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Deaths in Gaza Protests; South Korean Artists to Perform in North Korea; U.S. and South Korea Begin Joint Military Exercise; Trump Accuses Amazon of Scamming USPS; Unclear Whether Missouri Voters Will Back Trump; Accountant Saves Hockey Game as Emergency Goalie. Aired 3- 3:30a ET

Aired April 1, 2018 - 03:00   ET




ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The U.S. blocks a U.N. call for an independent inquiry into deadly violence in Gaza.




SESAY (voice-over): Protesters continue to take to the streets of California's capital city, angry over the shooting of an unarmed African American man.

And South Korea's K-pop diplomacy using music to try to build a bridge between the North and the South.

Hello, everyone. Thank you for joining us. I'm Isha Sesay in Los Angeles. CNN NEWSROOM starts right now.


SESAY: The European Union is calling for a transparent investigation into the deaths of 17 Palestinians in clashes with Israeli troops on Friday. Hundreds of Palestinians were wounded in the unrest at the Gaza border. But according to U.N. diplomats, the U.S. has blocked the U.N. Security Council from adopting a similar statement, urging an independent probe. More protests and funerals are expected Sunday. Both Israel and the Palestinians are releasing videos purportedly showing what each side claims happened.

Now this is video posted by the official Twitter account of the Palestinian Media Center. A woman, waving a Palestinian flag, is seen running back and forth. Gunfire is heard and she appears to fall. The Palestinian Media Center says she was shot by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces say its own videos like this one here show its troops were confronts with gunshots, firebombs and burning tires. It alleges terrorists attempted to infiltrate Israeli territory.

It insists troops acted in accordance with the rules of engagement, firing only when necessary.

CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins us now from Jerusalem.

And, Nic, the demonstrations we saw on Friday are slated to continue for many more weeks.

What's your sense of how Sunday's protests will unfold?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: I think obviously the first day on Friday was a situation where both sides had set out their positions and both sides understood what might happen.

They've been able to see what has happened. They will, in a sense, have tested each other out yesterday. Saturday was a much quieter day. It's going to ebb and flow and what we've heard at the United Nations, now the U.N. secretary-general, calling for an independent inquiry; the European Union calling for an independent investigation.

We've heard also from the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danone, saying that calling for this emergency session on the first evening of the Passover was antithetical to the spirit of the United Nations and not using the procedural rules correctly.

He also said it was incorrect what the Palestinian representative to the United Nations had said, that the protesters were unarmed. So I think both sides have been very clear how the -- how they view this.

So the best way that we can judge how things are going to proceed on the ground from here, perhaps with a little more caution on both sides because, very clearly the stakes are very real. People have witnessed that for themselves first-hand on Friday.

But undoubtedly, even yesterday there was relatively quiet. There was still some casualties. So I think that's the way that we could view the coming weeks and as it gets closer to that sort of deadline towards the end of this current protest, perhaps we could expect to see tensions rise.

But I think because this has gone into national and diplomatic so quickly, you know, there is a possibility -- a possibility -- that the narrative around this may change a little. But it hasn't happened yet, not at all.

SESAY: All right, Nic Robertson, joining us there from Jerusalem, always appreciate the view from the inside. Thank you.

Thawing tensions on the Korean Peninsula aren't stopping a new round of war games. U.S. and South Korean troops are kicking off an annual military exercise as the world waits to see how and if North Korea responds.

The U.S. says the exercise will be similar in scope to last year's seen here but it's set to be shorter. The war games were also delayed this year to ease tensions during the Olympics. North Korea's denounced the drills in the past and last April held several missile tests.

So far, though, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be showing some restraint. He's been on a diplomatic tear, if you will, including this meeting with International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach. Bach now says North Korea will participate in the next two Olympics.

Mr. Kim is also set to meet with South Korean president Moon Jae-in later this month and eventually U.S. president Donald Trump. But North Korea's highest profile visitors this week will not be politicians.

This group of South Korean musicians and performers has arrived in the North for a short tour. It'll be the first time in more than a decade artists from the South will perform in North Korea.


SESAY: They'll take the stage on Sunday and Tuesday in Pyongyang.

And they include the K-pop girl group Red Velvet and a veteran rock band YB. CNN's Alexandra Field spoke to members of that band about their tour.


ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): North Korea had never seen anything like it, history made in 1985, when South Korean performers headed north and North Koreans headed south, starting a sporadic tradition of cultural exchanges across one of the world's most heavily fortified borders.

It's been 16 years since Yoon Do-hyun and his legendary South Korean rock group performed in Pyongyang.

FIELD: How did the people in the audience react to you, to your music?

YOON DO-HYUN, MUSICIAN: It was awkward. Yes.

FIELD: Awkward?

YOON: Awkward because they weren't experience about, you know, Korean rap music before, I think.

FIELD (voice-over): When the band arrived in 2002, heads turned.

YOON: (Speaking foreign language).

FIELD (voice-over): He says, "Our guitarist's hair was yellow. The North Koreans talked about his hair and said we could not perform."

So it wasn't easy from the beginning. But he believes the performance won hearts.

Yoon's group, the YB Band, is getting ready to do it again, part of a carefully selected delegation of South Korean performers heading north. Among them, famous singers, a hit K-pop bond and YB guitarist Scott Hellowell, one of the few foreign nationals on the trip.

FIELD: This is not a normal tour stop.

How do you feel about going in?

SCOTT HELLOWELL, YB BAND: I talked to my mom the other day and told her. And she had a kind of reaction and then she was like, wow, that could be such a good experience. It could be pretty amazing. So...

FIELD (voice-over): Today the tone of the relationship between the Koreas is changing rapidly. Last year's barrage of nuclear missile tests and nuclear developments giving way to plans for historic talks between the leaders of North and South Korea and between Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump himself.

The falling tensions started last February, when North Korea sent a delegation to the Olympics in South Korea, performers from both sides shared one stage, a moment that moved the audience. Yoon couldn't hold back the tears the last time he performed in Pyongyang.

On his mind, his grandmother, whose family is in the North, separated from her for decades by war, by that border.

YOON: Before I go, she asked me, can you find my family?

So I imagine my grandmother, you know. I can't -- I couldn't resist about, you know, yes. I cried.

FIELD (voice-over): In Seoul, Alexandra Field, CNN.


SESAY: For some analysis of the musical diplomacy between the two Koreas I'm joined live from Seoul by Elise Hu, National Public Radio International correspondent in Asia.

Elise, thank you for being with us. So the world is watching, in effect, an archetypal example of a cultural exchange play out.

Help our viewers understand what makes cultural diplomacy so effective when you compare it to your more traditional seated around a negotiating table variety.

ELISE HU, NPR INTERNATIONAL: The idea behind it is pretty simple. It's that familiarity breeds fondness. Music doesn't require a whole lot of talking, according to analysts, who speak with me about this topic.

And it's an opportunity to do some exchange when other kinds of exchange -- for example, people to people exchange -- isn't happening. However in this case we're seeing a lot of comity between the two Koreas. This is a reciprocal action. North Korea sent its artists down to South Korea during the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in February.

They performed two times. Now South Korea is staging its performances up there in Pyongyang and it's going to be two concerts as well, one to a smaller audience of about 1,500 which is happening later this evening in a few hours. The other is going to be in the auditorium that seats 10,000 and that will feature not only South Korean artists but also North Korean artists.

So this is an opportunity to really show the comity, the thaw in relations that has been going on for the past few months or so.

SESAY: As you talk to us about the venues and the sizes that they hold, who will make up the audiences?

HU: This is largely going to be North Korean elites. We're not going to see the North Koreans from the poorest parts of the country, for example, just be able to line up and get tickets.

So we're expecting the audience to be largely controlled by the regime itself.

But it still is an opportunity for North Koreans to see K-pop and as Alexandra mentioned --


HU: -- for the first time in more than a decade are South Koreans getting a chance to perform in North Korea.

Red Velvet, this new act, is extremely popular down in South Korea. They are the ones behind the song of summer in Seoul last year and so just a chance for Red Velvet, which is such a hot group right now globally, to be in Pyongyang is really significant.

SESAY: So help me understand this strategic thinking behind the choice of actors. We talk about Red Velvet, which for our viewers, are one of the cheerful and very bright videos. They will be performing in Pyongyang. I know that PSY of "Gangnam Style," there's talk about him going. But then he wasn't.

Help me understand the thinking because clearly it wasn't like names drawn from a hat.

HU: That's right. North Korea had to approve not only the acts but also the set list. And so in this case, Red Velvet is performing two singles that are its newest singles, one from last summer and one called "Bad Boy" that was just released earlier this year in February.

And so again this process, because K-pop is seen by North Korean propaganda is anyway as a subversive or a culturally decadent sign of South Korea's capitalist influences, North Korea had to be very specific in what it was going to approve and which songs it was going to approve. But it is interesting that strategically that Red Velvet is performing up there at all because K-pop is often the target of such negative propaganda by the North.

SESAY: Elise Hu, we appreciate it. You do know an awful lot about Red Velvet. We're not judging. Thank you so much --


SESAY: -- thank you, Elise Hu, there in Seoul, appreciate it.

All right, quick break here. President Trump is attacking Amazon again. Find out why his accusations don't exactly add up.

Plus a last-ditch effort by a pro hockey team using a goalie with a most unlikely skill set. We'll experience just ahead.




SESAY: Sacramento, California, is reeling two weeks after the death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed African American man, who was shot by police. Protests turned tense on Saturday night. A crowd of around 100 or more faced off with a line of riot police.

Protesters also blocked traffic. We're going to show some video now and I want to warn you, it is disturbing. It appears to show a sheriff's vehicle striking a protester during the protest. You see the car moving forward there and you see the moment of impact.

The woman was taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Police are investigating what happened. Our Ryan Young has more.


RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The protests for Stephon Clark in Sacramento have been peaceful up until this point. Tonight we felt the most tense --


YOUNG: -- interaction between police and protesters. You look behind me, you can see that police have donned their riot gear.

That is after an interaction between a sheriff's deputy and a protester. It appeared a woman was trying to stop a sheriff's deputy's car from moving through protesters. And then there was a hit. There was an impact between the two. We're not sure exactly what happened.

But to show you what is happening now, look at all the sheriff's deputies and police officers from around the area that have decided to come down here. They are queued just in case anything happens here. Of course, this is after a day full of protests, where nothing has

happened. But now that tenseness has bubbled up and there is definitely a tense moment. not only between protesters but between police officers, who are definitely trying to protect and maintain the peace.


Our thanks to Ryan Young there for that report.

Some of the Russian diplomats expelled by the U.S. are heading home. Two Russian planes took off from Washington on Saturday bound for Moscow. More than 20 countries have expelled Russian diplomats over the poisoning with a nerve agent of a former spy and his daughter in the U.K. Russia is denying any involvement.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin wants the U.K. to pull out more diplomatic staff from Russia so that the diplomatic missions in both countries are equal in size. And the U.S. flag was removed from the building that has been used as a U.S. consulate in St. Petersburg. Russia ordered the consulate there to be shut down after the U.S. did the same with the Russian consulate in Seattle.

Moscow has also retaliated by expelling 60 U.S. diplomats, the same amount of Russian diplomats the U.S. has asked to leave.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump is attacking Amazon again, accusing the online retail giant of scamming the United States Postal Service. However, the facts do not back up the president's accusations. Our White House correspondent Boris Sanchez has more.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A relatively uneventful Saturday for the president at his Mar-a-lago estate; a quiet one, too, at least by Trumpian standards. He did, as usual on weekends here, take to Twitter to attack a political foe, at least in his eyes.

President Trump targeting online retailer Amazon, tweeting out, quote, "While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to billions of dollars. The failing 'The New York Times' reports that the size of the company's lobbying staff has ballooned and that that does not include the fake "Washington Post,' which is used as a lobbyist and should so register. If the post office increased its parcel rates, Amazon's shipping costs would rise by $2.6 billion. This post office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs and taxes now."

Now there are some factually questionable claims that the president made in these tweets that we have to point out. First off, Amazon does pay state and local taxes. There are some third-party vendors, especially international ones, that sell via Amazon that don't pay U.S. taxes. Further, we do have to point out that the post office itself has

claimed that it has a mutually beneficial relationship with Amazon. So it's not clear exactly where the president is getting those figures.

And further, it appears that he's conflating Amazon with "The Washington Post." The CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, privately owns "The Washington Post" but the two businesses aren't related in the way that they conduct business.

It leads many to speculate that the president perhaps is targeting Amazon because of "The Washington Post," which has been very critical of his administration thus far.

The president has no public events on his schedule for Sunday. Of course, we may be talking about more tweets to come -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in West Palm Beach, Florida.


SESAY: One of the latest CNN polls found President Trump's approval rating increased by 7 points in March. Analysts are debating why recent scandals are not hurting him in the polls. Our Miguel Marquez spoke with voters in Missouri, where the race for the midterm elections is heating up.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Liberty, Missouri, in Clay County, the Kansas City suburbs, Trump country.

You voted for Donald Trump?


MARQUEZ: Pam Meadows, a piano teacher, registered Republican and person of the faith, says she likes everything from his policies to his leadership style. The Clay County economy growing since 2013, going gang busters now. Today, jobs are plentiful, unemployment, less than four percent.

MEADOWS: I see the economy has turned around. I believe that he's definitely a straight shooter and what we see is what we get.

MARQUEZ: Even the adult actress, Stormy Daniels an extramarital affair with Donald Trump in 2006 and claims she was harass by those loyal to the President, doesn't shake her faith.

MEADOWS: I didn't vote for a pastor. I would not want him to be the person that led me in the areas of morality or my family --


MEADOWS: -- or anything like that. That's not what a president is supposed to do. MARQUEZ: Missouri went big for Trump in 2016, beating Hillary Clinton

here by 19 points. His support may be narrowing. Gallup put his approval among Missouri voters at 47 percent last year. Those disapproving, 48 percent.

LINDSEY GRUDYSON, VOTED FOR CLINTON: I think that he demonstrates a lack of awareness of the way that Democratic politics works.

MARQUEZ: 25-year-old Lindsey Grudyson initially registered Republican. Today she's an independent who voted for Hillary Clinton.

Is the country going in the right direction?

GRUDYSON: I would say no.

MARQUEZ: Where is it going?

GRUDYSON: Toward a place of increasing division.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Josh Hawley bought and paid for.

MARQUEZ: Missouri is home to one of the most competitive Senate races in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When she had the chance, she said no.

MARQUEZ: Moderate Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill in an uphill fight.

Do you approve of the job the President is doing?


MARQUEZ: Name, supported Bernie Sanders but says his dislike of the President is a motivating factor in November.

Will your dislike of Donald Trump drive you to the polls in November for Senator McCaskill?


MARQUEZ: She's a middle of the road Democrat, often votes conservatively.


MARQUEZ: But you'll support her.

JAIME: I will support her.

MARQUEZ: Even for those who support the President now, admit he may not have their vote in the future.

So when 2020 rolls around, you will happily cast your vote for him again.

MEADOWS: I cannot say that right now.

MARQUEZ: Really.

MEADOWS: I don't know who will be running against him.

MARQUEZ: So after a couple of days here, a couple of trends seem to be coming clear. Dislike of the president is driving not only moderate Democrats to the polls but even those far left Democrats, those who voted for Bernie Sanders, to the polls in November.

And also who like the president today, they would consider voting for somebody else in 2020 -- Miguel Marquez, CNN, Liberty, Missouri.


SESAY: How many unknowns.


SESAY: Football superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic calls himself the Lion and he certainly roared during his debut as Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy. The (INAUDIBLE) player played for only the last 15 minutes against crosstown rivals Los Angeles FC but within --


SESAY: -- three minutes on the field he tied up the game and whipped his shirt off.

Still that wasn't enough for the Lion. He scored once more, check this out, scored once more before the game ended. There you go, putting the Galaxy up 4-3. At 36, Zlatan might be considered old for a player. But as you can see there, he doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon and his teammates are truly grateful.

Now to another unbelievable sports story. For many fans playing professional sport is a dream. But when the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team suddenly needed a replacement goalie, they called up a 36-year- old accountant, who quickly became a hometown hero. Our Patrick Snell has the incredible story.


PATRICK SNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As Scott Foster walked out onto the ice for his first ever professional hockey game, the announcer joked.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, who's this guy?

But go get 'em, kid. Yes, go get 'em, kid.

SNELL (voice-over): Then the unthinkable seemed to happen.


SNELL (voice-over): Scott Foster saved all seven shots he faced on Thursday night, helping the Chicago Blackhawks win 6-2. Pretty impressive for a man who's not actually a professional hockey player.

SCOTT FOSTER, ACCOUNTANT AND SUBSTITUTE GOALIE: I'm an accountant by day. So a few hours ago, I was sitting at my computer, typing on a 10-key and now I'm standing in front of you guys, just finished 14.5 minutes of vintage hockey.

SNELL (voice-over): It was an unlikely series of events that led to Foster's NHL debut. The Blackhawks' first string goalie had been out since early this season with an injury. The main backup got hurt in Thursday's warm-up. Then the Blackhawks' third option also got injured in the game's final period.

So the emergency backup goalie had to step in, which is very rare. Even though 36-year-old Foster only plays recreationally and hasn't been in a competitive game since college more than a decade ago, the Blackhawks needed a goalie and he was it.

FOSTER: I don't think I heard anything other than put your helmet on.


FOSTER: And now I'm standing here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) laughing as you were getting on the ice?

FOSTER: I think I would, too.


SNELL (voice-over): But laughs soon became cheers for Foster's catlike stops and reflexes, making him Chicago's most unexpected sporting hero overnight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) the euphoria for this kid that nobody knew before tonight.

SNELL (voice-over): But it's tax season in the U.S. and he'll be trading the pads back in for a button-down shirt when he returns to his accountant day job. Foster says playing in the NHL game was a dream come true.

FOSTER: This is something that no one can ever take away from me. It's something that I can go home and tell my kids and they can tell you their friends and whatnot.

SNELL (voice-over): Patrick Snell, CNN, Atlanta.


SESAY: You got to love accountants. They never the excitement go to their head.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isha Sesay. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" is just ahead. I'll be back with the headlines in just a moment.