei and Yulia Skripal near this walkway.
But police confirmed one vital fact that transforms what we know of that afternoon around these sleepy pubs. The pair were found on a bench at 4:15. But their journey began around 1:30, when they either first entered Zizzi pizza restaurant or The Mill pub.
Police revealed at the weekend that both places were contaminated with the mystery nerve agent, which means that they were contaminated throughout their journey that began with pizza or a drink on a Sunday and ended slumped on this bench.
This means the nerve agent that has left father and daughter fighting for their lives took possibly hours to really act.
Sarin is usually delivered as a gas and acts almost instantly, as the world witnessed in the agony of Syria. VX as a gas is fast, too, killing Kim Jong-un's half-brother within 20 minutes of exposure in this Malaysian airport. It can be slower acting as a liquid, say experts, yet these two agents are well-known.
And Britain's top security officials said last week the agent was, quote, "very rare." A former British army and NATO chemical weapons expert has suggested
the agent is very obviously Novichok. Translated as "newcomer," Novichok was made by the Soviets in the '70s to get around various weapons treaties and be safer to use and harder to detect.
The chemist who revealed the secret program in the '90s was jailed and released. But it also acts fast. And many will ask why such a specific and identifiable poison was used to frame Russia or let Moscow brag of its omnipotence.
The name of the agent still doesn't explain why Detective Sergeant Bailey also fell gravely ill, while others who got near the Skripals did not. Did he try to resuscitate either of the Skripals at the scene or did he, as some have speculated, rush back to their home, perhaps looking for medication or answers?
Yet the time it took the Skripals to succumb to the deadly poison and the trail they consequently left appears to be narrowing the focus of who could be to blame -- Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.
VANIER: Erin McLaughlin is in Salisbury where the attack took place.
Erin, I see you're also in front of that restaurant where there were traces of the nerve agent that were found.
How do people feel about all of this, people who live there?
It's got to be unsettling that authorities are asking them to wash their clothes.
ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, it is concerning. People here tell me that they are worried. They're also wondering why it took authorities seven days to dispense that advice.
There was a press conference with public health officials yesterday, public health officials not really answering that question, other than to say the advice is based on a rigorous scientific analysis and that anyone that was in the pub after 1:30 pm on Sunday up until the pub and the restaurant closed on Monday needs to wash their clothes and other items.
People are worried about that, though authorities say that, in the short term, there is no immediate health risk to them. What they're more concerned about is a low-level risk of repeated contact to trace elements of the nerve agent that may be on their clothes or other items.
People here are also concerned, though, at the fact that authorities are in the pizza restaurant behind me, in the pub, in full hazmat suits. And yet they've been given this advice that they would be fine if they simply washed their clothes, also asking authorities what exactly is that nerve agent? What nerve agent was used?
People want to know those answers are being very tightlipped, also not telling people if there are other areas of Salisbury that may be contaminated that the people should be worried about -- Cyril.
VANIER: And I know the British authorities are not saying much at the moment about the state of the investigation and what they've found out. But this is interesting. The British government again hinted that a foreign state could be involved. Tell us more about that.
MCLAUGHLIN: Yes, that's right. We heard yesterday from the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, who said that if, if a state actor is found to be involved, then the U.K. will take appropriate action. But, again, authorities very tight-lipped with the details of this investigation.
Amber Rudd, the home secretary, has chaired two COBR meetings, two emergency level meetings, to assess the situation; out of each of those meetings saying that their priority is to establish the facts and then appropriate blame and take action later.
We are expecting Theresa May, though, to step in today. She will be chairing a National Security Council meeting at Downing Street some time midmorning. No exact time given by Downing Street there. We expect officials, including the intelligence chiefs, to go over the facts of this case.
It will be interesting to see what comes out of that meeting -- Cyril.
VANIER: Absolutely. Erin McLaughlin, reporting live from Salisbury in England. Thanks very much for the update.
And in U.S. politics, we look ahead to the special election in Pennsylvania this Tuesday. What's at stake for the president and for the Republicans -- that's ahead. Stay with us here on CNN.
[02:31:30] VANIER: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. Let's look at your headlines. The White House has unveiled new proposals for gun and school safety nearly a month after the deadly shooting in Parkland, Florida. They include arming some teachers and improving a national criminal background check system but there is no mention of raising the minimum age to buy certain guns. A policy President Trump had said he would support. South Korean envoys are in China and Japan hoping to make the case for Mr. Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim-Jong-un. China had been supportive of U.S.-North Korean talks. But Japan takes a hardline against Pyongyang. That meeting could happen as soon as May.
A setback for pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong. They want only two of four sets up for grabs in Sunday's election. That is not enough to regain the legislative veto power that they lost in 2016 after the Central Chinese Government removed six pro-democracy lawmakers for protesting during their swearing in ceremonies. The U.S. President is calling high supporters in Pennsylvania to come out and vote this Tuesday for the Republican candidate Rick Saccone. Saccone is locked in a tight battle with the Democrats in a special congressional election. It's a district where President Trump beat Hillary Clinton by a wide margin in 2016 and Mr. Trump made sure that point was not lost on Saccone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Go out on Tuesday and just vote like -- you got to get out there. The world is watching. This -- I have to put this pressure on you, Rick. They're all watching because I won this district like by 22 points. It's a lot. That's why I'm here. Look at all those red hats, Rick. Look at all those hats. That's a lot of hat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: We're looking at this race as an early indicator of the president's possible impact on the midterm elections come November. Jason Carroll is in Pennsylvania covering the race.
JASON CARROLL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very clear from the rally that the president held here over the weekend that he still enjoys a great deal of supports in Pittsburgh. The question is, will that support translate into a boost that the Republican candidate Rick Saccone needs in this special election in the 18th District and that very much remains to be seen. I spoke to a number of Trump Democrats those who voted for Trump during the last election. He carried the 18th District by some 20 points would they then transfer their vote over to Rick Saccone. They say, they're throwing their support to Conor Lamb.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 2016, I voted for President Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you hear the speech last night?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard bits and pieces on TV like most of the people did.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did it effect -- but I see you're wearing a Conor Lamb.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you vote for President Trump, but you're not going to vote for Rick Saccone, why not?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not. Because he's not the right man for the job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We never felt that just because you're a Democrat or a Republican, you have to vote straight party for the rest of your life. So therefore, the Trump vote and the Lamb vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CARROLL: Saccone is one of the platform of being more Trump than Trump. The race seen as a referendum on the president and his policies. It's got the GOP nervous. Poll show it's too close to call. What this ultimately will come down to which base is more energized. We'll see come Tuesday. Jason Carroll, CNN Pittsburgh.
VANIER: For the first time in almost six decades, the next Cuban president will not be a Castro. Cubans has chosen a National Assembly on Sunday. Many voters are skeptical that life in Cuba will not be much difference. Our Patrick Oppmann has more from Havana.
[02:35:09] PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cubans on Sunday came out to a vote as part of a process that is expected to lead the beginning of the post-Castro era on the island. This is how it works or not pick direct elections to pick a new president. What there are is a process where Cubans vote either yes or no for a slate of candidates that have been preselected by the government. They are people who are in variably supporters of the Cuban Revolution. Usually are members of the Communist Party of Cuba, the only political party that is allowed on the island. Then that new National Assembly next month in April will pick a new president and for the first time in decades that the president's last name will not be Castro.
Raul Castro is 86 years old and he said he is stepping down after two terms as president. It's time for the next generation to pick a leader. The smart money is on a man named Miguel Diaz-Canel. He is a long time official in the government. He is currently the country's first vice president. He has the backing of Raul Castro. And on Sunday, we had the opportunity to follow him to his home province going with as he voted. He lined up just like Cubans do every day. It's not something you see top officials typically do here. He was accompanied by his wife. That was also unusual. And he talked about a number of issues including U.S.-Cuban relations under the era of Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reestablishment of relations with the United States has been deteriorating lately thanks to the administration has offended Cuba.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
OPPMANN: If Miguel Diaz-Canel is elected by the National Assembly, it's unclear how different a leader he really will be. He says he will follow close in the examples set by Fidel and Raul Castro. Of course, this island is still grappling from the fall of the Soviet Union. The economy here is very much struggling. So many Cubans are still left with the question of whether a new leader for their island will bring new ideas. Patrick Oppman, CNN Havana.
VANIER: Let's go to the Middle East. Syrian Government troops advanced in Eastern Ghouta. We'll have a live report from the region after this.
[02:40:28] VANIER: We've been telling you about this for the last few days. The U.S. northeast is bracing for yet another power winter storm. It's the third in three weeks. Let's go to meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. Ivan?
IVAN CABRERA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, good to see you and thanks. For some cities here, I think this third one likely be the worst one. But it comes on the hills. You're absolutely right of two under northeastern. Look at with the last one did. Check this out new Connecticut. We had have the west snow that brought down numerous branches and along with the branches, well, they brought down a lot of power line, so a lot of folks are without power. These kinds of scene I think will be repeated and they will be repeated in areas that I think had gotten hit in areas not so much, right? Boston has kind of been spared as far as the worst of the storm. Not this time around.
Look at this, 16 million already under a threat of winder storm washes them. They're posting it now. These of course will become warnings that just in the next few hours. The storm by the way is already getting going at south across the Southern U.S. where winter storm warnings are flying in places that we normally don't see, Tennessee, Kentucky, parts of West Virginia, and into Carolinas as well.
The rest of it will be heavy rain event. This low will then push towards the east will leave these snow events behind by the time it get into this evening and then the coastal low develops. That's the one that's going to be bringing us the heavy snow. Watch the cloud here. By the time we get into Monday night into Tuesday. The storm will peak Tuesday but as soon as Monday night, the snow will already start flying. This is going to be it looks to me anyway like a classic New England storm. New York City, you don't have to worry about it. Boston, lots of areas I think will be crush under several inches of accumulation. We're probably talking over a foot of snowfall here. By the time we get into Tuesday and then this thing begins to pull out through the day on Wednesday. As far as how much snow, this is the first step here, right? We get into Kentucky into West Virginia and then here's the blockbuster totals here from Boston heading over to Portland.
That one will be really get side with some heavy amount of snows and this is happening is very short amount of time. So Monday night and into the day on Tuesday. So let's talk quickly about Boston and what's going to be happening over the next several days because I think we are going to be looking at some significant totals here and unlike the last storm, this one will favor areas east of 95 including Boston, areas like Cambridge and Massachusetts, and then of course running up into New England. That 15 you see there that is the potential by the time we get into Tuesday afternoon for Boston proper. Look at that almost covering me (INAUDIBLE) yes. That's going to be a problem. We're going to need a lot of shovels by Tuesday I think in Boston. Cyril?
VANIER: Ivan, thank you very much for the update. Love the snow. Always love your effects. Thank you, Ivan. Syrian Government forces are gaining ground in Eastern Ghouta. This area outside the the capital which is still held by rebels. An activist says that they capture the major town of Mesraba on Saturday after what he describe as hysterical shelling and airstrikes. Endless believe it's just a matter of time before pro-government troops seize the entire enclave. As many as 400,000 people still live in this area and it's believe that more than a thousand civilians have been killed in the ongoing campaign over the last two and a half weeks now. CNNs Ian Lee is tracking events. He's in Turkey and joins me live from Istanbul. Ian, is a foregone conclusion really that the regime is going to retake Eastern Ghouta?
IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cyril, when you look at the momentum of the Syrian Army backed by Russian air support. It does look inevitable that they will take this territory. This offensive began three weeks ago and now reports are saying that they control a little bit more than 50 percent of Eastern Ghouta. You know, when you look at the map too this recent offensive, it's almost like pincer movements where they've been able to break up Eastern Ghouta into three different enclaves and what that does is that effectively cuts off supply routes and movements of fighters going from the different parts to backup, you know, they're slowly encircling and slowly closing in on the fighters.
But the fighting has been incredibly intense, so has the bombardment. We're hearing from activists or basically saying that there's just so many air strikes that at the hospital. You can't hear people crying because it's being drowned out by the airstrikes. And we're hearing that 43 civilians have died recently including children in the fighting.
VANIER: Ian Lee reporting live from Istanbul in Turkey. All right. Thank you very much. We'll speak to you again next hour. Thank you, Ian. Stay with us. We're back right after this.
[02:47:08] CABRERA: With the "WEATHER WATCH", I'm CNN Meteorologist Ivan Cabrera. Another disruptive winter storm on the way for the Eastern United States. If you're flying anywhere from say New York, all the way down into Florida, there, of course, rainfall. But at particularly the mid-Atlantic U.S. and northeast are the big hit cities here. What we're looking at a significant weather event once again. We're talking New York, heading up towards Boston and particularly, this will be a big New England storm.
Right winters storm watchers are already posted, they will become warnings at latter's today, and by this, all begins on Monday night and Tuesday. We could even have blizzard warnings and that we'll have very heavy snowfall combine, with very strong winds and the visibility will be nothing at a certain point here. So, this is going to be just treacherous travel as this area of low pressure begins to get going.
This is now the third coastal winter storm that we have seen here in the last couple of weeks. There it goes spinning up all the moisture which will fall in the form of snowfall. The air is cold if you have for that. And we could be looking at several centimeters of accumulation. And unlike the last storm, this one tends to be colder. So, even light along the -- a coast, places like Boston, Hartford, Providence will be seeing the hefty amount of snow as opposed to areas across the interior Montreal, Quebec, you'll be seeing some snow but nothing like what we'll see across portions of New England where we're going to reserve the heaviest snow for that region as the cold air moves in.
VANIER: And we promised at the beginning of the show, we'd update you on Tiger Woods here it is. He came oh, so close to getting his first tournament win in five years, on Sunday. Here all the details with Patrick Snell.
PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: In the end, it may not have been the victory he craved but Tiger Woods has much to be proud of after finishing just one shot off the pace at the Valspar Championship in Florida. Tie for second his best finish since 2013. Another step towards what could well turn out to be one of sport's greatest comeback stories.
Well, golf 14-time major winner was left frustrated by 12 straight pars during Sunday's final round. But all that changed after his jaw- dropping part for a birdie of almost 44 feet at the 17th hole. It sent the massive crowds into a frenzy and took him to win the one shot of the lead. That meant he needed one more birdie at the last but it wasn't to be for Woods. His press for a first victory in just on the 1700 days of fallen shots, at nine on the par. One on Reed of the eventual winner, Paul Casey, who won his first PGA Tour title to the 2009.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[02:50:03] TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER, FORMER PGA PLAYER OF THE YEAR: I had a chance today. Unfortunately, I just didn't quite feel as sharp as I needed to iron, I was kind of conservative because of it. As I told guys, just here, I've been here before a few times. And so, it felt very comfortable. And my game was quite sour this entire week. As a whole, I felt very good of what I did this week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNELL: Well, what makes Tiger's journey to even get to this point even more remarkable is the fact that just 11 months ago now, Tiger was undergoing spinal fusion surgery, his fourth back operation in just three years, and one hailed as a last resort in terms of his career.
Last May, he was arrested on suspicion of a DUI and he spend time in rehab followed as he tried to bet in (INAUDIBLE) pain and sleep medication. And in September of last year, didn't seem as though, his comeback was going at all well. He describe the pain of riding in a golf cart and he conceded that he might never ever play again.
Well, Tiger will next compete in the Arnold Palmer Invitational in Orlando which starts on Thursday. A tournament, he's won eight times before. Then, it's all eyes on Augusta National for The Masters, where he'll be seeking his first green jacket since 2005, and a first major title in almost a decade. Patrick Snell, CNN, Atlanta.
VANIER: CNN sports analyst and sports columnist for USA Today, Christine Brennan, joins us here, she's in Washington. Christine, Tiger was almost there but he couldn't quite get it done. What do you think? Is he really back?
CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: I think he just might be back, Cyril, and this is shocking. I never would have thought I'd say this even a month or so ago. And certainly, not last year when we saw him have his fourth back surgery. This was the fusion of his -- of the disc on his spine. He was even talking about -- you know, that he had no plan for coming back. And for a guy who is so driven and we've seen win, so much to have him talking about not being able to play the game and not sure if he could come back.
And when that timetable would be, of course, there was DUI and the mug shot. I mean, you just can't make this stuff up. And then, out of the blue, he's playing some of the best golf we've seen now in years. And tied for second, and if The Masters is just four weeks away, and here that comes. It's really a fascinating story and amazing comeback at least so far for this 42 year old man who has been a part of our lives for at least a generation.
VANIER: How difficult is it to come back when you have been -- when you just having been a top, top tier player for a number of years?
BRENNAN: Well, and in fact, to your point, he hit rock bottom. I mean, he couldn't get off the couch, he couldn't get out of bed. He couldn't hit any shots at all. It wasn't like he -- you know, was kind of just turn around the golf course and a mediocre player.
I mean, he was out of the game and these surgeries, I think a lot of people can picture, Cyril that seeing of Tiger kind of cringing and reaching for his back. We've seen him kind of twist and all there goes the back tweaked again. And this is been something he hasn't won in 5 years. And so, how hard is it? I think it's nearly impossible, and I guess, only a guy named Tiger Woods --
BRENNAN: -- would be able to pull it off. We'll see how it goes over time. We'll see if the back holds up. I think again, a real question will be his durability and that's dirtiness with their back that has had so many surgeries. Now, his 42 years old, you know, he's not a young guy anymore trying to do this. But so far, so good for Tiger Woods.
VANIER: Yes, you have to wonder how sustainable it is. But, to some extent, I wonder if it doesn't add to his legend. I mean, this is a guy who used to win and -- you know, win all the time. He was unbeatable for a stretch of his career and then, all of the sudden, he just drops off. Not doesn't drop off the radar but from a sporting standpoint, he just wasn't there. And now he comes back to knock the pinnacle yet, but very close. BRENNAN: Oh, I think, this is one of the great sports stories of -- well, if he comes back all the way and wins a major tournament, say, like wins The Masters -- I'm not saying he's going to. But if he does something like that, it would be one of the sports stories of the century, 18 years into it.
This is remarkable, really. And Tiger was always this dominant as you were alluding to this dominant force. For generation or two of sports fans, you just knew him as the fist bump, in the red with the black and he's winning on Sundays, and that was Tiger. And now, he's actually a sympathetic figure.
Now, I think because of the DUI, because of the video that was hard to watch. His apology, explaining -- you know, that it was a bad mix of a pills, he said. And as you seeing him hit rock bottom, I think the people are cheering for him, probably people who never wanted to cheer for him before.
So, he want too much, he was too dominant, they didn't like him, they didn't the (INAUDIBLE) where the brashness of the way he played the game or the way he pumped his fist. I think, those people now, many of them are cheering for him because this is the comeback story, maybe of all comeback stories. At least, that we can remember in -- you know, in recent memories in sports.
[02:55:15] VANIER: Yes, it's impossible to not have some measure of sympathy, I think, for this narrative of Tiger Woods. And it's always great for any sport in instance just for the game of golf, when you have such a transcendent star and figure who comes back to the top. Christine, it's been great talking to you. Thank you.
BRENNAN: My pleasure, Cyril. Thank you.
VANIER: One more thing this hour, a new scientific discovery, water. So, water is something we've pretty much figured out, right? Well, almost. Scientist discovered a new type of water that they previously believe could not exist on our planet. It's called Ice-VII and it was discovered inside this. Inside diamonds, deep in the earth's crust. Ice-VII is 1 1/2 times denser than Ice-I, which is the common everyday ice we used and drinks. But discovery is exceptional because our planet has been thought to be too warm to even form ice, much less maintain it.
The Ice was discovered by accident, as scientists looked for a rare carbon dioxide. There you go. That's it from us, do stay with us through this another hour of news right after this.