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Elizabeth Warren Enters Race for the White House; 2020 Candidates on the Campaign Trail; Border Security Ramps Up as Migrants Wait to Enter U.S.; U.S.-Backed Forces Assault Last ISIS Enclave in Syria; Venezuelan Leaders Urged to End Standoff over Humanitarian Aid; Duke of Edinburgh Voluntarily Surrenders Driving License; Brexit Turmoil; China's Aging Population; Skier Lindsey Vonn to Retire; World Marathon Challenge. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired February 10, 2019 - 04:00   ET




NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The field of Democratic hopefuls vying for the White House grows as Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren joins an already crowded field.

U.S. backed forces launch an assault on the last ISIS enclave in Syria. We take you near the front lines for a CNN exclusive.

And the Duke of Edinburgh surrenders his driver's license as prosecutors consider whether to bring charges against Prince Philip for a car crash last month.

These stories are ahead here this hour. Welcome to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world. I'm Natalie Allen from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. This is CNN NEWSROOM.


ALLEN: Democrats are lining up to take on President Trump in 2020. Boy, are they. Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren officially kicked off her campaign Saturday and, on Sunday, Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar is expected to join the race. It is already a crowded field. Just look at that right there.

At this moment, 11 people have either announced their candidacy or formed exploratory committees and that doesn't count those who are still thinking about jumping in.

Elizabeth Warren made her announcement at the site of a historic labor strike led by women and immigrants. With thousands cheering her on in freezing temps, she pledged to level the economic playing field for the middle class and tackle corruption in the U.S. political system.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MASS.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our fight is for big structural change. This is the fight of our lives. And that is why I stand here today to declare that I am a candidate for the president of the United States of America.


ALLEN: And with that Senator Warren laying out her goals, her vision, her campaign theme. MJ Lee has more for us from Lawrence, Massachusetts.



MJ LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If you listened to her speech, you might have lost count of the number of times she said "fight." This is going to be so central to her 2020 campaign, this idea that people come together and can take on a rigged system and take on government corruption in Washington.

She said there is a rigged system that props up the rich and the powerful and kicks dirt on everyone else. These are all themes that we have heard her talk about for many, many years now.

And if you listened to her speech, you got a pretty good blueprint of the policy positions that will be central to her 2020 campaign. Just to list a couple, she talked about her anti-corruption bill, about taking on Wall Street, her support for Medicare for all and the green new deal and also for her proposal that she put out last month to tax the wealthy. She also only said the word Trump twice in her speech. This is not surprising. We have seen a number of the Democratic candidates, when they're out speaking publicly, they're reticent to say the word Trump when talking to their supporters.

However, even if she was not willing to say the name Trump, we know it was all about trying to draw a contrast between herself and the president of the United States and making the case where why she's the best Democrat to take him on in 2020.


ALLEN: MJ Lee there for us.

Senator Warren, one of President Trump's favorite targets, as you know -- and he made note of her announcement with a tweet saying this.

"Today Elizabeth Warren, sometimes referred to me as Pocahontas, joined the race for president. Will she run as our first Native American presidential candidate? Or has she decided that after 32 years this is not playing so well anymore? See you on the campaign trail, Liz."

Game on there.

Well, Democratic hopefuls are fanning out all across the country on that campaign trail. Iowa will be the first state to vote in 2020. Its caucuses will be February 3rd but Elizabeth Warren will be there Sunday and New Jersey senator Cory Booker is there now.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-N.J.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I plan on crisscrossing the state. Nobody is going to work harder in the state of Iowa than I will. I'll do longer days. I will do more events. I'm just going to really work hard.

I think the people of Iowa deserve to have presidential candidates try to reach out and I'll do as much as I can possible to meet every single --


BOOKER: -- person, shake as many hands as I can, have as many conversation, roundtables. I'm just really looking forward to earning Iowans' respect and I'm willing to go talk to them.


ALLEN: Cory Booker, he heads to South Carolina Sunday. Maybe he'll run into New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who is already there. She hasn't officially announced her bid yet but that's not stopping her from campaigning.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-N.Y.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will take on institutional races. I will take (INAUDIBLE) on. I will take on the health care system, where a black woman today in New York City people is 12 times more likely to die in childbirth (INAUDIBLE).

I will take up institution racism in our health care, in our education system, where black women today have the highest debt of any other group of people in America because they don't have enough money to go to school. They take on the loans.

And because of the lack of equal pay in this country and they only make 68 cents on the dollar for a white man, they have a hard time paying back that debt. So it holds them back.


ALLEN: Let's move on. Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro seen here. Announced his candidacy in January. On CNN's "THE VAN JONES SHOW," he talked about what it would mean to be the first Latino U.S. president.


JULIAN CASTRO (D-TEXAS), FORMER HUD SECRETARY, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I know that there's special meaning for the Latino community that I am running for president. I know there are a lot of parents out there who can tell their little boy or little girl, hey, look, you do it because he's doing it.

At the same time I've always believed that whenever you serve an office, you have to serve everybody. And so I'm proud of my background. I do think there's going to be special meaning in my candidacy. But I'm also aware that I have to have policy proposals and a vision that includes everybody.


ALLEN: Let's talk more about campaign 2020. Richard Johnson is a lecturer in U.S. politics and international relations at Lancaster University. He joins us from Oxford, England. Good to see you.


ALLEN: Are you just so excited about this race so far?

We are definitely in the "everybody in" stage of this presidential election season. 11 Democratic candidates, more to come. As of Saturday, Elizabeth Warren.

But it's been a rough week for her vis-a-vis her claims to be Native American and Donald Trump is having a field day.

What do you think?

Is she going to be able to push past this?

JOHNSON: I think she'll probably be able to push past it. I think she's actually in some ways assisted by the comments that the president made. I think the president's illusion to Trail of Tears was extremely inappropriate and I think many Democratic voters will react badly to that and become perhaps more defensive of her in light of the president's insensitivities.

I think it significant that she placed her campaign very squarely in the history of the American labor movement, the (INAUDIBLE) movement. And unions are significant players in Democratic primaries. They provide a great deal of funding since 2010, about a billion dollars has been given from unions to Democratic candidates and they have millions of members.

In 2016, many of the major unions actually backed Henry Pinto (ph). I think one of the things Elizabeth Warren is trying to do is pitch herself to those unions to be the candidate they support.

ALLEN: She's definitely going after the billionaire culture in the United States. Also other females, Kamala Harris from California, Senator Amy Klobuchar may announce today while it's snowing in Minnesota.

It's a diverse field so far but is there a rock star candidate that you foresee?

JOHNSON: One of the things about this particular primary which is very different from 2016 is because it is so crowded, candidates can win states on a relatively low share of the vote. We can quite easily imagine that the winner of the Iowa caucuses might only get 30 percent of the vote in Iowa. Now that matters in terms of delegate count but in terms of the media,

the focus on people being winners of a state, it means that if you lock down a certain core constituency, then you might be able to prevail in states with a fairly low share of the vote.

I think the African American vote is really crucial here. I think Kamala Harris is pitching herself to that group; 27 percent of Democratic primary voters in 2016 were African American.

And in some states like South Carolina we're talking 60 percent or more Democratic primary voters are African American. So I think if Kamala Harris was able to lock down that group as Hillary Clinton did in 2016 -- she won 76 percent of the vote of the African American community -- then I think she's the one to watch at this stage in the game.

ALLEN: Yes. In the first 24 hours after announcing her campaign --


ALLEN: -- she raised $1.5 million online dollars. Interesting there.

According to a poll reported by "The New York Times," Democrats are saying, that were polled, they just want a candidate who can beat Donald Trump. That is more important than sticking with a Democratic candidate aligned with them.

The question is, who can stand up to Trump, how should they stand up to Trump and, of course, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden still on the fence?

JOHNSON: There are different paths to victory for a Democratic candidate in 2020. You can look at the 2016 map and say, if we just replicated what Hillary Clinton did, just did a little bit better in, particularly the white Midwest and also turning greater African American turnout in those areas, maybe the map might be shifting.

Maybe Donald Trump might start looking at states in New England like New Hampshire and Maine and places he would wish to make inroads. So I think that the Democrats have to not make the mistake they made in 2016 and assume the electoral college map of the previous election is static.

These things can shift and change and new states can become available to Donald Trump and also to the Democrats who perhaps, in the Southwest in states like Arizona might come into play. People even talk about Texas. That may be premature.

But I think the Democrats really need to think about the dynamic nature of the electoral college map.

ALLEN: It will certainly not be a sleepy presidential election and it's off and running. I think we'll have a chance to talk with you again. We always appreciate your insights. Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

ALLEN: Have a good one.

Another story we're following, countdown to yet another U.S. government shutdown and it could happen this week, if you can believe that. President Trump and lawmakers have until Friday to agree on how much money to pour into border security. If they don't, the federal government could yet again grind to a halt.

Mr. Trump is asking for $5.7 billion. He has not wavered on that to build his wall. So far Republican and Democratic negotiators have proposed less than half that. The Democrat House majority leader told our Ana Cabrera that compromise is key to reaching an agreement.


REP. STENY HOYER (D), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: There's going to be compromise and I don't think anybody expected there wouldn't be a compromise of some type. Obviously one side has been asking for additional barrier money.

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Just a quick yes or no, though, if it comes out and there is $2 billion in money designated for a border barrier, will you support that?

HOYER: If an agreement comes out, I'll support it, yes.


ALLEN: As the political standoff heats up, a physical standoff is taking place at the border. Hundreds of U.S. and Mexican law enforcement officers are in Eagle Pass, Texas, facing a caravan of nearly 1,800 migrants across the Rio Grande who want to come into the United States. Our Martin Savidge is there.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Texas town of Eagle Pass has been invaded. Thousands of federal, state and local authorities, even military personnel have flooded this usually quiet community on the banks of the Rio Grande.

SAVIDGE: Look at that. It's a combination of Customs and Border Protection vehicles and Texas State Troopers. They are all lined up, literally, side by side, all nose facing towards Mexico.

And then if you take a look across the Rio Grande on the other side of the border, just recently, we've seen this. Mexican authorities now lined up, facing exactly the opposite direction.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Eagle Pass's mayor is grateful but also a bit taken aback.

RAMSEY ENGLISH CANTU, EAGLE PASS MAYOR: We are extremely appreciative of the work that they do but this is something that is unprecedented.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Law enforcement patrolling vehicles on ATVs, bicycles, even horseback. Helicopters monitored from above while high powered air boats prowl the shallow water of the Rio Grande.

The security surge is in response to the arrival of a caravan of 1,800 Central American migrants just on the other side of the border, said to have their sights on seeking U.S. asylum.

President Trump has declared such caravans a national security threat and uses them to justify a border wall, painting asylum seekers as invaders, something he did again in his State of the Union speech.

TRUMP: As we speak, large organized --


TRUMP: -- caravans are on the march to the United States.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): Federal authorities appear a potential repeat of last November's chaos near San Diego, when tear gas was used to drive back migrants rushing the border area. Thursday, Border Patrol agents rehearsed in riot gear on one of the town's two public bridges to Mexico. Bridge defenses are being beefed up.

PAUL DEL RINCON, PORT DIRECTOR, EAGLE PASS: Part of our preparations include insulation of temporary impediment measures on our bridges such as commix boxes, concertina wire and jersey barriers.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): So far authorities say no caravan members have crossed illegally into the U.S. Local leaders credit not just the American show of force but also a new stepped-up effort by the Mexican government, using its military and national police to keep caravan members under control.

But processing 1,800 asylum seekers will take months.

SAVIDGE: This isn't going to be a short-term thing.

RINCON: It doesn't seem like it. It doesn't seem like it . But we stand committed. My officers stand committed.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): No one in Eagle Pass can tell you when or even how this international showdown will end -- Martin Savidge, CNN, Eagle Pass, Texas.


ALLEN: One of the two women who has accused Virginia's lieutenant governor of sexual assault says if there are impeachment hearing, count her in. She's ready to testify.

But in a statement Saturday, Justin Fairfax called the two encounters with the women "consensual." For more now, here's Kaylee Hartung.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Justin Fairfax has taken a leave of absence from his law firm. He's no longer the chairman of the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association but he's still lieutenant governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, refusing to step down amidst allegations of sexual assault that have been brought against him by two different women.

Now Virginia's Democratic leaders and lawmakers are very widely calling for his resignation. A joint statement by Virginia's Democratic legislators here in Richmond say they acknowledge that he is owed due process.

But they say given the serious nature of the allegations, they no longer believe he can fulfill the duties of lieutenant governor and he needs to address all of this as a private citizen.

The one prominent Democrat we can name who is not calling for Fairfax's resignation is the governor, Ralph Northam, who is embroiled in his own controversy. He gave his first interview since that racist photo was uncovered on February 1st to "The Washington Post" on Saturday.

And he said, quote, "It must take tremendous courage for women to step forward and talk about being the victims of sexual assault. These allegations are horrific, they need to be taken seriously.

"Lieutenant governor Fairfax has suggested and called for an investigation. I strongly support that."

Fairfax calling for an investigation say it will clear his name but maintaining all the while he will not resign. If he doesn't resign by Monday, though, there is one member of Virginia's house of delegates, a Democrat, who says he will introduce those articles of impeachment before the legislature. By no means would that mean that a vote on his impeachment would be imminent but it is undoubtedly a threat that Fairfax is hearing.


ALLEN: Coming up next, an exclusive report about ISIS, pinned down and under fire in its last Syrian enclave. We'll have a report near the front line.

Also humanitarian aid from Venezuela still stuck in limbo. It's not moving. We'll have a report from Caracas.






ALLEN: Welcome back. ISIS faces another major defeat in Eastern Syria. On Saturday, U.S.-backed forces launched an assault on the terror group's last enclave in the country. CNN's Ben Wedeman is on the ground. Here's his exclusive report from near the front lines. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The final push just began after sunset on Saturday when forces of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces pushed their way into the town behind me, Bagheuz Al-Fawqani, which is the last stronghold of ISIS in Syria or Iraq.

We have been told by officers here there may be as many as 1,500 civilians inside the town, although what we've seen over the last few weeks is that people are leaving, either paying their way out or sneaking out of the town. Those who are left are a few civilians.

But we are told that there are as many as 500 of some of ISIS' most battle hardened fighters. Although we are also hearing there's infighting along those fighters. There are those who, after weeks of steady coalition airstrikes, as well as artillery and mortar bombardment, have decided it is time to surrender and others who insist it is time to fight to the death.

So what we have seen all evening long is coalition aircraft flying overhead, striking targets, just about two kilometers from here, as well as fairly constant heavy machine gunfire, as well as artillery and rocket fire going into the town.

There doesn't seem to be much resistance yet. But we are told that in the morning is when ISIS may well counterattack -- I'm Ben Wedeman, reporting from outside Bagheuz Al-Fawqani in Eastern Syria.


ALLEN: French police say a man was seriously injured, losing four fingers during Yellow Vest protests in Paris Saturday. It happened as police were protecting the parliament building from demonstrators. This the 13th straight weekend of protests against French government policies.

Venezuela's standoff over humanitarian aid continues. The sitting president Maduro still will not allow life-saving --


ALLEN: -- supplies into his country. He has imposed a blockade at the border which the opposition, of course, condemns. As Stefano Pozzebon reports, both men are being urged to find common ground for the good of the people.


STEFANO POZZEBON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. There is not a solution in sight yet for the humanitarian aid stalemate on the Colombian-Venezuelan border.

Meanwhile here in Caracas, aid workers urge both sides to stop politicizing the issue and saying that the aid should be allowed into the country, because a lot of people are desperately in need. We were able to speak with the president of the International Red

Cross Federation, Francesco Rocca. His presence here in the capital of Venezuela in CAS is itself a sign of how serious the situation is for the Venezuelan citizen and how serious the conditions are for most Venezuelans. This is what he said about the issue of the aid.


FRANCESCO ROCCA, PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF RED CROSS/RED CRESCENT SOCIETIES: I would like to see this kind of respect for the humanitarian aid. I would like to really, I hope that both sides will clear the table from this kind of discussion, talking about a lot of aspects that must be fixed in this country.


POZZEBON: Rocca urged both sides to clean the table and allowing the aid -- and allow the aid to be properly managed, because both sides are saying that they're working for the best and the good of the people.

But as long as there is no political solution found and the two sides don't find common ground to show to each other, it really seems that even aid has become a political issue -- for CNN, this is Stefano Pozzebon, Caracas.


ALLEN: The Duke of Edinburgh is known as a fast driver. That is until now. Ahead here, how Prince Philip is slamming the brakes on his time behind the wheel after a car crash last month.

Also ahead --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel sorry for the English.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they don't think about what they're doing.


ALLEN: Some sympathy for the British from the Irish Republic but not from everyone. What people in Dublin say about the U.K.'s Brexit turmoil. We'll have that one, too. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.




(MUSIC PLAYING) ALLEN: Welcome back to our viewers here in the U.S. and all around

the world. We appreciate you watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Natalie Allen with our top stories.


ALLEN: Buckingham Palace says the Duke of Edinburgh has voluntarily given up his driver's license. Prosecutors are now considering whether to bring charges against 97-year-old Prince Philip after he was involved in that car crash which you see here that injured two people last month. Anna Stewart is following this story for us from London.

Anna, hello to you. This is an interesting development.

Why now talk of charges against the prince and how unusual would that be for the royal family?

ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So the police have been investigating this car accident like any other. They've been doing this for the last three weeks and they have made the decision to pass his file on to the CPS, the crown prosecution service. And it's up to them to decide whether or not to bring charges here.

The most likely one if there were a charge would be driving without due care and consideration which can lead to a fine. It could lead to points against the license or disqualification of a license. Of course, now Prince Philip has voluntarily surrendered his driver license to DVLA, that's the auto body here in the U.K.

So that will be taken into consideration. Meanwhile, this comes after more than three weeks since the accident. Prince Philip has come under a lot of criticism as to whether he should be driving at the age of 97 on main roads, as to why he was driving just 48 hours later, spotted not wearing a seat belt, which the police had some words with him.

Today I can say that one of the victims in the other car, Anna Fairweather, she told the "Sunday Mirror" today, he's making the most sensible decision he can. It's a shame he didn't make it a bit sooner but it's the right thing to do.

It would have been a really difficult decision for Prince Philip to make. He is notoriously independent. He's a very keen driver.

Who can forget the time he drove the Obamas around Windsor when they arrived there a few years ago?

So it will have been hard for him. It's hard for any person to make this decision in terms of independence. But also Prince Philip, he retired just two years ago, out of the public eye at last.

ALLEN: Right. Yes. We always know that he likes to drive but, yes, after this has happened, it seems that there's going to be a safety step taken here.

Do we expect any kind of announcement from the royals on this?

STEWART: No. We'll be waiting to see what the CPS say, the crown prosecution service. Up to them whether or not to bring charges. After that I think we'll get a statement from the palace.

You asked me earlier whether this has happened before, whether the royal family were ever involved with run-ins with the law. It's not --


STEWART: -- an everyday occurrence but it's not completely unheard of.

The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, has been involved in a number of speeding offenses over the years. In 1990 a court actually banned her from driving for one month. More recently in 2001 she was convicted for speeding. And she's also been convicted of a criminal offense in 2002 after her dog attacked two children.

So not unheard of. The royal family are not above the law, apart from Her Majesty the Queen, who actually is.

ALLEN: The good news is the people involved in this accident are doing OK. Anna Stewart, thank you so much.

With less than 48 days to go until Brexit, more and more businesses are looking to leave the U.K. The Dutch government says it's talking with 250 companies considering a move to the Netherlands. Most are British but some are American and Asian.

The Dutch say that organizations are uneasy about Brexit. Last year, 42 companies moved to the Netherlands because of the pending E.U. divorce.

Well, a hard Brexit looks more and more likely if British prime minister Theresa May cannot reach a new deal with Brussels. She's already facing pressure at home over the status of the Irish border, the so-called Irish backstop. The Irish Republic is feeling frustration and even some pity about its neighbor's Brexit problems. CNN's Nic Robertson has the view from Dublin.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: "Don't be afraid." The last words of legendary Irish poet, Seamus Heamey. They have a prophetic feel in Dublin today. Brexit is looming. And there's a lot at stake for Ireland.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): At the nearby pub, the weekly restock of Guinness.

ROBERTSON: Tell me, what do you think about Brexit?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it's going to change the whole economics on the whole on Britain and the Republic of Ireland and Ireland.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): A hard Brexit, possible border controls and its impact on peace.

ROBERTSON: What about the question of the backstop on the border?

Could you compromise on that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. I think (INAUDIBLE). It helps with the peace process.

ROBERTSON: Are you afraid of what the implications of the outcome might be?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm actually from the border, came (INAUDIBLE) just by the border at home. And I think it's going to have a nose kind of really rural communities and agriculture in particular over there. It's going to be huge, yes.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): But not just fears for themselves but for the U.K. as well.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel sorry for the English.

ROBERTSON: Why is that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they don't seem to know what they're doing. They're really a mess. They're going to suffer economically and probably socially.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Some pity but a lot of loathing for London's politicians, too.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Britain chooses to pull out without any plans in place and we're getting all the bad press.

ROBERTSON: Could this government compromise on the border issue?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why would this government need to compromise?

ROBERTSON: Could they do it, do you think, on the backstop issue, on the border issue?


Why would you want to compromise with people who have no plan, who keep changing their minds?

ROBERTSON (voice-over): British prime minister Theresa May came looking for compromise late Friday. The official line for the Irish PM'S office from their behind closed doors meeting was they held warm productive talks. No word if either side aired their frustrations -- Nic Robertson, CNN, Dublin, Ireland. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ALLEN: This from London, an attempt to make a love connection between two endangered Sumatran tigers has ended in tragedy. Zookeepers say the male, Asim, attacked and killed its prospective mate during a breeding attempt at the London Zoo Friday.

The pair had been in adjoining cages and seemed to be getting along until they were put together. That is when the male pounced. Zoo workers separated the tigers but it was too late to save the female. Again, Sumatran tigers are critically in danger. Sad story there.

Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, the heartbreaking reality of old age in rural China. How the country's aging population creates problems for millions.







ALLEN: We have this now from China. Many older citizens there face an uncertain future. The country's population is aging quickly and, with fewer young people around, older citizens now worry they will lose much-needed support. CNN's Matt Rivers has our story from Beijing.


MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is a brutal trudge for a healthy person. But for 68-year-old Qin Taixiao, stricken with emphysema and cancer, it's near torture. He keeps warm by burning firewood. It's cheaper than coal.

"What can I say," he says, "life is all right. There's no other way."

That's daily stoicism is common in China's rural villages, where life has only gotten tougher. Young people have been largely swept away by the relentless current of China's urban migration.

Qin's children left for work years ago. He and his wife, Sun Sherong, carry on alone.

"It's difficult for our children to care for us," she says. "We don't want to become a burden."

A hundred and fifty miles away in Beijing, it's a burden that 32-year- old Fan Meng knows well. She and her husband financially support both their parents, the four grandparents of their 5-year-old daughter Xi Shunru (ph).

"She likes to ski and she enjoys diving," Fan says. "If those are her interests, we have to support her and that all costs money."

The village couple and their city counterpart are a microcosm of China's aging problem. Simply put, there are a lot more older people in China than younger ones. And an aging population, along with greater life expectancy can have drastic consequences.

RIVERS: Less (sic) working age people might limit the government's ability to pay for the benefits needed by its aging population. National economic priorities will shift more towards health care and pension obligations. And it might also hurt consumer spending, with the combined effect of slowing China's economic growth potential way down.

RIVERS (voice-over): The obvious solution here is to have more babies. But that's not happening. There were 2 million fewer births in 2018 and most studies agree that China's population will soon begin to shrink.

The government knows this and in 2016 changed the notorious one-child policy. Couples are now allowed to have two babies per family and there are speculation the communist party could erase any restrictions as soon as this year. But for families like Fan Meng's, that doesn't matter.

She says, "One baby is enough. One baby is what I can afford in terms of both energy and money."

Not wanting more kids is a nationwide trend. That's unlikely to change, with higher costs and more opportunities for women as two reasons why.

Back in the village, Qin Taixiao and his wife survive on about $1,500 per year selling corn. At some point though, hauling 50 kilos of wood twice a day will be too much and his meager not enough. They'll need help, just like all of China's older citizens. Whether there will be enough young people to support them is one of Chinese society's great questions -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing.


ALLEN: We saw a young girl there skiing. Another skier, one last time down the hill for Lindsey Vonn, as the legendary superstar talks about her final run. It's coming up.

Also ahead here, could you run seven marathons in seven days?

What if each of them was on a different continent?

Sounds easy.


ALLEN: We'll meet the runners who conquered that grueling challenge as we push on here.






ALLEN: In just a few hours, legendary American skier Lindsey Vonn will compete for the final time. She had planned to retire in December but moved it up to now after years of injuries just caught up with her. CNN's Christina Macfarlane has a preview of her last blast downhill.



LINDSEY VONN, SKIER (voice-over): Skiing is what I love. It's my passion. I love competing and I love going 90 miles an hour. It's just in my blood.

CHRISTINA MACFARLANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She's the most decorated female skier of all time; 34-year-old snow queen Lindsey Vonn has enjoyed a stellar career with three Olympic medals, seven world championship medals and 82 world cup victories.

She came close to beating the all time number of wins held by Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark but earlier this month announced she will be hanging up her boots just four short of the record.

She broke the news on Instagram, telling her 1.7 million followers that she will compete at the world championships in Sweden and that they will be the final races of her career. Vonn has recovered from serious injury multiple times but the knee problem that's plagued her in recent years has forced her to bring forward her planned retirement.

VONN (voice-over): I don't have a say in, you know, the length of my career anymore.

VONN: It's not really about what I want. It's about what I can physically do and I just can't physically do it anymore. I would keep going for many more years. You know, I want to be able to walk without pain when I'm older and, hopefully, someday I will be able to ski with my kids and that's important to me.

MACFARLANE: Any thoughts on what comes next for Lindsey Vonn in life?


VONN: I want to start my own business. I've got a couple of investments and things lined up. Beyond that, I don't know. Maybe acting. I'm not sure.

MACFARLANE: What kind of acting?

VONN: I don't know. I'm friends with Dwayne Johnson and he thinks I could be good at action films.

MACFARLANE: "The Fast and the Furious with Lindsey Vonn."

VONN: I do like to drive fast.

MACFARLANE: We know you like going fast.

VONN: Yes.

MACFARLANE (voice-over): Whether it's a future that plays out on the big screen or in big business, we will always remember her for the speed demon she was on the big hill.


ALLEN: Her last run in just a few hours.

Here are some other athletes making history. They're taking part in the World Marathon Challenge. Running seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. Yes. They're crazy. Even Antarctica. A British runner smashed the old record and took the women's title. She finished in 24 hours, 19 minutes and 9 seconds.


SUSANNAH GILL, MARATHONER: What a week. Not any of my runs or marathons took seven days on seven continents but I've just got them funded and set a new world record in the process.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's unbelievable. I mean, I had probably all the issues you could probably have, you know, not feeling well.


ALLEN: He won, too. The runners took a chartered flight from one continent to the next. You can see their path from Antarctica to the United States. If you're wondering, the runners burned up to 5,000 calories per day.

I guess they eat on the run. Thanks for watching this hour. I'm Natalie Allen. We've got much more ahead here in the next hour. Please stay with us.